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 »
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s best known opera is La Serva Padrona, but the Neapolitan composer also composed several other works, which are now lovingly presented on DVD by the Fondazione Pergolesi Spontini at Jesi. The composer was only 26 when he died, but works like Il Flaminio represent a clear link between the opera seria traditions of Handel and the Mozart/da Ponte comedy-dramas.
Il Flaminio can best be described as an opera buffa in plot and opera seria in music. The plot involves a series of mismatched lovers that have to find their way back to each other by the time the curtain falls. The musical structure, however, follows the opera seria pattern of secco recitative and aria da capo. As a result there the work sometimes feels disjointed—the characters are singing about rather frivolous romantic escapades while launching into dramatic, trumpet-like arias with extravagantly decorated verses and cadenzas. It would take composers like Mozart and Rossini to seamlessly weave lightness in the libretto with a corresponding lightness in the score. Read more »
There’s that old joke; What’s the difference between opera and sex? Punchline; you can have good sex. That hoary chuckler becomes a near-Aristotelian axiom when presented with this recent release from C Major of Giuseppe Verdi’s Un giorno di regno, the latest episode in the Teatro Regio di Parma’s systematic attempt to defile the reputation of its most revered musical son in the year of his bicentennial one mediocre production at a time.
But I come to praise Verdi, not to bury him. 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.
Cecilia Bartoli and Joyce DiDonato are not the only ladies who have recorded recitals this year featuring music from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Natalie Dessay coyly bares a breast on the cover of Virgin Classics’ new Giulio Cesare.
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.
All of the operas of Giuseppe Verdi contain music that is worth hearing and can be rewarding in good performances.His seventh opera, Giovanna d’Arco,premiered at La Scala in 1845, is one of the least often performed these days. Renata Tebaldi made a radio broadcast, available as a recording, in 1951; there was a studio recording with Montserrat Caballe conducted by James Levine in the 70′s; a video of a production with Susan Dunn appeared in 1990; and June Anderson performed the role in concerts in New York and a stage production at Covent Garden in the 90′s. Other than that [...]