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

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.

Anne Schwanewilms sings Schreker, Schubert, Liszt and Korngold

On a day when events in Las Vegas cast a shadow over much of the news this was not the most comfortable recital to sit through for many reasons. The chosen repertoire did, at times, feel unduly heavy - and very Germanic - but it was also unevenly sung.

The Life to Come: a new opera by Louis Mander and Stephen Fry

It began ‘with a purely obscene fancy of a Missionary in difficulties’. So E.M. Forster wrote to Siegfried Sassoon in August 1923, of his short story ‘The Life to Come’ - the title story of a collection that was not published until 1972, two years after Forster’s death.

Aida opens the season at ENO

Director Phelim McDermott’s new Aida at ENO seems to have been conceived more in terms of what it will look like rather than what the opera is or might be ‘about’. And, it certainly does look good. Designer Tom Pye - with whom McDermott worked for ENO’s Akhnaten last year (alongside his other Improbable company colleague, costume designer Kevin Pollard) - has again conjured striking tableaux and eye-catching motifs, and a colour scheme which balances sumptuous richness with shadow and mystery.

La Traviata in San Francisco

A beautifully sung Traviata in British stage director John Copley’s 1987 production, begging the question is this grand old (30 years) production the SFO mise en scène for all times.

The Judas Passion: Sally Beamish and David Harsent offer new perspectives

Was Judas a man ‘both vile and justifiably despised: an agent of the Devil, or a man who God-given task was to set in train an event that would be the salvation of Humankind’? This is the question at the heart of Sally Beamish’s The Judas Passion, commissioned jointly by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Philharmonia Baroque of San Francisco.

Choral at Cadogan: The Tallis Scholars open a new season

As The Tallis Scholars processed onto the Cadogan Hall platform, for the opening concert of this season’s Choral at Cadogan series, there were some unfamiliar faces among its ten members - or faces familiar but more usually seen in other contexts.

Stars of Lyric Opera 2017, Millennium Park, Chicago

As a prelude to the 2017-18 season Lyric Opera of Chicago presented its annual concert, Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park, during the last weekend. A number of those who performed in this event will be featured in roles during the coming season.

Die Zauberflöte at the ROH: radiant and eternal

Watching David McVicar’s 2003 production of Die Zauberflöte at the Royal Opera House - its sixth revival - for the third time, I was struck by how discerningly John MacFarlane’s sumptuous designs, further enhanced by Paule Constable’s superbly evocative lighting, communicate the dense and rich symbolism of Mozart’s Singspiel.

Fantasy in Philadelphia: The Wake World

Composer and librettist David Hertzberg’s magical mystery tour that is The Wake World opened to a cheering sold out audience that was clearly enraptured with its magnificent artistic achievement.

A Mysterious Lucia at Forest Lawn

On September 10, 2017, Pacific Opera Project (POP) presented Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in a beautiful outdoor setting at Forest Lawn. POP audiences enjoy casual seating with wine, water, and finger foods at each table. General and Artistic Director Josh Shaw greeted patrons in a “blood stained” white wedding suit. Since Lucia is a Scottish opera, it opened with an elegant bagpipe solo calling members of the audience to their seats.

This is Rattle: Blazing Berlioz at the Barbican Hall

Blazing Berlioz' The Damnation of Faust at the Barbican with Sir Simon Rattle, Bryan Hymel, Christopher Purves, Karen Cargill, Gabor Bretz, The London Symphony Orchestra and The London Symphony Chorus directed by Simon Halsey, Rattle's chorus master of choice for nearly 35 years. Towards the end, the Tiffin Boys' Choir, the Tiffin Girls' Choir and Tiffin Children's Choir (choirmaster James Day) filed into the darkened auditorium to sing The Apotheosis of Marguerite, their voices pure and angelic, their faces shining. An astonishingly theatrical touch, but absolutely right.

Moved Takes on Philadelphia Headlines

There‘s a powerful new force in the opera world and its name is O17.

Philly Flute’s Fast and Furious Frills

If you never thought opera could make your eyes cross with visual sensory over load, you never saw Opera Philadelphia’s razzle-dazzle The Magic Flute.

At War With Philadelphia

Enterprising Opera Philadelphia has included a couple of intriguing site-specific events in their O17 Festival line-up.

The Mozartists at the Wigmore Hall

Three years into their MOZART 250 project, Classical Opera have launched a new venture, The Mozartists, which is designed to allow the company to broaden its exploration of the concert and symphonic works of Mozart and his contemporaries.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Stars of Lyric Opera 2017, Millennium Park, Chicago
24 Sep 2017

Stars of Lyric Opera 2017, Millennium Park, Chicago

As a prelude to the 2017-18 season Lyric Opera of Chicago presented its annual concert, Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park, during the last weekend. A number of those who performed in this event will be featured in roles during the coming season.

Stars of Lyric Opera 2017, Millennium Park, Chicago

A review by Salvatore Calomino

 

The Lyric Opera Orchestra and the Lyric Opera Chorus, under the direction of Sir Andrew Davis and Michael Black respectively, provided excellent accompaniment. Indeed, several of the selections showcased the talents of both groups as a significant part of this preview.

Individual segments of the evening’s program were introduced with prefatory comment by Anthony Freud, General Director of Lyric Opera. After a brisk performance of the overture to Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Lauren Snouffer sang Susanna’s recitative and aria, “Giunse alfin il momento … Deh, vieni, non tardar” [“At last the moment approaches … O, come, do not delay”] from Act IV of the opera. Ms. Snouffer’s approach to both introductory lines and the aria shows her command of a wide vocal range. Her voice descends to well-enunciated low notes and rises naturally to a top piano emphasis on “e il mondo tace” [“and the world is still”], both extremes joined with comfortable legato phrasing. Snouffer’s final repeat of “Vieni” toward the close is held with endless urgency as an expression of Susanna’s emotional yearning.

Starting with the second selection individual arias and ensembles focused, in large part, on operas that will be produced in the coming season. From Verdi’s Rigoletto Matthew Polenzabi sang the Duke’s aria, “La donna è mobile” [“Women are fickle”]; he also participated in the Act III quartet, “Un dì, se ben rammentomi … Bella figlia dell’amore” [“One day, if I remember rightly … Fairest daughter of love”], along with J’nai Bridges, Andriana Chuchman, and Anthony Clark Evans. In the first selection Polenzani displayed a practiced diminuendo where appropriate as well as lush variation on the word “pensier.” At times, his notes produced forte were unnecessarily magnified by the system of amplification, an aspect not quite as noticeable in the following quartet. Here the rising and falling lyrical lines sung by Mmes. Bridges and Chuchman were interwoven to suggest the contradictory personalities caught up in a web of love, intrigue, and betrayal.

The brief, touching aria for Liù, “Tu, che di gel sei cinta” [“You who are enclosed in ice“] from Puccini’s Turandot introduced Lyric Opera of Chicago audiences to the voice of Janai Brugger, who will sing this role in January performances of the opera. Brugger’s sense of the role’s pathos was communicated deeply just as top pitches before the final “più” in “Per non vederlo più” [“And I’ll never see him more!”] hung in near magical suspension. Two solo pieces from Charles Gounod’s Faust were presented by Evans and Brugger. The siblings Marguerite and Valentin play vital parts in Gounod’s Faustian adaptation with each character expressing personality or narrative function through an aria. Mr. Evans struck an immediate, heroic pose in his performance of “Avant de quitter ces lieux” [“Before taking leave of these lands”], in which he prays for Marguerite’s protection during his absence in battle. Evans’s performance of the rising line to imitate the spirit of his prayer shows a natural vocal bloom and consistent legato in approach. His repeat of the thematic opening was varied nicely and ended with an authoritative forte pitch. Brugger’s “Jewel Song” from Faust captured the fascination of the innocent maiden, an approach using sensitive modulations in expression and volume, an effective trill, and a dramatically rising close.

The Lyric Opera Chorus sang two excerpts, one from last season’s Eugene Onegin and one from I Puritani in its forthcoming roster. The precise articulation and adaptability of the Chorus under Mr. Black’s direction were evident in these two pieces. In both selections, the Chorus’s responses to public scenes were projected as further comment on orchestral accompaniment.

The final two numbers in the first part of this concert were drawn from Act III of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice, with which Lyric Opera will open its 2017-18 season in a new production and collaboration with the Joffrey Ballet. Since the French version of Gluck’s opera will be performed this season, the role of Orphée is here sung by a tenor. Dmitry Korchak performed the noted aria, “J’ai perdu mon Eurydice” [“I have lost my Eurydice”] in spirited voice, at times singing flat to underscore the lament. The line “Quels tourments déchirent mon Coeur!” [“What torments tear apart my heart!”] showed admirable decoration, yet his consistent volume could be modified to suggest greater subtlety in emotional reaction. In the trio, “L’Amour triomphe” [“Amor triumphs”], Korchak was joined by Chuchman and Snouffer who will also perform in the new production. The joy of the resuscitated heroine and the god of Love were proclaimed by the women with appropriate lyrical beauty as the Chorus rounded out the final words.

The second part of the evening’s program included several excerpts to be featured soon as well as some from Lyric Opera’s recent repertoire. Ms. Chuchman sang a striking performance of Norina’s “So anch’io la virtù magica” [“I also know the magic virtue”], indeed this showpiece was one of several highlights of the evening. Chuchman’s instinctive use of rubato at select moments and words chosen for melismatic embellishment were not only authentic bel canto singing but also an etching of the character’s persona whom she portrayed. The selections from Massenet’s Werther included the tenor aria, “Pourquoi me réveiller” and Charlotte’s “Laisse couler mes larmes” [“Allow my tears to flow”], the second piece sung by J’nai Bridges. Ms. Bridges is especially adept at introducing emotional urgency into her portrayals by varying a note’s intensity and pure sound. Here she projected the complexity of Charlotte’s soul-searching by means of such effective sonic extension on several pitches.

The crowd-pleasing duet from Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de perles was certainly well liked on this occasion as Polenzani and Evans sang at their best, even introducing head tones as a means to vary the higher pitches. The final two selections previewed the new production of Wagner’s Die Walküre which will open later this fall. First Davis conducted the orchestral version of the “Ride of the Valkyries” which, as shown in this exciting performance, functions vividly on a concert’s program. Eric Owens sang Wotan’s solo “Leb’wohl” [“Farewell”] from the conclusion of the opera. Extended notes were held impressively, as the orchestra played more and more softly to suggest the Walküre’s gradual slumber. As a foretaste of much more to come, the final two excerpts augur well for Lyric Opera’s new production of Die Walküre and for the balance of the coming season.

Salvatore Calomino

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):