sat 01/10/2022

Puccini

La rondine, If Opera review - a bold opening gambit from a company changing the business of opera

Covid has been devastating for all the arts, but especially opera – the riskiest and most expensive gamble of the lot. And it doesn’t seem to be anywhere near done yet. On one memorable night this summer the number of covers stepping into principal...

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Margot La Rouge/Le Villi, Opera Holland Park review – Parisian fancies and Black Forest gâteau

Take an opera newbie along to Opera Holland Park’s double bill of rarities and they may have both their worst fears and their highest hopes confirmed. Outlandish plotting, overwrought melodrama and preposterous, supernatural stage business abounds....

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Zingari/Tosca Suite, Opera Rara, Rizzi, Cadogan Hall review - symphonic mastery and fluent hokum

Two major composers took Pushkin’s narrative poem The Gypsies as the subject for two very different operas. The 19 year old Rachmaninov in 1892 had inspiration but not much sense of dramatic continuity; Leoncavallo in 1912, 20 years on from his...

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Madam Butterfly, Welsh National Opera review - decent performance, disagreeable context

It’s easy enough to see the difficulty Madam Butterfly places your thinking director in. I share her pain. What the whirring brain will quickly see as a penetrating, or at least surface scratching, study of a whole repertoire of modern obsessions –...

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La bohème, Scottish Opera – pandemic Puccini

Picture the scene. A vast steel gazebo covers a nondescript parking lot next to an industrial unit in Glasgow. With a clear plastic covering, it is the most rudimentary of shelters, sides open to admit the roar of the M8 and the wailing of sirens,...

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Ermonela Jaho, Stephen Maughan, Wigmore Hall review – emotional honesty in rare repertoire

Wigmore Hall audiences don’t usually roar. But when a star soprano who has already made her mark at the world’s major opera houses pays a visit, they do. This was the Albanian-born and now New York-based soprano Ermonela Jaho’s debut at the hall, an...

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Edinburgh International Festival 2019: Bach's Multiple Concertos/ Manon Lescaut reviews - dancing harpsichords, perfect Puccini

Puccini's and Abbé Prévost's glitter-seduced Manon Lescaut might have been inclined to linger longer in the salon of dirty old man Geronte if he'd served her up not his own madrigals but Bach's music for various harpsichords and ensemble. Five such...

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Manon Lescaut, Opera Holland Park review - attempt to empower commodified woman falls flat

"Waiting is always wearisome," declare the socialites as glitter-and-be-gay Manon Lescaut receives in the home of her nasty old "protector" Geronte. Despite the numerous sugar-plums Puccini weaves into his first fluent operatic masterpiece, waiting...

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Bernheim, Finley, LSO, Pappano, Barbican review - top Italians in second gear

Would Verdi and Puccini have composed more non-operatic music, had they thrived in a musical culture different to Italy's? Hard to say. What we do know is that they both became absolute masters of orchestration – Puccini rather quicker than Verdi,...

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The Rite of Spring/Gianni Schicchi, Opera North review - unlikely but musically satisfying pairing

Stravinsky acknowledged that his orchestra for The Rite of Spring was a large one because Diaghilev had promised him extra musicians (“I am not sure that my orchestra would have been as huge otherwise.”) It isn’t huge in Opera North’s production...

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Gianni Schicchi/Suor Angelica, RNCM, Manchester review – music does the magic

The Royal Northern College of Music’s December opera production was the useful double bill of Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi from Puccini’s Trittico. I say useful, because the former employs a women’s chorus (and, briefly, a full one) plus 16...

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Montserrat Caballé (1933-2018): from Bellini to 'Barcelona'

Her special claim to fame was the most luminous pianissimo in the business, but that often went hand in velvet glove with fabulous breath control and a peerless sense of bel canto line. To know Maria de Montserrat Viviana Concepción Caballé i Folch...

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