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

29 Aug 2019

Opera della Luna's HMS Pinafore sails the seas at Wilton's Music Hall

The original production of HMS Pinafore opened at the Opera Comique in London on 25th May 1878 and ran for an astonishing 571 performances. Opera della Luna’s HMS Pinafore, which has been cresting the operatic oceans for over twenty years now, has notched up almost as many performances.

HMS Pinafore: Opera della Luna at Wilton’s Music Hall

A review by Claire Seymour

Above: Matthew Siveter (Captain Corcoran) and Louise Crane (Little Buttercup)

 

As company founder and director Jeff Clarke explains in the programme for the show’s current tour, the company’s first 60-minute version of HMS Pinafore was designed for performance on board the QE2, in 1997. Performances for the Covent Garden Festival in 2000 and 2001 restored 20 minutes of the previously omitted material. When a decision was made, in 2001, to prepare a ‘full-length’ version with interval, the company determined upon the original 1878 version and ‘put back all the cuts, to preserve our stream-lined version as the core and to add a new interpolated opening and closing sequence’.

The resulting palimpsest, complete with some ‘judicious re-arrangement of the chorus material’, has been pleasing audiences ever since, and the punters at Wilton’s Music Hall showed their obvious delight, appreciation and approval during and after this lively rendition.

Some might like their satire served up in modern manifestation, but (sadly) some things never change, and the English class system can furnish twenty-first century humourists with as much idiocy and injustice for lampooning as their historical predecessors enjoyed. After all, the current Leader of the Commons is more commonly known as the Honourable Member for the 18th century.

Moreover, with mendacity seemingly the default mode of many of today’s politicians and leaders, the gentlemanly Captain Corcoran’s vacillation between truth and falsehood - “What, never?” CAPT.: “No, never!” ALL: “What, never?” CAPT.: “Hardly ever!” - seems absolutely in tune with the times. And, with Brexiteers blustering and rhapsodising along the lines of “We are a great nation and a great people”, it’s rather wry, though somewhat depressing, to be reminded by W.S. Gilbert that there have long been those who have failed to see the absurdity of regarding one’s nationality as an ‘achievement’ to be celebrated, rather than an accident of birth: as the ship’s crew joyfully crow of Able Seaman Ralph Rackstraw, “And it’s greatly to his credit/ That he is an Englishman! … For he might have been a Roosian,/ A French, or Turk, or Proosian, … But in spite of all temptations/ To belong to other nations,/ He remains an Englishman!”

In fact, Clarke moves the action not forward, but back, to the days of Dickens, justifying this transposition by reference to numerous Dickensian resonances: ‘One of Dickens’ Sketches by Boz tells of a snobbish resident by the name of Mrs Joseph Porter. Another describes a marine-store dealer in Seven Dials and lists the contents of his store: handkerchiefs, ribbons, a small tray containing silver watches, snuff, tobaccy boxes - in fact the very inventory of Buttercup’s stock.’ No ‘justification’ is really needed though, for if anyone was concerned with the efforts, and accompanying risks, of the lower strata of the middle class to rise from being tradesmen and upper servants, and the gap between the practices of this new commercial middle class and the principles of morality, then Dickens was.

At Wilton’s, the small cast of eight - there’s some doubling up for Sir Joseph’s various sisters and aunts - expended great energy and sustained a terrific pace. A naval tattoo (Graham Dare, percussion) gets the show underway and as pianist/musical director Michael Waldron and his sailor-suited six-piece band ripped through the overture, so the scattered ropes and tarpaulin were gathered, the ship’s rigging hoisted, and Pinafore made ready to set forth from her mooring bay in Portsmouth harbour.

Matthew Siveter impressed as Captain Corcoran, with his suave baritone, smooth phrasing and self-serving expediency: ‘I am the Captain’ found Siveter in particularly fine voice, and ‘Never Mind the Why and Wherefore’ saw him joined by an effervescent Josephine (Georgina Stalbow) and Graeme Henderson’s outlandish Sir Joseph in a refrain-reprising rejoicing that, threatening to roll on infinitely, took on the slightly desperate but deliciously madcap air of an Eric Morecambe routine.

Elsewhere Stalbow’s diction sometimes dissatisfied and she didn’t always have the heft to carry over the lively band - although, admittedly, I was seated very close to Waldron’s vigorous vamping - but she had plenty of glossiness at the top and her Josephine was warm-hearted. Henderson pushed the camp to the brink, and at times beyond, and brought a dictionary’s-worth of new meanings to the humble wink of an eye.

Louise Crane and Carolyn Allen worked hard, with sterling results, as Little Buttercup and Sir Joseph’s cousin Hebe respectively, while Lawrence Olsworth-Peter brought a youthful tone and a healthy dose of self-irony to the role of Ralph.

So, in summing up all that there’s really left to say is, “Now give three cheers …” for Opera della Luna!

Claire Seymour

Sir Joseph Porter - Graeme Henderson, Captain Corcoran - Matthew Sivester, Josephine - Georgina Stalbow, Ralph Rackstraw - Lawrence Olsworth-Peter, Little Buttercup/Sir Joseph’s sister - Louise Crane, Cousin Hebe - Carolyn Allen, Bill Bobstay - Martin George, Dick Deadeye/Sir Joseph’s aunt - John Lofthouse; Director - Jeff Clarke, Musical Director - Matthew Waldron, Set Designer - Graham Wynne, Costume Designer - Nigel Howard, Lighting Designer - Ian Wilson, Choreographer - Jenny Arnold, The ‘massed band of the Pinafore’ (violin - Rachel Davies, cello - Rosalind Acton, flute/piccolo - Gavin Morrison, clarinet - Simon Briggs, bassoon - Sinéad Frost, percussion - Graham Dare).

Wilton’s Music Hall, London; Wednesday 28th August 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):