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

San Jose Opera, <em>La traviata</em>
29 Apr 2018

Affecting and Effective Traviata in San Jose

Opera San Jose capped its consistently enjoyable, artistically accomplished 2017-2018 season with a dramatically thoughtful, musically sound rendition of Verdi’s immortal La traviata.

San Jose Opera, La traviata

A review by James Sohre

Above: The chorus of revelers surrounds Flora Bervoix (Christina Pezzarossi) in Act III

 

Violetta Valery is regarded as an Everest of operatic soprano roles and Amanda Kingston proved more than up to the climb. Ms. Kingston has a supple, agile, alluring instrument that is more than capable of meeting the legendary challenges of the part, namely the flights of impetuous coloratura in Act I; the midrange conversational passages that give way to spinto outbursts in Act II; the weighty pathos and then the limpid lyricism of Acts III and IV. Vocally, the singer has all these effects in her arsenal, and she has a lovely presence that is majestic and assured. The San Jose public has been blessed to have an artist of her caliber on their opera stage this season.

Violetta, like Carmen, is a complex persona, sometimes enigmatic, often unpredictable, and endlessly malleable to the interpreter’s individual gifts. Amanda’s two strongest assets are her rock solid, searing flights above the staff that filled the auditorium with plangent, vibrant sound; and her heart-breaking pathos with which she imbued the self-sacrificial moments. She clearly understands and communicates the text, and there is not a note out of place in here secure technique that is even from top to bottom.

If there is one thing I wish this fine artist could invest in her already accomplished portrayal it is a method of communicating the heroine’s extreme physical frailty. Moments of temporary (and ultimately fatal) physical lapses were a bit too robustly ‘present’; intelligently rendered but missing that final tragically hollow color that can haunt the viewer’s heart. I have no doubt that the prodigiously talented Amanda Kingston is capable of this final dimension, which will further enhance what is already one of the best sung Violetta’s on display anywhere.

Violetta (Amanda Kingston) Flora Bervoix (Christina Pezzarossi) and Sr. Grenvil (Colin Ramsey).jpg Violetta (Amanda Kingston) is comforted by Flora Bervoix (Christina Pezzarossi) and Sr. Grenvil (Colin Ramsey).

Dane Suarez is perhaps the most effortlessly boyish Alfredo I have yet seen, and he communicates his helpless romantic (and sexual) infatuation with Violetta with honesty and abandon. His fresh faced, puppy dog approach made him stand out from the other jaded men in Violetta’s circle, and made us understand why Violetta might be attracted to his impetuous sincerity and handsome naiveté.

Mr. Suarez has an appealing, substantial tenor, which he deployed with considerable nuance. Although he sang sturdily throughout the evening, he found his most solid vocal footing in the sardonic phrases and recriminating outbursts in Act III, where he poured out highly charged high notes that were riveting in their intensity. When Dane affected the boyish sweetness earlier on, the gears were sometimes on display as he worked (albeit successfully) to reign in his sizable tone, and to color it youthfully. In the future, he might pay attention to not letting his voice get off the breath since some crooning phrase ends drooped just under the pitch. Still, his total emotional investment in pursuing and later, comforting Violetta proved heart rending.

Veteran baritone Trevor Neal was an imposing Giorgio Germont, his physical stature and orotund baritone impressively illuminating the character. Verdi gives Germont some of the opera’s best music and a wonderful theatrical arc, and Mr. Neal took full advantage of the opportunity. His sonorous, mellifluous delivery was marked by beautifully shaped phrases and incisive theatrical insights. Although Trevor’s secure instrument is otherwise totally hooked up, he uncharacteristically had a few passing encounters with a bit of a rasp on topmost G-flats. Small matter, when this fine interpreter dominated his every scene.

As usual, OSJ invested the smaller roles with its usual high standard of meticulous casting. Mason Gates put his fine lyric tenor to good service as Gastone. Baritone Philip Skinner was a memorable, firm-voiced Baron Douphol. Christina Pezzarossi made a notable impression as Flora, with her resonant, smoky mezzo providing ample pleasure. Erin O’Meally’s poised, silvery soprano was well suited to Annina’s gentle phrases. Baritone Babatunde Akinboboye was agile of voice and playful of demeanor as a cavorting Marchese d’Obigny. In true luxury casting bass-baritone Colin Ramsey, who has successfully assumed a number of major roles at OSJ, was a firm-toned Doctor Grenvil.

In the pit, Dennis Doubin whipped up a sprightly, propulsive reading, after the shimmering strings opened the performance with a luminous reading of the prologue. Maestro Doubin led a secure, idiomatically correct rendition that eschewed indulgence in the oom-pah segments of this middle-Verdi opus. Conversely, he luxuriated in the expansive melodies that comprise much of the work. The conductor elicited a cleanly detailed account of Verdi’s masterpiece, even as he lived the drama in admirable collaboration with his vocal soloists. Andrew Whitfield’s well prepared chorus proved a considerable asset in the evening’s success.

Director Shawna Lucy has staged an efficient, cogent presentation that pushes all the right buttons, managing the large populated scenes with skill and imagination, highlighting select minor dramas played out between choristers. She also creates meaningful interactions with her principals, and underscores all the major emotional beats. Shawna gets excellent results from the chorus, and the re-imagined gypsy and toreador choruses in Act III were fresh and topical. The #metoo movement was even meaningfully evoked when, late in Act III, the chorus courtesans suddenly reject male domination in solidarity with Violetta, and forcibly extricate themselves from unwanted relationships. Ms. Lucy was assisted by choreographer Michelle Klaers D’Alo

Eric Flatmo has designed a workable unit set that consists of a raked platform stage left, with a sunken playing space stage right, all of which gets repurposed each act, with telling different set pieces and looks. A large picture window upstage reveals the Eiffel tower, with the exception of Act II when a pastoral setting is projected. Beginning with a copper toned look, this paneled environment's shifting appearance proved a highly effective playing space.

Elizabeth Poindexter’s lavish and character specific costumes provided a sumptuous visual component, abetted by Christina Martin’s comprehensive wig and make-up design. Pamila Z. Gray devised a moody and comprehensive lighting design, with good use of area washes and designated specials.

As this memorable season comes to an end, Opera San Jose has announced their varied slate for 2018-2019 which includesThe Abduction from the Seraglio, Pagliacci, Moby Dick and Madama Butterfly.

James Sohre

Verdi: La traviata

Violetta Valery: Amanda Kingston; Flora Bervoix: Christina Pezzarossi; Annina: Erin O’Meally; Alfredo Germont: Dane Suarez; Giorgio Germont: Trevor Neal; Gastone: Mason Gates; Baron Douphol: Philip Skinner; Marchese d’Obigny: Babatunde Akinboboye; Doctor Grenvil: Colin Ramsey; Giuseppe: Kevin Gino; Guest: Noah DeMoss; Messenger: Lazo Mihajlovich; Conductor: Dennis Doubin; Director: Shawna Lucey; Choreographer: Michelle Klaers D’Alo; Set Design: Eric Flatmo; Costume Design: Elizabeth Poindexter; Lighting Design: Pamila Z. Gray; Wig and Make-up Design: Christina Martin; Chorus Master: Andrew Whitfield

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):