International

Modern Rendering Of Rameau Opera Fizzles In Berlin

BERLIN - The first production of Rameau’s first opera, Hippolyte et Aricie, at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, conducted by Simon Rattle and directed by choreographer Aletta Collins, was more ambitious than revealing.

Tireless Trotters, Mariinsky Shines In Stravinsky Bill

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – Sometimes the results are galvanic. Other times, they can be numbingly routine: On this occasion, Valery Gergiev and the ever-touring Mariinsky Orchestra delivered the goods in two Stravinsky symphonies.

Semyon Bychkov Leads Czech Phil Into A New Era

PRAGUE – Only the fourth non-native chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, Semyon Bychkov wants the orchestra to be known for more than Dvořák and Smetana. A 13-city U.S. tour begins on Oct. 27.

Handel’s ‘Solomon’ At Royal Opera Is One For The Ages

LONDON – The Royal Opera House's concert version of the 1749 oratorio featured a superb cast, the orchestra of the Early Opera Company led by founder Christian Curnyn, and a dazzling showing from the Royal Opera Chorus.

Worst Mom Goes Mad, In French, At The Staatsoper

BERLIN – In her role debut, soprano Sonya Yoncheva launched herself fearlessly into the drama of Cherubini’s Médée. Andrea Breth’s new production for the Staatsoper follows a wave of stagings in the original language.

Dun Links Ancient, Modern Worlds In New Violin Work

OSLO – Violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing, who has long championed music of Tan Dun, premiered Fire Ritual, which draws from techniques of erhu and guqin, at the Ultima Contemporary Music Festival, the composer conducting.

Boston Camerata’s ‘Liberty Tree’: Early Americana In Paris

PARIS – The Camerata, an early music group, performed a program of American patriotic and religious tunes from the 18th and 19th centuries during the themed weekend it shared with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Philharmonie.

In City Of Love, BSO And Nelsons Receive Beaucoup

PARIS – The Philharmonie’s Boston Weekend opened with a Mahler Third so stunning that the audience refused to bid adieu to the performers – Andris Nelsons leading the Boston Symphony, Susan Graham, and Paris choruses.

Musikfest Berlin Reaches From 20th To 21st Century

BERLIN – George Benjamin, the Philharmonic’s composer-in-residence, conducted a program that juxtaposed his Palimpsests with works by Boulez, Ravel, and Ligeti, whose Clocks and Clouds proved to be a masterpiece.

Bayreuth’s ‘Ring’ Is Off This Summer. Regietheater Isn’t.

By James L. Paulk
BAYREUTH – Waiting for the Nibelungs to return in 2020, the House That Wagner Built staged an ethereal Parsifal, an uneven Die Meistersinger, an ideally cast Tristan und Isolde, and a Holländer that ended with Senta’s harakiri.

Von Einem’s 100th Turns Kafkaesque With ‘Der Prozess’

By Rebecca Schmid
SALZBURG – Gottfried Von Einem’s operatic adaptation of The Trial mixes pointillism with jazz allusions. Conductor HK Gruber shaped the concert performance with a subtle irony that made the music all the more convincing.

‘Queen Of Spades’ Gets Reshuffled As Stark, Cool Drama

By Rebecca Schmid
SALZBURG – Two maverick stage directors took their first cracks at Tchaikovsky's "The Queen of Spades" and Monteverdi's "The Coronation of Poppea." The former looked unemotional; the latter veered from captivating to senseless.

Starry Wagnerian Quartet Highlights Restrained ‘Parsifal’

By David Shengold
MUNICH – A cast including Jonas Kaufmann, Nina Stemme, René Pape, and Christian Gerhaher brought sonic luster to Pierre Audi’s stark staging of Parsifal that featured sets by Georg Baselitz at the Bavarian State Opera.

American Director, Polish Lohengrin Bow At Bayreuth

By David Shengold
BAYREUTH - The innovative Yuval Sharon became the first American stage director employed in Wagner’s fabled precincts, and tenor Piotr Beczala scored a debut triumph in the production led by Christian Thielemann.

Music From Japan Builds Noteworthy New-Music Catalog

By Michael Huebner
FUKUSHIMA, Japan - With the help of government and private funding, co-founders Naoyuki Miura and Mari Ono have commissioned 76 works by Japanese composers and nine by American composers influenced by Japan.

‘St. Luke Passion’ Opens Salzburg Fest Under Nagano

By Arthur Kaptainis
SALZBURG – Whether heard as a landmark of modernism or its repudiation, Penderecki’s various materials made a fluid whole under Kent Nagano’s baton. He led his Montreal Symphony and choirs from Krakow and Warsaw.

A Packed Festival Of Music From Japan, In Japan

By Richard S. Ginell
TOKYO – Ten writers from the Music Critics Association of North America traveled to Japan for a week’s immersion in a distant yet surprisingly approachable culture. One critic kept a diary of concerts in Tokyo and Fukushima.

Young Talent Was Plentiful, Artistic Style Was Missing

By Rebecca Schmid
JŪRMALA, Latvia – The Belvedere Singing Competition drew 147 contestants to a resort town on the Baltic. Sixteen finalists came from thirteen countries, with Sungho Kim, a tenor from South Korea, taking first prize.

Director Remodels ‘House Of The Dead’ With Heavy Hand

By Rebecca Schmid
MUNICH – Director Frank Castorf peppers Janáček’s drama at the Bavarian State Opera with excerpts from Dostoevsky's works through video and added dialogue, with results that can be either enhancing or disruptive.

Updated Staging Of Baroque Satire Is Timely Theater

By Susan Brodie
PARIS – The Beggar’s Opera is given a contemporary spin in Robert Carsen’s hard-driving, athletically choreographed new production that features Les Arts Florissants and an energetic British cast that excels in song and dance.
Classical Voice North America