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

Philip Venables' Denis & Katya: teenage suicide and audience complicity

As an opera composer, Philip Venables writes works quite unlike those of many of his contemporaries. They may not even be operas at all, at least in the conventional sense - and Denis & Katya, the most recent of his two operas, moves even further away from this standard. But what Denis & Katya and his earlier work, 4.48 Psychosis, have in common is that they are both small, compact forces which spiral into extraordinarily powerful and explosive events.

A new, blank-canvas Figaro at English National Opera

Making his main stage debut at ENO with this new production of The Marriage of Figaro, theatre director Joe Hill-Gibbins professes to have found it difficult to ‘develop a conceptual framework for the production to inhabit’.

Massenet’s Chérubin charms at Royal Academy Opera

“Non so più cosa son, cosa faccio … Now I’m fire, now I’m ice, any woman makes me change colour, any woman makes me quiver.”

Bluebeard’s Castle, Munich

Last year the world’s opera companies presented only nine staged runs of Béla Bartòk’s Bluebeard’s Castle.

The Queen of Spades at Lyric Opera of Chicago

If obsession is key to understanding the dramatic and musical fabric of Tchaikovsky’s opera The Queen of Spades, the current production at Lyric Opera of Chicago succeeds admirably in portraying such aspects of the human psyche.

WNO revival of Carmen in Cardiff

Unveiled by Welsh National Opera last autumn, this Carmen is now in its first revival. Original director Jo Davies has abandoned picture postcard Spain and sun-drenched vistas for images of grey, urban squalor somewhere in modern-day Latin America.

Lise Davidsen 'rescues' Tobias Kratzer's Fidelio at the Royal Opera House

Making Fidelio - Beethoven’s paean to liberty, constancy and fidelity - an emblem of the republican spirit of the French Revolution is unproblematic, despite the opera's censor-driven ‘Spanish’ setting.

A sunny, insouciant Così from English Touring Opera

Beach balls and parasols. Strolls along the strand. Cocktails on the terrace. Laura Attridge’s new production of Così fan tutte which opened English Touring Opera’s 2020 spring tour at the Hackney Empire, is a sunny, insouciant and often downright silly affair.

A wonderful role debut for Natalya Romaniw in ENO's revival of Minghella's Madama Butterfly

The visual beauty of Anthony Minghella’s 2005 production of Madama Butterfly, now returning to the Coliseum stage for its seventh revival, still takes one’s breath away.

Charlie Parker’s Yardbird at Seattle

It appears that Charlie Parker’s Yardbird has reached the end of its road in Seattle. Since it opened in 2015 at Opera Philadelphia it has played Arizona, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and the English National Opera.

La Périchole in Marseille

The most notable of all Péricholes of Offenbach’s sentimental operetta is surely the legendary Hortense Schneider who created the role back in 1868 at Paris’ Théâtre des Varietés. Alas there is no digital record.

Three Centuries Collide: Widmann, Ravel and Beethoven

It’s very rare that you go to a concert and your expectation of it is completely turned on its head. This was one of those. Three works, each composed exactly a century apart, beginning and ending with performances of such clarity and brilliance.

Seventeenth-century rhetoric from The Sixteen at Wigmore Hall

‘Yes, in my opinion no rhetoric more persuadeth or hath greater power over the mind; hath not Musicke her figures, the same which Rhetorique? What is a but her Antistrophe? her reports, but sweet Anaphora's? her counterchange of points, Antimetabole's? her passionate Aires but Prosopopoea's? with infinite other of the same nature.’

Hrůša’s Mahler: A Resurrection from the Golden Age

Jakub Hrůša has an unusual gift for a conductor and that is to make the mightiest symphony sound uncommonly intimate. There were many moments during this performance of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony where he grappled with its monumental scale while reducing sections of it to chamber music; times when the power of his vision might crack the heavens apart and times when a velvet glove imposed the solitude of prayer.

Full-Throated Troubador Serenades San José

Verdi’s sublimely memorable melodies inform and redeem his setting of the dramatically muddled Il Trovatore, the most challenging piece to stage of his middle-period successes.

Opera North deliver a chilling Turn of the Screw

Storm Dennis posed no disruption to this revival of Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, first unveiled at Leeds Grand Theatre in 2010, but there was plenty of emotional turbulence.

Luisa Miller at English National Opera

Verdi's Luisa Miller occupies an important position in the composer's operatic output. Written for Naples in 1849, the work's genesis was complex owing to problems with the theatre and the Neapolitan censors.

Eugène Onéguine in Marseille

A splendid 1997 provincial production of Tchaikovsky’s take on Pushkin’s Bryonic hero found its way onto a major Provençal stage just now. The historic Opéra Municipal de Marseille possesses a remarkable acoustic that allowed the Pushkin verses to flow magically through Tchaikovsky’s ebullient score.

Opera Undone: Tosca and La bohème

If opera can sometimes seem unyieldingly conservative, even reactionary, it made quite the change to spend an evening hearing and seeing something which was so radically done.

A refined Acis and Galatea at Cadogan Hall

The first performance of Handel's two-act Acis and Galatea - variously described as a masque, serenata, pastoral or ‘little opera’ - took place in the summer of 1718 at Cannons, the elegant residence of James Brydges, Earl of Carnavon and later Duke of Chandos.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

25 Nov 2019

Exceptional song recital from Hurn Court Opera at Salisbury Arts Centre

Thanks to the enterprise and vision of Lynton Atkinson - Artistic Director of Dorset-based Hurn Court Opera - two promising young singers on the threshold of glittering careers gave an outstanding recital at Salisbury’s prestigious Art Centre.

Hurn Court Opera at Salisbury Arts Centre

A review by David Truslove

Above: Siân Dicker

Photo: Sebastian Charlesworth

 

Established in 2017, Hurn Court Opera was founded to give performance opportunities and showcase emerging young soloists at the start of their professional careers. Achievements so far include critically acclaimed productions of Die Zauberflöte and Acis and Galatea, along with two influential competitions that have produced a wealth of talented singers, some of whom are already making their mark on the operatic stage.

Siân Dicker (soprano) and Michael Lafferty (baritone), both former prize winners of the scheme, devised a tour d’horizon of English song, lieder and operatic excerpts under the banner ‘A Shropshire Lad and a Wiltshire Lass’, the whole accompanied by rising pianist and conductor Ashley Beauchamp. Familiar and seldom-performed songs framed an intriguing cocktail of comic, poignant and whimsical offerings to form a compelling evening that could have found an equally attentive audience in London’s Wigmore Hall.

Both singers, already equipped with considerable experience in opera, oratorio and recital work conveyed admirable poise, intelligent musicianship and flawless techniques. They also possessed an easy rapport with the audience in spoken introductions claiming rapt attention while clearly inhabiting differing musical personalities. This last was most evident in the two Mozart duets where Siân Dicker was a feisty Pamina and Michael Lafferty an earnest Papageno in ‘Bei Männern’ ( Die Zauberflöte). It was handsomely sung, as was ‘Là ci darem la mano’ (Don Giovanni), the latter convincing for the not-so innocent protests of Dicker as Zerlina to Lafferty’s seductive Giovanni.

Michael Lafferty.jpgMichael Lafferty. Photo credit: Sebastian Charlesworth.

There was no doubt about Dicker’s full throttle engagement, with each song oozing characterful expression, vividly so in Libby Larsen’s witty ‘Pregnant’, Mendelssohn’s ‘Hexenlied’ and Walton’s jazzy ‘Old Sir Faulk’, all dashed off with dramatic flair that bodes well for future operatic projects. She was in her element for Jonathan Dove’s ‘Adelaide’s Wedding’ (The Enchanted Pig) where she managed to combine a haughty grandeur somewhere between Mozart’s Queen of the Night and Hyacinth Bouquet. The song could almost have been written for Dicker. But despite ample tones, gorgeously rich in the middle and fruity at the bottom, I would have liked to have heard something less ‘produced’ for Lisa Lehman’s whimsical ‘There are fairies at the bottom of our garden’.

Where Michael Lafferty began warmly yet somewhat diffidently, his well-upholstered baritone found expressive outlet in songs by Otto Nicolai, Duparc and Schubert. But it was in George Butterworth’s A Shropshire Lad (the most substantial group of songs in the programme) where he found his form. There was melting warmth in ‘Loveliest of trees’, swagger in ‘The lads in their hundreds’ and sepulchral tone for ‘Is my team ploughing?’ Best of all was the wonderfully evocative ‘Sicilienne’ by Giacomo Meyerbeer, sung with demonstrable affection and involvement.

Throughout the evening, accompanist Ashley Beauchamp was a sensitive collaborator with a chameleon-like ability to adapt to the numerous musical styles crowding this generously conceived programme.

David Truslove

Siân Dicker (soprano), Michael Lafferty (baritone), Ashley Beauchamp (piano)

Salisbury Arts Centre; Thursday 21st November 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):