wed 26/04/2017

Puccini

DVD: Mario Lanza - The Best of Everything

Born Alfred Arnold Cocozza to immigrant working-class Italian parents in Philadelphia, Mario Lanza was lauded by the likes of Serge Koussevitsky and Arturo Toscanini, becoming a huge Hollywood star by the early 1950s. Lanza couldn’t read music, and...

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Patience/Tosca, English Touring Opera

How well do you know your bad Victorian poetry? “When through the purple corridors the screaming scarlet Ibis flew/In terror, and a horrid dew dripped from the moaning Mandragores.” Go on, guess the author. Or how about this? “What time the poet...

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Madama Butterfly, Royal Opera

"È un'immensa pietà" - "it's heartbreaking," rather than "it's a huge pity" - sings consul Sharpless of "Butterfly" Cio-Cio San's fatal belief that her American husband will return to her. Heartbreak is what we expected from Ermonela Jaho after her...

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Mirjam Mesak, Kristiina Rokashevich, St Bartholomew the Great

Treasure our young continental European musicians in London while you can. Only last week I learned that so many of the overseas students at London's Guildhall School had stories to tell about being questioned in public (usually "are you Polish?"...

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Juan Diego Flórez, Vincenzo Scalera, Symphony Hall, Birmingham

“Who says Mozart is not like Rossini?” remarked Juan Diego Flórez, about a quarter of an hour into his debut recital at Symphony Hall. “There are seven high Cs in this aria.” And with a flicker of notes from the pianist Vincenzo Scalera, he was off...

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Best of 2016: Opera

It was the best and worst of years for English National Opera. Best, because principals, chorus and orchestra seem united in acclaiming their Music Director of 14 months, Mark Wigglesworth, for his work at a level most had only dreamed of (“from the...

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Manon Lescaut, Royal Opera

Jonathan Kent’s Manon Lescaut is back for a first revival at Covent Garden. It’s a gaudy affair, and seems calculated to provoke. But there are some interesting ideas here, and the musical standards remain high, even from the lesser-known names of...

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Madama Butterfly, Glyndebourne Tour

What would Glyndebourne, staging Madama Butterfly for the first time, bring to Puccini's most heartbreaking tragedy? Subtle realism, perhaps? Certainly the composer, along with his superb librettists Giacosa and Illica, offers plenty of...

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Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica, Opera North

Just two thirds of Puccini’s Il Trittico still makes for an involving evening’s entertainment. Without Gianni Schicchi there’s an awful lot of misery and heartache, though director Michael Barker-Caven does manage to inject some black comedy into...

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La Bohème, Opera Holland Park

Boy meets girl; girl and boy fall in love; boy loses girl. In true bohemian fashion, La bohème can lay its operatic head anywhere from Paris to Peshawar, in any era from 90s punk to the Belle Epoque, and still make sense. What matters are the...

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La Fanciulla del West, Grange Park Opera

Though composed after and based on a play by the same author, Puccini’s spaghetti western is in no way a sequel to Madama Butterfly, his whisky-sour eastern. Fanciulla is Butterfly’s opposite in almost every respect, and to tell...

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Madam Butterfly, English National Opera

There’s a beautiful moment at the start of Act II of Anthony Minghella’s Madam Butterfly. Butterfly kneels, leaning forward to kiss Pinkerton, seated in his defiantly Western armchair. A paper screen moves swiftly across our view, and almost before...

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