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Il Trovatore at Dutch National Opera

Four lonely people, bound by love and fate, with inexpressible feelings that boil over in the pressure cooker of war. Àlex Ollé’s conception of Il Trovatore for Dutch National Opera hits the bull’s eye.

The Barber of Seville, ENO London

This may be the twelfth revival of Jonathan Miller’s 1987 production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville for English National Opera, but the ready laughter from the auditorium and the fresh musical and dramatic responses from the stage suggest that it will continue to amuse audiences and serve the house well for some time to come.

Monteverdi: Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, Bostridge, Barbican London

The third and final instalment of the Academy of Ancient Music’s survey of Monteverdi’s operas at the Barbican began and ended in darkness; the red glow of the single candle was an apt visual frame for a performance which was dedicated to the memory of the late Andrew Porter, the music critic and writer whose learned, pertinent and eloquent words did so much to restore Monteverdi, Cavalli and other neglected music-dramatists to the operatic stage.

English Touring Opera - Debussy, Massenet and Offenbach

English Touring Opera’s recent programming has been ambitious and inventive, and the results have been rewarding. We had two little-known Donizetti operas, The Siege of Calais and The Wild Man of the West Indies, in spring 2015, while autumn 2014 saw the company stage comedy by Haydn (Il mondo della luna) and romantic history by Handel (Ottone).

Boesch and Martineau Schubert Complete Songs, Wigmore Hall, London

The Wigmore Hall's complete Schubert Songs series of 40 concerts began with a recital by Florian Boesch and Graham Johnson. (Read my review here). If anything, though, the second concert, where Boesch was accompanied by Malcolm Martineau, was even better. The programme was beautifully planned, and the performance exceptional, even by the very high standards of the Wigmore Hall.

Shostakovich Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk - ENO London

It took artistic courage to choose Shostakovich Lady Macbeth of Mtensk to start the ENO's 2015-2016 season. Shostakovich isn't an easy sell, and so full of sex and violence that some minds - like Josef Stalin - would be aghast. But Mark Wigglesworth is passionate about Shostakovich , and as new Music Director of the ENO, he's making a point. Good opera needs artistic vision.

Berg Wozzeck Fabio Luisi Zurich Opera

Zurich Opera brought Alban Berg Wozzeck to the Royal Festival Hall, London . Fabio Luisi conducted Philharmonia Zurich and a very good cast in a concert performance. With all pretence at staging removed (apart from natural good acting) we could focus on the sheer musical audacity of Berg's writing, and pick up on the processes the music employs to create the drama.

“Nessun Dorma — The Puccini Album”

Sounds swirl with an urgent emotionality and meandering virtuosity on Jonas Kaufmann’s new Puccini album—the “real one”, according to Kaufmann, whose works were also released earlier this year on Decca records, allegedly without his approval.

Verismo Double Header in Los Angeles

LA Opera got its season off to an auspicious beginning with starry revivals of Gianni Schicchi and Pagliacci.

Viva Verdi at Opera Las Vegas

On September 9, 2015, Opera Las Vegas presented James Sohre’s production of Viva Verdi at the Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz. It was a delightful evening of arias, duets and ensembles by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901). The program included many of the composer’s blockbuster arias and scenes from famous operas such as Aida, La traviata, and Macbeth.

Barbera Sings a Fascinating Recital in San Diego

On Saturday, September 19, San Diego Opera opened its 2015-2016 season with a recital by tenor René Barbera. This was the first Polly Puterbaugh Emerging Artist Award Recital and no artist could have been more deserving than the immensely talented Barbera.

Sweeney Todd at the San Francisco Opera

Did the iconic “off-beat” and “serious” American musical hold the stage of the War Memorial Opera House? The excited audience (standees three deep) thought so and roared their appreciation.

Sondra Radvanovsky Stars in the Title Role of Anna Bolena

The First of Three Donizetti Queens She Will Sing at the Met This Season

Wigmore Hall Complete Schubert Song Series begins with Boesch and Johnson

The Wigmore Hall, London, has launched Schubert : The Complete Songs, a 40-concert series to run through the 2015 and 2016 seasons. There have been Schubert marathons before, like BBC Radio 3's all-Schubert week and The Oxford Lieder Festival's Schubert series last year, but the Wigmore Hall series will be a major landmark because the Wigmore Hall is the Wigmore Hall, the epitome of excellence.

Honegger: Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher

Marion Cotillard and Marc Soustrot bring the drama to the sweeping score of Arthur Honegger’s Jeanne dArc au bûcher, an adaptation of the Trial of Joan of Arc

Luisa Miller in San Francisco

Luisa Miller sits on the fringes of the repertory, and since its introduction into the modern repertory in the 1970’s it comes around every 15 or so years. Unfortunately this 2015 San Francisco occasion has not bothered to rethink this remarkable opera.

Salieri: La grotta di Trofonio (Trofonio’s Cave)

Demonised by Pushkin and Peter Shaffer, Antonio Salieri lives in the public imagination as the embittered rival of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — whose genius he lamented and revered in equal measure, and against whom he schemed and plotted at the Emperor Joseph II’s Viennese court.

Chicago Lyric’s Stars Shine at Millennium Park

The annual concert given by Lyric Opera of Chicago as an outdoor event previewing the forthcoming season took place on 11 September 2015 at Millennium Park.

Far in the Heavens — Choral Music of Stephen Paulus

Stephen Paulus provided the musical world, and particularly the choral world, with music both provocative and pleasing through a combination of lyricism and a modern-Romantic tonal palette.

For Odyssey Opera, No Operatic Challenge is Too Great

For a company founded in 2013, Odyssey Opera has an astounding track record. To take on Korngold’s Die tote Stadt is ambitious enough, but to do so within only a year of the company’s founding seems almost single-minded.



Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role of Donizetti's Anna Bolena. [Photo by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.]
24 Sep 2015

Sondra Radvanovsky Stars in the Title Role of Anna Bolena

The First of Three Donizetti Queens She Will Sing at the Met This Season »

Recently in Commentary

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21 Jan 2005

John Eliot Gardiner Goes It Alone — Take Two

What is it that urges an eminent musician to spurn the mainstream record industry and set up on his own? Some orchestras have been doing it for quite a while, bypassing the major companies and releasing competitively priced discs of live performances that regularly lead the market and at the same time help to promote the orchestras’ image. Where the London Symphony Orchestra led the way in that field, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, who already has a formidable backlist of recordings to his credit, is now blazing a trail for the individual artist by launching his own label, Soli Deo Gloria, the first two albums of which have just gone on sale. »

21 Jan 2005

So Much For Einstein's Theory

For many years Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s operatic work Zaide was regarded as a fragment. More than an hour of music was preserved but that was only the arias. Originally they were linked by spoken text, none of which survived. The German musicologist and conductor Andreas Kroeper, who now lives in the Czech Republic, says he has found the missing text and has proved it belonged to Zaide. Mozart started to compose the two-act Singspiel, set in a Turkish harem — a popular setting at that time, some time around 1780 in Salzburg. The libretto, developing similar plots of the period, was written by the Salzburg court musician Johann Andreas Schachtner. But Mozart soon realised a serious piece like that would not go down well with the Viennese audience whose tastes had turned to comic operas. »

18 Jan 2005

More Than 2,000 Say Goodbye to Victoria de los Ángeles

The coffin of Spanish Victoria de los Angeles, a distinctive soprano who sang most of the great lyric roles in most of the world’s opera houses, is placed inside the cathedral Nostra Senora del Mar during her funeral in Barcelona, January 17, 2005. Victoria de los Angeles died in hospital on Saturday at the age of 81. »

18 Jan 2005

Fidelio at the Lyric Opera of Chicago

Among history’s crowded pantheon of tormented genius-artists, Beethoven holds an honored spot. Often he composed quickly and with little apparent struggle. But he was no Mozart, who typically composed with a facility and speed that some music scholars have described as “taking dictation from God.” Beethoven filled sketchbooks with musical fragments, doggedly reworking and refining them like a miner scratching for diamonds in a black-walled shaft. With his wild hair, scowling gaze, deafness—a particularly cruel infirmity for a musician—and volcanic temper, he is the very model of a modern angst-ridden artist. »

18 Jan 2005

Mozart's Mass in C Minor Completed

Mozart left comparatively few major (or potentially major) works unfinished, and while it may seem daunting – presumptious even – for another musician to complete these scores, the lure of making an incomplete work whole is clearly too great to resist. Can the results ever be more than hyphenated Mozart? Probably not. A musicologist steeped in Mozart’s musical moves may project what the composer might have done at any point in a work, based on what he did in similar scores, and the completion may sound thoroughly Mozartean. But Mozart often came up with solutions that are completely surprising. Part of what made him Mozart – in fact, part of what makes any great composer great – is unpredictability. »

17 Jan 2005

Le Monde on Victoria de Los Angeles

Elle s’en est allée rejoindre les anges, dont elle portait si bien le nom. Victoria de Los Angeles s’est éteinte samedi 15 janvier, à l’âge de 81 ans, à la clinique Teknon de Barcelone, où elle avait été hospitalisée, à la suite de troubles cardio-pulmonaires, le 31 décembre 2004. Née le 1er novembre 1923 dans la capitale catalane, Victoria Gómez Cima (ou Garcia Lopez), dite Victoria de Los Angeles, avait grandi dans une Espagne meurtrie par les guerres. La fille du concierge de l’université, qui travaillait sa voix dans les salles de cours vides, avait conquis le monde de l’opéra dès 1947 en remportant le grand Concours international de Genève, qui lui valut de débuter l’année suivante à la BBC dans le rôle de Salud de La Vie brève de De Falla. »

15 Jan 2005

Victoria de los Ángeles Has Died

Barcelona.—La decana de los cantantes líricos españoles, Victoria dels Ángeles, ha fallecido hoy a los 81 años en la Clínica Teknon de Barcelona, donde se encontraba ingresada desde el 30 de diciembre como consecuencia de una afección respiratoria. La familia de la soprano ha comunicado que la capilla ardiente se instalará mañana en el Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya, entre las 12.00 y las 19.00 horas. El funeral de la cantante, nacida en Barcelona el 1 de noviembre de 1923, tendrá lugar en la Basílica de Santa María del Mar, el lunes a las 11.00 horas. »

14 Jan 2005

Mozart's Portrait — Doubts Emerge

Nur wer mit den Eigentümlichkeiten Wiens und seiner Bewohner, ihren Empfindlichkeiten und Ab grenzungen, vor allem im Umgang mit den einverleibten Idolen, einigermaßen vertraut ist, kann ermessen, welch empfindlichen Nerv die Nachricht treffen musste, die am Dreikönigstag aus Berlin, ausgerechnet Berlin, verbreitet wurde, dass in der Berliner Gemäldegalerie ein bisher unbekanntes Mozart-Porträt aufgetaucht sei. Zwar wurde zugleich eine elektronische Kopie dieses Bildnisses mitgeliefert, auch der Name des Malers, Johann Georg Edlinger, genannt und mitgeteilt, es sei 1790 bei Mozarts letztem Aufenthalt in München entstanden, alles Nähere jedoch soll erst bei einem Vortrag am 27. Januar 2005 durch den Oberkustos der Berliner Gemäldegalerie, Rainer Michaelis, bekannt gegeben werden. Also just an Mozarts 249. Geburtstag. »

11 Jan 2005

Going It Alone

The conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner — for 20 years one of the most famous names contracted to the recording company Deutsche Grammophon — has launched his own CD label, after recovering from the blow of the abrupt severance of his contract with DG. Sir John faced a crisis when the company pulled the plug just as he was planning the gargantuan project of touring with and recording live the complete Bach cantatas throughout the year 2000, which would have resulted in over 50 CDs. »

07 Jan 2005

A Lost Portrait of Mozart Recovered?

Musikgenie zwischen Verschwendungssucht und verhärmter Armut — doch aus Mozart-Porträts spricht auch Lebensfreude, Lust am Genuß und tödliche Krankheit. Höchste Zeit, über Amadeus-Legenden nachzudenken. War Mozart dicklich und wohlgenährt? Ein neu aufgetauchtes Bildnis zeigt den Salzburger Meister in seiner späten Zeit, im Jahre 1790. Mozart war 34 Jahre alt und hatte noch gut ein Jahr zu leben. Die Sensation: Pausbäckig und jovial, den Jackenknopf mühsam über dem Bäuchlein geschlossen, bietet Mozart einen Anblick gesunder Lebensfreude und jovialer Genußfähigkeit. »

29 Dec 2004

Salieri Redux

For Mozart's Archrival, an Italian Renaissance By JASON HOROWITZ MILAN - For more than 200 years, Antonio Salieri's obscure opera "Europa Riconosciuta" ("Europa Revealed") was forgotten. Before its return to La Scala this month, the opera had not been performed... »

29 Dec 2004

Marketing Classical Music

Folks tirelessly trying to market classical music these days will settle on almost any hook to lure customers, from martini bars in lobbies and cutesy program titles to that reliable, when-all-else-fails measure, the deeply discounted ticket price. I’m just old-fashioned enough to prefer come-ons that actually have something substantive to do with the music itself, and I’m a sucker for promotions that involve historic pegs – the anniversary of a composer’s birth or death, or of a composition’s first performance, for example. »

20 Dec 2004

Michael Tilson Thomas Turns 60

The ageless baton By Allan Ulrich Published: December 20 2004 13:44 | Last updated: December 20 2004 13:44 The conductor Michael Tilson Thomas turns 60 this week and, despite a few streaks of silver in his hair, his is a... »

19 Dec 2004

E' morta Renata Tebaldi

E' morta Renata Tebaldi Era la "rivale" di Maria Callas SAN MARINO - Renata Tebaldi è morta alle 03.30 nella sua casa di San Marino. La grande cantante lirica, nata a Pesaro, avrebbe compiuto 83 anni nel febbraio prossimo. La... »

17 Dec 2004

Krassimira Stoyanova: A Biographical Note

The Wiener Staatsoper's 2004-2005 season includes Verdi's Simon Boccanegra, which premiered on 8 December. Krassimira Stoyanova performed the role of "Amelia" to rave reviews. Beginning 3 January 2005, she will appear at the Met's production of Turandot in the role... »

15 Dec 2004

Renée Fleming: Not By Talent Alone

Aiming For Her Very Top Note Tue Dec 14, 7:00 PM ET Curt Schleier Renee Fleming understands that natural talent isn't enough to assure success. In fact, Fleming said during a recent interview, natural ability can work against you. Take... »

13 Dec 2004

Demonstrations of the École de Danse of the Ballet de l’Opéra National de Paris

The Paris Opera Ballet School, founded by Louis XIV in 1713—it’s the world’s oldest academy for producing classical dancers—is now located in a utilitarian complex specifically built for it in Nanterre, on the bleak outskirts of the City of Light. But for more than a century it was located in the bowels of the lavish Palais Garnier, at the hub of urban elegance. It was there—cocooned in that opera house’s imposing Second Empire decorative excesses of varicolored marble offset by gilt and bronze; of statues, bas-reliefs, frescos, and mosaics; of deep red plush and heavy figured and tasseled drapery; of an infinity of mirrors and chandeliers—that I saw the daylong program this extraordinary school, the oldest and arguably the greatest of its kind, modestly calls its “Demonstrations.” »

13 Dec 2004

What's On Le Figaro's Christmas List?

Notre sélection de DVD pour les fetes La rituelle ruée sur les cadeaux de Noel passe, cette année encore plus que la précédente, par le déferlement des DVD musicaux : archives, documentaires, retours sur les vieilles gloires ou concerts de... »

13 Dec 2004

Opera Etiquette

Going to the Theater Miss May The Epoch Times Dec 12, 2004 Dear Miss May: I am very lucky and am able to go to NY soon for a weekend of theater and, well, just enjoying New York. I attended... »

13 Dec 2004

Anna Netrebko on 60 Minutes

Anna Netrebko: A Happy Diva Singer Does Opera Music Videos Dec 12, 2004 7:45 pm US/Eastern Anna Netrebko in St. Petersburg Photograph: © Peter Rigaud There isn't a musical instrument on earth that can produce sounds as varied, as beautiful,... »

11 Dec 2004

Bolcom in Chicago

Marriage and manners By George Loomis [Financial Times] Published: December 10 2004 02:00 | Last updated: December 10 2004 02:00 The general director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, William Mason, likes to put his company's relationship with William Bolcom in... »

03 Dec 2004

An Interview with Juan Diego Flórez

"Nunca he sido un melómano" Es el tenor del momento, y sorprende que ostente la corona al reconocérsele sólo como un experto rossiniano. Odia las entrevistas porque le roban parte de su tiempo libre, un tesoro que valora desde la... »

03 Dec 2004

Joan Sutherland Named as 2004 Kennedy Center Honoree

World of opera graced by the true grande dame By T.L. Ponick SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES Published December 3, 2004 Legendary coloratura soprano Joan Sutherland says she was "bowled over" upon learning that she would be a 2004 Kennedy... »

30 Nov 2004

La Diva Renée

The 'Voice' of the Darling Diva By BARBARA JEPSON November 30, 2004 New York For sheer beauty of sound, no soprano today can match Renee Fleming. Her rich, golden-hued voice shines and seduces; she can sustain a long-lined legato passage,... »

30 Nov 2004

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson at NY Philharmonic

Turning Tragedy into Art By Jeannie Williams 29 Nov 2004 An interview with mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, who makes her New York Philharmonic debut this month. "I am drawn to these characters, the juicier the better, and sometimes that means... »