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

12 Feb 2018

Il barbiere di Siviglia in Marseille

Any Laurent Pelly production is news, any role undertaken by soprano Stephanie d’Oustrac is news. Here’s the news from Marseille.

Il barbiere di Siviglia in Marseille

A review by Michael Milenski

Above: Florian Sempey as Figaro, Stephanie d'Oustrac as Rosina [All photos copyright Christian Dresse, courtesy of Opéra de Marseille]

 

Rossini’s grand old (1816) comedy took the stage just now in Marseille’s fine, old (1787) opera house in the form of a Laurent Pelly production.

Pelly’s black and white production premiered this past December at Paris’ Théâtre des Champs Elysees. France’s most read newspaper Le Monde dubbed it a Barber in “demi-deuil” (half-mourning) and somehow dug up hints of tragedy in the storm — a bewildered Rosina rushed across a blank dark stage, dead leaves flying. Laurent Pelly’s conceit was in fact black ink on white paper, huge sheets of blank musical score paper on which Figaro tried to write out Lindoro’s “Se il mio nome bramate” (If you wish to know my name). In due time, however, for its moment “L’Inutile precauzione,” as backdrop, was fully notated (wittily it was not with the actual tune).

It was a complex conceit, the singers filling in, virtually, the notes missing on the scenery, or maybe the old warhorse having been performed so many times that Mr. Pelly found its story irrelevant — thus Il barbiere di Siviglia is only music, or maybe Mr. Pelly’s was saying that Il barbiere is music, though we already know this. Music was indeed a useless precaution in this scheme of things Barberiana.

Or something.

To be generous the five black lines of the musical staff did serve to imprison Rosina who appeared behind them when a square opened on a white page wall creating her balcony.

Mr. Pelly deployed his choruses and ensembles in geometric patterns, dissolving movement into abstracted, repeated motions (like music notation) reinforcing the music score conceit (the chorus mimed unison violins for Lindoro’s “Ecco ridente in cielo,” then stormed in as police brandishing folding metal music stands. These events were just the tip of the iceberg — there are lots of duets, trios, quartets and quintets, and one more chorus — gentlemen in regimented concert formation, sheets of music on their folding metal stands. It was a masterwork of stage choreography.


Barber_Marseille2.pngThe drunken soldier, Figaro in swing

It was a long evening at the Marseille Opéra, a very long evening. [One of the most charming evenings I have ever passed in a theater was Laurent Pelly’s La Périchole (Stephanie d’Oustrac) at the Marseille Opéra back in 2002.]

Conductor Roberto Rizzi Brignoli was determined to make Rossini’s comic masterpiece into something it is not — Mozart, with touches of Cilea. The Barber’s overture was a caricature of this oft concert-performed masterpiece, this maestro insisting on determined, very determined tempos and very shaped phrases. The opening oboe solo was so extended that you could feel the player’s face turning red. Missing from the entire evening was the joy of music making, the joy of singing and the release of musical spirit when a vocal line explodes into fioratura.

The only carry over from the Paris cast was to have been the Figaro of Florian Sempey, but the diseases of the season claimed veteran baritone Carlos Chausson’s Bartolo at the very last minute, thus Spaniard Pablo Ruiz [the opera singer, not the pop singer of the same name] from the Paris cast jumped in.

It is surely possible to say that young baritone Florian Sempey will be (probably is) the reigning Figaro of our day. Less a look-alike of an imagined young Rossini now than in his Pesaro Figaro in 2015 he once again succeeded in bringing perfect Rossinian spirit to this comic hero. Mr. Sempey has facile, graceful movement on stage, and facile command of Rossini’s vocal requirements, singing in strongly focused, beautiful tone. Of infectious energy Mr. Sempey's Figaro in this production had no easily apparent context, thus there was no dramatic focus and this rendered his fine performance somewhat overbearing.

Barber_Marseille3.pngBartolo and Basilio

There can be no argument that Stephanie d’Oustrac can create fascinating character, witness her recent successes as Carmen in wildly different productions. Certainly her Rosina in this production is a masterpiece of character — a sort of “valley girl” or whatever the French equivalent is. La d’Oustrac’s Rosina is more than anything else fun, and she is not a bit frightened by the prospect of marrying Bartolo. Her “una voce poco fa” was so inflected with personality that you forgot it was being sung. Although her performance was vocally secure and virtuoso indeed, I did miss a purely sung Rossini Rosina.

With the powerhouse conducting, the overwhelming staging conceit, and the surpassing performances of Mme. d’Oustrac and Mr. Sempey the balance of the cast struggled to make impression. Lindoro was ably if softly sung by French tenor Philippe Talbot, Spanish baritone Pablo Ruiz was an able, persuasive Bartolo, Young Italian bass Mirco Palazzi was Basilio, paired in appearance with Lindoro, a subtle casting touch. Annunziata Vestri was a lively, big voiced Berta and did make an impression. Fiorello was well presented by local Marseille singer Mikhaël Piccone.

Michael Milenski


Cast and production information:

Rosina: Stéphanie d’Oustrac; Berta: Annunziata Vestri; Comte Almaviva: Philippe Talbot; Figaro: Florian Sempey; Bartolo: Pablo Ruiz; Basilio: Mirco Palazzi; Fiorello: Mikhaël Piccone; Un Ufficiale: Michel Vaissiere; Ambroggio: Jean-Luc Epitalon. Orchestre et Chœur de l’Opéra de Marseille. Conductor: Roberto Rizzi Brignoli; Mise en scène, décors, costumes: Laurent Pelly; Lighting: Joël Adam. Opéra de Marseille, February 9, 2018

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):