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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.

Gluck: Orphée et Eurydice

Orpheus — that Greek hero whose songs could enchant both deities and beasts, whose lyre has become a metaphor for the power of music itself, and whose journey to the Underworld to rescue his wife, Eurydice, kick-started the art of opera in Mantua in 1607 — has been travelling far and wide around the UK in 2015.



Isabella by Francis William Topham (1808-1877) [Source: Wikipedia]
20 Oct 2013

Das Liebesverbot, Vienna 1962

Das Liebesverbot: Grosse komische Oper in two acts. »

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


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


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


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.  »