Classical Music online - News, events, bios, music & videos on the web.

Classical music and opera by Classissima

Anne-sofie von Otter

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


parterre box

June 13

Let me live by my wits and Trost to my luck

parterre boxI finally get to complete my personal operatic Top Ten this week with Igor Stravinsky’s only full-length opera, The Rake’s Progress. Daniele Gatti leads a 2006 performance with the forces of Santa Cecilia starring Rainer Trost, James Morris, and Ellie Dehn. My cheap Italian coffee press shattered in my hand yesterday morning so this will be somewhat abbreviated and error-filled due to excessive bandaging. What do you need to know about this opera if you don’t already know it? Tom Rakewell, a regular dude, sells his soul to the devil (a/k/a Nick Shadow) to become rich and famous, abandoning his true love, Anne Truelove. In his progression to insanity, he manages to get out of the contract but first discovers love at Mother Goose’s whorehouse, marries the famous bearded lady Baba the Turk, and is coerced into believing he’s invented a machine that turns stones into bread. After his sad end at Bedlam, we get a frothy Epilogue in front of the curtain reminding us that “For idle hearts and hands and minds the Devil finds work to do.” If you’re scared of Stravinsky, don’t be! The opera is written in neoclassic style with the traditional formula of recitatives, arias, ensembles, and choruses. The score, which remains tonal, is one delight followed by another, has a coloratura cabaletta capped with a high C for the soprano, and recitatives accompanied by harpsichord. So it’s just a particularly exceptional mid-20th century opera by a Russian-born composer who flourished in France and America inspired by a viewing of the titular paintings and engravings by William Hogarth at a museum in Chicago in 1947. The libretto is by the on-again-off-again couple of W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman. The premiere, conducted by the composer, was at Teatro La Fenice in 1951 with a cast starring Robert Rounseville, an American tenor known more for musicals and operetta; Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, a German soprano with dubious political beliefs; Otakar Kraus, a Prague-born baritone; and Jennie Tourel, a Russian-born Jewish-American mezzo. The opera made its way to Paris in 1952 and the Met the following year in a production under Stravinsky’s supervision led by Fritz Reiner and directed by George Balanchine. The premiere was broadcast (available on Sirius) and stars Eugene Conley, Hilde Güden, Mack Harrell, and Blanche Thebom. Except for Horace Armistead’s designs and Güden’s unintelligible attempt at English, the critics were universally ecstatic. The opera played eight times over two seasons and then disappeared until 1997, and till now has received only 26 Met performances. It was a bigger success at the first season by the Santa Fe Opera in 1957 where it played often, again under Stravinsky’s supervision, through 1963. Ingmar Bergman directed it in Stockholm in 1963. My introduction to it (live) came through the import by New York City Opera of the now-legendary 1975 Glyndebourne production by John Cox with unforgettable sets by David Hockney. I attended more performances of this production than I can count, both at the New York State Theater and by the San Francisco Opera. My most recent encounter with the Devil was at Theater an der Wien’s 2013 revival of Martin Kusej’s X-rated 2008 production (originally conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt) with Toby Spence, Bo Skovhus, and Anne Sophie von Otter as a scene-stealing Baba, decorated with a strap-on dildo. This week’s Tom Rakewell is German tenor Rainer Trost, who sang a few Don Ottavios at the Met in 2003, but has been on the roster of Wiener Staatsoper for 19 seasons, primarily as a Mozart specialist, singing all four mature Mozart tenor roles. He is a frequent guest at Theater an der Wien and Europe’s major houses and has established himself as one of my favorites in his Fach. Ellie Dehn sang Anne Truelove’s aria and cabaletta at the Met’s 2005 National Council Grand Finals Concert, and officially debuted in Satyagraha in 2008. She has since sung Musetta and Donna Elvira with the company. British born and educated mezzo Sarah Fulgoni has sung at Covent Garden, La Scala, Salzburg, and created the title role in Tobias Picker’s Thérèse Raquin at the Dallas Opera. The Daily Telegraph referred to her as “the Carmen of the decade,” her signature role which she has sung on three continents. James Morris assumes a role which had previously been the property of Samuel Ramey. If you don’t know James Morris by now, I wouldn’t know where to begin…

Iron Tongue of Midnight

June 15

Guest Post: The Exterminating Angel

Review by Burst of Beaden Royal Opera House, Covent GardenApril 24, 2017 Music by Thomas AdesLibretto by Tom CairnsConducted by Thomas AdesDirected by Tom CairnsRoyal Opera Orchestra & Chorus For anyone who has seen Luis Bunuel's 1962 surrealist film, "The Exterminating Angel", the idea of writing a theatrical version might seem like a very bad idea The film depicts a dinner party where the guests are not able to call it a night and leave. They remain in the same room for weeks, with disturbing results. This situation is inherently static and claustrophobic. The main events are psychological rather than actual. Despite this basis, two important composers, Thomas Ades and Stephen Sondhiem, have decided to set this piece to music. Sondheim is adapting 2 Bunuel films "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeosie" (1972) and "The Exterminating Angel" as a two-act musical entitled "Bunuel," which had a workshop performance in November 2016. A New York opening is planned for the near future. Ades's opera, also entitled "The Exterminating Angel," premiered in Salzburg at the relatively intimate Haus fur Mozart in August 2016. The U.K. premiere took place in London at The Royal Opera House on April 24 ,2017, with (as far as I can tell) the same cast, Ades conducting. (The opera will be performed at the Met next fall with mostly the same cast and conductor). I was able to get a ticket for the sold-out London premiere by visiting the box office and getting a returned ticket. I'm not a music critic or a trained musicologist, so I will not try to describe this huge, overwhelming, but ultimately rewarding score. For that I refer you to Alex Ross's excellent critique of the Salzburg opening in the New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/08/22/thomas-ades-the-exterminating-angel).  Ades (the composer) does not ease the audience into the opera's dense and complex sound world. For example, the entrance of the party guests is accompanied by loud blasts from the orchestra that are not comfortingly diatonic or chromatic. We are immediately adrift in a Berg-like vortex of sound.  As told repeatedly in the program notes, the music is a "musical collage" that includes parodies of late romantic, 12 tone, baroque, folk, bel canto, symphonic, … I must say that I didn't discern any rock, hip-hop, or rap (doesn't mean it wasn't included, though). I could discern recitative, trios, duets, arias, songs, choruses, and orchestral interludes. But in the end, I just let the music wash over me without trying to analyze it, which is an approach that I recommend. The cast includes the expected array of S-MS-T-B-B parts. This being Ades, the cast also includes the unexpected. There is a brilliantly applied use of the counter-tenor voice for a highly agitated young man, who at one point complains that he cannot drink coffee with a tea spoon. The "diva" character sings in a high tessitura like that of Ariel in Ades "The Tempest." In other words, maybe only dogs can actually hear every note.  It's an opera with a very large cast of characters. (At one point, I counted 11 characters onstage, but there are more.)   How to tell them apart?  Who are the principal characters? Who are the minor characters? Where's the exposition that tells us right away who the host and hostess are? Who is the diva of the piece?  Why are there sheep onstage before the opera begins and are they principal characters? Needless to say, I was perplexed, but by the second act, I got my bearings. There are several starry singers in the cast, including Anne Sofie Von Otter (a neurotic woman), John Tomlinson (her doctor), Thomas Allen (a conductor), Christina Rice (his wife, a pianist), Charles Workman (host), Amanda Echalaz (hostess), Sally Matthews (a widowed mother), Iestyn Davies (her highly agitated brother), and  Audrey Luna (a diva). The singers were all excellent and comfortable in their roles. I must say it was fun to see Sir Thomas Allen running around in his boxer shorts, compete with garters, in the second and third acts.  I would like to give shout-outs to a few musical passages where Ades extends a perhaps patronizing had to the less-musically sophisticated of us in the audience: The interlude between acts 1 and 2. It was wonderful and Ades (the conductor) and the orchestra played the heck out of it. (It is as brilliant as interludes in "Peter Grimes" or "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.") Christina Rices's poignant singing of a song-within-the-opera in Act 1.The diva's final virtuoso aria in act 3, in which Audrey Luna makes the opera her own. So, what of the opera itself? Does it succeed? I think it does succeed, on its own terms.Just like the characters in the opera, we, the audience, are guests who are transfixed by an invisible force. For us, the invisible force is the opera; our Exterminating Angel is Ades himself.  (I'm not making this up, the clues are in the libretto.) What the opera does, what Ades accomplishes, is to hold up a brilliant, unflattering mirror to us, the audience. We must look back. Bravo, Ades, for that! p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica; min-height: 14.0px} li.li1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica} ul.ul1 {list-style-type: disc}




parterre box

June 8

And three for Mahler

A poster outside Carnegie Hall proclaimed “Mahler Well Met” and to some degree it proved to be true. This season’s trio of concerts by the Met Orchestra took place within a single week: all were conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen and each featured an important vocal work by Gustav Mahler. When the concerts were first announced they were all to have been conducted by James Levine but only Das Knaben Wunderhorn was included. Soon enough however Levine dropped out and Salonen was announced as his replacement and the programming began to change to focus on Mahler. But it’s not as if the composer is neglected in New York—just this week I received a brochure from Carnegie Hall outlining its 2017-18 season and seven of Mahler’s nine symphonies will be performed along with the Adagio of the unfinished Tenth Symphony. In addition Sir Simon Rattle brings the London Symphony Orchestra to Geffen Hall in 2018 to do the Ninth and Tenth (in the Deryck Cooke realization) along with Das Lied von der Erde, while Jaap van Zweden opens the New York Philharmonic season with the Fifth. What made Salonen’s series so interesting? Although he included the First Symphony last Wednesday (along with its discarded “Blumine” movement on Tuesday evening) the focus was unusually on Mahler’s vocal works. Although Das Lied shows up with some regularity, I’d never heard Knaben Wunderhorn performed by two soloists with orchestra and Kindertotenlieder seems to be done far less often than either the Rückert Lieder or Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen. The Met’s relationship with Mahler goes back a long while. The composer conducted many performances with the company from 1908-10 debuting in a new production of Tristan und Isolde with Olive Fremstad and leading the company premiere of Smetana’s The Bartered Bride (in German, of course) starring Emmy Destinn. Since 1991 when Levine began giving concerts with the Met Orchestra at Carnegie Hall and on tour, works by Mahler have been featured prominently on the programs with Das Lied turning up five times before this most recent edition. As might be expected other vocal works have sometimes been featured too including unusual “castings” like Bryn Terfel singing Kindertotenlieder in 1995 or Dmitri Hvorostovsky doing the Wayfarer songs in 2004. Perhaps the oddest juxtaposition over the years has been Marilyn Horne, José van Dam and Renée Fleming each singing the Rückert Lieder with Levine and his band. Although he was absent from the podium, Levine must bear the blame for the weakest performance this past week. For the orchestra’s first-ever (sort of) complete Knaben Wunderhorn he chose Susan Graham and Matthew Polenzani. Although Graham mentioned on a recent radio interview with Mary Jo Heath that she’s sung lots of Mahler during her career he’s not a composer that I would associate with her. And try as I might I couldn’t find another instance where a tenor was used for a performance of the Wunderhorn songs. As expected Polenzani was scrupulously prepared and sang with fervor and commitment but much of the music was just too low for him particularly the opening “Der Schildwache Nachtlied.” Disappointingly just ten of the usual twelve songs were included; the two that were omitted (“Revelge” and “Der Tambourg’sell”) are the heaviest and most dramatic and presumably would have sounded even more out of place sung by a tenor. As the performance continued, Polenzani won me over by his sensitive performances particularly of the magnificent “Wo di schönen Tompeten blasen,” but he never fully overcame the handicap of being “miscast.” Although she’s now in her mid-50s, Graham’s mezzo retains an enviable freshness yet she never seemed at ease in her five songs. One wondered how much rehearsal she had had when she ran off the rails in the florid conclusion of “Werhat des Liedlein erdacht?” or when she began the concluding comic “Lob des hohen Verstandes” at rhythmic odds with the orchestra. Her best moment was a gripping “Das irische Leben.” Having grown up with the Christa Ludwig/Walter Berry and Janet Baker/Geraint Evans recordings of Knaben Wunderhorn I was initially surprised that none of the songs were done as duets, but I have learned that more recent scholarship suggests that they were not intended to be done by two singers and the two more up-to-date recordings I know, Magdalena Kozena/Christian Gerhaher and Anne Sofie von Otter/Thomas Quasthoff, eschew duets and include all twelve songs as solos. Salonen’s fleet tempi perhaps threw Graham off but one wondered if he was just trying to get the whole thing over with as soon as possible. Despite their occasional collaborations, there was no discernable rapport or chemistry between Graham and Polenzani thus the entire enterprise lacked the sui generis wonder and mystery that can make the Knaben Wunderhorn collection so special. Things improved markedly on Saturday afternoon when Salonen conducted Karen Cargill and Stuart Skelton in Das Lied von der Erde. I first heard Skelton as Erik in Der Fliegende Holländer in 2002 and was most impressed and then years passed and I was surprised to hear little about him. I enjoyed his eventual Met debut as the Drum Major in Wozzeck but unfortunately had to miss his recent well-received Tristan there. For the tenor’s three fiendishly demanding songs in Das Lied he was in ringing, stentorian voice pouring out oceans of sound with seemingly little effort. Others in this music tend to shirk nuance but Skelton really cared about dynamic variation and putting across the text. I know that many have written off the John Doyle production of Britten’s Peter Grimes but I for one would welcome its return to the Met if only for a chance to hear Skelton in the title role. Having Jamie Barton’s sumptuous Fricka still ringing in my ears after Thursday evening’s Das Rheingold at the New York Philharmonic I was initially a bit let down by Cargill. In her first song she struck me as a bit underpowered and under-involved. Having enjoyed her in roles by Berlioz and Wagner at the Met, I remained hopeful. She improved steadily and in her second song serenely spun out the blissful beginning and ending of that piece while also doing justice to the hectic, demanding center section. Her mezzo doesn’t have the enveloping warmth that one wants but it often glows with a mellow beauty that is very appealing. Her rapt concentration during the long “Abschied” proved very moving as the repeated “Ewig”s wafted seraphically over the gently undulating orchestra. Salonen appeared much more involved than he had during the Knaben Wunderhorn flop drawing his forces into incredible climaxes while also caressing the tenderer moments. If this performance didn’t efface my associations with the Bruno Walter (the Kathleen Ferrier/Julius Patzak version) or Otto Klemperer recordings I know so well, its wrenching intensity was immensely satisfying. The troika concluded Tuesday evening with Anne Sofie von Otter performing Kindertotenlieder. This cycle of five songs remains my least favorite of the Mahler vocal-non choral works partly for its unrelieved gloom although most of his other pieces share a morose preoccupation. Although von Otter has sung only 43 performances (not counting a few galas) over her long Met career, this was her sixth appearance with the Met Orchestra including two different Das Lieds. By the way, she did not, as claimed in her bio in the program, make her debut in Der Rosenkavalier in 1990 but as Cherubino in 1988. I fondly recall many indelible von Otter encounters—her aristocratic Octavian under Carlos Kleiber at the Met as well as her sterling Idamante and Sesto there. A surprisingly ferocious Ottavia in David McVicar’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea in Paris and the world’s longest “Scherza infida” from Handel’s Ariodante during a concert at Alice Tully Hall with Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre. Having just turned 62, von Otter remains a serious and noble artist but her voice has become considerably smaller and drier since I last heard her at Carnegie Hall in early 2014 in a mostly-Brahms recital. With a few economical gestures she entered intently into the dark world of Kindertotenlieder but there wasn’t much warmth or beauty to the singing until the final moments of the fifth song when the years fell away and the voice floated ravishingly into the hall. During the applause I wondered if I would ever heard her in person again. Yes, these concerts contained works other than these three great Mahler vocal compositions—Wednesday’s program concluded with an increasingly involving Mahler First which blossomed into a spectacular climax. Before Das Lied Salonen led a pleasing “Rhenish” Symphony by Schumann but I couldn’t help wishing it had instead been the Second which features that gorgeous Adagio which prefigures the Adagietto of Mahler’s Fifth (a work which I was informed by the Carnegie program contains a sung movement!). Tuesday’s concert included a vibrantly dramatic rendition of the spiky Sibelius violin concerto by Christian Tetzlaff, a veteran of many previous Met Orchestra events and concluded with a rapturous rendition of Sibelius’s Seventh Symphony in which the orchestra whose playing all week had been really excellent reached even greater heights. The Met Orchestra’s love affair with Mahler continues next season at Carnegie with Semyon Bychkov conducting the Fifth and Levine returning for the Fourth (which does have a vocal section–to be sung by Pretty Yende). While I sometimes find Mahler’s symphonies too long, diffuse and bombastic, I’ve always loved the songs so I am grateful to Salonen for programming these complex and enthralling pieces in close succession, two of which one rarely gets the opportunity to hear live.

Royal Opera House

May 25

How The Royal Opera has kept opera looking forward for more than three hundred years

Eva-Maria Westbroek as Anna Nicole in Anna Nicole © ROH / Bill Cooper 2011 Creating new work is crucial to the future of any art form. Right from the very beginning, the Royal Opera House has played a significant role in the forging of new operas, hosting its first world premiere in 1735 with Handel’s Ariodante, just a few years after the opera house was built. Following in Handel’s footsteps are such composers as Weber , Vaughan Williams , Britten , Henze , Birtwistle and Adès , whose work was championed by the ROH – as a delve into the precious archive material in the ROH Collections reveals. The first theatre on our Covent Garden site was built in 1732. Just two years later a fortuitous (for us) series of events led Handel to become resident composer at the new theatre. Along with Ariodante there were numerous important world premieres of Handel’s music here, including the operas Alcina and Berenice, and the oratorios Semele , Judas Maccabaeus and Solomon . Read More: Explore Handel’s London After Handel’s residency relative dry spell followed, as the theatre, then called the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, primarily staged plays and English light opera. Then in 1824 it was announced that the great German composer and conductor Carl Maria von Weber was to be the theatre’s next musical director, following the fantastic acclaim his opera Der Freischütz had received across Europe. Included in Weber’s contract was the commission of a new opera: Oberon , Weber’s first opera in English. It was performed for the first time on 12 April 1826, conducted by the composer, despite his suffering from ill health. The premiere was a triumph – but tragically Weber died just 13 weeks after arriving in London. Playbill for world premiere of Oberon at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, 12 April 1826 © Royal Opera House In 1847 the theatre became a dedicated opera house, initially called the Royal Italian Opera and from 1892 the Royal Opera House. The transformation was thanks to the arrival of Italian conductor Michael Costa , who made the theatre a centre for the UK premieres of new works fresh from the continent. The list of great 19th-century operas that had their UK premieres at the Royal Opera House is long, and includes Verdi ’s Rigoletto in 1853 and Falstaff in 1894, Wagner ’s Lohengrin in 1875, Saint-Saëns ’ Samson et Dalila (in concert) in 1893 and Puccini ’s Tosca in 1900, Madama Butterfly in 1905 and Turandot in 1927. Costa’s legacy was the Royal Opera House’s continuing reputation as an international centre of world-class opera. Signed black-and-white photographic print of soprano Emmy Destinn as Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly © ROH Collections Madama Butterfly, 1905 © ROH Collections Charles Craig as Lieutenant F.B. Pinkerton and Sena Jurinac as Cio-Cio-San in the 1959 revival of Madama Butterfly (1950) © ROH Collections Sena Jurinac as Cio-Cio-San in the 1959 revival of Madama Butterfly (1950) © ROH Collections Sena Jurinac as Cio-Cio-San in the 1959 revival of Madama Butterfly (1950) © ROH Collections Josephine Veasey as Suzuki and Sena Jurinac as Cio-Cio-San in the 1959 revival of Madama Butterfly (1950) © ROH Collections Elisabeth Schwarzkopf as Cio-Cio-San in Robert Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly. Photograph by Roger Wood © ROH Rudolf Schock as Lieutenant Pinkerton in Robert Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly. Photograph by Roger Wood © ROH Robert Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly. Photograph by Roger Wood © ROH Robert Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly. Photograph by Roger Wood © ROH Sophie Fedorovitch costume design for Cio-Cio-San from Robert Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 ROH. Photograph by Brian Slater. Sophie Fedorovitch costume detail for Cio-Cio-San from Robert Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 ROH. Photograph by Brian Slater Sophie Fedorovitch's costume design for Cio-Cio-San from Robert Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 ROH. Photograph by Brian Slater. Sophie Fedorovitch costume design for chorus member from Robert Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 ROH. Photograph by Brian Slater Sophie Fedorovitch costume design for chorus member from Robert Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 ROH. Photograph by Brian Slater Sophie Fedorovitch costume design for chorus member from Robert Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 ROH. Photograph by Brian Slater Act II set design from Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 Roger Wood, ROH Collections. Arthur Davies as Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton in Espert’s 1988 premiere production of Madama Butterfly, 1988. The Royal Opera © Zoe Dominic. Catherine Malfitano as Cio-Cio-San and Arthur Davies as Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton in Espert’s 1988 premiere production of Madama Butterfly, 1988. The Royal Opera © Zoe Dominic. John Dobson as Goro in Espert’s 1988 premiere production of Madama Butterfly, 1988. The Royal Opera © Zoe Dominic Catherine Malfitano as Cio-Cio-San and Arthur Davies as Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton in Espert’s 1988 premiere production of Madama Butterfly, 1988. The Royal Opera © Zoe Dominic. Catherine Malfitano as Cio-Cio-San and Chorus in Espert’s 1988 premiere production of Madama Butterfly, 1988. The Royal Opera © Zoe Dominic Catherine Malfitano as Cio-Cio-San in Espert’s 1988 premiere production of Madama Butterfly, 1988. The Royal Opera © Zoe Dominic. Catherine Malfitano as Cio-Cio-San and Miao Qing as Suzuki in Espert’s 1988 premiere production of Madama Butterfly, 1988. The Royal Opera © Zoe Dominic Catherine Malfitano as Cio-Cio-San in Espert’s 1988 premiere production of Madama Butterfly, 1988. The Royal Opera © Zoe Dominic. Catherine Malfitano as Cio-Cio-San in Espert’s 1988 premiere production of Madama Butterfly, 1988. The Royal Opera © Zoe Dominic Catherine Malfitano as Cio-Cio-San in Espert’s 1988 premiere production of Madama Butterfly, 1988. The Royal Opera © Zoe Dominic Frigerio set design for Espert’s 1988 premiere production of Madama Butterfly, 1988. The Royal Opera © Zoe Dominic. Frigerio set design for Espert’s 1988 premiere production of Madama Butterfly, 1988. The Royal Opera © Zoe Dominic. Catherine Malfitano as Cio-Cio-San in Espert’s 1988 premiere production of Madama Butterfly, 1988. The Royal Opera © Zoe Dominic Catherine Malfitano as Cio-Cio-San and Arthur Davies as Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton in Espert’s 1988 premiere production of Madama Butterfly, 1988. The Royal Opera © Zoe Dominic. Miao Qing as Suzuki and Anna Cooper as Kate Pinkerton in Espert’s 1988 premiere production of Madama Butterfly, 1988. The Royal Opera © Zoe Dominic. Set designer, Frigerio's set in Espert’s 1988 production of Madama Butterfly, 1992. The Royal Opera © ROH Production. Set designer, Frigerio's set in Espert’s 1988 production of Madama Butterfly, 1992. The Royal Opera © ROH Production. Set designer, Frigerio's set in Espert’s 1988 production of Madama Butterfly, 1992. The Royal Opera © ROH Production. Yoko Watanabe as Cio-Cio-San in Espert’s 1988 production of Madama Butterfly, 1992. The Royal Opera © ROH Production. Yoko Watanabe as Cio-Cio-San in Espert’s 1988 production of Madama Butterfly, 1992. The Royal Opera © ROH Production. Set designer, Frigerio's set in Espert’s 1988 production of Madama Butterfly, 1992. The Royal Opera © ROH Production. Raina Kabaivanska as Cio-Cio-San and Dennis O'Neill as Pinkerton in Robert Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly, 1981. The Royal Opera © Donald Southern, ROH Collections. Raina Kabaivanska as Cio-Cio-San in Robert Helpmann’s 1950 production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, 1981. The Royal Opera © Donald Southern, ROH Collections. Dennis O'Neill as Pinkerton and Raina Kabaivanska as Cio-Cio-San in Robert Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly, 1981. The Royal Opera © Donald Southern, ROH Collections. Josephine Veasey as Suzuki and Raina Kabaivanska as Cio-Cio-San in Robert Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly, 1981. The Royal Opera © Donald Southern, ROH Collections. Raina Kabaivanska as Cio-Cio-San, Leo Nucci as Sharpless and Diana Montague as Kate Pinkerton in Robert Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly, 1981. The Royal Opera © Donald Southern, ROH Collections. Francis Egerton as Goro and Raina Kabaivanska as Cio-Cio-San in Robert Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly, 1981. The Royal Opera © Donald Southern, ROH Collections. Diana Montague as Kate Pinkerton in Robert Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly, 1981. The Royal Opera © Donald Southern, ROH Collections. Raina Kabaivanska as Cio-Cio-San and Leo Nucci as Sharpless in Robert Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly, 1981. The Royal Opera © Donald Southern, ROH Collections. Raina Kabaivanska as Cio-Cio-San and Leo Nucci as Sharpless in Robert Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly, 1981. The Royal Opera © Donald Southern, ROH Collections. Raina Kabaivanska as Cio-Cio-San in Robert Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly, 1981. The Royal Opera © Donald Southern, ROH Collections. Miwako Matsumoto as Cio-Cio-San and Stuart Burrows as Pinkerton in Robert Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly, 1978. The Royal Opera © Donald Southern, ROH Collections. Model box for Act I scene from Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 ROH. Photo by Ruairi Watson. Model box for Act I scene from Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 ROH. Photo by Ruairi Watson. Model box for Act I scene from Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 ROH. Photo by Ruairi Watson. Model box for Act I scene from Helpmann’s 1950 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 ROH. Photo by Ruairi Watson. Model box for Act I scene from Nuria Espert’s 1988 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 ROH. Photo by Ruairi Watson. Model box for Act I scene from Nuria Espert’s 1988 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 ROH. Photo by Ruairi Watson. Model box for Act I scene from Nuria Espert’s 1988 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 ROH. Photo by Ruairi Watson. Model box for Act I scene from Nuria Espert’s 1988 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 ROH. Photo by Ruairi Watson. Model box for Act I scene from Nuria Espert’s 1988 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 ROH. Photo by Ruairi Watson. Model box for Act I scene from Nuria Espert’s 1988 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 ROH. Photo by Ruairi Watson. Model box for Act II scene from Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s 2003 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 ROH. Photo by Ruairi Watson. Model box for Act II scene from Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s 2003 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 ROH. Photo by Ruairi Watson. Model box for Act II scene from Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s 2003 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 ROH. Photo by Ruairi Watson. Model box for Act II scene from Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s 2003 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 ROH. Photo by Ruairi Watson. Signed black-and-white photographic print of composer Giacomo Puccini © ROH Collections The ROH’s equal responsibility to championing British composers came to the fore at the end of World War II. In 1946 a new resident opera company was established at the Royal Opera House: the Covent Garden Opera Company, later to become The Royal Opera. The company commissioned its first new opera in 1949, and went to a leading British composer of the day: Arthur Bliss ’s The Olympians , followed the next year by Vaughan Williams’s The Pilgrim’s Progress . The company’s first great success, though, was Britten ’s Billy Budd in 1951. The press response was rapturous, Robert Ottaway writing for the Sunday Graphic that ‘last night a masterpiece was born, and it will outlive the lot of us’. Theodore Uppman as Billy Budd in the world premiere of Billy Budd performed by the Covent Garden Opera Company at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden © Royal Opera House/ROGER WOOD Scene from Billy Budd performed by the Covent Garden Opera Company at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden © Royal Opera House/ROGER WOOD Act II scene 2 of the Covent Garden Opera Company production of Billy Budd (1951), produced by Basil Coleman at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Photograph by Roger Wood Detail of poster for the world premiere of Billy Budd performed by the Covent Garden Opera Company at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 1 December 1951 © Royal Opera House Poster for the world premiere of Billy Budd performed by the Covent Garden Opera Company at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 1 December 1951 © Royal Opera House Press cuttings from ROH Collections for the world premiere of Billy Budd, December 1951 © ROH Collections Press cuttings from ROH Collections for the world premiere of Billy Budd, December 1951 © ROH Collections Over the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st The Royal Opera commissioned new works from British and international composers, with a role call of prominent names: Britten’s Gloriana in 1953; Walton ’s Troilus and Cressida in 1954, Tippett ’s The Midsummer Marriage in 1955, The Knot Garden in 1970 and The Ice Break in 1977, Richard Rodney Bennett ’s Victory in 1970, Maxwell Davies ’s Taverner in 1972, Henze’s We Come to the River in 1976, Birtwistle’s Gawain in 1991 and The Minotaur in 2008 and Mark-Anthony Turnage ’s Anna Nicole in 2011. Covent Garden Opera Company in Gloriana (1953) © Roger Wood / ROH Collections Covent Garden Opera Company in Gloriana (1953) © Roger Wood / ROH Collections Covent Garden Opera Company in Gloriana (1953) © Roger Wood / ROH Collections Covent Garden Opera Company in Gloriana (1953) © Roger Wood / ROH Collections Covent Garden Opera Company in Gloriana (1953) © Roger Wood / ROH Collections Covent Garden Opera Company in Gloriana (1953) © Roger Wood / ROH Collections Joan Cross, Basil Coleman (producer) and Benjamin Britten during rehearsals for 'Gloriana' (1953) at Orme Square. ©1953 ROH / Roger Wood Basil Coleman (producer), Benjamin Britten and Joan Cross during rehearsals for 'Gloriana' (1953) at Orme Square. ©1953 ROH / Roger Wood Rehearsals for ‘Gloriana’ (1953) in the Crush Bar. © 1953 ROH / Roger Wood Basil Coleman (producer), Benjamin Britten and Joan Cross during rehearsals for 'Gloriana' (1953) at Orme Square. © 1953 ROH / Roger Wood Basil Coleman, Benjamin Britten and Joan Cross during rehearsals for Gloriana in 1953 at Orme Square © Royal Opera House/ROGER WOOD Benjamin Britten and John Pritchard (conductor) sharing a joke during rehearsals for Gloriana in the Crush Bar of the Royal Opera House © Royal Opera House/ROGER WOOD Geraint Evans as Lord Mountjoy, Jennifer Vyvyan as Lady Rich, Monica Sinclair as Frances and Joan Cross as Queen Elizabeth I in Gloriana at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 1953 © Royal Opera House/ROGER WOOD Scene from Gloriana at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 1953 © Royal Opera House/ROGER WOOD Press cuttings from ROH Collections for the world premiere of Gloriana, June 1953 © ROH Collections Press cuttings from ROH Collections for the world premiere of Gloriana, June 1953 © ROH Collections The Royal Opera’s commitment to new opera continues to the present day. Recently the Royal Opera House stage has seen the world premiere of Georg Friedrich Haas ’s Morgen und Abend in 2015 and the UK premieres of George Benjamin ’s Written on Skin and Thomas Adès’s The Exterminating Angel , both Royal Opera co-commissions. Forthcoming premieres include Benjamin’s Lessons in Love and Violence and Unsuk Chin ’s Alice Through the Looking Glass on the main stage, in addition to a rich programme of new work in the Linbury Studio Theatre and other spaces around London – all continuing to build on the Royal Opera House’s centuries-old tradition. Playbill for world premiere of Oberon at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, 12 April 1826 © Royal Opera House Costume design by Attilio Comelli for an unnamed female character in Madama Butterfly (1905) © ROH Collections Costume design for Suzuki from 1905 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 ROH Collections. Detail of poster for the world premiere of Billy Budd performed by the Covent Garden Opera Company at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 1 December 1951 © Royal Opera House Poster for the world premiere of Billy Budd performed by the Covent Garden Opera Company at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 1 December 1951 © Royal Opera House Theodore Uppman as Billy Budd in the world premiere of Billy Budd performed by the Covent Garden Opera Company at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden © Royal Opera House/ROGER WOOD Scene from Billy Budd performed by the Covent Garden Opera Company at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden © Royal Opera House/ROGER WOOD Basil Coleman, Benjamin Britten and Joan Cross during rehearsals for Gloriana in 1953 at Orme Square © Royal Opera House/ROGER WOOD Benjamin Britten and John Pritchard (conductor) sharing a joke during rehearsals for Gloriana in the Crush Bar of the Royal Opera House © Royal Opera House/ROGER WOOD Geraint Evans as Lord Mountjoy, Jennifer Vyvyan as Lady Rich, Monica Sinclair as Frances and Joan Cross as Queen Elizabeth I in Gloriana at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 1953 © Royal Opera House/ROGER WOOD Covent Garden Opera Company in Gloriana (1953) © Roger Wood / ROH Collections Scene from Gloriana at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 1953 © Royal Opera House/ROGER WOOD Severed head prop used by John Tomlinson as the Green Knight in Gawain, The Royal Opera, 1991 © Royal Opera House Material from Collections production file for Anna Nicole, The Royal Opera, 2011 © Royal Opera House Eva-Maria Westbroek as Anna Nicole in Anna Nicole © ROH / Bill Cooper 2011 Eva-Maria Westbroek as Anna Nicole and Gerald Finley as Stern in Anna Nicole, The Royal Opera, © ROH / Bill Cooper 2011 Helena Raskar and Christoph Pohl in Morgen und Abend © ROH 2015, photograph by Clive Barda Sarah Wegener and Christoph Pohl in Morgen und Abend © ROH 2015, photograph by Clive Barda The principals (2) in The Exterminating Angel (C) ROH 2017. Photograph by Clive Barda John Tomlinson and Anne Sofie Von Otter in The Exterminating Angel (C) ROH 2017. Photograph by Clive Barda Lessons in Love and Violence runs 10–26 May 2018. Tickets go on general sale 31 January 2018. The production is a co-production with Dutch National Opera , Hamburg State Opera , Opéra de Lyon , Lyric Opera of Chicago , Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona , and Teatro Real, Madrid , and is given with generous philanthropic support from The Monument Trust, Stefan Sten Olssen and the Boltini Trust. Unsuk Chin’s Alice Through the Looking Glass will be performed as part of the 2018/19 Season.



Classical music and opera by Classissima



[+] More news (Anne-sofie von Otter)
Jun 15
Iron Tongue of Mi...
Jun 13
parterre box
Jun 8
parterre box
May 25
Royal Opera House
May 20
Meeting in Music
May 9
parterre box
May 8
parterre box
May 2
Royal Opera House
May 1
parterre box
Apr 11
parterre box
Mar 23
Royal Opera House
Feb 18
The Well-Tempered...
Feb 16
Norman Lebrecht -...
Feb 13
Wordpress Sphere
Dec 10
The Well-Tempered...
Dec 10
Meeting in Music
Nov 8
Google News UK
Oct 7
Google News IRELAND
Oct 7
Google News AUSTR...
Oct 7
Google News USA

Anne-sofie von Otter
English (UK) Spanish French German Italian




Otter on the web...



Anne-sofie von Otter »

Great opera singers

Mozart Strauss Mehldau

Since January 2009, Classissima has simplified access to classical music and enlarged its audience.
With innovative sections, Classissima assists newbies and classical music lovers in their web experience.


Great conductors, Great performers, Great opera singers
 
Great composers of classical music
Bach
Beethoven
Brahms
Debussy
Dvorak
Handel
Mendelsohn
Mozart
Ravel
Schubert
Tchaikovsky
Verdi
Vivaldi
Wagner
[...]


Explore 10 centuries in classical music...