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

Temple Winter Festival: The Tallis Scholars

Hodie Christus natus est. Today, Christ is born! A miracle: and one which has inspired many a composer to produce their own musical ‘miracle’: choral exultation which seems, like Christ himself, to be a gift to mankind, straight from the divine.

A new Hänsel und Gretel at the Royal Opera House

Fairy-tales work on multiple levels, they tell delightful yet moral stories, but they also enable us to examine deeper issues. With its approachably singable melodies, Engelbert Humperdinck's Märchenoper Hänsel und Gretel functions in a similar way; you can take away the simple delight of the score, but Humperdinck's discreetly Wagnerian treatment of his musical material allows for a variety of more complex interpretations.

Rouvali and the Philharmonia in Richard Strauss

It so rarely happens that the final concert you are due to review of any year ends up being one of the finest of all. Santtu-Matias Rouvali’s all Richard Strauss programme with the Philharmonia Orchestra, however, was often quite remarkable - one might quibble that parts of it were somewhat controversial, and that he even lived a little dangerously, but the impact was never less than imaginative and vivid. This was a distinctly young man’s view of Strauss - and all the better for that.

‘The Swingling Sixties’: Stravinsky and Berio

Were there any justice in this fallen world, serial Stravinsky – not to mention Webern – would be played on every street corner, or at least in every concert hall. Come the revolution, perhaps.

The Pity of War: Ian Bostridge and Antonio Pappano at the Barbican Hall

During the past four years, there have been many musical and artistic centenary commemorations of the terrible human tragedies, inhumanities and utter madness of the First World War, but there can have been few that have evoked the turbulence and trauma of war - both past and present, in the abstract and in the particular - with such terrifying emotional intensity as this recital by Ian Bostridge and Antonio Pappano at the Barbican Hall.

First revival of Barrie Kosky's Carmen at the ROH

Charles Gounod famously said that if you took the Spanish airs out of Carmen “there remains nothing to Bizet’s credit but the sauce that masks the fish”.

Stanford's The Travelling Companion: a compelling production by New Sussex Opera

The first performance of Charles Villiers Stanford’s ninth and final opera The Travelling Companion was given by an enthusiastic troupe of Liverpudlian amateurs at the David Lewis Theatre - Liverpool’s ‘Old Vic’ - in April 1925, nine years after it was completed, eight after it won a Carnegie Award, and one year after the composer’s death.

Russian romances at Wigmore Hall

The songs of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov lie at the heart of the Romantic Russian art song repertoire, but in this duo recital at Wigmore Hall it was the songs of Nikolay Medtner - three of which were framed by sequences by the great Russian masters - which proved most compelling and intriguing.

Don Giovanni: Manitoba Opera

Manitoba Opera turned the art of seduction into bloodsport with its 2018/19 season-opener of Mozart’s dramma giocoso, Don Giovanni often walking a razor’s edge between hilarious social commentary and chilling battles for the soul.

Jonathan Miller's La bohème returns to the Coliseum

And still they come. No year goes by without multiple opportunities to see it; few years now go by without my taking at least one of those opportunities. Indeed, I see that I shall now have gone to Jonathan Miller’s staging on three of its five (!) outings since it was first seen at ENO in 2009.

Sir Thomas Allen directs Figaro at the Royal College of Music

The capital’s music conservatoires frequently present not only some of the best opera in London, but also some of the most interesting, and unusual, as the postgraduate students begin to build their careers by venturing across diverse operatic ground.

Old Bones: Iestyn Davies and members of the Aurora Orchestra 'unwrap' Time at Kings Place

In this contribution to Kings Place’s 2018 Time Unwrapped series, ‘co-curators’ composer Nico Muhly and countertenor Iestyn Davies explored the relationship between time past and time present, and between stillness and motion.

Cinderella goes to the panto: WNO in Southampton

Once upon a time, Rossini’s La Cenerentola was the Cinderella among his operatic oeuvre.

It's a Wonderful Life in San Francisco

It was 1946 when George Bailey of Bedford Falls, NY nearly sold himself to the devil for $20,000. It is 2018 in San Francisco where an annual income of ten times that amount raises you slightly above poverty level, and you’ve paid $310 for your orchestra seat to Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s It’s a Wonderful Life.

Des Moines: Glory, Glory Hallelujah

A minor miracle occurred as Des Moines Metro Opera converted a large hall on a Reserve Army Base to a wholly successful theatrical venue, and delivered a stunning rendition of Tom Cipullo’s compelling military-themed one act opera, Glory Denied.

In her beginning is her end: Welsh National Opera's La traviata in Southampton

David McVicar’s La traviata for Welsh National Opera - first seen at Scottish Opera in 2008 and adopted by WNO in 2009 - wears its heavy-black mourning garb stylishly.

'So sweet is the pain': Roberta Invernizzi at Wigmore Hall

In this BBC Radio 3 lunchtime concert at the Wigmore Hall, soprano Roberta Invernizzi presented Italian songs from the first half of seventeenth-century, exploring love and loyalty, loss and lies, and demonstrating consummate declamatory mastery.

Staging Britten's War Requiem

“The best music to listen to in a great Gothic church is the polyphony which was written for it, and was calculated for its resonance: this was my approach in the War Requiem - I calculated it for a big, reverberant acoustic and that is where it sounds best.”

Moshinsky's Simon Boccanegra returns to Covent Garden

Despite the flaming torches of the plebeian plotters which, in the Prologue, etched chiaroscuro omens within the Palladian porticos of Michael Yeargan’s imposing and impressive set, this was a rather slow-burn revival of Elijah Moshinsky’s 1991 production of Simon Boccanegra.

Royal Academy's Semele offers 'endless pleasures'

Self-adoring ‘celebrities’ beware. That smart-phone which feeds your narcissism might just prove your nemesis.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Cecilia Bartoli
20 Feb 2017

Bartoli a dream Cenerentola in Amsterdam

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.

Bartoli a dream Cenerentola in Amsterdam

A review by Jenny Camilleri

Above: Cecilia Bartoli

 

Bartoli has intimated in interviews that this European tour of a semi-staged La Cenerentola could be the last time she sings Cinderella, real name Angelina, one of her signature roles. Her bravura performance attested that she is still a vocally great Angelina. Physically she was completely credible as the mistreated stepdaughter whose unbridled optimism is rewarded with a spectacular change of fortune. Perhaps Bartoli should not hang up her glass slippers yet, though Rossini’s heroine loses none. Instead, Angelina gives the prince one of two matching bracelets, inviting him to find out who she is. La Cenerentola was composed for the 1817 Roman carnival and librettist Jacopo Ferretti made sure the papal censor would not be offended by women baring their feet. Neither is there a fairy godmother. The entirely nonmagical task of bringing Angelina and Prince Ramiro together is entrusted to the prince’s tutor, Alidoro. Instead of a cruel stepmother there is a self-regarding stepfather, the impoverished aristocrat Don Magnifico. Angelina falls in love with the prince while he is disguised as his valet, Dandini, which twists the plot and underlines her goodness — she refuses Dandini’s marriage proposal when he makes it disguised as the prince.

Happily, Rossini and Ferretti kept the viperish stepsisters. Sen Guo’s Clorinda needled with her incisive soprano and Irène Friedli lent the ungainly Tisbe her hooty mezzo. They shuffled to the ball as Fish and Fowl, hideously got up as a squamous mermaid and a fuzzy peacock. The costumes, from a 1992 production for Zurich by Cesare Lievi, were all over the place in terms of fashion eras. Claudia Blersh directed the singers around a squat sofa with minimal intervention. She scored a couple of comedic goals, but baritones Alessandro Corbelli and Carlos Chausson as Dandini and Don Magnifico provided the real humour. Corbelli’s voice is now dry and just a husk of its former self. His comedic inflection and phrasing, however, are impeccable. His Dandini was stylistically exemplary and hugely entertaining. Chausson, rich and sonorous, savoured every word of Don Magnifico’s splenetic recitatives and raced through his rat-a-tat patter with facility. In the hands of two such ace Rossini comedians, the duet “Un segreto d’importanza”, in which Dandini reveals his true identity to Magnifico, was a standout number. The chorus of the Monte-Carlo opera gave the third outstanding male performance, displaying great dynamic finesse and tonal shine.

Sounding constricted at first, bass Ugo Guagliardo as Alidoro took some time to find his vocal footing before revealing an attractive bass with limpid legato. Edgardo Rocha has an exquisite light lyric tenor and a flair for the Rossini idiom. It is a shame that his Prince Ramiro seemed restrained throughout most of the evening, both in volume and animation. Maybe he needed more theatrical direction than was available. He certainly can light up the stage, as he did during his showpiece aria "Sì, ritrovarla io giuro", singing ardently and hitting one silvery high C after another. Conductor Gianluca Capuano kept up a constant rhythmic momentum, building up the ensembles like a master patissier stacking a multitiered cake. Les Musiciens du Prince, of which Bartoli is artistic director, played with loads of pep, whipping up a robust storm in the Temporale, under flashing house lights. Even allowing for the wildness of period brass, there were several skidded entrances, but the beautiful woodwinds were a great asset and the orchestra as a whole kept the music fizzing.

Then there was Bartoli herself, whose task as the primadonna was to outshine all others, just like Cinderella at the ball. This she did. Bartoli’s voice has lost a little of the gleam of her younger years, but none of its distinctive colours or its stupefying agility. Her lower notes have deepened and her top A’s and B’s are as pinging as ever. Cinderella’s first words at the royal palace, a series of intricate runs spanning two octaves, were executed with breathtaking fluency. The glittering technique and infectious elation of the final rondo, “Nacqui all’affanno e al pianto” worked the audience up to a joyous roar. People cheered Bartoli in her ivory wedding dress as they would a real bride. The way she throws off her head-spinning runs is mightily impressive, but Bartoli also puts her heart and soul into every word. Her Angelina, far from being a dull goody two shoes, is disarmingly determined. In the end, one cheers her on not because she is a paragon of integrity, but because she is a real, suffering, hoping, rejoicing human being.

Jenny Camilleri

Cast and production information:

Angelina: Cecilia Bartoli, mezzo-soprano; Prince Ramiro: Edgardo Rocha, tenor; Dandini: Alessandro Corbelli, baritone; Don Magnifico: Carlos Chausson, baritone; Alidoro: Ugo Guagliardo, bass; Clorinda: Sen Guo, soprano; Tisbe: Irène Friedli, mezzo-soprano; Mise en scène: Claudia Blersh. Costume Design: Luigi Perego. Chœur de l’Opéra de Monte-Carlo, Les Musiciens du Prince. Conductor: Gianluca Capuano. Heard at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Wednesday, 15th February, 2017.

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):