Columns linked to Maria Agresta

Otello at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Sam Smith

Like the Shakespeare play upon which it is based, Giuseppe Verdi’s penultimate opera Otello of 1887 is the story of a general in the Venetian military whose skills in managing political and personal affairs do not match those he has demonstrated in fighting. When his ‘friend’ Iago feels Otello has sidelined him for promotion, he lays a trap to make Otello believe his wife Desdemona has been unfaithful, and the general falls whole-heartedly for the deception with...


Faust’s first time in Salzburg

Raffaele Mellace

Surprisingly, a major title of the French operatic tradition such as Gounod’s Faust had never been staged before at the Salzburg Festival. It happened this year in a production signed by Austrian director Reinhard von der Thannen, responsible for sets and costumes as well. However solid the cast was, the main focus of the production was certainly von der Thannen’s staging  – and with good reason (one could actually tell right from the programme notes, entrusted to...


Gounod's Faust at the Salzburg Festival 2016

Helmut Pitsch

Rien - "Nothing" thrones over the bright white stage. "We start from nothing and return to nothing" might be one theme of this contradictory direction of Reinhard von der Thannen. He is responsible for the direction, the costumes and the stage design of this first presentation of this opera in Salzburg. He has studied and worked with Hans Neuenfels, originally as stage and costume designer, and you can feel the influence and some memories of the controversial...


La Traviata at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Sam Smith

Giuseppe Verdi’s La traviata of 1853 is one of the most frequently performed operas in the world today. Based on Alexandre Dumas, fils’s play La Dame aux camélias, it tells of Violetta Valéry who is a famed Parisian courtesan. Beneath her apparently carefree exterior, however, she is suffering from tuberculosis and her world is shaken when she meets Alfredo with whom she falls in love. They run away together and live off the sale of her goods, but one day...


Teatro Massimo Giacomo Puccini La Boheme

Helmut Pitsch

Palermo has a spectacular location along the tyrrhenian coast line, and right in the middle of the city, resides Italy's biggest opera house with the appropriate name Teatro Massimo. It is a classical building, a copy of a Greek temple, and one can well imagine what a feeling it was to enter in such a temple by climbing the stairs to the entrance of this massive building. It was openend in 1897 and witnessed the glory and wealth of the city after a construction period of 20 years....


A dramatic evening with Plácido Domingo and friends

Ilana Walder-Biesanz

Plácido Domingo’s long reign as operatic royalty shows no sign of ending. In a concert celebrating forty years at the Salzburg Festival, he and his friends wowed an appreciative crowd with a well-chosen and expressively delivered program. Especially for a concert performance, the drama received an unusual amount of attention. The show opened with an atmospheric, icy prologue from the second act of Giordano’s Siberia, played by the fabulous Munich Radio Orchestra. The...