June 14, 1989 |
In this remarkable Wagnerian year, Valhalla is the train stop at two locations along the northeast corridor. The Metropolitan Opera had no sooner presented its complete - and long-developing - Ring cycle than the Deutsche Oper Berlin opened its new production at the Kennedy Center. Wagnerians stepping off the train in New York City saw a new, grand and highly conservative production by Gunther Schneider-Siemssen, one that preserved and re-created much that Wagner had envisioned when he first put his epic on the stage of the new Festspielhaus in Bayreuth in 1877.
July 17, 2007 |
Though Wagner's four-part, 16-hour Ring cycle is still one of classical music's sure-fire events, the franchise has taken so many hits over the last few years, thanks to absurd production concepts, that the artistic tables have turned. Provocative stagings once kept Wagner's stock high during a severe drought of suitable singers. Now, Ring-savvy companies have good singers three deep, but productions are running low on decent ideas - a fact that can be ignored when singers are particularly fine.
October 28, 1987 |
With its new staging of Das Rheingold, the Metropolitan Opera is halfway toward its long-awaited new production of Wagner's complete Der Ring des Nibelungen. The complete cycle, which will be performed next season, will take Wagnerites at least halfway back to an era before Wieland Wagner revolutionized the staging of his grandfather's operas. Das Rheingold, like last season's new Die Walkure, adapts some of Wieland's symbolic plainness. The canted rocky ground in this production recalls the slanted discs on which Wieland placed the operas he staged at Bayreuth, Wagner's festival shrine in Upper Bavaria.
February 26, 2007 |
Opera audiences have become spoiled. We want it all: fine singing, assured acting, and singers who look their parts. That's exactly what we got in the Academy of Vocal Arts' production of Vanessa, Samuel Barber's bleak and compelling opera about a woman who waits two decades for her spineless lover to return, then falls in love with his son. Composer Gian Carlo Menotti, who died this month at age 95, was responsible for the imaginative libretto,...
June 19, 2009 |
Few composers so consistently knew what they were doing as the ever-savvy Gioachino Rossini. But with Il Viaggio a Reims, could he have known he was writing a perfect summer beach opera? One that fulfills as the more-fun-than-substance requirements of a beach novel? Il Viaggio a Reims was written for the coronation of Charles X in 1825, withdrawn by the composer for musical recycling purposes, reassembled in the 1970s, and re-premiered in 1984. Now, a vocally scintillating video arrives as part of the Bryn Mawr Film Institute's European opera series with a 1 p.m. showing on Sunday - and in a production that, as seen at the Wednesday screening, goes far to explain the piece's quirks.
May 7, 2012 |
So the Metropolitan Opera didn't produce the universally acclaimed Ring cycle that the Wagner community was hoping for. But a great behind-the-scenes documentary film about its creation, titled Wagner's Dream, is being simulcast at 6:30 p.m. Monday in six Philadelphia-area movie theaters. And whatever one thinks of the $19 million production itself, the film is destined to be one of the classic documentaries about opera. The Met gave filmmaker Susan Froemke extensive access to workshops, rehearsals and the cast's superstars — without apparent whitewashing.
January 18, 2009 |
The minute he starts discussing his success on the world's stages, Eric Owens can barely contain his laughter - the laughter of disbelief. One day last week, he talked about arriving at the hallowed Berlin Philharmonie to sing the John Adams opera A Flowering Tree, conducted by Simon Rattle, who invariably gives him the confidence he needs to be wonderful. Then he mentally stood back - and laughed. "How responsive the Berlin Philharmonic was! Oh! My! Goodness! "There are a few moments I had to slap myself and stop basking in the fact that I was standing up here with the Berlin Philharmonic.
September 11, 2012 |
First impressions may be binding in most parts of the civilized world, but in the long expanses of Wagner's four-part, 16-hour operatic epic Der Ring des Nibelungen , final impressions are more powerful, which explains the stormy reception given to the Metropolitan Opera's new production despite its many merits. This week, the Robert Lepage production with its massive scene-setting machine - a 45-ton, $17 million system of 24 planks that move in various configurations and are touch-sensitive video screens - migrates to home video (Deutsche Grammophon)
April 7, 2000 |
James Morris probably could use a weekend off. The Wotan of choice for a decade now wherever Wagner's mammoth Ring cycle is given, he has completed performances in Das Rheingold and Die Walkuere and is a week into rehearsals of Siegfried, which opens next week in the Ring cycle under way at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Yet you'll find Morris in Philadelphia this weekend, singing in a benefit concert at the Academy of Music for the Academy of Vocal Arts, where he studied for three years with Nicola Moscona.
November 23, 1988 |
Turn-of-the-century poets - with composers panting just behind - were obsessed with old legends based on finding mysterious young maidens in the woods. Debussy found Melisande; Tchaikovsky found Odette; Wagner found Brunnhilde, Venus and Kundry. And Dvorak found Rusalka. Dvorak's water sprite, Rusalka, has long been known largely through a single aria, a song to the moon, which sopranos record and program as recital encores. The whole opera the composer wrote about her had not been performed here until Monday, when the Opera Company of Philadelphia opened its season with the rarity.