Pole-dancing in early Verdi? Things are clearly looking up in the world of Regietheater! A red telephone box parked stage right in University College Opera’s annual production indicated that this wasn’t going to be your traditional I Lombardi alla prima crociata, Verdi’s fourth opera.
Half-naked nuns, Eurotrash and a stunning debut from Elisabeth Meister; what more can you ask of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia? Well, if Lucrezia had accidentally slipped some of her poison into director Guy Joosten’s mug of Ovaltine I don’t think anyone would have been unduly upset and we might have been spared the travesty of his otiose and banal Regie.
There are fairies at the bottom of der Garten. On the Wagner-Verdi bicentenary dual carriageway, the Chelsea Opera Groupcharabanc trundled into town for the first of its celebrations to offer up a rare slice of early Wagner.
It is almost a decade to the day since I last had the pleasure of hearing/seeing a production of a contemporary opera which, in my humble opinion, was damn near perfect in every respect.
Red curtains peel apart tentatively to reveal a chair… and another set of red curtains. And that, in essence (save for a stack of books) is it for the set and props department in Peter Konwitschny’s spare, pared-down version of Verdi’s La Traviata for English National Opera. Life for Violetta is a performance and as each set of curtains draws aside, we get to see the layers of her character stripped away until the final scene. When the last curtains part, there remains only the black void of certain death into which she staggers – there are no more curtains to hide behind.
Jennifer Rowley, the replacement Isabelle who found herself replaced at short notice before the premiere of Laurent Pelly’s production of Meyerbeer’sRobert le diable at the Royal Opera House this season, has spoken out about what really happened. At today’s new season press conference, Music DirectorAntonio Pappano, when questioned about the production, which was a critical failure, was defensive about the last minute cast changes and the way it was reported by the press. He also suggested that there are more cancellations in the opera world than there used to be, commenting ‘"It happens more and more. There's something about this generation of singers, that they are weaker in their bodies or don't care.’
Biography: Mary Robertson is an Emeritus Professor in Neuropsychiatry at University College London and visiting Professor at St George’s Hospital Medical School, London. Aside from being an opera devotee, Mary is a published poet and photographer.
(New poems added: 04/08/2010)
Anna Netrebko is due to sing the role of Lady Macbeth for a single performance at the Bavarian State Opera in June 2014.
Maria Agresta will sing Lucrezia in Verdi's I due Foscari in the 2014-15 season at Covent Garden. Placido Domingo does the Doge double, adding the baritone role of Francesca Foscari to his Simon Boccanegra.
Corinne Winters, fresh from her triumph as Violetta in ENO's production of La traviata, is to return to the Coliseum next season as Teresa in Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini. Michael Spyres sings the title role in a production which sees the return ofTerry Gilliam to the director's seat, after his Damnation of Faust debut.
Linda Richardson is to sing the title role in Welsh National Opera's upcoming Anna Bolena. Robert McPherson sings Lord Percy and Katharine Goeldner is Giovanna Seymour.
We hear that Puccini’s Manon Lescaut will feature Kristine Opolais and Jonas Kaufmann, while the much-anticipated new production of Verdi’s Les vêpres siciliennes, directed by Stefan Herheim, has a cast including Erwin Schrott, Marina Poplavskaya, Bryan Hymel and Michael Volle. Simon O’Neill is set to appear in a new production of Parsifal. Ailyn Pérez returns as Liu in Turandot, as well as a run of La Traviata opposite husband Stephen Costello.
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Reviews to be published shortly:
Falstaff - Glyndebourne Festival Opera
If I had been commissioned to design the booklet cover for this disc of Verdi arias and duets featuring Polish tenor Piotr Beczala, it would feature an image of a Brazil nut, emblazoned with the face of dear old Giuseppe, quivering beneath a sledgehammer. This would give the prospective purchaser an idea as to what to expect from the tenor’s approach and it would, indeed, be as unexpected as it is disappointing. I rate Beczala extremely highly and he would be in my top four tenors performing this sort of repertoire today (Jonas Kaufmann, Joseph Calleja and the underrated Marcelo Álvarez being the others), but this recital disc will do his reputation few favours.
The Rosenblatt Recitals, now based at the Wigmore Hall, offer a rather unique opportunity to hear some of the world’s most impressive singers to best effect, performing their own chosen repertoire in an intimate concert setting. There is a welcome purity in hearing an artist sing a concentrated programme of music tailored to their voice and taste, and to hear it unembellished by full-scale orchestra, granted only the elegant simplicity of an accompanying piano.
As if to remind us that summer festivals are just around the corner, despite the prevailing frozen conditions over much of Britain, Opus Arte has issued its new production of Janacek’s evergreen opera The Cunning Little Vixen, which opened Glyndebourne’s 2012 season. Although Melly Still’s production didn’t meet with universal acclaim and is clumsily directed at times, the performances here have much to recommend them, not least the feisty Vixen of Lucy Crowe and the weathered Forester of Sergei Leiferkus.
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