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Boldly rewritten, Tito condemns the war on terrorIlana Walder-Biesanz
In Peter Sellars’ new production of La clemenza di Tito, whenever Sesto says “traditor” (“traitor”) in his end-of-act-one recitativo accompagnato, the supertitles read “terrorist”. This may seem like a small detail, but it’s emblematic of Sellars’ and Currentzis’s audacious reworking of Mozart’s opera. Sesto’s treason is personal, a crime against his friend and father figure Tito. Terrorism is general—the...
Bavarian State Opera Giuseppe Verdi La Forza del DestinoHelmut Pitsch
The Munich opera festival has developed to one of the leading opera festivals without making a big press about it. Every year in July the Bavarian State Opera presents a program consisting of a selection of the last season new productions, as well as major remakes, as well as new productions and accompanying contemporary music evenings. Two big open air spectacles enrich the voluminous program. Major attractions are the casts. Every evening represents a chance to hear the best singers on...
Il Trovatore at the Liceu: The best was the bad guyXavier Pujol
Yet another title from Verdi’s “popular trilogy” at Liceu. We had Rigoletto in March and now, to close the season, Il Trovatore. Betting repeatedlyfor the most popular operas can be dangerous: whilst it is true that they bring with them a full house, they also generate disproportionate expectations in an audience that know them (of thinks to know them) by heart and who wish – often in vain – to listen on stage to the results that tend to belongmore to the...
Mitridate, re di Ponto at the Royal Opera House, Covent GardenSam Smith
Based on a play by Jean Racine, Mitridate, re di Ponto is an early Mozart opera that premiered in December 1770. The musicologist Daniel E. Freeman recently demonstrated that Mozart incorporated some musical motives from Josef Mysliveček’s La Nitteti, which was first performed in April 1770 just a month after the young Amadeus first met the older composer, into his own operatic setting. Nevertheless, this hardly detracts from the achievement of a fourteen-year old composing such an...
Otello at the Royal Opera House, Covent GardenSam 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...
Don Giovanni at the Liceu: an impossible opera?Xavier Pujol
It has often been said, in a variety of ways and with a range of argumentations, that Don Giovanni belongs to the limited group of ‘impossible operas’ or ‘trap operas’ in the sense that they are so big, perfect and powerful, and their deep subject – rather than their superficial plot – is so transcendental that, on one hand they are almost always bigger than their performers, and on the other hand they also generate such perfection expectations in the...