Production reviews (7)

25 Jun 2022 - 27 Aug 2021
The Turn of the Screw, Britten,  
La Monnaie/De Munt11 Performances
03 May 2021bachtrack.comKatherine SyerPortals into the surreal in Andrea Breth's The Turn of the Screw for La Monnaie
As our operatic experiences continue to be framed by pandemic conditions, virtual and live landscapes abound with chamber works, reduced orchestrations, and adaptations. One overarching trend is the careful attention to filmic dimensions of digital premieres, nudging the game forward from the generally high production values of cinema broadcasts. In this context, Andrea Breth’s staging of The Turn of the Screw for La Monnaie (directed for video by Miriam Hoyer with sound design by Christoph Mateka) achieves a highly satisfying level of polish. At the same time, one recognizes a precisely executed live performance at its core – one that would be thrilling to experience in person. The nebulous atmosphere of Henry James’ novella supports Benjamin Britten’s handling of Peter Quint and Miss Jessel as deceased spirits who seem to retain influence over the orphans Miles and Flora. By contrast, the children’s world in the operatic score is peppered with realistic music-making moments like the song Tom, Tom the Piper’s Son, evocative of youthful naïveté. All the more telling, then, is Britten’s scene in Act 2 when the 10-year-old Miles is to perform beyond his years at the keyboard, his prowess suggestive of adult strength and abilities. Already during the Prologue Breth uses the piano as a prop and portal into the realm of the surreal. When the instrument in the orchestra pit opens up to include its counterparts and the narrator’s recollection unlocks a warped, multi-layered tale, a male actor slowly slides into the broken grand piano on the stage floor. Miles and Flora later slither out of the same space to sing the song about the piper’s son. As enacted, their simple song is anything but. Their innocence is scarcely palpable in this labyrinthine flashback, exquisitely realized through Raimund Orfeo Voigt’s unsettlingly stark and fluid sets. A pair of over-sized wardrobes later serve as portals to darkly imaginative spaces, creatively coordinated with blocking and gestures to emphasize a sense of the surreal. Ed Lyon delivered an arresting performance of the Prologue’s narration, capturing our attention and concern before his anonymous image takes on symbolic heft. Six male dark-suited doubles populate the production. At several moments we see them as voyeurs or lifeless reminders of something elusive or missing, while during an early instrumental interlude one emerges as the spinster Governess’s romantic dance partner. (All of the orchestral transitions are sophisticated and far-reaching in their visual treatment.) Sally Matthews sang a richly hued and deeply invested vocal performance as the Governess throughout, as did Carole Wilson in the role of Mrs Grose, both reinforcing the impression that the experience of the story strongly colours its retelling. This is also true of Julian Hubbard’s wildly disheveled and riveting performance of Peter Quint, who appeared as the source of anarchy and transgression from the outset. He dominated Miss Jessel, attractively and seductively sung by Giselle Allen. Henri de Beauffort and Katharina Bierweiler crafted essential and mature performances of Miles and Flora respectively in this intricate theatrical conception. Contributing provocatively against the grain of this tapestry of shattered innocence and concomitant distortion are the orchestral voices, at times pure or nostalgic, at others assuredly robust and genuinely effusive. Ben Glassberg conducted the mostly masked orchestra with firm focus to embody these human dimensions, connecting fruitfully above all with Matthews’ Governess and preventing the otherwise moribund tale from collapsing flat.
25 Jun - 20 Jul 2022
Cavalleria rusticana, Mascagni,  
Pagliacci, Leoncavallo,  
GöteborgsOperan   |  Opera Australia   |  La Monnaie/De Munt   |  Royal Opera House7 Performances
04 December ChurchCavalleria rusticana/Pagliacci, Royal Opera House, review: Superb casting and choruses create triumphant evening
The Italian director Damiano Michieletto put himself in the critical doghouse with his Covent Garden production of Guillaume Tell earlier this year, thanks to a rape scene which gave enormous offence. But his crime was a matter of tone: in an otherwise stylised production, the aggressively in-your-face naturalism of that scene was grotesquely misplaced.
04 December 2015www.theguardian.comAndrew ClementsCavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci review – ravishing sounds and detailed naturalism
In Damiano Michieletto’s new production of this famous double bill, the stories are presented straightforwardly and the tragedies perfectly defined. Among the singers, soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek is a standout
22 Feb - 4 Mar 2022
Le baruffe, Battistelli,  
La Fenice5 Performances
24 February 2022www.ilcorrieremusicale.itCesare GallaLe Baruffe, il Goldoni drammatico di Battistelli
lo spettacolo è inserito nello spazio vuoto (con le attrezzature a vista) del palco della Fenice, ed è basato su di un’intelligente e in qualche momento intrigante “coreografia” tra figuranti, cantanti ed elementi scenici, costituiti solo da cinque strutture lignee mobili. In alto, tre enormi ventole segnano con il moto delle pale l’accendersi dei litigi e il loro sopirsi. Sul fondo, le proiezioni di Sergio Metalli evocano il “caìgo” della Laguna e le nubi spinte dallo scirocco.
29 May - 19 Jun 2021
Kát'a Kabanová, Janáček,  
Glyndebourne Festival7 Performances
29 May 2021www.theguardian.comFiona MaddocksThe week in classical: Káťa Kabanová; Ragged Music festival – review
The set looks airy and minimal, Káťa’s sense of imprisonment and desire for freedom achieved by Alessandro Carletti’s intense use of lighting and high white walls that shut out the world. Three standard visual motifs, drawn from references in the libretto, are brought into play: bird, cage and angel. Magritte’s disturbing birdcage paintings, one of which he pointedly called The Therapist, come to mind. By the end, these symbols have multiplied to the point of distraction. This might irritate more had musical standards not been so outstanding in every quarter, steered by Glyndebourne’s music director, Robin Ticciati.
29 May 2021operawire.comBenjamin PooreGlyndebourne Festival 2021 Review: Kat’a Kabanova Kateřina Kněžíková Towers Over an Intimate, Searing Vision of One of Opera’s Most Complex Selves
Michieletto’s production is symbolic and psychological first and foremost. The white set designs by Paolo Fantin suggest an abstract dream space – there is no village or river, only the interior of Kat’a’s mind. Their acute angles are redolent of the kinds of vitrine-like structures that so fascinated Francis Bacon in his paintings; these walls close in on Kat’a at the end of Act one, trapping her in the room with Kabanicha, which then ingeniously segues uninterrupted into the beginning of Act two.
7 - 28 Oct 2018
Médée, Cherubini,  
Staatsoper Unter den Linden6 Performances
29 October 2018toutelaculture.comNICOLAS CHAPLAINMédée : Sonya Yoncheva dans les pas de Callas
On connaît la qualité de la Staatskapelle de Berlin, l’expressivité, l’énergie et le lyrisme que lui insuffle son chef Daniel Barenboim. Pour Médée, le chef exacerbe la violence de la partition, sculpte avec précision et fermeté un climat sombre et furieux, étire les tempi, accentue les contrastes, ose des nuances très faibles sans renoncer à la brutalité. L’orchestre, superbe, se montre particulièrement menaçant, acéré et déploie des couleurs amples et intenses, mystérieuses et weberiennes.