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

Cool beauty in Dutch National Opera’s Madama Butterfly

It is hard to imagine a more beautifully sung Cio-Cio-San than Elena Stikhina’s.

Kurt Weill’s Street Scene

Kurt Weill’s “American opera,” Street Scene debuted this past weekend in the Kay Theatre at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, with a diverse young cast comprised of students and alumni of the Maryland Opera Studio (MOS).

Handel's Brockes-Passion: The Academy of Ancient Music at the Barbican Hall

Perhaps it is too fanciful to suggest that the German poet Barthold Heinrich Brockes (1680-1747) was the Metastasio of Hamburg?

POP Butterfly: Oooh, Cho-Cho San!

I was decidedly not the only one who thought I was witnessing the birth of a new star, as cover artist Janet Todd stepped in to make a triumphant appearance in the title role of Pacific Opera Project’s absorbing Madama Butterfly.

The Maryland Opera Studio Defies Genre with Fascinating Double-Bill

This past weekend, the Maryland Opera Studio (MOS) presented a double-billed performance of two of Kurt Weill’s less familiar staged works: Zaubernacht (1922) and Mahagonny-Songspiel (1927).

Nash Ensemble at Wigmore Hall: Focus on Sir Harrison Birtwistle

The Nash Ensemble’s annual contemporary music showcase focused on the work of Sir Harrison Birtwistle, a composer with whom the group has enjoyed a long and close association. Three of the six works by Birtwistle performed here were commissioned by the Nash Ensemble, as was Elliott Carter’s Mosaic which, alongside Oliver Knussen’s Study for ‘Metamorphosis’ for solo bassoon, completed a programme was intimate and intricate, somehow both elusive in spirit and richly communicative.

McVicar's Faust returns to the ROH

To lose one Marguerite may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness. But, with the ROH Gounod’s Faust seemingly heading for ruin, salvation came in the form of an eleventh-hour arrival of a redeeming ‘angel’.

A superb Semele from the English Concert at the Barbican Hall

It’s good to aim high … but be careful what you wish for. Clichéd idioms perhaps, but also wise words which Semele would have been wise to heed.

A performance of Vivaldi's La Senna festeggiante by Arcangelo

In 1726 on 25 August, Jacques-Vincent Languet, Comte de Gergy, the new French ambassador to the Venetian Republic held a celebration for the name day of King Louis XV of France. There was a new piece of music performed in the loggia at the foot of Languet's garden with an audience of diplomats and, watching from gondolas, Venetian nobles.

Matthew Rose and Tom Poster at Wigmore Hall

An interesting and thoughtfully-composed programme this, presented at Wigmore Hall by bass Matthew Rose and pianist Tom Poster, and one in which music for solo piano ensured that the diverse programme cohered.

Ekaterina Semenchuk sings Glinka and Tchaikovsky

To the Wigmore Hall for an evening of magnificently old-school vocal performance from Ekaterina Semenchuk. It was very much her evening, rather than that of her pianist, Semyon Skigin, though he had his moments, especially earlier on.

Hubert Parry's Judith at the Royal Festival Hall

Caravaggio’s depiction (1598-99) of the climactic moment when the young, beautiful, physically weak Judith seizes the head of Holofernes by the enemy general’s hair and, flinching with distaste, cleaves the neck of the occupying Assyrian with his own sword, evokes Holofernes’ terror with visceral precision - eyes and screaming mouth are wide open - and is shockingly theatrical, the starkly lit figures embraced by blackness.

La Pietà in Rome

Say "La Pietà" and you think immediately of Michelangelo’s Rome Pietà. Just now Roman Oscar-winning film composer Nicola Piovani has asked us to contemplate two additional Pietà’s in Rome, a mother whose son is dead by overdose, and a mother whose son starved to death.

Orfeo ed Euridice in Rome

No wrecked motorcycle (director Harry Kupfer’s 1987 Berlin Orfeo), no wrecked Citroen and black hearse (David Alagna’s 2008 Montpellier Orfée [yes! tenorissimo Roberto Alagna was the Orfée]), no famed ballet company (the Joffrey Ballet) starring in L.A. Opera’s 2018 Orpheus and Eurydice).

Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel - a world premiere at English National Opera

Jack the Ripper is as luridly fascinating today as he was over a century ago, so it was no doubt sensationalist of the marketing department of English National Opera to put the Victorian serial killer’s name first and the true subject of Iain Bell’s new opera - his victims, the women of Whitechapel - as something of an after-thought. Font size matters, especially if it’s to sell tickets.

Tosca at the Met


The 1917 Met Tosca production hung around for 50 years, bested by the 1925 San Francisco Opera production that lived to the ripe old age of 92.  The current Met production is just 2 years old but has the feel of something that can live forever.

Drama Queens and Divas at the ROH: Handel's Berenice

A war ‘between love and politics’: so librettist Antonio Salvi summarised the conflict at the heart of Handel’s 1737 opera, Berenice. Well, we’ve had a surfeit of warring politics of late, but there’s been little love lost between opposing factions, and the laughs that director Adele Thomas and her team supply in this satirical and spicy production at the ROH’s stunningly re-designed Linbury Theatre have been in severely short supply.

Mozart’s Mass in C minor at the Royal Festival Hall

A strange concert, this, in that, although chorally conceived, it proved strongest in the performance of Schumann’s Piano Concerto: not so much a comment on the choral singing as on the conducting of Dan Ludford-Thomas.

Samson et Dalila at the Met


It was the final performance of the premiere season of Darko Tresnjak’s production of Camille Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila. Four tenors later. 

The Enchantresse and Dido and Aeneas
in Lyon

Dido and Aeneas, Il ritorno d’Ulisse and Tchaikowsky’s L’Enchantresse, the three operas of the Opéra de Lyon’s annual late March festival all tease destiny. But far more striking than the thematic relationship that motivates this 2019 festival is the derivation of these three productions from the world of hyper-refined theater, far flung hyper-refined theater.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Sally Matthews as Konstanze [Photo by Craig. T. Matthew]
04 Feb 2017

A New Look at Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio

On January 28, 2017, Los Angeles Opera premiered James Robinson’s nineteen twenties production of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio, which places the story on the Orient Express. Since Abduction is a work with spoken dialogue like The Magic Flute, the cast sang their music in German and spoke their lines in English.

A New Look at Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Sally Matthews as Konstanze

Photos by Craig. T. Matthew

 

When first produced in 1782 in Vienna, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s singspiel, The Abduction from the Seraglio, was as popular as New York City’s current hit show, Hamilton. On January 28, 2017, Los Angeles Opera premiered James Robinson’s nineteen twenties production of the Mozart singspiel that places the story on the Orient Express. Since Abduction is a work with spoken dialogue like The Magic Flute, the cast sang their music in German and spoke their lines in English. There were English titles for the musical numbers but not for the dialogue. Allen Moyer’s set consisted of two cars and the vestibule that connected them. At the back of the set was the row of windows normally found on a train and beyond them the scenery flew by as the train sped from one city to another.

Anna R. Oliver’s costumes transformed Librettists Christoph Friedrich Bretzner and Johann Gottlieb Stephanie’s European characters into chic flappers and jauntily dressed beaux. Turkish overseer, Osmin, sung by bass Morris Robinson wore a false belly and a coat over enormously full pants but his boss, Pasha Selim, wore a western business suit.

Abduction_LA_02.pngBrenton Ryan as Pedrillo, Joel Prieto as Belmonte and Morris Robinson as Osmin

Like The Magic Flute, Abduction demands extraordinarily talented singers. The leading soprano, Konstanze, has to encompass an enormous range that includes trills, triplets, and dramatic declamation such as one hears from Fiordiligi in Cosi fan Tutte. British soprano Sally Matthews had all the vocal goods and displayed them in magnificent style on Saturday evening.

Puerto Rican tenor Joel Prieto sang the role of her lover, Belmonte, with oboe-like tones that always seemed to come from the exact center of the note. The part of Osmin, the riotously funny Turkish overseer, requires a bass who can sing the lowest possible notes. Morris Robinson, a veteran Sarastro, sang some of the lowest notes ever heard on the opera stage with style and grace.

Abduction_LA_03.pngMorris Robinson as Osmin fails to tame So Young Park as Blonde

So Young Park was a brunette “Blondie.” Perhaps the art of bleaching had not yet reached Istanbul. Park’s comic timing was right on cue and her well focused sweet tones carried well in the auditorium. Brenton Ryan as her lover, Pedrillo, showed signs of having been beaten into submission by Osmin and his thugs, but he sang his tuneful aria with abandon.

The crucial role of the Pasha who eventually releases the two couples is reserved for an actor. Tall and athletic looking Hamish Linklatter spoke these lines: “Nothing is as ugly as vengeance, whereas the quality of great souls is to be humanely kind and forgive without selfishness.” With this speech, he sent Belmonte back to his father, the man who had robbed the Pasha of his property in Spain.

Music Director James Conlon not only conducted the performance but also gave the pre-curtain lecture for this seldom-performed Mozart gem. A show of hands in the lecture hall told me that a large majority of the audience had never seen Abduction before, so this well-cast, interesting production did a great deal for the future of the opera. Conlon led the performance with propulsive tempi that never lagged and presented Robinson’s comedy at a brisk pace. The Abduction from the Seraglio is a fascinating show and opera lovers in the Los Angeles area should not miss it.

Maria Nockin


Cast and production information:

Conductor, James Conlon; Director, James Robinson; Set Design, Allen Moyer; Costume Design, Anna R. Oliver; Lighting Design, Paul Palazzo; Chorus Director, Grant Gershon; Konstanze, Sally Matthews; Pasha Selim, Hamish Linklatter; Belmonte Joel Prieto; Osmin, Morris Robinson; Pedrillo, Brenton Ryan; Blonde, So Young Park; Solo Quartet: Christina Borgioli, Elizabeth Anderson, Omar Cook, James Martin Schaefer; English Titles, Houston Grand Opera.

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):