The Cleveland Orchestra’s premiere performance of Janacek’s Cunning Little Vixen proved to be both a critical and audience success. This is no mean achievement as the opera which is quite a cultural gem is not easy to carry off in a standard operatic house due to its fanciful plot and a highly anthropomorphic cast of animal characters. However, thanks to 21th century technology and subtitles it proved a delight. Read more »
I’m happy to report that Rigoletto from the 30 DVD Tutto Verdi set from the Teatro Regio di Parma is a blockbuster. (My first two, Alzira and Stiffelio, were duds and I was begining to think this collection was on the level with those $.99 classical music DVD’s you find in bins at the A&P .)
This production features a well known cast (Leo Nucci, Nino Machaidze) giving state of the art performances. The Parma production is attractive, colorful and fairly traditional, occasionally turining quite racy. The opening scene,in the Duke’s chamber, features a king size bed center stage on which our libertine mauls toothsome female supernumeraries (full female frontal nudity! ) throughout the scene. Guests are clad as ancient Greek nymphs and satyrs, adding to the Dionysian effect. Read more »
Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato is first among equals in a spectacular cast when she sings the title role of Ariodante in this season’s installment of Carnegie Hall’s critically acclaimed cycle of Handel’s operas in concert. A brilliantly melodic work, the opera features outstanding arias for each of the principal singers, including Ariodante’s melancholy “Scherza infida” and show-stopping “Doppo note.” Harry Bicket and The English Concert bring authentic Handelian brilliance to this marvelous opera. (Photo: Simon Pauly) Get tickets. Read more »
Today’s Final Jeopardy Question: Name a Verdi opera, based on a play by Voltaire, described in the immortal words of the composer as “Questo e proprio brutto.” If you guessed Alzira I doff my hat to your expertise. I wish I could report this opus belongs a place in the neglected gems category but unfortunately, it’s a bit of a stinker (Perdonami, Grand Maestro.)
It premiered in 1845 at Teatro San Carlo, where the main attraction for Verdi was the chance to work with Italy’s premiere librettist Salvatore Cammarano, who provided the libretto for Lucia among others. The first performance in Naples was not a success; neither were subsequent stagings in Rome and Milan. For over a century it disappeared into the libraries of Verdi scholars. Read more »
Opera’s Scottish enfant terrible David McVicar has applied his considerable skills in this 2011 Glyndebourne production of Die Meistersinger, the result being a refreshing new take on a familiar warhorse.
Vocal glamour in abundance highlighted the opening performance of LA Opera’s Il barbiere di Siviglia on November 29 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion, with much buzz attendant on the company debuts of Rossini experts Juan Diego Flórez and Joyce DiDonato. Adding excitement was the Figaro of Nathan Gunn, who played with Errol Flynn panache, and a production rich with Sevillian atmosphere.