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 Reviews

Temple Winter Festival: the Gesualdo Six

‘Gaudete, gaudete!’ - Rejoice, rejoice! - was certainly the underlying spirit of this lunchtime concert at Temple Church, part of the 5th Temple Winter Festival. Whether it was vigorous joy or peaceful contemplation, the Gesualdo Six communicate a reassuring and affirmative celebration of Christ’s birth in a concert which fused medieval and modern concerns, illuminating surprising affinities.

Mark Padmore and Mitsuko Uchida at the Wigmore Hall

The journey is always the same, and never the same. As Ian Bostridge remarks, at the end of his prize-winning book Schubert’s Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession, when the wanderer asks Der Leiermann, “Will you play your hurdy-gurdy to my songs?”, in the final song of Winterreise, the ‘crazy but logical procedure would be to go right back to the beginning of the whole cycle and start all over again’.

Turandot in San Francisco

San Francisco Opera wrapped up its 95th fall opera season just now with a bang up Turandot. It has been a season of hopeful hints that this venerable company may regain some of its former luster.

Daniel Michieletto's Cav and Pag returns to Covent Garden

It felt rather decadent to be sitting in an opera house at 12pm. Even more so given the passion-fuelled excesses of Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, which might seem rather too sensual and savage for mid-day consumption.

Manitoba Opera: Madama Butterfly

Manitoba Opera opened its 45th season with Puccini’s Madama Butterfly proving that the aching heart as expressed through art knows no racial or cultural divide, with the Italian composer’s self-avowed favourite opera still able to spread its poetic wings across time and space since its Milan premiere in 1904.

Ian Bostridge and Julius Drake celebrate 25 years of music-making

In 1992, concert promoter Heinz Liebrecht introduced pianist Julius Drake to tenor Ian Bostridge and an acclaimed, inspiring musical partnership was born. On Wenlock Edge formed part of their first programme, at Holkham Hall in Norfolk; and, so, in this recital at Middle Temple Hall, celebrating their 25 years of music-making, the duo included Vaughan Williams’ Housman settings for tenor, piano and string quartet alongside works with a seventeenth-century origin or flavour.

Girls of the Golden West in San Francisco

Not many (maybe any) of the new operas presented by San Francisco Opera over the past 10 years would lure me to the War Memorial Opera House a second time around. But for Girls of the Golden West just now I would be there again tomorrow night and the next, and I am eagerly awaiting all future productions.

DiDonato is superb in Semiramide at Covent Garden

It’s taken a while for Rossini’s Semiramide to reach the Covent Garden stage. The last of the operas which Rossini composed for Italian theatres between 1810-1823, Semiramide has had only one outing at the Royal Opera House since 1887, and that was a concert version in 1986.

Hans Werner Henze Choral Music

Hans Werner Henze works for mixed voice and chamber orchestra with SWR Vokalensemble and Ensemble Modern, conducted by Marcus Creed. Welcome new recordings of important pieces like Lieder von einer Insel (1964), Orpheus Behind the Wire (1984) plus Fünf Madrigale (1947).

Philippe Jaroussky and Ensemble Artaserse at the Wigmore Hall

‘His master’s masterpiece, the work of heaven’: ‘a common fountain’ from which flow ‘pure silver drops’. At the risk of effulgent hyperbole, I’d suggest that Antonio’s image of the blessed governance and purifying power of the French court - in the opening scene of Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi - is also a perfect metaphor for the voice of French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, as it slips through Handel’s roulades like a silken ribbon.

La Rondine Takes Flight in San Jose

Kudos to San Jose Opera for offering up a wholly winning, consistently captivating new production of Puccini’s seldom performed La Rondine.

Bettina Smith, Norwegian Mezzo, in Songs by Fauré and Debussy

Here are five complete song sets by two of the greatest masters of French song. The performers are highly competent. I should have known, given the rave reviews that their 2015 recording of modern Norwegian songs received.

Clonter Opera Gala

Clonter’s Opera Gala in the breath-taking beautiful ball-room at the Lansdowne Club in Mayfair was a glamorously glittering smattering of opera – which made me want to run out to every opera in town.  

Étienne-Nicolas Méhul: Uthal

The opera world barely knows how to handle works that have significant amounts of spoken dialogue. Conductors and stage directors will often trim the dialogue to a bare minimum (Magic Flute), have it rendered as sung recitative (Carmen), or have it spoken in the vernacular though the sung numbers may often be performed in the original language (Die Fledermaus).

A New Anna Moffo?: The Debut Disc of Aida Garifullina

Here is the latest CD from a major label promoting a major new soprano. Aida Garifullina is utterly remarkable: a lyric soprano who also can handle coloratura with ease. Her tone has a constant shimmer, with a touch of quick, narrow vibrato even on short notes.

A New Die Walküre at Lyric Opera of Chicago

From the start of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s splendid, new production of Richard Wagner’s Die Walküre conflict and resolution are portrayed throughout with moving intensity. The central character Brünnhilde is sung by Christine Goerke and her father Wotan by Eric Owens.

As One a Haunting Success in San Diego

San Diego Opera has mined solid gold with its mesmerizing and affecting production of As One, a part of their innovative ‘Detour Series.’

OLF: Songs by Tchaikovsky, Anton Rubinstein, Rachmaninov and Georgy Sviridov

Compared to the oft-explored world of German lieder and French chansons, the songs of Russia are unfairly neglected in recordings and in the concert hall. The raw emotion and expansive lyricism present in much of this repertoire was clearly in evidence at the Holywell Music Room for the penultimate day of the celebrated Oxford Lieder Festival.

Stockhausen’s STIMMUNG and COSMIC PULSES at the Barbican.

This concert was an event on several levels - marking a decade since the death of Stockhausen, the fortieth anniversary (almost to the day) since Singcircle first performed STIMMUNG (at the Round House), and their final public performance of the piece. It was also a rare opportunity to hear (and see) Stockhausen’s last completed purely electronic work, COSMIC PULSES - an overwhelming visual and aural experience that anyone who was at this concert will long remember.

Bampton Classical Opera Young Singers’ Competition 2017 - Winner Announced

Bampton Classical Opera is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2017 Young Singers’ Competition is mezzo-soprano Emma Stannard and the runner-up is tenor Wagner Moreira. The winner of the accompanists’ prize, a new category this year, is Keval Shah.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

08 Mar 2017

Berliner Philharmoniker’s Ruhr Residency (I): Camilla Tilling charms in the Childhood delights of Mahler’s Fourth

Before, I arrived in Essen for Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre, I made a pitstop in Dortmund. The night before, the opera took place here, and now a packed Konzerthaus flocked to hear Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. American soprano Camilla Tilling starred in the solo part. Before the intermission, Patricia Kopatchinskaja enthralled the audience with Ligeti’s Violin Concerto. Mahler’s celebration of life proved the perfect antidote to Ligeti’s fearless exploration of the terror in humanity.

Ruhr Residency with Mahler and Ligeti

A review by David Pinedo

Above: Camilla Tilling and Berlin Philharmoniker [All photos by Monika Ritterhaus]

 

Pairing Ligeti with Mahler may seem odd at first, but they both shared the suffering of great family losses. Mahler mourned the deaths of several of his children, while the Hungarian Jew lost more than twenty family members during the Holocaust,. Those trauma’s resonate within the sorrows and horrors of their creative output. Where Mahler’s grandiose symphonies portray humanity and nature through beauty, Ligeti’s microtonal excursions seem attempts at unravelling the quantum fabric of the universe, as well as reflecting the capacity of horror in human beings.

For those lured by Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 in G major and unfamiliar with Ligeti’s extremes, his Violin Concerto must have been a nerve wracking confrontation. Though not immediately easy on the ears, Ligeti’s strangeness grows on you. Even with its extra-terrestrial tones, which the musicians bring to life through wild techniques, this concerto never alienates likes some of Ligeti’s other works.

A late work, Ligeti’s concerto is laced with hints of unexpected optimism. Through unsettling vibrations and microtonal subtleties, Ligeti’s journey alternates from dense to nearly transparent textures, culminating in an otherworldly musical realm. In search of nostalgia, acerbic passages pop out throughout the unsettling current, perhaps Ligeti’s wicked humor in his music helped with his coping. Rattle sustained a grounded focus; I never felt lost in Ligeti’s extremes.

BPhil_Ruhr_c_Monika-Rittershaus.jpgPatricia Kopatchinskaja in Ligeti's wildly dramatic Violin Concerto

With the look of a poor fiddler, the French tomboy violinist performed barefooted in a shredded tuxedo that made her seem like a vagabond perhaps the most fitting for a Ligeti adventure. With dazzling virtuosity and a technical mastery, her raw theatricality played right into Mr. Rattle’s love for unconventional dramatic performances. The two had great chemistry. After she launched into the riveting cadenza, Sir Simon threw up his hands and left the stage, as if to say what do you still need me for? He returned later and conducted from the percussion section. Her Kurtag encore with the concertmaster was another delight.

In Mahler’s Fourth, Rattle’s supercharged intensity left me untouched till the final movement. He tackled it without score, and enforced Mahler’s frenzied tempos, while steadily slowing down in the quieter passages that often stirred in their romance. Skidding and slipping through the Viennese styles, Rattle’s fast-paced momentum reminded me of a highspeed merry-go round on the verge of spinning out of control. The complicated solo passages by the concertmaster were delivered with the illusion of perfect ease. Rattle fleshed out Mahler’s melodies with illuminating clarity.

Full of heart, Camilla Tilling sang “Das himmlische Leben” from Mahler’s Knaben Wunderhorn Songs. With resonance determined by a naive hope, she evoked the innocence Mahler intended. Towards the end her tone hinted at the threat of the end of childhood. She made a deep connection to the other musicians. In few instances, Mr Rattle’s volume drained out her voice.

After the adventurous thrills of Ligeti, Mahler’s Fourth felt more like an extravagant dessert than a main course. The symphonic ode to childhood innocence on the verge of being corrupted, had nothing on the horrors of Ligeti. The next day in Essen at Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre, behind me two giddy ladies recounted their surprised joy of Ligeti: “Ah, aber das war sehr toll!”.


David Pinedo


Cast and production information:
Soprano: Camilla Tilling; Solo VIolinist: Patricia Kopatchinskaja; Berliner Philharmoniker; Conductor: Simon Rattle; February 24, 2017, Dortmund, Germany.

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):