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Elsewhere

On The Death of Klinghoffer

This is a revised version of my review of the Sept 5th 1991American premiere of The Death of Klinghoffer, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The opera was first performed at Brussels’ La Monnaie the previous spring.

Anna Netrebko, now a dramatic soprano, shines in the Met’s dark and murky ‘Macbeth’

The former lyric soprano holds up well — and survives the intrusive close-up camerawork of the ‘Live in HD’ transmission

Arizona Opera Presents First Mariachi Opera

Houston Grand Opera commissioned Cruzar la Cara de la Luna from composer José “Pepe” Martínez, music director of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, who wrote the text together with Broadway and opera director Leonard Foglia. The work had its world premier in 2010. Since then, it has traveled to several cities including Paris, Chicago, and San Diego.

Plácido Domingo: I due Foscari, London

“Why should I go to hear Plácido Domingo” someone said when Verdi’s I due Foscari was announced by the Royal Opera House. There are very good reasons for doing so.

Philip Glass’s The Trial

Music Theatre Wales presented the world premiere of Philip Glass’s The Trial (Kafka) last night at the Linbury, Royal Opera House. Music Theatre Wales started doing Glass in 1989. Their production of Glass’s In the Penal Colony in 2010 was such a success that Glass conceived The Trial specially for the company.

Joyce DiDonato: Alcina, Barbican, London

To say that the English Concert’s performance of Handel’s Alcina at the Barbican on 10 October 2014 was hotly anticipated would be an understatement. Sold out for weeks, the performance capitalised on the draw of its two principals Joyce DiDonato and Alice Coote and generated the sort of buzz which the work did at its premiere.

Un ballo in maschera in San Francisco

The subject is regicide, a hot topic during the Italian risorgimento when the Italian peninsula was in the grip of the Hapsburgs, the Bourbons, the House of Savoy and the Pontiff of the Catholic Church.

A New Don Giovanni and Anniversary at Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago opened its sixtieth anniversary season with a new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni directed by Artistic Director of the Goodman Theater, Robert Falls.

Grande messe des morts, LSO

It was a little over two years ago that I heard Sir Colin Davis conduct the Berlioz Requiem in St Paul’s Cathedral; it was the last time I heard — or indeed saw — him conduct his beloved and loving London Symphony Orchestra.

Guillaume Tell, Welsh National Opera

Part of their Liberty or Death season along with Rossini’s Mose in Egitto and Bizet’s Carmen, Welsh National Opera performed David Pountney’s new production of Rossini’s Guillaume Tell (seen 4 October 2014).

Mose in Egitto, Welsh National Opera

Welsh National Opera’s production of Rossini’s Mose in Egitto was the second of two Rossini operas (the other is Guillaume Tell) performed in tandem for their autumn tour.

L’incoronazione di Poppea, Barbican Hall

In Monteverdi’s first Venetian opera, Il Ritorno d’Ulisse (1641), Penelope’s patient devotion as she waits for the return of her beloved Ulysses culminates in the triumph of love and faithfulness; in contrast, in L’incoronazione di Poppea it is the eponymous Queen’s lust, passion and ambition that prevail.

Rameau’s Les Paladins, Wigmore Hall

After the triumphs of love, the surprises: Les Paladins, under their director Jérôme Correas, and soprano Sandrine Piau are following their tour of material from their 2011 CD, ‘Le Triomphe de L’amour’, with a new amatory arrangement.

Puccini : The Girl of the Golden West, ENO London

At the ENO, Puccini's La fanciulla del West becomes The Girl of the Golden West. Hearing this opera in English instead of Italian has its advantages, While we can still hear the exotic, Italianate Madama Butterfly fantasies in the orchestra, in English, we're closer to the original pot-boiler melodrama. Madama Biutterfly is premier cru: The Girl of the Golden West veers closer, at times, to hokum. The new ENO production gets round the implausibility of the plot by engaging with its natural innocence.

Anna Caterina Antonacci, Wigmore Hall, London

Presenting a well-structured and characterful programme, Italian soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci demonstrated her prowess in both soprano and mezzo repertoire in this Wigmore Hall recital, performing European works from the early years of the twentieth century. Assuredly accompanied by her regular pianist Donald Sulzen, Antonacci was self-composed and calm of manner, but also evinced a warmly engaging stage presence throughout.

Il barbiere di Siviglia, Royal Opera

Bold, bright and brash, Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s Il barbiere di Siviglia tells its story clearly in complementary primary colours.

Gluck and Bertoni at Bampton

Bampton Classical Opera’s 2014 double bill neatly balanced drollery and gravity. Rectifying the apparent prevailing indifference to the 300th centenary of Christoph Willibald Gluck birth, Bampton offered a sharp, witty production of the composer’s Il Parnaso confuso, pairing this ‘festa teatrale’ with Ferdinando Bertoni’s more sombre Orfeo.

Purcell: A Retrospective

Harry Christophers and The Sixteen Choir and Orchestra launched the Wigmore Hall’s two-year series, ‘Purcell: A Retrospective’, in splendid style. Flexibility, buoyancy and transparency were the watchwords.

Mahler: Symphony no.3 — Prom 73

It would be unfair, but one could summarise this concert with the words, ‘Senator, you’re no Leonard Bernstein.’

Los Angeles Opera Opens with La traviata

On September 13, Los Angeles Opera opened its 2014-2015 season with a revival of Marta Domingo’s updated, Art Deco staging of Giuseppe Verdi’s La traviata. It starred Nino Machaidze as Violetta, Arturo Chácon-Cruz as Alfredo, and Plácido Domingo as Giorgio Germont. The conductor was Music Director James Conlon.


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25 Mar 2005

Moscow Celebrates the Golden Mask Festival

In all the years of its existence, the Golden Mask Festival has been nothing if not a study in contrasts—no other Russian festival embraces as fully the multiplicity of the performing arts. Once a year, for just over two weeks in the spring, the best Russian opera singers, ballet dancers, dramatic actors, directors, conductors, puppeteers and other sundry performing artists gather to show their stuff and compete for the coveted Golden Mask award. »

24 Mar 2005

U Carmen E Khayelitsha Premieres

As the limousines arrive at the premiere of an award winning film version of Carmen, U Carmen E Khayelitsha, they have to slow down for a group of barefooted children pushing shopping trolleys filled with scrap metal across the road. »

24 Mar 2005

Trouble at the Bolshoi

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN)—Russia’s Bolshoi Theater has sparked outrage by putting on an opera that some lawmakers and a pro-Kremlin youth group say is pornographic. The opera, “Rosenthal’s Children,” is about a scientist who clones five great classical composers—Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Wagner, Mussorgsky and Verdi. The scientist then dies, and the cloned musicians—unprepared for life on their own in the 1990s—end up on the street. »

24 Mar 2005

Sometimes It's The Little Things

A new wave of distinctive 21st-century concert halls is changing the look and feel of classical music performance in the U.S. These halls have impressive architectural pedigrees and price tags—Frank Gehry designed the $275 million Disney Hall in Los Angeles; Rafael Viñoly, the $265 million Kimmel Center in Philadelphia; Santiago Calatrava, the coming $300 million Atlanta Symphony Center. Most of them, like architect William Rawn’s $99 million Strathmore Music Center in Bethesda, Md., shun the gilded, red-velvet opulence of traditional European models in favor of Modernist simplicity. They also strive for heightened spatial intimacy between audience and performer: Disney Hall, home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, has terraced seating areas surrounding the stage. »

24 Mar 2005

Four Operas at the Budapest Spring Festival

FOUR operas, more than four reasons to go. The operas: Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, Péter Eötvös’s The Balcony, Wagner’s Parsifal, and Handel’s Semele.The reasons to go: great music, top performers, the best conductors, inventive directors, and two truly excellent performance spaces. »

23 Mar 2005

New Digs for the San Francisco Conservatory of Music

A month shy of the halfway point in the 26-month construction of its new Civic Center home, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music started the party early last week with a ceremony to “top out” the new building on Oak Street. »

22 Mar 2005

An Eye On The Prize

Soprano Susanna Phillips, a former Huntsville resident, is among the four top winners picked Sunday in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in New York. Phillips won $15,000 toward her studies and eligibility to be considered for the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. »

22 Mar 2005

Simon Rattle Stirs Things Up At Salzburg

Da ist einmal das quirlige künstleri sche Ego des neuen Mannes: Si mon Rattle, als Nachfolger Clau dio Abbados bei den Berliner Philharmoniker sozusagen naturgemäß auch Chef der Salzburger Osterfestspiele, ist schon von seinem Selbstverständnis her das Gegenteil des Festivalgründers Karajan. Der hatte 1967 die Idee, Richard Wagners Gesamtkunstwerk mit seinen Berliner Philharmonikern im Orchestergraben auf mustergültige Weise zu präsentieren, in eigenen Inszenierungen; eine Tragödie, ganz aus dem Geiste der Musik geboren, sozusagen. »

20 Mar 2005

Muti: Going, Going, Gone? — Bring on Pappano

THE opera world is eyeing two British-based conductors as potential saviours of La Scala opera house, which has cancelled this month’s programme amid a bitter power struggle and staff revolt. »

20 Mar 2005

Edinburgh International Festival — 2005
Gets Off to a Rough Start

THE ALARM BELLS SOUNDED A FEW weeks ago when Edinburgh International Festival director Brian McMaster put out the plea for a rescue package. Not only were there to be no late-night £5 concerts at this year’s festival – a series he has always said is politically desirable but financially extravagant – but he needed an additional six-figure sum simply to make the bare bones break even. That, essentially, is what he has given us in this year’s music programme – one main evening concert a night, three staged operas, and the usual daily diet of Queen’s Hall midday recitals. »

17 Mar 2005

The Itinerant Mozart

March 16, 2005, New York, NY-The 39th season of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ Mostly Mozart Festival, which runs from July 28 to August 27, was announced today by Jane S. Moss, Vice President for Programming, and Music Director Louis Langrée. Now in his third season as Music Director, Maestro Langrée conducts the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra (MMFO) in 11 concerts of seven different programs during the Festival. This summer’s Festival will have a special focus on Mozart’s travels and influence in Paris, Prague, London, Italy, and Russia, which will be explored through MMFO concerts, programs with visiting ensembles, late-night concerts, and pre-concert events. Mostly Mozart will begin on Thursday, July 28 with Louis Langrée leading the MMFO in a performance featuring soprano Renée Fleming and pianist Stephen Hough at Avery Fisher Hall. This performance will be broadcast on Lincoln Center’s Emmy Award-winning series, Live From Lincoln Center. »

17 Mar 2005

Festival Aix-en-Provence — 2005

Le directeur du Festival international d’art lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence, Stéphane Lissner, a dévoilé, mardi 15 mars, à Paris, le programme de la manifestation, qui aura lieu du 9 au 30 juillet. »

17 Mar 2005

Cincinnati Opera Full Speed Ahead

Cincinnati Opera, on the move for the past half-dozen years, is not slowing down. Quite the opposite. The nation’s second oldest opera company appears to be speeding up. »

16 Mar 2005

A Changing of the Guard at the Bayerische Staatsoper

Zum Start eine Strauss-Oper unter Kent Nagano, ein Rossini-Zyklus mit Ivor Bolton am Pult, eine deutliche Erweiterung des Sänger-Ensembles: Das alles wird erst ab 2006/ 07 passieren, ab der Ära Christoph Albrecht also. Doch zuvor erleben Münchens Opernfans die letzte Spielzeit unter der Ägide von Sir Peter Jonas, die insgesamt 13., eine “lucky number”, wie der Intendant findet. »

15 Mar 2005

Taking Risks in Montreal

Toronto—L’Opéra de Montréal plans to break with routine next year by presenting three operas the company has never done before. »

15 Mar 2005

Wiener Staatsoper — The Cost of Doing Business

Die Wiener Staatsoper hat ihre Abonnement-Preise erhöht. Zum Teil so kräftig, dass Musikfreunde nun für ihre Karten beinahe doppelt so viel bezahlen müssen wie bisher. Ein Proteststurm war die Folge, der auch viel Kritik an der künstlerischen Gebarung des Hauses einschloss. Direktor Ioan Holender wollte diese im Zuge der Debatte über die Preiserhöhungen nicht kommentieren, sondern verwies an seinen Geschäftsführer, Thomas Platzer. »

12 Mar 2005

As Muti Suffers the Slings and Arrows

Die empörten Stimmen in Mailand scheinen voll und ganz in die hef tige Polemik einzustimmen, die der Dirigent und musikalische Leiter der Mailänder Scala, Riccardo Muti, via Offenen Brief gegen die Belegschaft seines Hauses gerichtet hat. Orchester und Chor streiken seit Tagen aus Protest gegen die von Muti betriebene Ablöse des Scala-Intendanten Carlo Fontana. Deshalb musste am vergangenen Donnerstag die Premiere der neuen Oper “Il dissoluto assolto” aus der Feder des italienischen Komponisten Azio Corghi abgesagt werden. Die Aufführung dieses auf einem Text von Literatur-Nobelpreisträger Jose Saramago basierenden Stückes wäre die erste Uraufführung gewesen, die Riccardo Muti seit seinem Amtsantritt 1986 dirigiert hätte. »

10 Mar 2005

This Year's Events at Ravinia

Marching into its second century, the Ravinia Festival will surround James Conlon’s first season as music director with more than 130 events, from the season opener on June 7 to the finale on Sept. 11. »

08 Mar 2005

Muti Responds

In a letter to the Corriere della Sera, Riccardo Muti comments publicly on the trouble-racked opera house after the controversial replacement of the superintendent, which provoked a strike and the cancellation of the current season’s premieres. The conductor explains that for 20 years, he has been committed to promoting La Scala’s artistic growth and defending its music. »

07 Mar 2005

HGO Premieres Adamo's Lysistrata

The memory was delicious: Women withholding sex to end a war. Surely, thought composer Mark Adamo, an opera lurked in that idea. Fresh from the success of Little Women, which Houston Grand Opera premiered in 1998, he was looking for new material. But when he returned to Lysistrata, the Aristophanes play that premiered in 414 B.C., he found his memory richer than reality. »

07 Mar 2005

The New Tenors

It was not so very long ago that the opera world seemed to be facing a cavernous void of world-class tenors. True, there were a handful of gifted artists such as Roberto Alagna and Ben Heppner. Yet the public image of the operatic tenor was largely dominated by the studio-simonized “popera” of Andrea Bocelli, and the increasingly uninspired Three Tenors spectacles. »

04 Mar 2005

Opera Colorado Announces New Season

DENVER, CO—President and General Director Peter Russell and Artistic Director James Robinson announced today the company’s 2005-2006 season as the company prepares to move to its new state-of-the-art home, the Ellie Caulkins Opera House at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. For Opera Colorado patrons, the new opera house will offer unprecedented patron services: increased legroom, more restrooms, spacious lobbies, premium sightlines from all seating locations, superb acoustics, and an exclusive donor lounge. The move allows Opera Colorado to add performances and spread out its three annual productions over the course of a traditional season. »

03 Mar 2005

Zeffirelli Takes On Muti

It is the most fabled opera house in the world, whose reopening was lauded as one of the big events in music. Yet just three months later, La Scala is being paralysed by a crisis of Verdian theatricality that has led to rebellion and strikes, and is now prompting a head on clash between two of the titans of contemporary opera. »

02 Mar 2005

New York City Opera's 2005-6 Season

The New York City Opera said Tuesday that it would offer six new productions during its 2005-6 season, including two contemporary works: “The Little Prince” by Rachel Portman and “Lysistrata, or the Nude Goddess” by Mark Adamo. In releasing details of the new season, City Opera said its offerings would skew toward the modern. New productions also include “The Mines of Sulphur,” by Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, which was given its premiere in London in 1965; Paul Dukas’s “Ariane et Barbe-bleu” (1907); the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta “Patience” (1881); and “Capriccio,” the last opera by Richard Strauss, first performed in 1942. »

02 Mar 2005

Opera Colorado Gala to Feature Jake Heggie Work For Renée Fleming

Soprano Renée Fleming, one of opera’s biggest names, heads a star-studded parade of 12 singers set to perform at the Sept. 10 gala opening of the $86 million Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Opera Colorado announced Monday. »

01 Mar 2005

Royal Holloway-British Library Lectures in Musicology

MUSIC AND COURTLINESS The elite civilisation of Europe in the central and later Middle ages is often spoken of as a ‘courtly’ one, where the ‘courts’ at issue include the households of secular magnates, bishops and abbots. Men and women of exalted station had always possessed courts in the West, since Roman imperial times, but after approximately 1050 writings from Western Europe refer with increasing frequency to a quality of ‘courtliness’, or curialitas. A music theorist of c1100, whom we know only by the name ‘Johannes’, is the first European writer to identify certain kinds of music as inherently ‘courtly’ (curialis) and therefore appropriate to courtliness. Since his treatise is a technical one, we can trace this courtliness in terms of actual musical procedures. We can also place him, with some confidence, exactly where other sources lead us to expect him, in the episcopal and indeed imperial milieux of ‘Germany’. »