Jamie Barton delights in “Bon Appétit!” and Rossini’s “Thieving Magpie” receives an energetic presentation.
While this performance was cast to perfection from top to bottom, the success of Sunday’s presentation was due in no small part to the incredible Leonore of Elza van den Heever, her first performance of the part.
Pietro Mascagni’s grim opera about a stultifyingly naïve girl who is kidnapped from her blind father by a lecherous young man and then sold into prostitution in legendary Japan seems unnecessarily nauseating and indeed, it sometimes feels that way. But sordid stories often yield stunning operas, and Iris, now seeing the light of the sun (Ha!) in a rare revival as part of Bard College’s 2016 SummerScape festival, is everything verismo should be: Devastating, provocative, and direct.
Clocking in at nearly four hours and receiving a uniformly committed and capable presentation from the Bel Canto at Caramoor forces, this Rossini rarity is a fine example of the young composer’s music that would only tighten, both musically and dramatically, as his career progressed.
You can imagine my initial reticence when it was announced that Broadway superstar Kelli O’Hara would be performing in Henry Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas with MasterVoices. And you can also imagine my surprise when O’Hara’s cleanly-sung, introspective interpretation of the Carthaginian queen won the day at City Center last Friday.
They may make a mismatched pair, but both Die Entfürung aus dem Serail and Elektra (especially Elektra) are being executed with great care at the Met.
“If you distill opera down to its basics, its telling stories through words and music. Though many regard it as old art form and ask what relevance it could have to now, when you distill it down, it has utter universality. It transcends centuries, continents, and ethnicities. We produce a most-relevant cultural service.” Thoughts on opera and more from Anthony Freud, General Director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago.