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Elsewhere

Adriana Lecouvreur Opera Holland Park

Twelve years after Opera Holland Park's first production of Francesco Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur, the opera made a welcome return.

Back to the Beginnings: Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria at Iford Opera.

The Italianate cloister setting at Iford chimes neatly with Monteverdi’s penultimate opera The Return of Ulysses, as the setting cannot but bring to mind those early days of the musical genre. The world of commercial public opera had only just dawned with the opening of the Teatro San Cassiano in Venice in 1637 and for the first time opera became open to all who could afford a ticket, rather than beholden to the patronage of generous princes. Monteverdi took full advantage of the new stage and at the age of 73 brought all his experience of more than 30 years of opera-writing since his ground-breaking L’Orfeo (what a pity we have lost all those works) to the creation of two of his greatest pieces, Ulysses and then his final masterpiece, Poppea.

Schoenberg : Moses und Aron, Welsh National Opera, London

Once again, we find ourselves thanking an unrepresentable being for Welsh National Opera’s commitment to its mission. It is a sad state of affairs when a season that includes both Boulevard Solitude and Moses und Aron is considered exceptional, but it is - and is all the more so when one contrasts such seriousness of purpose with the endless revivals of La traviata which, Die Frau ohne Schatten notwithstanding, seem to occupy so much of the Royal Opera’s effort. That said, if the Royal Opera has not undertaken what would be only its second ever staging of Schoenberg’s masterpiece - the first and last was in 1965, long before most of us were born! - then at least it has engaged in a very welcome ‘WNO at the Royal Opera House’ relationship, in which we in London shall have the opportunity to see some of the fruits of the more adventurous company’s endeavours.

Rossini is Alive and Well and Living in Iowa

If you don’t have the means to get to the Rossini festival in Pesaro, you would do just as well to come to Indianola, Iowa, where Des Moines Metro Opera festival has devised a heady production of Le Comte Ory that is as long on belly laughs as it is on musical fireworks.

Gergiev : Janáček Glagolitic Mass, BBC Proms

Composed during just a few weeks of the summer of 1926, Janáček’s Slavonic-text Glagolitic Mass was first performed in Brno in December 1927. During the rehearsals for the premiere - just 3 for the orchestra and one 3-hour rehearsal for the whole ensemble - the composer made many changes, and such alterations continued so that by the time of the only other performance during Janáček’s lifetime, in Prague in April 1928, many of the instrumental (especially brass) lines had been doubled, complex rhythmic patterns had been ‘ironed-out’ (the Kyrie was originally in 5/4 time), a passage for 3 off-stage clarinets had been cut along with music for 3 sets of pedal timpani, and choral passages were also excised.

Donizetti and Mozart, Jette Parker Young Artists Royal Opera House, London

With the conclusion of the ROH 2013-14 season on Saturday evening - John Copley’s 40-year old production of La Bohème bringing down the summer curtain - the sun pouring through the gleaming windows of the Floral Hall was a welcome invitation to enjoy a final treat. The Jette Parker Young Artists Summer Showcase offered singers whom we have admired in minor and supporting roles during the past year the opportunity to step into the spotlight.

Glyndebourne's Strauss Der Rosenkavalier, BBC Proms

Many words have already been spent - not all of them on musical matters - on Richard Jones’s Glyndebourne production of Der Rosenkavalier, which last night was transported to the Royal Albert Hall. This was the first time at the Proms that Richard Strauss’s most popular opera had been heard in its entirety and, despite losing two of its principals in transit from Sussex to SW1, this semi-staged performance offered little to fault and much to admire.

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.


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26 Feb 2005

Lyric Workshop Opens at the Paris Opéra

Il y a eu l’Opéra studio de Louis Erlo, l’Ecole d’art lyrique immortalisée par Michel Sénéchal, puis le Centre de formation lyrique : à chaque nouveau directeur, la structure pédagogique de l’Opéra de Paris où sont encadrés les jeunes chanteurs change d’appellation. Gérard Mortier a annoncé récemment à la presse la création de l’Atelier lyrique, dont il a confié la direction à Christian Schirm, ancien adjoint d’Hugues Gall à Genève et à Paris. Comme l’a souligné Mortier avec un mélange de malice et d’affection, Schirm aspirait à prendre la direction d’un théâtre d’opéra : la mission qu’il lui a confiée pourrait être une préparation idéale à cette future tâche… »

25 Feb 2005

La Scala Dismisses Fontana

MILANO – Il sovrintendente del Teatro alla Scala, Carlo Fontana, è stato rimosso. Lo ha stabilito il Cda della teatro che in una nota rilasciata al termine della riunione fa sapere di aver revocato «con effetto immediato, il Sovrintendente dottor Carlo Fontana, affidando l’incarico al direttore della Divisione Teatro alla Scala, maestro Mauro Meli». »

24 Feb 2005

Richard Strauss Festival Begins 27 February at the Semperoper

The Saxonian capital of Dresden has long been associated with the operas of Richard Strauss, many of which were originally premiered at the city’s exquisite Semper Opera during Strauss’s lifetime. . . . [N]o less than six all-Strauss performances in late February and early March, encompassing four towering operas, an orchestral concert, and a Recital by Dame Felicity Lott. The operas will be Salome, Elektra, Ariadne auf Naxos and Die Frau Ohne Schatten, with stellar casts including such important international artists as Luana DeVol, Susan Anthony, Sumi Jo, Evelyn Herlitzius, Gabriele Schnaut, Petra Lang, Reinhild Runkel, Sophi Koch, Stephen Gould, Günter Neumann, Hans-Joachim Ketelsen, and Alan Titus. The experienced conductors will be Kent Nagano, Wolfgang Rennert, and Michael Boder. In addition to this operatic feast, an orchestra concert under the baton of Ion Marin will offer several works representative of ‘The Young Richard Strauss’ (Macbeth, the Burlesque for Piano and Orchestra, and Aus Italien). Finally, the radiant British soprano Dame Felicity Lott will be the soloist in a Recital showcasing her peerless interpretation of Strauss’ soaring melodic style. »

23 Feb 2005

Katharina Wagner and Doris Dörrie Receive Harsh Treatment in Munich

Zwei Frauen dominierten das Münchner Kulturgeplauder der beiden vergangenen Tage: Wagner-Urenkelin und Bayreuther Wunschmaid Katherina [sic] Wagner inszenierte am Gärtnerplatztheater Lortzings “Waffenschmied”, und “Männer”-Filmemacherin Doris Dörrie brachte einen Abend darauf an der Staatsoper Verdis “Rigoletto” heraus. »

21 Feb 2005

Scottish Opera on the Cutting Edge?

With the major success of his latest opera for Chicago, William Bolcom is America’s musical man of the moment. Yet in Britain he is scarcely a name. A Wedding, his new hit, is based on Robert Altman’s famous film of the same title, then at least we should be aware that he is aslo the composer of A View from the Bridge, an opera inspired in 1999 by the original blank verse version of the play by Arthur Miller who died last week. »

21 Feb 2005

WNO Moves In

When conductor Carlo Rizzi stepped forward at the end of La Traviata to address a delighted audience in his Italian-accented Welsh, he was marking a piece of history. Welsh National Opera had, after 60 years of peripatetic homelessness, for the first time performed on a stage it could call its own. »

21 Feb 2005

Changes in the Recording Industry

Over the past five years, just about everybody in my line of work (including me) has weighed in on the decline of classical-music recording. Norman Lebrecht, the English critic and high-culture gadfly, went so far as to write the industry’s obituary last fall and begin compiling a retrospective list of its 100 greatest achievements. As of last week, his list was up to 23 discs. (It can viewed online at www.scena.org.) »

21 Feb 2005

Classical Music in the Blogosphere

In a post last month on his popular blog about classical music, Alex Ross wrote that the music he loves ``exists off the radar screen of the major media’’ these days. But ``it’s actually kind of exciting,’’ he added. ``If I were in the business of marketing classical music to younger audiences, I’d make a virtue of this. Classical music is the new underground.’‘ »

21 Feb 2005

Survey Reveals Arts More Popular Than Sports

Music, drama and the visual arts really are second nature to the English, a national survey has conclusively shown. While news from Italy this weekend that the United Kingdom is regarded as the most cultured nation in Europe has been met with scepticism, it seems we should have a higher opinion of our chief pastimes on this island. DIY shops, fast food outlets and soccer violence are not even half the picture, it is now clear. »

19 Feb 2005

Troubles at La Scala

MILANO – I lavoratori della Scala scendono in campo dopo che il Cda ha dato mandato al sindaco di «risolvere consensualmente» entro la prossima settimana il rapporto con il sovrintendente Carlo Fontana e proclamano uno sciopero per martedì prossimo, il giorno in cui agli Arcimboldi avrebbe dovuto debuttare La Dama di Picche di Ciaikovski (i possessori del biglietto potranno chiederne il rimborso alla Biglietteria del teatro alla Scala, ndr). »

19 Feb 2005

Merkur Interviews Film Director Doris Dörrie — Rigoletto at Bayerischen Staatsoper

Das kann ja schon mal passieren: Die eigene Tochter verliebt sich ausgerechnet in den blödesten Affen der Welt. Eine Vorstellung zum Verzweifeln. Filmregisseurin Doris Dörrie will ganz bewusst solche Assoziationen wecken – und zwar mit ihrer ersten Münchner Operninszenierung. “Rigoletto”, sagt sie, “ist ein so egoistischer Vater. Aber ich kann ihn verstehen. Auch heute würde jeder von uns, der eine 15-jährige Tochter hat, sie am liebsten wegsperren.” Am kommenden Montag hat im Münchner Nationaltheater Giuseppe Verdis “Rigoletto” Premiere. Es singen u. a. Diana Damrau (Gilda), Mark Delavan (Rigoletto), Ramon Vargas (Herzog). Zubin Mehta dirigiert. »

18 Feb 2005

Oleg Caetani New Music Director at ENO

English National Opera has appointed Oleg Caetani as its next music director. He will begin the position in September 2006, succeeding Paul Daniel who leaves in July this year after eight years in the role. Caetani will divide his time between London and Melbourne, where he is chief conductor and artistic director of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra – a role he began last month on a four-year contract. He plans to take up residence in London. »

18 Feb 2005

The 12th BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition

Contestants from 25 countries have been selected to battle it out in what many consider to be one of the world’s premier singing competitions. »

17 Feb 2005

British Opera's Immigration Problem

The almost constant touring by east European opera and ballet companies continues to be a significant feature of the British cultural scene, and one that requires a little attention. We ought to be aware that the artists involved are working an exhausting schedule in difficult circumstances that British unions rightly would not tolerate. And there is no doubt that their one-night-stand activities steal audiences away from our own subsidised organisations. »

17 Feb 2005

Daily Telegraph Interviews Lisa Gasteen

Australian soprano Lisa Gasteen, who plays Brünnhilde in the second part of the Royal Opera’s ‘Ring’ cycle next month, talks to Rupert Christiansen about her tempestuous route to the top When she was a teenager, Lisa Gasteen was thrown out of a school folk group for singing too loud. Now, established as one of the world’s premier Wagnerian sopranos, her ability to turn up the volume comes in handy. In 2001, she made a triumphant debut at Covent Garden as Isolde; next month, she returns to halloo “Hojotoho” as Brünnhilde in Die Walküre, the second instalment of the Royal Opera’s new production of the Ring, conducted by Antonio Pappano. »

17 Feb 2005

Edinburgh International Festival Confronts Cash Crunch

This year’s Edinburgh International Festival was facing a cash crisis last night after the postponement of a £600,000 emergency funding package. Last week, it emerged that Brian McMaster, director and chief executive of the EIF, had requested the money from Edinburgh City Council and EventScotland because the festival’s funding was “meeting the buffers”. »

17 Feb 2005

Classical Music — It's No Longer A Man's World

Since the time of Claudio Monteverdi, the Italian composer who lived from 1567 to 1643, classical music has been a man’s world. With some exceptions — such as 19th Century pianist-composer Clara Schumann — women achieved lim-ited prominence in the centuries-old art form. That is changing, and although they are still in the minority, women are appearing more frequently at the highest levels of classical music. »

15 Feb 2005

Importing Western Productions to the Bolshoi

Operatic and ballet productions imported from the West are becoming increasingly prominent on the repertory of the Bolshoi, Russia’s largest music theater. Local audiences met such imports with circumspection, but are now growing to like them. »

12 Feb 2005

Public Radio's Flagship Runs Aground

WETA-FM listeners who had hoped to prevent the widely anticipated decision by the public broadcasting station’s board of directors to drop classical music programs left its Shirlington offices disappointed last night. By an overwhelming majority, the board approved a resolution to focus on news and public-affairs programming. »

12 Feb 2005

Welsh National Opera Moves to Millennium Centre

This is Welsh National Opera’s big chance. Fifty-nine years after its birth, as the brilliant artistic reputation that it enjoyed in the 1980s falters along with attendances, the company has moved into a new home in the Wales Millennium Centre, a vast cultural emporium at the heart of the redeveloped Cardiff Bay. »

11 Feb 2005

Early Opera in Seattle

The Early Music Guild, an indispensable part of Seattle’s period-music scene for more than two decades, every once in a while steps back from presenting the best and the brightest musicians from around the world and produces extravaganzas of its own. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, in 1997, the guild presented a stellar reading of Handel’s “Carmelite Vespers” at St. James Cathedral, with Andrew Parrott leading the large forces. More recently was a weekend of Monteverdi chamber operas. »

11 Feb 2005

A New Opera Company Formed in Upstate New York

Three local opera groups announced Friday that they have merged to form a major new company, called Mercury Opera Rochester, which will launch its inaugural season in the fall of 2005. For its first season, the company plans to stage three original (and yet to be specified) productions — two smaller, community-style operas in the fall of 2005 and spring of 2006 at venues to be determined later, and a grand operatic performance at the Eastman Theatre in January 2006 that would feature, among other things, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra serving as pit orchestra. »

11 Feb 2005

Cleveland Opera's New Season

Singers both new and familiar to Cleveland will perform with Cleveland Opera during its 30th anniversary season starting in the fall. The season is the first programmed entirely by general director Robert Chumbley. »

10 Feb 2005

Ticket Prices Going Up At Wiener Staatsoper

Unter vielen Abonnenten der Wiener Staatsoper herrscht Aufregung. Der Grund: Ein Schreiben des kaufmännischen Geschäftsführers Thomas Platzer, in dem teilweise empfindliche Preiserhöhungen angekündigt werden. »

10 Feb 2005

Dresden Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the Reopening of the Semperoper

Als am 13. Februar 1985 zur Wiedereröffnung der Semperoper die DDR-Nationalhymne erklang, mag die Zeile „Auferstanden aus Ruinen“ zumindest in den Gedanken vieler Zuschauer mitgeschwungen haben. Offiziell wurde der Text damals nicht mehr verwendet. »