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

Rigoletto past, present and future: a muddled production by Christiane Lutz for Glyndebourne Touring Opera

Charlie Chaplin was a master of slapstick whose rag-to-riches story - from workhouse-resident clog dancer to Hollywood legend with a salary to match his status - was as compelling as the physical comedy that he learned as a member of Fred Karno’s renowned troupe.

Rinaldo Through the Looking-Glass: Glyndebourne Touring Opera in Canterbury

Robert Carsen’s production of Rinaldo, first seen at Glyndebourne in 2011, gives a whole new meaning to the phrases ‘school-boy crush’ and ‘behind the bike-sheds’.

Predatory power and privilege in WNO's Rigoletto at the Birmingham Hippodrome

At a party hosted by a corrupt and dissolute political leader, wealthy patriarchal predators bask in excess, prowling the room on the hunt for female prey who seem all too eager to trade their sexual favours for the promise of power and patronage. ‘Questa o quella?’ the narcissistic host sings, (this one or that one?), indifferent to which woman he will bed that evening, assured of impunity.

Virginie Verrez captivates in WNO's Carmen at the Birmingham Hippodrome

Jo Davies’ new production of Carmen for Welsh National Opera presents not the exotic Orientalism of nineteenth-century France, nor a tale of the racial ‘Other’, feared and fantasised in equal measure by those whose native land she has infiltrated.

Die Zauberflöte brings mixed delights at the Royal Opera House

When did anyone leave a performance of Mozart’s Singspiel without some serious head scratching?

Haydn's La fedeltà premiata impresses at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama

‘Exit, pursued by an octopus.’ The London Underground insignia in the centre of the curtain-drop at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama’s Silk Street Theatre, advised patrons arriving for the performance of Joseph Haydn’s La fedeltà premiata (Fidelity Rewarded, 1780) that their Tube journey had terminated in ‘Arcadia’ - though this was not the pastoral idyll of Polixenes’ Bohemia but a parody of paradise more notable for its amatory anarchy than any utopian harmony.

Van Zweden conducts an unforgettable Walküre at the Concertgebouw

When native son Jaap van Zweden conducts in Amsterdam the house sells out in advance and expectations are high. Last Saturday, he returned to conduct another Wagner opera in the NTR ZaterdagMatinee series. The Concertgebouw audience was already cheering the maestro loudly before anyone had played a single note. By the end of this concert version of Die Walküre, the promise implicit in the enthusiastic greeting had been fulfilled. This second installment of Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung was truly memorable, and not just because of Van Zweden’s imprint.

Purcell for our time: Gabrieli Consort & Players at St John's Smith Square

Passing the competing Union and EU flags on College Green beside the Palace of Westminster on my way to St John’s Smith Square, where Paul McCreesh’s Gabrieli Consort & Players were to perform Henry Purcell’s 1691 'dramatic opera' King Arthur, the parallels between England now and England then were all too evident.

The Dallas Opera Cockerel: It’s All Golden

I greatly enjoyed the premiere of The Dallas Opera’s co-production with Santa Fe Opera of Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel when it debuted at the latter in the summer festival of 2018.

Luisa Miller at Lyric Opera of Chicago

For its second production of the current season Lyric Opera of Chicago is featuring Giuseppe Verdi’s Luisa Miller.

Philip Glass: Music with Changing Parts - European premiere of revised version

Philip Glass has described Music with Changing Parts as a transitional work, its composition falling between earlier pieces like Music in Fifths and Music in Contrary Motion (both written in 1969), Music in Twelve Parts (1971-4) and the opera Einstein on the Beach (1975). Transition might really mean aberrant or from no-man’s land, because performances of it have become rare since the very early 1980s (though it was heard in London in 2005).

Wexford Festival Opera 2019

The 68th Wexford Festival Opera, which runs until Sunday 3rd November, is bringing past, present and future together in ways which suggest that the Festival is in good health, and will both blossom creatively and stay true to its roots in the years ahead.

Cenerentola, jazzed to the max

Seattle Opera’s current staging of Cenerentola is mostly fun to watch. It is also a great example of how trying too hard to inflate a smallish work to fill a huge auditorium can make fun seem more like work.

Bottesini’s Alì Babà Keeps Them Laughing

On Friday evening October 25, 2019, Opera Southwest opened its 47th season with composer Giovanni Bottesini and librettist Emilio Taddei’s Alì Babà in a version reconstructed from the original manuscript score by Conductor Anthony Barrese.

Ovid and Klopstock clash in Jurowski’s Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’

There were two works on this London Philharmonic Orchestra programme given by Vladimir Jurowski – Colin Matthews’s Metamorphosis and Gustav Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’. The way Jurowski played it, however, one might have been forgiven for thinking we were listening to a new work by Mahler, something which may not have been lost on those of us who recalled that Matthews had collaborated with Deryck Cooke on the completion of Mahler’s Tenth Symphony.

Birtwistle's The Mask of Orpheus: English National Opera

‘All opera is Orpheus,’ Adorno once declared - although, typically, what he meant by that was rather more complicated than mere quotation would suggest. Perhaps, in some sense, all music in the Western tradition is too - again, so long as we take care, as Harrison Birtwistle always has, never to confuse starkness with over-simplification.

The Marriage of Figaro in San Francisco

San Francisco Opera rolled out the first installment of its new Mozart/DaPonte trilogy, a handsome Nozze, by Canadian director Michael Cavanagh to lively if mixed result.

Little magic in Zauberland at the ROH's Linbury Theatre

To try to conceive of Schumann’s Dichterliebe as a unified formal entity is to deny the song cycle its essential meaning. For, its formal ambiguities, its disintegrations, its sudden breaks in both textual image and musical sound are the very embodiment of the early Romantic aesthetic of fragmentation.

Donizetti's Don Pasquale packs a psychological punch at the ROH

Is Donizetti’s Don Pasquale a charming comedy with a satirical punch, or a sharp psychological study of the irresolvable conflicts of human existence?

Chelsea Opera Group perform Verdi's first comic opera: Un giorno di regno

Until Verdi turned his attention to Shakespeare’s Fat Knight in 1893, Il giorno di regno (A King for a Day), first performed at La Scala in 1840, was the composer’s only comic opera.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Rising Stars in Concert 2018 at Lyric Opera of Chicago
18 Apr 2018

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.

Rising Stars in Concert 2018 at Lyric Opera of Chicago

A review by Salvatore Calomino

Above image courtesy of Lyric Opera of Chicago

 

From the start the selections were performed with dedication and with attention to both text and music. The scene including a solo aria for the role of Robert in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta was delivered with a practiced style by Takaoki Onishi. His neatly controlled forte notes and ease at diminuendo added to the overall effect of his character. Comedy and sustained lyricism were cleverly blended in the duet for Nemorino and Dr. Dulcamara as performed by Mario Rojas and Alan Higgs. The two subsequent numbers from Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann, featuring Lindsay Metzger and Alec Carlson were notable for the fine diction observed by both singers, while they acted out the sentiments of the imaginative protagonist convincingly.

The excerpt from Catalani’s La Wally, “Ne andrò lontana,” was an opportunity to hear the excellent range of soprano Ann Toomey. Her penetrating voice, when producing high, forte pitches, is clear and emphatic yet capable of shading to a sudden diminuendo as she equates her own departure to the ceasing of a bell’s toll. Verdi’s I masnadieri is a rich musical trove for various vocal types as here exemplified by the duet for tenor and bass sung by Mr. Carlson and Patrick Guetti. Both singers respond urgently to the dramatic needs of this moment in the score. Guetti’s distinctly colored bass exudes power while expressing emotional touches of familial devotion. Extended notes held at the close by Guetti echoed impressively. The gavotte from Massenet’s Manon was staged delightfully with Diana Newman as Manon surrounded by various of her male colleagues singing collectively as suitors. Ms. Newman sings and acts comfortably in this character’s range, her sense of lyricism punctuated by repeated, decorative top notes securely on pitch. In the final selection from the first half of the program, the quartet from Rossini’s La scala di seta, Ms. Newman demonstrated these qualities further and at a more frenetic pace. She was joined, among others, by the first appearance of Josh Lovell, whose sumptuously developed, lyric tenor will be a major addition to productions of works from the Baroque and bel canto repertoire. Lovell’s secure top notes, expressive line, and clear decoration in rapid passage work helped transform this Rossinian gem into a fitting first conclusion.

The second part of the concert opened with an instrumental excerpt, two movements from Ravel’s Trio for piano, violin, and cello. Madeline Slettedahl, current resident pianist in the Ryan Opera Center, demonstrated amply her skills in conjunction with Robert Hanford and Barbara Haffner. Vocal excerpts took a dramatic turn when contralto Lauren Decker performed the aria for Marfa from Khovanshchina. There were sustained tensions at first dominating the voice as Decker sang of a “mysterious force” and the power of “those departed.” A sudden dramatic outburst was followed by exciting low pitches before she foretold the secret of the Prince’s destiny. Toward the conclusion Decker’s commanding upper range was revealed in piercing appropriate notes equating the Prince’s life with hardship. Two additional excerpts from works by Rossini added to the delights of the concert’s conclusion. In the second-act trio from Il barbiere di Siviglia Metzger and Lovell were encouraged repeatedly by O’Hanlon’s Figaro to prepare for a hasty departure; the lovers ignored such warnings while decorating their lines with the glory of closer acquaintance. Lovell’s impressive runs and top pitches call for further Rossinian contributions while Metzger’s low pitches and comparable decoration would suggest the same. In the quartet ensemble from the first act of L’italiana in Algeri Decker and Guetti demonstrated their technique in a lighter repertoire. As Isabella and Mustafà both sang their pointed lines with seamless, decorative beauty and a firm sense of comic involvement. The evening concluded with the entire company participating in “Make Our Garden Grow” from Bernstein's Candide.

The individual and ensemble performances were impressive throughout the evening and speak well for the future of vocal arts as supported by this exemplary company.

Salvatore Calomino

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):