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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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06 Sep 2009

Christof Loy speaks about the new Tristan und Isolde at the Royal Opera House, London.

“Opera has so much to give” says Christof Loy, whose new production of Tristan und Isoldeopens at the Royal Opera House on 29th September. This opera is so familiar that everyone assumes they know it. But Loy’s approach involves going straight back to the score, and to the inherent drama in the music. “I don’t like superficial distractions". »

04 Sep 2009

Wigmore Hall / Kohn Foundation launches the Sixth International Singing Competition

The distinguished jury (including sopranos Dames Margaret Price and Anne Evans, and baritones Thomas Allen and Wolfgang Holzmair) has now whittled down the original 148 entrants (from 41 different countries) to 34 (including 6 from the US) and according to the Chairman and Wigmore Hall Director John Gilhooly, ‘There’s a terrific buzz about this year - it always takes about ten years for a competition to build, so we are now really at our peak, and I think I can promise you some exciting singing.’  »

11 Aug 2009

Seattle to mount new “Tristan” in 2010

SEATTLE - Underscoring its role as America’s leader in the world of Wagner, the Seattle Opera will stage an entirely new production of Tristan und Isolde in 2010. »

15 Jul 2009

The Met's Favorite Tenor: Marcello Giordani

Marcello Giordani, at present singing a generally highly praised Cavaradossi at the Royal Opera House in London, is the leading exponent of the great Italian and French tenor roles at the Metropolitan Opera, and the man whom James Levine describes as ‘my favorite tenor.’ This prominence has been arrived at after a steady rise to fame: he will celebrate the 25th year of his career in the 2010-11 season. »

29 Jun 2009

Dalibor Jenis sings Renato in the Royal Opera house Un ballo in maschera.

“Everything in opera comes from Italy”, says Dalibor Jenis, who sings Renato in the current Royal Opera House Un ballo in maschera. “Italian is the language of music, my second mother language” »

15 Jun 2009

Czech Bass Wins BBC Cardiff Singer Of The World Song Prize

Young Czech bass Jan Martiník last night (FRI) won the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Song Prize 2009 final at St David’s Hall, Cardiff. »

15 Jun 2009

Russian Soprano Wins BBC Cardiff Singer of the World

Beautiful Russian soprano Ekaterina Shcherbachenko last night won the world’s greatest operatic competition BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. »

12 Jun 2009

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Finalists Named

The five talented singers to compete in the final of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, which is organised by BBC Cymru Wales, have been named. »

10 Jun 2009

Ukrainian Counter-Tenor Wins Third Concert in BBC Cardiff Singer of the World

Cardiff: 10 June 2009 — Ukrainian counter-tenor Yuriy Mynenko, aged 30, last night (TUES) won the third concert in BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. »

10 Jun 2009

Finalists Named For Song Prize

Cardiff: 9 June 2009 — The five artists were today (WED) named to take part in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Song Prize final at St David’s Hall, Cardiff on Friday (June 12). »

09 Jun 2009

Russian Soprano Wins Second Concert Round in BBC Cardiff Singer of The World

Cardiff: 9 June 2009 — Russian soprano Ekaterina Shcherbachenko last night (MON) won the second concert round in BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. »

09 Jun 2009

Royal Ballet’s Ondine heralds new Henze season in London

In April 2010, the Royal Opera House, London, will stage a new production of Hans Werner Henze's opera Elegy for Young Lovers. Henze is perhaps the greatest living German opera composer, hugely important in Europe, so this new production is eagerly awaited. »

09 Jun 2009

Japan Wins First Concert Round in BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2009

Cardiff: 8 June 2009 — Japanese soprano Eri Nakamura last night (SUN) won the opening concert round in BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. »

25 May 2009

Italian Opera on the Road

You want to see Opera as the Italians do it? Go to Beijing, Tokyo, Savonlinna and Wiesbaden »

24 May 2009

Michael Volle’s intriguing Dr Schön, in the Royal Opera House’s new Lulu.

There’s a buzz about the new Lulu at the Royal Opera House, spreading by word of mouth from those who’ve heard it being prepared. Berg’s opera hasn’t been heard at Covent Garden for 30 years, though there was an acclaimed production at Glyndebourne in 1996 with Christine Schäfer as Lulu.  »

20 May 2009

Bryn Terfel Gives Advice to BBC Cardiff Singer of World Competitors

With just one month to go before facing the judges in the world’s most prestigious singing competition what could be better than some advice from past competitor and opera super star Bryn Terfel? »

18 May 2009

Anthony Michaels-Moore — from the army to the world stage.

Currently, Anthony Michaels- Moore is singing Belcore in L’Elisir d’amore at the Royal Opera Hose, London.  »

12 May 2009

The Tuscan Convent Where Wagnerian Singers Are Trained

In a convent in the lovely Tuscan country side, near Lucca (Giacomo Puccini’s birthplace) there is the Mount Graal.  »

29 Apr 2009

Kwangchul Youn makes his long-awaited debut at the Royal Opera House, London.

Youn made his Bayreuth debut in 1996, only six years after coming to Europe. He sang the Nightwatchman in Der Meistersinger von Nürnberg.  »

26 Apr 2009

Lost portrait of Handel’s librettist Paolo Rolli resurfaces in Todi, Italy

Paolo Antonio Rolli (Rome, 13 June 1687 — Todi, 20 March 1765) arguably ranks among the top-three Italian librettists of the 18th century, next to Metastasio and — later — Da Ponte.  »

19 Apr 2009

Der Ring des Nibelungen

“From the womb of Night and Death was spawned a race that dwells in Nibelheim (Nebelheim), i.e. in gloomy subterranean clefts and caverns: Nibelungen are they called; with restless nimbleness they burrow through the bowels of the earth, like worms in a dead body; they smelt and smith hard metals.  »

07 Apr 2009

Reasons to be Cheerful

London: Sue Loder reviews Alessandro and the Handel Singing Final »

22 Mar 2009

Historic Performances: Maria Callas

Although born in New York City, Maria Callas (1923-1977) received her musical education in Greece and started her career in Italy.  »

12 Mar 2009

Charles Workman — the American dying to sing “Acis” for the Royal Opera

American? Well, yes, that’s what it says on one of his passports, but the other is British and he and his family reside in the UK and have done since 1995.  »

08 Mar 2009

Tristan und Isolde in Chicago

By the close of the first act of Richard Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde in its current production at Lyric Opera of Chicago the audience has been given a strong impression of the multi-faceted characters bound up in the musical drama unfolding on stage.  »

26 Jan 2009

Anne Ozorio Interviews Ingo Metzmacher on Die tote Stadt

Erich Korngold’s Die tote Stadt comes to the Royal Opera House in January 2009. It’s the first time this production has been seen in London : it is the famed Willy Decker production from Salzburg in 2004 which did so much to restore Korngold’s status.  »

14 Jan 2009

Who Was Mary Lewis?

“Mary Lewis, the golden haired soprano” — does that name mean much to today’s lovers of singing and good music?  »

11 Jan 2009

The Works of Giacomo Puccini

The following are recordings of major works by Giacomo Puccini. Click the link to access. »

22 Dec 2008

Bayerische Staatsoper Announces Program for 2009 Munich Opera Festival

The Bayerische Staatsoper announced its program of the 2009 Munich Opera Festival — the only festival of its kind in the world so rich in tradition, with roots reaching as far back as 1875. »

17 Dec 2008

Keith Jameson — Comprimario Extraordinaire

Most opera-world publicity is accorded star singers, but we take another tack here to look at American tenor Keith Jameson who has made a specialty of character or comprimario parts, while at the same time building a solid reputation as sophisticated musician and actor, a performer who can seize the moment and elevate a role to first rank for the time he is on stage. »

23 Nov 2008

The ‘Colors’ of La Fanciulla

The transition in Giacomo Puccini’s mature period from one autonomous phase to another (although the two are connected by subtle links) is a fact that has been accepted by operatic scholars.  »

17 Nov 2008

Opera in Germany

Following a recent visit to Germany, Wes Blomster surveys the vibrant opera scene in Berlin and Magdeburg.  »

04 Nov 2008

Elektra at Royal Opera House

“Opera directing is very different to theatre directing”, says Charles Edwards, director of Elektra at the Royal Opera House this season. “It has to be the music that motivates you”. For this production, he works with Mark Elder, “an extraordinarily theatrically-minded conductor who sees theatre in everything he hears”. »

23 Oct 2008

Chaslin Chats About Wuthering Heights

Writer Frank Cadenhead discusses Wuthering Heights, the nearly-finished new operatic endeavor by composer Frédéric Chaslin. Cadenhead recently traveled to Valenica, Spain, where Chaslin and librettist Paula Heil Fisher are hard at work on the piece. »

21 Oct 2008

An interview with Scott Lindroth

An interview with Scott Lindroth by Tom Moore »

03 Oct 2008

Korngold opera the “Hair” of its day

Back in the 19th century it was not smoke, but hair that got in one’s eyes. »

03 Oct 2008

Tom Moore Interviews Mark Engebretson

A virtuoso saxophonist, performing internationally, Mark Engebretson is also a composer whose recent works often take place at the interface between the live performer and the computer. »

03 Oct 2008

Tom Moore Interviews Alejandro Rutty

Composer Alejandro Rutty is newly-arrived in North Carolina, where he teaches at UNC Greensboro. »

19 Sep 2008

Pergolesi’s Home Service Really Delivers!

The United States premiere of Pergolesi’s Home Service will be presented by The Chamber Opera of Memphis in cooperation with the University of Memphis Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music on Thursday, October 16 at 7:30 p.m. in Harris Concert Hall (3775 Central Ave.). »

18 Sep 2008

Dr. Ulrike Hessler First Woman Appointed Intendant to Semper Oper in Dresden

For the first time in its 169 year history, the Saxonian State Opera — home to world premiere performances of most Richard Strauss and several Wagner operas — has appointed a woman as its General Director. »

17 Sep 2008

Lawrence Brownlee Expands Repertoire in 2008-09 Season

The remarkable Lawrence Brownlee has proven himself to be one of the most prominent bel canto tenors on the international scene. »

14 Sep 2008

Vivica Genaux Focuses on Baroque Repertoire in 2008-09 Season

The 2008-09 season of radiant mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux promises to add further luster to her credentials as one of the world’s leading interpreters of music of the Baroque and bel canto periods. »

08 Sep 2008

“Great Performances” remembers Pavarotti — What remains is the voice.

Luciano Pavoritti died on September 6, 2007. The all-too-ample figure and the fables associated with him are already retreating from memory. »

19 Aug 2008

Singers from South Africa and Sweden win Seattle Wagner Competition

A soprano originally from South Africa and a tenor from Sweden sang their way to top honors in the 2008 International Wagner Competition staged by the Seattle Opera on August 16 in Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, the company's handsome home. »

06 Jul 2008

Opera at the BBC Proms — the world’s biggest Music Festival

London’s musical life shuts down for eight weeks while the Proms reign supreme, and no wonder ! »