De Nederlandse Opera’s remarkable 2011 feat of premiering productions of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Aulide and Iphigénie en Tauride on the same day and virtually the same set has been issued on a 2-DVD set by Opus Arte. Both productions feature fine singing, cogent and interesting stage direction, and brilliant conducting; both use period instruments and period pitch, much to the singers’ advantage. The performances on these DVDs are splendid and Gluck’s use of mythological stories to reflect deeply human emotion is brilliantly served. Read more »
On first hearing, Paul Dukas’ 1907 opera Ariane et Barbe-bleue (Ariane and Bluebeard) sounds like the love child of a three-way between Wagner, Strauss, and Debussy. But on further review, the music reveals some fascinating harmonic ideas that are unique to Dukas and provide a rich and intense landscape for this retelling of a centuries-old folk tale turned into a poetic and symbolist drama.
Belgian playwright and poet Maurice Maeterlinck originated the idea for this opera following his writing of the libretto for Pelleas et Melisande. He adapted the story of Ariane from Perrault’s popular Tales of Mother Goose, and wrote it specifically as a libretto. He first offered the libretto to Edvard Grieg, who demurred; Maeterlinck then turned to Dukas. Read more »
Somewhere around the early 1980’s, stage directors realized that the odious theatre practice of “audience involvement” was over. Waaay over. Apparently, Graham Vick was absent that day. So, the first ten minutes of his production of Rossini’s 1818 opera seria Mosè in Egitto are excruciating. Vick has set the opera just after one of Moses’ plagues against Pharaoh, here some sort of 9/11ish event, has occurred. As the opera begins, bloodied and dazed Egyptians of the chorus meander through the audience, forcing embarrassed and confused patrons to look at photos of their “disappeared” loved ones. Even on DVD, it is very difficult to watch the audience members trying to watch the opera, annoyed by being forced to be a part of the action. Read more »
I completely missed The Enchanted Island during the Met’s 2011-12 season, both in the house and in the HD presentation. Even on Sirius, I had only heard snippets of the performance.
Before there was a Stefan Herheim Boheme (which I reviewed a couple of weeks back for this site), there was a Herheim Eugene Onegin, recorded in June 2011 at De Nederlanse Opera.
The theatrical expression “You can’t tell the players without a program” was never more apt than when applied to Opus Arte’s release of Cavalli’s La Didone.
Death and its terrible aftermath hang like a pestilent fog over director Stefan Herheim’s fascinating and chilling production of Puccini’s La Bohème for Den Norske Opera.
Handel’s 1711 opera Rinaldo was the first Italian opera ever written specifically for the London stage.