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Elsewhere

Desert Island Delights at the RCM: Offenbach's Robinson Crusoe

Britannia waives the rules: The EU Brexit in quotes’. Such was the headline of a BBC News feature on 28th June 2016. And, nearly three years later, those who watch the runaway Brexit-train hurtle ever nearer to the edge of Dover’s white cliffs might be tempted by the thought of leaving this sceptred (sceptic?) isle, for a life overseas.

Akira Nishimura’s Asters: A Major New Japanese Opera

Opened as recently as 1997, the Opera House of the New National Theatre Tokyo (NNTT) is one of the newest such venues among the world’s great capitals, but, with ten productions of opera a year, ranging from baroque to contemporary, this publicly-owned and run theatre seems determined to make an international impact.

The Outcast in Hamburg

It is a “a musicstallation-theater with video” that had its world premiere at the Mannheim Opera in 2012, revived just now in a new version by Vienna’s ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wein for one performance at the Vienna Konzerthaus and one performance in Hamburg’s magnificent Elbphilharmonie (above). Olga Neuwirth’s The Outcast and this rich city are imperfect bedfellows!

Leonard Bernstein: Tristan und Isolde in Munich on Blu-ray

Although Birgit Nilsson, one of the great Isolde’s, wrote with evident fondness – and some wit – of Leonard Bernstein in her autobiography – “unfortunately, he burned the candles at both ends” – their paths rarely crossed musically. There’s a live Fidelio from March 1970, done in Italy, but almost nothing else is preserved on disc.

Monarchs corrupted and tormented: ETO’s Idomeneo and Macbeth at the Hackney Empire

Promises made to placate a foe in the face of imminent crisis are not always the most well-considered and have a way of coming back to bite one - as our current Prime Minister is finding to her cost.

Der Fliegende Holländer and
Tannhäuser in Dresden

To remind you that Wagner’s Dutchman had its premiere in Dresden’s Altes Hoftheater in 1843 and his Tannhauser premiered in this same theater in 1845 (not to forget that Rienzi premiered in this Saxon court theater in 1842).

WNO's The Magic Flute at the Birmingham Hippodrome

A perfect blue sky dotted with perfect white clouds. Identikit men in bowler hats clutching orange umbrellas. Floating cyclists. Ferocious crustaceans.

Puccini’s Messa di Gloria: Antonio Pappano and the London Symphony Orchestra

This was an oddly fascinating concert - though, I’m afraid, for quite the wrong reasons (though this depends on your point of view). As a vehicle for the sound, and playing, of the London Symphony Orchestra it was a notable triumph - they were not so much luxurious - rather a hedonistic and decadent delight; but as a study into three composers, who wrote so convincingly for opera, and taken somewhat out of their comfort zone, it was not a resounding success.

WNO's Un ballo in maschera at Birmingham's Hippodrome

David Pountney and his design team - Raimund Bauer (sets), Marie-Jeanne Lecca (costumes), Fabrice Kebour (lighting) - have clearly ‘had a ball’ in mounting this Un ballo in maschera, the second part of WNO’s Verdi trilogy and which forms part of a spring season focusing on what Pountney describes as the “profound and mysterious issue of Monarchy”.

Super #Superflute in North Hollywood

Pacific Opera Project’s rollicking new take on The Magic Flute is as much endearing fun as a box full of puppies.

Leading Ladies: Barbara Strozzi and Amiche

I couldn’t help wondering; would a chamber concert of vocal music by female composers of the 17th century be able sustain our concentration for 90 minutes? Wouldn’t most of us be feeling more dutiful than exhilarated by the end?

George Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill at Wigmore Hall

This week, the Wigmore Hall presents two concerts from George Benjamin and Frankfurt’s Ensemble Modern, the first ‘at home’ on Wigmore Street, the second moving north to Camden’s Roundhouse. For the first, we heard Benjamin’s now classic first opera, Into the Little Hill, prefaced by three ensemble works by Cathy Milliken, Christian Mason, and, for the evening’s spot of ‘early music’, Luigi Dallapiccola.

Marianne Crebassa sings Berio and Ravel: Philharmonia Orchestra with Salonen

It was once said of Cathy Berberian, the muse for whom Luciano Berio wrote his Folk Songs, that her voice had such range she could sing the roles of both Tristan and Isolde. Much less flatteringly, was my music teacher’s description of her sound as akin to a “chisel being scraped over sandpaper”.

Rossini's Elizabeth I: English Touring Opera start their 2019 spring tour

What was it with Italian bel canto and the Elizabethan age? The era’s beautiful, doomed queens and swash-buckling courtiers seem to have held a strange fascination for nineteenth-century Italians.

Chameleonic new opera featuring Caruso in Amsterdam

Micha Hamel’s new opera, Caruso a Cuba, is constantly on the move. The chameleonic score takes on a myriad flavours, all with a strong sense of mood or place.

Ernst Krenek: Karl V, Bayerisches Staatsoper

Ernst Krenek’s Karl V op 73 at the Bayerisches Staatsoper, with Bo Skovhus, conducted by Erik Nielsen, in a performance that reveals the genius of Krenek’s masterpiece. Contemporary with Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten, Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron, Berg’s Lulu, and Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler, Krenek’s Karl V is a metaphysical drama, exploring psychological territory with the possibilities opened by new musical form.

A Sparkling Merry Widow at ENO

A small, formerly great, kingdom, is on the verge of bankruptcy and desperate to prevent its ‘assets’ from slipping into foreign hands. Sexual and political intrigues are bluntly exposed. The princes and patriarchs are under threat from both the ‘paupers’ and the ‘princesses’, and the two dangers merge in the glamorous figure of the irresistibly wealthy Pontevedrin beauty, Hanna Glawari, a working-class girl who’s married up and made good.

Mozart: Così fan tutte - Royal Opera House

Così fan tutte is, primarily, an ensemble opera and it sinks or swims on the strength of its sextet of singers - and this performance very much swam. In a sense, this is just as well because Jan Phillip Gloger’s staging (revived here by Julia Burbach) is in turns messy, chaotic and often confusing. The tragedy of this Così is that it’s high art clashing with Broadway; a theatre within an opera and a deceit wrapped in a conundrum.

Gavin Higgins' The Monstrous Child: an ROH world premiere

The Royal Opera House’s choice of work for the first new production in the splendidly redesigned Linbury Theatre - not unreasonably, it seems to have lost ‘Studio’ from its name - is, perhaps, a declaration of intent; it may certainly be received as such. Not only is it a new work; it is billed specifically as ‘our first opera for teenage audiences’.

Elektra at Lyric Opera of Chicago

From the first moments of the recent revival of Sir David McVicar’s production of Elektra by Richard Strauss at Lyric Opera of Chicago the audience is caught in the grip of a rich music-drama, the intensity of which is not resolved, appropriately, until the final, symmetrical chords.


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Reviews

17 Mar 2019

Desert Island Delights at the RCM: Offenbach's Robinson Crusoe

Britannia waives the rules: The EU Brexit in quotes’. Such was the headline of a BBC News feature on 28th June 2016. And, nearly three years later, those who watch the runaway Brexit-train hurtle ever nearer to the edge of Dover’s white cliffs might be tempted by the thought of leaving this sceptred (sceptic?) isle, for a life overseas. »

Recently in Reviews

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10 Jan 2005

MOZART: Le Nozze di Figaro

Recorded in Tokyo on October 23, 1963, this live recording of Nozze di Figaro boasts fine sound, a top cast, and the leadership of a conductor of great skill and experience. The label, Ponto, has joined the ranks of such other companies as Opera D’oro and Gala in making available broadcast and in-house recordings at affordable prices. Sometimes these releases are not even worth the modest price asked for; this one may well have more to offer than higher-priced studio sets. After a slightly hesitant first few moments, the sound quality settles down and becomes admirably strong and well defined. There is relatively little stage noise, the voices have a natural presence without being too forwardly placed, and Böhm’s orchestral control can be relished. His may be an old-fashioned reading, but it never lags or lacks for humor or beauty. The audience can be heard laughing from time to time at the stage antics; applause only interferes with the musical pleasures at the end of Non piu andrai, when unrestrained clapping covers a bit of Böhm’s ironically happy martial send-off. »

10 Jan 2005

WAGNER: Tristan und Isolde

Elsewhere on Opera Today readers can find a recent review of a live recording of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro from the Ponto label, a company that has joined the ranks of Opera D’oro and Gala in offering, at budget price, live recordings of various provenance. At their best, as with that Nozze, these recordings offer in acceptable sound (sometimes better) performances of such quality they rival their more expensive competitors. At less than the best, however, even the budget price becomes exorbitant. This Tristan und Isolde, recorded on January 25, 1967, unfortunately belongs to the latter category. Unless one has a strong personal reason for wanting a keepsake of this company or the artists involved, the recording is unlikely to please most listeners. The primary reason is the sound. While not unlistenable, the recording is clearly an “in-house” affair, and probably from an audience member, as some of the coughing is more up-front than the singing. Worse, during the climax, some audience members are whispering as Isolde enters the Leibestod. One would love for a Jon Vickers to have been present to yell out, “Stop your damn whispering!” »

08 Jan 2005

Verlaine and Rimbaud in Boston

'Verlaine and Rimbaud' has the poetry but not the passion By Richard Dyer, Globe Staff | January 8, 2005 Intermezzo: The New England Chamber Opera Series adventurously alternates standard 20th-century chamber operas with new works. The company opened its third... »

07 Jan 2005

BOLCOM: Songs of Innocence and of Experience

William Bolcom is arguably the preeminent American opera composer of today. His third commission for Lyric Opera of Chicago, A Wedding, recently opened to mostly positive reviews. His previous work in the form, A View from the Bridge, had a successful run at the Metropolitan Opera following its premiere in Chicago. »

05 Jan 2005

Turandot at the Met

Turandot, Metropolitan Opera, New York By Martin Bernheimer Published: January 5 2005 02:00 | Last updated: January 5 2005 02:00 Turandot remains a prime tourist attraction at the Met, lock, stock and chinoiserie. Even after 17 years, gasping crowds muster... »

04 Jan 2005

The Cambridge Companion to Rossini

The title of this book, "The Cambridge Companion to Rossini" probably means different things to different people. »

04 Jan 2005

VERDI: Il Trovatore

Il Trovatore Giuseppe Verdi, music and Salvatore Cammarano and Leone Emanuele Bardare, libretto TDK DVUS-CLOPIT Raina Kabaivanska (Leonora) Fiorenza Cossotto (Azucena) Plácido Domingo (Manrico) Piero Cappuccilli (Conte di Luna) José van Dam (Ferrando) Maria Venuti (Inez) Heinz Zednik (Ruiz) Karl... »

04 Jan 2005

BACH: Matthäus-Passion

On an accompanying CD and in the liner notes, interviewer Klaus J. Schönmetzler asks conductor Enoch zu Guttenberg, “Why another St. Matthew Passion?” This is a fair question considering the glut of recordings ranging from the overtly romantic to the idealized “authentic” (and mostly fast) Baroque editions. To his credit, Guttenberg responds to this question by acknowledging an aversion to interpreting Bach overly Romantically while desiring a Baroque sensibility. As a theologian, zu Guttenberg understands an undeniable conviction in Bach’s theology, particularly in the chorales, which he acknowledges can lead to a more Romantic interpretation. Zu Guttenberg’s attempt to capture this devotion coupled with the reality of twenty-first century instruments and performers, produces a St. Matthew stuck in a mediocre middle ground between a Baroque “ideal” and a Romantic interpretation. »

02 Jan 2005

Trois Valses at Théâtre Royal de Liège

Wow ! Les Trois Valses comme il faut in Liège Laurence Janot (Fanny Grandpré) and Jean-Baptiste Marcenac (Octave de Chalencey) For the year's end the Walloon Opera always offers some lighter fare. A few years ago we saw a very... »

02 Jan 2005

Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream at De Munt, Brussels

© Johan Jacobs De Munt's Christmas production plays into high summer and it is magnificent to behold. Scottish director David McVicar is somewhat of a cult director in Antwerp and Brussels. In Antwerp he directed a fine Idomeneo and an... »

31 Dec 2004

La Cenerentola a Torino

Una piccola ma scelta rappresentanza di questo esimio consesso ha assistito ieri sera alla terzultima rappresentazione de La Cenerentola al Regio di Torino. In una sala strapiena di un pubblico festoso, reattivo e soprattutto devastato dalla bronchite (propongo per il... »

30 Dec 2004

Lamento with Magdalena Ko

The imposing figure of Johann Sebastian Bach has loomed large for Magdalena Koená throughout her career. It was her first disc of Bach arias on Deutsche Grammophon’s Archiv label that brought the golden-voiced mezzo to the attention of the music world as early as 1997. Word then quickly went round that Magdalena was the perfect choice for Bach recordings. ”This disc that started my international career also was my introduction to the great Baroque conductors, including the wonderful scholar and musician Reinhard Goebel, with whom I’ve worked on my new disc, Lamento.” Although the title may suggest wailing and gnashing of teeth, this is a sublime and eclectic mixture of music by J. S. Bach, his relations and contemporaries. ”There’s a very optimistic feeling to this CD,” says Koená. ”Although all these pieces are about how horrible it is on this earth, they are really celebrating how great it will be afterwards. There’s a message of hope throughout.” »

30 Dec 2004

Gramophone Reviews Le Comte Ory

Colour, wit and life abound with a star turn from the Rossini tenor of the moment Comte Ory Le Comte Ory is the first great French-language comic opera. A late work (Paris, 1828), sensuous, witty and exquisitely crafted, it has... »

30 Dec 2004

Bullfrog Films' Don Giovanni: Leporello’s Revenge

Don Giovanni: Leporello's Revenge Mozart's opera presented from the point of view of Don Giovanni's servant, Leporello. 55 minutes Color / Stereo Copyright Date: 2000 ISBN: 1-56029-885-5 Mozart's Don Giovanni is arguably one of his most complex, politically controversial, and... »

29 Dec 2004

Moskva, Cheryomushki at Lyon

Moskva, Cheryomushki, Opéra de Lyon, France By Francis Carlin Published: December 29 2004 02:00 | Last updated: December 29 2004 02:00 Wanted: a warm-up guy for chronically frigid audience. The first-nighters sat on their hands throughout Shostakovitch's easy-listening operetta (1959),... »

29 Dec 2004

Le Monde Reviews Verdi's Falstaff from Andante

Deux "Falstaff", à vingt ans d'écart LE MONDE | 27.12.04 | 14h05 Les amateurs d'opéra ont, généralement, un fort penchant pour l'écoute comparée des interprétations. L'éditeur Andante les comblera. Dans un somptueux livre-CD (224 pages avec notice et livret en... »

29 Dec 2004

Acis and Galatea at Teatro Marrucino di Chieti

Haendel in salsa mozartiana Acis and Galatea Pastorale in 2 atti di Georg Friedrich Haendel. (orchestrazione W. A. Mozart, K566) libretto di John Gay dalle Metamorfosi di Ovidio edizione Edizioni Barenreiter, Kassel (in Italia casa Musicale Sonzogno di Piero Ostali)... »

28 Dec 2004

Die Presse Reviews Das Rheingold at Covent Garden

Covent Garden: über 193 Stufen nach Walhall VON PETRA HAIDERER Mit "Rheingold" begann der neue "Ring"-Zyklus in Londons Covent Garden Opera - Bryn Terfel sang erstmals den Wotan. This is Covent Garden!", sagt die me lodische Frauenstimme in der Londoner... »

28 Dec 2004

Schnittke's Gesualdo — Another View

Staatsoper: Neuer Versuch mit dem Kindsmord VON WILHELM SINKOVICZ Alfred Schnittkes "Gesualdo" wieder auf dem Spielplan: exzellent besetzt, aber nach wie vor problematisch. Das Stück wird nicht besser, wenn man es bis in die kleinsten Rollen mit edelsten Stimmen besetzt,... »

27 Dec 2004

Schnittke's Gesualdo at the Wiener Staatsoper

Gesualdo Vienna State Opera By Larry L Lash Published: December 27 2004 02:00 | Last updated: December 27 2004 02:00 In a house where world premieres are rare and successful ones even rarer, I suspect the Vienna State Opera feels... »

27 Dec 2004

Il trovatore at Munich

Gefahr für die Luftröhre Staatsoper: Neu besetzter "Troubadour" Eine Produktion mit Hustenreiz-Garantie. Denn wenn sich der Vorhang zum hochgradig verstaubten Staatsopern-"Troubadour" öffnet, dann sträuben sich in der Luftröhre die Flimmerhärchen. Für Stars auf der Durchreise taugt das müde Arrangement allemal:... »

26 Dec 2004

Hoffmann at Marseille

Tales of Hoffmann, Opéra de Marseille By Francis Carlin Published: December 23 2004 02:00 | Last updated: December 23 2004 02:00 We have surely not heard the last word on Offenbach's attempt to get back into the world of grand... »

24 Dec 2004

Haydn's The Creation at The Sage, Gateshead

Haydn’s Creation couldn’t have been a more appropriate choice for the opening concert at The Sage Gateshead complex, although it must have felt more like “paradise found” for the Northern Sinfonia than Paradise Lost, the Milton poem on which the oratorio is based. In the performances of the uninhibited soloists – Geraldine McGreevy, Thomas Walker and Michael George (placed, perhaps unwisely, behind the orchestra) – there was a sense of the architectural accomplishment and, more obviously, the human joy contained in Haydn’s great work. The one artistic achievement matched the other splendidly. »

23 Dec 2004

Shostakovich's The Nose at Théâtre Graslin, Nantes

The Nose/Angers-Nantes Opéra, Théâtre Graslin, Nantes By Francis Carlin Published: December 22 2004 13:05 | Last updated: December 22 2004 13:05 Now merged with nearby Angers, Nantes is still flying the flag of artistic courage and digging out overlooked jewels.... »

22 Dec 2004

ROSSINI: Zelmira

Zelmira Gioachino Rossini, music and Andrea Leone Tortola, libretto ORC 27 Scottish Chamber Orchestra Maurizio Benini, conductor Besides its Opera in English series on Chandos, Peter Moore's Foundation has sponsored the recording of many a fine bel canto rarity on... »

21 Dec 2004

Carmen at De Vlaamse Opera

The sigh of relief was almost audible during the short love duet after “La fleur que tu m’avais jetée”. Carmen started to strip down, fumbled a little bit with José’s pants and both started their love making. So after all, Bieito’s signature tune was being played. In reality apart from the many lewd gestures, both singers remained firmly and fully clothed. The only full nude was a male dancer during the prelude to the third act and even he was lighted in clair-obscur. Another Bieito-feature, horrible violence, was also somewhat muted. Granted, José gutted Carmen in the finale of the opera in plain sight and in the well-known way Islamists treat those poor people they can lay their hands on and therefore it was a bloody affair but still everybody knows “this is theatre”. »