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Don Pasquale, the Opera That Never FailsXavier Pujol
It is difficult to achieve great success when singing or conducting Don Pasquale, but it is also difficult to fail. Don Pasquale, the last capolavoro of opera buffa, is a comfortable and friendly work which does not present major problems. Vocal requirements are important though perfectly acceptable for professional singers and the same goes for the orchestral part. The work is not one of those mythical titles in the repertoire that make or break a career. There are devotees of...
A Strangely Moving Aida from Robert Carsen at the Royal Opera ...Sam Smith
Set in Ancient Egypt, Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida of 1871, with a libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, centres on a love triangle between Radamès, Amneris and Aida. As a Princess of Egypt and the daughter of the King, Amneris believes that her feelings for the Chief of the Guard Radamès ought to be reciprocated, and is horrified when she discovers that he and Aida, an Ethiopian slave, are actually in love. When Aida’s father Amonasro is captured in battle, with the...
Fifth Revival of Kasper Holten’s Don Giovanni at the Royal Ope...Sam Smith
Don Giovanni of 1787 is one of three operas that Mozart wrote with the librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte (the others being Le nozze di Figaro and Così fan tutte). It tells of the eponymous hero, or rather antihero, who effortlessly conquers thousands of women. Although in the process he makes many enemies, the ladies he has cheated have a habit of coming back for more or trying to save him, and in the end he is responsible for his own downfall. When the ghost of the Commendatore...
Strong Voices and Characterisations in Madama Butterfly at the...Sam Smith
Set in Nagasaki, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly of 1904-07, with a libretto by Giuseppe Giacoso and Luigi Illica, explores the relationship between the American naval officer Pinkerton and Cio-Cio-San from the city’s Omara district. Cio-Cio-San, who Pinkerton knows as Madam Butterfly, takes their love so seriously that she converts to Christianity, and is consequently ostracised by her family. He, on the other hand, sees their marriage as being akin to his Japanese house,...
Star Performances Cap an Excellent Production of Salome at the...Sam Smith
Opening night of Salome proved to be the first night of the Royal Opera’s 2022/23 season, although this was not by design. Don Giovanni was to have opened it the preceding evening, but the sad news of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II saw the performance cancelled as a mark of respect. Twenty-four hours later Salome did go ahead, preceded by a tribute led by Director of Opera Oliver Mears, a minute’s silence and the playing of the National Anthem by the Orchestra of...
Norma at the Liceu, The Sword and the CrossXavier Pujol
It tends to be the case, at least at Liceu, that in premiere nights musically the performances start off being a little wobbly and, sometimes, with luck they end well. Norma, the last opera for this season, wasn’t an exception. At the beginning there were many issues in all musical areas, but it ended reasonably well. The problem lies in the fact that in Norma the best musical numbers, the shiny ones, are located at the start of the piece and we couldn’t enjoy them...