Un ballo in maschera glitters but doesn’t ignite in Budapest

Verdi: Un ballo in maschera

Erkel Theatre, Budapest, 21 April 2018

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The Naples censor rejecting the original libretto for Un ballo in maschera, then called Un vendetta in domino. Caricature by Melchiorre Delfico

The final scene in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera invites stage directors to dazzle their audiences with a sumptuous masked ball. The public at this new production was duly dazzled, in the best of taste, and not just by the scintillating golds and pinks of the ball gowns.

Full review on Bachtrack.

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Spectacular Gurrelieder revived at Dutch National Opera

Schoenberg: Gurrelieder

Dutch National Opera, 18 April 2018

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Plan of Gurre Castle, Denmark. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Toward the end of Pierre Audi’s last season at Dutch National Opera, the house has revived one of its artistic director’s most admired productions. The first ever and, so far, only staged version of Schoenberg’s gargantuan cantata represents the best of Audi’s innovative work.

Full review on Bachtrack.

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Dutch National Opera successfully resurrects La morte d’Orfeo

Landi: La morte d’Orfeo

Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Amsterdam, 23 March 2018

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Apollo and Orpheus, 17th Century, Anonymous, (Metropolitan Museum of Art via Wikimedia Commons)

In the operas of Monteverdi and Gluck, Orpheus, poet and musician, is a tragic hero. He loses his wife Eurydice twice, first when she dies on earth, and again on their way out of Hades, where he descends to revive her. In Stefano Landi’s La morte d’Orfeo (ca 1619), he is a less sympathetic, but more interesting figure.

Full review on Bachtrack.

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Probing Bernstein and MacMillan double bill in Amsterdam

Bernstein: Trouble in Tahiti

MacMillan: Clemency

De Meervaart Theatre, Amsterdam, 22 March 2018

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Abraham, Sarah and the Angel (circa 1520) by Jan Provoost, Louvre Museum (public domain) via Wikimedia Commons

The Opera Forward Festival (OFF) in Amsterdam is about new things: new compositions, rediscovered works and new faces. This year’s program included a double bill produced by Dutch National Opera’s talent development wing. Leonard Bernstein’s portrait of a miserable marriage in affluent suburbia, Trouble in Tahiti, was the contrasting companion piece to James McMillan’s Clemency, a study of the sinister side of religious belief.

Full review on Opera Today.

 

 

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Musically superlative Das Floß der Medusa at Dutch National Opera

Henze: Das Floß der Medusa

Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam, 13 March 2018

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Study for The Raft of the Medusa (1818-1819) by Théodore Géricault, Louvre Museum (public domain), via Wikimedia Commons

The events that inspired Das Floß der Medusa, an indictment by Hans Werner Henze against social injustice, are the stuff of nightmares. Romeo Castellucci has now staged it for Dutch National Opera, where it opened the third edition of the Opera Forward Festival. Despite his bold cinematographic concept, the musical performances were the strongest dramatic aspect of the production.

Full review on Bachtrack.

 

 

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Traetta’s Antigona a forceful Baroque drama in Amsterdam

Traetta: Antigona

Stadssschouwburg, Amsterdam, 10th of February 2018

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Antigone in front of the dead Polynices (1865) by Nikiforos Lytras

The small Dutch company Opera Trionfo, collaborating with Theater Osnabrück in Germany, is currently touring with an ambitious project, Tommaso Traetta’s little-known opera Antigona. At its Dutch première in Amsterdam, Floris Visser’s staging vibrated with violent emotions and the cast gave physically explosive performances.

Full review on Bachtrack.

Tristan und Isolde smoulders at Dutch National Opera

Wagner: Tristan und Isolde

Dutch National Opera, 18 January 2018

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Tristan and Isolde on a German stamp issued in 1933

After its co-producers in Paris and Rome, it is Dutch National Opera’s turn to present director Pierre Audi’s shadow-clad Tristan und Isolde. In Amsterdam Audi’s lucid visuals complemented a strong, balanced cast. Conductor Marc Albrecht kept a lyrical Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra on a concentrated simmer for the full four hours. This was a Tristan und Isolde to treasure.

Full review on Bachtrack.

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