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 Performances

Down in flames: Les Troyens, Opéra de Paris

Hector Berlioz’s Les Troyens with Philippe Jordan conducting the Opéra National de Paris. Since Les Troyens headlined the inauguration of Opéra Bastille 30 years ago, we might have expected something special of this new production. It should have been a triumph, with such a good conductor and some of the best singers in the business. But it wasn't.

Andrew Davis conducts Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ at Hoddinott Hall

A weekend commemorating the 150th anniversary of the death of Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) entitled Berlioz: The Ultimate Romantic was launched in style from Cardiff’s Hoddinott Hall with a magnificent account of L’enfance du Christ (Childhood of Christ). The emotional impact of this ‘sacred trilogy’ seemed to gain further weight for its performance midway between Christmas and Easter, neatly encapsulating Christ’s journey from birth to death.

Love Songs: Temple Song Series

In contrast to the ‘single-shaming’ advertisement - “To the 12,750 people who ordered a single takeaway on Valentine’s Day. You ok, hun?” - for which the financial services company, Revolut, were taken to task, this Temple Music recital programme on 14th February put the emphasis firmly on partnerships: intimate, impassioned and impetuous.

Philip Glass: Akhnaten – English National Opera

There is a famous story that when Philip Glass first met Nadia Boulanger she pointed to a single bar of one of his early pieces and said: “There, that was written by a real composer”. Glass recalls that it was the only positive thing she ever said about him

Rachvelishvili excels in ROH Orchestra's Russian programme

Cardboard buds flaming into magic orchids. The frenzied whizz of a Catherine Wheel as it pushes forth its fiery petals. A harvest sky threshed and glittering with golden grain.

Lucrèce Borgia in Toulouse

This famed murderess worked her magic on Toulouse’s Théâtre du Capitole stage, six dead including her beloved long lost son. It was Victor Hugo’s carefully crafted 1833 thriller recrafted by Italian librettist Felice Romano that became Donizetti’s fragile Lucrezia Borgia.

Amanda Majeski makes a stunning debut at Covent Garden in Richard Jones's new production of Kát’a Kabanová

How important is ‘context’, in opera? Or, ‘symbol’? How does one balance the realism of a broad social milieu with the expressionistic intensity of an individual’s psychological torment and fracture?

Returning to heaven: The Cardinall's Musick at Wigmore Hall

The Cardinall’s Musick invited us for a second time to join them in ‘the company of heaven’ at Wigmore Hall, in a recital that was framed by musical devotions to St Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary.

Diana Damrau’s Richard Strauss Residency at the Barbican: The first two concerts

Listening to these two concerts - largely devoted to the music of Richard Strauss, and given by the soprano Diana Damrau, and the superlative Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in the second - I was reminded of Wilhelm Furtwängler’s observation that German music would be unthinkable without him.

De la Maison des Morts in Lyon

The obsessive Russian Dostoevsky’s novel cruelly objectified into music by Czech composer Leos Janacek brutalized into action by Polish director Krzysztof Warlikowski beatified by Argentine conductor Alejo Pérez.

La Nuova Musica perform Handel's Alcina at St John's Smith Square

There was a full house at St John’s Smith Square for La Nuova Musica’s presentation of Handel’s Alcina.

Ermonela Jaho is an emotively powerful Violetta in ROH's La traviata

Perhaps it was the ‘Blue Monday’ effect, but the first Act of this revival of Richard Eyre’s 1994 production of La Traviata seemed strangely ‘consumptive’, its energy dissipating, its ‘breathing’ rather laboured.

Vivaldi scores intriguing but uneven Dangerous Liaisons in The Hague

“Why should I spend good money on tables when I have men standing idle?” asks a Regency country squire in the British sitcom Blackadder the Third. The Marquise de Merteuil in OPERA2DAY’s Dangerous Liaisons would agree with him. Her servants support her dinner table, groaning with gateaux, on their backs.

Porgy and Bess at Dutch National Opera – Exhilarating and Moving

Thanks to the phenomenon of international co-productions, Dutch National Opera’s first-ever Porgy and Bess is an energizing, heart-stirring show with a wow-factor cast. Last year in London, co-producer English National Opera hosted it to glowing reviews. Its third parent, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, will present it at a later date. In the meantime, in Amsterdam the singers are the crowing glory in George Gershwin’s 1935 masterpiece.

Il trovatore at Seattle Opera

After a series of productions somehow skewed, perverse, and/or pallid, the first Seattle Opera production of the new year comes like a powerful gust of invigorating fresh air: a show squarely, single-mindedly focused on presenting the work of art at hand as vividly and idiomatically as possible.

Opera as Life: Stefan Herheim's The Queen of Spades at Covent Garden

‘I pitied Hermann so much that I suddenly began weeping copiously … [it] turned into a mild fit of hysteria of the most pleasant kind.’

Venus Unwrapped launches at Kings Place, with ‘Barbara Strozzi: Star of Venice’

‘Playing music is for a woman a vain and frivolous thing. And I would wish you to be the most serious and chaste woman alive. Beyond this, if you do not play well your playing will give you little pleasure and not a little embarrassment. … Therefore, set aside thoughts of this frivolity and work to be humble and good and wise and obedient. Don’t let yourself be carried away by these desires, indeed resist them with a strong will.’

Burying the Dead: Ceruleo offer 'Baroque at the Edge'

“Who are you? And what are you doing in my bedroom?”

'Sound the trumpet': countertenor duets at Wigmore Hall

This programme of seventeenth-century duets, odes and instrumental works was meticulously and finely delivered by countertenors Iestyn Davies and James Hall, with The King’s Consort, but despite the beauty of the singing and the sensitivity of the playing, somehow it didn’t quite prove as affecting as I had anticipated.

Brenda Rae's superb debut at Wigmore Hall

My last visit of the year to Wigmore Hall also proved to be one of the best of 2018. American soprano Brenda Rae has been lauded for her superb performances in the lyric coloratura repertory, in the US and in Europe, and her interpretation of the title role in ENO’s 2016 production of Berg’s Lulu had the UK critics reaching for their superlatives.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Sondra Radvanovsky
14 Apr 2017

LA Opera’s Young Artist Program Celebrates Tenth Anniversary

On Saturday evening April 1, 2017, Placido Domingo and Los Angeles Opera celebrated their tenth year of training young opera artists in the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Program. From the singing I heard, they definitely have something of which to be proud.

LA Opera’s Young Artist Program Celebrates Tenth Anniversary

A review by Maria Nockin

Above: Sondra Radvanovsky

 

Sondra Radvanovsky opened the program with a rendition of the Bolero from Giuseppe Verdi’s I Vespri Siciliani, “Merce, dilette amiche” (“Thank you dear friends”). At first she seemed still to be warming up, but her voice soon attained its usual lustre and radiant qualities. Later, she sang a heart rending version of “Senza Mamma” (“without Mama”) from Giacomo Puccini’s Suor Angelica. She sang two duets with Domingo who was in marvelous voice for this auspicious occasion. They joined their voices in the revealing “Orfanella il tetto umile” (“An Orphan under a Humble Roof”) from Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra and the sophisticated “Lippen Schweigen” (“Silent Lips”) from Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus.

Although Diana Damrau and Nicholas Testé, who are currently appearing in LA Opera's production of The Tales of Hoffmann were expected to sing at the concert, their health issues did not allow it. However, with the profusion of talent available among the members of past and present LAO Young Artist Programs, the concert provided an excellent showcase.

Liv_Redpath.pngLiv Redpath

Unlike most opera concerts, this program included ensembles. For the Rigoletto Quartet, “Bella figlia dell’amore” (“Beautiful Daughter of Love”), Kihun Yoon was a lyrical Rigoletto, Hyesang Park a refined Gilda, Joshua Guerrero a warm-voiced Duke and Renée Rapier an experienced Maddalena who did not fall for one word of the Duke’s flattery. A different group, consisting of Carlos Enrique Santelli, René Rapier, So Young Park, Michelle Siemens, Theo Hoffman, and Nicholas Brownlee, sang the smartly contrapuntal but rather slow moving sextet “Siete voi? . . . Questo è un nodo avvilupato” (“Is that you? This is a tangled knot”) from Gioachino Rossini’s Cinderella.

Duets abounded. First year program member Liv Redpath showed not only the beauty of her mid-sized voice but also a talent for comedy when she sang “Pronto io son” from Gaetano Donizetti’s Don Pasquale with equally talented program member Theo Hoffman. I can’t help thinking that one of Joshua Guerrero’s daydreams was to sing with Domingo. With robust tones, the young tenor and the tenor-turned-baritone sang “Au Fond du Temple Saint” from Georges Bizet’s The Pearlfishers.

From Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Lauren Michelle as Susanna and Summer Hassan as the Countess sang an exquisite rendition of “Sull’aria . . . Che soave zeffiretto” (“On the air...The soft breeze”) and from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, Hyesang Park and Guerrero sang “Verranno a te” (“They will come to you”) in lovely bel canto style. One of the great delights of Vincenzo Bellini’s I Puritani is its duet for lower male voices, “Suoni la tromba” (“Sound the Trumpet”). While Kihun Yoon and Nicholas Brownlee did not have the decibel power of some of the vocal stars best known for this duet, they sang it with well focused tones and and were greeted with plentiful bravos at the finish.

Some artists displayed their special talents with solo arias. Nicholas Brownlee has a wide range of dynamics and the aria “La lluvia ha cesado” (“The Rain has Stopped”) from Ruperto Chapi’s zarzuela La Tempestad allowed him to start softly, make a huge crescendo to illustrate a severe storm, then show the peaceful ambience that follows such a storm. When Brenton Ryan sang “Oh, the Lion may Roar” from John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles, he seemed to be channeling Hollywood actor Frank Gorshin. The piece tells of the invincibility of the common worm and was a perfect vehicle for this opera "bad guy" who sang with a scary style.

The Queen of the Night’s arias from The Magic Flute hold no terrors for So Young Park and she easily tossed off “O zittre nicht” (“Don’t tremble”) for this appreciative audience. Lauren Michelle, a 2015 prize winner at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Contest, delighted this audience with Jules Massenet’s “Dis-moi que je suis belle” (“Tell me that I’m beautiful”) from Thais.

Then the champagne began to flow backstage and Hyesang Park appeared with a tilted glass of bubbly. Singing “No se qué siento aqui” (“ I don’t know here”) from Manuel Fernandez Caballero’s Chateau Margaux with bell-like tones, she began the finale, which included the entire cast singing the “Champagne Song” from Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus. Since Placido Domingo sang duets with Radvanovsky and Guerrero, LA Opera veteran conductor Grant Gershon led several of the selections at comfortable tempi. However, Domingo led most offerings with his well known verve and joie de vivre.

Maria Nockin

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):