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The Exterminating Angel, Adès
D: Tom Cairns
C: Thomas Adès
Review: The Exterminating Angel (Royal Opera House)

The Exterminating Angel is an international co-production, and Tom Cairns's staging scored a hit at last summer's Salzburg Festival. It arrives at the Royal Opera House garnered with critical plaudits and was greeted by the Covent Garden audience with wild approval, so I feel duty-bound to join in. Almost. The composer's orchestrations are undeniably bold and scintillating, and he has the knack of tempering musical challenge with approachability.Christine Rice as the pianist sings with exemplary clarity and expression, whereas Amanda Echalaz as the hostess makes one grateful there are surtitles.There's some above-the-stave virtuosity from Audrey Luna as a high-flying, high-lying opera singer. In places she sounds uncannily like the Ondes Martenot , the electronic instrument of warbling soundwaves that Cynthia Millar plays from one of the side boxe.What exactly is the Exterminating Angel? Adès describes it as an 'absence', although it makes more sense to see it as the thief of free will. We, like the sheep who safely graze as the audience enters, go astray and follow each other blindly towards annihilation. As a parable for our time, that's chilling.

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25 April 2017www.whatsonstage.comAuthorMark Valencia
Die Zauberflöte, Mozart
D: Diane PaulusJennifer Nicoll
C: Antony Walker
Review: Pittsburgh Opera's 'Magic Flute' lives up to the name

The staging Pittsburgh Opera presented was originally created for Canadian Opera Company in Toronto by Diane Paulus. While it does generate plenty of laughs, it shows no sympathy for many of the opera's more serious aspects that motivated its creators. The staging's concept is ostensibly a play within a play. In practice, it's not much more than an initial frame soon dropped entirely. The stage action in this production begins during the overture, when the curtain is usually closed. We see the opera's characters preparing for a performance of “The Magic Flute” as part of a birthday party for a wealthy family's daughter, Pamina. The opera's first act is performed on a small stage, observed at first by Pamina, her father, others in the household and Pamina's mother, who is divorced from her father. Her father will be Sarastro in the opera, her mother, the Queen of the Night. The audience on stage is gone well before the end of the first act and dispensed with entirely in the second act, along with the tiny stage within a stage. most of the cast was excellent Nov. 9, and the entire performance was shaped superbly by conductor Antony Walker. Nearly all the cast was a past or current member of a resident artists program. Most were from Pittsburgh Opera's program, and Layla Claire, who played Pamina, completed the program at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Pamina and her prince, Tamino, are the principal romantic couple in the opera, and both roles were superbly sung. Soprano Claire has an exceptionally appealing voice in her middle and upper registers — clean and clear with just the right amount of warmth. She retains tonal luster up to the high B flats and has ample agility. Once the ditsiness of Pamina's personality during the overture is past, Claire's portrayal was a bit more assertive than one usually encounters in this part. While Oren Gradus was impressive in some passages, Sarastro's tessitura requires a singer with a much stronger lower register. The orchestra played extremely well throughout the opera, though more violinists would have been welcome. Woodwind solos were full of personality and admirable tone, while the brass and timpani were sonorously remarkable. The glockenspiel part was expertly performed on an electronic keyboard. Pittsburgh Opera Chorus was superb, consistently producing firm, well-centered singing. Some of the staging was unintentionally funny, such as bearded ladies playing the three spirits

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10 November 2013archive.triblive.comMARK KANNY

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