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Elsewhere

Desert Island Delights at the RCM: Offenbach's Robinson Crusoe

Britannia waives the rules: The EU Brexit in quotes’. Such was the headline of a BBC News feature on 28th June 2016. And, nearly three years later, those who watch the runaway Brexit-train hurtle ever nearer to the edge of Dover’s white cliffs might be tempted by the thought of leaving this sceptred (sceptic?) isle, for a life overseas.

Akira Nishimura’s Asters: A Major New Japanese Opera

Opened as recently as 1997, the Opera House of the New National Theatre Tokyo (NNTT) is one of the newest such venues among the world’s great capitals, but, with ten productions of opera a year, ranging from baroque to contemporary, this publicly-owned and run theatre seems determined to make an international impact.

The Outcast in Hamburg

It is a “a musicstallation-theater with video” that had its world premiere at the Mannheim Opera in 2012, revived just now in a new version by Vienna’s ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wein for one performance at the Vienna Konzerthaus and one performance in Hamburg’s magnificent Elbphilharmonie (above). Olga Neuwirth’s The Outcast and this rich city are imperfect bedfellows!

Leonard Bernstein: Tristan und Isolde in Munich on Blu-ray

Although Birgit Nilsson, one of the great Isolde’s, wrote with evident fondness – and some wit – of Leonard Bernstein in her autobiography – “unfortunately, he burned the candles at both ends” – their paths rarely crossed musically. There’s a live Fidelio from March 1970, done in Italy, but almost nothing else is preserved on disc.

Monarchs corrupted and tormented: ETO’s Idomeneo and Macbeth at the Hackney Empire

Promises made to placate a foe in the face of imminent crisis are not always the most well-considered and have a way of coming back to bite one - as our current Prime Minister is finding to her cost.

Der Fliegende Holländer and
Tannhäuser in Dresden

To remind you that Wagner’s Dutchman had its premiere in Dresden’s Altes Hoftheater in 1843 and his Tannhauser premiered in this same theater in 1845 (not to forget that Rienzi premiered in this Saxon court theater in 1842).

WNO's The Magic Flute at the Birmingham Hippodrome

A perfect blue sky dotted with perfect white clouds. Identikit men in bowler hats clutching orange umbrellas. Floating cyclists. Ferocious crustaceans.

Puccini’s Messa di Gloria: Antonio Pappano and the London Symphony Orchestra

This was an oddly fascinating concert - though, I’m afraid, for quite the wrong reasons (though this depends on your point of view). As a vehicle for the sound, and playing, of the London Symphony Orchestra it was a notable triumph - they were not so much luxurious - rather a hedonistic and decadent delight; but as a study into three composers, who wrote so convincingly for opera, and taken somewhat out of their comfort zone, it was not a resounding success.

WNO's Un ballo in maschera at Birmingham's Hippodrome

David Pountney and his design team - Raimund Bauer (sets), Marie-Jeanne Lecca (costumes), Fabrice Kebour (lighting) - have clearly ‘had a ball’ in mounting this Un ballo in maschera, the second part of WNO’s Verdi trilogy and which forms part of a spring season focusing on what Pountney describes as the “profound and mysterious issue of Monarchy”.

Super #Superflute in North Hollywood

Pacific Opera Project’s rollicking new take on The Magic Flute is as much endearing fun as a box full of puppies.

Leading Ladies: Barbara Strozzi and Amiche

I couldn’t help wondering; would a chamber concert of vocal music by female composers of the 17th century be able sustain our concentration for 90 minutes? Wouldn’t most of us be feeling more dutiful than exhilarated by the end?

George Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill at Wigmore Hall

This week, the Wigmore Hall presents two concerts from George Benjamin and Frankfurt’s Ensemble Modern, the first ‘at home’ on Wigmore Street, the second moving north to Camden’s Roundhouse. For the first, we heard Benjamin’s now classic first opera, Into the Little Hill, prefaced by three ensemble works by Cathy Milliken, Christian Mason, and, for the evening’s spot of ‘early music’, Luigi Dallapiccola.

Marianne Crebassa sings Berio and Ravel: Philharmonia Orchestra with Salonen

It was once said of Cathy Berberian, the muse for whom Luciano Berio wrote his Folk Songs, that her voice had such range she could sing the roles of both Tristan and Isolde. Much less flatteringly, was my music teacher’s description of her sound as akin to a “chisel being scraped over sandpaper”.

Rossini's Elizabeth I: English Touring Opera start their 2019 spring tour

What was it with Italian bel canto and the Elizabethan age? The era’s beautiful, doomed queens and swash-buckling courtiers seem to have held a strange fascination for nineteenth-century Italians.

Chameleonic new opera featuring Caruso in Amsterdam

Micha Hamel’s new opera, Caruso a Cuba, is constantly on the move. The chameleonic score takes on a myriad flavours, all with a strong sense of mood or place.

Ernst Krenek: Karl V, Bayerisches Staatsoper

Ernst Krenek’s Karl V op 73 at the Bayerisches Staatsoper, with Bo Skovhus, conducted by Erik Nielsen, in a performance that reveals the genius of Krenek’s masterpiece. Contemporary with Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten, Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron, Berg’s Lulu, and Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler, Krenek’s Karl V is a metaphysical drama, exploring psychological territory with the possibilities opened by new musical form.

A Sparkling Merry Widow at ENO

A small, formerly great, kingdom, is on the verge of bankruptcy and desperate to prevent its ‘assets’ from slipping into foreign hands. Sexual and political intrigues are bluntly exposed. The princes and patriarchs are under threat from both the ‘paupers’ and the ‘princesses’, and the two dangers merge in the glamorous figure of the irresistibly wealthy Pontevedrin beauty, Hanna Glawari, a working-class girl who’s married up and made good.

Mozart: Così fan tutte - Royal Opera House

Così fan tutte is, primarily, an ensemble opera and it sinks or swims on the strength of its sextet of singers - and this performance very much swam. In a sense, this is just as well because Jan Phillip Gloger’s staging (revived here by Julia Burbach) is in turns messy, chaotic and often confusing. The tragedy of this Così is that it’s high art clashing with Broadway; a theatre within an opera and a deceit wrapped in a conundrum.

Gavin Higgins' The Monstrous Child: an ROH world premiere

The Royal Opera House’s choice of work for the first new production in the splendidly redesigned Linbury Theatre - not unreasonably, it seems to have lost ‘Studio’ from its name - is, perhaps, a declaration of intent; it may certainly be received as such. Not only is it a new work; it is billed specifically as ‘our first opera for teenage audiences’.

Elektra at Lyric Opera of Chicago

From the first moments of the recent revival of Sir David McVicar’s production of Elektra by Richard Strauss at Lyric Opera of Chicago the audience is caught in the grip of a rich music-drama, the intensity of which is not resolved, appropriately, until the final, symmetrical chords.


OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

FeaturedOperas

Eugène Delacroix, Hamlet and Horatio in the Graveyard (1827–28) [Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art]
22 Oct 2015

THOMAS: Hamlet, Moscow 2015

Hamlet: Opéra in five acts. Music composed by Ambroise Thomas. Libretto by Michel Carré and Jules Barbier after The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare. »

Recently in FeaturedOperas

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22 Jan 2006

WAGNER: Parsifal

Parsifal. Bühnenweihfestspiel ("stage dedication play") in three acts.Music and libretto by Richard Wagner. »

15 Jan 2006

MOZART: La clemenza di Tito

La clemenza di Tito. Opera seria in due atti (K. 621).Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Libretto by Caterino Mazzolà based on a text by Pietro Metastasio. »

08 Jan 2006

MOZART: Idomeneo

Idomeneo, rè di Creta. Dramma per musica in tre atti (K. 366).Music composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Libretto by Giovanni Battista Varesco after Idomenée by Antoine Danchet. »

28 Dec 2005

GOUNOD: Faust

Faust, Opéra en cinq actesMusic composed by Charles Gounod. Libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré after Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe »

25 Dec 2005

BERLIOZ: La damnation de Faust

La damnation de Faust, Légende dramatique en quatre partiesMusic composed by Hector Berlioz. Libretto by Hector Berlioz, Almire Gandonanière and Gérard de Nerval after Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe »

16 Dec 2005

BOITO: Mefistofele

Mefistofele, Opera in un prologo, quattro atti e un epilogoMusic and libretto by Arrigo Boito (1842-1918), based on Faust: Eine Tragödie by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe »

11 Dec 2005

VERDI: La Forza del Destino

La Forza del Destino, a melodramma in quattro attiMusic composed by Giuseppe Verdi. Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave based on the drama Don Alvaro o La fuerza del sino by Angel Perez de Saavedra »

04 Dec 2005

FLOTOW: Martha — Berlin 1944

Martha, an opera in four acts.Music composed by Friedrich von Flotow. Libretto by Wilhelm Friedrich.First performance: 25 November 1847 at Theater an der Wien, Vienna. »

01 Dec 2005

PERGOLESI: La serva padrona

La serva padrona, intermezzo in two partsMusic composed by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. Libretto by Gennar'antonio Frederico.First performance: 28 August 1733, Teatro San Bartolomeo, Naples. »

27 Nov 2005

BEETHOVEN: Fidelio — Munich 1978

Fidelio, an opera in two acts »

24 Nov 2005

Maria Callas Performs Lady Macbeth

Here we offer three selections from Macbeth with Maria Callas performing the role of Lady Macbeth. These are from a live performance given on 7 December 1952 at La Scala. Victor de Sabata conducts the Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Milano. »

20 Nov 2005

VERDI: Macbeth

VERDI: Macbeth, melodramma in quattro parti.Music composed by Giuseppe Verdi. Libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, based on the play by William Shakespeare. »

12 Nov 2005

STRAUSS: Die Fledermaus

Music composed by Johann Strauss II.Libretto by Richard Genée based on Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy/Karl Haffner.First performance: 5 April 1874 at the Theater an der Wien, Vienna. »

29 Oct 2005

GIORDANO: Fedora

Fedora, a melodrama in three acts.Umberto Giordano, composer. Arturo Colautti, librettist, based on the play with the same name by Victorien SardouFirst performance: 17 November 1898 at Teatro Lirico Internazionale, Milan »

24 Oct 2005

PUCCINI: Tosca

Tosca, a melodrama in three acts Giacomo Puccini, composer. Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on the play La Tosca by Victorien Sardou. First performance: 14 January 1900 at Teatro Costanzi, Rome »

23 Oct 2005

The twists and trysts of Tosca

A few years ago, I had the rare experience of attending a performance of Tosca in a small farm community where opera was a fairly new commodity. After the second act ended, with Scarpia's corpse lying center stage, I happened to overhear a young, wide-eyed woman say to her companion, "I knew she was upset, but I didn't think she'd KILL him!" »

22 Oct 2005

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Mozart and Salieri

Mozart and Salieri, an opera in one act consisting of two scenes. Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908), composer. Libretto derived from Alexander Puskhin's play of the same name. First performance: 7 December 1898 in Moscow. »

19 Oct 2005

MUSSORGSKY: Boris Godunov

Boris Godunov, an opera in four acts with prologue Modest Mussorgsky, composer. Libretto by the composer, based on Alexander Pushkin's drama Boris Godunov and Nikolai Karamazin's History of the Russian Empire First performance: 8 February 1874 at the Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg »

15 Oct 2005

TCHAIKOVSKY: Eugene Onegin

Eugene Onegin, lyrical scenes in three acts and seven tableaux. Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky, composer. Libretto by the composer, based on the verse novel by Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin. First performance: 29 March 1879 at the Maliy Theatre, Moscow. »

10 Oct 2005

TCHAIKOVSKY: The Queen of Spades

The Queen of Spades (Pique Dame), an opera in three acts. Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky, composer. Modest Tchaikovsky and composer, librettists. First performance: 19 December 1890 at the Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg. »

05 Oct 2005

PUCCINI: Manon Lescaut

Manon Lescaut, dramma lirico in quattro atti Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924), composer. Luigi Illica and Domenico Oliva, librettists. First performance: 1 February 1893 at Teatro Regio, Turin. »

25 Sep 2005

Ariadne auf Naxos

Only a few months following the premiere of Der Rosenkavalier, Hugo von Hofmannsthal proposed a new opera to Richard Strauss based on Molière’s comedy-ballet, Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (in German, Der Bürger als Edelmann). »

18 Sep 2005

An Introduction to Pacini’s Saffo

By early 1835 Giovanni Pacini had written almost fifty operas during the course of a career launched in 1813. He was tired and he was discouraged. Not only had his earlier works been overshadowed by the force of Rossini’s musical personality, but even after the departure of the Pesarese from Italy in 1823, Pacini’s star did not shine brighter. In his fascinating Memoirs, the composer examined these years and acknowledged his own limitations. Though the first performances of his Irene, o L’assedio di Messina (Naples, Teatro San Carlo, 30 November 1833) were largely rescued by the singers, Pacini knew the creative vein he had been mining was empty. Maturing under the spell of Rossini, he had not yet shown himself to be more than an able follower: “I began to realize that I should withdraw from the field.—Bellini, the divine Bellini, and Donizetti had surpassed me.” »

11 Sep 2005

Das Rheingold — An Overview

Das Rheingold is the first of the four works that constitute Der Ring des Nibelungen. On the title page of Der Ring des Nibelungen, Wagner refers to Das Rheingold as a Vorabend (a preliminary evening). Nevertheless, Das Rheingold sets the foundation on which the remainder of the Ring is built. »

11 Sep 2005

Das Rheingold

Experienced listeners gain nothing but lose very little when a mediocre, even bad performance of Wagner’s stage works is released on DVD.  »