Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.







Recently in Performances

Barber of Seville Is Fun in Tucson

On March 4, 2018, Arizona Opera presented Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville in Tucson. Allen Moyer designed the bright and happy scenery for performances at Minnesota Opera,

Moody, Mysterious Morel

Long Beach Opera often takes willing audiences on an unexpected journey and such is undeniably the case with its fascinating traversal of The Invention of Morel.

Acis and Galatea: 2018 London Handel Festival

Katie Hawks makes quite a claim for Handel’s Acis and Galatea when, in her programme article, she describes it as the composer’s ‘most perfect work’. Surely, one might feel, this is a somewhat hyperbolic evaluation of a 90-minute pastoral masque, or serenade, based on an episode from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which has its origins in a private entertainment?

Oriana, Fairest Queen: Stile Antico celebrate the life and times of Elizabeth I

Stile Antico’s lunchtime play-list, celebrating the Virgin Queen’s long reign, shuffled between sacred and secular works, from penitential to patriotic, from sensual to celebratory.

Daniel Kramer's new La traviata at English National Opera

Verdi's La traviata is one of those opera which every opera company needs to have in its repertoire, and productions need to balance intelligent exploration of the issues raised by the work with the need to reach as wide an audience as possible with an opera which is likely to attract audience members who are not regular opera-goers.

Haydn's Applausus: The Mozartists at Cadogan Hall

Continuing their MOZART 250 series, The Mozartists/ Classical Opera began dipping into the operatic offerings of 1768 at Wigmore Hall in January, when they presented numbers from Mozart’s La finta semplice, Jommelli’s Fetonte, Hasse’s Pirano e Tisbe and Haydn’s Lo speziale.

Schubert Schwanengesang revisited—Florian Boesch, Wigmore Hall

Schwanengesang isn't Schubert's Swan Song any more than it is a cycle like Die schöne Müllerin or Winterreise. The title was given it by his publishers Haslingers, after his death, combining settings of two very different poets, Ludwig Rellstab and Heinrich Heine. Wigmore Hall audiences have heard lots of good Schwanengesangs, including Boesch and Martineau performances in the past, but this was something special.

Rinaldo: The English Concert at the Barbican Hall

“After such cruel events, I don’t know if I am dreaming or awake.” So says Almirena, daughter of the Crusader Goffredo, when she is rescued by her beloved warrior-hero, Rinaldo, from the clutches of the evil sorceress, Armida.

Hamlet abridged and enriched in Amsterdam

French grand opera and small opera companies are an unlikely combination. Yet OPERA2DAY, a company of modest means, is currently touring the Netherlands with Hamlet by Ambroise Thomas.

The ROH's first production of From the House of the Dead

Krzysztof Warlikowski’s production for the ROH of From the House of the Dead is ‘new’ in several regards. It’s (astonishingly) the first time that Janáček’s last opera has been staged at Covent Garden; it’s Warlikowski’s debut at Covent Garden; and the production uses a new 2017 critical edition prepared by John Tyrrell.

Così fan tutte at Lyric Opera of Chicago

With artifice, disguise, and questions on fidelity as the basis of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, the composer’s mature opera has returned to the stage at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

WNO's Wheel of Destiny rolls into Birmingham

Welsh National Opera’s wheel of destiny has rolled into Birmingham this week, with Verdi’s sprawling tragedy, La forza del destino, opening the company’s ‘Rabble Rousing’ triptych at the Hippodrome.

A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Royal College of Music

The gossamer web of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is sufficiently insubstantial and ambiguous to embrace multiple interpretative readings: the play can be a charming comic caper, a jangling journey through human pettiness and cruelty, a moonlit fairy fantasy or a shadowy erotic nightmare, and much more besides.

Robert Carsen's A Midsummer Night's Dream returns to ENO

Having given us Christopher Alden's strangely dystopic production of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2011, English National Opera (ENO) has opted for Robert Carsen's bed-inspired vision for the latest revival of the opera at the London Coliseum.

Turandot in San Diego—Prima la voce

The big musical set pieces in Turandot require voice, voice, and more voice, and San Diego Opera has gifted us with a world-class cast of singing actors.

Dialogues de Carmélites at the Guildhall School: spiritual transcendence and transfiguration

Four years have passed since my last Dialogues des Carmélites, and on that occasion - Robert Carsen’s production for the ROH - heightened dramatic intensity, revolutionary insurrection (enhanced by an oppressed populace formed by a 67-strong Community Ensemble) and, under the baton of Simon Rattle, luxuriant musical rapture, were the order of the day.

'B & B’ in a new key

Seattle Opera’s new production of Béatrice et Bénédict is best regarded as a noble experiment, performed expressly to see if Berlioz’ delectable 1862 opéra comique can successfully be brought into the living repertory outside its native France. As such, it is quite a success.

Of Animals and Insects: a musical menagerie at Wigmore Hall

Wigmore Hall was transformed into a musical menagerie earlier this week, when bass-baritone Ashley Riches, a Radio 3 New Generation Artist, and pianist Joseph Middleton took us on a pan-European lunchtime stroll through a gallery of birds and beasts, blooms and bugs.

Hugo Wolf, Italienisches Liederbuch

Nationality is a complicated thing at the best of times. (At the worst of times: well, none of us needs reminding about that.) What, if anything, might it mean for Hugo Wolf’s Italian Songbook? Almost whatever you want it to mean, or not to mean.

San Jose’s Dutchman Treat

At my advanced age, I have now experienced ten different productions of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman in my opera-going lifetime, but Opera San Jose’s just might be the finest.



María José Moreno [Photo by Javier del Real]
15 Apr 2017

María José Moreno lights up the Israeli Opera with Lucia di Lammermoor

I kept hearing from knowledgeable opera fanatics that the Israeli Opera (IO) in Tel Aviv was a surprising sure bet. So I made my way to the Homeland to hear how supposedly great the quality of opera was. And man, I was in for treat.

María José Moreno lights up the Israeli Opera with Lucia di Lammermoor

A review by David Pinedo

Above: María José Moreno [Photo by Javier del Real]

All other photos by Yossi Zwecker


A superlative cast for Lucia di Lammermoor set the house on fire. I was spellbound by Lucia’s madness like never before!

Based on Walter Scott’s novel set in the Lowlands of Scotland in 16th Century, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor accounts the conflict between the Ravenwood and Ashton clans. For financial reasons, Enrico Ashton forces Lucia to marry the rich Arturo. However, Lucia loves her brother’s arch nemesis Edgardo Ravenwood.

Edgardo, whose family fortune the Ashtons stole, loves Lucia in return. But fate leads to tragedy: on her wedding night, Lucia kills her husband Arturo. This leads up to the mother of all madness scenes. Of course, Lucia dies and Edgardo stabs himself with the dagger to join her in heaven.

Before I tell just how mind-blowing this Lucia was, I should let you know about the opera trauma the last Lammermoor caused me. Last June, over in Cologne, director Eva-Maria Höckmayr thought it was a good idea to rearrange Walter Scott’s Scottish locale for a Nazi Germany setting at the end of the WWII. An incestuous relationship between Lucia and her brother Enrico Ashton added a sick and twisted dimension to this dark version of the Von Trapp family in full Nazi gear with, bizarrely, a Minotaur thrown in the mix.

I can hear you thinking, what the…? Hold on, it gets even better.

Edgardo is a Jew returning after the war to his family home in Germany: a set inspired by Mies van der Rohe’s villa Tageshund commissioned by Jewish industrialists. The Gestapo seized the building for operational use. Really, if you hadn’t read those programme notes, you would not have recognised the story. Long live Regietheater!

Half a year later at the Israeli Opera, Emilio Sagi’s Lucia di Lammermoor rekindled my love for Donizetti’s masterpiece, as I ended up mesmerised by María José Moreno’s Lucia. Her impressively delirious madness scene had me in a frenzy. With modesty and tender fragility, the Spanish coloratura proved explosive on stage. If you check her out in operabase you find she quite the specialist in this role. No doubt: she nails the character.

As Ms. Moreno sang “Il dolce suono mi colpì di sua voce”, she seemed the ideal Lucia --her vocal nuances as equally persuasive as her acting. Ms Moreno reached those insanely high notes with startling purity and moved from joy to horror in a convincing delirium. In one of those rare opera experiences, I leaned-in. My body gravitated forward as Moreno’s magnetic performance drew me in and kept me on the edge of my seat. Bafflingly beautiful.

In an historic castle setting with bedroom and great hall, Emilio Sagi’s staging complemented the singing with a simplistic elegance in red, black, and metallic hues. The luxurious textures of the costumes flowed to the music. The spacious staging allowed the singers to demand the spotlight. The IO brought Sagi’s 1999 production Lucia over from Oviedo’s Opera, and this is its second revival. It is very effective.

The Israeli Opera Chorus witnessing the madness.jpg

A sharply dressed up Israeli Opera Chorus by Imme Moller served as an additional backbone to the astounding soloists. The IOC, coached by Ethan Schmeisser, brought a sense of grandeur as the singers fuelled the spectacle with a thrilling energy.

Ms Moreno did not outshine Alexey Dolgov’s Edgardo. The Russian from the Bolshoy was her match. Their romantic chemistry filled the drama with tender love. In one of the most difficult tasks in opera, the follow up to Lucia’s madness aria, Dolgov kept the dramatic momentum moving, touching me deeply with Edgardo’s final aria “Tombe degli avi miei”. He earned that explosive applause.

Dolgov and Lucia's wedding ring.jpg

This would have been the perfect introduction to an opera for any newcomer with its persuasively emotive vocals. The Israeli Opera clearly has a nose for casting. Each role role was performed admirably.

Mario Cassi proved a sonorous clashing combatant to Dolgov’s Edgardo during their conflict scene in the opening of the Second Act. Anat Czarny’s Alicia, Lucia’s companion, contrasted Moreno’s virtuous innocence with a darkly edged, wizened tone. As Arturo, Yosef Aridan’s voice fittingly dropped to the background during his interfering moments between Moreno and Dolgov’s fiery chemistry.

Daniele Callegari led the Israel Symphony Orchestra Rishon LeZion and served up Donizetti’s score with lush detail as the orchestra played with great intensity. Although no glass harmonium added to the estrangement of Lucia’s mad scene, Margalit Gafni on her flute did an excellently creepy job at enriching Ms. Moreno’s madness. During the haunting craziness, Mr. Callegari evoked an eeriness just as the expressionistic chills from a Fritz Lang film. By sheer coincidence several evenings earlier, I attended a screening of Metropolis with a new score performed live. In retrospect, it might have been a divination of this sublime afternoon.

As Dolgov’s Edgardo sang “The voice that penetrated my heart,” I felt indeed how Ms. Moreno’s incisive Lucia cut me deep. With such a voice Ms. Moreno could get away with diva attitude, but her thespian camaraderie became clear as she made sure all the performers joined in for the seemingly endless standing ovation. What a treasure she is!

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):