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Reflections on former visits to Opera Holland Park usually bring to mind late evening sunshine, peacocks, Japanese gardens, the occasional chilly gust in the pavilion and an overriding summer optimism, not to mention committed performances and strong musical and dramatic values.
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.
03 Jan 2017
It’s the end of the world as we know it: Hannigan & Rattle sing of Death
For the Late Night concert after the Saturday series, fifteen Berliners
backed up Barbara Hannigan in yet another adventurous collaboration on a modern
rarity with Simon Rattle. I was completely unfamiliar with the French composer,
but the performance tonight made me fall in love with Gérard
Grisey’s sensually disintegrating soundscape Quatre chants pour
franchir le seuil, or “Fours Songs to cross the
With society bursting at its seams and our civilization at the edge of an
abyss without a catcher in the rye, Grisey’s final work serves as a great
foreshadowing composition at the end of the second millennium, but nobody
seemed to be listening twenty years ago. It certainly resonates now!
Mr Rattle briefly introduced the piece, emphasizing the four different
deaths. He also alluded to the current worldly chaos. He usually doesn’t
speak about the music, but this clearly added to the performance's urgency. In
retrospect, this unnerving, but sultry performance proved itself more an
ominous premonition of future tidings. Especially after what happened a week
later at the Christmas Market attack.
Gérard Grisey emerged from the spectralist school that produced some
fascinating soundscapes. He carries on the lineage of Tristan Murail and
Messiaen; though, Grisey distanced himself from such labels later in life. He
completed this work just before his own passing in 1998.
Grisey’s masterpiece in four segments eerily depicts the deaths of an
angel, civilization, voice, and mankind destroyed by nature. The “Death
of an Angel” text was taken from Christian Guez-Ricord’s “The
Hours of the Night”, heavy on Judeo-Christian images. “Death of
Civilisation” Grisey based on Egyptian Sarcophagi, while 6th
Century B.C., Greek poet Erinna originated the lyrics for “Death of
Voices”. Finally, The Epic of Gilgamesh serves as the
basis for the apocalyptical “Death of Mankind by Environment”.
Even though the concept seems terribly depressing, Grisey’s colourful
and invigorating soundscapes full of saxophones and nonconventional uses of
brass and strings really enlivened the auditorium. The depth dimensions in his
composition really thrived in space. Without the theatrical vocal craft of Ms.
Hannigan, this work might have a troublesome delivery.
The three percussive masters performing with an endless array of instruments
must have had a field day with their exciting pulses and rhythms. They
performed clearly inspired by Rattle, who of course, started out as a
percussionist. Each movement was connected by the soothing scrubbing of what
seemed like sandpaper on drum. These interludes created an otherworldly
ambience, adding to eerie foreboding nature of this piece.
In a fabulous black spiderwebbed outfit, Hannigan shared the stage with Sir
Simon revealing an intimate display of mutual respect. Spitting, regurgitating,
and swallowing the syllables ever so elegantly through Grisey’s vocally
acrobatic composition, Ms. Hannigan’s thrilling vocal expulsions, Mr
Rattle dare not contain, but he must! They seemed superlatively in tune to each
other with a symbiotic synergy one doesn’t often encounter.
Barbara Hannigan made her voice fluctuate and erupt with the languidness of
boiling magma in a simmering volcano. Long vocal lines melted with the
elongated curves of the trumpet’s calls, whose name I did not catch, but
delivered the most memorable trumpet tones. His curves melted into Ms. Hannigan's
voluptuous bends and turns.
In the end, the penetrant, disorienting sounds resulted in a lavish,
arousing, but still fearful atmosphere. I hear you thinking ‘oh how
dramatic’, but the sense of impending doom created by Hannigan and Rattle
certainly fed into my political and environmental panic of what comes next?
The young audience yelled many bravi, while the applause continued for quite
some time, but this was not a piece you could to which you could give an
encore. I left the Philharmonie, thrilled, slightly unnerved by the sensual and
exhilarating closure to this extravaganza... Berlin never ceases to