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Elsewhere

Il turco in Italia at the Aix Festival

Twenty years ago stage director Christopher Alden introduced Rossini’s then forgotten comedy to Southern California audiences in a production that is still remembered. In Aix Alden has revisited this complex work that many critics now consider Rossini’s greatest comedy.

First Night of the BBC Proms : Elgar The Kingdom

The BBC Proms 2014 season began with Sir Edward Elgars The Kingdom (1903-6). It was a good start to the season,which commemorates the start of the First World War. From that perspective Sir Andrew Davis's The Kingdom moved me deeply.

Le nozze di Figaro, Munich

One is unlikely to come across a cast of Figaro principals much better than this today, and the virtues of this performance indeed proved to be primarily vocal.

Winterreise and Trauernacht at the Aix Festival

That’s A Winter’s Journey and A Night of Mourning for metteurs-en-scène William Kentridge (South Africa) and Katie Mitchell (Great Britain), completing the clean sweep of English language stage directors for the Aix Festival productions this year.

James Gilchrist at Wigmore Hall

Assured elegance, care and thoughtfulness characterised tenor James Gilchrist’s performance of Schubert’s Schwanengesang at the Wigmore Hall, the cycles’ two poets framing a compelling interpretation of Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte.

Music for a While: Improvisations on Henry Purcell

‘Music for a while shall all your cares beguile.’ Dryden’s words have never seemed as apt as at the conclusion of this wonderful sequence of improvisations on Purcell’s songs and arias, interspersed with instrumental chaconnes and toccatas, by L’Arpeggiata.

Nabucco at Orange

The acoustic of the gigantic Théâtre Antique Romain at Orange cannot but astonish its nine thousand spectators, the nearly one hundred meter breadth of the its proscenium inspires awe. There was excited anticipation for this performance of Verdi’s first masterpiece.

Richard Strauss: Notturno

Richard Strauss may be most closely associated with the soprano voice but this recording of a selection of the composer’s lieder by baritone Thomas Hampson is a welcome reminder that the rapt lyricism of Strauss’s settings can be rendered with equal beauty and character by the low male voice.

Saint Louis: A Hit is a Hit is a Hit

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has once again staked claim to being the summer festival “of choice” in the US, not least of all for having mounted another superlative world premiere.

La Flûte Enchantée (2e Acte)
at the Aix Festival

In past years the operas of the Aix Festival that took place in the Grand Théâtre de Provence began at 8 pm. The Magic Flute began at 7 pm, or would have had not the infamous intermittents (seasonal theatrical employees) demanded to speak to the audience.

Ariodante at the Aix Festival

High drama in Aix. Three scenarios in conflict — those of G.F. Handel, Richard Jones and the intermittents (disgruntled seasonal theatrical employees). Make that four — mother nature.

Lucy Crowe, Wigmore Hall

The programme declared that ‘music, water and night’ was the connecting thread running through this diverse collection of songs, performed by soprano Lucy Crowe and pianist Anna Tilbrook, but in fact there was little need to seek a unifying element for these eclectic works allowed Crowe to demonstrate her expressive range — and offered the audience the opportunity to hear some interesting rarities.

The Turn of the Screw, Holland Park

‘Only make the reader’s general vision of evil intense enough … and his own experience, his own imagination, his own sympathy … will supply him quite sufficiently with all the particulars.

Plenty of Va-Va-Vroom: La Fille du Regiment, Iford

It is not often that concept, mood, music and place coincide perfectly. On the first night of Opera della Luna’s La Fille du Regiment at Iford Opera in Wiltshire, England we arrived with doubts (rather large doubts it should be admitted)as to whether Donizetti’s “naive and vulgar” romp of militarism and proto-feminism, peopled with hordes of gun-toting soldiers and praying peasants, could hardly be contained, surely, inside Iford’s tiny cloister?

La finta giardiniera, Glyndebourne

‘Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,/ Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend/ More than cool reason ever comprehends.’

Sophie Karthäuser, Wigmore Hall

Belgian soprano Sophie Karthäuser has a rich range of vocal resources upon which to draw: she has power and also precision; her top is bright and glinting and it is complemented by a surprisingly full and rich lower register; she can charm with a flowing lyrical line, but is also willing to take musical risks to convey emotion and embody character.

Ariadne auf Naxos, Royal Opera

‘When two men like us set out to produce a “trifle”, it has to become a very serious trifle’, wrote Hofmannsthal to Strauss during the gestation of their opera about opera.

Leoš Janáček : The Cunning Little Vixen, Garsington Opera at Wormsley

Janáček started The Cunning Little Vixen on the cusp of old age in 1922 and there is something deeply elegiac about it.

La Traviata in Marseille

It took only a couple of years for Il trovatore and Rigoletto to make it from Italy to the Opéra de Marseille, but it took La traviata (Venice, 1853) sixteen years (Marseille, 1869).

Madama Butterfly in San Francisco

Gesamtkunstwerk, synthesis of fable, sound, shape and color in art, may have been made famous by Richard Wagner, and perhaps never more perfectly realized than just now by San Francisco Opera.


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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’. »

01 Mar 2005

Whither Classical Music?

EXACTLY 100 years ago Sir Edward Elgar delivered his first lecture at the University of Birmingham, where he had been persuaded to become the professor of music. With the Enigma Variations and Pomp and Circumstance Marches being played everywhere, the 47-year-old composer was at the pinnacle of his fame and creative powers. So anything he said was bound to resonate. »

27 Feb 2005

Outsourcing Hits Wexford Festival

RIP-OFF Ireland has reached the opera house. Wexford Festival is hiring an eastern European orchestra because it says that the local equivalent is €150,000 more expensive. »

26 Feb 2005

More Fallout from Dismissal of Fontana

ROME – Milan’s La Scala opera house has fired its top administrator, sparking angry protests from employees who have threatened to bring the curtain down on more performances, news reports said. La Scala’s board of directors on Thursday dismissed Superintendent Carlo Fontana, who had a rift with conductor Riccardo Muti, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported. Fontana’s post will be taken over by Mauro Meli, director of La Scala’s theatrical division. »