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

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.

Mortal Voices: the Academy of Ancient Music at Milton Court

The relationship between music and money is long-standing, complex and inextricable. In the Baroque era it was symbiotically advantageous.

Glyndebourne Opera Cup 2018: semi-finalists announced

The semi-finalists for the first Glyndebourne Opera Cup have been announced. Following a worldwide search that attracted nearly 200 entries, and preliminary rounds in Berlin, London and Philadelphia, 23 singers aged 21-28 have been chosen to compete in the semi-final at Glyndebourne on 22 March.

ENO announces Studio Live casts and three new Harewood Artists

English National Opera (ENO) has announced the casts for Acis and Galatea and Paul Bunyan, 2018’s two ENO Studio Live productions. ENO Studio Live forms part of ENO Outside which takes ENO’s work to arts-engaged audiences that may not have considered opera before, presenting the immense power of opera in more intimate studio and theatre environments.

Handel in London: 2018 London Handel Festival

The 2018 London Handel Festival explores Handel’s relationship with the city. Running from 17 March to 16 April 2018, the Festival offers four weeks of concerts, talks, walks & film screenings explore masterpieces by Handel, from semi-staged operas to grand oratorio and lunchtime recitals.

Dartington International Summer School & Festival: 70th anniversary programme

Internationally-renowned Dartington Summer School & Festival has released the course programme for its 70th Anniversary Summer School and Festival, curated by the pianist Joanna MacGregor, that will run from 28th July to 25th of August 2018.

I Puritani at Lyric Opera of Chicago

What better evocation of bel canto than an opera which uses the power of song to dispel madness and to reunite the heroine with her banished fiancé? Such is the final premise of Vincenzo Bellini’s I puritani, currently in performance at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Iolanthe: English National Opera

The current government’s unfathomable handling of the Brexit negotiations might tempt one to conclude that the entire Conservative Party are living in the land of the fairies. In Gilbert & Sullivan’s 1882 operetta Iolanthe, the arcane and Arcadia really do conflate, and Cal McCrystal’s new production for English National Opera relishes this topsy-turvy world where peris consort with peri-wigs.

Il barbiere di Siviglia in Marseille

Any Laurent Pelly production is news, any role undertaken by soprano Stephanie d’Oustrac is news. Here’s the news from Marseille.

Riveting Maria de San Diego

As part of its continuing, adventurous “Detour” series, San Diego Opera mounted a deliciously moody, proudly pulsating, wholly evocative presentation of Astor Piazzolla’s “nuevo tango” opera, Maria de Buenos Aires.

La Walkyrie in Toulouse

The Nicolas Joel 1999 production of Die Walküre seen just now in Toulouse well upholds the Airbus city’s fame as Bayreuth-su-Garonne (the river that passes through this quite beautiful, rich city).

Barrie Kosky's Carmen at Covent Garden

Carmen is dead. Long live Carmen. In a sense, both Bizet’s opera and his gypsy diva have been ‘done to death’, but in this new production at the ROH (first seen at Frankfurt in 2016) Barrie Kosky attempts to find ways to breathe new life into the show and resurrect, quite literally, the eponymous temptress.

Candide at Arizona Opera

On Friday February 2, 2018, Arizona Opera presented Leonard Bernstein’s Candide to honor the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Although all the music was Bernstein’s, the text was written and re-written by numerous authors including Lillian Hellman, Richard Wilbur, Stephen Sondheim, John La Touche, and Dorothy Parker, as well as the composer.

Satyagraha at English National Opera

The second of Philip Glass’s so-called 'profile' operas, Satyagraha is magnificent in ENO’s acclaimed staging, with a largely new cast and conductor bringing something very special to this seminal work.

Mahler Symphony no 8—Harding, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra

From the Berwaldhallen, Stockholm, a very interesting Mahler Symphony no 8 with Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. The title "Symphony of a Thousand" was dreamed up by promoters trying to sell tickets, creating the myth that quantity matters more than quality. For many listeners, Mahler 8 is still a hard nut to crack, for many reasons, and the myth is part of the problem. Mahler 8 is so original that it defies easy categories.

Wigmore Hall Schubert Birthday—Angelika Kirchschlager

At the Wigmore Hall, Schubert's birthday is always celebrated in style. This year, Angelika Kirchschlager and Julius Drake, much loved Wigmore Hall audience favourites, did the honours, with a recital marking the climax of the two-year-long Complete Schubert Songs Series. The programme began with a birthday song, Namenstaglied, and ended with a farewell, Abschied von der Erde. Along the way, a traverse through some of Schubert's finest moments, highlighting different aspects of his song output : Schubert's life, in miniature.

A Splendid Italian Spoken-Dialogue Opera: De Giosa’s Don Checco

Never heard of Nicola De Giosa (1819-85), a composer who was born in Bari (a town on the Adriatic, near the heel of Italy), but who spent most of his career in Naples? Me, neither!

Winterreise by Mark Padmore

Schubert's Winterreise is almost certainly the most performed Lieder cycle in the repertoire. Thousands of performances and hundreds of recordings ! But Mark Padmore and Kristian Bezuidenhout's recording for Harmonia Mundi is proof of concept that the better the music the more it lends itself to re-discovery and endless revelation.

Ilker Arcayürek at Wigmore Hall

The first thing that struck me in this Wigmore Hall recital was the palpable sincerity of Ilker Arcayürek’s artistry. Sincerity is not everything, of course; what we think of as such may even be carefully constructed artifice, although not, I think, here.

Lisette Oropesa sings at Tucson Desert Song Festival

On January 30, 2018, Arizona Opera and the Tucson Desert Song Festival presented a recital by lyric soprano Lisette Oropesa in the University of Arizona’s Holsclaw Hall. Looking like a high fashion model in her silver trimmed midnight-blue gown, the singer and pianist Michael Borowitz began their program with Pablo Luna’s Zarzuela aria, “De España Vengo.” (“I come from Spain”).

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

<em>Adelson e Salvini</em>, Opera Rara
22 Apr 2017

Opera Rara: new recording of Bellini's Adelson e Salvini

In May 2016, Opera Rara gave Bellini aficionados a treat when they gave a concert performance of Vincenzo Bellini’s first opera, Adelson e Salvini, at the Barbican Hall. The preceding week had been spent in the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios, and this recording, released last month, is a very welcome addition to Opera Rara’s bel canto catalogue.

Adelson e Salvini, Opera Rara

A review by Claire Seymour

 

Adelson e Salvini was the 24-year-old Bellini’s ‘graduation piece’, written in 1825 for the Real Collegio di Musica di San Sebastiano in Naples. Either the student singers at Bellini’s disposal were remarkably talented, or the young composer was intent on showing off his own prowess and the singers could do or die!

My review of Opera Rara’s concert performance contained a fairly lengthy account of the work’s origins, fortunes and revisions, as well as the literary source and plot. So, suffice it to say here that Andrea Leone Tottola’s libretto, set in seventeenth-century Ireland, unfolds as a somewhat disjointed series of scenes of melodramatic scuffles, infernos and emotional volte faces, in which Lord Adelson and the Italian painter Salvini are rivals for the heart of Nelly, the niece of the vengeful Colonel Struley. There is melodrama and incredulity aplenty: in a struggle to prevent Nelly being abducted by her uncle, Salvini fears he has killed his beloved and threatens to commit suicide; but, learning she is alive - and after several fake letters have add further convolution - Adelson ultimately marries Nelly, as Salvini renounces his love and promises to return after a year to claim his young pupil Fanny as his bride.

There is little of the prototype Sonnambula-limpidity evident in the student Bellini’s nascent musical arsenal, but Rossini’s fingerprints make a deep imprint, most impressionably in the music written for Salvini’s comic servant, Bonifacio, who makes his entrance with a Rossini patter aria - accompanied by a nonchalant flute which makes a paradoxically insouciant foil for the Figaro-esque bluster of the aggrieved, put-upon Bonifacio. Bass-baritone Maurizio Muraro makes much of the text and a strong musical personality emerges, but occasionally the pitch strays from dead-centre.

Muraro himself makes a good counterpart for Enea Scala’s over-wrought and initially vocally tense Salvini; as the latter begs ‘beguiling hope’ to abandon his heart, it’s hard to disagree with his servant’s conclusion that his master is ‘really off his head’ and ‘belongs in the madhouse’. Perhaps Salvini’s vapidity and vulnerability are the inevitable outcome of the ‘insane’ cabaletta which Bellini gives the tenor, before he’s had time to warm up his vocal cords, comprising twenty-six high Cs, four Ds, and a top E. The stratospheric ascents have more elegance than Scala can muster, but it’s understandable and forgivable that he sounds strained at times, and once he’s hit the targets, Scala reveals a polished technique and pleasing tone. His would-be grave-bound avowal of love for Nelly is heartbreakingly sincere, and is complemented by the poignancy of the oboe’s lyrical commentary and the urgency of the Opera Rara Chorus (directed by Eamonn Dougan).

Salvini’s Act 2 duet, ‘Torna, o caro, a questo seno', with Simone Alberghini’s patrician-toned Adelson is beautifully enriched by some lovely horn and woodwind playing while Scala’s more relaxed tenor whips slickly but ardently through the cascades of split loyalties; both singers exhibit tenderness in the passages in seductive thirds and sixths, forming a gentle blend. This number throbs with emotions unspoken, misinterpreted and misunderstood. And, if elsewhere Alberghini doesn’t consistently display the technical assurance, accuracy and nimbleness of his colleagues, his is a convincing contribution to the drama.

The opera was performed originally by an all-male cast, even though there are three female roles, and one wonders who sang Nelly’s romanza ‘Dopo l'oscuro nembo’ (later reshaped into Giulietta’s ‘Oh quante volte’ in I Capuleti e iMontecchi), and how. For, the melodic voluptuousness of this number is a beguiling intimation of where the ‘Swan of Catania’ was heading. The pathetic instrumental prelude passes slithering motifs from the depths of the bass to the heights of the woodwind, before pizzicato strings hook the sentiment and lead into the aria proper. Perhaps bel canto patterns inevitably lead one to make connections, but there seem to me to be more than a few foreshadowings - in the harmonic progressions and melodic sighs - of ‘Una furtiva lagrima’. Daniela Barcellona is able to hold back the full power of her mezzo, prioritising elegant elaboration over vocal emoting, while using her rich tone to convey Nelly’s romantic agonies.

David Soar’s Geronio impressed me at the Barbican Hall and continues to do so on this recording: he offers dark colour to the lighter toned Colonel Struley of Russian baritone Rodion Pogossov - who still brings some heft to the role - and the duet with which the dishonourable duo open Act 2 is engagingly characterised, with some strong string pizzicato adding extra parodic fierceness and bite. Mezzo-sopranos Kathryn Rudge (Fanny) and Leah-Marian Jones (Madam Rivers) complete the accomplished cast. The recitative is well-delivered, and given that most of the cast are native Italians, dialogue director Daniel Dooner must have had a fairly easy task.

Daniele Rustioni shows off his bel canto credentials, conducting with unflagging alertness to every dramatic and lyrical detail. The Sinfonia is typical: a weighty orchestral sound, supported by a strong bass, from which, by turns, punchy and poignant woodwind themes and, here, a cello solo emerge with clarity: somehow Rustioni combines power and translucence. We can hear Bellini’s drama, restlessness and redolent emotion. If occasionally a withdrawal of the sound seems to owe more to the engineers than to Rustioni’s interpretative dynamics, this is a very minor quibble.

The glossy accompanying booklet contains a detailed and informative essay, ‘Bellini’s Full Opera’, by Benjamin Walton; an account by co-editor Fabrizio Della Setta of the new critical edition which was prepared for this Opera Rara performance and recording; a synopsis in English, French, German and Italian; and, a full Italian libretto with English translation, the spoken text usefully differentiated by coloured ink.

This is another welcome Opera Rara addition to the forgotten repertory of the nineteenth century, and the company’s forthcoming plans are exciting.

Claire Seymour

Vincenzo Bellini: Adelson e Salvini, opera in 3 acts (1825)
Opera Rara ORC56 [CD: 73:11; 79:52]

Lord Adelson - Simone Alberghini; Nelly - Daniela Barcellona, Salvini - Enea Scala, Bonifacio - Maurizio Muraro, Colonel Struley - Rodion Pogossov, Geronio - David Soar, Madama Rivers - Leah-Marian Jones, Fanny - Kathryn Rudge; conductor - Daniele Rustioni, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Opera Rara Chorus (chorus director - Eamonn Dougan)

Recorded in May 2016, BBC Maida Vale Studios, London.

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):