A Reconfigured ‘Aida,’ As Critique Of War In Male-Controlled World
MUNICH – The production at the Bayerische Staatsoper was so brilliantly conceived and integrated that it felt as if themes intrinsic to the opera had lain dormant for well over a century, awaiting the right genius to bring them forward.
Comical ‘Merry Wives’ Is The Fantastic Affair Otto Nicolai Imagined
VIENNA – The energetic cast and staging by the young director Nina Spijkers brushed the dust off Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor with a winning combination of slapstick humor and high musical standards in a new production at the Volksoper.
In Handy Church Ruin, Verdi’s ‘Macbeth’ Finds Its All-Purpose Setting
TORONTO – The Canadian Opera Company production, starring a suitably anguished Quinn Kelsey, unfolds not on a blasted heath but in a roofless church that is reconfigured to serve as banquet hall, witches cavern, and battlefield.
On Tour Down Under, British String Quartet Meets The Didgeridoo
CANBERRA, Australia – The Brodsky Quartet, veterans of 50 years of music-making together, teamed up with didgeridoo virtuoso William Barton in his Square Circles Beneath the Red Desert Sand, on a bill with Bach and Schubert.
Honoring Callas At 100, Greek Opera Restages Her Signature ‘Medea’
ATHENS – The title role in Cherubini's opera is synonymous with Maria Callas, who revived the neglected work in Florence in 1953. In the Greek National Opera's new tribute production, soprano Anna Pirozzi summons both pathos and stamina.
Monteverdi’s Wandering ‘Ulisse’ Returns Home To An Updated Scene
VIENNA – The Vienna State Opera has charted new territory with a Monteverdi trilogy capped by ll ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, a production more intent on contemporary flair than mining the work's musical and dramatic substance.
‘Le Nozze’ Annulled: Mozart’s Perfect Opera Gets A Rough Makeover
VIENNA – A new production of Le Nozze di Figaro at the Vienna State Opera was billed as a vehicle for young singers ideally suited to the roles, directed by the much sought-after Barrie Kosky. The result does not live up to either promise.
Updated To Instagram, Handel’s ‘Belshazzar’ With Its Tension Intact
VIENNA – The staging at the Theater an der Wien catapults Handel's oratorio from pre-Christian times to a futuristic landscape in which water is scarce and reality television captures every move of the Babylonian king and his mother Nitrocris.
Embracing The Theater At The Heart Of Cilea’s ‘Adriana Lecouvreur’
SYDNEY – Theater about theater holds a special allure for directors and singers. Adriana Lecouvreur does not get performed often, but Opera Australia’s starry cast exuded enthusiasm for the piece in advance of their Sydney premiere.
Ligeti’s Creative Journey And Influence Retraced In Centennial Concert
VIENNA – Covering a wide range of works (one for 100 metronomes, pictured), the performance by Klangforum Wien explored the development of Ligeti's highly personal aesthetic and showed how he opened doors for later generations.
Sunning At The Beach As Earth Turns Plastic: Lyric Of An Anti-Opera
SYDNEY – Sun and Sea, a Lithuanian opera that plays out with a cast lolling on a sandy stage, offers a subtle commentary on mankind's casual neglect of the planet. Seated above the beach, the audience gets a telling view of, well, itself.
The Lure Of Barcelona’s Architecture Leads To Musical Treasure Trove
BARCELONA – On my first visit here, I was thrilled to behold Antoni Gaudí's famed buildings. But I was also captured by Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen as Giorgetta in Puccini's Il tabarro and by German violinist Isabelle Faust's stellar quartet.
Staatsoper, Volksoper, And The Reframing Of Vienna’s Opera Legacy
VIENNA – The opera landscape here, beloved by both locals and tourists for its traditionalism, is in a state of transition. New stagings of Weill's Dreigroschenoper and Wagner's Meistersinger put the wave of revisionism front and center.
An Epic End Of Days, Created For A Big Tent, In A Resonant Revival
VIENNA – Franz Schmidt's ambitious adaptation of The Book of Revelation, which foretells the end of history, was resurrected under conductor Ingo Metzmacher with the Wiener Symphoniker and Wiener Singverein, which gave the 1938 premiere.
Mahler Mashup ‘Opera’ Meets ‘Rigoletto’; Jester Wins, And It’s No Joke
VIENNA – When the Vienna State Opera presented its devoted patrons with a staged melding of Mahler's Das klagende Lied and Kindertotenlieder opposite Rigoletto, the crowds flocked to Verdi and largely ignored the song-cycle contrivance.
Hot Love, Cold Murder: La Scala’s New ‘Fedora’ Delivers Lyric Scorcher
MILAN – The Bulgarian Sonya Yoncheva, in a sumptuous and smoldering performance, joins a starry list of sopranos who've been glamorous enough to breathe life into Umberto Giordano’s widowed and wealthy Princess Fedora Romazoff.
Reveling At The Proms: Music’s Bounty Savored In A Binge Of Concerts
LONDON – Plunging into the first full Proms season since Covid closed down this venerable series in 2019, I caught 14 concerts over three weeks. Here are my impressions from diverse programs, starting with two Finnish firebrands.
Mahler Ninth In Paris: Dudamel, Opera Band Offer Restrained Drama
PARIS – For the opening concert of the Orchestre de l'Opéra National de Paris 2022-2023 season Sept. 16 at the Philharmonie, music director Gustavo Dudamel delivered a Ninth that was without histrionics or romantic indulgences.
Luisi Parlays Strauss Into Dazzling Start As NHK Symphony Chief
TOKYO – The anticipation was palpable at NHK Hall, a stellar concert facility in the Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai broadcast complex. With an all-Strauss program (Don Juan, the Oboe Concerto, Der Rosenkavalier Suite), Fabio Luisi delivered.
A Celebrated Festival Embraces Diversity. And A Star Pianist Demurs
LUCERNE – The buzz of diversity that rules this year's Lucerne Festival is evident in wide-ranging musical idioms and roots. Pianist András Schiff, reaffirming his commitment to the Western canon, said he had no time for the "second rate."