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Falstaff at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Sam Smith

Verdi’s final opera Falstaff premiered in 1893 as the composer was approaching his eightieth birthday. With the exception of the ill-fated Un giorno di regno, it is the only comedy that he ever wrote, but its obvious hilarity should not detract from its musical and emotional intelligence. It almost requires more skill to write a piece that maintains a cracking pace throughout, and hence sees recitative and aria virtually merge into one, than it does to compose the most soulful,...

Pelléas and Mélisande in Pieces at the Munich summer Festival

Ilana Walder-Biesanz

Claude Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande is an opera of disconnections. Mélisande’s first words are, ‘Ne me touchez pas!’ -- ‘Do not touch me!’ And, indeed, she (and everyone else) remains isolated. Not only physical contact, but emotional and intellectual contact seem impossible throughout the opera. Characters fail to understand their own emotions and fail to communicate what little they do understand. They constantly...

I Capuleti e i Montecchi at the Opernhaus Zürich

Helmut Pitsch

It is starting soft and intimate, transparent, and the melodic intonation is kept in chamber music alike. There is no oversteering of volume or emotional outflow in the conducting of Fabio Luisi, musical director of the Zurich Opera House. Everything is said about the tragedy and melancholic fate of the plot, the heroic fight for love and the sweet moments of hope and confidence. The scenic interpretation of the overture seems to be a three dimensional overflow on the fast turning...

Don Pasquale, Everything Upside Down

Xavier Pujol

Don Pasquale by Donizetti. Lorenzo Regazzo, bass-baritone. Valentina Naforniţa, soprano, Juan Francisco Gatell, tenor. Marius Kwiecień, baritone. Orquestra Simfònica of Gran Teatre del Liceu. Choir of Gran Teatre del Liceu. Diego Matheuz, conductor. Laurent Pelly, stage director. Joint production of Gran Teatre del Liceu, The Santa Fe Opera and San Francisco Opera. Gran Teatre del Liceu. Barcelona, 16th June. *** Don Pasquale isn’t maybe a master piece, but...

Don Giovanni at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Sam Smith

Don Giovanni of 1787 is one of three operas that Mozart wrote with the librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte (the others being Le nozze di Figaro and Così fan tutte). It tells of the eponymous hero, or rather antihero, who effortlessly conquers thousands of women. Although in the process he makes many enemies, the ladies he has cheated have a habit of coming back for more or trying to save him, and in the end he is responsible for his own downfall. When the ghost of the...

An exciting, dramatic Lulu in Munich

Ilana Walder-Biesanz

The Bayerische Staatsoper’s new production of Lulu has one focus: the drama. Kirill Petrenko leads the Staatsorchester at a brisk pace that keeps the plot moving. Dmitri Tcherniakov’s stark staging keeps the action on the front of the stage. A cast of committed and talented singing actors make the opera’s bizarre series of events a gripping story. The stage is a maze of glass. Reflections multiply the characters in all directions, and people watch each...

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