Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Thought-Provoking Concert in Honor of Bastille Day

Sopranos Elise Brancheau and Shannon Jones, along with pianists Martin Néron and Keith Chambers, presented a thrilling evening of French-themed music in an evening entitled: “Salut à la France,” at the South Oxford Space in Brooklyn this past Saturday, July 14th.

Dido in Deptford: Blackheath Halls Community Opera

Polly Graham’s vision of Dido and Aeneas is earthy, vigorous and gritty. The artistic director of Longborough Festival Opera has overseen a production which brings together professional soloists, students from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and a cast of more than 80 south-east London adults and children for this, the 12th, annual Blackheath Halls Community Opera.

Summer madness and madcap high jinxs from the Jette Parker Young Artists

The operatic extracts which comprised this year’s Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance seemed to be joined by a connecting thread - madness: whether that was the mischievousness of Zerbinetta’s comedy troupe, the insanity of Tom Rakewell, the metaphysical distress of Hamlet, or the mayhem prompted by Isabella’s arrival at Mustafà’s Ottoman palace, the ‘insanity’ was equally compelling.

Mefistofele at Orange’s Chorégies

This is the one where a very personable devil tells God that mankind is so far gone it isn’t worth his time to bother corrupting it further.

Mascagni's Isabeau rides again at Investec Opera Holland Park

There seemed to me to be something distinctly Chaucerian about Martin Lloyd-Evans’ new production of Mascagni’s Isabeau (the first UK production of the opera) for Investec Opera Holland Park.

The 2018 BBC Proms opens in flamboyant fashion

Anniversaries and commemorations will, as usual, feature significantly during the 2018 BBC Proms, with the works of Leonard Bernstein, Claude Debussy and Lili Boulanger all prominently programmed during the season’s myriad orchestral, vocal and chamber concerts.

Banff’s Hell of an Orphée+

Against the Grain Theatre brought its award winning adaptation of Gluck’s opera to the Banff Festival billed as “an electronic baroque burlesque descent into hell.”

A Choral Trilogy at the Aix Festival

What Seven Stones (the amazing accentus / axe 21), and Dido and Aeneas (the splendid Ensemble Pygmalion) and Orfeo & Majnun (the ensemble [too many to count] of eleven local amateur choruses) share, and virtually nothing else, is spectacular use of chorus.

Vintage Audi — Parsifal, Kaufmann, Pape

From the Bayerisches Staatsoper Munich, Wagner Parsifal with a dream cast - René Pape, Jonas Kaufmann and Nina Stemme, Christian Gerhaher and Wolfgang Koch, conducted by Kirill Petrenko, directed by Pierre Audi. The production is vintage Audi - stylized, austere, but solidly thought-through.

Flight Soars High in Des Moines

Jonathan Dove’s innovative opera Flight is being lavished with an absolutely riveting new production at Des Moines Metro Opera’s resoundingly successful 2018 Festival.

Fledermaus Pops the Cork in Iowa

Like a fizzy bottle of champagne, Des Moines Metro Opera uncorked a zesty tasting of Johan Strauss’s vintage Die Fledermaus (The Bat).

A spritely summer revival of Falstaff at the ROH

Robert Carson’s 2012 ROH Falstaff is a bit of a hotchpotch, but delightful nevertheless. The panelled oak, exuding Elizabethan ambience, of the first Act’s gravy-stained country club reeks of the Wodehouse-ian 1930s, but has also has to serve as the final Act’s grubby stable and the Forest of Windsor, while the central Act is firmly situated in the domestic perfection of Alice Ford’s 1950s kitchen.

Down on the Farm with Des Moines’ Copland

Ingenious Des Moines Metro Opera continued its string of site-specific hits with an endearing production of Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land on the grounds of the Maytag Dairy farm.

Des Moines’ Ravishing Rusalka

Let me get right to the point: This is the Rusalka I have been waiting for all my life.

L'Ange de feu (The Fiery Angel)
in Aix

Prokofiev’s Fiery Angel is rarely performed. This new Aix Festival production to be shared with Warsaw’s Teatr Wielki exemplifies why.

Ariane à Naxos (Ariadne auf Naxos) in Aix

Yes, of course British stage director Katie Mitchell served up Richard Strauss’ uber tragic Ariadne on Naxos at a dinner table. Over the past few years Mme. Mitchell has staged quite a few household tragedies at the Aix Festival, mostly at dinner tables, though some on doorsteps.

The Skating Rink: Garsington Opera premiere

Having premiered Roxanna Panufnik’s opera Silver Birch in 2017 as part of its work with local community groups, Garsington Opera’s 2018 season included its first commission for the main opera season. David Sawer's The Skating Rink premiered at Garsington Opera this week; the opera is based on the novel by Chilean writer Roberto Bolano with a libretto by playwright Rory Mullarkey.

Madama Butterfly at the Princeton Festival

The Princeton Festival brings a run of three high-quality opera performances to town each summer, alternating between a modern opera and a traditional warhorse. John Adams’ Nixon in China has been announced for next summer. So this year Princeton got Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, for which the Festival assembled an impressive cast and delivered a polished performance.

‘Schiff’s Surprise’: Haydn

Many of the ingredients for a memorable concert were there, or so they initially seemed to be. Alas, ultimately what we learned more clearly than anything else was that the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s new Principal Artist, András Schiff, is no conductor.

Recital of French song from Véronique Gens and Susan Manoff

It came as quite a surprise throughout much of the first half of this recital of French song, that it was the piano-playing of Susan Manoff that made the greater impression upon me than the singing of Véronique Gens.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Frederica von Stade [Photo by Eric Melear]
23 Oct 2016

Arizona Opera’s Sapphire Celebration

On Saturday evening October 15, 2016, Arizona Opera celebrated forty-five unbroken years of presenting opera. The company first presented Rossini’s The Barber of Seville in Tucson and a few years later it was performing five operas per year in both Tucson and Phoenix.

Arizona Opera’s Sapphire Celebration

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Frederica von Stade [Photo by Eric Melear]

 

Sapphire is the stone that represent forty-five years and at Arizona Opera’s Sapphire Celebration patrons wore blues, dark and light, brilliant and matte fabrics, with deep toned genuine or sparkling faux jewels.

Conductor Ari Pelto opened the program with a slightly rough rendition of Mozart’s overture to The Abduction from the Seraglio. Everything fell into place, however, when Mistress of Ceremonies Frederica von Stade joined Marion Roose Pullin Studio Artist Alyssa Martin in the soaring melodic duet from the same composer’s The Marriage of Figaro, “Che soave zeffiretto,” (“A gentle zephir”). The second vocal selection echoed the company’s first opera from 1972, Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, as Martin blended her mellifluous voice with that of suave young baritone Joseph Lattanzi in the Act I Scene 2 duet: “Tu non m’inganni” (“You don’t deceive me”).

Arizona Opera has a fine chorus directed by Henri Venanzi and its members showed their abillity to set a scene and elicit emotional responses with their rendition of “Patria Oppressa” (“Oppressed Fatherland”) from Verdi’s Macbeth. Later, they would show us a sunnier scene with their rendition of a chorus from Mascagni’s verismo opera, Cavalleria Rusticana.

Daniel Montenegro is a fine young tenor who gave an excellent rendition of “La donna è mobile,” (“Woman is Fickle”) from Verdi’s Rigoletto, reminding us all that “locker room talk” is as old as mankind. Montenegro and soprano Laquita Mitchell then sang the universally loved duet from the first act of Puccini’s La bohème that began “O suave fanciulla.” As is usually done in a staged version of the opera, they took the final note off stage.

Craig Verm scaled down his sizeable baritone sound to match the lyric tones of Andrew Stenson for the duet “Au fond du temple saint” (“Into the holy temple”) from Bizet’s The Pearlfishers. Verm followed it with the burnished bronze tones of “O Nadir, Tendre ami” (“O Nadir, dear friend”) while Stenson followed their duet with the plaintive aria ‘Una furtive lagrima” (“A furtive tear”) from Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love.

Before the intermission, Arizona Opera celebrated its success with a duet the company had never before performed. Baritone Joseph Lattanzi and bass-baritone Zachary Owen joined their strong, virile voices with the orchestra’s brass to sing the gracefully melodic “Suoni la tromba” (“Sound the trumpet”) from Bellini’s I Puritani. The company then brought the first half of the concert to a delightful end with the sextet from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. Rachele Gilmore was the deranged bride and her final high note was simply glorious.

After the intermission, Laquita Mitchell and Thomas Cannon caused vocal sparks to fly as they sang a dramatic duet from Verdi’s Aida. In it, the Ethiopian king convinces his daughter to ask her Egyptian lover to commit treason and reveal the route by which Egyptian forces will march to Ethiopia.

As the evening wore on, the fare became a bit lighter. Coloratura soprano Rachele Gilmore and mezzo Mariya Kaginskaya sang a tuneful duet from Delibes’ Lakme about flowers blooming on a riverbank. Then Mistress of Ceremonies Frederica von Stade pretended to have drunk just one too many in a riotously funny version of “Ah, quel diner” from Offenbach’s La Perichole. Rachele Gilmore responded with her version of the mechanical doll from the same composer’s The Tales of Hoffmann.

Soprano Laquita Mitchell returned with an icy aria from Puccini’s Turandot and baritone Thomas Cannon countered with the universally loved “O du mein holder Abendstern” (“O you my blessed Evening Star”) from Wagner’s Tannhäuser.

Over the past decades, von Stade has sung myriad performances of Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Here she sang the duet “La ci darem la mano” (“Give me your hand”) with every baritone on the program and it was a delight to watch. Crowning the evening was a rendition of “Make Our Garden Grow” from Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, featuring everyone not already onstage. The audience was thoroughly enthused and the sounds of applause were enormous. We will have to wait five more years for Arizona Opera’s fiftieth anniversary, but I guarantee it will be a fantastic celebration.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Conductor, Ari Pelto; Stage Director, Joshua Borths; Scenic Designer, Anthony Diaz; Chorus Master, Henri Venanzi; Master of Ceremonies, Frederica von Stade; Sopranos: Rachele Gilmore, Laquita Mitchell; Mezzo-sopranos: Alyssa Martin, Mariya Kaginskaya; Tenors: Andrew Stenson, Daniel Montenegro; Baritones: Craig Verm, Thomas Cannon, Joseph Lattanzi; Bass-baritone, Zachary Owen.

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):