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

Leoncavallo's Zazà at Investec Opera Holland Park

The make-up is slapped on thickly in this new production of Leoncavallo’s Zazà by director Marie Lambert and designer Alyson Cummings at Investec Opera Holland Park.

McVicar’s Enchanting but Caliginous Rigoletto in Castle Olavinlinna at Savonlinna Opera Festival

David McVicar’s thrilling take on Verdi’s Rigoletto premiered as the first international production of this Summer’s Savonlinna Opera Festival. The scouts for the festival made the smart decision to let McVicar adapt his 2001 Covent Garden staging to the unique locale of Castle Olavinlinna.

Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance at Covent Garden

The end of the ROH’s summer season was marked as usual by the Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance but this year’s showcase was a little lacklustre at times.

Sallinen’s Kullervo is Brutal and Spectacular Finnish Opera at Savonlinna Opera Festival

For the centenary of Finland’s Independence, the Savonlinna Opera Festival brought back Kari Heiskanen’s spectacular 1992 production of Aulis Salinen’s Kullervo. The excellent Finnish soloists and glorious choir unflinchingly offered this opera of vocal blood and guts. Conductor Hannu Lintu fired up the Savonlinna Opera Festival Orchestra in Sallinen’s thrilling music.

Kát’a Kabanová at Investec Opera Holland Park

If there was any doubt of the insignificance of mankind in the face of the forces of Nature, then Yannis Thavoris’ design for Olivia Fuchs production of Janáček’s Kát’a Kabanová - first seen at Investec Opera Holland Park in 2009 - would puncture it in a flash, figuratively and literally.

A bel canto feast at Cadogan Hall

The bel canto repertoire requires stylish singing, with beautiful tone and elegant phrasing. Strength must be allied with grace in order to coast the vocal peaks with unflawed legato; flexibility blended with accuracy ensures the most bravura passages are negotiated with apparent ease.

Don Pasquale: a cold-hearted comedy at Glyndebourne

Director Mariame Clément’s Don Pasquale, first seen during the 2011 tour and staged in the house in 2013, treads a fine line between realism and artifice.

Billy Budd Indomitable in Des Moines

It is hard to know where to begin to praise the peerless accomplishment that is Des Moines Metro Opera’s staggeringly powerful Billy Budd.

Tannhäuser at Munich

Romeo Castellucci’s aesthetic — if one may speak in the singular — is very different from almost anything else on show in the opera house at the moment. That, I have no doubt, is unquestionably a good thing. Castellucci is a serious artist and it is all too easy for any of us to become stuck in an artistic rut, congratulating ourselves not only on our understanding but also,  may God help us, our ‘taste’ — as if so trivial a notion had something to do with anything other than ourselves.

Des Moines Answers Turandot’s Riddles

With Turandot, Des Moines Metro Opera operated from the premise of prima la voce, and if the no-holds-barred singing and rhapsodic playing didn’t send shivers down your spine, well, you were at the wrong address.

Maria Visits Des Moines

With an atmospheric, crackling performance of Astor Piazzolla’s Maria de Buenos Aires, Des Moines Metro Opera once again set off creative sparks with its Second Stage concept.

Die schöne Müllerin: Davies and Drake provoke fresh thoughts at Middle Temple Hall

Schubert wrote Die schöne Müllerin (1824) for a tenor (or soprano) range - that of his own voice. Wilhelm Müller’s poems depict the youthful unsophistication of a country lad who, wandering with carefree unworldliness besides a burbling stream, comes upon a watermill, espies the miller’s fetching daughter and promptly falls in love - only to be disillusioned when she spurns him for a virile hunter. So, perhaps the tenor voice possesses the requisite combination of lightness and yearning to convey this trajectory from guileless innocence to disenchantment and dejection.

World Premiere of Aulis Sallinen’s Castle in the Water Savonlinna Opera Festival

For my first trip to Finland, I flew from Helsinki to the east, close to the border of Russia near St. Petersburg over many of Suomi’s thousand lakes, where the summer getaway Savonlinna lays. Right after the solstice during July and early August, the town’s opera festival offers high quality productions. In this enchanting locale in the midst of peaceful nature, the sky at dusk after the mesmerising sunset fades away is worth the trip alone!

Mozart and Stravinsky in Aix

Bathed in Mediterranean light, basking in enlightenment Aix found two famous classical works, Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress in its famous festival’s open air Théâtre de l’Archevêche. But were we enlightened?

Des Moines: Nothing ‘Little’ About Night Music

Des Moines Metro Opera’s richly detailed production of Sondheim’s A Little Night Music left an appreciative audience to waltz home on air, and has prompted this viewer to search for adequate superlatives.

Longborough Festival Opera: A World Class Tristan und Isolde in a Barn Shed

Of all the places, I did not expect a sublime Tristan und Isolde in a repurposed barn in the Cotswolds. Don’t be fooled by Longborough’s stage without lavish red curtains to open and close each act. Any opera house would envy the riveting chemistry between Peter Wedd and Lee Bisset in this intimate, 500 seat setting. Conductor Anthony Negus proved himself a master at Wagner’s emotional depth. Epic drama in minimalistic elegance: who needs a big budget when you have talent and drama this passionate?

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra throws a glossy Bernstein party

For almost thirty years, summer at the Concertgebouw has been synonymous with Robeco SummerNights. This popular series expands the classical concert formula with pop, film music, jazz and more, served straight up or mixed together. Composer Leonard Bernstein’s versatility makes his oeuvre, ranging from Broadway to opera, prime SummerNight fare.

Die Frau ohne Schatten at Munich

It was fascinating to see — and of course, to hear — Krzysztof Warlikowsi’s productions of Die Gezeichneten and Die Frau ohne Schatten on consecutive nights of this year’s Munich Opera Festival.

Dulwich Opera’s Carmen

Dulwich Opera Company’s Carmen was a convincingly successful show.  This was mainly due to succinct musical direction and rigorous dramatic direction.  It also meant that the proximity of the action was a fascinating treat, and by the artists being young, and easy on the eye.

Franz Schreker: Die Gezeichneten

There is a host of fine operas out there languishing more or less unperformed (in some cases, quite unperformed). A few of them might even qualify as ‘great’. (Feel free to remove inverted commas, should that be your thing.) Franz Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten, whatever its proponents might claim, is certainly not one of those: not even close.

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):