Zambello brings new energy to the Glimmerglass Festival
11 August 2011, Cooperstown, US
Alexandra Deshorties as Medea at Glimmerglass Festival 2011(Photo: Julieta Cervantes)
Review by Heidi Waleson
Glimmerglass Opera artistic and general director, Francesca Zambello, has brought new energy to the annual festival in Cooperstown, New York.
The big artistic success of her first season, however, was not the uninspired Annie Get Your Gun with a miscast Deborah Voigt, but rather the incandescent performance of Alexandra Deshorties, who tore up the stage in the title role of Cherubini’s Medea.
With her powerful, laser-like soprano and dramatic intensity, Deshorties seemed to be channelling Maria Callas, once a renowned interpreter of the role. Aided by the conductor, Daniele Rustioni, she made you forget the minimal directing by Michael Barker-Caven, the ugly, inscrutable set by Joe Vanek, and the rest of the mostly forgettable cast.
Also exciting: the sultry-voiced mezzo Ginger Costa-Jackson in the title role of Anne Bogart’s riveting, stripped-down Carmen. And the elegantly produced double bill of John Musto’s Edward Hopper-inspired Later the Same Evening with the premiere of the Glimmerglass-commissioned A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck by Jeanine Tesori and Tony Kushner, which bodes well for the new regime’s commitment to contemporary operas.
Glimmerglass Festival 2011 runs until 23 August.
Opera Now is going monthly!
26 July 2011, London, UK
Thanks to the amazing reader response we’ve received recently, Rhinegold is going to publish Opera Now 12 times per year. So, from October 2011, you’ll receive your magazine on a monthly basis – bringing more of the music you love to your door.
The all-new monthly Opera Now will contain more great interviews with major opera stars, more news, reviews, previews and exclusive Opera Now offers than ever before.
What this will mean for my subscription?
There won’t be a break in your subscription. You’ll receive the remaining copies from your current subscription. When we renew you, your subscription will then last for 12 issues. If you pay by credit card or cheque, when you renew, move to Direct Debit and save up to £20 off the cover price!
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We have already written to you explain how your Direct Debit will change. If you haven’t received your letter, please call us on 01371 851892 and quote your subscriber number. We can then answer any queries you may have.
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We aim to get your magazine to you in the last week of every other month. From now on, we will aim to get your magazine to you in the last week of every month. You will still continue to receive your magazine before it’s available in the shops.
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London festival celebrates cutting-edge opera
26 July 2011, London, UK
The innovative opera company Tête à Tête is launching its 5th Annual Festival of "creation, invention, innovation, exploration and experimentation" in opera, running from 4 to 21 August in London.
The festival, based at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, West London, has become known for its gritty, hardcore, artists-at-work atmosphere, involving hundreds of performers, directors, composers, librettists, designers, lighting designers, singers and instrumentalists.
This year, 30 or so guests include contributions from Britian’s leading companies: Scottish Opera workshops its new piece for toddlers SensoryO; Glyndebourne Youth Opera explores the phenomenon of wind in two world premières by Orlando Gough and Hannah Conway; Welsh National Youth Opera chills the spine with The Sleeper by Michael Symmons Roberts and Stephen Deazley; and Opera North investigates new life with Toby Litt and Emily Hall’s Life Cycle.
Tête à Tête will also present works in development by Robert Fokkens, Michael Zev Gordon and Stephen McNeff, alongside a whole set of Lite Bites, snapshots of short operas and works in progress, performed throughout the Festival.
Operalia 2011 winners announced
26 July 2011, Moscow, Russia
René Barbera(Photo: José Placido Domingo)
Pretty Yende(Photo: José Placido Domingo)
This year’s Operalia competition, one of the most influential of its kind, founded by Plácido Domingo, took place at the Stanislavsky Theatre in Moscow.
Two overall winners emerged at the finals on 24 July: South African-born soprano Pretty Yende and US tenor René Barbera each received US$30,000 First Prize money.
Both winners also walked away with two other prizes apiece, including sharing the Audience Prize, the first time this has happened in the competition’s history
Second Prize was awarded to Olga Busuioc and Kanstantin Shushakov, while Thrid Prize went to Olga Pudova and Jaesig Lee.
Postcard from New Orleans: Bizet's Les Pêcheurs de Perles
14 July 2011, New Orleans, US
New Orleans Opera Association presents Bizet's 'Les Pêcheurs de Perles'
Bistreaux at the Maison Dupuy Hotel
Report by Karyl Charna Lynn
Le Figaro critic summed up Les Pêcheurs de Perles after its world premiere with the observation that "There are no fishermen in the text and no pearls in the music." But that’s not entirely correct. There are gorgeous melodies and achingly beautiful duets and arias in this ill-fated love triangle about friendship, betrayal, honor, duty, jealousy, and vows of chastity; in short, the ingredients for a knock-out night at the opera.
Bizet wrote sweeping impressionistic pieces, creating beautiful musical landscapes, but sans movement. Combined with a weak libretto and one-dimensional characters, this static quality makes it a challenge to infuse with dramatic tension. Directors have dangled 'swimming' pearl fishers from trapezes to great effect, imposed non-stop frenzied dancing, and added supernumeraries or extra characters. The success of such attempts always depend upon the degree of integration between the dramatic action and the opera itself, which in this production were perfectly balanced by director (and conductor), Robert Lyall.
The action unfolded between dusk and dawn on a single day in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) on two planes: stage level for 'reality' and a 'mountain top' (complete with Brahma statue) for the dream-sequences, re-enactments of past relationships, and religious rituals. The temporal progression from bright red sunset to dawn via twilight and a star-filled black sky dissolving into turbulent storm clouds was projected onto a towering screen, partially draped with fishing nets. A temple arch occupied stage right and columns draped with fishing nets stage left. Relevant props appeared and disappeared as the opera progressed.
Dancing played an important role in French opera, and Lyall seamlessly integrated the full troupe of New Orleans Ballet dancers into the action, creating a fluidity of movement throughout the performance which erased the work’s static nature. Especially effective were the dance reenactments of past relationships between Nadir (William Burden) and Zurga (Liam Bonner) in their friendship duet, 'Au fond du temple saint', and Leïla (Lisette Oropesa) and Nadir in her love aria, 'Ton coeur n’a pas compris le mien'.
Rossini said, “voce, voce, voce, that’s what opera is", and indeed voices are especially important in this action-challenged work. Oropesa made a believable Leïla singing with lilting beauty, imbued with sparkle, grace, and power. Burden brought depth and breadth to Nadir with his compelling intensity. You could feel his all-consuming love of Leïla through the sensual lyricism in his tone. Bonner emitted a strong sound as Zurga, marred, unfortunately, by excessive vibrato and lack of nuance to show Zurga’s emotional turmoil. Maestro Lyall kept the tension and music flowing, while maintaining a good pit / stage balance.
CITY STYLE GUIDE
Relive New Orleans' opera history and rub shoulder's with today's visiting divas!
- Inn on Bourbon, 541 Bourbon Street, built on the site of the former French Opera House 1859-1919 with historic photos of the theatre in the lobby.
- Arnaud’s An unforgettable dining experience; the duck is exquisite, and café Brulot a must. | Signature cocktail: French 75. | Special Tip: Ask to tour their Mardi Gras Museum.
- Ralph’s on the Park A must when visiting the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA). | Signature cocktail: Blue Bellini.
- Brennan’s Turtle soup is outstanding. | Signature cocktail: Mr. Funk of New Orleans.
- Bistreaux, in the Maison Dupuy Hotel. Ideal for casual lunch or cocktail. Crawfish is superb. | Signature cocktail: Maison Dupuy.
- Muriel’s Great for Creole cuisine.
- Court of Two Sisters Not to be missed is Sunday brunch in the courtyard.
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