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Il trittico at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Sam Smith

Giacomo Puccini’s Il trittico, which premiered in 1918, is a triptych of one-act operas that were always designed to be performed together. The composer originally intended for each opera to reflect one part of Dante’s Divina Commedia, although in the event only the final work is based on the poem. As a result, the only theme that really underpins the operas is that they all involve, in one way or another, the concealment of a death. The Royal Opera’s current...

World Premiere : South Pole at the Bayerische Staatsoper

Helmut Pitsch

The Center of Munich ıs currently full of antarctic fever expecting the world premiere of South Pole, an opera by young Czech composer Michael Srnka, a special order of the Bavarian State Opera. The cool, decorless big space in front of the opera house has been acoustically converted by a sound installation presenting calving glaciers, roaring whales or polar bears, icy snow storms and everything else to be heared on the coldest continent. An imitation of Amundsen's tent, installed...

Capriccio at the Opéra National de Paris

Alain Duault

What a happy idea Stéphane Lissner had for his first season in reprising the last (and necessarily melancholy) production by Hugues Gall a little more than 10 years ago, when he left the Paris Opera:there is an implicit homage, and the sign of a desire for continuity in excellence.For the excellence is there, in the prodigious staging by Robert Carsen, perhaps one of his most successful:in this setting, which is an elegant mise en abyme of the Opéra Garnier, the...

Otello sinks into mediocrity

Xavier Pujol

Bad singing and worse staging. Otello, Verdi’s masterpiece with a libretto by Arrigo Boito – another masterpiece – and based on Shakespeare’s masterpiece, sank clumsily in its return to Liceu’s stage, after 10 years of absence. It isn’t easy to ruin three masterpieces, but in this occasion it was achieved.   Locating the opera in a refugee camp, besides resulting awkwardly fashionable, alters seriously the relationship and the balance...

Tosca at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Sam Smith

Based on Victorien Sardou’s 1887 French-language play, Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca of 1900 not only occurs in a specific time and place, but on a precise date that can be linked to an historical event. All of the action takes place during the afternoon, evening and early morning of 17 and 18 June 1800, following the Battle of Marengo between Napoleon’s army and Austrian forces. The Austrians were initially triumphant and sent news of victory back to Rome, but the...

Lucia di Lammermoor at Liceu: Florez, a “Di Bella Morte” tenor

Xavier Pujol

The main attraction of this Lucia di Lammermoor presented at Liceu, with 14 performances lasting until after Christmas, was the world’s debut of Juan Diego Flórez as Edgardo, one of the greatest bel canto roles, which the celebrated Peruvian tenor had not yet tackled. Nowadays, this opera is considered a “soprano opera”, but it has not always been this way. Since its premiere in 1835, with the great Gilbert Duprez in the main male character, and until the...

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