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The Pearl Fishers at English National Opera

Penny Woolcock's 2010 production of Bizet's The Pearl Fishers returned to English National Opera (ENO) for its second revival on 19 October 2018. Designed by Dick Bird (sets) and Kevin Pollard (costumes) the production remains as spectacular as ever, and ENO fielded a promising young cast with Claudia Boyle as Leila, Robert McPherson as Nadir and Jacques Imbrailo as Zurga, plus James Creswell as Nourabad, conducted by Roland Böer.

Center for Contemporary Opera presents Jane Eyre (World Premiere)

Louis Karchin’s Jane Eyre, a full-length opera in three acts with a libretto by Diane Osen based on Charlotte Bronte’s novel, will receive its world premiere at The Kaye Playhouse (Hunter College) on Thursday, October 20, 7:30pm with a second performance on Saturday, October 22, 8pm. Jane Eyre is Karchin’s second opera, composed in 2014, following his critically acclaimed one-act comic opera Romulus.

A Venetian Double: English Touring Opera

Francesco Cavalli’s La Calisto was the composer’s fifteenth opera, and the ninth to a libretto by Giovanni Faustini (1615-1651). First performed at the Teatro Sant’Apollinaire in Venice on 28th November 1651, the opera by might have been sub-titled ‘Gods Behaving Badly’, so debauched are the deities’ dalliances and deviations, so egotistical their deceptions.

Boston Early Music Festival announces the appointment of Melinda Sullivan to the new position of the Lucy Graham Dance Director

Cambridge, MA–The Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF) is pleased to announce the appointment of Melinda Sullivan to the new position of the Lucy Graham Dance Director.

Academy of Ancient Music: The Fairy Queen at the Barbican Hall

At the end of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Theseus delivers a speech which returns to the play’s central themes: illusion, art and the creative imagination. The sceptical king dismisses ‘The poet’s vision - his ‘eye, in a fine frenzy rolling’ - which ‘gives to airy nothing/ A local habitation and a name’; such art, and theatre, is a psychological deception brought about by an excessive, uncontrolled imagination.

Vaughan Williams and Friends: St John's Smith Square

Following the success of previous ‘mini-festivals’ at St John’s Smith Square devoted to Schubert and Schumann, last weekend pianist Anna Tilbrook curated a three-day exploration of the work of Ralph Vaughan Williams and his contemporaries. The music performed in these six concerts was chosen to reflect the changing contexts in which it was composed and to reveal the vast changes in society, politics and culture which occurred during Vaughan Williams’ long life-time (1872-1958) and which shaped his life and creative output.

Bloodless Manon Lescaut at DNO

Trying to work around Manon Lescaut’s episodic structure, this new production presents the plot as the dying protagonist’s feverish hallucinations. The result is a frosty retelling of what is arguably Puccini’s most hot-blooded opera. Musically, the performance also left much to be desired.

English Touring Opera: Xerxes

It is Herodotus who tells us that when Xerxes was marching through Asia to invade Greece, he passed through the town of Kallatebos and saw by the roadside a magnificent plane-tree which, struck by its great beauty, he adorned with golden ornaments, and ordered that a man should remain beside the tree as its eternal guardian.

English National Opera: Tosca

Poor Puccini. He is far too often treated as a ‘box-office hit’ by our ‘major’ opera houses, at least in Anglophone countries. For so consummate a musical dramatist, that is something beyond a pity. Here in London, one is far better advised to go to Holland Park for interesting, intelligent productions, although ENO’s offerings have often had something to be said for them.

Don Pasquale in San Francisco

With only four singers and a short-story-like plot Don Pasquale is an ideal chamber opera. That chamber just now was the 3200 seat War Memorial Opera House where this not always charming opera buffa is an infrequent visitor (post WWII twice in the 1980’s after twice in the 40’s).

“Written in fire”: Momenta Quartet blazes through an Indonesian chamber opera

“Yang sementara tak akan menahan bintang hilang di bimasakti; Yang bergetar akan terhapus.” (“The transient cannot hold on to stars lost in the Milky Way; that which quivers will be erased.”) As soprano Tony Arnold sang these words of Tony Prabowo’s chamber opera Pastoral, with astonishingly crisp Indonesian diction, the first night of the second annual Momenta Festival approached its end.

English National Opera: Don Giovanni

Some operas seemed designed and destined to raise questions and debates - sometimes unanswerable and irresolvable, and often contentious. Termed a dramma giocoso, Mozart’s Don Giovanni has, historically, trodden a movable line between seria and buffa.

World Premiere Eötvös, Wigmore Hall, London

Péter Eötvös’ The Sirens Cycle received its world premiere at the Wigmore Hall, London, on Saturday night with Piia Komsi and the Calder Quartet. An exceptionally interesting new work, which even on first hearing intrigues: imagine studying the score! For The Sirens Cycle is elegantly structured, so intricate and so complex that it will no doubt reveal even greater riches the more familiar it becomes. It works so well because it combines the breadth of vision of an opera, yet is as concise as a chamber miniature. It's exquisite, and could take its place as one of Eötvös's finest works.

Walter Braunfels : Orchestral Songs Vol 1

New from Oehms Classics, Walter Braunfels Orchestral Songs Vol 1. Luxury singers - Valentina Farcas, Klaus Florian Vogt and Michael Volle, with the Staatskapelle Weimar, conducted by Hansjörg Albrecht.

Manitoba Underground Opera: Mozart and Offenbach

Manitoba Underground Opera took audiences on a journey — literally and figuratively — as it presented its latest installment of repertory opera between August 19–26.

Stars of Lyric Opera 2016, Millennium Park, Chicago

On a recent weekend Lyric Opera of Chicago gave its annual concert at Millennium Park during which the coming season and its performers are variously showcased. Several of the performers, who were featured at this “Stars of Lyric Opera” event, are scheduled to make their debuts in Lyric Opera’s new production of Wagner’s Das Rheingold beginning on 1 October.

Oxford Lieder Festival: in conversation with Julius Drake

In October 2014, the Oxford Lieder Festival - under its imaginative and intrepid founder, Sholto Kynoch - fulfilled an incredibly ambitious goal: to perform Schubert’s entire corpus of songs - more than 600 - and, for three marvellous weeks, to bring Vienna to Oxford. ‘The Schubert Project’ was a magnificent celebration of the life and music of Franz Schubert: at its core lay the first complete performance of Schubert’s songs - including variants and alternative versions - in the UK.

Così fan tutte at Covent Garden

Desire and deception; Amor and artifice. In Jan Philipp Gloger’s new production of Così van tutte at the Royal Opera House, the artifice is of the theatrical, rather than the human, kind. And, an opera whose charm surely lies in its characters’ amiable artfulness seems more concerned to underline the depressing reality of our own deluded faith in human fidelity and integrity.

Plácido Domingo as Macbeth, LA Opera

On September 22, 2016, Los Angeles Opera presented Darko Tresnjak’s production of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Macbeth. Verdi and Francesco Maria Piave based their opera on Shakespeare’s play of the same name.

The Rake’s Progress: an Opera for Our Time

On September 18th, at a casual Sunday matinee, Pacific Opera Project presented a surprising choice for a small company. It was Igor Stravinsky’s 1951 three act opera, The Rake’s Progress. It’s a piece made for today's supertitles with its exquisitely worded libretto by W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman.



Jennifer Zetlan [Photo by J & J Photography courtesy of Columbia Artists Management Inc.]
19 Oct 2016

Center for Contemporary Opera presents Jane Eyre (World Premiere)

Louis Karchin’s Jane Eyre, a full-length opera in three acts with a libretto by Diane Osen based on Charlotte Bronte’s novel, will receive its world premiere at The Kaye Playhouse (Hunter College) on Thursday, October 20, 7:30pm with a second performance on Saturday, October 22, 8pm. Jane Eyre is Karchin’s second opera, composed in 2014, following his critically acclaimed one-act comic opera Romulus.  »

Recently in Commentary

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09 May 2012

Torsten Kerl to Perform Tannhäuser

Casting changes continue at the Bayreuth Festival, now only three months away.  »

02 May 2012

The Kathleen Ferrier Awards 2012

This year’s Kathleen Ferrier Awards final was both a competition and a celebration, marking as it did the centenary anniversary of the great singer’s birth. »

26 Apr 2012

Christopher Koelsch Tapped by LA Opera

Christopher Koelsch has been tapped Wednesday as the new president and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Opera. Koelsch, 41, was the opera’s chief financial officer and will take the new post September 15. »

24 Apr 2012

Ignacio Garcia-Belenguer Appointed

Ignacio Garcia-Belenguer, 45, has been named as the new general manager of Madrid’s opera, Teatro Real.  »

24 Apr 2012

Uwe Eric Laufenberg Resigns

The director of the Cologne Opera, Uwe Eric Laufenberg, has confirmed at the press conference this afternoon that he will leave his post at the end of the coming season. His contract runs until 2016. »

23 Apr 2012

Denoke Bows Out of Bayreuth

Soprano Angela Denoke announced on Wednesday that she would not be appearing as Brünnhilde, one of the critically important roles, at the 2013 Bayreuth Festival Ring Cycle.  »

18 Apr 2012

Cologne Opera to Cancel Next Season?

On Tuesday evening, Cologne Opera’s director indicated he was planning to cancel the next season, 2012-2013.  »

17 Apr 2012

Chinese Conductor to Lead Italian Opera

The Chinese conductor and pianist Xu Zhong will be the new artistic director of an Italian opera house, the Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania.  »

17 Apr 2012

Mishap at the Musikfreunde

Tenor Johan Botha had just started carving his steak when his phone rang. A director of Vienna’s Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde was on the line with an emergency request.  »

12 Apr 2012

International HD Broadcast of Rigoletto by Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House started doing opera and ballet broadcasts before many other houses, and is now expanding its schedule. On April 17th, Verdi’s Rigoletto is being streamed live in over 600 cinemas in 21 countries.  »

31 Mar 2012

Gerald Barry: The Importance of Being Earnest

Irish composer Gerald Barry’s opera The Importance of Being Earnest premieres at the Barbican, London on April 26th. It is a joint commission between the Barbican and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  »

24 Mar 2012

Royal Opera House 2012-13 season

“Opera is an emotional fitness centre”, says Kasper Holten, new Director of Opera, announcing the Royal Opera House 2012-13 season which mixes daring with prudence. »

19 Mar 2012

Metropolitan Opera National Council Grand Finals Concert

A major part of the rejuvenation of opera in the 21st century is the cultivation of young singers.  »

09 Mar 2012

The Los Angeles Opera — A Cultural Icon in Downtown LA

Los Angeles is often identified as “tinsel town,” a cultural wasteland. The city has long been considered as artistically irrelevant. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially with the arrival of the Los Angeles Opera in 1984. »

29 Feb 2012

Gran Teatre del Liceu Reverses Course

Barcelona’s opera, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, has reversed course and restored cuts in the current season made earlier this month.  »

27 Feb 2012

The Opera House that Almost Wasn’t — Le Palais Garnier in Paris

One of the main performing arts venues for opera, ballet and modern dance is Le Palais Garnier in Paris.  »

26 Feb 2012

Bryan Hymel, Rusalka’s Prince

New Orleans native Bryan Hymel is singing the role of The Prince in Antonin Dvořák's Rusalka at the Royal Opera House, London. »

21 Feb 2012

Victoires de la Musique Classique 2012

Last night’s French classical music awards show, the Victoires de la Musique Classique 2012, awarded the “Best Composer of the Year” honors to Philippe Manoury, 59, for his opera, “La Nuit de Gutenberg” (“The Night of Gutenberg”).  »

21 Feb 2012

Natalie Dessay to go on sabbatical

French soprano star Natalie Dessay has announced that she is taking a sabbatical from opera during 2015. She is unhappy with her current work at the Paris Opera, a production of Massenet’s opera “Manon,” and had conflicts with the stage director, French filmmaker Coline Serreau.  »

20 Feb 2012

The Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition: Showcase Concert

Inaugurated in 1995, the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition is a triennial competition, held in the National Concert Hall in Dublin, which takes place over a week in January.  »

17 Feb 2012

Don Pasquale at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées

Critics. Can you get along without us? It is possible to reflect on this when the production of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale is shown on television tonight. »

15 Feb 2012

Carmela Remigio as Donna Anna and Donna Elvira

Carmela Remigio is a Mozart specialist, having created Donna Elvira, Donna Anna, The Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, Susana, Ilia, Ellettra, Vitellia, Pamina and Fiordigli. She speaks to Mark Berry about her latest Donna Anna at the Royal Opera House. »

13 Feb 2012

Added Drama for Wagner

It might have reminded some in the audience of the finale of Wagner’s “Götterdämmerung.” Saturday evening, during the finale of that same composer’s “Das Rheingold” at the Staatstheater in the German city of Darmstadt when a large section of the scene fell and shattered on stage. »

10 Feb 2012

Opera in Florence Has a New Home

Who says Italian opera is in the doldrums? Contrary to all the recent budget bad news from the country that invented the form, the dramatic new 150 million Euro ($200 million) opera house in Florence projects another view.  »

09 Feb 2012

Another Tenor Drops Down?

In today’s edition of the Viennese newspaper, “Die Presse” a reviewer gushes over Roberto Alagna’s recital yesterday evening at the Vienna State Opera.  »

08 Feb 2012

Lawrence Foster Named Music Director of Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille

February 8, 2012. Los Angeles born conductor Lawrence Foster, the music director of the orchestra and the Opéra National in the French city of Montpellier from September 2009 to the end of this season, has signed on for a similar post with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille starting September 1 of this year. »

07 Feb 2012

Nicola Luisotti Named Music Director of Teatro di San Carlo

February 7, 2012. Italian conductor Nicola Luisotti, the popular music director of the San Francisco Opera, has been appointed to the same position at the historic Teatro di San Carlo in Naples.  »

04 Feb 2012

Chad Shelton Comes to the Rescue

February 4, 2012. A few days before the opening of the production of Verdi’s “La Traviata” at the Houston Grand Opera, tenor David Lomeli, playing Alfredo, took ill.  »

04 Feb 2012

San Francisco Opera — Bad News Tempered by Good

February 4, 2012. With a budget of $71 million dollars, the San Francisco Opera announced a deficit for the FY 2011 year. But the numbers, in the Opera’s press release, contain some good news to offset the negative bottom line.  »

03 Feb 2012

An Aria of Lincoln Center — The Metropolitan Opera

To the dismay of New York opera fans, the original Metropolitan Opera House, located at Broadway and 39th Street, was to be torn down and replaced by a new hall a mere 30 blocks away. »

02 Feb 2012

Barcelona’s Liceo Opera in Financial Crisis

Confronting a financial shortfall, the Gran Theatro del Liceo in Barcelona has announced a reduction in performances this season with two scheduled operas cancelled.  »

02 Feb 2012

Bayreuth Festspielhaus

In an interview, Katharina Wagner, 33, granddaughter of the composer and co-director of the Richard Wagner Bayreuth Festival, spoke of the declining state of the legendary Festival House on the “Green Hill” at Bayreuth.  »

01 Feb 2012

The Smola Prize

A Swiss soprano and an Australian baritone shared the 20,000 Euro Emmerich Smola Prize awarded on Monday.  »

31 Jan 2012

Angela Meade Wins Beverly Sills Artist Award

The seventh annual Beverly Sills Artist Award, carrying with it a $50,000 prize, was awarded to American soprano Angela Meade.  »

31 Jan 2012

Vienna State Opera Keeps It’s Team

Jan. 31, 2012. The recent announcement of the extension of the contract for Dominique Meyer, the General Director of the Vienna State Opera was a firm endorsement of his leadership by the Austrian government. Meyer, 57, the first French person to hold the office, will continue now through August 31, 2020. »

25 Jan 2012

Interview with Lise Lindstrom — An Intelligent Soprano’s Guide to Turandot and Salome

Lise Lindstrom, who made a notable splash in the opera world (debuts at La Scala and at the Met) with her portrayals of Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot, has recently undertaken the still more demanding role of Salome.  »

30 Dec 2011

Vivica Genaux — An Interview

I spoke with Vivica Genaux in December 2011, when she stopped in New York at the end of one of her concert tours.  »

28 Dec 2011

The English Oratorio: A Celebration (Barbican Hall, London)

When we think of the ‘English oratorio’, the composer whose name most readily comes to mind is George Frideric Handel, the ‘adopted’ Englishman who in the first half of the eighteenth-century both anticipated and dictated English musical and theatrical taste.  »

27 Nov 2011

Piotr Beczala

Piotr Beczala, the Polish lyric tenor, stars in the current La Traviata at the Royal Opera House, London.  »

12 Oct 2011

Ten Years of Celebrating Song: Oxford Lieder Festival 2011

In just ten years, the Oxford Lieder Festival has become Britain’s most important Lieder festival, with an international following.  »

05 Oct 2011

Wes Blomster 1929-2011

It is with great sadness to report that Wes Blomster has passed on.  »

03 Oct 2011

The Inaugural Cambridge Handel Festival: a rosy dawn?

The haughty beauties that are the ancient colleges of Cambridge were definitely feeling the heat this past weekend, and not even the cooling streams of the Cam and its tributaries could assuage the heat of an Indian summer in the Fens of Eastern England.  »

12 Jul 2011

Raffaele Cardone, Miami Lyric Opera

Remember when opera was all the rage? Remember when you could walk across to any town and experience a whole different opera scene, a different opera house, different orchestras and singers?  »

12 Jul 2011

“Opera is like a tree” — ZhengZhong Zhou

In Gounod’s Faust at the Royal Opera House in October 2011, Zhengzhong Zhou is alternating with Dmitri Hvorostovsky in the part of Valentin. Alternating, not covering or substituting. Since Zhou is very young, it’s quite a challenge. »

30 Jun 2011

Luca Pisaroni sings Handel at Glyndebourne

Luca Pisaroni is one of one the more exciting young bass-baritones of his generation. In July 2011, he sings Argante in the first ever Handel Rinaldo at the Glyndebourne Festival. »

27 Jun 2011

Madama Butterfly by Caurier and Leiser

Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser’s Madama Butterfly is such a classic that it is being filmed for the second time at the Royal Opera House, London.  »

22 Jun 2011

Will Crutchfield: Interview with the Director of Opera for the Caramoor Festival

Will Crutchfield made his name as a writer and musicologist in the mid-1980s, becoming the youngest music critic in the history of The New York Times.  »

17 Jun 2011

Jeremy White and the British character singer tradition

Divas make headlines, but character singers are fundamental to the British opera tradition. “Character singing,” says Jeremy White, one of the stalwarts of the Royal Opera House, “is much more than just voice.” »