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

Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance 2018
16 Jul 2018

Summer madness and madcap high jinxs from the Jette Parker Young Artists

The operatic extracts which comprised this year’s Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance seemed to be joined by a connecting thread - madness: whether that was the mischievousness of Zerbinetta’s comedy troupe, the insanity of Tom Rakewell, the metaphysical distress of Hamlet, or the mayhem prompted by Isabella’s arrival at Mustafà’s Ottoman palace, the ‘insanity’ was equally compelling.

Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance 2018

A review by Claire Seymour

Above: Dominic Sedgwick (Haly), Gyula Nagy (Taddeo), Angela Simkin (Zulma), Haegee Lee (Elvira), Aigul Akhmetshina (Isabella), Simon Shibambu (Mustafà), Konu Kim as Lindoro

Photo credit: Clive Barda

 

Director Noa Naamat and lighting designer Nick Havell made the panelled oak walls which have been serving so effectively as both a 1950s country club and Windsor Forest during the current revival of Robert Carsen’s production of Verdi’s Shakespearean swansong , work surprising well as a theatre-within-a-theatre, a lunatic’s cell, a Queen’s inner chambers and the Mediterranean coast. Pendulous chandeliers, potted palms, and a silver pistol were a few of the minimal props that did good service. And, with bright penetrating colours and simple sets, moods, locales and dramatic tensions were deftly and pointedly established: the greens and purples which bathed the sleeping Ariadne, the blood red which tormented Rakewell in his dying moments before his ascent in the shimmering white clouds of the afterlife, the deep-sky blue which glistened with the sun’s gold behind the Bey’s terrace, all made a striking impression.

Conductor Sonia Ben-Santamaria was given the task of heralding the 2018 showcase, and though there were a few smudges in the opening fanfare from The Rake’s Progress the Orchestra of Opera North brass sound was bright and punchy, and the fanfare might have proved an efficient call-to-attention and curtain-raiser had it not been followed by the electronic tannoy reminder to switch off mobile ’phones and refrain from photography during the performance, rather dampening any excitement generated. And, the curtain was to stay firmly lowered for a little longer, during the overture to Offenbach’s La Belle Hélène, in which conductor Matthew Scott Rodgers conjured elegant and tasteful phrasing.

The show got underway with excerpts from Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, though the task of establishing the context twice in quick succession, when we shifted from the conclusion of the Prologue to Ariadne’s first aria, not surprisingly proved challenging and the quick sequence of disparate numbers felt a little restless. As in Katharina Thoma’s Glyndebourne production , the commedia troupe were a barbershop quartet, skilled in soft shoe shuffles and adept at twirling a brollie, and their harmonies were sweet. Angela Simkin’s Composer hit the histrionic heights with aplomb and Haegee Lee’s Zerbinetta was a festoon of candy pink and vocally assured. Best of the bunch was Gyula Nagy’s Music Teacher, a poseur par excellence who nonchalantly smoked a cigarette through the Composer’s complaints and whose fore-curtain introduction to ‘Ariadne’ was a masterpiece of physical and vocal gesture.

Condemned to mental torment - and, in this production, self-harm - in the subsequent excerpt from Act 3 of The Rake’s Progress, Thomas Atkins’ Tom Rakewell nursed his Adonis-delusions with painful conviction. Atkins’ performance was one of the highlights of the showcase, and he was ably supported by Francesca Chiejina’s vocally sympathetic Anne Truelove and Simon Shibambu’s Father Truelove. The final ascent to the heavens was both poignant and transcendent: one could almost forget that any suggestion of ‘redemption’ is overturned by Stravinsky’s epilogue which reminds us that the devil makes work for idle hands.

Jacquelyn Stucker has made a strong impression during her first year as a JPYA, as Princess Azema in Semiramide and Frasquita in Barrie Kosky’s new Carmen ; she also won Second Prize in this year’s Glyndebourne Opera Cup. Here, her Ophélie - in the opening of Act 3 of Ambroise Thomas’s Hamlet - confirmed her accomplishment and stellar potential. Stucker sang with purity and colour, by turns and as required, and had plentiful stamina for the big vocal climaxes; but, more importantly, she really communicated Ophélie’s confusion, distress and emotional frailty while all the time sustaining vocal assurance and precision. Nagy returned as Hamlet, demonstrating that he can do existential frailty as well as entertaining farce; his fragmented ‘to be or not …’ monologue was consummately structured and projected. Simkin was a round-toned Gertrude while the earnestness of Shibambu’s prayer won a little sympathy for the murderous Claudius.

The best was saved till last. Attired in stunning scarlet, accessorised with designer clutch-bag and killer stilettos, Aigul Akhmetshina’s Isabella was a girl who knew her own mind and charms. Shibambu displayed a winning comic nous as the teased and tempted Bey Mustafà - tickled literally and figuratively by Isabella’s roving, fluttering fan. Haegee Lee’s emotionally wrought Elvira and Konu Kim’s hapless Lindoro threw themselves, and each other, back and forth across the wide stage, each determined to retain their loved one’s heart. The comic capers were manic, but expertly choreographed by movement director Jo Meredith, climaxing with a behind-the-plant-pot, now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t routine that was perfectly timed and flawlessly sung. Summer madness, indeed.

Claire Seymour

Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Performance: Director - Noa Naamat, Lighting Designer - Nick Havell, Movement Director - Jo Meredith, Orchestra of Opera North.

Stravinsky: The Rake’s Progress, opening fanfare
Conductor: Sonia Ben-Santamaria

Offenbach: La Belle Hélène, Overture
Conductor: Matthew Scott Rogers

Strauss: excerpt from Ariadne auf Naxos
Echo - Francesca Chiejina, Zerbinetta - Haegee Lee, Prima Donna/Ariadne - Sarah-Jane Lewis, Dryad - Aigul Akhmetshina, Composer - Angela Simkin, Naiad - Jacquelyn Stucker, Scaramuccio - Thomas Atkins, Brighella - Konu Kim, Music Teacher - Gyula Nagy, Harlequin - Dominic Sedgwick, Truffaldino - Simon Shibambu; Conductor - Jac van Steen, Piano - Nick Fletcher, Celeste - Sonia Ben-Santamaria, Harmonium - James Hendry

Stravinsky: The Rake’s Progress, Act III, final scene
Anne Trulove - Francesca Chiejina, Tom Rakewell - Thomas Atkins, Father Trulove - Simon Shibambu; Conductor - Jac van Steen, Continuo - James Hendry

Thomas: Hamlet, Act III beginning
Ophélie - Jacquelyn Stucker, Gertrude - Angela Simkin, Hamlet - Gyula Nagy, Servant - Dominic Sedgwick, Claudius - Simon Shibambu; Conductor - James Hendry

Rossini: L’italiana in Algeri, Act I finale
Elvira - Haegee Lee, Isabella - Aigul Akhmetshina, Zulma - Angela Simkin, Lindoro - Konu Kim, Taddeo - Gyula Nagy, Haly - Dominic Sedgwick, Mustafa - Simon Shibambu; Conductor - Nick Fletcher

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London; Sunday 15th July 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):