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

12 Jul 2019

Laurent Pelly's production of La Fille du régiment returns to Covent Garden

French soprano Sabine Devieilhe seems to find feisty adolescence a neat fit. I first encountered her when she assumed the role of a pill-popping nightclubbing ‘Beauty’ - raced from ecstasy-induced wonder to emergency ward - when I reviewed the DVD of Krzysztof Warlikowski’s production of Handel’s Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno at Aix-en-Provence in 2016.

La Fille du régiment: Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

A review by Claire Seymour

Photo credit: Tristram Kenton

 

In this fourth revival of Laurent Pelly’s 2007 production of Donizetti’s La Fille du régiment (I reviewed the 2010 revival ), Devieilhe swaps narcotic rebellion for a Napoleonic-era regiment, and drug-induced oblivion for a nurturing battalion of ‘Daddies’. But, despite the generic, stylistic and dramatic side-step, Devieilhe brings vocal ‘bellazza’ to this account of Donizetti’s/Pelly’s dungarees-and-boots Marie, the ‘foundling’ adopted by the troops who take the tantrum-prone teenager to their hearts.

At this second performance in the revival run, Devieihle seemed to start a little cautiously: vocally, at least - Marie hoisted laundry baskets, hauled washing lines of long-johns, and brandished hot irons with vim and vigour.

Sabine Devieilhe as Maria.jpgSabine Devieilhe as Marie. Photo credit: Tristram Kenton.

But, who could complain if there was a delicacy in the voice to counter the stamp of the Doc Martens, for this Marie dazzled with the elegance of her coloratura, the exquisite grace of her pianissimo, especially at the top, and the charm of her sometimes slender but utterly fluent vocalism. No wonder the regimental forces eschewed wild warmongering for worshipful devotion. Indeed, this Marie’s vocal sensitivity, and its intimations of frailty beneath the fist-punching, could only add to the charm. Both ‘Il faut partir’ and Act 2’s ‘Par le rang pet l’opulence’ melted the heart, even while the regimental song rollicked rumbustiously. That she could switch in a vocal blink between the two added to the dazzle.

Javier Camarena as Tonio.jpgJavier Camarena as Tonio. Photo credit: Tristram Kenton.

That said, Devieilhe’s soprano is rather ‘slight’ for this house, and perhaps for this role. The same could certainly not be said for Mexican tenor Javier Camarena whose Tonio was a Tyrolean thunderbolt. Camarena has made the nine top Cs of ‘Ah! mes amis’ his international calling card, and he clearly delights in reprising it: as the audience must have known when they clamoured for more after he’d crested - surely and suavely, his facial muscles relaxed, his torso strength firm, the tone true if a little nasal - the yodeller’s peaks. Camarena duly obliged by repeating the party trick - though one might feel that, however stunning the vocal acrobatics, the aria itself doesn’t merit too many second hearings. But, I’m being rather unfair, for Camarena was actually at his most impressive in the more tender episodes, such as Tonio’s Act 2 declaration of love ‘Pour me rapprocher de Marie’, in which his relaxed lyricism came into its own. And, dramatically he grew into the role too: initially a sort of Tyrolean Albert Herring in white knee-high socks and sleeveless jersey, by the close he’d found his theatrical feet and manned the tank which gate-crashed the party in the Marquise de Berkenfield’s panelled reception room with aplomb.

Pietro Spagnoli as Sulpice Pingot.jpgPietro Spagnoli as Sulpice Pingot. Photo credit: Tristram Kenton.

I didn’t sense much ‘chemistry’ been this Marie and Tonio, though, for all Camarena’s boyish grinning charm and Devieilhe’s charismatic grace. But, no matter, Pietro Spagnoli’s Sulcipe more than made up for the absence of romantic frisson between the young ones, with a winning dose of paternal warmth and, as he sought to ‘soften up’ Enkelejda Shkoza’s Marquise, some open-hearted amorousness.

Shkoza was superb as the guilty but essentially good-natured Marquise; not least in the spoken text, where she put Miranda Richardson’s rather tight-laced and taut-tongued Duchesse de Crakentorp in the shade. Donald Maxwell, reprising his Hortensius, made for a delightfully dippy major-domo.

Enkelejda Shkoza as Marquise de Berkenfield.jpgEnkelejda Shkoza as Marquise de Berkenfield. Photo credit: Tristram Kenton.

The overture, in the hands of conductor Evelino Pidò, seemed rather leaden - just a few minutes in, I found my mind meandering - and the tempi laboured a little in Act 1. There was a lack of breeziness and brightness that seemed to infect the Stalls audience too, who only woke up when Camarena top-C’d (though friends seated in the Balcony reported otherwise of their fellow listeners, and noted chuckles, chortles and standing ovations all round). But, after the interval the cast seemed to grab the show by the scruff of its neck, and we had theatrical and musical ‘lift off’. The male chorus were superb, too, relishing the chance to act and interact.

The military map-mountains of Chantal Thomas’s Act 1 set still reach for their peaks as surely as Tonio’s vocal excursions, but, as the French cockerel descended during the final rousing chorus, ‘Salut a la France!’, I couldn’t help feeling a little forlorn when reflecting that in 2010 - or indeed 2012, when Ann Widdecombe felt sufficiently Euro-friendly to embody the Grande Duchesse - we could not have imagined that the ‘map’ of Europe might be threatened with a re-write again, so radically, and so soon.

It was better to push such cares aside and console oneself during the rapturous reception that the ROH audience gave cast and musicians, that just as the Daddies had taken Marie to their hearts, so Covent Garden seemed to have taken Sabine Devieihle and Javier Camarena to theirs.

Claire Seymour

Marie - Sabine Devieilhe, Tonio - Javier Camarena, Sulpice Pingot - Pietro Spagnoli, La Marquise de Berkenfield - Enkelejda Shkoza, Hortensius - Donald Maxwell, La Duchesse de Crackentorp - Miranda Richardson; Director - Laurent Pelly, Conductor - Evelino Pidò, Dialogue - Agathe Mélinand, Set designer - Chantal Thomas, Costume designer - Laurent Pelly, Lighting designer - Joël Adam, Choreographer - Laura Scozzi, Revival Choreographer - Karine Girard, Royal Opera Chorus, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London; Thursday 11th July 2019.

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):