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 Performances

Pow! Zap! Zowie! Wowie! -or- Arthur, King of Long Beach

If you might have thought a late 17thcentury semi-opera about a somewhat precious fairy tale monarch might not be your cup of twee, Long Beach Opera cogently challenges you to think again.

Philippe Jaroussky and Jérôme Ducros perform Schubert at Wigmore Hall

How do you like your Schubert? Let me count the ways …

Crebassa and Say: Impressionism and Power at Wigmore Hall

On paper this seemed a fascinating recital, but as I was traveling to the Wigmore Hall it occurred to me this might be a clash of two great artists. Both Marianne Crebassa and Fazil Say can be mercurial performers and both can bring such unique creativity to what they do one thought they might simply diverge. In the event, what happened was quite remarkable.

'Songs of Longing and Exile': Stile Antico at LSO St Luke's

Baroque at the Edge describes itself as the ‘no rules’ Baroque festival. It invites ‘leading musicians from all backgrounds to take the music of the Baroque and see where it leads them’.

Richard Jones' La bohème returns to Covent Garden

Richard Jones' production of Puccini's La bohème is back at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden after its debut in 2017/18. The opening night, 10th January 2020, featured the first of two casts though soprano Sonya Yoncheva, who was due to sing Mimì, had to drop out owing to illness, and was replaced at short notice by Simona Mihai who had sung the role in the original run and is due to sing Musetta later in this run.

Don Giovanni at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Mozart’s Don Giovanni returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago in the Robert Falls updating of the opera to the 1930s. The universality of Mozart’s score proves its adaptability to manifold settings, and this production featured several outstanding, individual performances.

Britten and Dowland: lutes, losses and laments at Wigmore Hall

'Of chord and cassiawood is the lute compounded;/ Within it lie ancient melodies'.

Tara Erraught sings Loewe, Mahler and Hamilton Harty at Wigmore Hall

During those ‘in-between’ days following Christmas and before New Year, the capital’s cultural institutions continue to offer fare both festive and more formal.

Prayer of the Heart: Gesualdo Six and the Brodsky Quartet

Robust carol-singing, reindeer-related muzak tinkling through department stores, and light-hearted festive-fare offered by the nation’s choral societies may dominate the musical agenda during the month of December, but at Kings Place on Friday evening Gesualdo Six and the Brodsky Quartet eschewed babes-in-mangers and ding-donging carillons for an altogether more sedate and spiritual ninety minutes of reflection and ‘musical prayer’.

The New Season at the New National Theatre, Tokyo

Professional opera in Japan is roughly a century old. When the Italian director and choreographer Giovanni Vittorio Rosi (1867-1940) mounted a production of Cavalleria Rusticana in Italian in Tokyo in 1917, with Japanese singers, he brought a period of timid experimentation and occasional student performances to an end.

Handel's Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall

For those of us who live in a metropolitan bubble, where performances of Handel's Messiah by small professional ensembles are common, it is easy to forget that for many people, Handel's masterpiece remains a large-scale choral work. My own experiences of Messiah include singing the work in a choir of 150 at the Royal Albert Hall, and the venue's tradition of performing the work annually dates back to the 19th century.

What to Make of Tosca at La Scala

La Scala’s season opened last week with Tosca. This was perhaps the preeminent event in Italian cultural and social life: paparazzi swarmed politicians, industrialists, celebrities and personalities, while almost three million Italians watched a live broadcast on RAI 1. Milan was still buzzing nine days later, when I attended the third performance of the run.

La traviata at Covent Garden: Bassenz’s triumphant Violetta in Eyre’s timeless production

There is a very good reason why Covent Garden has stuck with Richard Eyre’s 25-year old production of La traviata. Like Zeffirelli’s Tosca, it comes across as timeless whilst being precisely of its time; a quarter of a century has hardly faded its allure, nor dented its narrative clarity. All it really needs is a Violetta to sweep us off our feet, and that we got with Hrachuhi Bassenz.

'Aspects of Love': Jakub Józef Orliński at Wigmore Hall

Boretti, Predieri, Conti, Matteis, Orlandini, Mattheson: masters of the Baroque? Yes, if this recital by Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński is anything by which to judge.

Otello at Covent Garden: 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.

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):