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

Handel's Brockes-Passion: The Academy of Ancient Music at the Barbican Hall

Perhaps it is too fanciful to suggest that the German poet Barthold Heinrich Brockes (1680-1747) was the Metastasio of Hamburg?

POP Butterfly: Oooh, Cho-Cho San!

I was decidedly not the only one who thought I was witnessing the birth of a new star, as cover artist Janet Todd stepped in to make a triumphant appearance in the title role of Pacific Opera Project’s absorbing Madama Butterfly.

The Maryland Opera Studio Defies Genre with Fascinating Double-Bill

This past weekend, the Maryland Opera Studio (MOS) presented a double-billed performance of two of Kurt Weill’s less familiar staged works: Zaubernacht (1922) and Mahagonny-Songspiel (1927).

Nash Ensemble at Wigmore Hall: Focus on Sir Harrison Birtwistle

The Nash Ensemble’s annual contemporary music showcase focused on the work of Sir Harrison Birtwistle, a composer with whom the group has enjoyed a long and close association. Three of the six works by Birtwistle performed here were commissioned by the Nash Ensemble, as was Elliott Carter’s Mosaic which, alongside Oliver Knussen’s Study for ‘Metamorphosis’ for solo bassoon, completed a programme was intimate and intricate, somehow both elusive in spirit and richly communicative.

McVicar's Faust returns to the ROH

To lose one Marguerite may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness. But, with the ROH Gounod’s Faust seemingly heading for ruin, salvation came in the form of an eleventh-hour arrival of a redeeming ‘angel’.

A superb Semele from the English Concert at the Barbican Hall

It’s good to aim high … but be careful what you wish for. Clichéd idioms perhaps, but also wise words which Semele would have been wise to heed.

A performance of Vivaldi's La Senna festeggiante by Arcangelo

In 1726 on 25 August, Jacques-Vincent Languet, Comte de Gergy, the new French ambassador to the Venetian Republic held a celebration for the name day of King Louis XV of France. There was a new piece of music performed in the loggia at the foot of Languet's garden with an audience of diplomats and, watching from gondolas, Venetian nobles.

Matthew Rose and Tom Poster at Wigmore Hall

An interesting and thoughtfully-composed programme this, presented at Wigmore Hall by bass Matthew Rose and pianist Tom Poster, and one in which music for solo piano ensured that the diverse programme cohered.

Ekaterina Semenchuk sings Glinka and Tchaikovsky

To the Wigmore Hall for an evening of magnificently old-school vocal performance from Ekaterina Semenchuk. It was very much her evening, rather than that of her pianist, Semyon Skigin, though he had his moments, especially earlier on.

Hubert Parry's Judith at the Royal Festival Hall

Caravaggio’s depiction (1598-99) of the climactic moment when the young, beautiful, physically weak Judith seizes the head of Holofernes by the enemy general’s hair and, flinching with distaste, cleaves the neck of the occupying Assyrian with his own sword, evokes Holofernes’ terror with visceral precision - eyes and screaming mouth are wide open - and is shockingly theatrical, the starkly lit figures embraced by blackness.

La Pietà in Rome

Say "La Pietà" and you think immediately of Michelangelo’s Rome Pietà. Just now Roman Oscar-winning film composer Nicola Piovani has asked us to contemplate two additional Pietà’s in Rome, a mother whose son is dead by overdose, and a mother whose son starved to death.

Orfeo ed Euridice in Rome

No wrecked motorcycle (director Harry Kupfer’s 1987 Berlin Orfeo), no wrecked Citroen and black hearse (David Alagna’s 2008 Montpellier Orfée [yes! tenorissimo Roberto Alagna was the Orfée]), no famed ballet company (the Joffrey Ballet) starring in L.A. Opera’s 2018 Orpheus and Eurydice).

Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel - a world premiere at English National Opera

Jack the Ripper is as luridly fascinating today as he was over a century ago, so it was no doubt sensationalist of the marketing department of English National Opera to put the Victorian serial killer’s name first and the true subject of Iain Bell’s new opera - his victims, the women of Whitechapel - as something of an after-thought. Font size matters, especially if it’s to sell tickets.

Tosca at the Met


The 1917 Met Tosca production hung around for 50 years, bested by the 1925 San Francisco Opera production that lived to the ripe old age of 92.  The current Met production is just 2 years old but has the feel of something that can live forever.

Drama Queens and Divas at the ROH: Handel's Berenice

A war ‘between love and politics’: so librettist Antonio Salvi summarised the conflict at the heart of Handel’s 1737 opera, Berenice. Well, we’ve had a surfeit of warring politics of late, but there’s been little love lost between opposing factions, and the laughs that director Adele Thomas and her team supply in this satirical and spicy production at the ROH’s stunningly re-designed Linbury Theatre have been in severely short supply.

Mozart’s Mass in C minor at the Royal Festival Hall

A strange concert, this, in that, although chorally conceived, it proved strongest in the performance of Schumann’s Piano Concerto: not so much a comment on the choral singing as on the conducting of Dan Ludford-Thomas.

Samson et Dalila at the Met


It was the final performance of the premiere season of Darko Tresnjak’s production of Camille Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila. Four tenors later. 

The Enchantresse and Dido and Aeneas
in Lyon

Dido and Aeneas, Il ritorno d’Ulisse and Tchaikowsky’s L’Enchantresse, the three operas of the Opéra de Lyon’s annual late March festival all tease destiny. But far more striking than the thematic relationship that motivates this 2019 festival is the derivation of these three productions from the world of hyper-refined theater, far flung hyper-refined theater.

The devil shares the good tunes: Chelsea Opera Group's Mefistofele

Every man ‘who burns with a thirst for knowledge and life and with curiosity about the nature of good and evil is Faust ... [everyone] who aspires to the Unknown, to the Ideal, is Faust’.

La forza del destino at Covent Garden

Prima la music, poi la parole? It’s the perennial operatic conundrum which has exercised composers from Monteverdi, to Salieri, to Strauss. But, on this occasion we were reminded that sometimes the answer is a simple one: Non, prima le voci!

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Ilker Arcayürek [Photo by Janina Laszlo]
04 Feb 2018

Ilker Arcayürek at Wigmore Hall

The first thing that struck me in this Wigmore Hall recital was the palpable sincerity of Ilker Arcayürek’s artistry. Sincerity is not everything, of course; what we think of as such may even be carefully constructed artifice, although not, I think, here.

Ilker Arcayürek at Wigmore Hall

A review by Mark Berry

Above: Ilker Arcayürek [Photo by Janina Laszlo]

 

Stravinsky may or may not even have been correct to call it a sine qua non (before, in imitable style, demolishing the claim that it was in anyway enough). Whether there is sincerity in the deliberate presentation of insincerity and in irony is, perhaps, a dialectical question for another day. (For what it is worth, I think the answer is probably ‘yes – probably’.’ Artistic sincerity is surely, however, a good starting-point, a fine way to draw the listener in. And so it was here from Arcayürek, ably accompanied by Simon Lepper, in a wide-eyed (wide-voiced?!) Frühlingsglaube, properly vernal.

The programme’s progression made sense too. Without overt didacticism there were paths, musical, verbal, thematic to follow, to make one’s one way through this Schubert recital. Musical – in this case, rhythmic – discipline enabled Mayrhofer’s song to the Dioscuri to take us further on our way, whilst the sadness of hisAbendstern shone through in voice and piano alike. In between, arastlose (restless) account of Goethe’s Rastlose Liebe likewise relied upon the freedom born of such discipline. The same poet’s – and, of course, composer’s – Am Flusse flowed nicely, without a wearisome attempt to make it into something it is not.

The Jüngling auf dem Hügel (youth on the hill) could then look down upon what we had seen, heard, experienced so far, the music the key to the words and vice versa, Schubert and his present-day collaborators winningly attentive to the alchemic balance of Lieder-performance. The death knell rang out on the piano perhaps all the more clearly, at any rate movingly, for the lack of underlining. We were trusted to listen for ourselves. Impetuous relief, then, came at just the right time with Der Schiffer, prior to a wan and worldweary Doppelgänger, Arcayürek’s voice rising to encompass fear, anger, and defiance, although never to the neglect of more ‘purely’ musical values. That such moonlit drama could shade into reminiscences of Beethoven’s moonlight in An den Mond spoke well not only of that particular performance but of the thought that had gone behind its placement. Winds and mists brought the first half to a Romantic close, vocal tone and mood their agent, yet precision too. It takes art to evoke rather than fall into the imprecise.

Der Einsame brought piano onomatopoeia (the crickets at night) from Lepper and an apt lightness of approach from Arcayürek, making me think he would be a dab hand at first-rate operetta: Offenbach, or occasional Johann Strauss. There was nothing tedious to the performance of a song which, in the wrong hands, can sometimes become just that. Pristine neoclassicism and a little second-stanza naughtiness enlivened Die Laute and its solitary lamp: a different yet related vision of night-time. Likewise Sehnsucht: another well-judged change of mood. A well shaped account of another Goethe song, Schäfers Klagelied offered typically Schubertian smiling through tears, as well as the vivid drama of actual (and metaphorical?) storm. One began to appreciate the sadness that had underlay even the earliest songs in the programme, in part retrospectively.

It may sound obvious, but to perform the Romanze from Rosauunde as, well, a romance, offered the key to its success, especially as relief after a darkly romantic indictment of ‘love’ in Die Liebe hat gelogen. Again, the clue proved to be in the title for Wer sich der Einsamkeit ergibt, Schubert extending, as perhaps only music can, Goethe’s conception of loneliness. Particularity of mood characterised both of the following Goethe songs too; so did able voice-leading: in piano, tenor, and both. The quiet dignity of Schwanengesang – the 1822 song, not the song-cycle! – and its unforced Unheimlichkeit brought genuine, not contrived silence at the close. Which returns us to sincerity: an ideal for us as listeners too?

Mark Berry


Programme:

Schubert: Frühlingsglaube , D 686; Lied eines Schiffers an die Dioskuren, D 360;Rastlose Liebe, D 138a; Abendstern, D 806; Der Jüngling and der Quelle, D 300; Am Flusse, D 766; Der Jüngling auf dem Hügel, D 702;Der Schiffer, D 536; Der Doppelgänger, D 957;An den Mond, D 193; Über Wildemann, D 884;Nachtstück, D 672; Der Einsame, D 800;An die Laute, D 905; Der Musensohn, D 764;Sehnsucht, D 879; Schäfers Klagelied, D 121;Die Liebe hat gelogen, D 751;Romanze aus ‘Rosamunde’, D 797/3b;Wer sich der Einsamkeit ergibt, D 478b;Wer nie sein Brot mit Tränen ass, D 480c;An die Türen will ich schleichen, D 479b; Schwanengesang, D 744. Ilker Arcayürek (tenor), Simon Lepper (piano). Wigmore Hall, London, Sunday 28 January 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):