This quotation from Cervantes was displayed before the opening of the opera’s final scene:
“The greatest madness a man can commit in this life is to let himself die, just like that, without anybody killing him or any other hands ending his life except those of melancholy.”
Gounod's Faust makes a much welcomed return to the Royal Opera House. With each new cast, the dynamic changes as the balance between singers shifts and brings out new insights. In that sense, every revival is an opportunity to revisit from new perspectives. This time Bryn Terfel sang Méphistophélès, with Joseph Calleja as Faust - stars whose allure certainly helped fill the hall to capacity. And the audience enjoyed a very good show.
The company ends its 2013-14 season on a high note with a staged performance of Gershwin’s theatrical masterpiece
Lyric Opera of Chicago’s new production of Antonin Dvorak’s Rusalka is visually impressive and fulfills all possible expectations musically with unquestioned excitement.
The reliable Badisches Staatstheater has assembled plenty of talent for its new Un Ballo in Maschera.
This varied, demanding programme indisputably marked soprano Louise Alder as a name to watch.
Can this be the best British opera in years? Luke Bedford’s Through His Teeth at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre is exceptional. Drop everything and go.
As one descends the steel steps into the cavernous bunker of Ambika P3, one seems about to enter rather insalubrious realms — just right one might imagine, then, for an opera which delves into the depths of the seedier side of celebrity life.
Kaiserslautern’s Pfalztheater has produced a tantalizing realization of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Aulide, characterized by intriguing staging, appealing designs, and best of all, superlative musical standards.
Never thought I’d say it but......
Celebrating the 80th birthday of one of the UK's greatest composers (if not the greatest), this concert was an intriguing, and not always stimulating, mix. Birtwistle with Carter makes sense, but Birtwistle with Adams does not - or at least only within the remit of the concert series. The concert was actually entitled “Nash Inventions: American and British Masterworks, including an 80th Birthday Tribute to Sir Harrison Birtwistle” and was the final concert in the “Inventions” series.
On Wednesday, March 19, 2014, General Director Ian Campbell of San Diego Opera announced that the company would go out of business at the end of this season. The next day the company performed their long-planned Verdi Requiem with a stellar cast including soprano Krassimira Stoyanova, mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, tenor Piotr Beczala, and bass Ferruccio Furlanetto.
Visual elements in Richard Eyre’s striking production offset Massenet’s melodic shortcomings
New productions of repertoire staples such as Gioachino Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia bear much anticipation for both performers and staging.
On March 15, 2014, Los Angeles Opera presented Elkhanah Pulitzer’s production of the opera, which she set in 1885 when women were beginning to be recognized as persons separate from their fathers, brothers and husbands. At that time many European countries were beginning to allow women to own property, obtain higher education, and choose their husbands.
On March 11, 2014, San Diego Opera presented Verdi’s A Masked Ball in a traditional production by Leslie Koenig. Metropolitan Opera star tenor Piotr Beczala was Gustav III, the king of Sweden, and Krassimira Stoyanova gave an insightful portrayal of Amelia, his troubled but innocent love interest.
From the moment she walked, resplendent in red, onto the Wigmore Hall platform, Anne Schwanewilms radiated a captivating presence — one that kept the audience enthralled throughout this magnificent programme of Romantic song.
Magnificent! Following the first night of this new production of Die Frau ohne Schatten, I quipped that I could forgive an opera house anything for musical performance at this level, whether orchestral, vocal, or, in this case, both.
I met with the embattled artistic director of the Opéra et Orchestre National de Montepellier not to talk about his battles. I simply wanted to know the man who had cast and staged a truly extraordinary Mozart/DaPonte trilogy.
Maria Nockin interviews tenor Saimir Pirgu.
The Metropolitan Opera [30 March 2014]
After a months-long series of competitions at the district, regional, and national levels, a panel of judges has named five young singers the winners of the 2014 National Council Auditions, the nation’s most prestigious vocal competition. Each winner, who performed two arias onstage at the Metropolitan Opera this afternoon with conductor Marco Armiliato and the Met’s orchestra, will receive a $15,000 cash prize and the prestige and exposure that come with winning a competition that has launched the careers of many of opera’s biggest stars.
By Maria Nockin [Opera Today, 20 March 2014]
After forty-nine years of delivering fine performances, usually with outstanding casts, San Diego Opera will shut down permanently on June 30, 2014. The population of the city has changed markedly and the opera has had increasingly greater difficulty attracting donations. As with most opera companies, ticket sales for the company’s performances could only cover half the cost of its productions.
The rest of the money had to be made up by donations and they simply were not forthcoming. The opera’s board of directors, many of them large donors, voted thirty-three to one in favor of discontinuing operations. We can only hope that eventually another company will bring opera to San Diegans.
[3 March 2014, Science Daily]
Walter Clark was a graduate student researching his dissertation when he stumbled upon a mystery that would haunt him for more than two decades: What happened to an unpublished opera written by Enrique Granados, one of Spain's greatest composers, at the turn of the 20th century?
By Kristine Opolais [Classical Singer, March 2014]
It sounds like a fairy tale. A beautiful young girl sings a song, a handsome listener falls in love with her, and in a blink of an eye she becomes a star. Now they travel the world, making music together.
By Georgeanne [Opera Vivra, 5 March 2014]
“Yeah, but isn’t opera a dying art form?”
You can’t browse any classical music blog or arts news section without encountering a thinkpiece on the slow, painful death of opera. These (typically) well-written articles cite sagging ticket sales, shorter seasons, fewer opera companies. They ask readers if an art form with its roots in the late 16th century has any relevance to today’s audiences.
By Zerbinetta [Likely Impossibilities, 4 March 2014]
Massenet's Werther has always been a slow burn opera for me: it’s modest, quiet, it starts slowly. But at some point I notice that it’s got me, and it doesn’t let go. This Met production takes far longer to exert its pull than it should, but it more or less gets there anyway.
By Tim Ashley [The Guardian, 8 January 2014]
The definitive version of Rameau's Les Surprises de l'Amour was first performed in Paris in 1758, though the work began life as a small-scale entertainment of the same name written a decade earlier for Madame de Pompadour's private theatre in Versailles. A big opera-ballet that gives song and dance equal dramatic weight, it never really allows us to forget its initial associations with the most famous of royal mistresses. Exhorting us, almost at the outset, to "hear the voice of pleasure," it's a restrained yet hedonistic celebration of carnality that juxtaposes a succession of contrasting erotic narratives from classical literature.
By Joanie Brittingham [Classical Singer, January 2014]
Marilyn Horne, one of the best known singers in the world and whose singing career spanned four decades, continues to dominate the field of vocal music as a sought-after teacher. Celebrating her 80th birthday this month, Horne has achieved the kind of career longevity that singers dream of accomplishing. Opera News proclaimed that she “may be the most influential singer in American history.”
By Stephen Jay-Taylor [Opera Britannia, 4 November 2013]
If things had gone according to plan, this would have been the second outing for Berlioz’s trail-blazing “dramatic legend” given by a major London orchestra at the start of the 2013/14 concert season.
[Gramophone, 29 October 2013]
The conductor relinquishes his post as music director in 2015 following unconfirmed reports that Riccardo Chailly will succeed him
By Dean Southern [Classical Singer, November 2013]
On a July morning, in the beautiful Klimt-inspired Jugdenstil breakfast room of the Hotel Wiesler in Graz, Austria, I sat with Kammersängerin Christa Ludwig, one of the most notable vocal artists of the last half of the 20th century. Ludwig’s long and celebrated career encompassed both mezzo-soprano and dramatic soprano roles, as well as concert and Lieder performances, all of which are richly documented in her extensive discography.
By José Mª Irurzun [Seen & Heard International, 24 October 2013]
Attending the world premiere of an opera is always a special occasion, and even more so if it is the first opera by its composer. If one adds to all this the fact that the venue is the Theater an der Wien, whose history is filled with premieres of musical masterpieces, the cup of interest cannot be more full of curiosity and expectations.
[Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise, 25 October 2013]
Angela Meade and Jamie Barton both delivered tremendous performances in last night's Norma at the Met, causing some old-school pandemonium in the house. Meade sang with a degree of dramatic involvement that I hadn't yet seen from this greatly gifted soprano.
By John Yohalem [Parterre Box, 26 October 2013]
Baden-Baden 1927 is the title Gotham Chamber Opera has given to its evening of four brief operas that premiered together at a festival in, yes, Baden-Baden on July 17, 1927.
San Francisco Classical Voice
Greer Grimsley returns to San Francisco Opera this week to sing the title role of The Flying Dutchman. Grimsley, a bass-baritone who made his company debut in 2002 as Scarpia in Tosca, returned as Monterone in the company’s 2006 Rigoletto and as Jokanaan in the 2009 Salome.
Prima La Musica [7 October 2013]
Read about the concert here, and about Stuart's reasons for making it happen here. If you've already booked, then I salute you! If you haven't, and you're in London and free this Thursday, this is my shameless attempt to change your plans.
Likely Impossibilitiess [13 October 2013]
I went to see Norma at the Met on Thursday in part because, I confess, I had never seen Norma.
Opera Chic [23 October 2013]
It wouldn't be La Scala without cries of dissension, but when Corriere della Sera last week outed Riccardo Chailly as La Scala's incoming MD (for an outward-bound Barneboim), the orchestra's grumbles out-grumbled everyone.
This is a part of the series of lectures and concerts, European Capitals of Music. Famous musical capitals provide the framework for this series of lectures with live music.
[The Telegraph, 15 April 2013]
Sir Colin Davis, who has died aged 85, was one of the grand and cerebral orchestral conductors of the English tradition. He inherited his baton directly from Sir Thomas Beecham and, regardless of fashion or popularity, stuck resolutely to understated elegance both on and off the concert platform.