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

Covent Garden’s Otello: Superb singing defies Warner’s uneven production

I have seen productions of Verdi’s Otello which have been revolutionary, even subversive. I have now seen one which is the complete antithesis of that.

Solomon’s Knot: Charpentier - A Christmas Oratorio

When Marc-Antoine Charpentier returned from Rome to Paris in 1669 or 1670, he found a musical culture in his native city that was beginning to reject the Italian style, which he had spent several years studying with the Jesuit composer Giacomo Carissimi, in favour of a new national style of music.

A Baroque Odyssey: 40 Years of Les Arts Florissants

In 1979, the Franco-American harpsichordist and conductor, William Christie, founded an early music ensemble, naming it Les Arts Florissants, after a short opera by Marc-Antoine Charpentier.

Miracle on Ninth Avenue

Gian Carlo Menotti’s holiday classic, Amahl and the Night Visitors, was the first recorded opera I ever heard. Each Christmas Eve, while decorating the tree, our family sang along with the (still unmatched) original cast version. We knew the recording by heart, right down to the nicks in the LP. Ever since, no matter what the setting or the quality of a performance, I cannot get through it without tearing up.

Detlev Glanert: Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch (UK premiere)

It is perhaps not surprising that the Hamburg-born composer Detlev Glanert should count Hans Werner Henze as one of the formative influences on his work - he did, after all, study with him between 1984 to 1988.

Death in Venice at Deutsche Oper Berlin

This death in Venice is not the end, but the beginning.

Saint Cecilia: The Sixteen at Kings Place

There were eighteen rather than sixteen singers. And, though the concert was entitled Saint Cecilia the repertoire paid homage more emphatically to Mary, Mother of Jesus, and to the spirit of Christmas.

Liszt Petrarca Sonnets complete – Andrè Schuen, Daniel Heide

An ambitious new series focusing on the songs of Franz Liszt, starting with all three versions of the Tre Sonetti del Petrarca, (Petrarca Sonnets), S.270a, S.270b and S.161 with Andrè Schuen and Daniel Heide for Avi-music.de.

Insights on Mahler Lieder, Wigmore Hall, Andrè Schuen

At the Wigmore Hall, Andrè Schuen and Daniel Heide in a recital of Schubert and Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen and Rückert-Lieder. Schuen has most definitely arrived, at least among the long-term cognoscenti at the Wigmore Hall who appreciate the intelligence and sensitivity that marks true Lieder interpretation.

Ermelinda by San Francisco's Ars Minerva

It’s an opera by Vicentino composer Domenico Freschi that premiered in 1681 at the country home of the son of the doge of Venice. Villa Contarini is a couple of hours on horseback from Vicenza, and a few hours by gondola from Venice).

Wozzeck in Munich

It would be an extraordinary, even an unimaginable Wozzeck that failed to move, to chill one to the bone. This was certainly no such Wozzeck; Marie’s reading from the Bible, Wozzeck’s demise, the final scene with their son and the other children: all brought that particular Wozzeck combination of tears and horror.

Une soirée chez Berlioz – lyrical rarities, on Berlioz’s own guitar

Une soirée chez Berlioz – an evening with Berlioz, songs for voice, piano and guitar, with Stéphanie D’Oustrac, Thibaut Roussel (guitar), and Tanguy de Williencourt (piano).

Korngold's Die tote Stadt in Munich

I approached this evening as something of a sceptic regarding work and director. My sole prior encounter with Simon Stone’s work had not been, to put it mildly, a happy one. Nor do I count myself a subscriber or even affiliate to the Korngold fan club, considerable in number and still more considerable in fervency.

Exceptional song recital from Hurn Court Opera at Salisbury Arts Centre

Thanks to the enterprise and vision of Lynton Atkinson - Artistic Director of Dorset-based Hurn Court Opera - two promising young singers on the threshold of glittering careers gave an outstanding recital at Salisbury’s prestigious Art Centre.

Lohengrin in Munich

An exceptional Lohengrin, this. I had better explain. Yes, it was exceptional in the quality of much of the singing, especially the two principal female roles, yet also in luxury casting such as Martin Gantner as the King’s Herald.

Hansel and Gretel in San Francisco

This Grimm’s fairytale in its operatic version found its way onto the War Memorial stage in the guise of a new “family friendly” production first seen last holiday season at London’s Royal Opera House.

An hypnotic Death in Venice at the Royal Opera House

Spot-lit in the prevailing darkness, Gustav von Aschenbach frowns restively as he picks up an hour-glass from a desk strewn with literary paraphernalia, objects d’art, time-pieces and a pair of tall candles in silver holders - by the light of which, so Thomas Mann tells us in his novella Death in Venice, the elderly writer ‘would offer up to art, for two or three ardently conscientious morning hours, the strength he had garnered during sleep’.

A Baroque Christmas from Harmonia Mundi

A baroque Christmas from Harmonia Mundi, this year’s offering in their acclaimed Christmas series. Great value for money - four CDs of music so good that it shouldn’t be saved just for Christmas. The prize here, though is the Pastorale de Noël by Marc-Antoine Charpentier with Ensemble Correspondances, with Sébastien Daucé, highly acclaimed on its first release just a few years ago.

Philip Glass's Orphée at English National Opera

Jean Cocteau’s 1950 Orphée - and Philip Glass’s chamber opera based on the film - are so closely intertwined it should not be a surprise that this new production for English National Opera often seems unable to distinguish the two. There is never a shred of ambiguity that cinema and theatre are like mirrors, a recurring feature of this production; and nor is there much doubt that this is as opera noir it gets.

Rapt audience at Dutch National Opera’s riveting Walküre

“Don’t miss this final chance – ever! – to see Die Walküre”, urges the Dutch National Opera website.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

29 Jul 2017

Discovering Gounod’s Cinq Mars: Another Rarity Success for Oper Leipzig

Oper Leipzig usually receives less international attention than its Dresden, Munich or Berlin counterparts; however, with its fabulous Gewandhaus Orchestra, and its penchant for opera rarities (and a new Ring Cycle), this quality hotspot will be attracting more and more opera lovers. Leipzig’s new production of Gounod’s Cinq Mars continues this high quality tradition.

Gounod's Cinq Mars at Oper Leipzig

A review by David Pinedo

Above: A traditional staging in Leipzig [All photos by Tom Schulze]

 

After Leipzig’s sensational production last year of Wagner’s early work Die Feen, the only current staging in opera, I returned to this optimistic German city for Gounod’s Cinq Mars, or here renamed Der Rebell des Königs. While Gounod’s music packs less thrills than his Faust or even Roméo et Juliette, the vocal and dramatic chemistry in this production certainly did not disappoint and made the trip more than worthwhile.

Gounod based his 1877 Cinq Mars on Alfred de Vigny’s historical novel about Marquis Henri de Cinq Mars’s failed attempt at rebellion against Richelieu, the manipulative Catholic Cardinal advising King Louis XIII. The libretto was written by Paul Poirson and Louis Gallet, who also wrote Massenet’s Thaïs, and some lesser known works by Bizet and Saint-Saëns.

Anthony Pilavachi created a traditional tableaux vivants, faithful to most of the directions in the libretto. Markus Meyer’s costume design from that time and painting frame set, a frame within a frame, worked well. The pictures added to the inauthentic portrayal of ourselves as we tread into the social spheres, in this case the King’s court. All the world is still a stage.

To turn this into a true grand opera, Gounod added an impossible romance between Henri and a princess and included a delightful ball scene in the second act, humorously choreographed by Julia Grunwald. The Leipzig Ballet put on an entertaining, pastoral dance scene that offered some levity and witty moments provoking laughter amongst the audience.

As Henri de Cinq Mars and Princess Marie de Gonzague, who for political reasons must wed the Polish King, the stars of the evening Mathias Vidal and Fabienne Conrad led with passionately romantic chemistry an excellent cast. At the end of Act I and Act III, their duets received boisterous applause. In the final act, Vidal, right before Cinq Mars’s death, channelled the glamorous dramatics of Jonas Kaufmann: his singing produced deeply moving emotions to which the audience responded with the loudest bravi.

Der_Rebell_des_Konigs_Cinq_Mars_Prinzessin_Marie_de_Gonzague_Fabienne_Conrad_Marquis_de_Cinq-Mars_Mathias_Vidal_Premiere_20517Tom_Schulze.jpgVidal and Conrad in an impossible romance

As head of Richelieu’s network of spies, Mark Schnaible created Father Joseph with the necessary religious villainy. He conveyed enough sickening contempt to remind me of a corrupted satanic Catholic. Toxic in the worst of ways. At the curtain call, for one moment he almost seem to rouse some boos, Schnaible was that successful at his antagonism.

The supporting roles were all well cast. As the pistol whip Marion Delorme, coloratura Danae Kontora stole each scene. Delorme hosts the party during which the ballet occurred. Not only did she carry her scenes with charm and wit, her voice commanded the stage and almost eclipsed Ms Conrad. Together with Delorme’s mischievous counterpart Ninon de Lenclos (an entertaining Sandra Maxheimer), the two devious ladies dazzled and brought out overtop flamboyance in their coquette scenes in the second act.

Amongst the supporting men, Jonathan Michie as Conseiller de Thou impressed the most. Always caring and forewarning towards his best friend Henri. In Act I, he particularly charmed in his bromance, although some of their funny French shenanigans were lost in translation. Later Michie demonstrated his vulnerability in his protection over Cinq Mars, before his friend’s tragic ending. Jeffery Krueger and Sébastien Soules, also contributed remarkably as de Montmort and de Fontrailles.

Der_Rebell_des_Konigs_Cinq_Mars_Marquis_de_Cinq-Mars_Mathias_Vidal_Conseiller_de_Thou_Jonathan_Michie_Prinzessin_Marie_de_Gonzague_Fabienne_Conrad_Chor_Premiere_20517Tom_Schulze.jpgThe cast and choir in Cinq Mars

Alessandro Zuppardo prepped the Choir of the Oper Leipzig who provided indispensable energy. They offered great momentum in the beginning as they drew the audience into the story. They also engaged in lovely theatrics on stage in the frivolity at the ball in the Act II. Above all, the German choir authentically conveyed French patriotism in rousing moments.

David Reiland (from Opéra Théâtre de Saint-Étienne) conducted the Gewandhaus with much verve, never overshadowing the soloists. His pace created a continuous momentum which he led through each act. I was never bored with this composition by Gounod.

While Cinq Mars didn’t reach the epic grandeur of Leipzig’s early Wagner Die Feen, this production should be seen by any opera aficionado who wants to be treated to Gounod’s excellently executed, unrecognised work. It will be performed several more times in early 2018.

David Pinedo


Cast and production information:

Prinzessin Marie de Gonzague: Fabienne Conrad; Marion Delorme: Danae Kontora; Ninon de L'Enclos/ Ein Schäfer: Sandra Maxheimer; Marquis de Cinq-Mars: Mathias Vidal; De Montmort/ Der polnische Botschafter: Jeffery Krueger; Conseiller de Thou: Jonathan Michie; Vicomte de Fontrailles: Sébastien Soules; Pater Joseph: Mark Schnaible; Der König von Frankreich: Randall Jakobsh; Eustache: Jean-Baptiste Mouret; De Montrésor: Joshua Morris; De Brienne: Artur Mateusz Garba; Gewandhaus Orchestra, Conductor: David Reiland; Director: Anthony Pilavachi; Set and Costumes: Markus Meyer; Choreographer Julia Grunwald; Chorus master; Alessandro Zuppardo; Dramaturge: Elisabeth Kühne, at Oper Leipzig, May 27, 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):