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

'Secrets and Lies': a terrific double bill at Opera Holland Park

If you need a sweet bonbon to accompany the canapés and champagne on a sparkling summer evening, then Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s one-act trifle is a safe bet, especially if presented, as at Opera Holland Park by director John Wilkie and designer takis, as a confection of pink and purple, and performed by two splendid singing actors.

Gerald Finzi Choral Works

From Hyperion, Gerald Finzi choral works with the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, conducted by Stephen Layton. An impressive Magnificat (1952) sets the tone.

The 2019 Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance

This year’s Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance offered a veritable operatic smörgåsbord, presenting sizable excerpts from operas ranging from Gluck to Saint-Saëns, from Mozart to Debussy, by way of some Italian masterpieces, courtesy of Rossini and Verdi.

Cilea's L'arlesiana at Opera Holland Park

In a rank order of suicidal depressives, Federico - the Provençal peasant besotted with ‘the woman from Arles’, L’arlesiana, who yearns to break free from his mother’s claustrophobic grasp, who seeks solace from betrayal and disillusionment in the arms of a patient childhood sweetheart, but who is ultimately broken by deluded dreams and unrequited passion - would surely give many a Thomas Hardy protagonist a run for their money.

Prom 1: Karina Canellakis makes history on the opening night of the Proms 2019

The young American conductor Karina Canellakis made history as the first woman to conduct the First Night of the Proms last night (19 July 2019) as she conducted the BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Chorus and BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall with soloists Asmik Grigorian (soprano), Jennifer Johnston (mezzo-soprano), Ladislav Elgr (tenor), Jan Martiník (bass) and Peter Holder (organ) in Zosha Di Castri's Long is the Journey, Short Is the Memory (the world premiere of a BBC commission), Antonin Dvořák’s The Golden Spinning Wheel and Leoš Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass.

Barbe & Doucet's new production of Die Zauberflöte at Glyndebourne

No one would pretend that Emanuel Schikaneder’s libretto for Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte would go down well with the #MeToo generation. Or with first, second or third wave feminists for that matter.

Pavarotti: A Film by Ron Howard

Ron Howard’s latest music documentary after The Beatles: Eight Days a Week and Made in America is a poignant tribute that allows viewers into key moments of Pavarotti’s career – but lacks a deeper, more well-rounded view of the artist.

Three Chamber Operas at the Aix Festival

Along with the celestial Mozart Requiem, a doomed Tosca and a gloriously witty Mahagonny the Aix Festival’s new artistic director Pierre Audi regaled us with three chamber operas — the premiere of a brilliant Les Mille Endormis, the technically playful Blank Out (on a turgid subject), and a heavy-duty Jakob Lenz.

Herbert Howells: Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge has played a role in the evolution of British music. This recording honours this heritage and Stephen Cleobury’s contribution in particular by focusing on Herbert Howells, who transformed the British liturgical repertoire in the 20th century.

Laurent Pelly's production of La Fille du régiment returns to Covent Garden

French soprano Sabine Devieilhe seems to find feisty adolescence a neat fit. I first encountered her when she assumed the role of a pill-popping nightclubbing ‘Beauty’ - raced from ecstasy-induced wonder to emergency ward - when I reviewed the DVD of Krzysztof Warlikowski’s production of Handel’s Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno at Aix-en-Provence in 2016.

The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny in Aix

Make no mistake, this is about you! Jim laid-out dead on the stage floor, conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen brought his very loud orchestra (London’s Philharmonia) to an abrupt halt. Black out. The maestro then turned his spotlighted face to confront us and he held his stare. There was no mistake, the music was about us.

Mozart's Travels: Classical Opera and The Mozartists at Wigmore Hall

There was a full house at Wigmore Hall for Classical Opera’s/The Mozartists’ final concert of the 2018-19 season: a musical paysage which chartered, largely chronologically, Mozart’s youthful travels from London to The Hague, on to Paris, then Rome, concluding - following stop-overs in European cultural cities such as Munich and Vienna - with an arrival at his final destination, Prague.

Tosca in Aix

From the sublime — the Mozart Requiem — to the ridiculous, namely stage director Christophe Honoré's Tosca. A ridiculous waste of operatic resources.

A terrific, and terrifying, The Turn of the Screw at Garsington

One might describe Christopher Oram’s set for Louisa Muller’s new production of The Turn of the Screw at Garsington as ‘shabby chic’ … if it wasn’t so sinister.

Mozart Requiem in Aix

Pierre Audi, now the directeur général of the Festival d’Aix as well as the artistic director of New York City’s Park Avenue Armory opens a new era for this distinguished opera festival in the south of France with a new work by the Festival’s signature composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

A Rachmaninov Drama at Middle Temple Hall

It is Rachmaninov’s major works for orchestra - the Second and Third Piano Concertos, the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, the Symphonic Dances - alongside the All-Night Vespers and the music for solo piano, which have earned the composer a permanent place in the concert repertoire today.

Fun, Frothy, and Frivolous: L’elisir d’amore at Las Vegas

There are a dizzying array of choices for music entertainment in Las Vegas ranging from Celine Dion and Cher to Paul McCartney and Aerosmith. Admittedly, these performers are a far cry from opera, but the point is that Las Vegas residents have many options when it comes to live music.

McVicar's production of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro returns to the Royal Opera House

David McVicar's production of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, has been a remarkable success since it debuted in 2006. Set with the Count of Almaviva's fearfully grand household in 1830, McVicar's trick is to surround the principals by servants in a supra-naturalistic production which emphasises how privacy is at a premium.

The Cunning Little Vixen at the Barbican Hall

The presence of a large cast of ‘animals’ in Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen can encourage directors and designers to create costume-confections ranging from Disney-esque schmaltz to grim naturalism.

Barbe-Bleue in Lyon

Stage director Laurent Pelly is famed for his Offenbach stagings, above all others his masterful rendering of Les Contes d’Hoffmann as a nightmare. Mr. Pelly has staged eleven of Offenbach’s ninety-nine operettas over the years (coincidently this production of Barbe-Bleue is Mr. Pelly’s ninety-eighth opera staging).

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

28 Aug 2017

Wozzeck at the Salzburg Festival

South African actor, artist, multimedia artist, film and theater, now opera director William Kentridge has taken the world by storm over the past few years. In my experience The Magic Flute in Brussels, The Return of Ulysses (puppets) in San Francisco, The Nose in Aix, Lulu at the Met, Die Winterreise and his “One Man Show” in Aix. And now Wozzeck at the Salzburg Festival.

Wozzeck at the Salzburg Festival

A review by Michael Milenski

Above: Matthias Goerne as Wozzeck, Asmik Grigorian as Marie, dead [All photos copyright Salzberger Festspiele / Ruth Walz]

 

And there’s more recent stuff, much more, mostly multi channel video and sound installations around the world that I won’t see

All of Mr. Kentridge’s disciplines come into play in his opera productions, providing this prolific artist a rich palate of expressive tools. Though basically it’s abstract black lines, and silhouettes, symbolic images, and fragmented squares (still or moving images or playing areas) on a stage face plane that is his hyperbolic canvas. It is one dimensional.

Given Mr. Kentridge’s prestige he works with only the most prestigious, i.e. rich opera companies, thus his productions are supplied with first rank artists, conductors and orchestras, and the most expert technical assistance.

Wozzeck_Salzburg2.pngMatthias Goerne as Wozzeck, Jens Larsen as the Doktor

Of his operatic oeuvre, Wozzeck is his masterpiece, the precision of the opera’s focus, and the velocity of dénouement make quick and pointed use of his techniques. We had little time to tire of them, and given the subject matter they were not trite. It was an artistic success of image to music.

The program booklet informed us that Berg’s Wozzeck was born of the first world war, and composed in the shadows of its human devastation, thus the most powerful of the progression of projected images that captivated our interest (while Buchner’s tragedy unfolded below) was a huge WWI gas mask (not shown in photos).

This Wozzeck therefore did not dwell on the accumulation of the heady human tragedies of Wozzeck, Marie and the Child, but on the plethora of Kentridge images that flowed to the accompaniment of baritone Matthias Goerne’s smooth, art-song style delivery of Wozzeck’s deceptions and delirium. Mr. Goerne in fact was the surrogate William Kentridge in this production — Mr Kentridge himself is always a central feature in his stagings.

Wozzeck_Salzburg3.pngA super, the puppeteer and puppet of the child in gas mask

Of very great effect was the Child represented by a puppet, an image laden with metaphoric, if hackneyed possibilities. Though in addition to dehumanizing the human expressionism of Berg’s domestic tragedy the puppet troubled us greatly. Puppets don’t sing, so who was going to sing the “hop hops" of the final image?

No one did, they were played by mallets in the orchestra, the words projected on the supertitle screen.

The putrid physical and human atmospheres of Berg’s opera were smoothed over by the flow of images. This same flow obliterated the independence of scenes, the accumulation of which generally lead to the overwhelming effect of Marie’s murder, Wozzeck’s suicide and the Child’s isolation.

The Vienna Philharmonic in the pit of the medium sized Haus für Mozart theater brought an overwhelming presence to Berg’s score. But the vaunted orchestral signposts were obliterated by the incessant flow of images. Moments when you ached to sink into Berg’s abstract musico-dramatic world rushed by so quickly you only reacted to them after the fact. Was this the intention of conductor Vladimir Jurowski, or was he a victim of the production?

Michael Milenski


Cast and production information:

Matthias Goerne: Wozzeck; John Daszak: Drum Major; Mauro Peter: Andres; Gerhard Siegel: Captain; Jens Larsen: Doctor; 
Tobias Schabel: First Apprentice; Huw Montague Rendall: Second Apprentice; Heinz Göhrig: Madman; Asmik Grigorian: Marie
; Frances Pappas: Margret. Salzburger Festspiele und Theater Kinderchor; Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus ; 
Vienna Philharmonic; Angelika-Prokopp-Sommerakademie der Wiener Philharmoniker. Vladimir Jurowski: Conductor;
 William Kentridge: Director; Luc De Wit: Co-Director; Sabine Theunissen: Sets; Greta Goiris: Costumes; Catherine Meyburgh: Video Compositor & Editor; Urs Schönebaum: Lighting

. Haus für Mozart, Salzburg, August 24, 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):