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

Christine Goerke [Photo courtesy of http://www.christinegoerke.com]
12 Dec 2016

A clipped Walküre in Amsterdam

Let’s start by getting a couple of gripes out of the way. First, the final act of Die Walküre does not constitute a full-length concert, even with a distinguished cast and orchestra, and with animated drawings fluttering on a giant screen.

Soloists help lift off clipped Walküre in Amsterdam

A review by Jenny Camilleri

Above: Christine Goerke [Photo courtesy of christinegoerke.com]

 

Presumably, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, foremost in the land and one of the best in the world, could not muster the budget for a complete Walküre — a worrisome fact, if this was indeed the case. Second, it would have cost nothing extra to include the names of the Valkyries next to the singers’ names in the programme, instead of just their voice type. On a more positive note, congratulations are in order to mezzo-soprano Alexandra Petersamer, who sang Rossweisse after having stepped in for an indisposed Petra Lang as Kundry in Act I of Parsifal at the Dutch National Opera. The original replacement, Elena Pankratova, whose flight had been delayed, sang the rest of the role.

Volle_Photographer_credit_-_Wilfried_Hsl.pngMichael Volle [Photo by Wilfried Hösl]

Petersamer and her lower-voiced sisters were fine assets in this flight of Valkyries. Among the sopranos, Allison Oakes as Gerhilde stood out with her large, prepossessing sound. Jumping immediately into Act III of Die Walküre means that we find ourselves in the midst of winged goddesses whooping in the air as they carry fallen warriors to Valhalla. Meanwhile, their sister Brünnhilde is carrying their human half-sister Sieglinde to safety, fleeing their father Wotan’s anger. Sieglinde is pregnant by Siegmund, her twin brother. Brünnhilde, ignoring Wotan’s orders, tried to save Siegmund’s life, but Wotan had him killed, punishing him for adultery and incest. Wotan must now also chastise Brünnhilde, his favourite, who carried out his true wish as a father, but must succumb to his will as chief god.

Conductor Valery Gergiev muted the first bars of the Ride of the Valkyries to create the illusion of distance, then suddenly they were upon us with a huge sound surge. Gergiev delivered in big moments such as this one, but did not maintain consistent tension throughout the performance. The exchange between the Valkyrie huntresses was flagging before Christine Goerke as Brünnhilde entered to charge it up. It is not uncommon in Wagner for the orchestra to steal the show, but this evening belonged to the soloists. There was nothing really amiss with Gergiev’s conducting, but neither was there much cause for elation. He seemed to be content to let the RCO produce beautiful sounds, which, of course, they did. The low woodwind solos keened gorgeously at Brünnhilde and Wotan’s farewell, and the Magic Fire Music glistened splendidly. Gergiev’s articulation, however, lacked psychological incisiveness. Wotan’s anger was stated rather than expressed, and the orchestra never reflected Brünnhilde’s terror of becoming mortal, locked in a deep sleep encircled by fire.

wilson1.pngTamara Wilson [Photo courtesy of Columbia Artists Management Inc.]

Happily, the three main soloists brought enough theatrical passion to make the performance take off. Soprano Tamara Wilson created a vulnerable, bruised Sieglinde, her opening phrases darkened with deepest grief. Lithe and shining, her voice then soared ecstatically in “O hehrstes Wunder!”. Wilson’s impressive brief appearance was a tantalizing glimpse into what she could do with the complete role. Her laser-like sound contrasted thrillingly with Goerke’s broad, complex soprano. Young and energetic, her Brünnhilde turned incredulously wide-eyed when pleading with Wotan in “War es so schmählich”. One really believed she was his somewhat spoiled favourite. Goerke’s unique instrument is dark and rich at the bottom and vastly opulent in the middle, tapering off into a focused top with a quick vibrato. It is a voice of many metals and minerals, and she wielded it expertly. The Amsterdam audience was lucky to get a slice of her Brünnhilde, as well as a taste of Michael Volle’s deluxe Wotan. With a baritone on the lighter side of the Wotan spectrum, Volle sang Brünnhilde to sleep in an impossibly tender, almost erotic, “Der Augen leuchtendes Paar”. At the other extreme, his seething rage while chasing his renegade daughter was tremendous. Volle’s clear German diction is pure bliss. Add to that a lustrous legato, natural theatrical instincts and a first-class instrument, and it is easy to see why he is one of the best operatic interpreters of our time.

Innovation in the concert hall is most welcome, but illustrator Tjarko van der Pol’s repetitious animation added little at best. At worst, it was a maddening distraction. Animated on a loop, drawings of the characters appeared each time they sang — a superfluous labelling exercise. The Valkyries were shields with facial features, gyrating rotors and limbs swinging back and forth. Sieglinde was a Venus of Willendorf with a clock face, and Wotan had a giant eye for a head, stuck on a tree trunk neck. These designs would look great on T-shirts and other Ring Cycle merchandise, but their spare, quasi-naïf style was totally incongruous with Wagner’s elaborate sonic world.

Jenny Camilleri


Cast and production information:

Brünnhilde: Christine Goerke (soprano); Wotan: Michael Volle (baritone); Sieglinde: Tamara Wilson (soprano); Valkyries: Christiane Kohl (soprano), Allison Oakes (soprano), Dara Hobbs (soprano), Stephanie Houtzeel (mezzo-soprano), Julia Rutigliano (mezzo-soprano), Alexandra Petersamer (mezzo-soprano), Simone Schröder (alto), Nadine Weissmann (alto); Tjarko van der Pol, animation. Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Conductor: Valery Gergiev. Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Friday, 9th December 2016.

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):