Thrilling singing in Simon Boccanegra at the Concertgebouw

Verdi: Simon Boccanegra

Concertgebouw, 16th September 2017

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Victor Maurel sang the title role in Simon Boccanegra at the premiere of the revised 1881 version

This is what Verdi should sound like. Idiomatically sung by confident singers, with role-tailored voices that make one sit up and listen. The NTR ZaterdagMatinee concert series at the Concertgebouw, a long-standing institution financed with public broadcasting funds, traditionally opens with an opera. This year it was Simon Boccanegra, Verdi’s sombre study of personal tragedy lurking behind public success.

Full review on Backtrack.

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Diana Damrau puts the sparkle into the RCO’s Opening Night

Mozart/Dvořák/Bernstein: RCO/Hengelbrock/Damrau

Concertgebouw, 14th September 2017

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Drawing of Antonin Dvořák by M. V. Nadherny

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra officially opened their 2017-18 season with a well-chosen, festive programme. In the presence of Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, conductor Thomas Hengelbrock led an all-Mozart first half, introducing arias with anecdotes and great enthusiasm. Antonín Dvořák’s optimistic Eighth Symphony took up the second half.

Full review on Bachtrack.

Solid La forza del destino opens Dutch National Opera season

Verdi: La forza del destino

Dutch National Opera, 9th September 2017

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The fatalism that pervades the Verdi’s La forza del destino is mostly incongruous with our rationalist times, as is the idea of spiritual redemption. However, although destiny steers the characters in Forza towards unlikely chance encounters, their motives ­– prejudice, hatred, love, revenge – remain ageless.

Full review on Bachtrack.

Wrong rep sinks opera evening at the Concertgebouw

Devos, Blondelle, Oliemans/NOB/Marković: Mozart, Bellini, Verdi et al.

Concertgebouw, 12th July 2017

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The people deserve good opera. Even at popular “greatest hits” concerts, the quality should be as high as budget and availability allow. At this “Robeco SummerNight at the Opera” the audience had to make do with a couple of nuggets and a series of mismatches between repertoire and performers.

Full review on Bachtrack.

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra throws a glossy Bernstein party

Bernstein: RCO/Wilson

Concertgebouw, 7th July 2017

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Leonard Bernstein in 1955. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

For almost thirty years, summer at the Concertgebouw has been synonymous with Robeco SummerNights. This popular series expands the classical concert formula with pop, film music, jazz and more, served straight up or mixed together. Composer Leonard Bernstein’s versatility makes his oeuvre, ranging from Broadway to opera, prime SummerNight fare.

Full review on Opera Today.

Funeral fun with Franui at the Holland Festival

Florian Boesch/Franui: Mahler/Schubert/Schumann et al.

Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Amsterdam, 21st June 2017

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Innervillgraten, East Tyrol, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A concert hall is the wrong venue for Franui. The “musicbanda” from East Tyrol belongs on a bandstand in a park or on a breezy pier. Their audience should be eating ice-cream and drinking beer instead of sitting quietly in the dark. Franui’s bittersweet folk arrangements of German art songs, with elements of jazz and klezmer, call up village fêtes, weddings and, especially, funerals.

Full review on Bachtrack.

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Beautiful role debut for Malin Byström in Amsterdam Salome

Strauss: Salome

Dutch National Opera, 9th June 2017

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Salome with the Head of John the Baptist (c. 1861) by Jan Adam Kruseman at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

While the audience cheered at the end of the new Salome at Dutch National Opera, Malin Byström punched the air triumphantly with her fist. With good reason, because this was a wonderful role debut.

Full review on Bachtrack.