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The Ancient Becomes Timeless in The Return of Ulysses at the R...Sam Smith
The story in Claudio Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, performed here in English as The Return of Ulysses, of 1639 is taken from the second half of Homer’s Odyssey. In it Ulysses, King of Ithaca, finally returns to his kingdom following ten years fighting in The Trojan Wars and a further decade lost at sea. His wife Penelope has remained faithful throughout his long absence, in spite of loathsome suitors queuing up to persuade her to forget him and embrace...
A Gory but Psychologically Intense Salome at the Royal Opera H...Sam Smith
Despite only being mentioned briefly in the New Testament, the character of Salome has certainly caught the imagination as she has pervaded art, literature and music over the centuries. In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark she is described as a girl who pleased King Herod so much at his birthday feast with her dancing that he promised her anything she desired. After consulting Herodias, the husband of Herod and her mother, she asked for the head of John the Baptist on a plate, with Herodias...
Gran Teatre del Liceu: That old dear ElisirXavier Pujol
At times, opera can also be the art of nostalgia and of longing, referring not just to the voices. Liceu has once again restaged in its scene its own production of L’elisir d’amore, one of the most successful productions of the theatre, which has toured around bringing dignity to Liceu’s name. The staging is signed by Mario Gas as stage director, who started his relationship with this title over 30 years ago. That production was the grandmother of the one...
Double the Thrill in this Double Bill: Cavalleria rusticana an...Sam Smith
Damiano Michieletto’s take on Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, which represents a co-production between Opera Australia, La Monnaie in Brussels, The Göteborg Operaand the Royal Opera House, was well received when it first appeared at the latter venue two years ago. With this first revival from Rodula Gaitanou proving just as strong, and hence confirming that its initial success was no fluke, it is reasonable to acclaim the...
Once again, the brillant excess of TristanXavier Pujol
Excessive in every material and conceptual aspect, hypertrophic, beyond the limits of anything reasonable, redundant in the text to desperation, with a minimal dramatic action that tests the ingenuity and patience of stage directors, with terrible vocal demands, inhumane for the protagonists. Exhausting for everyone, audience included, the Wagnerian Tristan und Isolde is in its overflow one of the most sublime and genius excesses created by Western culture. Once again we have been put...
Semiramide at the Royal Opera House, LondonSam Smith
Semiramide is arguably the greatest Rossini opera not to be regularly performed today. This does not mean, however, that it has been entirely neglected, and it was recently recorded, and performed at the BBC Proms, by Opera Rara on period instruments. Musicologist Rodolfo Celletti has suggested that ‘Semiramide was the last opera of the great Baroque tradition: the most beautiful, the most imaginative, possibly the most complete; but also, irremediably the last’. This is...