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Excellent Performances Lift Simon Boccanegra at the Royal Oper...Sam Smith
Simon Boccanegra, originally of 1857 but revised in 1881, has not traditionally been seen as Verdi’s greatest creation. When, however, in 2010 Plácido Domingo took on the title role, his first as a baritone, at the Royal Opera House in Elijah Moshinsky’s 1991 production, it injected a new level of interest into the piece. English National Opera got in on the act with a ‘film noir’ production in 2011, while Moshinsky’s version enjoyed a further revival...
Ildar Abdrazakov's recital conquers La ScalaJames Imam
The bass Ildar Abdrazakov has it all: the sumptuous voice, the rock solid technique, refined musicality and a gift for story telling with which he brings music and text to life. But that Abdrazakov has talent is hardly news in Milan -- the bass has regularly featured in opera productions here for nearly two decades. Instead, the big revelation from this La Scala recital was just how versatile he is. In Milan, Abdrazakov has always been most readily associated with Verdi. He has...
The tragic, dark and terrible beauty of Kàtia KabànovaXavier Pujol
Kàtia Kabànova is an opera of a tragic, dark and terrible beauty: a woman trapped in a marriage that is unsatisfactory from all angles tries to find an exit to the vital suffocation she is feeling in the arms of a lover who is even weaker than her husband. The feelings of guilt and, above all, a tyrant perverse and dominating mother-in-law summarising an oppressing and asphyxiating social entourage, will be make sure to make impossible any other solution but the suicide...
Patrice Chéreau's devastating Elektra returns to La ScalaJames Imam
The sense of expectation that surrounded the return of Patrice Chéreau's production of Elektra to La Scala is testament to the artistry of the French director, arguably the greatest the nation has produced in the postwar period. Time and again, Chéreau's conceptions bore to the heart of the drama, and through an often startling simplicity of directorial means. The director's Elektra, his last production, opened in Aix in 2013 before travelling to La Scala....
Strong Revival of David Alden’s Lucia di Lammermoor at the Lon...Sam Smith
Based on Sir Walter Scott’s historical novel The Bride of Lammermoor, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor of 1835 is set in Scotland. The Ashton and Ravenswood families have a long-standing hatred of each other with the former family now owning the estate that previously belonged to the latter. The Ashtons have themselves fallen on hard times, however, leading the Master of Lammermoor Enrico to insist that his sister Lucia marry Lord Arturo Bucklaw in order to restore the...
A Masterly Performance of Verdi’s Messa da Requiem at the Roya...Sam Smith
Although German conductor and Wagner associate Hans von Bülow was being derogatory when he described Verdi’s Messa da Requiem as an ‘opera in ecclesiastical garb’ (he later retracted the remark), it is a comment that describes the inherent power and theatricality of the piece. Such a description does not, in fact, need to carry negative connotations for as Verdi’s second wife, the soprano Giuseppina Strepponi, wrote, a composer must write as the texts inspire...