Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Nico Muhly's Marnie at ENO

Winston Graham’s 1961 novel Marnie was bold for its time. Its themes of sexual repression, psychological suspense and criminality set within the dark social fabric of contemporary Britain are but outlier themes of the anti-heroine’s own narrative of deceit, guilt, multiple identities and blackmail.

TOSCA: A Dramatic Sing-Fest

On November 12, 2017, Arizona Opera presented Giacomo Puccini’s verismo opera, Tosca, in a dramatic production directed by Tara Faircloth. Her production utilized realistic scenery from Seattle Opera and detailed costumes from the New York City Opera. Gregory Allen Hirsch’s lighting made the set look like the church of St. Andrea as some of us may have remembered it from time gone by.

The Lighthouse: Shadwell Opera at Hackney Showroom

‘Only make the reader’s general vision of evil intense enough … and his own experience, his own imagination, his own sympathy … and horror … will supply him quite sufficiently with all the particulars. Make him think the evil, make him think it for himself, and you are released from weak specifications.’

Elisabeth Kulman sings Mahler's Rückert-Lieder with Sir Mark Elder and the Britten Sinfonia

Austrian singer Elisabeth Kulman has had an interesting career trajectory. She began her singing life as a soprano but later shifted to mezzo-soprano/contralto territory. Esteemed on the operatic stage, she relinquished the theatre for the concert platform in 2015, following an accident while rehearsing Tristan.

Tremendous revival of Katie Mitchell's Lucia at the ROH

The morning sickness, miscarriage and maundering wraiths are still present, but Katie Mitchell’s Lucia di Lammermoor, receiving its first revival at the ROH, seems less ‘hysterical’ this time round - and all the more harrowing for it.

Manon in San Francisco

Nothing but a wall and a floor (and an enormous battery of unseen lighting instruments) and two perfectly matched artists, the Manon of soprano Ellie Dehn and the des Grieux of tenor Michael Fabiano, the centerpiece of Paris’ operatic Belle Époque found vibrant presence on the War Memorial stage.

A beguiling Il barbiere di Siviglia from GTO

I had mixed feelings about Annabel Arden’s production of Il barbiere di Siviglia when it was first seen at Glyndebourne in 2016. Now reprised (revival director, Sinéad O’Neill) for the autumn 2017 tour, the designs remain a vibrant mosaic of rich hues and Moorish motifs, the supernumeraries - commedia stereotypes cum comic interlopers - infiltrate and interact even more piquantly, and the harpsichords are still flying in, unfathomably, from all angles. But, the drama is a little less hyperactive, the characterisation less larger-than-life. And, this Saturday evening performance went down a treat with the Canterbury crowd on the final night of GTO’s brief residency at the Marlowe Theatre.

Brett Dean's Hamlet: GTO in Canterbury

‘There is no such thing as Hamlet,’ says Matthew Jocelyn in an interview printed in the 2017 Glyndebourne programme book. The librettist of Australian composer Brett Dean’s opera based on the Bard’s most oft-performed tragedy, which was premiered to acclaim in June this year, was noting the variants between the extant sources for the play - the First, or ‘Bad’, Quarto of 1603, which contains just over half of the text of the Second Quarto which published the following year, and the First Folio of 1623 - no one of which can reliably be guaranteed superiority over the other.

WNO's Russian Revolution series: the grim repetitions of the house of the dead

‘We lived in a heap together in one barrack. The flooring was rotten and an inch deep in filth, so that we slipped and fell. When wood was put into the stove no heat came out, only a terrible smell that lasted through the winter.’ So wrote Dostoevsky, in a letter to his brother, about his experiences in the Siberian prison camp at Omsk where he was incarcerated between 1850-54, because of his association with a group of political dissidents who had tried to assassinate the Tsar. Dostoevsky’s ‘house of the dead’ is harrowingly reproduced by Maria Björsen’s set - a dark, Dantesque pit from which there is no possibility of escape - for David Pountney’s 1982 production of Janáček’s final opera, here revived as part of Welsh National Opera’s Russian Revolution series.

The 2017 Glyndebourne Tour arrives in Canterbury with a satisfying Così fan tutte

A Così fan tutte set in the 18th century, in Naples, beside the sea: what, no meddling with Mozart? Whatever next! First seen in 2006, and now on its final run before ‘retirement’, Nicholas Hytner’s straightforward account (revived by Bruno Ravella) of Mozart’s part-playful, part-piquant tale of amorous entanglements was a refreshing opener at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury where Glyndebourne Festival Opera arrived this week for the first sojourn of the 2017 tour.

Richard Jones's Rodelinda returns to ENO

Shameless grabs for power; vicious, self-destructive dynastic in-fighting; a self-righteous and unwavering sense of entitlement; bruised egos and integrity jettisoned. One might be forgiven for thinking that it was the current Tory government that was being described. However, we are not in twenty-first-century Westminster, but rather in seventh-century Lombardy, the setting for Handel’s 1725 opera, Rodelinda, Richard Jones’s 2014 production of which is currently being revived at English National Opera.

Amusing Old Movie Becomes Engrossing New Opera

Director Mario Bava’s motion picture, Hercules in the Haunted World, was released in Italy in November 1961, and in the United States in April 1964. In 2010 composer Patrick Morganelli wrote a chamber opera entitled Hercules vs. Vampires for Opera Theater Oregon.

Rigoletto at Lyric Opera of Chicago

If a credible portrayal of the title character in Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto is vital to any performance, the success of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s current, exciting production hinges very much on the memorable court jester and father sung by baritone Quinn Kelsey.

Wexford Festival Opera 2017

‘What’s the delay? A little wind and rain are nothing to worry about!’ The villagers’ indifference to the inclement weather which occurs mid-way through Jacopo Foroni’s opera Margherita - as the townsfolk set off in pursuit of two mystery assailants seen attacking a man in the forest - acquired an unintentionally ironic slant in Wexford Opera House on the opening night of Michael Sturm’s production, raising a wry chuckle from the audience.

The Genius of Purcell: Carolyn Sampson and The King's Consort at the Wigmore Hall

This celebration of The Genius of Purcell by Carolyn Sampson and The King’s Consort at the Wigmore Hall was music-making of the most absorbing and invigorating kind: unmannered, direct and refreshing.

Classical Opera/The Mozartists celebrate 20 years of music-making

Classical Opera celebrated 20 years of music-making and story-telling with a characteristically ambitious and eclectic sequence of musical works at the Barbican Hall. Themes of creation and renewal were to the fore, and after a first half comprising a variety of vocal works and short poems, ‘Classical Opera’ were succeeded by their complementary alter ego, ‘The Mozartists’, in the second part of the concert for a rousing performance of Beethoven’s Choral Symphony - a work described by Page as ‘in many ways the most iconic work in the repertoire’.

Back to Baroque and to the battle lines with English Touring Opera

Romeo and Juliet, Rinaldo and Armida, Ramadès and Aida: love thwarted by warring countries and families is a perennial trope of literature, myth and history. Indeed, ‘Love and war are all one,’ declared Miguel de Cervantes in Don Quixote, a sentiment which seems to be particularly exemplified by the world of baroque opera with its penchant for plundering Classical Greek and Roman myths for their extreme passions and conflicts. English Touring Opera’s 2017 autumn tour takes us back to the Baroque and back to the battle-lines.

Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Christoph Willibald von Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice opened the 2017–18 season at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Michelle DeYoung, Mahler Symphony no 3 London

The Third Coming ! Esa-Pekka Salonen conducted Mahler Symphony no 3 with the Philharmonia at the Royal Festival Hall with Michelle DeYoung, the Philharmonia Voices and the Tiffin Boys’ Choir. It was live streamed worldwide, an indication of just how important this concert was, for it marks the Philharmonia's 34-year relationship with Salonen.

King Arthur at the Barbican: a semi-opera for the 'Brexit Age'

Purcell’s and Dryden’s King Arthur: or the British Worthy presents ‘problems’ for directors. It began life as a propaganda piece, Albion and Albanius, in 1683, during the reign of Charles II, but did not appear on stage as King Arthur until 1691 when William of Orange had ascended to the British Throne to rule as William III alongside his wife Mary and the political climate had changed significantly.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Francesca Zambello, Glimmerglass Festival Artistic & General Director
22 Aug 2017

Cooperstown and the Hood

Glimmerglass Festival continues its string of world premiere youth operas with a wholly enchanting production of Ben Moore and Kelly Rourke’s Robin Hood.

Cooperstown and the Hood

A review by James Sohre

Above: Francesca Zambello, Glimmerglass Festival Artistic & General Director

Photo: Claire McAdams/Glimmerglass Festival.

 

As one of opera’s most important contemporary leaders and contributors, Artistic and General Director Francesca Zambello has directed in the world’s most prestigious opera houses. That she personally brings her same considerable gifts and artistry to bear with Robin Hood in the rustic Cooperstown Theatre Barn speaks volumes of her belief in, and commitment to this important outreach and developmental program. Ms. Zambello has motivated her large, talented cast of teens, tweens, and Young Artists to a consistently engaging performance level, and has melded them into an enviably focused, energetic, seamless ensemble. She is ably abetted in this pursuit by inventive choreographer Eric Sean Fogel.

Composer Ben Moore and librettist Kelley Rourke have provided a wealth of witty material. Mr. Moore’s score is eclectic and accessible, a pastiche of secco recitative, bel canto arioso, Rossinian choruses, and even an occasional dash of classy Disney. Ms. Rourke’s tongue in cheek script, while clearly advocating environmental protection and a moral high ground, never lectures or scolds, but rather makes its point with heart and humor.

Two exceptional Young Artists anchored the show and inspired their young cast mates to the same high level of execution. Zachary Owen’s flexible, rich bass was a fine fit for the comically nefarious Sheriff of Nottingham. His charismatic stage presence made him a physically appealing, merrily melodious, musically satisfying villain you love to hate. As Robin Hood’s avian adviser Scarlett, Kayleigh Decker was given some of the loveliest passages in the piece, and she responded by lavishing them with an alluring, warmly scintillating soprano. Ms. Decker is the “conscience” of the plot and her consistently poised presence and polished singing were eminently enjoyable.

Young Henry Wager was the captivating title character, with all the appeal of a young Michael J. Fox. Mr. Wager has a secure, pleasantly reedy voice and his assured singing, especially of some tricky harmonies, was a real asset in the afternoon’s success. His Maid Marion, Catie LeCours was a tomboyish delight, but when she modulated her secure belt voice and went into the upper ranges, Ms. LeCours showed off a floating, flutey soprano. These two leading players are too young to have a “love duet,” so let’s call it a “like duet,” a very pleasant, tuneful exchange which the pair made into one of show’s highlights, right down to the tender, unembarrassed hug at the selection’s finish.

Morgan Hill-Edgar’s accurate singing as King Richard revealed a serious, focused performer of real promise. Jackie the Janitor and Ronnie the Riveter were impersonated with infectious gusto by Andrew Pulver and Shane Bray, respectively. Maria Noto played the Scout with determined intent; Rachel Powles “played well with others” as Sam the Scribe; and Molly Bello was a willing accomplice as Jo the Jailor.

David Moody conducted with relaxed enjoyment, as Aurelia Andrews accompanied at the keyboard with flair and color. The Youth Chorus was well prepared by Tracy Allen. Although not on the Festival main stage, all the technical elements were of the same high caliber, with Ryan McGettigan’s eye-catching scenery leading the way. The cut out trees were cleverly covered with newspaper collages, and the leaves were artistically hung squares of green material. A forest “floor” of gradated platforms facilitated a good selection of levels for varied stage pictures, as did a ruin of a tower stage right.

Peter W. Mitchell has devised a most effective lighting design, one that is especially ambitious and satisfying. His rich use of colors and well-timed cross fades and specials added considerably to the achievement. Last but not least, Sophie S. Schneider’s spot on, imaginative costumes were a riotous blend of hip-rustic chic, and rowdy, villainous audacity. The Sheriff’s electric blue suit with the shockingly contrasted accoutrements was a knockout.

That the audience responded well to this “world premiere” creative outreach concept is evidenced by the fact that performances of Robin Hood are regularly selling out. What a meaningful way to engage young people in opera. What a hopeful program to provide students and parents alike a gateway experience to becoming lifelong operagoers. If the art form is to sustain, much less thrive, Glimmerglass Festival is providing a potent Survival Guide, along with a jolly good show.

James Sohre


Cast and production information:

Sheriff: Zachary Owen; Robin Hood: Henry Wager; Scarlet: Kayleigh Decker; Marion: Catie LeCours; Scout: Maria Noto; Jackie the Janitor: Andrew Pulver; Ronnie the Riveter: Shane Bray; Sam the Scribe: Rachel Powles; Jo the Jailor: Molly Bello; King Richard: Morgan Hill-Edgar; Conductor: David Moody; Director: Francesca Zambello; Choreographer: Eric Sean Fogel; Set Design: Ryan McGettigan; Costume Design: Sophie S. Schneider; Lighting Design: Peter W. Mitchell; Youth Chorus Master: Tracy Allen; Pianist: Aurelia Andrews

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):