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

As One a Haunting Success in San Diego

San Diego Opera has mined solid gold with its mesmerizing and affecting production of As One, a part of their innovative ‘Detour Series.’

OLF: Songs by Tchaikovsky, Anton Rubinstein, Rachmaninov and Georgy Sviridov

Compared to the oft-explored world of German lieder and French chansons, the songs of Russia are unfairly neglected in recordings and in the concert hall. The raw emotion and expansive lyricism present in much of this repertoire was clearly in evidence at the Holywell Music Room for the penultimate day of the celebrated Oxford Lieder Festival.

Stockhausen’s STIMMUNG and COSMIC PULSES at the Barbican.

This concert was an event on several levels - marking a decade since the death of Stockhausen, the fortieth anniversary (almost to the day) since Singcircle first performed STIMMUNG (at the Round House), and their final public performance of the piece. It was also a rare opportunity to hear (and see) Stockhausen’s last completed purely electronic work, COSMIC PULSES - an overwhelming visual and aural experience that anyone who was at this concert will long remember.

Bampton Classical Opera Young Singers’ Competition 2017 - Winner Announced

Bampton Classical Opera is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2017 Young Singers’ Competition is mezzo-soprano Emma Stannard and the runner-up is tenor Wagner Moreira. The winner of the accompanists’ prize, a new category this year, is Keval Shah.

Il sogno di Scipione: a new recording from Classical Opera

With this recording of Mozart’s 1771 opera, Il sogno di Scipione (Sicpio’s Dream), Classical Opera continue their progress through the adolescent composer’s precocious achievements and take another step towards the fulfilment of their complete Mozart opera series for Signum Classics.

TOSCA: A Dramatic Sing-Fest

On November 12, 2017, Arizona Opera presented Giacomo Puccini’s verismo opera, Tosca, in a dramatic production directed by Tara Faircloth. Her production utilized realistic scenery from Seattle Opera and detailed costumes from the New York City Opera. Gregory Allen Hirsch’s lighting made the set look like the church of St. Andrea as some of us may have remembered it from time gone by.

The Lighthouse: Shadwell Opera at Hackney Showroom

‘Only make the reader’s general vision of evil intense enough … and his own experience, his own imagination, his own sympathy … and horror … will supply him quite sufficiently with all the particulars. Make him think the evil, make him think it for himself, and you are released from weak specifications.’

Elisabeth Kulman sings Mahler's Rückert-Lieder with Sir Mark Elder and the Britten Sinfonia

Austrian singer Elisabeth Kulman has had an interesting career trajectory. She began her singing life as a soprano but later shifted to mezzo-soprano/contralto territory. Esteemed on the operatic stage, she relinquished the theatre for the concert platform in 2015, following an accident while rehearsing Tristan.

Tremendous revival of Katie Mitchell's Lucia at the ROH

The morning sickness, miscarriage and maundering wraiths are still present, but Katie Mitchell’s Lucia di Lammermoor, receiving its first revival at the ROH, seems less ‘hysterical’ this time round - and all the more harrowing for it.

Manon in San Francisco

Nothing but a wall and a floor (and an enormous battery of unseen lighting instruments) and two perfectly matched artists, the Manon of soprano Ellie Dehn and the des Grieux of tenor Michael Fabiano, the centerpiece of Paris’ operatic Belle Époque found vibrant presence on the War Memorial stage.

Garsington Opera’s Silver Birch on BBC Arts Digital

Audiences will have the chance to feel part of a new opera inspired by Siegfried Sassoon’s poems with an innovative 360-degree simulated experience of Garsington Opera’s Silver Birch on BBC Arts Digital from midday, Wednesday 8th November.

Mozart’s Requiem: Pierre-Henri Dutron Edition

The stories surrounding Mozart’s Requiem are well-known. Dominated by the work in the final days of his life, Mozart claimed that he composed the Requiem for himself (Landon, 153), rather than for the wealthy Count Walsegg’s wife, the man who had commissioned it in July 1791.

A beguiling Il barbiere di Siviglia from GTO

I had mixed feelings about Annabel Arden’s production of Il barbiere di Siviglia when it was first seen at Glyndebourne in 2016. Now reprised (revival director, Sinéad O’Neill) for the autumn 2017 tour, the designs remain a vibrant mosaic of rich hues and Moorish motifs, the supernumeraries - commedia stereotypes cum comic interlopers - infiltrate and interact even more piquantly, and the harpsichords are still flying in, unfathomably, from all angles. But, the drama is a little less hyperactive, the characterisation less larger-than-life. And, this Saturday evening performance went down a treat with the Canterbury crowd on the final night of GTO’s brief residency at the Marlowe Theatre.

Brett Dean's Hamlet: GTO in Canterbury

‘There is no such thing as Hamlet,’ says Matthew Jocelyn in an interview printed in the 2017 Glyndebourne programme book. The librettist of Australian composer Brett Dean’s opera based on the Bard’s most oft-performed tragedy, which was premiered to acclaim in June this year, was noting the variants between the extant sources for the play - the First, or ‘Bad’, Quarto of 1603, which contains just over half of the text of the Second Quarto which published the following year, and the First Folio of 1623 - no one of which can reliably be guaranteed superiority over the other.

Schumann and Mahler Lieder : Florian Boesch

Schumann and Mahler Lieder with Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau, now out from Linn Records, following their recent Schubert Winterreise on Hyperion. From Boesch and Martineau, excellence is the norm. But their Mahler Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen takes excellence to even greater levels

WNO's Russian Revolution series: the grim repetitions of the house of the dead

‘We lived in a heap together in one barrack. The flooring was rotten and an inch deep in filth, so that we slipped and fell. When wood was put into the stove no heat came out, only a terrible smell that lasted through the winter.’ So wrote Dostoevsky, in a letter to his brother, about his experiences in the Siberian prison camp at Omsk where he was incarcerated between 1850-54, because of his association with a group of political dissidents who had tried to assassinate the Tsar. Dostoevsky’s ‘house of the dead’ is harrowingly reproduced by Maria Björsen’s set - a dark, Dantesque pit from which there is no possibility of escape - for David Pountney’s 1982 production of Janáček’s final opera, here revived as part of Welsh National Opera’s Russian Revolution series.

The 2017 Glyndebourne Tour arrives in Canterbury with a satisfying Così fan tutte

A Così fan tutte set in the 18th century, in Naples, beside the sea: what, no meddling with Mozart? Whatever next! First seen in 2006, and now on its final run before ‘retirement’, Nicholas Hytner’s straightforward account (revived by Bruno Ravella) of Mozart’s part-playful, part-piquant tale of amorous entanglements was a refreshing opener at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury where Glyndebourne Festival Opera arrived this week for the first sojourn of the 2017 tour.

Richard Jones's Rodelinda returns to ENO

Shameless grabs for power; vicious, self-destructive dynastic in-fighting; a self-righteous and unwavering sense of entitlement; bruised egos and integrity jettisoned. One might be forgiven for thinking that it was the current Tory government that was being described. However, we are not in twenty-first-century Westminster, but rather in seventh-century Lombardy, the setting for Handel’s 1725 opera, Rodelinda, Richard Jones’s 2014 production of which is currently being revived at English National Opera.

Amusing Old Movie Becomes Engrossing New Opera

Director Mario Bava’s motion picture, Hercules in the Haunted World, was released in Italy in November 1961, and in the United States in April 1964. In 2010 composer Patrick Morganelli wrote a chamber opera entitled Hercules vs. Vampires for Opera Theater Oregon.

Rigoletto at Lyric Opera of Chicago

If a credible portrayal of the title character in Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto is vital to any performance, the success of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s current, exciting production hinges very much on the memorable court jester and father sung by baritone Quinn Kelsey.

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):