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

Eugene Onegin at Seattle

Passion! Pain! Poetry! (but hold the irony . . .)

Unusual and beautiful: Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla conducts the music of Raminta Šerkšnytė

Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla conducts the music of Raminta Šerkšnytė with the Kremerata Baltica, in this new release from Deutsche Grammophon.

Pow! Zap! Zowie! Wowie! -or- Arthur, King of Long Beach

If you might have thought a late 17thcentury semi-opera about a somewhat precious fairy tale monarch might not be your cup of twee, Long Beach Opera cogently challenges you to think again.

Philippe Jaroussky and Jérôme Ducros perform Schubert at Wigmore Hall

How do you like your Schubert? Let me count the ways …

Crebassa and Say: Impressionism and Power at Wigmore Hall

On paper this seemed a fascinating recital, but as I was traveling to the Wigmore Hall it occurred to me this might be a clash of two great artists. Both Marianne Crebassa and Fazil Say can be mercurial performers and both can bring such unique creativity to what they do one thought they might simply diverge. In the event, what happened was quite remarkable.

'Songs of Longing and Exile': Stile Antico at LSO St Luke's

Baroque at the Edge describes itself as the ‘no rules’ Baroque festival. It invites ‘leading musicians from all backgrounds to take the music of the Baroque and see where it leads them’.

Richard Jones' La bohème returns to Covent Garden

Richard Jones' production of Puccini's La bohème is back at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden after its debut in 2017/18. The opening night, 10th January 2020, featured the first of two casts though soprano Sonya Yoncheva, who was due to sing Mimì, had to drop out owing to illness, and was replaced at short notice by Simona Mihai who had sung the role in the original run and is due to sing Musetta later in this run.

Diana Damrau sings Richard Strauss’s Vier letzte Lieder on Erato

“How weary we are of wandering/Is this perhaps death?” These closing words of ‘Im Abendrot’, the last of Richard Strauss’s Vier letzte Lieder, and the composer’s own valedictory work, now seem unusually poignant since they stand as an epitaph to Mariss Jansons’s final Strauss recording.

Vaughan Williams Symphonies 3 & 4 from Hyperion

Latest in the highly acclaimed Hyperion series of Ralph Vaughan Williams symphonies, Symphonies no 3 and 4, with Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, recorded in late 2018 after a series of live performances.

Don Giovanni at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Mozart’s Don Giovanni returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago in the Robert Falls updating of the opera to the 1930s. The universality of Mozart’s score proves its adaptability to manifold settings, and this production featured several outstanding, individual performances.

Britten and Dowland: lutes, losses and laments at Wigmore Hall

'Of chord and cassiawood is the lute compounded;/ Within it lie ancient melodies'.

Tara Erraught sings Loewe, Mahler and Hamilton Harty at Wigmore Hall

During those ‘in-between’ days following Christmas and before New Year, the capital’s cultural institutions continue to offer fare both festive and more formal.

Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with the Thomanerchor and Gewandhausorchester Leipzig

This Accentus release of J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, recorded live on 15/16th December 2018 at St. Thomas’s Church Leipzig, takes the listener ‘back to Bach’, so to speak.

Retrospect Opera's new recording of Ethel Smyth's Fête Galante

Writing in April 1923 in The Bookman, of which he was editor, about Ethel Smyth’s The Boatswain’s Mate (1913-14) - the most frequently performed of the composer’s own operas during her lifetime - Rodney Bennett reflected on the principal reasons for the general neglect of Smyth’s music in her native land.

A compelling new recording of Bruckner's early Requiem

The death of his friend and mentor Franz Seiler, notary at the St Florian monastery to which he had returned as a teaching assistant in 1845, was the immediate circumstance which led the 24-year-old Anton Bruckner to compose his first large-scale sacred work: the Requiem in D minor for soloists, choir, organ continuo and orchestra, which he completed on 14th March 1849.

Prayer of the Heart: Gesualdo Six and the Brodsky Quartet

Robust carol-singing, reindeer-related muzak tinkling through department stores, and light-hearted festive-fare offered by the nation’s choral societies may dominate the musical agenda during the month of December, but at Kings Place on Friday evening Gesualdo Six and the Brodsky Quartet eschewed babes-in-mangers and ding-donging carillons for an altogether more sedate and spiritual ninety minutes of reflection and ‘musical prayer’.

The New Season at the New National Theatre, Tokyo

Professional opera in Japan is roughly a century old. When the Italian director and choreographer Giovanni Vittorio Rosi (1867-1940) mounted a production of Cavalleria Rusticana in Italian in Tokyo in 1917, with Japanese singers, he brought a period of timid experimentation and occasional student performances to an end.

Handel's Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall

For those of us who live in a metropolitan bubble, where performances of Handel's Messiah by small professional ensembles are common, it is easy to forget that for many people, Handel's masterpiece remains a large-scale choral work. My own experiences of Messiah include singing the work in a choir of 150 at the Royal Albert Hall, and the venue's tradition of performing the work annually dates back to the 19th century.

What to Make of Tosca at La Scala

La Scala’s season opened last week with Tosca. This was perhaps the preeminent event in Italian cultural and social life: paparazzi swarmed politicians, industrialists, celebrities and personalities, while almost three million Italians watched a live broadcast on RAI 1. Milan was still buzzing nine days later, when I attended the third performance of the run.

La traviata at Covent Garden: Bassenz’s triumphant Violetta in Eyre’s timeless production

There is a very good reason why Covent Garden has stuck with Richard Eyre’s 25-year old production of La traviata. Like Zeffirelli’s Tosca, it comes across as timeless whilst being precisely of its time; a quarter of a century has hardly faded its allure, nor dented its narrative clarity. All it really needs is a Violetta to sweep us off our feet, and that we got with Hrachuhi Bassenz.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

<em>Die Entführung aus dem Serail</em>:The Grange Festival 2018
25 Jun 2018

Die Entführung aus dem Serail at The Grange

Those for whom opera is primarily a matter of fine singing will have had a treat in this Entführung. In that sense, so did I. The Grange Festival had assembled a cast to grace any stage, a cast that more than lived up to expectations on this, the first night.

Die Entführung aus dem Serail:The Grange Festival 2018

A review by Mark Berry

Above: Alexander Andreou (Pasha Selim)

Photo credit: Simon Annand

 

Kiandra Howarth sang as fine a Konstanze as I have heard, Christine Schäfer included, coloratura clear and meaningful, line finely spun. Humanity breathed into her character was Mozart’s - yet hers too. Daisy Brown’s spirited Blonde offered virtues similar yet far from identical; there was no difficulty in distinguishing the two soprano roles, style and delivery complementary yet distinctive. Much the same might be said of the two tenors, Ed Lyon and Paul Curievici. Lyon’s dignified, yet heartfelt Belmonte and Curievici’s quicksilver Pedrillo offered complementary nobilities, alert to distinctions of social order whilst also suggesting that they - we too - should not be bound by them. And so, in the case of duets and ensembles, indeed of questions and responses, the vocal ingredients were prepared, ready to blend, yet also to retain their individual flavours: which they did. Jonathan Lemalu’s Osmin offered similar virtues from ‘outside’ the charmed European circle, as it were: more contrast, than complement. All handled dialogue well - even if it suffered, as still more did the rest, from a ‘translation’ into English, often very loose indeed, by David Parry: a translation apparently more concerned to draw attention to itself with ‘amusing’ rhymes than to permit the drama to unfold.

Alas, there was little to cheer in the rest. The strange decision to translate - there were English titles - was one thing; more seriously, John Copley’s new (?!) production seemed stuck in a misremembered 1950s. An Entführung, sorry Abduction, for Brexit? There was certainly little in the way of diversity amongst the audience. More bizarrely, it registered not a jot that this is an Orientalist opera concerned with a purported clash between European and Ottoman civilisations; such was neither portrayed nor deconstructed. Nor, however, was anything put in place of that admittedly problematical clash. We saw neither an exploration of what human ‘love’ might or might not mean, as in Calixto Bieito’s Berlin staging or Stefan Herheim’s exhilarating total reinvention of the work - minus the Pasha - for Salzburg, nor any sense of the dark sadomasochism (‘Martern aller Arten…’) both directors and others have explored. I am not sure I could imagine anything less erotic if I tried - and I certainly do not intend to try.

It was as if this were just a terribly unfunny comedy chosen for an end-of-term school play: nothing to scare away the parents, yet nothing to attract them either. The æsthetic, such as it was, seemed very much ‘school play’ - unironically so. It was not so much that Copley had no concept, nor a question of ‘traditionalism’ or otherwise; it was about a fruitless search for drama ending in watching some people in vaguely ‘exotic’ costumes walk around a stage. Even David McVicar’s determinedly anodyne production for Glyndebourne seemed deep by comparison. One at least had the sense that McVicar might, for the sake of ‘entertainment’, have been knowingly evading the issues rather than remaining blissfully unaware of them. This might have been directed by Andrea Leadsom, although not #asamother.

Jean-Luc Tingaud’s conducting proved no more revealing. Mostly hard-driven, with occasional arbitrary slowing (presumably for ‘expression’), it again had one wondering what the fuss might all be about when it came to the operas of Mozart. (My companion, a highly experienced and reflective opera-goer, commented that, had this been her first encounter, it would most likely also have been her last.) On the occasions that the woodwind of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra managed to break a little free, they sounded delectable. Again, however, the drama remained entirely vocal.

Mark Berry

Mozart: Die Entführung aus dem Serail, KV 384

Pasha Selim: Alexander Andreou; Konstanze: Kiandra Howarth; Blonde: Daisy Brown; Belmonte: Ed Lyon; Pedrillo: Paul Curievici; Osmin: Jonathan Lemalu. Director: John Copley; Designs: Tim Reed; Lighting: Kevin Treacy. Grange Festival Chorus (chorus master: Tom Primrose)/Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Jean-Luc Tingaud (conductor).

The Grange, Northington, Hampshire, 24 June 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):