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

ETO Autumn 2020 Season Announcement: Lyric Solitude

English Touring Opera are delighted to announce a season of lyric monodramas to tour nationally from October to December. The season features music for solo singer and piano by Argento, Britten, Tippett and Shostakovich with a bold and inventive approach to making opera during social distancing.

Love, always: Chanticleer, Live from London … via San Francisco

This tenth of ten Live from London concerts was in fact a recorded live performance from California. It was no less enjoyable for that, and it was also uplifting to learn that this wasn’t in fact the ‘last’ LfL event that we will be able to enjoy, courtesy of VOCES8 and their fellow vocal ensembles (more below …).

Dreams and delusions from Ian Bostridge and Imogen Cooper at Wigmore Hall

Ever since Wigmore Hall announced their superb series of autumn concerts, all streamed live and available free of charge, I’d been looking forward to this song recital by Ian Bostridge and Imogen Cooper.

Treasures of the English Renaissance: Stile Antico, Live from London

Although Stile Antico’s programme article for their Live from London recital introduced their selection from the many treasures of the English Renaissance in the context of the theological debates and upheavals of the Tudor and Elizabethan years, their performance was more evocative of private chamber music than of public liturgy.

A wonderful Wigmore Hall debut by Elizabeth Llewellyn

Evidently, face masks don’t stifle appreciative “Bravo!”s. And, reducing audience numbers doesn’t lower the volume of such acclamations. For, the audience at Wigmore Hall gave soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn and pianist Simon Lepper a greatly deserved warm reception and hearty response following this lunchtime recital of late-Romantic song.

The Sixteen: Music for Reflection, live from Kings Place

For this week’s Live from London vocal recital we moved from the home of VOCES8, St Anne and St Agnes in the City of London, to Kings Place, where The Sixteen - who have been associate artists at the venue for some time - presented a programme of music and words bound together by the theme of ‘reflection’.

Iestyn Davies and Elizabeth Kenny explore Dowland's directness and darkness at Hatfield House

'Such is your divine Disposation that both you excellently understand, and royally entertaine the Exercise of Musicke.’

Paradise Lost: Tête-à-Tête 2020

‘And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven … that old serpent … Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.’

Joyce DiDonato: Met Stars Live in Concert

There was never any doubt that the fifth of the twelve Met Stars Live in Concert broadcasts was going to be a palpably intense and vivid event, as well as a musically stunning and theatrically enervating experience.

‘Where All Roses Go’: Apollo5, Live from London

‘Love’ was the theme for this Live from London performance by Apollo5. Given the complexity and diversity of that human emotion, and Apollo5’s reputation for versatility and diverse repertoire, ranging from Renaissance choral music to jazz, from contemporary classical works to popular song, it was no surprise that their programme spanned 500 years and several musical styles.

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields 're-connect'

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields have titled their autumn series of eight concerts - which are taking place at 5pm and 7.30pm on two Saturdays each month at their home venue in Trafalgar Square, and being filmed for streaming the following Thursday - ‘re:connect’.

Lucy Crowe and Allan Clayton join Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO at St Luke's

The London Symphony Orchestra opened their Autumn 2020 season with a homage to Oliver Knussen, who died at the age of 66 in July 2018. The programme traced a national musical lineage through the twentieth century, from Britten to Knussen, on to Mark-Anthony Turnage, and entwining the LSO and Rattle too.

Choral Dances: VOCES8, Live from London

With the Live from London digital vocal festival entering the second half of the series, the festival’s host, VOCES8, returned to their home at St Annes and St Agnes in the City of London to present a sequence of ‘Choral Dances’ - vocal music inspired by dance, embracing diverse genres from the Renaissance madrigal to swing jazz.

Royal Opera House Gala Concert

Just a few unison string wriggles from the opening of Mozart’s overture to Le nozze di Figaro are enough to make any opera-lover perch on the edge of their seat, in excited anticipation of the drama in music to come, so there could be no other curtain-raiser for this Gala Concert at the Royal Opera House, the latest instalment from ‘their House’ to ‘our houses’.

Fading: The Gesualdo Six at Live from London

"Before the ending of the day, creator of all things, we pray that, with your accustomed mercy, you may watch over us."

Met Stars Live in Concert: Lise Davidsen at the Oscarshall Palace in Oslo

The doors at The Metropolitan Opera will not open to live audiences until 2021 at the earliest, and the likelihood of normal operatic life resuming in cities around the world looks but a distant dream at present. But, while we may not be invited from our homes into the opera house for some time yet, with its free daily screenings of past productions and its pay-per-view Met Stars Live in Concert series, the Met continues to bring opera into our homes.

Precipice: The Grange Festival

Music-making at this year’s Grange Festival Opera may have fallen silent in June and July, but the country house and extensive grounds of The Grange provided an ideal setting for a weekend of twelve specially conceived ‘promenade’ performances encompassing music and dance.

Monteverdi: The Ache of Love - Live from London

There’s a “slide of harmony” and “all the bones leave your body at that moment and you collapse to the floor, it’s so extraordinary.”

Music for a While: Rowan Pierce and Christopher Glynn at Ryedale Online

“Music for a while, shall all your cares beguile.”

A Musical Reunion at Garsington Opera

The hum of bees rising from myriad scented blooms; gentle strains of birdsong; the cheerful chatter of picnickers beside a still lake; decorous thwacks of leather on willow; song and music floating through the warm evening air.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Lynne McMurtry (Mistress Quickly), Todd Thomas (Falstaff), and Lauren Segal (Meg Page). [Photo: R. Tinker]
01 Dec 2016

Falstaff at Manitoba Opera

Manitoba Opera chose to open its 44th season by going for the belly laughs — literally — as it notably presented its inaugural production of Verdi’s Falstaff.

Falstaff at Manitoba Opera

A review by Holly Harris

Above: Lynne McMurtry (Mistress Quickly), Todd Thomas (Falstaff), and Lauren Segal (Meg Page).

Photos by R. Tinker

 

The Italian master’s sole comic opera depicting vainglorious knight Sir John Falstaff’s attempts to woo the very married Alice Ford and Meg Page conflates Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV, with Verdi’s through-composed opera based on Arrigo Boito’s Italian libretto (with surtitles) considered by many as his greatest stage work. The three-performance production ran November 19/22/25 at Winnipeg’s Centennial Concert Hall.

However, the noble — and notoriously fickle — art of comedy can be as elusive as catching a shadow. Often simply boiling down to individual taste, its many stylistic flavours range from subtle irony to full out slapstick. In this case, acclaimed Winnipeg-born director Michael Cavanagh opted for broad(er) strokes, with the production’s crackerjack cast called upon to deliver copious sight gags and cheeky butt jokes a la adult animated sitcom South Park.

Having said all this, the impressive cast of principals is among the finest assembled on this stage, beginning with American baritone Todd Thomas in the title role. Renowned internationally as a true Verdi baritone, this booming powerhouse who also enthralled local audiences as the hunch-backed jester in MO’s Rigoletto in 2012, and Count di Luna during its 2008 production of Il Trovatore performed his third company role with utter conviction. He fulfilled his lumbering protagonist’s emotional trajectory, from his opening declamatory Act I aria “L’Onore! Ladri!” to Act III’s poignant “Ehi taverniere! Mondo ladro,” with the latter solo suddenly revealing the achingly vulnerable, faded hero beneath his fleshy carapace. Thomas’ compassionate portrayal matched by a resonant voice that is its own force of nature crafted a multi-dimensional, all-too-human knight whose shining armor has grown tarnished.

_RWT9877.pngSasha Djihanian (Nannetta), Monica Huisman (Alice), Lauren Segal (Meg Page), and Lynne McMurtry (Mistress Quickly)

Winnipeg-born baritone Gregory Dahl more than held his own with Thomas as Alice’s jealous, hotheaded husband Ford. Last appearing as “George” in the MO’s 2016 production Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men, Dahl stormed the stage, barely containing his fury during Act II’s explosive “E sogno? o realta.”

Winnipeg soprano Monica Huisman in her role (and Verdi) debut as Alice Ford infused her character with plenty of sassy backbone, conspiring with mezzo-soprano Lauren Segal’s equally compelling Meg Page during “Alice. Meg. Nannetta” where they mock the “king of all bellies.” Her powerful vocals and own comic chops further testify to this gifted performer’s chameleonic versatility. Mistress Quickly sung by contralto Lynne McMurtry helped machinate the plot like a master puppeteer, sparring and baiting Falstaff with clandestine love notes.

Two MO newcomers were standouts: Soprano Sasha Djihanian as the Fords’ high spirited daughter Nannette radiated with clarion goodness during her Act III aria “Sul fil d'un soffio etesio” while disguised as the Fairy Princess. Her lovesick heartthrob Fenton performed by Kevin Myers brimmed with the impulsivity of youth, his pure lyrical tenor voice seducing the opening night crowed as much as it did Nannette.

Falstaff’s animated sidekicks, Pistola (bass Tyler Putnam, MO debut) and Bardolfo (tenor James McLennan) played for laughs while tenor Christopher Mayell’s Dr. Caius at times strained to be heard.

The final, triumphant 12-part buffa fugue, in which all come together at the end capped the 150-minute (including intermission) production with its iconic line, “He who laughs last, laughs best.”

Tyrone Paterson ably led the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra throughout Verdi’s ebullient, three-act score. The Manitoba Opera Chorus prepared by Tadeusz Biernacki morphed into townspeople, forest nymphs and elves, while also pinch hitting as stage hands during several awkward set changes.

Sumptuous period costumes and a modular set designed by Olivier Landreville for the New York City Opera (now owned by Opéra de Montréal) proved effective. Bill Williams’ lighting included fantastical gobo effects and moon glow that illuminated the finally resolved, laughing lovers.

Holly Harris

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):