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

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.

Billy Budd in Madrid

Like Carmen, Billy Budd is an operatic personage of such breadth and depth that he becomes unique to everyone. This signals that there is no Billy Budd (or Carmen) who will satisfy everyone. And like Carmen, Billy Budd may be indestructible because the opera will always mean something to someone.

A riveting Nixon in China at the Concertgebouw

American composer John Adams turns 70 this year. By way of celebration no less than seven concerts in this season’s NTR ZaterdagMatinee series feature works by Adams, including this concert version of his first opera, Nixon in China.

English song: shadows and reflections

Despite the freshness, passion and directness, and occasional wry quirkiness, of many of the works which formed this lunchtime recital at the Wigmore Hall - given by mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge, pianist James Baillieu and viola player Guy Pomeroy - a shadow lingered over the quiet nostalgia and pastoral eloquence of the quintessentially ‘English’ works performed.

A charming Pirates of Penzance revival at ENO

'Nobody does Gilbert and Sullivan anymore.’ This was the comment from many of my friends when I mentioned the revival of Mike Leigh's 2015 production of The Pirates of Penzance at English National Opera (ENO). Whilst not completely true (English Touring Opera is doing Patience next month), this reflects the way performances of G&S have rather dropped out of the mainstream. That Leigh's production takes the opera on its own terms and does not try to send it up, made it doubly welcome.

A Relevant Madama Butterfly

On Feb 3, 2017, Arizona Opera presented Giacomo Puccini’s dramatic opera Madama Butterfly. Sandra Lopez was the naive fifteen-year-old who falls hopelessly in love with the American Naval Officer.

Johan Reuter sings Brahms with Wiener Philharmoniker

In the last of my three day adventure, I headed to Vienna for the Wiener Philharmoniker at the Musikverein (my first time!) for Mahler and Brahms.

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.

Verdi’s Requiem with the Berliner Philharmoniker

I extravagantly scheduled hearing the Berliner, Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Wiener Philharmoniker, to hear these three top orchestra perform their series programmes opening the New Year.

Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher in Lyon

There is no bigger or more prestigious name in avant-garde French theater than Romeo Castellucci (b. 1960), the Italian metteur en scène of this revival of Arthur Honegger’s mystère lyrique, Joan of Arc at the Stake (1938) at the Opéra Nouvel in Lyon.

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.

Giasone in Geneva

Fecund Jason, father of his wife Isifile’s twins and as well father of his seductress Medea’s twins, does indeed have a problem — he prefers to sleep with and wed Medea. In this resurrection of the most famous opera of the seventeenth century he evidently also sleeps with Hercules.

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):