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

Desert Island Delights at the RCM: Offenbach's Robinson Crusoe

Britannia waives the rules: The EU Brexit in quotes’. Such was the headline of a BBC News feature on 28th June 2016. And, nearly three years later, those who watch the runaway Brexit-train hurtle ever nearer to the edge of Dover’s white cliffs might be tempted by the thought of leaving this sceptred (sceptic?) isle, for a life overseas.

Akira Nishimura’s Asters: A Major New Japanese Opera

Opened as recently as 1997, the Opera House of the New National Theatre Tokyo (NNTT) is one of the newest such venues among the world’s great capitals, but, with ten productions of opera a year, ranging from baroque to contemporary, this publicly-owned and run theatre seems determined to make an international impact.

The Outcast in Hamburg

It is a “a musicstallation-theater with video” that had its world premiere at the Mannheim Opera in 2012, revived just now in a new version by Vienna’s ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wein for one performance at the Vienna Konzerthaus and one performance in Hamburg’s magnificent Elbphilharmonie (above). Olga Neuwirth’s The Outcast and this rich city are imperfect bedfellows!

Monarchs corrupted and tormented: ETO’s Idomeneo and Macbeth at the Hackney Empire

Promises made to placate a foe in the face of imminent crisis are not always the most well-considered and have a way of coming back to bite one - as our current Prime Minister is finding to her cost.

Der Fliegende Holländer and
Tannhäuser in Dresden

To remind you that Wagner’s Dutchman had its premiere in Dresden’s Altes Hoftheater in 1843 and his Tannhauser premiered in this same theater in 1845 (not to forget that Rienzi premiered in this Saxon court theater in 1842).

WNO's The Magic Flute at the Birmingham Hippodrome

A perfect blue sky dotted with perfect white clouds. Identikit men in bowler hats clutching orange umbrellas. Floating cyclists. Ferocious crustaceans.

Puccini’s Messa di Gloria: Antonio Pappano and the London Symphony Orchestra

This was an oddly fascinating concert - though, I’m afraid, for quite the wrong reasons (though this depends on your point of view). As a vehicle for the sound, and playing, of the London Symphony Orchestra it was a notable triumph - they were not so much luxurious - rather a hedonistic and decadent delight; but as a study into three composers, who wrote so convincingly for opera, and taken somewhat out of their comfort zone, it was not a resounding success.

WNO's Un ballo in maschera at Birmingham's Hippodrome

David Pountney and his design team - Raimund Bauer (sets), Marie-Jeanne Lecca (costumes), Fabrice Kebour (lighting) - have clearly ‘had a ball’ in mounting this Un ballo in maschera, the second part of WNO’s Verdi trilogy and which forms part of a spring season focusing on what Pountney describes as the “profound and mysterious issue of Monarchy”.

Super #Superflute in North Hollywood

Pacific Opera Project’s rollicking new take on The Magic Flute is as much endearing fun as a box full of puppies.

Leading Ladies: Barbara Strozzi and Amiche

I couldn’t help wondering; would a chamber concert of vocal music by female composers of the 17th century be able sustain our concentration for 90 minutes? Wouldn’t most of us be feeling more dutiful than exhilarated by the end?

George Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill at Wigmore Hall

This week, the Wigmore Hall presents two concerts from George Benjamin and Frankfurt’s Ensemble Modern, the first ‘at home’ on Wigmore Street, the second moving north to Camden’s Roundhouse. For the first, we heard Benjamin’s now classic first opera, Into the Little Hill, prefaced by three ensemble works by Cathy Milliken, Christian Mason, and, for the evening’s spot of ‘early music’, Luigi Dallapiccola.

Marianne Crebassa sings Berio and Ravel: Philharmonia Orchestra with Salonen

It was once said of Cathy Berberian, the muse for whom Luciano Berio wrote his Folk Songs, that her voice had such range she could sing the roles of both Tristan and Isolde. Much less flatteringly, was my music teacher’s description of her sound as akin to a “chisel being scraped over sandpaper”.

Rossini's Elizabeth I: English Touring Opera start their 2019 spring tour

What was it with Italian bel canto and the Elizabethan age? The era’s beautiful, doomed queens and swash-buckling courtiers seem to have held a strange fascination for nineteenth-century Italians.

Chameleonic new opera featuring Caruso in Amsterdam

Micha Hamel’s new opera, Caruso a Cuba, is constantly on the move. The chameleonic score takes on a myriad flavours, all with a strong sense of mood or place.

Ernst Krenek: Karl V, Bayerisches Staatsoper

Ernst Krenek’s Karl V op 73 at the Bayerisches Staatsoper, with Bo Skovhus, conducted by Erik Nielsen, in a performance that reveals the genius of Krenek’s masterpiece. Contemporary with Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten, Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron, Berg’s Lulu, and Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler, Krenek’s Karl V is a metaphysical drama, exploring psychological territory with the possibilities opened by new musical form.

A Sparkling Merry Widow at ENO

A small, formerly great, kingdom, is on the verge of bankruptcy and desperate to prevent its ‘assets’ from slipping into foreign hands. Sexual and political intrigues are bluntly exposed. The princes and patriarchs are under threat from both the ‘paupers’ and the ‘princesses’, and the two dangers merge in the glamorous figure of the irresistibly wealthy Pontevedrin beauty, Hanna Glawari, a working-class girl who’s married up and made good.

Mozart: Così fan tutte - Royal Opera House

Così fan tutte is, primarily, an ensemble opera and it sinks or swims on the strength of its sextet of singers - and this performance very much swam. In a sense, this is just as well because Jan Phillip Gloger’s staging (revived here by Julia Burbach) is in turns messy, chaotic and often confusing. The tragedy of this Così is that it’s high art clashing with Broadway; a theatre within an opera and a deceit wrapped in a conundrum.

Gavin Higgins' The Monstrous Child: an ROH world premiere

The Royal Opera House’s choice of work for the first new production in the splendidly redesigned Linbury Theatre - not unreasonably, it seems to have lost ‘Studio’ from its name - is, perhaps, a declaration of intent; it may certainly be received as such. Not only is it a new work; it is billed specifically as ‘our first opera for teenage audiences’.

Elektra at Lyric Opera of Chicago

From the first moments of the recent revival of Sir David McVicar’s production of Elektra by Richard Strauss at Lyric Opera of Chicago the audience is caught in the grip of a rich music-drama, the intensity of which is not resolved, appropriately, until the final, symmetrical chords.

Expressive Monteverdi from Les Talens Lyriques at Wigmore Hall

This was an engaging concert of madrigals and dramatic pieces from (largely) Claudio Monteverdi’s Venetian years, a time during which his quest to find the ‘natural way of imitation’ - musical embodiment of textual form, meaning and affect - took the form not primarily of solo declamation but of varied vocal ensembles of two or more voices with rich instrumental accompaniments.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Roberto de Candia is Falstaff [Photo by J. Katarzyna Woronowicz Johnson]
25 Feb 2017

A Merry Falstaff in San Diego

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.

A Merry Falstaff

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Roberto de Candia is Falstaff [Photo by J. Katarzyna Woronowicz Johnson]

 

Shakespeare created Falstaff to be an amusing companion to the young and somewhat frivolous Henry IV. Falstaff is gone when Henry becomes a serious ruler. Falstaff lives only for today and indulges in actions that members of the audience forego because they don’t want to deal with the consequences. San Diego Opera’s Falstaff, Roberto de Candia, sang with moderately sized burnished bronze tones. He gave a masterful interpretation of the lovable ‘drinking buddy’ who had no compunction about seducing married women. He even tried for two at once. Thus, the audience almost felt sorry for him but laughed vociferously when he had to hide in a laundry basket that ended up in the river.

jkat_Falstaff_021517_069.pngMaureen McKay (Nannetta) and Johnathan Johnson (Fenton)

Olivier Tambosi’s electric direction had Falstaff and his rollicking pals cavorting all over the wide Civic Theater stage even though designer Frank Philipp Schlössman placed the Garter Inn in a small area a few steps below stage level. The younger ladies were refined and demure, but Mistress Quickly was an earthy, Grandmotherly, arm twirling comic character.

San Diego Opera had built Schlössman’s three-sided, roofed wooden set for Chicago Lyric Opera, so it was a treat to have it back where it was born. It did a fine job of helping the voices resonate and throwing their sound out into the auditorium. Not only did the center section open up to form the Garter Inn, panels on the sides opened for various functions.

jkat_Falstaff_021517_097.png(L-R) Kirstin Chavez (Meg Page), Maureen McKay (Nannnetta), Ellie Dehn (Alice Ford), and Marianne Cornetti (Mistress Quickly)

Schlössman’s costumes included jewel-toned silks for the ladies and the upper class men. For much of the opera, Falstaff and his friend wore what looked like rag pickers’ left-overs, but Sir John wore a new neon red suit with a prominent cod piece for his assignation.

Falstaff’s devil-may-care friends, Bardolfo and Pistola, sung by Simeon Esper and Reinhard Hagen were impressive, both vocally and physically. Marianne Cornetti is a trumpet-voiced mezzo who has sung in the world’s most important opera houses. She is a formidable comedienne, and her performance was enchanting. Her low tones are smooth as chocolate cream , so her ‘reverenzas’ were a special treat. Ellie Dehn who had sung Mozart and Puccini with San Diego Opera, was a clear toned Alice Ford who sang with an opulent, voluminous sound. I would love to hear her sing one of the lighter Richard Strauss roles.

jkat_Falstaff_021517_362.pngRoberto de Candia as Falstaff and Ellie Dehn as Alice Ford

As Nanetta, soprano Maureen McKay sang with crystalline tones. She and the Fenton, sweet-toned tenor Jonathan Johnson, were perfect young lovers with all the energy youth implies. Kirstin Chavez, who sang a sultry Carmen in Arizona, was a seductive Meg Page who sang with creamy tones. Joel Sorensen was a crafty Dr. Caius who sang his thankless role with character-driven tones. Conductor Daniele Callegari brought out many sonorities that are unique to late Verdi operas such as Don Carlo and Otello. His tempi always pressed forward and supported both the voices and the drama. Despite the presence of a large orchestra, he never covered any of the voices.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Dr. Caius, Joel Sorensen; Sir John Falstaff, Roberto de Candia; Bardolfo, Simeon Esper; Pistola, Reinhard Hagen; Meg Page, Kirstin Chavez; Alice Ford, Ellie Dehn; Mistress Quickly, Marianne Cornetti; Nanetta, Maureen McKay; Fenton, Jonathan Johnson; Ford, Troy Cook; Conductor, Daniele Callegari; Stage Director, Olivier Tamboi; Scenic and Costume Designer Frank Philipp Schlössman; Lighting Designer, Christine A. Binder; Chorus Master, Bruce Stasyna; Supertitles, Charles Arthur; Wig and Makeup Designer, Stephen W. Bryant; Production Stage Manager, Mary Yankee Peters; Stage Manager, Michael Janney; Diction Coach, Emanuela Patroncini.

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):