As the Royal Opera opens its new Don Giovanni, Jessica Duchen argues that its theme of moral vacuity is as relevant now as in Mozart's day
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Saturday 31 May 2008
Frances Yeend was an American lyric soprano who sang at both the New York City Opera and the Metropolitan Opera. She had a beautiful, silvery voice and started her career singing roles such as Violetta in La traviata, the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro and Micaëla in Carmen. Later her voice became more powerful and she took on dramatic roles such as Verdi's Aida, Puccini's Turandot and Strauss's Ariadne. Very good-looking and a fine actress, she was able to fill her characterisations with genuine dramatic tension.
Album: Mozart, Piano Concertos No 12 and No 24 – Pollini/Vienna Philharmonic (Deutsche Grammophon)
Sunday 25 May 2008
Maurizio Pollini's Mozart Concerto series with the Vienna Philharmonic continues with a flawless and buoyant performance of the A major and C minor concertos.
Thursday 15 May 2008
Thursday 15 May 2008
The Turkish soprano Leyla Gencer became one of the most loved and admired operatic idols in Italy during the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies. Although she sang all over Europe and America, from London to Vienna, from San Francisco to Buenos Aires, it was in Italy, at La Scala, Milan, at the San Carlo, Naples, at La Fenice, Venice, at the opera houses of Rome, Florence, Turin, Trieste and many other cities, that she spent the main part of her career, singing a very wide repertory whose core consisted of the works of Donizetti and Verdi. A singing actress of great expressive power, she used her voice as a weapon in her dramatic armoury. That did not mean that she could not, when appropriate, sing with great gentleness and beauty of tone.
Saturday 10 May 2008
British dramatic tenors do not exactly grow on trees. If Edmund Barham had been as good an actor as he was a singer, he would have been a genuine operatic star of the first magnitude. As it was, he progressed in 15 years from Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni and Almaviva in The Barber of Seville with Opera for All, to such Verdi roles as Don Alvaro in The Force of Destiny for English National Opera; he even sang Otello, though not, unfortunately, in London. He had a fine ringing voice with splendid top notes, superb English diction and stylish phrasing.
Tuesday 06 May 2008
One sensed a certain puzzlement among the Queen Elizabeth Hall audience after the first item in this Britten Sinfonia concert: the late Stravinsky arrangement of Bach's Prelude and Fugue in C sharp minor from Book 1 of "The 48" sounded so radical as scarcely to resemble Bach at all.
Anna Bolena, English Touring Opera <br />Susannah, English Touring Opera<br />Don Giovanni, English Touring Opera, Hackney Empire, London
Sunday 23 March 2008
Monday 03 March 2008
What a joy for a change not to have some conductor interposing his emotional semaphore between an orchestra that was plainly enjoying the mutual give-and-take of their parts and an audience that was equally enjoying the results. This Mozart-Beethoven concert in the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment's current "Revolution" series was simply directed, à la period, from the first violin by the vivacious guest leader Kati Debretzeni, with co-ordinating cues from the American fortepianist Robert Levin in the concertos.
Wednesday 27 February 2008
Sunday 24 February 2008
Mozart's last symphonies are among the most-recorded works in the canon, with enough performances to satisfy the most dedicated collector. Yet few recordings have the authority and warmth of this release from the SCO and Sir Charles Mackerras. Recorded in the conductor's 80th year, the performances have vigour and wisdom, bloom and attack, sensuality and rigour, and a notably dynamic cello and bass section. Tart natural trumpets and secco kettle-drums add a tang of authenticity, while the mellow woodwind sweeten the mix. Hackneyed to say that such familiar music sounds fresh, but it does.
Saturday 16 February 2008
The soprano Inga Nielsen had, in effect, two careers. The first was as a light, lyric soprano with a repertory including Blonde in Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Norina in Donizetti's Don Pasquale and Nannetta in Verdi's Falstaff.
Sunday 10 February 2008
There are two ways to listen to Freiburg Baroque's latest recording: as a scintillating performance of household favourites or as a work of scholarship. On both counts, it is a success. Andreas Staier's relaxed performance of the 'Piano Concerto in B flat' trips delicately along, accompanied by slender single strings in the solo parts, and accompanying the orchestra in the tutti sections, with cadenzas of unalloyed gaity and invention. In a new reconstruction of the 'Clarinet Concerto', Lorenzo Coppola's coppery 'clarinette d'amour' gives Mozart's final instrumental work some much-needed freshness and spice.
Monday 14 January 2008
Monday 08 January 2007
If there is one thing wrong with the Keepmoat Stadium it could be that it is just a little too easy for relatively well-heeled visitors to make themselves comfortable there.
Monday 27 November 2006
Andy Robinson, who presided over England's eighth defeat in nine matches on Saturday, has started compiling his report on the world champions' impoverished performances in the four-match autumn series - a document he hopes and prays will convince the Rugby Football Union to keep him on the payroll for another 18 months. Robinson may not even get the chance to table it. Francis Baron, the chief executive of the RFU, is widely suspected to be pressing for the head coach's immediate dismissal as a direct consequence of the weekend failure against South Africa.
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