Review: A Spanish “Carmen” from Calixto Bielto, San Francisco Opera, May 28, 2016

The “summer season” of the San Francisco Opera opened Memorial Day weekend premiering a new co-production (with the Boston Lyric Opera) directly based on Calixto Bielto’s European production of Bizet’s “Carmen” that some found to be notorious, and others, including myself, found illuminating. I had previously reported on the production’s British debut [Ruxandra Donose, Adam Diegel Are Dramatically … Read more

Review: Tenor Paul Groves, Cambodia’s Amrita Dancers Add Interest to Stravinsky’s “Perséphone” – Opéra de Lyon, May 20, 2016

The Opéra de Lyon became the third opera house to mount a double bill of operas – Tchaikovsky’s “Iolanta” and Stravinsky’s “Perséphone” – conceptualized by director Peter Sellars. Although “Iolanta” has been the first opera performed in this double bill, the idea of pairing the two operas did not emerge until after plans for “Perséphone” were underway. For that … Read more

Review: Mariame Clément Mounts Wagner’s “Liebesverbot”: Opéra du Rhin, Strasbourg, May 17, 2016

The Opéra National du Rhin mounted the 22-year old Richard Wagner’s komische oper, “Das Lieberverbot” [the Ban on Love]” in a new production conceived by director Mariame Clément. The opera is roughly based on the Shakespeare play Measure for Measure, although only a few of Measure’s characters – Isabella, her brother Claudio, Mariana and Lucio are retained … Read more

Review: “Mefistofele” Impressively Performed by Schrott, Castronovo, Penda and Blue in New Philipp Himmelmann Production – Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, May 16, 2016

The Festspielhaus Baden-Baden (Germany) produced a lively new production of Boito’s “Mefistofele” conceived by Director Philipp Himmelmann and conducted by Stefan Soltesz, utilizing an ingenious setting by Johanne Leiacker, and imaginative costumes by Gesine Vollm. Erwin Schrott’s Mefistofele The title role was sung by Uruguayan basso Erwin Schrott. Although I had previously enjoyed his performance as Figaro [Fine … Read more

Review: An Engaging “Carmen” with Maximova, Jovanovich, Schultz and d’Arcangelo – Bayerische Staatsoper, May 13, 2016

Russian mezzo-soprano Elena Maximova and Montana spinto tenor Brandon Jovanovich led a cast of international stature in a revival of the Lina Wertmüller production of Bizet’s “Carmen”. Elena Maximova’s Carmen Elena Maximova made a strong impression as Carmen, with a dusky voice, vibrant at its top, and secure in its lower range. [Below: Elena Maximova as Carmen, … Read more