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Elsewhere

Tosca in San Francisco

The story was bigger than its actors, the Tosca ritual was ignored. It wasn’t a Tosca for the ages though maybe it was (San Francisco’s previous Tosca production hung around for 95 years). P.S. It was an evening of powerful theater, and incidentally it was really good opera.

Fine performances in uneven War Requiem at the Concertgebouw

At the very least, that vehement, pacifist indictment against militarism, Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, should leave the audience shaking a little. This performance by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra only partially succeeded in doing so. The cast credits raised the highest expectations, but Gianandrea Noseda, stepping in for an ailing Mariss Jansons and conducting the RCO for the first time, did not bring out the full potential at his disposal.

The Tallis Scholars at Cadogan Hall

In their typical non-emphatic way, the Tallis Scholars under Peter Phillips presented here a selection of English sacred music from the Eton Choirbook to Tallis. There was little to ruffle anyone’s feathers here, little in the way of overt ‘interpretation’ – certainly in a modern sense – but ample opportunity to appreciate the mastery on offer in this music, its remoteness from many of our present concerns, and some fine singing.

Dido and Aeneas: Academy of Ancient Music

“Remember me, but ah! forget my fate.” Well, the spectral Queen of Carthage atop the poppy-strewn sarcophagus wasn’t quite yet “laid in earth”, but the act of remembering, and remembrance, duly began during the first part of this final instalment of the Academy of Ancient Music’s Purcell trilogy at the Barbican Hall.

Poignantly human – Die Zauberflöte, La Monnaie

Mozart Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) at La Monnaie /De Munt, Brussels, conducted by Antonello Manacorda, directed by Romeo Castellucci. Part allegory, part Singspeile, and very much a morality play, Die Zauberflöte is not conventional opera in the late 19th century style. Naturalist realism is not what it's meant to be. Cryptic is closer to what it might mean.

Covent Garden: Wagner’s Siegfried, magnificent but elusive

How do you begin to assess Covent Garden’s Siegfried? From a purely vocal point of view, this was a magnificent evening; it’s hard not to reach the conclusion that this was as fine a cast as you are likely to hear anywhere today.

Powerful Monodramas: Zender, Manoury and Schoenberg

The concept of the monologue in opera has existed since the birth of opera itself, but when we come to monodramas - with the exception of Rousseau’s Pygmalion (1762) - we are looking at something that originated at the beginning of the twentieth century.

ENO's Salome both intrigues and bewilders

Femme fatale, femme nouvelle, she-devil: the personification of patriarchal castration-anxiety and misogynistic terror of female desire.

In the Company of Heaven: The Cardinall's Musick at Wigmore Hall

Palestrina led from the front, literally and figuratively, in this performance at Wigmore Hall which placed devotion to the saints at its heart, with Saints Peter, Paul, Catherine of Alexandria, Bartholomew and the Virgin Mary all musically honoured by The Cardinall’s Musick and their director Andrew Carwood.

Roberto Devereux in San Francisco

Opera’s triple crown, Donizetti’s tragic queens — Anna Bolena who was beheaded by her husband Henry VIII, their daughter Elizabeth I who beheaded her rival Mary, Queen of Scots and who executed her lover Roberto Devereux.

O18: Queens Tries Royally Hard

Opera Philadelphia is lightening up the fare at its annual festival with a three evening cabaret series in the Theatre of Living Arts, Queens of the Night.

O18 Magical Mystery Tour: Glass Handel

How to begin to quantify the wonderment stirred in my soul by Opera Philadelphia’s sensational achievement that is Glass Handel?

Magic Lantern Tales: darkness, disorientation and delight from Cheryl Frances-Hoad

“It produces Effects not only very delightful, but to such as know the contrivance, very wonderful; so that Spectators, not well versed in Opticks, that could see the various Apparitions and Disappearances, the Motions, Changes and Actions, that may this way be presented, would readily believe them super-natural and miraculous.”

A lunchtime feast of English song: Lucy Crowe and Joseph Middleton at Wigmore Hall

The September sunshine that warmed Wigmore Street during Monday’s lunch-hour created the perfect ambience for this thoughtfully compiled programme of seventeenth- and twentieth-century English song presented by soprano Lucy Crowe and pianist Joseph Middleton at Wigmore Hall.

O18: Mad About Lucia

Opera Philadelphia has mounted as gripping and musically ravishing an account of Lucia di Lammermoor as is imaginable.

O18 Poulenc Evening: Moins C’est Plus

In Opera Philadelphia’s re-imagined La voix humaine, diva Patricia Racette had a tough “act” to follow ...

O18: Unsettling, Riveting Sky on Swings

Opera Philadelphia’s annual festival set the bar very high even by its own gold standard, with a troubling but mesmerizing world premiere, Sky on Wings.

Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony — Martyn Brabbins BBCSO

From Hyperion, an excellent new Ralph Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony with Martyn Brabbins conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Symphony Chorus, Elizabeth Llewellyn and Marcus Farnsworth soloists. This follows on from Brabbins’s highly acclaimed Vaughan Williams Symphony no 2 "London" in the rarely heard 1920 version.

Simon Rattle — Birtwistle, Holst, Turnage, and Britten

Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra marked the opening of the 2018-2019 season with a blast. Literally, for Sir Harrison Birtwistle's new piece Donum Simoni MMXVIII was an explosion of brass — four trumpets, trombones, horns and tuba, bursting into the Barbican Hall. When Sir Harry makes a statement, he makes it big and bold !

OSJ: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Harem

Opera San Jose kicked off its 35th anniversary season with a delectably effervescent production of their first-ever mounting of Mozart’s youthful opus, The Abduction from the Seraglio.


OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Commentary

ROH new exterior
19 Sep 2018

The Royal Opera House lets everyone in on the act

The Royal Opera House today opens the doors to its transformed new home, following an extensive three-year construction project. »

Recently in Commentary

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02 Sep 2007

The Pleasures of Presence — The Small Loudspeakers of Richard Sequerra

In the long ago, when the best source of music reproduction in the home was a handsome piece of furniture, fitted with hidden audio components, and usually called radio-phonographs, my family had one — from Avery Fisher I believe — that had among its controls a switch labeled ‘presence.’ »

28 Aug 2007

An Interview with Canadian mezzo-soprano, Kimberly Barber.

Uncut with Canada’s Mistress of the trouser-role: the multifaceted Kimberly Barber. »

27 Aug 2007

Glimmerglass Opera 2007 — An Overview

Glimmerglass Opera is in a watershed year. With the departure of Paul Kellogg, who had considerable success developing that annual festival, General and Artistic Director Michael Macleod has chosen to begin his tenure with a variation on the usual four-opera-season, namely a thematic collection of pieces based on the “Orpheus” legend. “Don’t look back” is the marketing catch phrase. »

27 Aug 2007

Jan Neckers on Recently Reissued Historicals

Almost thirty years ago a century old tradition ended with the last performance of I Maestri Cantatori. »

20 Aug 2007

Santa Fe Opera in Changing Times

Santa Fe Opera’s announcement August 10 that English-born impresario, Richard Gaddes, General Director of the company since 2001, will retire at the end of season 2008, took the local opera community by surprise. »

16 Aug 2007

The Week that Was for Opera: Santa Fe — Dallas — Denver/St Louis — Toronto

The week just ended was certainly of historic moment in the world of North American opera companies. »

24 Jun 2007

Countertenor David DQ Lee: Winning Hearts and Minds at Cardiff Singer of the World

Perhaps it is a sign that, at last, the countertenor voice has come of age in the hearts and minds of both audiences and the opera establishment. »

17 Jun 2007

New Frocks for Old – Cardiff Singer of the World, 2007

Back in the early 1980’s two good ideas came to fruition: the much-needed new concert hall for Cardiff, capital city of Wales, and plans to hold within it the first “Singer of the World” competition. »

25 May 2007

Opera on the move at Spoleto USA

Charleston, S.C. — For over 20 years it was two operas a season here at Spoleto USA, the all-arts festival brought to this cultural capital of the Old South by Gian Carlo Menotti in 1977. »

20 May 2007

Rising to the occasion – Michael Maniaci saves the day at La Fenice

It is every young opera singer’s dream. »

10 May 2007

SANTA FE TO CHANGE MUSIC DIRECTORS

On May 9th, when Santa Fe Opera finally announced that Alan Gilbert had left his post as Music Director of that company, a long-standing rumor was made official. »

25 Apr 2007

Kelly Kaduce sings Anna Karenina

Robert Gierlach wishes he could rewrite “Anna Karenina,” the Tolstoi whopper turned into an opera by librettist Colin Graham and composer David Carlson. It’s not that Gierlach, who sings Vronsky in the world premiere of the work at Florida Grand Opera on April 28, has misgivings about the author’s artistry; he simply wishes that the story could have a happy ending. »

09 Apr 2007

'Giulio Cesare' at The Met — Two Views

Here are two views of Handel's Giulio Cesare in Egitto (HWV 17), a drama in three acts, performed at The Met on 6 April. »

07 Apr 2007

Ruth Ann’s Rampage: Nobody Wins

Based on reading the New York Times’ account of Met opera soprano Ruth Ann Swenson’s distemper with her home company in New York, published Thursday 5 April over the byline of Daniel J. Wakin, it is hard to find either motivation or reasonable expectation of reward for any of the participants in this travesty – reporter, newspaper, opera manager Peter Gelb (who comes off best), or, least of all, the distraught diva. »

08 Mar 2007

Conlon makes his mark at LA Opera

To his work as music director of the Los Angeles Opera James Conlon brings two commitments that some in music would find incompatible. »

22 Feb 2007

Launch of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2007

Record number of singers auditioned Three countries competing for first time New sponsorship and increased prize money »

14 Feb 2007

The Handel Singing Competition 2007 – Win or Lose?

Singing competitions are a mixed blessing. »

08 Feb 2007

HGO announces season

Two Mozart operas — “Magic Flute” and “Abduction from the Serail” — head the list of works to be performed by the Houston Grand Opera in its 2007- 08 season that opens with Verdi’s “Masked Ball” on October 19. »

15 Nov 2006

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2007

The worldwide search is on for opera’s rising stars to compete for the coveted title BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2007 and a £15,000 prize. »

07 Nov 2006

On The Academy of Vocal Arts

The Academy of Vocal Arts, based in the hub of Philadelphia, has one of the richest traditions of training and nurturing operatic singers. »

16 Oct 2006

Opera at Curtis

Curtis, America’s top fully funded conservatory, is on the move as one of the nation’s leading opera preparatory programs. »

08 Oct 2006

“A voice so beautiful, it will break your heart.”

Mary-Lou Vetere-Borghoff interviews Soprano Jennifer O’Loughlin of the Vienna Volksoper »

08 Oct 2006

Settling the Score — An Interview with Philip Gossett

Introduction: Philip Gossett is one of those rarities in academia: a scholar of the first order and a consummate teacher. »

01 Oct 2006

Pairing and Elaboration

The character configuration in Vivaldi’s Tito Manlio is unusual because of its musical pairing of the prima donna Servilia with the seconda donna Vitellia not just once, but twice in the second act of the opera. »

01 Oct 2006

Pratolino, Venice, Mantua: Musings on Vivaldi’s Tito Manlio

Tito Manlio, Vivaldi’s second opera in Mantua for the 1718/19 season, is fraught with political and familial tensions.1 »

12 Sep 2006

Opera in Paris

What a difference a year makes. Music lovers who rely on their memories to find the right places to hear music in Paris could be for a surprise if they do not check beforehand what France has now to offer. »

01 Sep 2006

The Bostridge Phenomenon

The curious phenomenon of British tenor manqué, Ian Bostridge, continues to astound, as his concert and even operatic dates, primarily in Europe, mount; his recordings increase, and his appeal to a certain section of the classical audience (they would likely call themselves, “cognoscenti”) endures. I have to wonder why? »

23 Jun 2006

"Castrato" — In Search of a Lost Voice

Nestling artistically in a bowl, carefully arranged and lit to suit the camera early in the programme, the testicles seemed to glow softly with their hidden history, their inherent potential and, now, their very lack of future. »

08 May 2006

Hello, cruel world

With its mismatched couples and absurd plot, Cosi Fan Tutte is thought of as Mozart's 'frivolous' opera. »

07 May 2006

Andrew Clark: All the world’s his stage

The scene is an urban wasteland at night. A young man is having sex with a woman in the back of a car while his sidekick keeps watch. An older man appears, hell-bent on attacking his daughter’s seducer. »

20 Apr 2006

Alex Ross on Adriana Mater

A new opera from the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho. »

09 Apr 2006

The Guardian on Helen of Troy and Opera

She'll always have ParisSexual icon, dark temptress or a smutty comedienne? Helen of Troy has fascinated writers and composers for centuries. »

07 Apr 2006

Rosie Millard on the price of tickets at Covent Garden

The Royal Opera House is publicly funded - so why does it charge more than £100 per seat, asks Rosie Millard »

03 Apr 2006

Young Man in a Hurry — Iestyn Davies

I met with Iestyn Davies at 1330 hours precisely, on the steps of the Hippodrome theatre, Bristol, England, where he was singing the role of Hamor in Welsh National Opera’s riveting production of Handel’s “Jephtha”. »

20 Mar 2006

ALEX ROSS: SONGS OF EXPERIENCE

Ian Bostridge sings Benjamin Britten. »

20 Mar 2006

Snip judgment

Rupert Christiansen laments the lost art of the castrato »

28 Feb 2006

Fabulous Mister Fat Belly

He's a terrible old rogue - but to opera composers, he's irresistible. Tim Ashley on the deathless appeal of Falstaff »

16 Feb 2006

LA Times: A sense of adventure lost. And found.

Conservatism is once more on the rise in the orchestral world but the starchy old Met, under new boss Peter Gelb, is trying to buck the trend. »

16 Feb 2006

The Guardian Interviews Violeta Urmana: 'My voice decides what's good for me'

First she was forced to sing mezzo roles. Then she was invited to be president of Lithuania. Violeta Urmana tells Tim Ashley why she prefers life as a soprano »

10 Feb 2006

Remembering Schumann

According to Charles K. Moss, "Robert Schumann was one of the driving forces of the young Romantic movement in Germany. And like many in his generation, Schumann did not seem destined to become a composer, let alone one who would be so influential in the development of a new style. But music became all-important to Schumann, and he displayed multiple talents as a performer, composer, and literary exponent of Romanticism, championing new composers and their works and influencing the musical tastes of a generation." This year marks the 150th anniversary of Schumann's death. »

08 Feb 2006

The truth about Shostakovich in his centenary year

Dmitry Shostakovich survived Stalin's rule by the skin of his teeth. But is his music really the Soviet propaganda that many people claim? »

30 Jan 2006

Alex Ross on Beethoven's Great Fugue

Secrets of a Beethoven manuscript. »

17 Jan 2006

IT MUST NOT HAVE BEEN EASY BEING MOZART

It must not have been an easy life, being Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). Perhaps even more so after the fact when scholars began to do their research and “wanna bes” began their intimations and psychoanalyzing. In the more seventy-five years of Mozart scholarship and its coming of age, one must ask: How much more is there to learn, to research? »

14 Jan 2006

The Guardian on Dmitri Shostakovich

In from the cold »

13 Jan 2006

The New San Francisco Opera

SAN FRANCISCO OPERA [11 January 2006]: "The San Francisco Opera today unveiled a new visual identity for the Company, heralding the beginning of a new era under the leadership of David Gockley, who became the Company’s sixth general director on January 1, 2006. Elements of San Francisco Opera’s new image include a new logo, a glamorous and sophisticated new look for the print materials, and a major redesign of the Company’s Web site." »

12 Jan 2006

Tributes to Birgit Nilsson

Birgit Nilsson died on 25 December 2005 at age 87. Her death was announced on 11 January 2006. Here are three tributes to this great soprano. »

09 Jan 2006

DNA detectives discover more skeletons in Mozart family closet

Scientists reveal results of tests on skull unearthed by Viennese gravedigger »

07 Jan 2006

The Guardian on Beaumarchais

How to stage a revolutionBeaumarchais, the dramatist behind The Marriage of Figaro and The Barber of Seville, was more than a mere playwright - he shaped the 18th century. »

07 Jan 2006

The Guardian on Lorenzo da Ponte

The phoenixA poet, priest and womaniser, who ended his days as a grocer, he also wrote the words to some of the greatest operas. On the eve of Mozart's 250th anniversary, Anthony Holden looks at the colourful life of his librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte »