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

Glyndebourne Festival Opera 2018 opens with Annilese Miskimmon's Madama Butterfly

As the bells rang with romance from the tower of St George’s Chapel, Windsor, the rolling downs of Sussex - which had just acquired a new Duke - echoed with the strains of a rather more bitter-sweet cross-cultural love affair. Glyndebourne Festival Opera’s 2018 season opened with Annilese Miskimmon’s production of Madama Butterfly, first seen during the 2016 Glyndebourne tour and now making its first visit to the main house.

Remembering Debussy

This concert might have been re-titled Remembrance of Musical Times Past: the time, that is, when French song, nurtured in the Proustian Parisian salons, began to gain a foothold in public concert halls. But, the madeleine didn’t quite work its magic on this occasion.

Garsington's Douglas Boyd on Strauss and Skating Rinks

‘On August 3, 1941, the day that Capriccio was finished, 682 Jews were killed in Chernovtsy, Romania; 1,500 in Jelgava, Latvia; and several hundred in Stanisławów, Ukraine. On October 28, 1942, the day of the opera’s premiere in Munich, the first convoy of Jews from Theresienstadt arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau, and 90 percent of them went to the gas chamber.’

A chiaroscuro Orfeo from Iestyn Davies and La Nuova Musica

‘I sought to restrict the music to its true purpose of serving to give expression to the poetry and to strengthen the dramatic situations, without interrupting the action or hampering it with unnecessary and superfluous ornamentations. […] I believed further that I should devote my greatest effort to seeking to achieve a noble simplicity; and I have avoided parading difficulties at the expense of clarity.’

Lessons in Love and Violence: powerful musical utterances but perplexing dramatic motivations

‘What a thrill -/ My thumb instead of an onion. The top quite gone/ Except for a sort of hinge/ Of skin,/ A flap like a hat,/ Dead white. Then that red plush.’ Those who imagined that Sylvia Plath (‘Cut’, 1962) had achieved unassailable aesthetic peaks in fusing pain - mental and physical - with beauty, might think again after seeing and hearing this, the third, collaboration between composer George Benjamin and dramatist/librettist Martin Crimp: Lessons in Love and Violence.

Grands motets de Lalande

Majesté, a new recording by Le Poème Harmonique, led by Vincent Dumestre, of music by Michel-Richard de Lalande (1657-1726) new from Alpha Classics. Le Poème Harmonique are regular visitors to London, appreciated for the variety of their programes. On Friday this week, (11/5) they'll be at St John's Smith Square as part of the London Festival of Baroque, with a programme titled "At the World's Courts".

Perpetual Night - Early English Baroque, Ensemble Correspondances

New from Harmonia Mundi, Perpetual Night. a superb recording of ayres and songs from the 17th century, by Ensemble Correspondances with Sébastien Daucé and Lucile Richardot. Ensemble Correspondances are among the foremost exponents of the music of Versailles and the French royalty, so it's good to hear them turn to the music of the Stuart court.

Les Salons de Pauline Viardot: Sabine Devieilhe at Wigmore Hall

Always in demand on French and international stages, the French soprano Sabine Devieihle is, fortunately, becoming an increasingly frequent visitor to these shores. Her first appearance at Wigmore Hall was last month’s performance of works by Handel with Emmanuelle Haïm’s Le Concert d’Astrée. This lunchtime recital, reflecting the meetings of music and minds which took place at Parisian salon of the nineteenth-century mezzo-soprano Pauline Viardot (1821-1910), was her solo debut at the venue.

Jesus Christ Superstar at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago is now featuring as its spring musical Jesus Christ Superstar with music and lyrics by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. The production originated with the Regent’s Park Theatre, London with additional scenery by Bay Productions, U.K. and Commercial Silk International.

Persephone glows with life in Seattle

As a figure in the history of 20th century art, few deserve to be closer to center stage than Ida Rubenbstein. Without her talent, determination, and vast wealth, Ravel’s Boléro, Debussy’s Martyrdom of St. Sebastien, Honegger’s Joan of Arc at the Stake, and Stravinsky’s Perséphone would not exist.

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.

Kathleen Ferrier Awards Final 2018

The 63rd Competition for the Kathleen Ferrier Awards 2018 was an unusually ‘home-grown’ affair. Last year’s Final had brought together singers from the UK, the Commonwealth, Europe, the US and beyond, but the six young singers assembled at Wigmore Hall on Friday evening all originated from the UK.

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.

Brahms Liederabend

At his best, Matthias Goerne does serious (ernst) at least as well as anyone else. He may not be everyone’s first choice as Papageno, although what he brings to the role is compelling indeed, quite different from the blithe clowning of some, arguably much closer to its fundamental sadness. (Is that not, after all, what clowns are about?) Yet, individual taste aside, whom would one choose before him to sing Brahms, let alone the Four Serious Songs?

Angel Blue in La Traviata

One of the most beloved operas of all time, Verdi’s “ La Traviata” has never lost its enduring appeal as a tragic tale of love and loss, as potent today as it was during its Venice premiere in 1853.

Matthias Goerne and Seong-Jin Cho at Wigmore Hall

Is it possible, I wonder, to have too much of a ‘good thing’? Baritone Matthias Goerne can spin an extended vocal line and float a lyrical pianissimo with an unrivalled beauty that astonishes no matter how many times one hears and admires the evenness of line, the controlled legato, the tenderness of tone.

Maria Callas: Tosca 1964: A film by Holger Preusse

When I reviewed Tosca at Covent Garden in January this year for Opera Today, Maria Callas’s 1964 Royal Opera House performance was still fresh in my mind. This is a recording I have grown up with and which, despite its flaws, is one of the greatest operatic statements - a glorious production which Zeffirelli finally agreed to staging, etched in gothic black and white film (albeit just Act II), with Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi, if not always as vocally commanding as they once were, acting out their roles like no one has before, or since.

Philip Venables: 4.48 Psychosis

Madness - or perhaps, more widely, insanity - in opera goes back centuries. In Handel’s Orlando (1733) it’s the dimension of a character’s jealousy and betrayal that drives him to the state of delusion and madness. Mozart, in Idomeneo, treats Electra’s descent into mania in a more hostile and despairing way. Foucault would probably define these episodic operatic breakdowns as “melancholic”, ones in which the characters are powerless rather than driven by acts of personal violence or suicide.

Hubert Parry and the birth of English Song

British music would not be where it is today without the influence of Charles Hubert Parry. His large choral and orchestral works are well known, and his Jerusalem is almost the national anthem. But in the centenary of his death, we can re-appraise his role in the birth of modern British song.

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!’)

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

09 May 2018

Perpetual Night - Early English Baroque, Ensemble Correspondances

New from Harmonia Mundi, Perpetual Night. a superb recording of ayres and songs from the 17th century, by Ensemble Correspondances with Sébastien Daucé and Lucile Richardot. Ensemble Correspondances are among the foremost exponents of the music of Versailles and the French royalty, so it's good to hear them turn to the music of the Stuart court.

Perpetual Night : 17th century Ayres and Songs, Lucile Riuchardot, Ensemble Coirespondances, Sébastiuen Daucé. Harmonia Mundi HMM902269.

A review by Anne Ozorio

Harmonia Mundi HMM902269.

  Click to buy

Though the songs are in the English language, they are in artistic terms very much attuned to wider European influences. In 1610, King James's son Henry became Prince of Wales, importing into his household musicians who favoured the "new music" of the era. Many were singer-lutenists, who could be deployed into flexible ensembles with other instruments, like the then-new theorbo providing continuo. Among the other new forms introduced was what is now called declamatory song. As Peter Holman writes in his notes these have the "character of a grace almand, or air, the vocal line mirrors speech inflections, and often illustrates words with appropriate images, so they are rarely tuneful though they tend to have more melodic coherence than true recitative".

Although Prince Henry died only two years later, the innovations he favoured took root, and were further developed by Charles, who was to become King Charles I. .Robert Johnson's Care-charming sleep was written for a play by John Fletcher, performed by the King's Men (Shakespeare's company). making the connection between Jacobean poet/playwrights and music, which would later flourish in the Restoration. John Corpario (1570-1620) was born John Cooper, adopting an Italianate name in line with the fashion of the time. He also served the next Prince of Wales, Charles, who was later to become King Charles I. His Go Happy Man is a song for high voice and lute, where the vocal line stands clear, the poetic purity of the vocal line revealed through intonation and phrasing. What tears dear Prince, can serve, by Robert Ramsey (c1590-1645) is a song of mourning, but so beautiful that it may well express personal sorrow. In contrast, Ramsey's Howl not, you ghosts and fairies is a miniature drama, illustrating a scene from Orpheus and Euridice for multiple voices including bass and a possibly allegorical extra character. Like Britanocles the great and good appears (William Lawes 1602-1645), it is an early example of a genre which would later become popular. Rise, princely shepherd (John Hilton 1599-1657) is a setting of The Judgement of Paris. In Lawes's Music, thy master of art, is dead, the interplay between different voices is pure polyphony. This emphasis on the beauty of vocal line elevates intonation and phrasing, employing voices as if they were instruments. In Adieu to the pleasures (James Hart 1647-1718) the instrumental introduction and postludes are more prominent, setting a context for the largely unaccompanied voice, and in Sarabande (Matthew Locke 1621/3- 1677), for variety, the instruments are unaccompanied by human voice, a rather appropriate prelude to When Orpheus Sang (Henry Purcell). Poor Celadon, he sighs in vain (John Blow) the flow of the voice, with clipped consonants and plangent, stretched vowels evokes the "English tenor" aesthetic. John Blow's cheery Epilogue: Sing, Sing,Ye Muses brings this delightful recording to a logical conclusion.

Superlative performances from Ensemble Correspondances with lithe, agile voices, especially the higher voices, male and female, complemented by Lucile Richardot. Her range is impressive, enhancing and integrating the other voices. At St George's, Hanover Square, on Wednesday 16th May, she will be doing a Hommage to Lully concert as part of the St John’s Smith Square London Festival of Baroque Music. The theme of the 2018 Festival is The Treasures of the Grand Siècle, curated by Sébastien Daucé and Ensemble Correspondances, and is exceptional, bringing many of the finest baroque specialists to London in an eclectic and very unusual programme of French music. This will culminate with their Le Concert Royale de la Nuit on 19th May. The recording is available on Harmonia Mundi and possibly soon on DVD (with dancing). Le Concert Royale marks the beginning of "modern" music, opera and ballet. It is also a metaphor for the baroque spirit, where audacity fuels extravagant imagination, elegance restraining excess, technical achievement balanced by refinement, agility and energy.

Anne Ozorio

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):