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

ETO Autumn 2020 Season Announcement: Lyric Solitude

English Touring Opera are delighted to announce a season of lyric monodramas to tour nationally from October to December. The season features music for solo singer and piano by Argento, Britten, Tippett and Shostakovich with a bold and inventive approach to making opera during social distancing.

Love, always: Chanticleer, Live from London … via San Francisco

This tenth of ten Live from London concerts was in fact a recorded live performance from California. It was no less enjoyable for that, and it was also uplifting to learn that this wasn’t in fact the ‘last’ LfL event that we will be able to enjoy, courtesy of VOCES8 and their fellow vocal ensembles (more below …).

Dreams and delusions from Ian Bostridge and Imogen Cooper at Wigmore Hall

Ever since Wigmore Hall announced their superb series of autumn concerts, all streamed live and available free of charge, I’d been looking forward to this song recital by Ian Bostridge and Imogen Cooper.

Henry Purcell, Royal Welcome Songs for King Charles II Vol. III: The Sixteen/Harry Christophers

The Sixteen continues its exploration of Henry Purcell’s Welcome Songs for Charles II. As with Robert King’s pioneering Purcell series begun over thirty years ago for Hyperion, Harry Christophers is recording two Welcome Songs per disc.

Treasures of the English Renaissance: Stile Antico, Live from London

Although Stile Antico’s programme article for their Live from London recital introduced their selection from the many treasures of the English Renaissance in the context of the theological debates and upheavals of the Tudor and Elizabethan years, their performance was more evocative of private chamber music than of public liturgy.

Anima Rara: Ermonela Jaho

In February this year, Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho made a highly lauded debut recital at Wigmore Hall - a concert which both celebrated Opera Rara’s 50th anniversary and honoured the career of the Italian soprano Rosina Storchio (1872-1945), the star of verismo who created the title roles in Leoncavallo’s La bohème and Zazà, Mascagni’s Lodoletta and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

A wonderful Wigmore Hall debut by Elizabeth Llewellyn

Evidently, face masks don’t stifle appreciative “Bravo!”s. And, reducing audience numbers doesn’t lower the volume of such acclamations. For, the audience at Wigmore Hall gave soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn and pianist Simon Lepper a greatly deserved warm reception and hearty response following this lunchtime recital of late-Romantic song.

Requiem pour les temps futurs: An AI requiem for a post-modern society

Collapsology. Or, perhaps we should use the French word ‘Collapsologie’ because this is a transdisciplinary idea pretty much advocated by a series of French theorists - and apparently, mostly French theorists. It in essence focuses on the imminent collapse of modern society and all its layers - a series of escalating crises on a global scale: environmental, economic, geopolitical, governmental; the list is extensive.

The Sixteen: Music for Reflection, live from Kings Place

For this week’s Live from London vocal recital we moved from the home of VOCES8, St Anne and St Agnes in the City of London, to Kings Place, where The Sixteen - who have been associate artists at the venue for some time - presented a programme of music and words bound together by the theme of ‘reflection’.

Iestyn Davies and Elizabeth Kenny explore Dowland's directness and darkness at Hatfield House

'Such is your divine Disposation that both you excellently understand, and royally entertaine the Exercise of Musicke.’

Ádám Fischer’s 1991 MahlerFest Kassel ‘Resurrection’ issued for the first time

Amongst an avalanche of new Mahler recordings appearing at the moment (Das Lied von der Erde seems to be the most favoured, with three) this 1991 Mahler Second from the 2nd Kassel MahlerFest is one of the more interesting releases.

Paradise Lost: Tête-à-Tête 2020

‘And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven … that old serpent … Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.’

Max Lorenz: Tristan und Isolde, Hamburg 1949

If there is one myth, it seems believed by some people today, that probably needs shattering it is that post-war recordings or performances of Wagner operas were always of exceptional quality. This 1949 Hamburg Tristan und Isolde is one of those recordings - though quite who is to blame for its many problems takes quite some unearthing.

Joyce DiDonato: Met Stars Live in Concert

There was never any doubt that the fifth of the twelve Met Stars Live in Concert broadcasts was going to be a palpably intense and vivid event, as well as a musically stunning and theatrically enervating experience.

‘Where All Roses Go’: Apollo5, Live from London

‘Love’ was the theme for this Live from London performance by Apollo5. Given the complexity and diversity of that human emotion, and Apollo5’s reputation for versatility and diverse repertoire, ranging from Renaissance choral music to jazz, from contemporary classical works to popular song, it was no surprise that their programme spanned 500 years and several musical styles.

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields 're-connect'

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields have titled their autumn series of eight concerts - which are taking place at 5pm and 7.30pm on two Saturdays each month at their home venue in Trafalgar Square, and being filmed for streaming the following Thursday - ‘re:connect’.

Lucy Crowe and Allan Clayton join Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO at St Luke's

The London Symphony Orchestra opened their Autumn 2020 season with a homage to Oliver Knussen, who died at the age of 66 in July 2018. The programme traced a national musical lineage through the twentieth century, from Britten to Knussen, on to Mark-Anthony Turnage, and entwining the LSO and Rattle too.

Choral Dances: VOCES8, Live from London

With the Live from London digital vocal festival entering the second half of the series, the festival’s host, VOCES8, returned to their home at St Annes and St Agnes in the City of London to present a sequence of ‘Choral Dances’ - vocal music inspired by dance, embracing diverse genres from the Renaissance madrigal to swing jazz.

Royal Opera House Gala Concert

Just a few unison string wriggles from the opening of Mozart’s overture to Le nozze di Figaro are enough to make any opera-lover perch on the edge of their seat, in excited anticipation of the drama in music to come, so there could be no other curtain-raiser for this Gala Concert at the Royal Opera House, the latest instalment from ‘their House’ to ‘our houses’.

Fading: The Gesualdo Six at Live from London

"Before the ending of the day, creator of all things, we pray that, with your accustomed mercy, you may watch over us."

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

04 Jul 2017

Pinocchio in Aix (World Premiere)

Back to the operatic days when the book took top billing and the composer's name was in the fine print. Collodi’s tale is an epic journey wrapped in sophisticated innocence that leaves you probably more disgusted than anything else — Collodi’s Pinocchio is not a charming child.

World Premiere of Pinocchio at the Aix Festival

A review by Michael Milenski

Above: Marie-Eve Munger as the Good Fairy, Chloé Briot as Pinocchio [All photos by Patrick Berger/ArtComPress, courtesy of the Aix Festival]

 

The metteur en scène of this Pinocchio telling was Joël Pommerat, a 54 year-old French theatrical thinker who says he is an auteur de spectacle. When Mr. Pommerat turned 40 years-old he made a pact with a group of actors to create a show each year for 40 years. Thus he has a lot of experience creating shows and intends to create a lot more.

He authored a Pinocchio in 2008. But it was hardly on the scale of grand opera on the stage of one of the world’s important festivals of lyric theater. This 2017 Aix Pinocchio is big, great big and truly magnificent. It is grand opera complete with a ballet!

Mr. Pommerat writes shows about the world he and we live in — the “we” limited in no small way to a fairly rarefied world of the French avant-garde. Thus it was to that world that the mostly French audience of this international festival ascended. It is a perch that makes an intellectual, or theatrical game of animating fancy theatrical and musical genre with low-life characters, values, aspirations and situations. But not without intervention from much higher forms of life and art. Like Mr. Pommerat’s théâtre. Like la grande musique classique (oft referred to in Mr. Pommerat’s libretto).

Pinocchio_Aix2.pngVincent Le Texier as Pinocchio's father, Chloé Briot as Pinocchio

Pinocchio was an ideal subject to inspire Pommerat’s substantial operatic theatrics! Maybe here is where the actual music of the evening might be mentioned. The sound world accompanying Mr. Pommerat’s show was created by French composer Philippe Boesmans. This fine composer gamely built the complex world of Mr. Pommerat’s theatrical quotes of expressionism, cabaret, circus, fairyland, etc., and, yes, opera too.

Mr. Boesmans took a bow at the end of the show, sadly missing from the opening night accolades to the stage was Mr. Pommerat himself.

The music was always attractive, as was of course Mr. Pommerat’s show, the most lovable moments when the basic musical recitation of text burst into arioso — brief, even sometimes not so brief melodic flights that invited us to partake of moments of emotional release in pure operatic bel canto!

And, yes, the ballet — that was scene 16 (of 24), about the place of the traditional grand opera fourth act ballet. A group of ragamuffins were called onto the stage to seemingly rap dance to the howling klezmer band (an accordion, saxophone and violin who were in fact on-stage much of the evening, chiming in charmingly in all sorts of occasions).

Pinocchio_Aix4.pngStéphane Degout as the Director of the Troop (narrator)

All of Collodi’s Pinocchio was essentially present, but reclothed, most importantly with a narrator (the director of a theatrical troop that completed Mr. Pommerat’s larger metaphor) who made the transition from Collodi’s narrative text to Mr. Pommerat’s theatrical text. This role was superbly delivered by French baritone Stéphane Degout who kept us spellbound whenever the narrator took over or morphed into the circus director. His spoken French was brilliantly clear, as was his sung French to the degree that it was not included in the supertitles.

Pinocchio himself (herself) was diminutive French soprano Chloé Briot, supple of voice and of body (an incredible running leap up onto a table). She created a real Pinocchio, that is she found the brashness, the brattiness, the intelligence, the soft spots and finally the dignity of the brat becoming a real boy on his way to a classical music concert. A superb performance.

As usual at the Aix Festival casting was exemplary, mastery of vocal technique a given, appropriate colors of voice in place, physique and personality of actor in harmony with character.

Argentine/Italian conductor Emilio Pomarico presided over 19 players of the Klangforum Wein who easily made the magical sounds of the fairy world alongside the brash out-of-tune trumpets of composer Boesmans' musical dada.

Transforming metteur en scène Pommerat’s textural and dramatic world into a magical theatrical world was his long time collaborator set designer/lighting designer Éric Soyer who was joined by video designer Renaud Rubiano. The visual language is minimalism, the colors black and white, light and dark, stark and bright. The effects were huge, the moments were precise, the video seamlessly integrated to deploy massive, epic images. It was everything you expect from the minimal means of studio theater magnified with taste and intelligence to technically complex grand opera proportions.

Yet it was a long evening. Maybe you had to be French.

Michael Milenski


Cast and production information:

Le directeur de la troupe / premier escroc / deuxième meurtrier / le directeur de cirque: Stéphane Degout; Le père / troisième meurtrier / le maître d’école: Vincent Le Texier; Le pantin (Pinocchio): Chloé Briot; Deuxième escroc / le directeur de cabaret / le juge / premier meurtrier / le marchand d’ânes: Yann Beuron; La chanteuse de cabaret / le mauvais élève: Julie Boulianne; La fée: Marie-Eve Munger. Orchestre Klangforum Wien. Conductor: Emilio Pomarico; Mise en scène: Joël Pommerat; Décors et lumière: Éric Soyer; Costumes, maquilleage, perruques: Isabelle Deffin; Vidéo: Renaud Rubiano. Grand Théâtre de Provence, Aix-en-Provence, July 3, 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):