Cher Public

The sprite in you

Yesterday’s first half of the Rusalka video overview took us from literalism toward Regietheater. Today’s conclusion, covering filmed performances of Dvorák’s opera since 2010, charts the progression in reverse.   Read more »

Does whatever a spider can

If familiarity breeds contempt, unusual longevity breeds a mixture of admiration and suspicion. We all can name singers who burst onto the scene, commanded attention, and flamed out in less than a decade due to imperfect technique, bad advice, foolish ambition, personal problems. Then, there are the more typical star careers: perhaps 20 or 25 really good years and then off to teaching, with some competition-judging sprinkled in.

But what of those singers who keep hanging around after 35 or 40 years in major roles? What of those who manage to reinvent themselves for second, even third careers in very different repertoire? One may ask how brightly they could they have been burning all along, and how much candle is left. A new Roberto Devereux DVD from Teatro Real, Madrid, taped October 2015, offers an opportunity to appraise the recent work of such a soprano and tenor.  Read more »

Gold rush

By the early 19th century the story of Robert Devereux, Second Earl of Essex, and his liaison with Elizabeth I had already been the subject of a number of theatrical diversions including an opera by Saverio Mercadante. When Gaetano Donizetti decided to set it for the Teatro San Carlo in Naples for the season of 1837 his dramatist Salvadore Cammarano borrowed so liberally from the former’s libretto by Felice Romani (who had conveniently passed on) that his widow threatened a plagiarism suit.

Donizetti fashioned the title role to the formidable gifts of Giuseppina Ronzi de Begnis who had created his Maria Stuarda and was considered the greatest Norma of her day second only to Giuditta Pasta. Mme. Ronzi de Begnis seems to have been a bit Zwischenfach in an age that didn’t put hard and fast labels on female voices. She excelled not only as Rossini’s Semiramide and Mozart’s Donna Anna but as Bellini’s Romeo and Rossini’s Desdemona as well. There’s no doubting she had an imposing technique for her career lasted 35 years and her success in Devereux came at the 20 year mark.  Read more »

Traveling music

Andrea Andermann is the veteran film producer who had the notion to assemble top-flight talent from the worlds of music and cinema for a generously funded film of Tosca.

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Dirty dancing

The DVD of Thomas Agerfeldt Olesen‘s 2013 opera The Picture of Dorian Gray.

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Rooting for the underdoge

“Take a good deal of trouble with it, because it is a fine subject, delicate and full of pathos.”

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You can’t hide your lion eyes

The UK’s first-ever production of Poliuto, now available from Opus Arte on DVD, set the lions of Rome among the lambs of Glyndebourne.

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Better call Saul

Director Barrie Kosky’s Glyndebourne 2015 production of Handel’s 1739 oratorio Saul (released on Opus Arte DVD) shows imagination as well as a strong cast and design team.

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Park and bark

Like Orest, I return to this house.

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The upper depths

The Teatro di San Carlo in Naples is a pearl itself and this presentation proffers some of the best that company has to offer.

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