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 Reviews

Birtwistle's The Mask of Orpheus: English National Opera

‘All opera is Orpheus,’ Adorno once declared - although, typically, what he meant by that was rather more complicated than mere quotation would suggest. Perhaps, in some sense, all music in the Western tradition is too - again, so long as we take care, as Harrison Birtwistle always has, never to confuse starkness with over-simplification.

The Marriage of Figaro in San Francisco

San Francisco Opera rolled out the first installment of its new Mozart/DaPonte trilogy, a handsome Nozze, by Canadian director Michael Cavanagh to lively if mixed result.

Puccini's Le Willis: a fine new recording from Opera Rara

The 23-year-old Giacomo Puccini was still three months from the end of his studies at the Conservatoire in Milan when, in April 1883, he spotted an announcement of a competition for a one-act opera in Il teatro illustrato, a journal was published by Edoardo Sonzogno, the Italian publisher of Bizet's Carmen.

Little magic in Zauberland at the ROH's Linbury Theatre

To try to conceive of Schumann’s Dichterliebe as a unified formal entity is to deny the song cycle its essential meaning. For, its formal ambiguities, its disintegrations, its sudden breaks in both textual image and musical sound are the very embodiment of the early Romantic aesthetic of fragmentation.

Donizetti's Don Pasquale packs a psychological punch at the ROH

Is Donizetti’s Don Pasquale a charming comedy with a satirical punch, or a sharp psychological study of the irresolvable conflicts of human existence?

Chelsea Opera Group perform Verdi's first comic opera: Un giorno di regno

Until Verdi turned his attention to Shakespeare’s Fat Knight in 1893, Il giorno di regno (A King for a Day), first performed at La Scala in 1840, was the composer’s only comic opera.

Liszt: O lieb! – Lieder and Mélodie

O Lieb! presents the lieder of Franz Liszt with a distinctive spark from Cyrille Dubois and Tristan Raës, from Aparté. Though young, Dubois is very highly regarded. His voice has a luminous natural elegance, ideal for the Mélodie and French operatic repertoire he does so well. With these settings by Franz Liszt, Dubois brings out the refinement and sophistication of Liszt’s approach to song.

A humourless hike to Hades: Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld at ENO

Q. “Is there an art form you don't relate to?” A. “Opera. It's a dreadful sound - it just doesn't sound like the human voice.”

Welsh National Opera revive glorious Cunning Little Vixen

First unveiled in 1980, this celebrated WNO production shows no sign of running out of steam. Thanks to director David Pountney and revival director Elaine Tyler-Hall, this Vixen has become a classic, its wide appeal owing much to the late Maria Bjørnson’s colourful costumes and picture book designs (superbly lit by Nick Chelton) which still gladden the eye after nearly forty years with their cinematic detail and pre-echoes of Teletubbies.

Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia at Lyric Opera of Chicago

With a charmingly detailed revival of Gioachino Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia Lyric Opera of Chicago has opened its 2019-2020 season. The company has assembled a cast clearly well-schooled in the craft of stage movement, the action tumbling with lively motion throughout individual solo numbers and ensembles.

Romantic lieder at Wigmore Hall: Elizabeth Watts and Julius Drake

When she won the Rosenblatt Recital Song Prize in the 2007 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, soprano Elizabeth Watts placed rarely performed songs by a female composer, Elizabeth Maconchy, alongside Austro-German lieder from the late nineteenth century.

ETO's The Silver Lake at the Hackney Empire

‘If the present is already lost, then I want to save the future.’

Roméo et Juliette in San Francisco (bis)

The final performance of San Francisco Opera’s deeply flawed production of the Gounod masterpiece became, in fact, a triumph — for the Romeo of Pene Pati, the Juliet of Amina Edris, and for Charles Gounod in the hands of conductor Yves Abel.

William Alwyn's Miss Julie at the Barbican Hall

“Opera is not a play”, or so William Alwyn wrote when faced with criticism that his adaptation of Strindberg’s Miss Julie wasn’t purist enough. The plot is, in fact, largely intact; what Alwyn tends to strip out is some of Strindberg’s symbolism, especially that which links to what were (then) revolutionary nineteenth-century ideas based around social Darwinism. What the opera and play do share, however, is a view of class - of both its mobility and immobility - and this was something this BBC concert performance very much played on.

The Academy of Ancient Music's superb recording of Handel's Brockes-Passion

The Academy of Ancient Music’s new release of Handel’s Brockes-Passion - recorded around the AAM's live performance at the Barbican Hall on the 300th anniversary of the first performance in 1719 - combines serious musicological and historical scholarship with vibrant musicianship and artistry.

Cast salvages unfunny Così fan tutte at Dutch National Opera

Dutch National Opera’s October offering is Così fan tutte, a revival of a 2006 production directed by Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito, originally part of a Mozart triptych that elicited strong audience reactions. This Così, set in a hotel, was the most positively received.

English Touring Opera's Autumn Tour 2019 opens with a stylish Seraglio

As the cheerfully optimistic opening bars of the overture to Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail (here The Seraglio) sailed buoyantly from the Hackney Empire pit, it was clear that this would be a youthful, fresh-spirited Ottoman escapade - charming, elegant and stylishly exuberant, if not always plumbing the humanist depths of the opera.

Gluck's Orpheus and Eurydice: Wayne McGregor's dance-opera opens ENO's 2019-20 season

ENO’s 2019-20 season opens by going back to opera’s roots, so to speak, presenting four explorations of the mythical status of that most powerful of musicians and singers, Orpheus.

Olli Mustonen's Taivaanvalot receives its UK premiere at Wigmore Hall

This recital at Wigmore Hall, by Ian Bostridge, Steven Isserlis and Olli Mustonen was thought-provoking and engaging, but at first glance appeared something of a Chinese menu. And, several re-orderings of the courses plus the late addition of a Hungarian aperitif suggested that the participants had had difficulty in deciding the best order to serve up the dishes.

Handel's Aci, Galatea e Polifemo: laBarocca at Wigmore Hall

Handel’s English pastoral masque Acis and Galatea was commissioned by James Brydges, Earl of Carnavon and later Duke of Chandos, and had it first performance sometime between 1718-20 at Cannons, the stately home on the grand Middlesex estate where Brydges maintained a group of musicians for his chapel and private entertainments.

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):