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

La traviata at the Palais Garnier

The clatter of information was overwhelmed by soaring bel canto, Verdi’s domestic tragedy destroyed by director Simon Stone, resurrected by conductor Michele Mariotti, a tour de force for South African soprano Pretty Yende.

San Jose Pops the Cork With Fledermaus

Opera San Jose vivaciously kicked off its 2019–2020 season with a heady version of Strauss’ immortal Die Fledermaus that had all the effervescence of vintage champagne.

Tempestuous Francesca da Rimini opens Concertgebouw Saturday matinee series

Two Russian love letters to the tragic thirteenth century noblewoman Francesca da Rimini inaugurated the Saturday matinee series at the Concertgebouw.

Immortal Beloved: Beethoven Festival at Wigmore Hall

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park 2019

Lyric Opera of Chicago presented this year’s annual concert, Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park. The evening’s program featured a range of selections from works to be presented in the 2019–2020 season along with arias and scenes from other notable and representative operas.

Prom 74: Uplifting Beethoven from Andrew Manze and the NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover

Ceremony, drama and passion: this Beethoven Night by the NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover under their Chief Conductor Andrew Manze had all three and served them up with vigour and a compelling freshness, giving Prommers at this eve-of-Last-Night concert an exciting and uplifting evening.

Prom 69: Elena Stikhina’s auspicious UK debut in a dazzling Czech Philharmonic concert

Rarely can any singer have made such an unforgettable UK debut in just twelve minutes of music. That was unquestionably the case with the Russian soprano, Elena Stikhina, who in a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Letter Scene from Eugene Onegin, sang with such compelling stage magnetism and with a voice that has everything you could possibly want.

Prom 68: Wagner Abend - Christine Goerke overwhelms as Brünnhilde

Wagner Nights at the Proms were once enormously popular, especially on the programmes of Sir Henry Wood. They have become less so, perhaps because they are simply unfashionable today, but this one given by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Marc Albrecht steered clear of the ‘bleeding chunk’ format which was usually the norm. It was still chunky, but in an almost linear, logical way and benefited hugely from being operatic (when we got to the Wagner) rather than predominantly orchestral.

Prom 65: Danae Kontora excels in Mozart and Strauss

On the page this looked rather a ‘pick-and-mix’ sort of Prom from the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen under Greek conductor Constantinos Carydis, who was making his Proms debut. In the event, it was not so much a Chinese take-away as a Michelin-starred feast for musical gourmands.

British Youth Opera: Rossini's La Cenerentola

Stendhal (as recorded in his Life of Rossini) was not a fan of Rossini’s La Cenerentola, complaining that after the first few bars of the Introduzione he was already suffering from a ‘faint feeling of nausea’, a condition which ‘never entirely dissipated, [recurring] periodically throughout the opera, and with increasing violence’.

La traviata at the Arena di Verona

There is esoteric opera — 16,500 spectators at this year’s Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, and there is pop opera — upwards of 500,000 spectators for the opera festival at the Arena di Verona, one quarter of them for an over-the-top new production of La traviata, designed and directed by Franco Zeffirelli.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner brings Benvenuto Cellini to the Proms

Berlioz' Benvenuto Cellini is quite rarity on UK stages. Covent Garden last performed it in 1976 and English National Opera performed it for the first time in 2014 (in Terry Gilliam's riotous production), and yet the opera never quite goes away either.

Prom 58: varied narratives from the BBCSSO and Ilan Volkov

There are many ways and means to tell a story: through prose, poetry, sounds, pictures, colours, movement.

Prom 53: Elgar’s emotionally charged Music Makers

British music with an English and strong European accent marked this Prom featuring three well-wrought works, stylistically worlds apart but each characterised by a highly individual musical personality.

Scoring a Century: British Youth Opera at the Peacock Theatre

‘It is well known that Eisler was a master of the art of self-contradiction, using non-sequitur, change of tack and playing devil’s advocate in a brilliantly ironic way in an attempt to look at a problem from every angle, to expose it fully to the gaze of his interlocutor. For an ordinary person to take part in this, let alone keep up with the pace and fully appreciate the wide range of references, which his enormous reading threw out, was wonderfully stimulating, and exhausting.’

Prom 55: Handel's Jephtha

‘For many it is the masterpiece among his oratorios.’

Opera della Luna's HMS Pinafore sails the seas at Wilton's Music Hall

The original production of HMS Pinafore opened at the Opera Comique in London on 25th May 1878 and ran for an astonishing 571 performances. Opera della Luna’s HMS Pinafore, which has been cresting the operatic oceans for over twenty years now, has notched up almost as many performances.

Spectra Ensemble present Treemonisha at Grimeborn

‘We see him now as one of the most important creators of his generation, certainly comparable to Schoenberg.’ T.J. Anderson, who reconstructed the score of Scott Joplin’s only surviving opera, Treemonisha, for its first staged production in 1972, was probably rather over-enthusiastic in his assessment.

Fortieth Anniversary Gala of the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro

Earlier this month I reported from the Macerata Opera Festival – a largely Italian affair frequented by few foreigners. One week later I attended the 40th anniversary gala of the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, about 100 km north in the same region of Le Marche and a prominent stop on the international circuit. One one hears much English, French, German and Japanese, and the printed program features a long list of non-Italian financial sponsors.

Bel Canto Beauty at St George's Hanover Square: Bellini's Beatrice di Tenda

A merciless and neurotic ruler, whose right to govern is ambiguous and disputed. A dignified Queen whose star is setting, as her husband’s heart burns with new love and her lady-in-waiting betrays her. A courtier whose devotion to the Queen, his first love, is undimmed and destined to push both towards a tragic end. No, not Donizetti’s Anna Bolena but Bellini’s Beatrice di Tenda, written three years later, in 1833, for Venice’s La Fenice.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel [Source: Wikipedia]
30 Apr 2018

La concordia de’ pianeti: Imperial flattery set to Baroque splendor in Amsterdam

One trusts the banquet following the world premiere of La concordia de’ pianeti proffered some spicy flavors, because Pietro Pariati’s text is so cloying it causes violent stomach-churning. In contrast, Antonio Caldara’s music sparkles and dances like a blaze of crystal chandeliers.

La concordia de’ pianeti: Imperial flattery set to Baroque splendor in Amsterdam

A review by Jenny Camilleri

Above: Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel [Source: Wikipedia]

 

La concordia de’ pianeti was commissioned to celebrate the name day of Elizabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, mother of Empress Maria Theresa and grandmother of Queen Marie Antoinette of France. In November 1723 she and her husband, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, were returning to Vienna from Prague, where they had been crowned monarchs of Bohemia. During a stop in Znojmo, Moravia, Caldara, who was employed by the emperor, conducted the open-air premiere for the imperial couple. La concordia de’ pianeti is more of a secular cantata than a one-act opera. Its plot, such as it is, consists of the god Mercury persuading six other gods that “Elisa”, the empress, possesses qualities equal, or even superior, to theirs, thus deserving deification. Each of the seven gods and goddesses is associated with a heavenly body: Apollo with the sun, Saturn and Venus with the eponymous planets, and so on. Their final agreement on Elisa’s unsurpassable wonderfulness corresponds to the harmony of the spheres, hence the title. At one point the lunar goddess Diana scoffs that she’d like to see Elisa hunting boar and deer as skillfully as herself. Unfortunately, this tantalizing diversion in the plot never happens. As the gods concede Elizabeth’s supremacy one by one, the obsequious puffery reaches ridiculous proportions. The deities eulogize Elizabeth’s spotlessness, beauty and, most insistently, her fertility, ad nauseam. The empress, who was under immense pressure to produce a male heir, was pregnant with a boy at the time, but later had a miscarriage.

Given the qualitative chasm separating the words and the music, this performance by the Baroque ensemble La Cetra under Andrea Marcon, would have been better off without subtitles. But Caldara’s ornate score certainly deserved to be rescued from obscurity in 2014. Four trumpets and a set of timpani festoon the introduction. The laudatory choruses, plushly sung by the La Cetra chorus, set a celebratory mood. Conducting deftly but unhurriedly, Marcon maintained a festive pace throughout. The arias are eminently hummable, often danceable, the melodies set off with brilliant instrumental colors, and there were plenty of opportunities for the excellent musicians to show off their virtuosity. The two lutenists supplied springy rhythms and the principal trumpet elegantly dueled with Marte (Mars) in one of his arias. At full strength, the orchestra, with its warm and vibrant strings, threatened to swamp the smaller voices.

All seven soloists are to be commended for trying to inject some theatre into the empty, repetitive flattery, and succeeding to an extent by dint of their personalities. Vocally, they offered between them an impressive variety of qualities. Countertenor David Hansen sang Apollo, a role created by the star castrato Carestini, with a gauzy middle voice that opened up into a full, clarion top. Carlos Mena made an assertive Marte (Mars). Mena’s countertenor is idiosyncratic, with surprisingly dark low notes. He glided through the contrasting hues of his registers with agility and appealing swagger. Both Hansen and Mena had enough volume to hold their own against the orchestra, as did bass Luca Tittoto. As Saturno, Tittoto combined power with comely phrasing. Verónica Cangemi was a charmingly combative Diana. All the gods get two arias, except for Venere (Venus), who gets three, and Cangemi’s thin-topped soprano sounded at its best in her second aria, which made full use of its warm, upper middle band. Lovers of smooth, evenly produced voices could sit back and enjoy Emiliano Gonzalez Toro as Mercurio, Christophe Dumaux as Giove (Jupiter) and Delphine Galou as Venere. With modestly sized voices, they each spun out ribbons of unblemished coloratura. Galou’s mellow mezzo-soprano, Dumaux’s patrician countertenor and Gonzalez Toro’s bright tenor differentiated their characters in a way the stilted text never could. Above all, everyone on the podium projected great pleasure in performing this effulgent music, and the audience responded with appreciative enthusiasm.

Jenny Camilleri


Cast and production information:

Venere - Delphine Galou, mezzo-soprano; Diana - Verónica Cangemi, soprano; Giove - Christophe Dumaux, countertenor; Apollo - David Hansen, countertenor; Marte - Carlos Mena, countertenor; Mercurio - Emiliano Gonzalez Toro, tenor; Saturno - Luca Tittoto, bass. Conductor - Andrea Marcon. La Cetra Barockorchester & Vokalensemble Basel. Heard at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, on Saturday, 28th of April, 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):