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

Natalya Romaniw - Arion: Voyage of a Slavic Soul

Sailing home to Corinth, bearing treasures won in a music competition, the mythic Greek bard, Arion, found his golden prize coveted by pirates and his life in danger.

Purcell’s The Indian Queen from Lille

Among the few compensations opera lovers have had from the COVID crisis is the abundance – alas, plethora – of streamed opera productions we might never have seen or even known of without it.

Philip Venables' Denis & Katya: teenage suicide and audience complicity

As an opera composer, Philip Venables writes works quite unlike those of many of his contemporaries. They may not even be operas at all, at least in the conventional sense - and Denis & Katya, the most recent of his two operas, moves even further away from this standard. But what Denis & Katya and his earlier work, 4.48 Psychosis, have in common is that they are both small, compact forces which spiral into extraordinarily powerful and explosive events.

A new, blank-canvas Figaro at English National Opera

Making his main stage debut at ENO with this new production of The Marriage of Figaro, theatre director Joe Hill-Gibbins professes to have found it difficult to ‘develop a conceptual framework for the production to inhabit’.

Massenet’s Chérubin charms at Royal Academy Opera

“Non so più cosa son, cosa faccio … Now I’m fire, now I’m ice, any woman makes me change colour, any woman makes me quiver.”

Bluebeard’s Castle, Munich

Last year the world’s opera companies presented only nine staged runs of Béla Bartòk’s Bluebeard’s Castle.

The Queen of Spades at Lyric Opera of Chicago

If obsession is key to understanding the dramatic and musical fabric of Tchaikovsky’s opera The Queen of Spades, the current production at Lyric Opera of Chicago succeeds admirably in portraying such aspects of the human psyche.

WNO revival of Carmen in Cardiff

Unveiled by Welsh National Opera last autumn, this Carmen is now in its first revival. Original director Jo Davies has abandoned picture postcard Spain and sun-drenched vistas for images of grey, urban squalor somewhere in modern-day Latin America.

Lise Davidsen 'rescues' Tobias Kratzer's Fidelio at the Royal Opera House

Making Fidelio - Beethoven’s paean to liberty, constancy and fidelity - an emblem of the republican spirit of the French Revolution is unproblematic, despite the opera's censor-driven ‘Spanish’ setting.

A sunny, insouciant Così from English Touring Opera

Beach balls and parasols. Strolls along the strand. Cocktails on the terrace. Laura Attridge’s new production of Così fan tutte which opened English Touring Opera’s 2020 spring tour at the Hackney Empire, is a sunny, insouciant and often downright silly affair.

A wonderful role debut for Natalya Romaniw in ENO's revival of Minghella's Madama Butterfly

The visual beauty of Anthony Minghella’s 2005 production of Madama Butterfly, now returning to the Coliseum stage for its seventh revival, still takes one’s breath away.

Charlie Parker’s Yardbird at Seattle

It appears that Charlie Parker’s Yardbird has reached the end of its road in Seattle. Since it opened in 2015 at Opera Philadelphia it has played Arizona, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and the English National Opera.

La Périchole in Marseille

The most notable of all Péricholes of Offenbach’s sentimental operetta is surely the legendary Hortense Schneider who created the role back in 1868 at Paris’ Théâtre des Varietés. Alas there is no digital record.

Three Centuries Collide: Widmann, Ravel and Beethoven

It’s very rare that you go to a concert and your expectation of it is completely turned on its head. This was one of those. Three works, each composed exactly a century apart, beginning and ending with performances of such clarity and brilliance.

Seventeenth-century rhetoric from The Sixteen at Wigmore Hall

‘Yes, in my opinion no rhetoric more persuadeth or hath greater power over the mind; hath not Musicke her figures, the same which Rhetorique? What is a but her Antistrophe? her reports, but sweet Anaphora's? her counterchange of points, Antimetabole's? her passionate Aires but Prosopopoea's? with infinite other of the same nature.’

Hrůša’s Mahler: A Resurrection from the Golden Age

Jakub Hrůša has an unusual gift for a conductor and that is to make the mightiest symphony sound uncommonly intimate. There were many moments during this performance of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony where he grappled with its monumental scale while reducing sections of it to chamber music; times when the power of his vision might crack the heavens apart and times when a velvet glove imposed the solitude of prayer.

Full-Throated Troubador Serenades San José

Verdi’s sublimely memorable melodies inform and redeem his setting of the dramatically muddled Il Trovatore, the most challenging piece to stage of his middle-period successes.

Opera North deliver a chilling Turn of the Screw

Storm Dennis posed no disruption to this revival of Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, first unveiled at Leeds Grand Theatre in 2010, but there was plenty of emotional turbulence.

Luisa Miller at English National Opera

Verdi's Luisa Miller occupies an important position in the composer's operatic output. Written for Naples in 1849, the work's genesis was complex owing to problems with the theatre and the Neapolitan censors.

Eugène Onéguine in Marseille

A splendid 1997 provincial production of Tchaikovsky’s take on Pushkin’s Bryonic hero found its way onto a major Provençal stage just now. The historic Opéra Municipal de Marseille possesses a remarkable acoustic that allowed the Pushkin verses to flow magically through Tchaikovsky’s ebullient score.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

The Source
22 Oct 2016

The Source, an Important New Stage Work

On October 20, 2016, Los Angeles Opera’s Off Grand Series presented librettist Mark Doten and composer Ted Hearne’s The Source at the Roy and Edna Disney Cal Arts Theater. “REDCAT” is a one-hundred seat auditorium in the Disney Hall complex.

The Source, an Important New Stage Work

A review by Maria Nockin

 

More oratorio than opera, The Source is as new as today’s headlines. Doten’s libretto is taken from the United States Army field reports, diplomatic cables, and short bits of sound from miscellaneous sources. In 2010, Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning gave the military materials to Wikileaks and its media partners. It was the outing of these papers, many of which were labeled secret, that resulted in this soldier being sentenced to serve thirty-five years in prison.

Doten humanized selected passages from the huge array of material and has allowed the listener to grasp some of the human cost of war, not only to Iraqi and Afghani citizens but to the press and American soldiers as well. One of the outside quotations he uses is from Steven Hawking: “And how insignificant and accidental human life is in it.” Although Hawking may not have been speaking of Middle East war, his thoughts on the insignificance of life are what The Source conveys with sensitivity as it invites its audience to enjoy Hearne’s enchanting musical fabric. Listeners may have come for the news-oriented show, but they leave with an appreciation for the fine artistry demonstrated by composer and librettist in their construction of this most interesting piece.

Hearne’s instrumental music combines the sonorities of a string quartet, in this case violin, viola, cello and bass, with keyboard, guitar, and drums. To the mix, he added electronics and a vocal quartet. The electronic sounds include snippets from recordings including Clay Aiken’s rendition of Kurt Weill’s “Mack the Knife,” the Dixie Chicks’ “Easy Silence,” and Dinah Washington’s interpretation of Jerome Kern’s “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” Hearne also used clips from interviews and occasionally a bit of electronic distortion. With these varied entries, he created a huge sonic tapestry that envelops his listeners in a multi-layered score combining classical string sounds sometimes played col legno (by the wooden side of the bow) with jazz rhythms and the previously mentioned electronics.

From this seemingly dry military material, Doten selected lyrical passages that came to life with Hearne’s creative soundscape. The twelve sections of the score reminded me of the Stations of the Cross. Doten and Hearne dramatized a dozen poignant musical snapshots of the horrors of war and its effects, both long and short term.

Director Daniel Fish had the audience seated on folding chairs on a level lower than the orchestra, which was behind a semi-transparent screen. Half the chairs faced the orchestra and half faced away from it, but there were screens on all four “walls” framing the space. At the post-performance Talk Back, we learned that the faces of people seen on the screens were relating to the presentation's final, musically unaccompanied combat video. The singers, all of whom were miked, sat among the onlookers. Garth MacAleavey designed the sound and Philip White was the vocal processing engineer. Doten and Hearne’s theater piece is revolutionary in its use of libretto material, it’s staging, and above all in the music from the fecund mind of Ted Hearne. Anyone in Los Angeles this week should definitely see The Source.

Maria Nockin


Cast and creative team information:

Composer, Ted Hearne; Librettist, Mark Doten; Director, Daniel Fish; Produced by Beth Morrison Projects; Production Design, Jim Findlay; Video Design, Jim Findlay and Daniel Fish; Music Director, Nathan Koci; Lighting Design, Christopher Kuhl; Costume Deign, Terese Wadden; Sound Design, Garth MacAleavey; Vocal Processing Engineer, Philip White; Assistant Director, Ashley Tata; Stage Manager, Jason Kaiser; Video Engineer, Keith Skretch; Sound Engineer, Nick Tipp; Vocalists: Mellissa Hughes, Samia Mounts, Isaiah Robinson, Jonathan Woody; Cover Vocalist, Martin Bakari; Keyboard, Nathan Koci; Violin, Courtney Orlando; Viola, Anne Lanzilotti; Cello, Leah Coloff; Guitar, Taylor Levine; Bass, Greg Chudzig; Drums, Ron Wiltrout.

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):