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 Reviews

A Mysterious Lucia at Forest Lawn

On September 10, 2017, Pacific Opera Project (POP) presented Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in a beautiful outdoor setting at Forest Lawn. POP audiences enjoy casual seating with wine, water, and finger foods at each table. General and Artistic Director Josh Shaw greeted patrons in a “blood stained” white wedding suit. Since Lucia is a Scottish opera, it opened with an elegant bagpipe solo calling members of the audience to their seats.

This is Rattle: Blazing Berlioz at the Barbican Hall

Blazing Berlioz' The Damnation of Faust at the Barbican with Sir Simon Rattle, Bryan Hymel, Christopher Purves, Karen Cargill, Gabor Bretz, The London Symphony Orchestra and The London Symphony Chorus directed by Simon Halsey, Rattle's chorus master of choice for nearly 35 years. Towards the end, the Tiffin Boys' Choir, the Tiffin Girls' Choir and Tiffin Children's Choir (choirmaster James Day) filed into the darkened auditorium to sing The Apotheosis of Marguerite, their voices pure and angelic, their faces shining. An astonishingly theatrical touch, but absolutely right.

Moved Takes on Philadelphia Headlines

There‘s a powerful new force in the opera world and its name is O17.

Philly Flute’s Fast and Furious Frills

If you never thought opera could make your eyes cross with visual sensory over load, you never saw Opera Philadelphia’s razzle-dazzle The Magic Flute.

At War With Philadelphia

Enterprising Opera Philadelphia has included a couple of intriguing site-specific events in their O17 Festival line-up.

The Mozartists at the Wigmore Hall

Three years into their MOZART 250 project, Classical Opera have launched a new venture, The Mozartists, which is designed to allow the company to broaden its exploration of the concert and symphonic works of Mozart and his contemporaries.

Philadelphia: Putting On Great Opera Can Be Murder

Composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell have gifted Opera Philadelphia (and by extension, the world) with a crackling and melodious new stage piece, Elizabeth Cree.

Mansfield Park at The Grange

In her 200th anniversary year, in the county of her birth and in which she spent much of her life, and two days after she became the first female writer to feature on a banknote - the new polymer £10 note - Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park made a timely appearance, in operatic form, at The Grange in Hampshire.

Elektra in San Francisco

Among the myriad of artistic innovation during the Kurt Herbert Adler era at San Francisco Opera was the expansion of the War Memorial Opera House pit. Thus there could be 100 players in the pit for this current edition of Strauss’ beloved opera, Elektra!

Mark Padmore on festivals, lieder and musical conversations

I have to confess, somewhat sheepishly, at the start of my conversation with Mark Padmore, that I had not previously been aware of the annual music festival held in the small Cotswolds town of Tetbury, which was founded in 2002 and to which Padmore will return later this month to perform a recital of lieder by Schubert and Schumann with pianist Till Fellner.

Turandot in San Francisco

Mega famous L.A. artist David Hockney is no stranger at San Francisco Opera. Of his six designs for opera only the Met’s Parade and Covent Garden’s Die Frau ohne Schatten have not found their way onto the War Memorial stage.

The School of Jealousy: Bampton Classical Opera bring Salieri to London

In addition to fond memories of previous beguiling productions, I had two specific reasons for eagerly anticipating this annual visit by Bampton Classical Opera to St John’s Smith Square. First, it offered the chance to enjoy again the tunefulness and wit of Salieri’s dramma giocoso, La scuola de’ gelosi (The School of Jealousy), which I’d seen the company perform so stylishly at Bampton in July.

Richard Jones' new La bohème opens ROH season

There was a decided nip in the air as I made my way to the opening night of the Royal Opera House’s 2017/18 season, eagerly anticipating the House’s first new production of La bohème for over forty years. But, inside the theatre in took just a few moments of magic for director Richard Jones and his designer, Stewart Laing, to convince me that I had left autumnal London far behind.

Giovanni Simon Mayr: Medea in Corinto

The Bavarian-born Johann Simon Mayr (1763–1845) trained and made his career in Italy and thus ended up calling himself Giovanni Simone Mayr, or simply G. S. Mayr. He is best known for having been composition teacher to Giuseppe Donizetti.

Robin Tritschler and Julius Drake open
Wigmore Hall's 2017/18 season

It must be a Director’s nightmare. After all the months of planning, co-ordinating and facilitating, you are approaching the opening night of a new concert season, at which one of the world’s leading baritones is due to perform, accompanied by a pianist who is one of the world’s leading chamber musicians. And, then, appendicitis strikes. You have 24 hours to find a replacement vocal soloist or else the expectant patrons will be disappointed.

The Opera Box at the Brunel Museum

The courtly palace may have been opera’s first home but nowadays it gets out and about, popping up in tram-sheds, car-parks, night-clubs, on the beach, even under canal bridges. So, I wasn’t that surprised to find myself following The Opera Box down the shaft of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Thames Tunnel at Rotherhithe for a double bill which brought together the gothic and the farcical.

Proms at Wiltons: Eight Songs for a Mad King

It’s hard to imagine that Peter Maxwell Davies’ dramatic monologue, Eight Songs for a Mad King, can bear, or needs, any further contextualisation or intensification, so traumatic is its depiction - part public history, part private drama - of the descent into madness of King George III. It is a painful exposure of the fracture which separates the Sovereign King from the human mortal.

Prokofiev: Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution: Gergiev, Mariinsky

Sergei Prokofiev's Cantata for the Twentieth Anniversary of the October Revolution, Op 74, with Valery Gergiev conducting the Mariinsky Orchestra and Chorus. One Day That Shook the World to borrow the subtitle from Sergei Eisenstein's epic film October : Ten Days that Shook the World.

Matthias Goerne: Bach Cantatas for Bass

In this new release for Harmonia Mundi, German baritone Matthias Goerne presents us with two gems of Bach’s cantata repertoire, with the texts of both BWV 56 and 82 exploring one’s sense of hope in death.  Goerne adeptly interprets the paradoxical combination of hope and despair that underpins these works, deploying a graceful lyricism alongside a richer, darker bass register.

Gramophone Award Winner — Matthias Goerne Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge

Winner of the 2017 Gramophone Awards, vocal category - Matthias Goerne and Christoph Eschenbach - Johannes Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge and other Brahms Lieder. Here is why ! An exceptional recording, probably a new benchmark.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

16 Nov 2016

Barber of Seville [Hollywood Style] in Los Angeles

On Saturday evening November 12, 2016, Pacific Opera Project presented Gioachino Rossini’s comic opera The Barber of Seville in an updated version that placed the action in Hollywood. It was sung in the original Italian but the translation seen as supertitles was specially written to match the characters’ Hollywood identities.

Pacific Opera Project: The Barber of Seville, Hollywood style

A review by Michael Milenski

Above: Bartolo checks out the Music Teacher. [Photo courtesy of Pacific Opera Project, copyright Martha Benedict]

 

The Ebell Club in the Highland Park area of Los Angeles has a modest sized hall in which Pacific Opera Project (POP) often presents opera. The atmosphere is casual and the audience is usually seated at tables eating hors d’oeuvres and drinking wine. Music Director Stephen Karr sees to it that the music is taken seriously and Artistic Director Josh Shaw makes sure the action and the English supertitles keep their 2016 audience entertained.

Stage Director Josh Shaw designed the sets, which showed Rosina’s balcony, Bartolo’s living room, and Figaro’s shop. He had some short scenes played in front of a curtain. Above the stage were not only English titles but also videos and notes regaling the characters’ Hollywood exploits.

Figaro, Bernardo Bermudez, was the hairdresser who could always find his clients clean samples of hair or anything else needed to pass a drug test. His Figaro was so amusing that he almost distracted the audience from his robust singing. As his servant, Fiorello, Kevin Blickfeldt was a rollocking misfit.

Rosina, mezzo-soprano Meagan Martin, was a lovely young starlet who was anything but innocent, as she proved by the stripper-pole choreography she danced while singing “Una voce poco fa.” She sang with a small but sweet sound that was even all the way up and down her wide range.

The main character in this production, however, was Lindoro, sung by coloratura tenor Sergio Gonzalez. His well-focused sound made his virile voice sound larger than it actually was. New on the scene, he has an attractive tonal quality and a good sense of comic timing. Thus, he made an amusing drunk and a hilarious, bewigged “lady” music teacher. Don Bartolo, portrayed by bass-baritone E. Scott Levin, was Rosina’s leering manager who wanted her--and the money she could earn--for himself. The fall guy in this opera, Levin is an old friend to POP. We remember his riotous interpretation of Maestro Biscoma Strappaviscere in Donizetti’s Viva la Mamma.

Basilio, sung by bass Phil Meyer, was once the skin-tight leopard-print-pants-wearing lead singer of the famous group, Aluminum Blymp. At this point, however, he is a caustic-tongued music teacher who loves getting high on cocaine. He sang with a dark sound while spewing calumnies with comic touches. Although singing the comprimario role of Berta in this presentation, Melinda Ehrlich is a fine soprano who has sung leading roles with local companies and will be Juliet in the Center stage production of Romeo and Juliet. She added a strong top line to the ensembles. Wearing the shortest possible pants, Keystone cop wannabe Christopher Anderson-West’s Sergeant fainted when confronted with true nobility and he made the end of the opera turn out right.

For the better part of three hours the Ebell Club audience smiled, tittered, and guffawed at the antics of this talented cast. At the beginning of this review I mentioned that the music was always rendered with the utmost serious attention to detail. POP usually has a small orchestra, but this time Music Director Stephen Karr and Assistant Conductor Zach Neufeld played a knuckle-busting piano four hands version of Rossini’s intricate score that captured almost all of the original sonorities. The titles said the arrangement was by Arnold Schoenberg, but Karr and Neufeld hit the right keys and their music sounded just like unadulterated Rossini! This was a fun production that profited from the intimacy and casual ambience of the setting.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Cast and Production Information:

Music Director, Stephen Karr; Director and Designer, Josh Shaw; Costume Designer, Maggie Green; Assistant Conductor, Zach Neufeld; Figaro, Bernardo Bermudez; Count Almaviva, Sergio Gonzalez; Don Basilio, Phil Meyer; Fiorello, Kevin Blickfeldt; Rosina, Meagan Martin; Don Bartolo, E. Scott Levin; Berta, Melinda Ehrlich; Sergeant, Chris Anderson-West; Chorus: William Grundler, John David Wiese, and Matthew Ian Welch.

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):