Lessons in Love and Violence

Benjamin: Lessons in Love and Violence

Dutch National Opera, 25 June 2018

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The Earls of Lancaster, Hereford and Arundel inspect Piers Gaveston’s head, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Six years ago composer George Benjamin and playwright Martin Crimp gave the world Written on Skin. It caused a sensation at its unveiling at the Aix-en-Provence Festival. Hot on the heels of its world premiere at the Royal Opera House in London, the composer is now conducting their second full-length opera, Lessons in Love and Violence, at the Holland Festival, where he is this year’s Composer in Focus.

Full review on Opera Today.

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Yannick Nézet-Séguin says au revoir to Rotterdam

Handel/Mozart/Respighi et al.: RPhO/Nézet-Séguin/DiDonato

De Doelen, Rotterdam, 9 June 2018

100-rpho-vignet.pngIn September, Yannick Nézet-Séguin becomes music director at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Taking on North America’s foremost opera house means that, while remaining with the Orchestre Métropolitain in his birthplace Montreal and the Philadelphia Orchestra, his tenure at the Rotterdam Philharmonic has come to its natural end.

Full review on Bachtrack.

Bryn Terfel’s magnetic Mephisto in Amsterdam

Berlioz: La Damnation de Faust

Concertgebouw, 4 June 2018

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Mephistopheles and Faust (ca 1871) by Alphonse de Neuville, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

It had been a while since Bryn Terfel sang a complete opera role in Amsterdam. Back in 2002 his larger-than-life Doctor Dulcamara hijacked the stage of what was then De Nederlandse Opera, now Dutch National Opera. So it was something of an occasion when he returned this week for a concert version of La Damnation de Faust by Hector Berlioz at the Concertgebouw.

Full review on Opera Today.

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Superb, sinister Tales of Hoffmann at Dutch National Opera

Offenbach: Les Contes d’Hoffmann

Dutch National Opera, 3 June 2018

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Caricature of Offenbach by André Gill, 1874, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

No colourful tavern scenes and Venetian gondolas in this new Amsterdam production of Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann. Off-white and black dominate its three-floor set of many rooms. Moreover, this three-hour version assembled by conductor Carlo Rizzi and director Tobias Kratzer is likely to dissatisfy both purists and traditionalists.

Full review on Bachtrack.

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A volcanic Elektra by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic

Strauss: Elektra

Concertgebouw, 2 June 2018

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Electra by E. Teschendorff, 1892, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

“There are no gods in heaven!” sings Elektra just before her brother Orest kills their mother. In the Greek plays about the cursed House of Atreus the Olympian gods command the banished Orestes to return home and avenge his father Agamemnon’s murder at the hands of his wife Clytemnestra.

Full review on Opera Today.

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La concordia de’ pianeti: Imperial flattery set to Baroque splendor in Amsterdam

Caldara: La concordia de’ pianeti

Concertgebouw, 28 April 2018

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Carestini, who created the part of Apollo. Detail from The Toilette (1734) by William Hogarth.

One trusts the banquet following the world premiere of La concordia de’ pianeti proffered some spicy flavors, because Pietro Pariati’s text is so cloying it causes violent stomach-churning. In contrast, Antonio Caldara’s music sparkles and dances like a blaze of crystal chandeliers.

Full review on Opera Today.

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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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