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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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25 Jan 2005

Merkur Interviews Katharina Wagner

Papa konnte doch nichts Besseres passieren: Katharina Wagner, Tochter des Bayreuther Festspielchefs Wolfgang Wagner und damit heftig für seine Nachfolge gehandelt, hat mit bislang zwei Opernprojekten ihre Klasse gezeigt. 2002 debütierte die heute 27-Jährige als Regisseurin mit Richard Wagners “Fliegendem Holländer” in Würzburg, 2004 folgte in Budapest der “Lohengrin”. Nach zwei Werken ihres Urgroßvaters inszeniert sie, die Theaterwissenschaft studierte und unter anderem bei ihrem Vater und bei Harry Kupfer assistierte, fürs Gärtnerplatztheater Lortzings “Waffenschmied”, Premiere ist am 20. Februar. »

24 Jan 2005

Is Opera Relevant in Scotland?

WHILE Scotland’s national opera company is in meltdown, how ironic is it that the opera school of our national music conservatoire is flying high? The two institutions may only be sited yards across the road from one another in Glasgow’s Cowcaddens district, but the fortunes of Scottish Opera and the Alexander Gibson Opera School at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) could hardly be more diametrically opposed. »

22 Jan 2005

Salzburg To Celebrate Wolfie's 250th

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA – Austria’s venerable Salzburg Festival will stage all 22 of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s operas and musical theatre works next year, the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Simply staging the composer’s seven most-performed operas – including Le Nozze de Figaro and Idomeneo — “would have been too little for Salzburg,” festival director Peter Ruzicka told reporters Thursday. »

21 Jan 2005

Muti in Milano

Here, indicates the maestro, is the “punto Callas”. Riccardo Muti and I are standing onstage at La Scala, Milan, where so many great operas have been premiered and countless distinguished singers have sung. Facing the deserted auditorium, he points to an unmarked spot on the floor, right of centre, which Maria Callas established as her sovereign territory. It is the punto, or position, which best showed off a singer’s voice in a theatre renowned for its acoustical quirks. “There was great competition for this point,” smiles Muti. “In a quartet you would have a tower of singers.” Breaking the eerie stillness, the maestro claps his hands to show how much more flattering the acoustic has become since the great Milanese theatre reopened last month after a three-year renovation. Has La Scala ever resonated so crisply to the sound of one person’s applause? Muti’s point is that there is no longer any need for a “punto Callas”. »

20 Jan 2005

Peace is at hand in San Diego

A San Diego Opera-San Diego Symphony agreement reached this week to share musicians signifies a new level of achievement for two arts organizations that have fought second-tier status for years. It also ushers in unprecedented cooperation for these major arts organizations, which didn’t always work cooperatively or compatibly. »

20 Jan 2005

Seeking Greatness at Lincoln Center

NEW YORK—The British are coming. So are the Russians, along with an Argentinean and the usual Austrians and Germans. Lincoln Center’s 2005-06 “Great Performers” lineup was announced Tuesday, and the 40th season of the multimedia series once again draws a multicultural mix of classical performers. The opening events of “Great Performers,” Sept. 28-Oct. 2, bring the return of the virtuoso London Symphony Orchestra under Sir Colin Davis in programs ranging from the Verdi Requiem to Sibelius and Vaughan Williams. That kicks off a season featuring visits from 10 international orchestras, plus 31 recitals and chamber concerts. »

20 Jan 2005

Ghosts of Performances Past

Washington DC (PRWEB) January 20, 2005—The National Theatre is a plethora of stars of the past, the present, and the future of the great American theatre. Almost every great stage performer over the past century has graced the stage of this historic theatre. The oldest cultural institution in the Nation’s capital, the National Theatre is one of the oldest continuously operating theatres in America. The National Theatre, managed by the Shubert Organization, has presented numerous North American and World premieres of professional Broadway Class-A Legitimate Productions throughout its history. The National Theatre over looks the International Trade Center and Freedom Plaza on “The Avenue of the Presidents”. Since its inception, the National Theatre has been crowned “The Theatre of the Presidents” having performed for every American President and First Lady. »

20 Jan 2005

Cincinnatus Idyll

There was no scowling Simon Cowell, no one singing while holding a scooter and no William Hung. But Cincinnati’s own classical version of “American Idol” auditions took place Friday and Saturday at Music Hall. Budding singers and classically trained performers sang with all the fervor of “Idol” winner Fantasia in an attempt to land a spot in one or more of Cincinnati Opera’s four summer productions. »

20 Jan 2005

Carmen at Toronto

Richard Bradshaw is finally ready to lift the curse and bring Carmen back to Toronto next fall as part of the Canadian Opera Company’s final season at the Hummingbird Centre. Georges Bizet’s hot-blooded saga about the Spanish gypsy and jealous soldier is one of the greatest crowd-pleasers in the opera repertory, but at the COC a black cloud has been hanging over it for the past 12 years. »

20 Jan 2005

Philadelphia Opera Company's 2005-2006 Season

The premiere of “Margaret Garner,” plus a late Verdi masterpiece, and Figaro’s twin adventures as told by Rossini and Mozart make up the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s 2005-2006 season. For the second year, the company will present four operas with six Academy of Music performances each. “We hope that we will be able to return to five productions in the 2006-2007 season,” said the company’s general and artistic director Robert Driver as the ‘05-’06 season was announced yesterday. »

14 Jan 2005

Opera in the UK

I HOPE you made the most of last year’s opera highlights because 2005 looks pretty dull by comparison. The resignation of Scottish Opera’s music director, Sir Richard Armstrong, has added to the company’s woes. With only three productions in the foreseeable future, the main risk is that the audience forgets the company exists. The vanishing audience is a spectre that haunts other companies: ENO must be wondering what became of an audience that was more like a loyal football crowd. »

14 Jan 2005

Opera in Paris

Le premier temps fort de cette deuxième partie de saison lyrique sera La Flûte enchantée bientôt proposée par l’Opéra Bastille : on a déjà vu dans une halle d’usine de Bochum ce spectacle étonnant conçu par les Catalans de la Fura del Baus, à l’époque où Gérard Mortier dirigeait le Festival de la Ruhr. Comment les matelas gonflables et la science-fiction philosophique imaginés par ces plasticiens virtuoses passeront-ils à Paris, et comment Marc Minkowski, qui avait très bien dirigé l’oeuvre en Allemagne, sera-t-il reçu par l’Orchestre de l’Opéra ? On le saura à partir du 24 janvier. Deux jours après, on suivra aussi, à Garnier, le second Couronnement de Poppée de la saison, après celui de McVicar aux Champs-Elysées : le metteur en scène, David Alden, est aussi anglais, et la divine Antonacci ne sera plus Néron mais Poppée. »

12 Jan 2005

SFO Announces 2005-2006 Season

The main entrance of the War Memorial Opera House.Photo by Terrence McCarthy SAN FRANCISCO — General Director Pamela Rosenberg announced details of San Francisco Opera's 83rd Season during a press meeting at the Opera House on Wednesday, January 12.... »

12 Jan 2005

David Gockley Now in the Running at SFO

SAN FRANCISCO Opera director search adds Houston veteran Once not in running, David Gockley now a leading candidate Joshua Kosman, Chronicle Music Critic Tuesday, January 11, 2005 David Gockley, the visionary longtime general director of the Houston Grand Opera, has... »

09 Jan 2005

Kurtag's Kafka Fragments at Carnegie Hall

KAFKA and Kurtag. This natural coupling of writer and composer telegraphs with alliterative grace a century of modernism, a deeply felt spiritual condition and a grasping for genuine personal expression through violently impersonal times. The Hungarian composer Gyorgy Kurtag was born in 1926, two years after Kafka’s death, but their sensibilities are interwoven in one of Mr. Kurtag’s most effective works, “Kafka Fragments,” for soprano and violin. These settings of short excerpts from Kafka’s diaries, letters and notebooks will be performed this week by the soprano Dawn Upshaw and the violinist Geoff Nuttall, in a new staging directed by Peter Sellars, as part of Ms. Upshaw’s Perspectives series at Carnegie Hall. »

08 Jan 2005

Tippett's The Knot Garden at Scottish Opera

The Knot Garden Sir Michael Tippett sung in English The Knot Garden, with a libretto by the composer, has a typically enigmatic title. The elaborate Elizabethan Knot Garden often resembled a maze - and the reference to Shakespeare's time is... »

07 Jan 2005

Lyric of Chicago's New Season

Lyric plays it safe with season schedule By John von Rhein Tribune music critic January 6, 2005 Now at the midpoint of its golden jubilee season, Lyric Opera of Chicago is faced with carrying its winning streak into the company's... »

06 Jan 2005

Zeffirelli Has A Conniption

Franco Zeffirelli, one of the world’s best-known opera directors, yesterday branded the inaugural season of the newly refurbished La Scala opera house a disgrace. Zeffirelli accused the opera house of inviting second-rate conductors to perform. Writing to a journalist on the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, who had written approvingly of the programme, he said the situation “risks becoming utterly absurd and developing into a scandal of truly international proportions because La Scala belongs to the whole world”. »

05 Jan 2005

A Dead-end at Abbey Road?

Twilight of the CD Gods? A Studio 'Tristan' May Be the Last Ever By MICHAEL WHITE LONDON, Jan. 4 - The EMI recording studios at Abbey Road in north London are always a surprise when you walk through the modest... »

01 Jan 2005

Classical Music Sales Looking Up

A Year When Classical Labels Came Through By ANTHONY TOMMASINI In 2003, the problems affecting the classical recording business seemed daunting: markets flooded with multiple versions of the standard repertory; declining sales; widespread layoffs in the offices of the major... »

01 Jan 2005

La Serva Padrona in Boston

Soprano Amanda Forsythe has sung so often with baritone David Kravitz that she was only mildly surprised recently when she Googled her name, and up popped a reference to “Amanda Kravitz.” Tonight and tomorrow afternoon, Forsythe is paired with Kravitz again for Pergolesi’s delicious little opera “La Serva Padrona” (“The Maid as Mistress”), presented by Boston Baroque as part of its annual New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day gala at Sanders Theatre. »

30 Dec 2004

Tsar's Bride at the Mariinsky

ST. PETERSBURG, December 29 (RIA Novosti) – The city’s Mariinka (Kirov) theater is to open its next season here today with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Tsar’s Bride” opera. Talking to RIA Novosti, people at the Mariinka theater’s press center noted that this was a joint production involving the theater and Holland’s Diaghilev Festival Foundation. The new stage version of this opera was first performed December 10 in Groningen, Holland. »

29 Dec 2004

An Overview of Opera at Spoleto Festival USA

Spoleto Festival USA has announced the production of three operas for 2005. These are: Die Vögel (The Birds) Lost when Braunfels was blacklisted by the Nazis in the late 1930s, the work has never received a fully staged performance... »