Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Kurt Weill’s Street Scene

Kurt Weill’s “American opera,” Street Scene debuted this past weekend in the Kay Theatre at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, with a diverse young cast comprised of students and alumni of the Maryland Opera Studio (MOS).

Handel's Brockes-Passion: The Academy of Ancient Music at the Barbican Hall

Perhaps it is too fanciful to suggest that the German poet Barthold Heinrich Brockes (1680-1747) was the Metastasio of Hamburg?

POP Butterfly: Oooh, Cho-Cho San!

I was decidedly not the only one who thought I was witnessing the birth of a new star, as cover artist Janet Todd stepped in to make a triumphant appearance in the title role of Pacific Opera Project’s absorbing Madama Butterfly.

The Maryland Opera Studio Defies Genre with Fascinating Double-Bill

This past weekend, the Maryland Opera Studio (MOS) presented a double-billed performance of two of Kurt Weill’s less familiar staged works: Zaubernacht (1922) and Mahagonny-Songspiel (1927).

Nash Ensemble at Wigmore Hall: Focus on Sir Harrison Birtwistle

The Nash Ensemble’s annual contemporary music showcase focused on the work of Sir Harrison Birtwistle, a composer with whom the group has enjoyed a long and close association. Three of the six works by Birtwistle performed here were commissioned by the Nash Ensemble, as was Elliott Carter’s Mosaic which, alongside Oliver Knussen’s Study for ‘Metamorphosis’ for solo bassoon, completed a programme was intimate and intricate, somehow both elusive in spirit and richly communicative.

McVicar's Faust returns to the ROH

To lose one Marguerite may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness. But, with the ROH Gounod’s Faust seemingly heading for ruin, salvation came in the form of an eleventh-hour arrival of a redeeming ‘angel’.

A superb Semele from the English Concert at the Barbican Hall

It’s good to aim high … but be careful what you wish for. Clichéd idioms perhaps, but also wise words which Semele would have been wise to heed.

A performance of Vivaldi's La Senna festeggiante by Arcangelo

In 1726 on 25 August, Jacques-Vincent Languet, Comte de Gergy, the new French ambassador to the Venetian Republic held a celebration for the name day of King Louis XV of France. There was a new piece of music performed in the loggia at the foot of Languet's garden with an audience of diplomats and, watching from gondolas, Venetian nobles.

Matthew Rose and Tom Poster at Wigmore Hall

An interesting and thoughtfully-composed programme this, presented at Wigmore Hall by bass Matthew Rose and pianist Tom Poster, and one in which music for solo piano ensured that the diverse programme cohered.

Ekaterina Semenchuk sings Glinka and Tchaikovsky

To the Wigmore Hall for an evening of magnificently old-school vocal performance from Ekaterina Semenchuk. It was very much her evening, rather than that of her pianist, Semyon Skigin, though he had his moments, especially earlier on.

Hubert Parry's Judith at the Royal Festival Hall

Caravaggio’s depiction (1598-99) of the climactic moment when the young, beautiful, physically weak Judith seizes the head of Holofernes by the enemy general’s hair and, flinching with distaste, cleaves the neck of the occupying Assyrian with his own sword, evokes Holofernes’ terror with visceral precision - eyes and screaming mouth are wide open - and is shockingly theatrical, the starkly lit figures embraced by blackness.

La Pietà in Rome

Say "La Pietà" and you think immediately of Michelangelo’s Rome Pietà. Just now Roman Oscar-winning film composer Nicola Piovani has asked us to contemplate two additional Pietà’s in Rome, a mother whose son is dead by overdose, and a mother whose son starved to death.

Orfeo ed Euridice in Rome

No wrecked motorcycle (director Harry Kupfer’s 1987 Berlin Orfeo), no wrecked Citroen and black hearse (David Alagna’s 2008 Montpellier Orfée [yes! tenorissimo Roberto Alagna was the Orfée]), no famed ballet company (the Joffrey Ballet) starring in L.A. Opera’s 2018 Orpheus and Eurydice).

Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel - a world premiere at English National Opera

Jack the Ripper is as luridly fascinating today as he was over a century ago, so it was no doubt sensationalist of the marketing department of English National Opera to put the Victorian serial killer’s name first and the true subject of Iain Bell’s new opera - his victims, the women of Whitechapel - as something of an after-thought. Font size matters, especially if it’s to sell tickets.

Tosca at the Met


The 1917 Met Tosca production hung around for 50 years, bested by the 1925 San Francisco Opera production that lived to the ripe old age of 92.  The current Met production is just 2 years old but has the feel of something that can live forever.

Drama Queens and Divas at the ROH: Handel's Berenice

A war ‘between love and politics’: so librettist Antonio Salvi summarised the conflict at the heart of Handel’s 1737 opera, Berenice. Well, we’ve had a surfeit of warring politics of late, but there’s been little love lost between opposing factions, and the laughs that director Adele Thomas and her team supply in this satirical and spicy production at the ROH’s stunningly re-designed Linbury Theatre have been in severely short supply.

Mozart’s Mass in C minor at the Royal Festival Hall

A strange concert, this, in that, although chorally conceived, it proved strongest in the performance of Schumann’s Piano Concerto: not so much a comment on the choral singing as on the conducting of Dan Ludford-Thomas.

Samson et Dalila at the Met


It was the final performance of the premiere season of Darko Tresnjak’s production of Camille Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila. Four tenors later. 

The Enchantresse and Dido and Aeneas
in Lyon

Dido and Aeneas, Il ritorno d’Ulisse and Tchaikowsky’s L’Enchantresse, the three operas of the Opéra de Lyon’s annual late March festival all tease destiny. But far more striking than the thematic relationship that motivates this 2019 festival is the derivation of these three productions from the world of hyper-refined theater, far flung hyper-refined theater.

The devil shares the good tunes: Chelsea Opera Group's Mefistofele

Every man ‘who burns with a thirst for knowledge and life and with curiosity about the nature of good and evil is Faust ... [everyone] who aspires to the Unknown, to the Ideal, is Faust’.

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):