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

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.

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.

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.

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.’

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.’

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."

Met Stars Live in Concert: Lise Davidsen at the Oscarshall Palace in Oslo

The doors at The Metropolitan Opera will not open to live audiences until 2021 at the earliest, and the likelihood of normal operatic life resuming in cities around the world looks but a distant dream at present. But, while we may not be invited from our homes into the opera house for some time yet, with its free daily screenings of past productions and its pay-per-view Met Stars Live in Concert series, the Met continues to bring opera into our homes.

Precipice: The Grange Festival

Music-making at this year’s Grange Festival Opera may have fallen silent in June and July, but the country house and extensive grounds of The Grange provided an ideal setting for a weekend of twelve specially conceived ‘promenade’ performances encompassing music and dance.

Monteverdi: The Ache of Love - Live from London

There’s a “slide of harmony” and “all the bones leave your body at that moment and you collapse to the floor, it’s so extraordinary.”

Music for a While: Rowan Pierce and Christopher Glynn at Ryedale Online

“Music for a while, shall all your cares beguile.”

A Musical Reunion at Garsington Opera

The hum of bees rising from myriad scented blooms; gentle strains of birdsong; the cheerful chatter of picnickers beside a still lake; decorous thwacks of leather on willow; song and music floating through the warm evening air.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Michael Fabiano and Maria Agresta [Photo © Todd Rosenberg]
23 Oct 2018

A New La bohème Opens Season at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago opened its 2018-19 season with Giacomo Puccini’s La bohème. This new production, shared with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and with the Teatro Real, Madrid, features an accomplished cast and innovative scenic approaches.

A New La bohème Opens Season at Lyric Opera of Chicago

A review by Salvatore Calomino

Above: Michael Fabiano and Maria Agresta [Photo © Todd Rosenberg]

 

The lovers who meet in Act One, Mimì and Rodolfo, are sung by Maria Agresta and Michael Fabiano. The second pair of lovers Musetta and Marcello, estranged until the close of Act Two, are portrayed by Danielle De Niese and Zachary Nelson. Additional members of the Bohemian group of friends are represented by Adrian Sàmpetrean as Colline and Riccardo José Rivera as Schaunard. The roles of Benoît and Alcindoro are performed by Jake Gardner. The Lyric Opera Orchestra is conducted by Domingo Hindoyan; the Lyric Opera Chorus is prepared by its Chorus Master Michael Black, and the Chicago Children’s Chorus is prepared by Josephine Lee. The production is directed by Richard Jones with sets and costumes by Stewart Laing and lighting by Mimi Jordan Sherin. Messrs. Fabiano, Rivera, Hindoyan, and Laing make their house debuts in these performances.

From the start of Act One the pacing among the group of male voices is lively and filled with the urge to make the most of the circumstances under which they live. Mr. Nelson’s rich, focused baritone is an ideal voice for the painter Marcello. His vocal projection, stylish delivery, and facial expressions underline a total identification with the character portrayed. Nelson’s banter with the writer Rodolfo about the attractions of Paris despite their frigid interior is delivered with lyrical gusto. In the role of the poet Rodolfo Mr. Fabiano sings with a truly Italianate warmth and a comfortable sense for legato. His top pitches with forte emphasis are used, at times, to delineate the volatile personality of the poet. Messrs Sâmpetrean and Rivera add to the bounce and color of the quartet, which performs this act against a stark white and black backdrop representing the garret. Once they have dispensed with the landlord Benoit, the group determines to continue their spirited mood in the Parisian outdoors. Rodolfo agrees to join their revelry after further attempts at writing, yet Mimì’s interruption at the door stage rear proves to be a fateful distraction.

Ms. Agresta is a marvel of touching ardor and lyrical expressivity. Both principal singers have become sufficiently identified with their roles, so that they succeed in giving a fresh, credible interpretation to this work. Fabiano sings with a continuous line of impassioned declaration, his voice rising and falling in keeping with the import of Puccini’s music. Agresta matches this sense of character portrayal by imparting a tentative shyness to initial lines, a technique which renders her ultimate participation in the duet more joyous. Both singers use piano shading to enhance their portrayals and to underscore the lovers’ growing commitment. By the close of the act thy have transformed the spare stage with their hope in new love.

Acts Two and Three are appropriate scenic opposites in this production. The ebullient and overpopulated stage of the Café Momus in Act Two extends the burgeoning passion with which the previous act had concluded. Arcades and outdoor passage-ways suggest the bustle of Parisian streets. Costumes are now more in keeping with an 1830s milieu. The bustle of figures at the tables stage-front allows the new lovers to blend in to the public society while at once sharing their intimate thoughts. This atmosphere also allows for the reconciliation between Marcello and Musetta, the latter arriving with her current companion. In the role of Musetta Ms. De Niese is brash and determined. She sings her waltz, perched on a café table, with a languid tone, inserting occasional pitches sharp to emphasize her growing emotional state. Her final gesture used to recapture the devotion of Marcello succeeds and seems fully at odds with the delicate innocence that has been traced for the first pair of overs. A more closely etched emotional identification informs the atmosphere of Act Three. Nelson’s importunate exchange with Mimi upon her return to see Rodolfo suggests his own emotional commitment now as well as his concern for Rodolfo. Once they are reunited Agresta and Fabiano sing of past, present, and future in ethereal shades of sadness, denial, and potential reconciliation. This duet remains, as it should, one of the production’s highlights, since the tone established enhances the poignancy of the final act.

In Act Four, now a mirror of the opening scene, all the principals focus on the deteriorating health of Mimì. The dedication of Musetta is admirably sung with graceful line by De Niese while Fabbiano’s Rodolfo seems to stave off the reality of illness until the final moments. Agresta’s voice rises with the self-denial of a final burst of strength, and wafts into the angelic repose of her final moments. Her performance captures the essence of the complex figure of” La bohème.”

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):