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 Reviews

European premiere of Unsuk Chin’s Le Chant des enfants des étoiles, with works by Biber and Beethoven

Excellent programming: worthy of Boulez, if hardly for the literal minded. (‘I think you’ll find [stroking chin] Beethoven didn’t know Unsuk Chin’s music, or Heinrich Biber’s. So … what are they doing together then? And … AND … why don’t you use period instruments? I rest my case!’)

Rising Stars in Concert 2018 at Lyric Opera of Chicago

On a recent weekend evening the performers in the current roster of the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago presented a concert of operatic selections showcasing their musical talents. The Lyric Opera Orchestra accompanied the performers and was conducted by Edwin Outwater.

Arizona Opera Presents a Glittering Rheingold

On April 6, 2018, Arizona Opera presented an uncut performance of Richard Wagner’s Das Rheingold. It was the first time in two decades that this company had staged a Ring opera.

Handel's Teseo brings 2018 London Handel Festival to a close

The 2018 London Handel Festival drew to a close with this vibrant and youthful performance (the second of two) at St George’s Church, Hanover Square, of Handel’s Teseo - the composer’s third opera for London after Rinaldo (1711) and Il pastor fido (1712), which was performed at least thirteen times between January and May 1713.

Camille Saint-Saens: Mélodies avec orchestra

Saint-Saëns Mélodies avec orchestra with Yann Beuron and Tassis Christoyannis with the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana conducted by Markus Poschner.

The Moderate Soprano

The Moderate Soprano and the story of Glyndebourne: love, opera and Nazism in David Hare’s moving play

The Spirit of England: the BBCSO mark the centenary of the end of the Great War

Well, it was Friday 13th. I returned home from this moving and inspiring British-themed concert at the Barbican Hall in which the BBC Symphony Orchestra and conductor Sir Andrew Davis had marked the centenary of the end of World War I, to turn on my lap-top and discover that the British Prime Minister had authorised UK armed forces to participate with French and US forces in attacks on Syrian chemical weapon sites.

Thomas Adès conducts Stravinsky's Perséphone at the Royal Festival Hall

This seemed a timely moment for a performance of Stravinsky’s choral ballet, Perséphone. April, Eliot’s ‘cruellest month’, has brought rather too many of Chaucer’s ‘sweet showers [to] pierce the ‘drought of March to the root’, but as the weather finally begins to warms and nature stirs, what better than the classical myth of the eponymous goddess’s rape by Pluto and subsequent rescue from Hades, begetting the eternal rotation of the seasons, to reassure us that winter is indeed over and the spirit of spring is engendering the earth.

Dido and Aeneas: La Nuova Musica at Wigmore Hall

This performance of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas by La Nuova Musica, directed by David Bates, was, characteristically for this ensemble, alert to musical details, vividly etched and imaginatively conceived.

Bernstein's MASS at the Royal Festival Hall

In 1969, Mrs Aristotle Onassis commissioned a major composition to celebrate the opening of a new arts centre in Washington, DC - the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, named after her late husband, President John F. Kennedy, who had been assassinated six years earlier.

Hans Werner Henze : The Raft of the Medusa, Amsterdam

This is a landmark production of Hans Werner Henze's Das Floß der Medusa (The Raft of the Medusa) conducted by Ingo Metzmacher in Amsterdam earlier this month, with Dale Duesing (Charon), Bo Skovhus and Lenneke Ruiten, with Cappella Amsterdam, the Nieuw Amsterdams Kinderen Jeugdkoor, and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, in a powerfully perceptive staging by Romeo Castellucci.

Johann Sebastian Bach, St John Passion, BWV 245

This was the first time, I think, since having moved to London that I had attended a Bach Passion performance on Good Friday here.

Easter Voices, including mass settings by Mozart and Stravinsky

It was a little early, perhaps, to be hearing ‘Easter Voices’ in the middle of Holy Week. However, this was not especially an Easter programme – and, in any case, included two pieces from Gesualdo’s Tenebrae responsories for Good Friday. Given the continued vileness of the weather, a little foreshadowing of something warmer was in any case most welcome. (Yes, I know: I should hang my head in Lenten shame.)

Academy of Ancient Music: St John Passion at the Barbican Hall

‘In order to preserve the good order in the Churches, so arrange the music that it shall not last too long, and shall be of such nature as not to make an operatic impression, but rather incite the listeners to devotion.’

Fiona Shaw's The Marriage of Figaro returns to the London Coliseum

The white walls of designer Peter McKintosh’s Ikea-maze are still spinning, the ox-skulls are still louring, and the servants are still eavesdropping, as Fiona Shaw’s 2011 production of The Marriage of Figaro returns to English National Opera for its second revival. Or, perhaps one should say that the servants are still sleeping - slumped in corridors, snoozing in chairs, snuggled under work-tables - for at times this did seem a rather soporific Figaro under Martyn Brabbins’ baton.

Lenten Choral Music from the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

Time was I could hear the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge almost any evening I chose, at least during term time. (If I remember correctly, Mondays were reserved for the mixed voice King’s Voices.)

A New Faust at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s innovative, new production of Charles Gounod’s Faust succeeds on multiple levels of musical and dramatic representation. The title role is sung by Benjamin Bernheim, his companion in adventure Méphistophélès is performed by Christian Van Horn.

Netrebko rules at the ROH in revival of Phyllida Lloyd's Macbeth

Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a play of the night: of dark interiors and shadowy forests. ‘Light thickens, and the crow/Makes wing to th’ rooky wood,’ says Macbeth, welcoming the darkness which, whether literal or figurative, is thrillingly and threateningly palpable.

San Diego’s Ravishing Florencia

Daniel Catán’s widely celebrated opera, Florencia en el Amazonas received a top tier production at the wholly rejuvenated San Diego Opera company.

Samantha Hankey wins Glyndebourne Opera Cup

Four singers were awarded prizes at the inaugural Glyndebourne Opera Cup, which reached its closing stage at Glyndebourne on 24th March. The Glyndebourne Opera Cup focuses on a different single composer or strand of the repertoire each time it is held. In 2018 the featured composer was Mozart and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment accompanied the ten finalists.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

23 Mar 2018

Don Carlos in Lyon

Metteur en scène Christophe Honoré placed his 2016 Aix Festival Cosi fan tutte in Ethiopia. Unfortunately his current Lyon Don Carlos enjoys no such equivalent poetic intuition.

Don Carlos in Lyon

A review by Michael Milenski

Above: Eboli (in wheelchair) and Elisabeth at masquerade [All photos copyright Jean-Louis Hernandez, courtesy of Opéra de Lyon]

 

Mr. Honoré has reduced his Lyon Don Carlos to some sort of obscure theater metaphor. Thus basic scenic accoutrements and machines of an empty stage are the environments wherein the complexities of Phillip II’s filicide, uxoricide and amicicide unfold.

For the Fontainebleau forest there were some theatrical drapes and a dense, very dense fog of choking theatrical fog and not very much theatrical light. For Saint-Just there was another plane of theatrical drape and not much light, but there was a stage floor trap open to somewhere below. The masquerade was an orgy, theatrical drapes moving back and forth, hide and seek, peeking at couplings (sexual) certainly not that public during the Spanish Inquisition.

For the auto-da-fe the stage became an old raw wood theater, the Spanish court, the Flemish supplicants, and the Madrid populace stuffed into a side wall of boxes, the heretics (four total) were twitching architectural detail. Phillip II’s bedroom was a variation of the raw wood theater structure whose side boxes served to hint at cloister for the Grand Inquisitor. The stage was an empty black box for Rodrigo’s death in Carlos’ cell.

DonCarlos_Lyon3.pngThe Auto-da-fé

Back in Saint-Just the floor trap was again open to allow the entrance of incarnate Carlo V ashes in the form of a sort of walking cherub with a lighted breast plate. There was a scenic coup de theatre to let us know something had happened (what?) when a panel of drapes fell to the floor revealing a huge, seated blue madonna.

The evening was divided into two two-hour segments. At first we sat patiently during the lengthy minutes it took to cobble, and re-cobble together these set changes, and then impatiently in disbelief at such conceptual, indeed abusive ineptitude.

The edition was cobbled together as well. Among other machinations a part of the ballet was restored. Given that Ferrando had showered before his tryst with Fiordiligi back in Aix we knew a water feature would come. Voilà! The four soon to be immolated heretics fought and frolicked under an inexplicable shower of water as the ballet music chugged on. These four dancers appeared a final time laid out in Phillip II’s study during his famous soliloquy.

DonCarlos_Lyon2.pngTwo of the four heretics in the shower

Mr. Honoré embellished his concept by confining Princess Eboli to a wheel chair. French mezzo Eve-Maud Hubeaux is a lyric mezzo whose presence is non-threatening even without a broken leg. Her Eboli was of an engaging comic energy. French baritone Stéphane Degout is a quite lyric baritone as well, conferring a youthful naïveté on Rodrigue (Posa) that precluded a poetic gravitas we might expect from the opera’s one sympathetic personage. The easy energy of these two performers made them audience favorites.

Russian tenor Sergei Romanovsky carved a plausible Don Carlos, his light lyric voice responding to this character’s presumed epilepsy, though his swoon before Elisabeth found none of its magic. But this Don Carlos could not plausibly challenge his father. British soprano Sally Matthews has a significant wobble in her low and medium register evoking a maternal rather than romantic presence. She did find some convincing phrasing in her high voice that made her "Toi qui suis la néant" (Tu che la vanita) one of the few dramatic successes of the evening.

Italian bass Michele Pertusi as well captured some of the sublimity of phrasing in Phillip II’s "Elle ne m'aime pas" (Ella giammai m'amò) though the dignity of this scene dissolved into a dry anger that permeated his character start to finish. Italian bass Roberto Scandiuzzi was a warm voiced, bland Grand Inquisitor, though the night before he had created a dynamic Banquo in Macbeth.

With the conceptual, directorial and casting malaise of the production it was difficult to access the contribution of the pit to the evening. The Opéra de Lyon orchestra put forth some beautiful sounds, notably in the strings. Conductor Daniele Rustioni did indeed support the few successful moments of the evening with stylistic precision.

It was a long, very long, too long evening in Lyon.

Michael Milenski


Cast and production information:

Philippe II: Michele Pertusi; Don Carlos: Sergey Romanovsky; Rodrigue, marquis de Posa: Stéphane Degout; Le Grand Inquisiteur: Roberto Scandiuzzi; Un Moine: Patrick Bolleire; Elisabeth de Valois: Sally Matthews; La Princesse Eboli: Eve-Maud Hubeaux; Thibault, page d’Elisabeth: Jeanne Mendoche; Une Voix d'en haut: Caroline Jestaedt; Le Comte de Lerme: Yannick Berne; Un Héraut royal: Didier Roussel; Députés flamands:Dominique Beneforti, Charles Saillofest, Antoine Saint-Espes, Paolo Stupenengo, Denis Boirayon, Thibault Gerentet. Orchestre, Chœurs et Studio de l'Opéra de Lyon. Conductor: Daniele Rustioni; Mise en scène: Christophe Honoré; Décors: Alban Ho Van; Costumes: Pascaline Chavanne; Lumières: Dominique Bruguière; Chorégraphie: Ashley Wright. Opéra de Lyon, March 16, 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):