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

Eugene Onegin at Seattle

Passion! Pain! Poetry! (but hold the irony . . .)

Unusual and beautiful: Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla conducts the music of Raminta Šerkšnytė

Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla conducts the music of Raminta Šerkšnytė with the Kremerata Baltica, in this new release from Deutsche Grammophon.

Pow! Zap! Zowie! Wowie! -or- Arthur, King of Long Beach

If you might have thought a late 17thcentury semi-opera about a somewhat precious fairy tale monarch might not be your cup of twee, Long Beach Opera cogently challenges you to think again.

Philippe Jaroussky and Jérôme Ducros perform Schubert at Wigmore Hall

How do you like your Schubert? Let me count the ways …

Crebassa and Say: Impressionism and Power at Wigmore Hall

On paper this seemed a fascinating recital, but as I was traveling to the Wigmore Hall it occurred to me this might be a clash of two great artists. Both Marianne Crebassa and Fazil Say can be mercurial performers and both can bring such unique creativity to what they do one thought they might simply diverge. In the event, what happened was quite remarkable.

'Songs of Longing and Exile': Stile Antico at LSO St Luke's

Baroque at the Edge describes itself as the ‘no rules’ Baroque festival. It invites ‘leading musicians from all backgrounds to take the music of the Baroque and see where it leads them’.

Richard Jones' La bohème returns to Covent Garden

Richard Jones' production of Puccini's La bohème is back at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden after its debut in 2017/18. The opening night, 10th January 2020, featured the first of two casts though soprano Sonya Yoncheva, who was due to sing Mimì, had to drop out owing to illness, and was replaced at short notice by Simona Mihai who had sung the role in the original run and is due to sing Musetta later in this run.

Diana Damrau sings Richard Strauss’s Vier letzte Lieder on Erato

“How weary we are of wandering/Is this perhaps death?” These closing words of ‘Im Abendrot’, the last of Richard Strauss’s Vier letzte Lieder, and the composer’s own valedictory work, now seem unusually poignant since they stand as an epitaph to Mariss Jansons’s final Strauss recording.

Vaughan Williams Symphonies 3 & 4 from Hyperion

Latest in the highly acclaimed Hyperion series of Ralph Vaughan Williams symphonies, Symphonies no 3 and 4, with Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, recorded in late 2018 after a series of live performances.

Don Giovanni at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Mozart’s Don Giovanni returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago in the Robert Falls updating of the opera to the 1930s. The universality of Mozart’s score proves its adaptability to manifold settings, and this production featured several outstanding, individual performances.

Britten and Dowland: lutes, losses and laments at Wigmore Hall

'Of chord and cassiawood is the lute compounded;/ Within it lie ancient melodies'.

Tara Erraught sings Loewe, Mahler and Hamilton Harty at Wigmore Hall

During those ‘in-between’ days following Christmas and before New Year, the capital’s cultural institutions continue to offer fare both festive and more formal.

Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with the Thomanerchor and Gewandhausorchester Leipzig

This Accentus release of J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, recorded live on 15/16th December 2018 at St. Thomas’s Church Leipzig, takes the listener ‘back to Bach’, so to speak.

Retrospect Opera's new recording of Ethel Smyth's Fête Galante

Writing in April 1923 in The Bookman, of which he was editor, about Ethel Smyth’s The Boatswain’s Mate (1913-14) - the most frequently performed of the composer’s own operas during her lifetime - Rodney Bennett reflected on the principal reasons for the general neglect of Smyth’s music in her native land.

A compelling new recording of Bruckner's early Requiem

The death of his friend and mentor Franz Seiler, notary at the St Florian monastery to which he had returned as a teaching assistant in 1845, was the immediate circumstance which led the 24-year-old Anton Bruckner to compose his first large-scale sacred work: the Requiem in D minor for soloists, choir, organ continuo and orchestra, which he completed on 14th March 1849.

Prayer of the Heart: Gesualdo Six and the Brodsky Quartet

Robust carol-singing, reindeer-related muzak tinkling through department stores, and light-hearted festive-fare offered by the nation’s choral societies may dominate the musical agenda during the month of December, but at Kings Place on Friday evening Gesualdo Six and the Brodsky Quartet eschewed babes-in-mangers and ding-donging carillons for an altogether more sedate and spiritual ninety minutes of reflection and ‘musical prayer’.

The New Season at the New National Theatre, Tokyo

Professional opera in Japan is roughly a century old. When the Italian director and choreographer Giovanni Vittorio Rosi (1867-1940) mounted a production of Cavalleria Rusticana in Italian in Tokyo in 1917, with Japanese singers, he brought a period of timid experimentation and occasional student performances to an end.

Handel's Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall

For those of us who live in a metropolitan bubble, where performances of Handel's Messiah by small professional ensembles are common, it is easy to forget that for many people, Handel's masterpiece remains a large-scale choral work. My own experiences of Messiah include singing the work in a choir of 150 at the Royal Albert Hall, and the venue's tradition of performing the work annually dates back to the 19th century.

What to Make of Tosca at La Scala

La Scala’s season opened last week with Tosca. This was perhaps the preeminent event in Italian cultural and social life: paparazzi swarmed politicians, industrialists, celebrities and personalities, while almost three million Italians watched a live broadcast on RAI 1. Milan was still buzzing nine days later, when I attended the third performance of the run.

La traviata at Covent Garden: Bassenz’s triumphant Violetta in Eyre’s timeless production

There is a very good reason why Covent Garden has stuck with Richard Eyre’s 25-year old production of La traviata. Like Zeffirelli’s Tosca, it comes across as timeless whilst being precisely of its time; a quarter of a century has hardly faded its allure, nor dented its narrative clarity. All it really needs is a Violetta to sweep us off our feet, and that we got with Hrachuhi Bassenz.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

16 Nov 2016

Soldier Songs in San Diego

David Little composed his one-man opera, Soldier Songs, ten years ago and the International Festival of Arts & Ideas of New Haven, Connecticut, premiered it in 2011. At San Diego Opera, the fifty-five minute musical presentation and the “Talk Back” that followed it were part of the Shiley dētour Series which is held in the company’s smaller venue, the historic Balboa Theatre.

San Diego Opera's Shiley dētour Series presents Soldier Songs

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Baritone David Adam Moore is the Soldier [Photo courtesy of San Diego Opera, copyright Karli Cadel]

 

Upon entering the theater, the audience was greeted by low rumbling sounds that erupted into soft-edged explosions every few minutes. It was somewhat unnerving as it continued unabated until the presentation began, but the idea was to give the incoming audience a tiny taste of what it is like to be in a war zone. The mood didn’t get any lighter when Director Tomer Zvulun and design group GLMMR began to show a verismo version of the three stages of a soldier’s life.

In Stage One, the child, acted by Ryan Singer, plays with guns and video games. He enjoys chasing other children with guns. Children chant slogans about killing people with strange clothes and funny names. Video games simulate war and the child onstage thinks going to war is very much like playing a video game. The finality of death has completely escaped the youngster.

In Stage two, the child has grown up and enlisted in the military. Played by David Adam Moore, the Soldier sang with strong virile tones and excellent diction. In this presentation all the music was amplified in Garth MacAleavey’s sound design. There were titles in case anyone missed a word, but they were not altogether necessary.

After enlisting, the Soldier learned some hard truths: Getting shot hurts and soldiers actually die in combat. Casualties of war don’t get up and go home in the way that those shot down in video games or children’s stories do. Only when the soldier saw a mutilated body lying on the ground before him, did he begin to understand what war could do to the warrior. Then, he began to realize that he might be maimed and return home disabled or that he might lose his life and return in a coffin.

In Stage Three, actor Dan Denison showed the audience some of the thoughts of veterans who were lucky enough to have returned home. Contemplating what soldiering had done to them, they found they had trouble talking about their overseas experiences with people who had not been to war. Later, members of the "Talk Back" Panel noted that some veterans have had more trouble reintegrating into American society than others. Unfortunately, returnees who need psychological services may be embarrassed to ask for them. It’s sad to see that some veterans do not learn to cope with life in the United States and end up homeless.

The woman veteran on the "Talk Back" Panel said rejoining normal life in the States was harder for women because military trainers negated much of what girls had been taught growing up. As a child, she had been taught to nurture but as an adult she had learned to join in doing harm. Coming home she was again expected to be nurturing rather than aggressive, and it did not come easily. In business, for example, we expect men to be much more aggressive than women.

In Soldier Songs David Little combined the sounds of far off artillery and percussion with flute, violin, cello, clarinet, and piano. Conductor Steven Schick, a renowned percussionist, is well known for his performances of contemporary music. He paid a great deal of attention to detail and gave an impressive rendition of this unusual score.

Soldier Songs is not for the faint of heart. It takes the audience into war-like situations and shows the average American who has never seen a war zone what some soldiers have to endure. It also points out the lack of understanding many parents and children have regarding the difference between playing violent games and actual violence. High school youngsters, in particular, need to know what the dangers of war are for those who join the military. I think performances of Soldier Songs in San Diego did a great deal to bridge the gaps between soldier, veteran, and civilian.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Cast and Production Information:

Soldier, David Adam Moore; Child, Ryan Singer; Elder Man, Dan Denison; Conductor, Steven Schick; Director Tomer Zvulun; Production Design, GLMMR: David Adam Moore, Victoria “Vita” Tzykun; Lighting Designer, Maxwell Bowman; Sound Designer, Garth MacAleavey; Supertitles Coordinator, Charles Arthur; San Diego Symphony: Violin, Wesley Precourt; Cello, Chia-Ling Chien; Flute, Erica Peel; Clarinet, Frank Renk; Percussion, Erin Douglas Dowrey and Andrew Watkins; Piano M. Barranger.

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):