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 Reviews

Edward Gardner conducts Berlioz's L’Enfance du Christ

L’Enfance du Christ is not an Advent work, but since most of this country’s musical institutions shut down over Christmas, Advent is probably the only chance we shall have to hear it - and even then, only on occasion. But then Messiah is a Lenten work, and yet …

Fantasia on Christmas Carols: Sonoro at Kings Place

The initial appeal of this festive programme by the chamber choir, Sonoro, was the array of unfamiliar names nestled alongside titles of familiar favourites from the carol repertoire.

Dickens in Deptford: Thea Musgrave's A Christmas Carol

Both Venus and the hearth-fire were blazing at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance during this staging of Thea Musgrave’s 1979 opera, A Christmas Carol, an adaptation by the composer of Charles Dickens’ novel of greed, love and redemption.

There is no rose: Gesualdo Six at St John's Smith Square

This concert of Christmas music at St John’s Smith Square confirmed that not only are the Gesualdo Six and their director Owain Park fine and thoughtful musicians, but that they can skilfully shape a musical narrative.

Temple Winter Festival: The Tallis Scholars

Hodie Christus natus est. Today, Christ is born! A miracle: and one which has inspired many a composer to produce their own musical ‘miracle’: choral exultation which seems, like Christ himself, to be a gift to mankind, straight from the divine.

A new Hänsel und Gretel at the Royal Opera House

Fairy-tales work on multiple levels, they tell delightful yet moral stories, but they also enable us to examine deeper issues. With its approachably singable melodies, Engelbert Humperdinck's Märchenoper Hänsel und Gretel functions in a similar way; you can take away the simple delight of the score, but Humperdinck's discreetly Wagnerian treatment of his musical material allows for a variety of more complex interpretations.

Bohuslav Martinů – What Men Live By

World premiere recording from Supraphon of Bohuslav Martinů What Men Live By (H336,1952-3) with Jiří Bělohlávek and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra from a live performances in 2014, with Martinů's Symphony no 1 (H289, 1942) recorded in 2016. Bělohlávek did much to increase Martinů's profile, so this recording adds to the legacy, and reveals an extremely fine work.

Berlioz: Harold en Italie, Les Nuits d'été

Hector Berlioz Harold en Italie with François-Xavier Roth and Les Siècles with Tabea Zimmermann, plus Stéphane Degout in Les Nuits d’été from Hamonia Mundi. This Harold en Italie, op. 16, H 68 (1834) captures the essence of Romantic yearning, expressed in Byron's Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage where the hero rejects convention to seek his destiny in uncharted territory.

Rouvali and the Philharmonia in Richard Strauss

It so rarely happens that the final concert you are due to review of any year ends up being one of the finest of all. Santtu-Matias Rouvali’s all Richard Strauss programme with the Philharmonia Orchestra, however, was often quite remarkable - one might quibble that parts of it were somewhat controversial, and that he even lived a little dangerously, but the impact was never less than imaginative and vivid. This was a distinctly young man’s view of Strauss - and all the better for that.

‘The Swingling Sixties’: Stravinsky and Berio

Were there any justice in this fallen world, serial Stravinsky – not to mention Webern – would be played on every street corner, or at least in every concert hall. Come the revolution, perhaps.

Le Bal des Animaux : Works by Chabrier, Poulenc, Ravel, Satie et al.

Belgian soprano Sophie Karthaüser’s latest song recital is all about the animal kingdom. As in previous recordings of songs by Wolf, Debussy and Poulenc, pianist Eugene Asti is her accompanist in Le Bal des Animaux, a delightful collection of French songs about creatures of all sizes, from flea to elephant and from crayfish to dolphin.

The Pity of War: Ian Bostridge and Antonio Pappano at the Barbican Hall

During the past four years, there have been many musical and artistic centenary commemorations of the terrible human tragedies, inhumanities and utter madness of the First World War, but there can have been few that have evoked the turbulence and trauma of war - both past and present, in the abstract and in the particular - with such terrifying emotional intensity as this recital by Ian Bostridge and Antonio Pappano at the Barbican Hall.

First revival of Barrie Kosky's Carmen at the ROH

Charles Gounod famously said that if you took the Spanish airs out of Carmen “there remains nothing to Bizet’s credit but the sauce that masks the fish”.

Stanford's The Travelling Companion: a compelling production by New Sussex Opera

The first performance of Charles Villiers Stanford’s ninth and final opera The Travelling Companion was given by an enthusiastic troupe of Liverpudlian amateurs at the David Lewis Theatre - Liverpool’s ‘Old Vic’ - in April 1925, nine years after it was completed, eight after it won a Carnegie Award, and one year after the composer’s death.

Russian romances at Wigmore Hall

The songs of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov lie at the heart of the Romantic Russian art song repertoire, but in this duo recital at Wigmore Hall it was the songs of Nikolay Medtner - three of which were framed by sequences by the great Russian masters - which proved most compelling and intriguing.

Wolfgang Rihm: Requiem-Strophen

The world premiere recording of Wolfgang Rihm's Requiem-Strophen (2015/2016) with Mariss Jansons conducting the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and the Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks with Mojca Erdmann, Anna Prohaska and Hanno Müller-Brachmann, from BR Klassik NEOS.

Don Giovanni: Manitoba Opera

Manitoba Opera turned the art of seduction into bloodsport with its 2018/19 season-opener of Mozart’s dramma giocoso, Don Giovanni often walking a razor’s edge between hilarious social commentary and chilling battles for the soul.

Jonathan Miller's La bohème returns to the Coliseum

And still they come. No year goes by without multiple opportunities to see it; few years now go by without my taking at least one of those opportunities. Indeed, I see that I shall now have gone to Jonathan Miller’s staging on three of its five (!) outings since it was first seen at ENO in 2009.

Sir Thomas Allen directs Figaro at the Royal College of Music

The capital’s music conservatoires frequently present not only some of the best opera in London, but also some of the most interesting, and unusual, as the postgraduate students begin to build their careers by venturing across diverse operatic ground.

Old Bones: Iestyn Davies and members of the Aurora Orchestra 'unwrap' Time at Kings Place

In this contribution to Kings Place’s 2018 Time Unwrapped series, ‘co-curators’ composer Nico Muhly and countertenor Iestyn Davies explored the relationship between time past and time present, and between stillness and motion.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

22 Jun 2017

Don Carlo in Marseille

First mounted in 2015 at the Opéra National de Bordeaux this splendid Don Carlo production took stage just now at the Opéra de Marseille with a completely different cast and conductor. This Marseille edition achieved an artistic stature rarely found hereabouts, or anywhere.

Don Carlo in Marseille

A review by Michael Milenski

Above: Nicolas Courjal as Philip II [All photos by Christian Dresse, courtesy of the Opéra de Marseille]

 

Metteur en scène Charles Roubaud is nearly synonymous with the Opéra de Marseille, having initiated his opera career there in 1986 (an acclaimed Don Quichotte, seen in San Francisco in 1989). This Don Carlo is his 20th mise en scène for Marseille.

Roubaud is a minimalist. Eschewing all metaphor he favors image. Thus in recent stagings he has made much use of video washes projected onto substantial, abstract architectural shapes. His stagings occur in abstract ambience rather than specific locale. For this Don Carlo he was joined by long term collaborators, Avignon based set designer Emmanuelle Favre and Marseille based costume designer Katia Duflot. The video designer was Virgile Koering (of Montpellier origins).

Roubaud is also a conceptualist, imagining Verdi’s auto de fé spectacle as a relatively intimate court encounter between father and son, overseen by church and state, courtiers were lined up as observers. Finally he imagined a video procession of Flemish youth marching to their martyrdom. Nothing more.

DonCarlo_MRS2.pngYolanda Auyanet as Elisabetta, Teodor Llincal as Don Carlo

Based on intimacy and privacy such conceptual simplicity informed every scene. Don Carlo lay supine at the feet of Elisabetta for much of their fraught, post Fontainebleau encounter (this was the 4 act version). Eboli lay supine at the feet of Elisabetta to confess her betrayal. Every scene deployed its actors in abstract, emotionally charged positions, or abstract, strategically defined positioning rather than in active dramatic encounter.

Roubaud’s found Verdi’s theater not in Schiller’s drama, but in the expansion and implied collision of emotional worlds. Thus the theatrical climax fell onto the string of four huge arias that cap Verdi’s opera. Philip II’s Ella giammai, m’amò, Eboli’s “O don fatal,” Posa’s “Per me giunto è il di supreme, Elisabetta’s “Tu che le vanità conosce” riveted us to the complexity and richness of existentially separate human worlds. Roubaud made Verdi’s theater not in dramatic encounter but in the discovery and definition of these coexisting worlds.

DonCarlo_MRS3.pngYolanda Auyanet as Elisabetta, Jean-François Lapointe as Rodrigo, Sonia Ganassi as Eboli, Carine Sechaye as Tebaldo

This concentration was only possible with the complicity of the pit. Conductor Lawrence Foster found Verdi’s empathy with his tormented souls, and allowed it to expand and elaborate without boundary. Dramatic moments were indeed pointed, but only to extend possibility of amplitude and expansion of the existential moment.

With such an operatic poetic occurring simultaneously on the stage and in the pit the historical veracity of Verdi’s actors was far less significant than the actors abilities to live the moment. And that they did without exception. If bass Nicolas Courjal is too young to be an actual Philip II, he is vocally able to find an immediacy of plight with an energy and passion that were not resignation. His was the presence and the urgency of character that declared Philip II the central force of Verdi’s opera, not its tired victim.

Jean-François Lapointe brought unusual intelligence to Marquis de Posa with a maturity of male vitality, purity of resolve and duplicity, establishing himself as the moral equal of Philip II in beautiful, powerful voice. Italian mezzo Sonia Ganassi as Eboli unleashed sophisticated, mature vocalism and Rossinian confidence (plus solid, secure high notes) to make Eboli grovel magnificently in self pity. Spanish soprano Yolanda Auyanet’s Elisabetta had the purity of voice to project marital, maternal and filial innocence and the power of character and voice to explode in her confusion.

Physically and vocally robust, Romanian tenor Teodor Ilincai established a full voiced and straight forward confidence for history’s troubled young prince. And he was well able to appropriately soften and manipulate his tone as needed, This solid Don Carlo was the powerful catalyst for Elisabetta, Eboli, Rodrigo and Philip II to achieve the epitome of great lyric theater — a seemingly infinite state of simultaneous, suspended realities.

Immobile, directly in front of a huge white light cross bass Woytek Smilek’s Grand Inquisitor assumed terrifying terrestrial authority, A 2014 Operalia winner, soprano Anaïs Constans promised celestial peace for his victims in truly heavenly voice.

Michael Milenski


Cast and production information:

Elisabetta: Yolanda Auyanet; Eboli: Sonia Ganassi; Tebaldo: Carine Sechaye; Une Voix Céleste: Anaïs Constans; Don Carlo: Teodor Ilincai; Philippe II: Nicolas Courjal; Rodrigo: Jean-François Lapointe; Le Grand Inquisiteur: Wojtek Smilek; Un Moine: Patrick Bolleire; Comte de Lerma: Éric Vignau; Députés Flamands: Guy Bonfiglio, Lionel Ddelbruyere, Jean-Marie Delpas, Alain Herriau, Anas Seguin, Michel Vaissiere; Un Araldo: Camille Tresmontant. Orchestre et Chœur de l’Opéra de Marseille. Conductor: Lawrence Foster; Mise en scène: Charles Roubaud; Scénographie: Emmanuelle Favre; Costumes Katia Duflot; Lumières: Marc Delameziere; Vidéos: Virgile Koering. Opéra de Marseille, June 17, 2017


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):