Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

London Handel Festival: Handel's Faramondo at the RCM

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.

Brahms A German Requiem, Fabio Luisi, Barbican London

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.

Káťa Kabanová in its Seattle début

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 good way.

Festival Mémoires in Lyon

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).

Christoph Prégardien and Julius Drake at the Wigmore Hall

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.

La Tragédie de Carmen at San Diego

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).

Kasper Holten's farewell production at the ROH: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

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.

AZ Musicfest Presents Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci

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.

Premiere: Riders of the Purple Sage

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.

English Touring Opera Spring 2017: a disappointing Tosca

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.

Matthias Goerne : Mahler Eisler Wigmore Hall

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.

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.

New Production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute at Lyric Opera, Chicago

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.

A Salome to Remember

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.

L’Elisir d’Amore Goes On Despite Storm

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.

Boris Godunov in Marseille

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.

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.

Winterreise : a parallel journey

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.

Anna Bolena in Lisbon

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.

Oh, What a Night in San Jose

It is difficult to know where to begin to praise the stunning achievement of Opera San Jose’s West Coast premiere of Silent Night.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Janine Jansen [Photo courtesy of Oslo Camerata]
08 Feb 2017

Gatti and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Head to Asia

In Amsterdam legend Janine Jansen and the seventh Principal Conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw, Daniele Gatti, came together for their first engagement in a ravishing performance of Berg’s Violin Concerto.

Gatti and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Head to Asia

A review by David Pinedo

Above: Janine Jansen [Photo courtesy of Oslo Camerata]

 

Never has it touched me so deeply nor have I heard it resonate so fiercely in the Great Hall. Following the performance of the Berliner the night before, the luxurious transparency of the RCO made for a stunning contrast to the BPO’s thickened sound in Verdi’s Requiem.

Ahead of the tour to Shanghai, Beijing, and for the first time, Singapore, Gatti led in the programmes at home in Amsterdam. The first included the crowd pleasers Debussy’s Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune and La Mer followed by Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps. Gatti combined the three works together for the first time in RCO’s history. I did not attend this performance, but instead opted for the second. These classical blockbusters the RCO might as well play in the dark, and are practically impossible for the orchestra to perform disappointingly.

In a change of seating, I situated myself on the fourth row a few seats inward so I had a close up vision of Mr. Gatti and Ms. Jansen elevated on stage. It was a fascinating position, albeit problematic to observe the entire orchestra, but that was not my purpose tonight. First Berg, then Bruckner, but let me start with the Bruckner’s Romantic.

Gatti hummed along as the horns awakened the morning in Bruckner Symphony No. 4 in E-flat major. Balding his fist, Mr Gatti turned out the celli, revving like a luxurious engine. Wind instruments resonated in lighthearted bird calls. He held his hand in front of his chest, as the violas tugged on your heartstrings. Gatti already had a go around with Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony earlier this season on tour, so perhaps it was the long interval between performance that made tonight’s performance feel fragmented.

The momentum that surged through the early Berg tapered off somewhere in the third movement of Bruckner, which then simmered without a forward propulsion. As a result the last movement lacked its burning potential. I had hoped for a more thunderous climax. A coughing spree took over the audience, which marked a break in the musical tension that lingered inspired by the synergy in Berg. Next season he will see his debut with Bruckner’s Ninth.

So his collaboration with Janine Jansen before the intermission made for the unforgettable experience. Berg’s work, To the memory of an Angel, is dedicated to Manon, Alma Mahler’s daughter with Walter Gropius. A muse for Berg, she died from Polio at eighteen. Like Wozzeck, the work thrives in live performance as space elucidates the layers and transparency. Berg’s work also grows on you the more you listen to it. Brilliant colours and mysterious sadness seduce deeply.

Gatti masterfully brought out sparkling details, while Jansen impelled Berg’s meandering twelve tone passages without ever losing intensity: poignant and shrill, but full of warmth. I have heard her Tchaikovsky, Bruch, and Mendelssohn, but in Berg tonight a new mature confidence emanated from her. Don’t get me wrong, she still has her youthful playfulness, but her commitment (from up close) radiated with an aged wisdom in her intent…a calibrated force of nature.

Almost a member of the orchestra, she has performed over forty times with them. Each concert is basically a sell-out. A powerful inspirator, the RCO flourishes when she solos. And it was interesting to observe how she consistently looked around and made eye contact with the concertmaster.

On the other hand, a strange dynamic unfolded as she sought contact with Gatti. They never seemed to have eye contact, it was felt in the music though. As she looked at him, he was busy bringing about Berg’s colour and life in the orchestra, but when he looked at her, well, he just glanced at her, knowing she was the star. As a supportive uncle, who doesn’t doubt nor dare interfere with niece’s talent.

His lack of flashy showmanship here made way made for significant more orchestral intensity, though never overshadowing her. Gatti created a rich tapestry, and kept the pianissimo moments ever so delicate and suspenseful. Those ruffling timpani! He had dazzled my ears before with Berg’s concerto with Leonidas Kavakos's refined approach, but with Janine’s intense ferocity and romantic subtlety, this rendition became the most memorable I have heard.

Gatti is a different from Haitink, Chailly, and Jansons.His theatricality stems from his inner child’s giddiness as he conducts with authentic curiosity and enthusiasm. He just started, but he is as was evident in Berg (and Mahler’s Second earlier this season), Gatti is already capable of rousing the RCO’s spirit like his forefathers did. Sometimes he almost stares incredulously in response at the orchestra’s beauty. In time he will realise, he’s the one pulling the strings!

David Pinedo

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):