Magazine article Opera Canada

Royal Opera

Magazine article Opera Canada

Royal Opera

Article excerpt

Royal Opera celebrated the centenary of Sir Michael Tippett's birth with a revival of his first opera, The Midsummer Marriage, in a production directed by Graham Vick and designed by Paul Brown. When first staged in 1955, the score was greatly admired, but the text, by Tippett, was considered very out of date for an opera set in the present. Now that 50 years have passed, phrases such as Bella's "A woman's crowning glory is her hair" are not so cringe-making, and the work can be enjoyed for its musical richness, as the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and conductor Richard Hickox memorably demonstrated.

Tenor Will Hartmann (Mark) and soprano Amanda Roocroft (Jenifer) managed their florid vocal lines very successfully. Jennifer's father, King Fisher, who tries to forbid the marriage, was magnificently sung by bass John Tomlinson. Jack, a mechanic and Bella, King Fisher's secretary, have a less complicated relationship: Canadian tenor Gordon Gietz made a credible working man, willing to tackle any job that came his way, while soprano Cora Burggraaf was an attractive Bella. The huge chorus sang impressively, while the Ritual Dances were graphically executed.

The revival of Verdi's Un ballo in maschera, conducted by Charles Mackerras, took place on the conductor's 80th birthday. It was indeed an evening fit for celebration--musically at least. Dramatically, director Mario Martone chose the American version, but set it in the 1870s, 100 years after the time of the last British Governor of Boston. Sergio Tramonti's sets were mediocre until the final scene, when an enormous mirror magically reflected the theatre itself. Richard Margison sang Riccardo. In very fine voice, he made the most of the marvellous music Verdi gave the character. He put real passion into the love duet withsoprano Nina Stemme's excellent Amelia.

Passion was missing from baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky's immaculately sung but emotionally cold, Renato. Patrizia Biccire made a sprightly Oscar, and Stephanie Blythe a resonant-voiced Ulrica. Canadian bass Robert Gleadow, a participant in the Jette Parker Young Artist's Programme, offered a properly conspiratorial Samuele. Chorus and orchestra were in particularly good form, while Mackerras conducted with his usual impeccable style. At the end of the performance, the audience erupted into cheers and sang "Happy Birthday to you, dear Charlie" with those on stage.

The Linbury, the small theatre built beneath the Royal Opera House, is the perfect size for Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.