Archives for category: Steve Silverman

Despite its relocation from mid-17th century Seville to the catacombs of Vienna in the early 1900s, John Lloyd Wood’s realisation of Mozart’s perennially popular morality tale is a gratifyingly conventional affair. One in which the anti-hero, in the director’s own words, is concerned more about his masculine identity than the women he seduces. In asserting his own masculinity, his primary concern is not sexual gratification but the humiliation of The Commendatore, Don Ottavio and Masetto.

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“We have a delightful production of one of the most popular operas in the repertoire. It’s not very old, and audiences seem to love it. Clearly, what we should do is replace it with something stark, unengaging and gimmicky. Oh, and while we’re at it, have you seen the musical Rent?

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That conversation almost certainly never took place but it might as well have. Jonathan Miller’s 2009 staging of Puccini’s La Bohème – charming, evocative, and fitting both music and libretto like a glove – has been usurped by a sordid reimagining from director Benedict Andrews, that is colder and more brutal than its predecessor and completely devoid of romance. Read the rest of this entry »

Anybody who has enjoyed an extended love affair with opera will know from their frequent disappointment that it is an art form alarmingly susceptible to being royally buggered up. Singers who – either through delusion or an inability to say no – allow themselves to be cast in roles for which they are patently ill-equipped will suck the life out of the best productions; theatre management that persists in colluding with them perpetuates both the disappointment for the audience and the damage to the reputation of the performers; directors in thrall to white-tiled bathrooms, chain-link fencing or the Third Reich can render risible a musical performance that would otherwise rank as world-class.

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The presence of New York Metropolitan supremo, Peter Gelb at last night’s première of ENO’s new production of The Girl of the Golden West is probably explained by his wish to support Keri-Lynn Wilson, who was in charge of the baton for the evening, and who also happens to be his wife. If, however, he was also scouting for a new La fanciulla del West to borrow for New York, he will have been pleased to encounter no nasty surprises that might frighten the Met’s famously conservative audience in Richard Jones’ production of Puccini’s 1910 cowboy opera. (The alternative possibility that, in the wake of his recent trials and tribulations on the other side of the Atlantic, he might be about to interview for a new job never once crossed my mind. No, honestly, it didn’t.)

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rohrigole0914EIt feels like opera lovers have been lamenting the absence of a true Verdi baritone for a couple of decades now. It’s not strictly true, of course. What they actually mean is that there are currently no house-filling star baritones who possess the authentic vocal heft, the characteristic ease in the break between the middle and upper registers, and the tenor-like squillo at the top of the voice, that are required to do full justice to the music that Verdi wrote for them. Given that mothballing most of his output until such time as this type of voice undergoes a renaissance is an option that is neither financially viable nor appealing from an audience’s perspective, a compromise is inevitable. Consequently we have seen these roles gradually appropriated by lyric baritones, who, in a different era, would never have dreamed of attempting them. In recent times, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Thomas Hampson and … er … um … Plácido Domingo have been among those prominent in keeping the flame burning. Read the rest of this entry »