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 Performances

Hugo Wolf, Italienisches Liederbuch

Nationality is a complicated thing at the best of times. (At the worst of times: well, none of us needs reminding about that.) What, if anything, might it mean for Hugo Wolf’s Italian Songbook? Almost whatever you want it to mean, or not to mean.

Mortal Voices: the Academy of Ancient Music at Milton Court

The relationship between music and money is long-standing, complex and inextricable. In the Baroque era it was symbiotically advantageous.

I Puritani at Lyric Opera of Chicago

What better evocation of bel canto than an opera which uses the power of song to dispel madness and to reunite the heroine with her banished fiancé? Such is the final premise of Vincenzo Bellini’s I puritani, currently in performance at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Iolanthe: English National Opera

The current government’s unfathomable handling of the Brexit negotiations might tempt one to conclude that the entire Conservative Party are living in the land of the fairies. In Gilbert & Sullivan’s 1882 operetta Iolanthe, the arcane and Arcadia really do conflate, and Cal McCrystal’s new production for English National Opera relishes this topsy-turvy world where peris consort with peri-wigs.

Il barbiere di Siviglia in Marseille

Any Laurent Pelly production is news, any role undertaken by soprano Stephanie d’Oustrac is news. Here’s the news from Marseille.

Riveting Maria de San Diego

As part of its continuing, adventurous “Detour” series, San Diego Opera mounted a deliciously moody, proudly pulsating, wholly evocative presentation of Astor Piazzolla’s “nuevo tango” opera, Maria de Buenos Aires.

La Walkyrie in Toulouse

The Nicolas Joel 1999 production of Die Walküre seen just now in Toulouse well upholds the Airbus city’s fame as Bayreuth-su-Garonne (the river that passes through this quite beautiful, rich city).

Barrie Kosky's Carmen at Covent Garden

Carmen is dead. Long live Carmen. In a sense, both Bizet’s opera and his gypsy diva have been ‘done to death’, but in this new production at the ROH (first seen at Frankfurt in 2016) Barrie Kosky attempts to find ways to breathe new life into the show and resurrect, quite literally, the eponymous temptress.

Candide at Arizona Opera

On Friday February 2, 2018, Arizona Opera presented Leonard Bernstein’s Candide to honor the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Although all the music was Bernstein’s, the text was written and re-written by numerous authors including Lillian Hellman, Richard Wilbur, Stephen Sondheim, John La Touche, and Dorothy Parker, as well as the composer.

Satyagraha at English National Opera

The second of Philip Glass’s so-called 'profile' operas, Satyagraha is magnificent in ENO’s acclaimed staging, with a largely new cast and conductor bringing something very special to this seminal work.

Mahler Symphony no 8—Harding, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra

From the Berwaldhallen, Stockholm, a very interesting Mahler Symphony no 8 with Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. The title "Symphony of a Thousand" was dreamed up by promoters trying to sell tickets, creating the myth that quantity matters more than quality. For many listeners, Mahler 8 is still a hard nut to crack, for many reasons, and the myth is part of the problem. Mahler 8 is so original that it defies easy categories.

Wigmore Hall Schubert Birthday—Angelika Kirchschlager

At the Wigmore Hall, Schubert's birthday is always celebrated in style. This year, Angelika Kirchschlager and Julius Drake, much loved Wigmore Hall audience favourites, did the honours, with a recital marking the climax of the two-year-long Complete Schubert Songs Series. The programme began with a birthday song, Namenstaglied, and ended with a farewell, Abschied von der Erde. Along the way, a traverse through some of Schubert's finest moments, highlighting different aspects of his song output : Schubert's life, in miniature.

Ilker Arcayürek at Wigmore Hall

The first thing that struck me in this Wigmore Hall recital was the palpable sincerity of Ilker Arcayürek’s artistry. Sincerity is not everything, of course; what we think of as such may even be carefully constructed artifice, although not, I think, here.

Lisette Oropesa sings at Tucson Desert Song Festival

On January 30, 2018, Arizona Opera and the Tucson Desert Song Festival presented a recital by lyric soprano Lisette Oropesa in the University of Arizona’s Holsclaw Hall. Looking like a high fashion model in her silver trimmed midnight-blue gown, the singer and pianist Michael Borowitz began their program with Pablo Luna’s Zarzuela aria, “De España Vengo.” (“I come from Spain”).

Schubert songs, part-songs and fragments: three young singers at the Wigmore Hall

Youth met experience for this penultimate instalment of the Wigmore Hall’s Schubert: The Complete Songs series, and the results were harmonious and happy. British soprano Harriet Burns, German tenor Ferdinand Keller and American baritone Harrison Hintzsche were supportively partnered by lieder ‘old-hand’, Graham Johnson, and we heard some well-known and less familiar songs in this warmly appreciated early-afternoon recital.

Brent Opera: Nabucco

Brent Opera’s Nabucco was a triumph in that it worked as a piece of music theatre against some odds, and was a good evening out.

LPO: Das Rheingold

It is, of course, quite an achievement in itself for a symphony orchestra to perform Das Rheingold or indeed any of the Ring dramas. It does not happen very often, not nearly so often as it should; for given Wagner’s crucial musico-historical position, this is music that should stand at the very centre of their repertoires – just as Beethoven should at the centre of opera orchestras’.

William Tell in Palermo

This was the infamous production that was booed to extinction at Covent Garden. Palermo’s Teatro Massimo now owns the production.

The Bandits in Rome

AKA I masnadieri, rare early Verdi, though not as rare as Alzira. In 1847 London’s Her Majesty’s Theatre  commissioned the newly famous Verdi to write this opera for the London debut of Swedish soprano Jenny Lind.

Utah’s New Moby Dick Sets Sail

It is cause for celebration that Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s epic Moby Dick has been realized in a handsome new physical production by Utah Opera.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Semyon Bychkov [Photo by Renske Vrolijk]
03 Dec 2016

Semyon Bychkov heading to NYC and DC with Glanert and Mahler

Heading to N.Y.C and D.C. for its annual performances, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra invited Semyon Bychkov to return for his Mahler debut with the Fifth Symphony. Having recently returned from Vienna with praise for their rendition, the orchestra now presented it at their homebase.

Semyon Bychkov heading to NYC and DC with Glanert and Mahler

A review by David Pinedo

Above: Semyon Bychkov [Photo by Renske Vrolijk]

 

Perhaps it was their intermediate break, but the Mahler performance tonight felt a bit lackluster. It was Composer-in-Residence Detlev Glanert’s thrilling Theatrum Bestiarium that left me most impressed as I biked home that evening.

My expectations for Bychkov’s Mahler debut were quite high, after I witnessed his growing sterling synergy with the RCO in previous seasons with Strauss’s Eine Alpensinfonie and Ein Heldenleben. Each exuberant and sweeping me off my feet. Tonight he missed that cohesion and brilliance. Bychkov’s reached a graceful, but demure ambience. More nobly restrained than fiery; chivalrous rather than heated. Overall each segment was decent in musical beauty, but never moving.

A highlight included Omar Tomasoni’s trumpet solos. In the opening Trauermarsch he served up moments of brilliance with a devoted air, producing some sour shrills. He ruled the first movement and later returned with more of his distinct curvy phrasing with his intensity consistently growing in verve and resonance. Such stamina!

Mahler’s Fifth contains arguably his most Romantic music in the Adagietto. Mengelberg was an ambassador for Mahler’s work, who conducted this symphony in Amsterdam in 1906. This fourth movement is a love letter to his wife Alma, as she wrote to the Titan Mengelberg about a poem on longing included by her husband.

The Adagietto has enormous power to disarm through the dreamy harp and lush strings. With all its decency, Bychkov’s influence did not reach emotive depth; his conducting expressive, authentically passionate without overreacted theatricality. His result made for more of a soothing experience, rather than capturing Mahler’s swooning Romance.

Before the intermission, I was surprised by my enjoyment of Detlev Glanert’s Theatrum Bestiarum. Glanert suggests this work as a precursor to his opera Caligula. I felt pleasantly uprooted by its violent momentum. This is the third time the RCO scheduled this work. I grow more fond of it with every performance.

“In Theatrum bestiarum I visit a zoo of human beings,” Glanert declared. At many moments I could envision his concept. This “dark and wild series of “Songs and Dances for Large Orchestra”, in which the audience looks in upon the dissection of man as beast,‟ opens with psychological horror through incisive strings burning with fire. Glanert dedicated this work to Shostakovich, and his Eleventh Symphony seems of particular influence. It also reminded me of the violence of Bernard Herrmann’s Psycho score.

As a guest performer visiting, Erwin Wiersinga mastered the Concertgebouw’s legendary Maarschalkerweerd Organ. His thunderous volume just as impressive as the subtleties of the calmer passages.

The twenty-two minute piece premiered in 2005. Glanert said his compositional inspiration comes from the “simple and dramatic sense of Mahler’s structure.” This contrasts is evident in the emotional drama: from powerful fortissimos to jazzy pianissimo phrases, while the winds section lands on cushioning strings. Bychkov conducted with strict tempi, highly focused yet still more expressive in sound than in Mahler later.

It’s encouraging to hear the RCO programming this work more frequently, as it becomes part of its repertoire. Combining it with Mahler provides an enriching contrast for both works. After the much lauded world premiere of his Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch earlier this month, this programming proved yet another fruitful collaboration between the RCO and its Composer-in-Residence Detlev Glanert.

The folks in NYC and DC will be in for a treat when the Amsterdam entourage performs across the Atlantic.

David Pinedo

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):