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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.



03 Jul 2015

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26 May 2005

Maximillian Schell Directs Der Rosenkavalier at LA

Tuesday, May 24, 2005 – Comparing Maximilian Schell to one of those purportedly extinct jungle species makes perfect sense. Those who have never observed Schell working will be forgiven doubting the continued existence of such a creature. And those who have are unlikely ever to forget it. »

26 May 2005

Valery Gergiev to Move to LSO

Could the conducting volcano that is Valery Gergiev be quieting down, at least in the near future? The London Symphony Orchestra announced yesterday that Mr. Gergiev will become its principal conductor in January 2007. Mr. Gergiev, famous for his intensely busy schedule, comes to the end of two major commitments the following season. »

22 May 2005

Caruso Love Letters To Become Public

More than a thousand previously unknown letters, said to have been written by the legendary tenor Enrico Caruso, are to be made available to the public next month, according to a report published yesterday. »

19 May 2005

Marilyn Horne Gives a Master Class

Soon after meeting opera diva Marilyn Horne before his big performance, Justin D. Gonzalez told her to spare him nothing. “Tear me to shreds. Do me the honor,” the 17-year-old Philadelphia high school senior invited before taking the stage Tuesday night at the Academy of Vocal Arts for his “master class” performance. »

19 May 2005

A Reunion at Cincinnati

For May Festival music director James Conlon, this season is all about old friends. The starry May Festival season, a two-week, five-concert festival opening tonight, includes a return of two of opera’s most celebrated singers, Deborah Voigt and Ben Heppner, with whom Conlon has worked since the early 1990s. »

17 May 2005

Celebrating Mirella Freni

Sunday was Mirella Freni Day at the Metropolitan Opera. Fifty years ago, the Italian soprano made her operatic debut, and 40 years ago, she made her Met debut. The company celebrated these facts with a gala on Sunday afternoon, a fairly emotional show featuring six singers, plus Miss Freni herself. »

17 May 2005

Pavarotti Bids Adieu

Une page se tourne. Demain, à Bercy, la tournée d’adieux entreprise depuis quelques mois par Luciano Pavarotti permettra au public français d’entendre une dernière fois le tenorissimo. A une encablure de son soixante-dixième anniversaire, «Big Luciano», en choisissant de se retirer, clôt l’un des plus glorieux chapitres de l’histoire de l’opéra. Celui qui a grandi à Modène en buvant le lait de la même nourrice que Mirella Freni (leurs mères, collègues à la manufacture de tabac, ne pouvaient allaiter), avait pourtant de quoi être paralysé par l’enjeu : au moment où il fit ses débuts de ténor, la place était occupée par Corelli, del Monaco, di Stefano et Bergonzi ! Après ses débuts dans La Bohème à Reggio Emilia en 1961 (Rodolphe restera toujours l’un de ses rôles fétiches), les choses semblent s’emballer : il remplace di Stefano à Covent Garden en 1962, chante le Requiem de Verdi avec Karajan en 1964, débute à la Scala en 1965 et au Met en 1968. »

13 May 2005

The Future of Glyndebourne and Bayreuth

Glyndebourne and Bayreuth are the world’s two highest-profile private opera companies. Both are run by third-generation descendants of the founder. Each showcases the talents of well-known singers, conductors and directors. From the visionary template laid down by their founders, they have developed into complex modern organisms employing hundreds of people. Yet their character is defined by family: for these are still family businesses – the Christies at Glyndebourne, the Wagners at Bayreuth. »

12 May 2005

Koch Entertainment Acquired

ROW Entertainment Income Fund, the Canadian firm that owns the 100-unit CD Plus retail chain, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Koch Entertainment for about $80 million. ROW also owns wholesalers Record On wheels, Zing Distribution and Video One. »

12 May 2005

Opera North Triumphs Over ROH in Opera/Music Theater Category

Opera North triumphed over the Royal Opera House in the opera and music theatre category with Eight Little Greats, its series of short, rarely-staged operas. »

07 May 2005

Getting Steamy in LA

The ad campaign for the L.A. Opera’s upcoming Der Rosenkavalier has generated a lot of talk. Downtown artist Gottfried Helnwein, who is designing the production’s costumes and sets, also came up with the poster — using two models, a little makeup, and the power of suggestion. »

05 May 2005

In the News: Future of La Scala; Die Fledermaus in Philly; La Clemenza di Tito in London; Reinaldo Arenas as Opera; The Undiscovered

PARIS For all the poison and politics that accompanied the recent management meltdown at La Scala, Stéphane Lissner never hesitated last month when he was invited to become the first non-Italian in 227 years to run the legendary Milan opera house. Before accepting the job, though, he did call one old friend, the French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez. »

03 May 2005

An Interview with Angela Brown

Plunged in the deep waters of a serious opera career, Angela Brown is ready for the challenge. “It happened when it needed to…it’s God’s time; any earlier I wouldn’t be prepared.” After her pivotal substitution as Aida for the Metropolitan this fall, more companies and directors are taking notice. She now takes on the role of Cilla in Richard Danielpour’s Margaret Garner, premiering at the Michigan Opera Theater this May. Brown admits the increase in attention has been an adjustment, but her full schedule is old hat. “I have always been a very busy singer,” says Brown, “I’ve been concentrating on covering [roles] a lot, but now I get to really do it!” »

01 May 2005

Pope Benedict XVI on Music and Liturgy

Pope Benedict XVI is a pianist with a penchant for Mozart, which he is said to find more manageable than Brahms, given the limited amount of time he has to practice. (Until his election, he was one of the busiest cardinals in his role as chief interpreter and enforcer of doctrine.) His brother, a priest, was a church Kapellmeister. The Ratzinger boys were born in the part of Bavaria long under the influence of Salzburg, Mozart’s birthplace. »

28 Apr 2005

A Profile of Corrado Rovaris

Peering out onto Broad Street from a poster in front of the Academy of Music, conductor Corrado Rovaris seems too young to be so intense. At almost 40, his face is boyish, his hairline unreceded. But the eyes behind the glasses are penetrating. »

26 Apr 2005

Summer Courses and institutes for singers at New England Conservatory

Here is a list of courses and workshops at NEC this summer that relate to singing and voice training. »

26 Apr 2005

Daily Telegraph Interviews Richard Farnes of Opera North

Opera North is on sparkling form right now – but how will it cope with its forthcoming period of homelessness? Rupert Christiansen meets its inspirational music director Richard Farnes »

25 Apr 2005

In the News: Henze and Boulez Wow Paris; Faust at the Met; Chanticleer at the Temple of Dendur

How do composers famous in their younger days for radicalism look to the future of their art and reputation as they reach their 80th birthday? Paris in the past few days has been witness to hints of how a baton change might occur for two eminent seniors of music, Frenchman Pierre Boulez and German Hans Werner Henze. »

24 Apr 2005

In the News: DVD and Opera; Verdi in Florida; Trouble in Scotland

WITH the cost of recording operas in a studio now almost prohibitive, we are witnessing a boom time for opera on DVD. Opera buffs can hardly keep pace with the number of releases in the last year. And in June alone, Universal Classics plans to put out 18 complete operas on DVD, most of them reissues of productions originally taped and released on video. »

24 Apr 2005

L'Express Interviews Peter Sellars and Bill Viola

Le metteur en scène et le vidéaste américains présentent Tristan et Isolde, à l’Opéra Bastille. Ils révèlent les étapes de cette collaboration inédite »

22 Apr 2005

Stephan Lissner Named as New Superintendent and Artistic Director of La Scala

MILANO – Il neo sovrintendente Mauro Meli lascia la carica al Teatro alla Scala e abbandona anche l’opportunità di guidare il teatro degli Arcimboldi. La scelta comunicata nel corso del consiglio d’amministrazione della Fondazione a cui ha partecipato anche il prefetto di Milano Bruno Ferrante. Vengono quindi confermate le dimissioni che già erano nell’aria da giorni. La decisione segue di venti giorni le dimissioni del maestro Riccardo Muti, direttore musicale del teatro. »

18 Apr 2005

Gérard Mortier — The Misunderstood Megalomaniac

Monsieur Mortier ist nervös. Gleich will Isabelle Huppert anrufen. Frankreichs Vorzeige-Actrice möchte eine Karte für seine Oper. Und Ehrengäste sind für den Intendanten Chefsache. So wie alles andere eigentlich auch. Die Fotos fürs Programmheft, der Zug im Schnürboden und die Versammlung der Gewerkschaft. Jetzt, wenn die Huppert anruft, macht er einen Bückling, sagt “oui” und “bien sur”. Gérard Mortier ist ein Mann mit hervorragenden Manieren. Und ein Netzwerker. Er weiß: Wenn die Huppert morgen kommt, ist übermorgen ganz Frankreich bei ihm zu Gast. Sein Auftrag ist es, den protzigen Glaspalast an der Pariser Bastille jeden Abend mit 3000 Menschen zu füllen. »

18 Apr 2005

Celebrating Santa Fe Opera's Golden Anniversary in 2006

The Santa Fe debut of famed Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, the U.S. premiere of an acclaimed British opera and a gala operatic concert are highlights of the Santa Fe Opera’s 50th anniversary season next year, general director Richard Gaddes announced Thursday. »

17 Apr 2005

What happened to that old black magic?

REALITY changes; myths endure. For more than a century, the Metropolitan Opera has been synonymous with superstardom, so much so that no opera singer’s claim on immortality has been secure without seasons of glory at the Met. »

09 Apr 2005

Nabucco at Opera Australia

Saddam Hussein has a lot to answer for but his unlikeliest legacy will be unveiled at the Arts Centre next week – a new production of Verdi’s first successful opera, Nabucco. The key to this interpretation is a poster that the Iraqi tyrant unveiled in his final year in power portraying himself as the ancient Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar (Nabucco in the opera, sung by baritone Michael Lewis). »

08 Apr 2005

What Led to Muti's Ouster?

Few tears will be shed for Riccardo Muti, who resigned last Saturday from La Scala, Milan, the opera house he has conducted with a baton of iron for the last 19 years. That’s quite long enough for anyone to be in the same job, and Muti’s prestige means that he can take his pick of offers from the international circuit — except perhaps Covent Garden, which is still smarting at his peremptory withdrawal from last October’s production of La Forza del Destino, apparently in protest over the insignificant alteration of a piece of scenery. »

07 Apr 2005

Wiener Staatsoper Upset with ORF Broadcast Plans

“Ein Affront, eine Beleidigung dieses Hauses und des Publikums, aber auch der Künstler” – so kommentierte Staatsoperndirektor Ioan Holender die Absage der Übertragung von Donizettis “Liebestrank” mit den Stars Anna Netrebko und Rolando Villazón durch den ORF. Holender hatte gegen die späte Sendezeit im Pfingstsamstags-Programm des ORF (Beginn 22.35h) protestiert und gefragt, ob die mit Netrebko geplante Übertragung der kommenden Salzburger Festspiel-”Traviata” auch zu so später Stunde gezeigt werden würde. ORF-Programmdirektor Scolik nahm daraufhin die “Liebestrank”-Sendung überhaupt aus dem Sende-Programm. »

05 Apr 2005

Garcia's L'isola disabitata Recovered

Not all operas are grand, full-blown theatrical events. There are many smaller, more intimate works, some called salon operas, meant to be performed, as the name implies, in intimate surroundings. Most of these smaller operas are far less well known than their super-size relations. »