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

Don Giovanni in Paris

A brutalist Don Giovanni at the Palais Garnier, Belgian set designer Jan Versweyveld installed three huge, a vista raw cement towers that overwhelmed the Opéra Garnier’s Second Empire opulence. The eight principals faced off in a battle royale instigated by stage director Ivo van Hove. Conductor Philippe Jordan thrust the Mozart score into the depths of expressionistic conflict.

A riveting Rake’s Progress from Snape Maltings at the Aldeburgh Festival

Based on Hogarth’s 18th-century morality tale in eight paintings and with a pithy libretto by W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman, Stravinsky’s operatic farewell to Neo-classicism charts Tom Rakewell’s ironic ‘progress’ from blissful ignorance to Bedlam.

The Gardeners: a new opera by Robert Hugill

‘When war shall cease this lonely unknown spot,/ Of many a pilgrimage will be the end,/ And flowers will shine in this now barren plot/ And fame upon it through the years descend:/ But many a heart upon each simple cross/ Will hang the grief, the memory of its loss.’

Richard Jones's Boris Godunov returns to Covent Garden

There are never any real surprises with a Richard Jones production and Covent Garden’s Boris Godunov, first seen in 2016, is typical of Jones’s approach: it’s boxy, it’s ascetic, it’s over-bright, with minimalism turned a touch psychedelic in the visuals.

An enchanting Hansel and Gretel at Regent's Park Theatre

If you go out in the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise. And, it will be no picnic! For, deep in the broomstick forest that director Timothy Sheader and designer Peter McKintosh have planted on the revolving stage at Regent’s Park Theatre is a veritable Witches’ Training School.

First staged production of Offenbach's Fantasio at Garsington

Offenbach's Fantasio is one of the works where, replacing the mad-cap satire of his earlier operettas with a more romantic melancholy, he paved the way for Les contes d'Hoffmann. Unpopular during his lifetime, Fantasio disappeared and only work by the musicologist Jean-Christophe Keck brought the score together again.

Rusalka in San Francisco

It must be a dream. Though really it is a nightmare. The water sprite Rusalka tortures herself if she is telling the story, or tortures the man who has imagined her if he is telling the story. Either way the bizarrely construed confusion of Czech fairy tales has no easily apparent meaning or message.

Orlando in San Francisco

George Frederic Handel was both victim and survivor of the San Francisco Opera’s Orlando seen last night on the War Memorial stage.

Anthony Negus conducts Das Rheingold at Longborough

There are those in England who decorate their front lawns with ever-smiling garden gnomes, but in rural Gloucestershire the Graham family has gone one better; their converted barn is inhabited, not by diminutive porcelain figures, but fantasy creatures of Norse mythology - dwarves, giants and gods.

Carmen in San Francisco

A razzle-dazzle, bloodless Carmen at the War Memorial, further revival of Francesca Zambello’s 2006 Covent Garden production already franchised to Oslo, Sidney and Washington, D.C.

Weimar Berlin - Bittersweet Metropolis: Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra

Strictly speaking, The Weimar Republic began on 11th August 1919 when the Weimar Constitution was announced and ended with the Enabling Act of 23rd March 1933 when all power to enact laws without the involvement of the Reichstag was disbanded.

A superb Un ballo in maschera at Investec Opera Holland Park

Investec Opera Holland Park’s brilliantly cast new production of Un ballo in maschera reunites several of the creative team from last year’s terrific La traviata, with director Rodula Gaitanou, conductor Matthew Kofi Waldren and lighting designer Simon Corder being joined by the designer, takis.

A Classy Figaro at The Grange Festival

Where better than The Grange’s magnificent grounds to present Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. Hampshire’s neo-classical mansion, with its aristocratic connections and home to The Grange Festival, is the perfect setting to explore 18th century class structures as outlined in Lorenzo da Ponte’s libretto.

A satisfying Don Carlo opens Grange Park Opera 2019

Grange Park Opera opened its 2019 season with a revival of Jo Davies fine production of Verdi's Don Carlo, one of the last (and finest) productions in the company's old home in Hampshire.

Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, 2019

The first woman composer to receive the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize could not have been a worthier candidate.

Josquin des Prez and His Legacy: Cinquecento at Wigmore Hall

The renown and repute of Josquin des Prez (c.1450-1521) both during his lifetime and in the years following his death was so extensive and profound that many works by his contemporaries, working in Northern France and the Low Countries, were mis-attributed to him. One such was the six-part Requiem by Jean Richafort (c.1480-c.1550) which formed the heart of this poised concert by the vocal ensemble Cinquecento at Wigmore Hall, in which they gave pride of place to Josquin’s peers and successors and, in the final item, an esteemed forbear.

Symphonie fantastique and Lélio United – F X Roth and Les Siècles, Paris

Symphonie fantastique and Lélio together, as they should be, with François-Xavier Roth and Les Siècles livestreamed from the Philharmonie de Paris (link below). Though Symphonie fantastique is heard everywhere, all the time, it makes a difference when paired with Lélio because this restores Berlioz’s original context.

Ivo van Hove's The Diary of One Who Disappeared at the Linbury Theatre

In 1917 Leoš Janáček travelled to Luhačovice, a spa town in the Zlín Region of Moravia, and it was here that he met for the first time Kamila Stösslová, the young married woman, almost 40 years his junior, who was to be his muse for the remaining years of his life.

Manon Lescaut opens Investec Opera Holland Park's 2019 season

At this end of this performance of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at Investec Opera Holland Park, the first question I wanted to ask director Karolina Sofulak was, why the 1960s?

Karlheinz Stockhausen: Cosmic traveling through his Klavierstücke, Kontakte and Stimmung

Stockhausen. Cosmic Prophet. Two sequential concerts. Music written for piano, percussion, sound diffusion and the voice. We are in the mysterious labyrinth of one of the defining composers of the last century. That at least ninety-minutes of one of these concerts proved to be an event of such magnitude is as much down to the astonishing music Stockhausen composed as it is to the peerless brilliance of the pianist who took us on the journey through the Klavierstücke. Put another way, in more than thirty years of hearing some of the greatest artists for this instrument - Pollini, Sokolov, Zimerman, Richter - this was a feat that has almost no parallels.

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):