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
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.
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
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.