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Posts tagged: opera

Mozart’s Don Giovanni from the new Wellington Opera Company – a promising beginning

By , 20/04/2021
How refreshing to read in the programme accompanying Wellington Opera’s “Don Giovanni” an appreciation of Mozart’s and his librettist Lorenzo da Ponte’s opera from the Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy, thus: “Quite apart from the exquisite pleasures of Mozart’s score, it (the opera) offers a timeless plot line that will resonate with audiences in the “Me Too” era.” For me, that sums up in a nutshell the potential for a... read more

Sleep-walking as Rhona Fraser’s Days Bay Opera returns with a delightful Bellini masterpiece

By , 12/02/2021
In common with most of the world, Bellini is no longer a famous composer in New Zealand; his operas are now rarely performed. Of Bellini’s operas only Norma gets much attention. I’m only aware of Canterbury Opera’s production of it in 2002, since its last professional production by a touring company in 1928. However, in 2016 Rhona Fraser’s Opera in a Days Bay Garden was responsible for a somewhat rarer... read more

Camus’s La Peste … our Covid-19 … the sterility of opera … and …

By , 21/07/2020
'It may surprise people to learn that Albert Camus once wrote about opera – in his definitive novel about a twentieth century epidemic. La Peste (The Plague) includes a bizarre, disturbing scene in an opera house. Seventy-five years after its publication, the novel can still speak to us about such a plague, and even more about opera. 'Yet Camus describes a very different epidemic from ours. Social distancing, let alone... read more

The composer of Kopernikus, Claude Vivier: interview with conductor Vladimir Jurowski

By , 04/04/2020
In the absence of real concerts that Middle C can review, why not publish things of musical interest that might in small part make up for the deprivations we all suffer at present?  Here is an article that appeared in 2018 in the Montreal Globe and Mail that might interest those who saw Claude Vivier’s opera, Kopernikus, at the recent festival in Wellington. I came across a reference to Vivier... read more

NZ Opera’s “Eight Songs for a Mad King” a brilliant, Janus-faced experience

By , 02/03/2020
Firstly, some background for the curious – the “King” of this concert’s title is King George III of England, who suffered from mental illness throughout his adult life, eventually being removed from his throne and kept under lock and key in Windsor Castle. Over his final decade he lost his eyesight and hearing, and fell prey to frequent manic episodes, by all accounts babbling endlessly as he slid into... read more

Festival stages remarkable, eccentric opera by Canadian, Claude Vivier

By , 01/03/2020
It hasn’t been hard to have missed references in the international musical press to a very unusual opera by an unorthodox, fairly obscure composer. Think again if you imagined you would be presented with a kind of operatic biography of the great astronomer, for he is merely one of a number of disparate historical and fictional figures that feature in Canadian composer Claude Vivier’s work. A work that that is... read more

Barbara Paterson’s moving operatic portrayal of love in crisis in Poulenc’s monodrama

By , 27/02/2020
My colleague Peter Mechen reviewed what might have been considered the preview performance of Poulenc’s monodrama La voix humaine, on 31 January. But being a huge fan of Poulenc I felt that Paterson's performance in the Festival itself deserved attention. La voix humaine is one of the most remarkable operatic pieces: not merely of the 20th century; not merely on account of the music which is a tremblingly vivid evocation of... read more

Poulenc’s “La Vox Humaine” given a stunning performance

By , 31/01/2020
As we took our seats in the confined spaces of Cuba St.’s Suite gallery, pianist Gabriela Glapska was playing the music of Satie, beautifully coalescing the sounds of the composer’s Gymnopedies, the dance figurations wrought by the pianist almost as “held” as if depicted on a Grecian urn and the tones as “imagined” as they were real - “heard melodies are sweet, but…..” – here, time seemed to be... read more

Enthralling and disturbing – NZ Opera’s take on Britten’s “The Turn of the Screw”

By , 03/10/2019
  It’s difficult to think of another opera whose overall theme, story-line and characterisations are more interlaced by ambiguities as Britten’s The Turn of the Screw –  the story on which the opera is based, Henry James’ novella of the same name, carries its own versions of much the same kinds of imponderables, though the opera seems, if anything, to further complicate and intensify the issues. The story tells of... read more

Intense, heartfelt and involving – Verdi’s Rigoletto from Eternity Opera at the Hannah Playhouse

By , 23/08/2019
I can’t think of a better instance of a small opera company bringing forth by dint of its own efforts a production with the commitment and calibre of Eternity Opera’s production of “Rigoletto”, which we saw at Wellington’s Hannah Playhouse on Friday evening. I won’t go as far as proclaiming this “the best so far” of the company’s productions in this venue, as comparisons of that sort are odious... read more

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