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Articles from Vol. 49, No. 4, September-October

A Celebration of the Art of Janet Baker
Decca: 478 0320 This summer, the great English mezzo, Janet Baker, celebrated her 75th birthday. As the program notes for this new release point out, "Some singers are admired, a smaller number are worshipped, and a handful are genuinely loved."...
Alice in Wonderland
Unsuk Chin Unitel 2072418 This fascinating issue documents one of the fruits of Kent Nagano's first active season as Music Director of the Bayerische Staatsoper, a 2006 appointment that coincided with his assumption of the same position with...
Arabella
Richard Strauss Decca: 074 3263 Apart from documenting superstar Renee Fleming's Arabella, there is little reason to purchase this lacklustre Zurich Opera version of Strauss's lyric comedy. Indeed, there is such a divide between Fleming;s contributions...
Ariadne Auf Naxos
For most of the year, Munich's marvellous, 1,100-seat Prinzre-gententheater, fashioned after Bayreuth's Festspielhaus, is sadly underutilized. But during the opera. festival, it gets its fair share of exposure, prominently this year with the July 24...
Ariadne Auf Naxos
Richard Strauss TDK: DVWW-OPAAN Compared to the Arabella reviewed above, this Zurich Opera production of Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos is a succes four. But be warned, this is a concept production; the basic premise is that the Prima Donna is in...
Austria: Salzburg
It didn't take long for Yannick Nezet-Seguin,in his Aug. 2 debut on the podium at the Salzburg Festival, to make a striking effect leading the Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg in Gounod's Romeo et Juliette. During the orchestral Overture-Prologue, he obtained...
Capriccio
In June, the Vienna State Opera unveiled its new production of Capriccio, Richard Strauss's meditative "Conversation Piece for Music." The opera, which explores the old debate about the primacy of words or music on the lyric stage, is conversational...
Cincinnati
The American premiere of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor was sung in French, not Italian. Lucie de Lammermoor, created for Paris in 1839, was performed in New Orleans in 1841, but this French version subsequently fell out of favor. Recently, though,...
Denver
Now more than 20 years old, John Adam's Nixon in China is minimalist to the core, narrowly expressive and practically indifferent to notions of emotional variation and the traditions of programmatic composition. Former Colorado Symphony Music Director...
Edmonton
Edmonton's Opera Nuova, a training program for young singers, celebrated its 10th anniversary in June with a staging of Johann Strauss Jr.'s Die Fledermaus set in 1973 New York and a conventional production of Mozart's Die Zauberflote. Director...
Germany: Dresden
The Sachsische Staatsoper Dresden, better known as Semperoper, has a great tradition as a site for world premiers and a place where Italian and German traditions meet. In the 18th century, Johann Adolf Hasse, Dresden's court court composer, was probably...
Group Leader: Students and Professionals Alike Rely on Sandra Horst's Direction Behind the Scenes
Sandra Horst is not famous in the opera world. In fact, it she's known to the public at all, it's because she frequently appears in stage at the conclusion of Canadian Opera Company performances: a petite, blonde haired woman in modern dress, strangely...
Halifax Summer Opera Workshop
Halifax Summer Opera Workshop produced two operas written two centuries apart for its 2008 season--The Consul by Gian Carlo Menotti and Le nozze di Figaro by Mozart. Each opera was double-cast and performed twice. The Consul (1950) is a stark political...
Helene Guilmette
I spoke to Helene Guilmette the day after she had returned from Tokyo, where she had been singing Melisande in the Opera Bastille de Paris production of Paul Dukas's Ariane et Barbe-Bleue. "Although I really enjoyed the experience and adored being...
Jason and Hanna
Manitoba Opera's North American premiere of Jason and Hanna may be billed as a children's opera, but its gritty message of war and hatred is all too grown-up. The one-act opera was originally penned in 2002 by British librettist Mark Morris and...
Julie Nesrallah
"Well, good morning! I'm Julie Nesrallah and I'm delighted to be here." On September 2, the Canadian mezzo introduced herself as host of CBC Radio 2's new midday classical show, Tempo. She went on to promise her program would feature "great classical...
Lawrence Wiliford
The American-born, Toronto-based lyric tenor Lawrence Wiliford is quietly building an impressive career that this November adds his role debut as Pedrillo in Toronto-based Opera Atelier's new production of Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio and...
Letter from Bregenz: Leonard Turnevicius Finds a Welcome Mix of Popular Culture and More Esoteric Musical Fare at This Year's Bregenz Festival
"Krenek. Ernst Krenek." OK, it doesn't have quite the same ring as "Bond. James Bond," but both Bond and Krenek made extraordinary visits to Austria's Bregenz Festival in 2008. First, 007. For more than a week this past spring, the producers...
Letter from Saint Louis: William Littler Finds an Intimate Blend of Old and New in an Improbably Active Opera Centre Down the Mississippi Valley
When tenor Roger Honeywell was approached to take one of the title roles in Troilus and Cressida with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (OTSL) this spring, the Toronto-born, Stratford-based tenor claims he knew nothing at all about the opera. True, he had...
Madama Butterfly
Two seasons after staring bankruptcy in the face, L'Opera de Montreal has regained its status as a civic treasure. While a big success with Madama Butterfly might not seem newsworthy, the fact that the company took care to mount an ambitious rather...
Manon
Jules Massenet DGG: 00440 073 4431 This new release, the third Manon to appear on DVD this year, comes from Berlin's Staatsoper unter den Linden in a co-production with Los Angeles Opera. It is directed and choreographed by Vincent Paterson,...
Monica Whicher
Soprano Monica Whicher embarks on one of the biggest challenges of her operatic career this fall when she assumes the demanding title role of the sensual, exotic temptress in Massenet's Thais for Pacific Opera Victoria (premiere Oct. 16). Best known...
Munich
Pierre Audi staged Handel's Tamerlano in the Baroque theatre in Sweden's Drottning-holm Palace before he created it for Munich, but he transferred much of the Baroque spirit--and its natural limits-to the stage of the Bayerische Staatsoper. The result,...
Notebook
AND SO THE TRUTH IS OUT. After a lifetime of dissembling about my preferences and inclinations. After years of trying to heed the warnings of those who detected early signs of trouble--like my English teacher, Mr. Caws, who once ridiculed my "long-haired-aesthete...
Opera Nova Scotia
Opera Nova Scotia offered Mozart's Idomeneo in June with an orchestral ensemble of 25, conducted by Walter Kemp, and a chorus of 18. The stage was simply, but dramatically, designed, with floating fabric pillars creating the effect of a temple and...
Rarities and Familiar Classics: A Trio of Early Verdi, a Duo That Spans Wagner's Composing Career and a Nod to This Year's Puccini Anniversary Complete the CBC's 2008 Broadcast Season
October 11 * Nabucco Giuseppe Verdi You can expect a heavier, Germanic cast in the performances of the excellent orchestra and chorus of the Bavarian State Opera, even with the Milan-born Paolo Carignani on the podium. Verdi's lovely melodies...
Royal Mezzo
Jennifer Larmore Cedille 90000 104 Jennifer Larmore is touted as the world's most-recorded mezzo, with 70-plus CDs on many international labels covering the from Baroque and bel canto coloratura to contemporary music. In this latest issue, on...
Saint Louis
Since its premiere at Covent Garden in 1954, William Walton's Troilus and Cressida has had a checkered and sparse performance history. After this stunning production by Stephen Lawless in June at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, one would hope this might...
Saskatoon
Saskatoon has a new theatre on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River. Despite its grandeur and a host of technical contrivances, however, it was hard pressed to hold in the marvellous voices that brought Verdi's Rigoletto to life when Saskatoon...
Spirit Moon: Young People's Opera Society of B.C
Only four years young, Surrey-based Young People's Opera Society of B.C. has already mounted its second new work. With libretto by Artistic Director Patricia Dahlquist and a tuneful score by Music Director George Austin, Spirit Moon was rushed from...
Stage Struck: Even If He Didn't Exactly Plan to Become a Director, There's an Element of Inevitability in the Course of Tim Albery's Career
Tim Albery is not the kind of man you might expect would suddenly reach across the table, grab you roughly by the lapel, thrust his face into yours and snarl. For one thing, he's British, with a decent smattering of that nation's stereotypical reserve,...
The Creation of Ines (3); Queen on Puddings Sets the Cast and Finds a New Leading Lady in Lisbon
Immediately after last May's five-day workshop of Ines, Toronto-based Queen of Puddings Music Theatre's new opera from composer James Rolfe and librettist Paul Bentley, the creative team held a post-mortem to assess progress. QofP co-artistic directors...
The Mastersingers of Nuremburg
Richard Wagner Chandos: CHAN 3148 In 1968, to mark the centennial of Richard Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, Sadler's Wells (now the English National Opera) mounted a celebratory production conducted by the late Sir Reginald Goodall....
The Rake's Progress
The Robert Lepage/Ex Machina production of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress arrived at Royal Opera, Covent Garden in July from Brussels, Lyon, and, hopefully, will be seen elsewhere. It works no because it updates the setting from the 18th century...
The Wagner Album Juha Uusitalo
Ondine 1121-2 Finnish bass-baritone Juha Uusitalo is fast-rising star in the firmament of contermporary Wagner singer. his status evident in the choice of repertoire for this first recital album. He covers some familiar recital territory--"die First...
Toronto
As a pendant to the mainstage season, the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio presented a June double bill in the intimate Imperial Oil Opera Theatre of the Tanenbaum Opera Centre, curiously pairing Giuseppe Gazzaniga's Don Giovanni, the prototype...
United Kingdom: London
The Royal Opera revival of Christof Loy's 2002 production of Ariadne auf Naxos would hardly have made headlines around the world had it not been for the tale of a soprano, a sacking and surgery-aided slimming. Of which, inevitably, more later. The...
Vancouver
Vancouver's Opera Appassionata presented the Canadian premiere of Handel's Amadigi in the Sunset Nursery Green house in May. Artistic Director Frank Klassen likes to use site-specific theatres that relate to an opera's plot and have good acoustics....
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Glyndebourne: GFOCD 001-62) BETROTHAL IN A MONASTERY Sergei Prokofiev Glyndebourne: GFOCD 002-06 Britain's Glyndebourne Festival has started its own record label to feature outstanding live performances from the company's rich archive....
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