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

Classical Opera/The Mozartists celebrate 20 years of music-making

Classical Opera celebrated 20 years of music-making and story-telling with a characteristically ambitious and eclectic sequence of musical works at the Barbican Hall. Themes of creation and renewal were to the fore, and after a first half comprising a variety of vocal works and short poems, ‘Classical Opera’ were succeeded by their complementary alter ego, ‘The Mozartists’, in the second part of the concert for a rousing performance of Beethoven’s Choral Symphony - a work described by Page as ‘in many ways the most iconic work in the repertoire’.

Back to Baroque and to the battle lines with English Touring Opera

Romeo and Juliet, Rinaldo and Armida, Ramadès and Aida: love thwarted by warring countries and families is a perennial trope of literature, myth and history. Indeed, ‘Love and war are all one,’ declared Miguel de Cervantes in Don Quixote, a sentiment which seems to be particularly exemplified by the world of baroque opera with its penchant for plundering Classical Greek and Roman myths for their extreme passions and conflicts. English Touring Opera’s 2017 autumn tour takes us back to the Baroque and back to the battle-lines.

Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Christoph Willibald von Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice opened the 2017–18 season at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Michelle DeYoung, Mahler Symphony no 3 London

The Third Coming ! Esa-Pekka Salonen conducted Mahler Symphony no 3 with the Philharmonia at the Royal Festival Hall with Michelle DeYoung, the Philharmonia Voices and the Tiffin Boys’ Choir. It was live streamed worldwide, an indication of just how important this concert was, for it marks the Philharmonia's 34-year relationship with Salonen.

King Arthur at the Barbican: a semi-opera for the 'Brexit Age'

Purcell’s and Dryden’s King Arthur: or the British Worthy presents ‘problems’ for directors. It began life as a propaganda piece, Albion and Albanius, in 1683, during the reign of Charles II, but did not appear on stage as King Arthur until 1691 when William of Orange had ascended to the British Throne to rule as William III alongside his wife Mary and the political climate had changed significantly.

Anne Schwanewilms sings Schreker, Schubert, Liszt and Korngold

On a day when events in Las Vegas cast a shadow over much of the news this was not the most comfortable recital to sit through for many reasons. The chosen repertoire did, at times, feel unduly heavy - and very Germanic - but it was also unevenly sung.

The Life to Come: a new opera by Louis Mander and Stephen Fry

It began ‘with a purely obscene fancy of a Missionary in difficulties’. So E.M. Forster wrote to Siegfried Sassoon in August 1923, of his short story ‘The Life to Come’ - the title story of a collection that was not published until 1972, two years after Forster’s death.

Aida opens the season at ENO

Director Phelim McDermott’s new Aida at ENO seems to have been conceived more in terms of what it will look like rather than what the opera is or might be ‘about’. And, it certainly does look good. Designer Tom Pye - with whom McDermott worked for ENO’s Akhnaten last year (alongside his other Improbable company colleague, costume designer Kevin Pollard) - has again conjured striking tableaux and eye-catching motifs, and a colour scheme which balances sumptuous richness with shadow and mystery.

La Traviata in San Francisco

A beautifully sung Traviata in British stage director John Copley’s 1987 production, begging the question is this grand old (30 years) production the SFO mise en scène for all times.

The Judas Passion: Sally Beamish and David Harsent offer new perspectives

Was Judas a man ‘both vile and justifiably despised: an agent of the Devil, or a man who God-given task was to set in train an event that would be the salvation of Humankind’? This is the question at the heart of Sally Beamish’s The Judas Passion, commissioned jointly by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Philharmonia Baroque of San Francisco.

Choral at Cadogan: The Tallis Scholars open a new season

As The Tallis Scholars processed onto the Cadogan Hall platform, for the opening concert of this season’s Choral at Cadogan series, there were some unfamiliar faces among its ten members - or faces familiar but more usually seen in other contexts.

Stars of Lyric Opera 2017, Millennium Park, Chicago

As a prelude to the 2017-18 season Lyric Opera of Chicago presented its annual concert, Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park, during the last weekend. A number of those who performed in this event will be featured in roles during the coming season.

Die Zauberflöte at the ROH: radiant and eternal

Watching David McVicar’s 2003 production of Die Zauberflöte at the Royal Opera House - its sixth revival - for the third time, I was struck by how discerningly John MacFarlane’s sumptuous designs, further enhanced by Paule Constable’s superbly evocative lighting, communicate the dense and rich symbolism of Mozart’s Singspiel.

Fantasy in Philadelphia: The Wake World

Composer and librettist David Hertzberg’s magical mystery tour that is The Wake World opened to a cheering sold out audience that was clearly enraptured with its magnificent artistic achievement.

A Mysterious Lucia at Forest Lawn

On September 10, 2017, Pacific Opera Project (POP) presented Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in a beautiful outdoor setting at Forest Lawn. POP audiences enjoy casual seating with wine, water, and finger foods at each table. General and Artistic Director Josh Shaw greeted patrons in a “blood stained” white wedding suit. Since Lucia is a Scottish opera, it opened with an elegant bagpipe solo calling members of the audience to their seats.

This is Rattle: Blazing Berlioz at the Barbican Hall

Blazing Berlioz' The Damnation of Faust at the Barbican with Sir Simon Rattle, Bryan Hymel, Christopher Purves, Karen Cargill, Gabor Bretz, The London Symphony Orchestra and The London Symphony Chorus directed by Simon Halsey, Rattle's chorus master of choice for nearly 35 years. Towards the end, the Tiffin Boys' Choir, the Tiffin Girls' Choir and Tiffin Children's Choir (choirmaster James Day) filed into the darkened auditorium to sing The Apotheosis of Marguerite, their voices pure and angelic, their faces shining. An astonishingly theatrical touch, but absolutely right.

Moved Takes on Philadelphia Headlines

There‘s a powerful new force in the opera world and its name is O17.

Philly Flute’s Fast and Furious Frills

If you never thought opera could make your eyes cross with visual sensory over load, you never saw Opera Philadelphia’s razzle-dazzle The Magic Flute.

At War With Philadelphia

Enterprising Opera Philadelphia has included a couple of intriguing site-specific events in their O17 Festival line-up.

The Mozartists at the Wigmore Hall

Three years into their MOZART 250 project, Classical Opera have launched a new venture, The Mozartists, which is designed to allow the company to broaden its exploration of the concert and symphonic works of Mozart and his contemporaries.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Johan Reuter
08 Feb 2017

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.

Johan Reuter sings Brahms with Wiener Philharmonike

A review by David Pinedo

Above: Johan Reuter

 

When you walk up one of the stairs to the Main Hall of the Musikverein, a bust of Clara Schumann stares at you. Especially for tonight’s performance of Detlev Glanert’s orchestration of Brahms’s Four Serious Songs that he wrote after the death of his one great love, her face glowed with a special aura. Johan Reuter gave it his all as he sang the dour and depressing four songs. But it was Semyon Bychkov’s in-depth and lush interpretation of Mahler’s First Symphony that brought out the distinct sound of the Wiener Philharmoniker. The contrast of sorrow and hope could not have been more heavy and uplifting.

Johan Reuter’s bass voice carries the gloom and ashen mood of Brahms’s Four Serious Songs. He brought all the anguish of lost love that Johannes must have felt for Clara. Brahms’s choices of four biblical texts didn’t give positive mood any much of an option. It truly was a farewell to love and beauty, perhaps even a farewell to hope.Reuter handsomely bellowed through the sorrowful words, as Glanert’s orchestration included charming interludes of suitable modern dissonances entwined within Brahms’ melodies.

Clara_Wieck_Andreas_Staub.pngClara Schumann (née Wieck) by Andreas Staub [Source: Wikipedia]

The atmosphere in the Musikverein was stifling in sorrow. People applauded, but many others sat subdued, some tired, others downtrodden. Bychkov achieved the effect Glanert and Brahms wish to achieve in this ode to the passing of Clara Schumann. So when Mahler’s First Symphony began after the intermission, the promise of hope and joy of life was the perfect antidote to the dour procession before.

Indeed, Bychkov blew me away with the Viennese’s verve during the entire symphony. And truly, I had never experienced the Wiener Philharmoniker perform this rich and conjoined. All the section flowed into each other, each layer transparently on top of the other, leading to the comforting glow of cinderwood on a hearth. The strings had a texture that emanated a gorgeous red, wooden glow. I had never heard such sound before.

Bychkov certainly took his time, elongating with full effect the lush passages with each section during the opening movement of Mahler’s “Creation of the Earth”. The oboe blissfully ascending ever so fragile above the orchestra and letting its timbre radiate over the cohesive sound from the musicians. Truly an awakening.

The Scherzo with its catchy dances made for some fabulous momentum that swept me off my feet. And during the Frères Jacques passages, although at several moments the momentum did sag, Bychkov knew how to consistently distinguish the different sections, while keeping them into one flowing tempo. It was enchanting.

The Finale proved a true tempest and awoke Austrian passion as was clear with the thunderous applause following the performance. People ceaselessly clapped. After all the musicians had left, Bychkov returned to accept the the continuing applause from the audience that truly adored this noble Titan Conductor.

I rarely heard so much lush detail in a Mahler Symphony. It certainly belongs to one of my best Mahler experiences, and it was perfectly programmed against Brahms’s sad farewell to life. It seemed like a perfect celebration to remember 2016, and entering due to Mahler’s “Birth of the World” into 2017 with a newly determined hope. When I walked down back the stairs, I turned my head back to glance at Clara’s bust. It almost seemed she was smiling.

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):