Recently in Performances
Written at a time when both his theatrical business and physical health were in a bad way, Handel’s Faramondo was premiered at the King’s Theatre in January 1738, fared badly and sank rapidly into obscurity where it languished until the late-twentieth century.
Fabio Luisi conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in Brahms A German Requiem op 45 and Schubert, Symphony no 8 in B minor D759 ("Unfinished").at the Barbican Hall, London.
The atmosphere was a bit electric on February 25 for the opening night of
Leoš Janàček’s 1921 domestic tragedy, and not entirely in a
Each March France's splendid Opéra de Lyon mounts a cycle of operas that speak to a chosen theme. Just now the theme is Mémoires -- mythic productions of famed, now dead, late 20th century stage directors. These directors are Klaus Michael Grüber (1941-2008), Ruth Berghaus (1927-1996), and Heiner Müller (1929-1995).
The latest instalment of Wigmore Hall’s ambitious two-year project, ‘Schubert: The Complete Songs’, was presented by German tenor Christoph Prégardien and pianist Julius Drake.
On March 10, 2017, San Diego Opera presented an unusual version of Georges Bizet’s Carmen called La Tragédie de Carmen (The Tragedy of Carmen).
For his farewell production as director of opera at the Royal Opera House, Kasper Holten has chosen Wagner’s only ‘comedy’, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: an opera about the very medium in which it is written.
The dramatic strength that Stage Director Michael Scarola drew from his Pagliacci cast was absolutely amazing. He gave us a sizzling rendition of the libretto, pointing out every bit of foreshadowing built into the plot.
On February 25, 2017, in Tucson and on the following March 3 in Phoenix, Arizona Opera presented its first world premiere, Craig Bohmler and Steven Mark Kohn’s Riders of the Purple Sage.
During the past few seasons, English Touring Opera has confirmed its triple-value: it takes opera to the parts of the UK that other companies frequently fail to reach; its inventive, often theme-based, programming and willingness to take risks shine a light on unfamiliar repertory which invariably offers unanticipated pleasures; the company provides a platform for young British singers who are easing their way into the ‘industry’, assuming a role that latterly ENO might have been expected to fulfil.
A song cycle within a song symphony - Matthias Goerne's intriuging approach to Mahler song, with Marcus Hinterhäuser, at the Wigmore Hall, London. Mahler's entire output can be described as one vast symphony, spanning an arc that stretches from his earliest songs to the sketches for what would have been his tenth symphony. Song was integral to Mahler's compositional process, germinating ideas that could be used even in symphonies which don't employ conventional singing.
On February 21, 2017, San Diego Opera presented Giuseppe Verdi’s last composition, Falstaff, at the Civic Theater. Although this was the second performance in the run and the 21st was a Tuesday, there were no empty seats to be seen. General Director David Bennett assembled a stellar international cast that included baritone Roberto de Candia in the title role and mezzo-soprano Marianne Cornetti singing her first Mistress Quickly.
In Neil Armfield’s new production of Die Zauberflöte at Lyric Opera of Chicago the work is performed as entertainment on a summer’s night staged by neighborhood children in a suburban setting. The action takes place in the backyard of a traditional house, talented performers collaborate with neighborhood denizens, and the concept of an onstage audience watching this play yields a fresh perspective on staging Mozart’s opera.
Patricia Racette’s Salome is an impetuous teenage princess who interrupts the royal routine on a cloudy night by demanding to see her stepfather’s famous prisoner. Racette’s interpretation makes her Salome younger than the characters portrayed by many of her famous colleagues of the past. This princess plays mental games with Jochanaan and with Herod. Later, she plays a physical game with the gruesome, natural-looking head of the prophet.
On February 17, 2017 Pacific Opera Project performed Gaetano Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore at the Ebell Club in Los Angeles. After that night, it can be said that neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night can stay this company from putting on a fine show. Earlier in the day the Los Angeles area was deluged with heavy rain that dropped up to an inch of water per hour. That evening, because of a blown transformer, there was no electricity in the Ebell Club area.
There has been much reconstruction of Marseille’s magnificent Opera Municipal since it opened in 1787. Most recently a huge fire in 1919 provoked a major, five-year renovation of the hall and stage that reopened in 1924.
With her irresistible cocktail of spontaneity and virtuosity, Cecilia
Bartoli is a beloved favourite of Amsterdam audiences. In triple celebratory
mode, the Italian mezzo-soprano chose Rossini’s La Cenerentola,
whose bicentenary is this year, to mark twenty years of performing at the
Concertgebouw, and her twenty-fifth performance at its Main Hall.
Matthew Rose and Gary Matthewman Winterreise: a Parallel Journey at the Wigmore Hall, a recital with extras. Schubert's winter journey reflects the poetry of Wilhelm Müller, where images act as signposts mapping the protagonist's psychological journey.
Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, composed in 1830, didn’t make it to Lisbon until 1843 when there were 14 performances at its magnificent Teatro São Carlos (opened 1793), and there were 17 more performances spread over the next two decades. The entire twentieth century saw but three (3) performances in this European capital.
It is difficult to know where to begin to praise the stunning achievement of Opera San Jose’s West Coast premiere of Silent Night.
03 Dec 2016
Lust for Revenge: Barenboim and Herlitzius fire up Strauss’s Elektra in Berlin
As the German language describes so beautifully, a “Schrei aus
tiefstem Herzen” was felt as Evelyn Herlitzius channelled an Elektra
from the depths of her soul.
She electrified the audience for Patrice
Chéreau's production, debuting in Berlin. In 2013, she starred in the
world premiere of Chéreau's staging in Aix-en-Provence. His In an
exhilarating experience, Daniel Barenboim and his Staatskapelle Berlin
illuminated with thunderous brilliance the psychological tempest in Richard
Strauss’ Elektra. The high quality ingredients of this evening
led to an experience that was more than the sum of its monumental parts.
In front of the entrance to Theater Unter den Linden, an unusual amount of
people searched for tickets. In the last minute queue, folks bickered about
their place in line. Just picking up a ticket required enduring an intense
stare from determined fanatics. With Herlitzius singing and Barenboim at the
helm, Strauss’s late-Romantic blockbuster turned into the hottest ticket
Chéreau's unadorned staging displays the psychological drama in
Surrounded by columns and arches in grey blue hues, the actors filled the
stage with tension. The set was not meant to impress the eye; instead, the
staging allows the psychological drama to fill in the void. As a force of
nature, Herlitzius vocally and dramatically demanded attention.
Barenboim’s Strauss saturated Chéreau's space with a silvery
Herlitzius enthralled the audience with her flexible voice. Her sound fueled
Elektra’s grand desire for revenge. She conveyed Elektra’s
vulnerability in nostalgia, wreaked vocal havoc with scorching distrust, and
let, above all, her maddening lust for revenge prevail. In her expressive
mannerisms, Herlitzius added a visual component to her character’s
mythological agita. She scratched her skin feverishly, like a heroine addict.
And yet she was never ridiculous in her frenziness. Chéreau directs this
lust into Elektra’s behavior: in each familial interaction, Herlitzius
charged her character with a suggestively incestuous sexuality.... truly out of
Herlitzius served up a dramatic climax at the end: when hearing
Klytaemnestra scream as Orestes kills her, a fiery flicker of gratification
flashes in Elektra’s eyes. After all her anger and despair, that brief
moment of satisfaction on Herlitzius’s face demonstrated how sharp an
actress she is.
When Chrysothemis’s argued with Elektra, Adrianne Pieczonka formed a
precious contrast to Herlitzius’ darker voice. Her character’s
naivety and relentless optimism flourished in Pieczonka’s intonation.
Very light and very bright. Her voice offered the audience a brief respite from
Elektra’s hellbent revenge. As well as in her own shrieking, she became a
vital element in all the Straussian hysteria.
Singing persuasively, Waltraud Meier cloaked Klytaemnestra in an air of
indifference. Supported by brass and percussion, Elektra’s stepmother had
a showstopper with her spectacular entrance. Her sins were hidden in a shroud
of mystery. Did she really kill Agamemnon? I was baffled to hear boos amongst
the cheers for her. Stephan Rügamer fleshed out Aegisth’s eerie and
foolish qualities. With his chilling, determined diction foreshadowing his
kill, Michael Volle’s Orest proved formidable in his duet with
Dense, thick, loud, but never overbearing. Barenboim balanced the powerful
music in extraordinary detail. At the false news of Orest’s death, the
strings mourned with somber brilliance. Without interruption, Barenboim’s
thrilling momentum captured all the frenzy and suspense in Strauss’s
music. He created interesting psychological atmospheres out of Strauss’s
wicked tonality. It was wonderful to be swept away in the madness of this