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 Reviews

Anthony Negus conducts Das Rheingold at Longborough

There are those in England who decorate their front lawns with ever-smiling garden gnomes, but in rural Gloucestershire the Graham family has gone one better; their converted barn is inhabited, not by diminutive porcelain figures, but fantasy creatures of Norse mythology - dwarves, giants and gods.

Carmen in San Francisco

A razzle-dazzle, bloodless Carmen at the War Memorial, further revival of Francesca Zambello’s 2006 Covent Garden production already franchised to Oslo, Sidney and Washington, D.C.

Weimar Berlin - Bittersweet Metropolis: Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra

Strictly speaking, The Weimar Republic began on 11th August 1919 when the Weimar Constitution was announced and ended with the Enabling Act of 23rd March 1933 when all power to enact laws without the involvement of the Reichstag was disbanded.

A superb Un ballo in maschera at Investec Opera Holland Park

Investec Opera Holland Park’s brilliantly cast new production of Un ballo in maschera reunites several of the creative team from last year’s terrific La traviata, with director Rodula Gaitanou, conductor Matthew Kofi Waldren and lighting designer Simon Corder being joined by the designer, takis.

A Classy Figaro at The Grange Festival

Where better than The Grange’s magnificent grounds to present Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. Hampshire’s neo-classical mansion, with its aristocratic connections and home to The Grange Festival, is the perfect setting to explore 18th century class structures as outlined in Lorenzo da Ponte’s libretto.

A satisfying Don Carlo opens Grange Park Opera 2019

Grange Park Opera opened its 2019 season with a revival of Jo Davies fine production of Verdi's Don Carlo, one of the last (and finest) productions in the company's old home in Hampshire.

Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, 2019

The first woman composer to receive the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize could not have been a worthier candidate.

Josquin des Prez and His Legacy: Cinquecento at Wigmore Hall

The renown and repute of Josquin des Prez (c.1450-1521) both during his lifetime and in the years following his death was so extensive and profound that many works by his contemporaries, working in Northern France and the Low Countries, were mis-attributed to him. One such was the six-part Requiem by Jean Richafort (c.1480-c.1550) which formed the heart of this poised concert by the vocal ensemble Cinquecento at Wigmore Hall, in which they gave pride of place to Josquin’s peers and successors and, in the final item, an esteemed forbear.

Symphonie fantastique and Lélio United – F X Roth and Les Siècles, Paris

Symphonie fantastique and Lélio together, as they should be, with François-Xavier Roth and Les Siècles livestreamed from the Philharmonie de Paris (link below). Though Symphonie fantastique is heard everywhere, all the time, it makes a difference when paired with Lélio because this restores Berlioz’s original context.

Ivo van Hove's The Diary of One Who Disappeared at the Linbury Theatre

In 1917 Leoš Janáček travelled to Luhačovice, a spa town in the Zlín Region of Moravia, and it was here that he met for the first time Kamila Stösslová, the young married woman, almost 40 years his junior, who was to be his muse for the remaining years of his life.

Manon Lescaut opens Investec Opera Holland Park's 2019 season

At this end of this performance of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at Investec Opera Holland Park, the first question I wanted to ask director Karolina Sofulak was, why the 1960s?

Karlheinz Stockhausen: Cosmic traveling through his Klavierstücke, Kontakte and Stimmung

Stockhausen. Cosmic Prophet. Two sequential concerts. Music written for piano, percussion, sound diffusion and the voice. We are in the mysterious labyrinth of one of the defining composers of the last century. That at least ninety-minutes of one of these concerts proved to be an event of such magnitude is as much down to the astonishing music Stockhausen composed as it is to the peerless brilliance of the pianist who took us on the journey through the Klavierstücke. Put another way, in more than thirty years of hearing some of the greatest artists for this instrument - Pollini, Sokolov, Zimerman, Richter - this was a feat that has almost no parallels.

Don Giovanni at Garsington Opera

A violent splash of black paint triggers the D minor chord which initiates the Overture. The subsequent A major dominant is a startling slash of red. There follows much artistic swishing and swirling by Don Giovanni-cum-Jackson Pollock. The down-at-heel artist’s assistant, Leporello, assists his Master, gleefully spraying carmine oil paint from a paint-gun. A ‘lady in red’ joins in, graffiti-ing ‘WOMAN’ across the canvas. The Master and the Woman slip through a crimson-black aperture; the frame wobbles.

A brilliant The Bartered Bride to open Garsington's 2019 30th anniversary season

Is it love or money that brings one happiness? The village mayor and marriage broker, Kecal, has passionate faith in the banknotes, while the young beloveds, Mařenka and Jeník, put their own money on true love.

A reverent Gluck double bill by Classical Opera

In staging this Gluck double bill for Classical Opera, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, director John Wilkie took a reverent approach to classical allegory.

Lise Davidsen sings Wagner and Strauss

Superlatives to describe Lise Davidsen’s voice have been piling up since she won Placido Domingo’s 2015 Operalia competition, blowing everyone away. She has been called “a voice in a million” and “the new Kirsten Flagstad.”

Nicky Spence and Julius Drake record The Diary of One Who Disappeared

From Hyperion comes a particularly fine account of Leoš Janáček’s song cycle The Diary of One Who Disappeared. Handsome-voiced Nicky Spence is the young peasant who loses his head over an alluring gypsy and is never seen again.

Time Stands Still: L'Arpeggiata at Wigmore Hall

Christina Pluhar would presumably irritate the Brexit Party: she delights in crossing borders and boundaries. Mediterraneo, the programme that she recorded and performed with L’Arpeggiata in 2013, journeyed through the ‘olive frontier’ - Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Spain, southern Italy - mixing the sultry folk melodies of Greece, Spain and Italy with the formal repetitions of Baroque instrumental structures, and added a dash of the shady timbres and rhythmic litheness of jazz.

Puccini’s Tosca at The Royal Opera House

Sitting through Tosca - and how we see and hear it these days - does sometimes make one feel one hasn’t been to the opera but to a boxing match. Joseph Kerman’s lurid, inspired or plain wrong-headed description of this opera as ‘a shabby little shocker’ was at least half right in this tenth revival of Jonathan Kent’s production.

A life-affirming Vixen at the Royal Academy of Music

‘It will be a dream, a fairy tale that will warm your heart’: so promised a preview article in Moravské noviny designed to whet the appetite of the Brno public before the first performance of Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen at the town’s Na hradbách Theatre on 6th November 1924.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

27 Oct 2016

San Diego Opera Presents Charming Cinderella

On Saturday, October 22, San Diego Opera opened its main stage season with Rossini’s comic opera, Cinderella (La Cenerentola). Lindy Hume’s production had already worked it intrinsic magic in Australia, New Zealand, and Leipzig, Germany but this was its first run of performances in the United States.

La cenerentola in San Diego

A review by Marua Nockin

Above: Lauren McNeecey as Cinderella [All photos by J. Katarzyna Woronowicz Johnson, courtesy of San Diego Opera]

 

On Saturday, October 22, San Diego Opera opened its main stage season with Rossini’s comic opera, Cinderella (La Cenerentola). I saw the performance on the following Tuesday. Lindy Hume’s production had already worked it intrinsic magic in Australia, New Zealand, and Leipzig, Germany but this was its first run of performances in the United States. Hume is the artistic director of Opera Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.

Her stage direction makes use of almost every kind of comedy that can be invoked on the opera stage and she kept varying each artist’s movements so that nothing was ever repeated. If a member of the audience looked away for even a moment he missed something. Dan Potra, who designed The Barber of Seville for Houston Grand Opera created the designs for Cinderella’s scenery and costumes.

The curtain opens upon a wall of library shelves. In this version of the opera, Don Magnifico, the father of Cinderella and ugly sisters Tisbe and Clorinda, owns a general store. He and his daughters live above it. The store contains all sorts of items, both useful and imaginative. Other scenes are denoted with appropriate decor. Potra’s costumes ranged from clownish togs for Magnifico and the ugly sisters, to a red velvet suit for Dandini as the false prince and a gorgeous dark blue ball gown for soon-to-be Princess Angelina.

Cinderella_Nocklin2.pngScenic and Costume Designer, Dan Potra

For all this fun and games, Egyptian-born bass-baritone Ashraf Sewailam as the prince’s tutor, Alidoro, was the only straight man. He sang with stentorian dark tones and maintained a singular dignity throughout the evening. In many ways, the charismatic presence of this artist kept the production centered and allowed the comedy to go on around him.

Lauren McNeece was a sweet Cinderella whose sisters bullied her constantly and whose father denied her paternity. For most of the opera she sang with a sweet lyrical sound. At the finale, however, she let loose and sang her high notes with unfettered full rich tones that I never suspected she had hidden all along. As her future husband, Don Ramiro, David Portillo negotiated his difficult coloratura line with exquisite grace and delightful lyricism. Right now, the opera world is blessed with tenors who can sing coloratura and it is a joy to see them spread their wings and fly with the most complicated Rossini roles.

Susannah Biller and Alissa Anderson were the “ugly” sisters Clorinda and Tisbe. They were always amusing and they earned a few laughs with their antics. Most importantly, they were never strident, a difficult feat in those roles. Either of them could be the next Angelina. Italian bass Stefano de Peppo is a gifted commedian and a past master of the fast “patter” that many of Rossini’s comic roles demand. Already dressed for laughs, he made Magnifico real by ever-so-lightly underplaying the part.

Although Los Angeles Opera Young Artist Program alumnus José Adán Pérez was already well known in Southern California, this was his San Diego Opera debut. He was a no-holds-barred Dandini who wanted Cinderella for himself. He sang with an opulent light baritone sound as he made his character realize that although he was a high level servant, he was a servant nonetheless.

Chorus Master Bruce Stasyna made his debut directing the all male ensemble who sometimes danced and at other times goose stepped as an amusing group of serving men and whiskered “women.” Gary Thor Wedow conducted the San Diego Symphony Orchestra in a well-paced translucent reading of Rossini’s elegant score. Patrons heard a multiplicity of interesting sonorities from the lower as well as the higher and brighter-sounding instruments. It was good to be back at the Civic Theatre and to realize that San Diego Opera is again on a firm footing in its community. I look forward to the chamber opera, Soldier Songs, next month and to more main stage productions in 2017.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Cast and Production Information:

Conductor, Gary Thor Wedow; Director, Lindy Hume; Scenic and Costume Designer, Dan Potra; Lighting Designer, Matthew Marshall; Wig and Makeup Designer, Stephen Bryant; Chorus Master, Bruce Stasyna; Pianist, Catherine Miller; Movement Coach, Bernadette Torres; Supertitles, Lindy Hume and Navelle French; Clorinda, Susannah Biller; Tisbe, Alisa Anderson; Cinderella/Angelina, Lauren McNeece; Alidoro, Ashraf Sewailam; Don Magnifico, Stefano de Peppo; Don Ramiro, David Portillo; Dandini, José Adán Pérez.


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):