When you hear “Requiem” in the classical music scene outside the church, usually composer names that come to mind are Verdi and Mozart, possibly Berlioz or Lloyd Webber for modern music fans. Not often will Antonin Dvorák come to mind though. Coming from the Romantic period (late 1800s) Dvorák is better known for his New World Symphony, Dumky Trio and very popular Slavonic Dances. He was however, a devout Catholic and, for one of his many conducting invitations to visit Great Britain (8 visits in 7 years), he was commissioned to write a Requiem for the Triennial Music Festival in Birmingham 1891.
The work was a huge success, not surprisingly, as he had already become a celebrity in the UK with a huge following of fans just waiting to see what he would come up with next. Despite this initial success, Dvorák’s Requiem did not gain the long term following of those of Verdi and Mozart but, when it is performed, it is very well received as it was tonight.Continue reading SYDNEY PHILHARMONIA CHOIRS : DVORAK REQUIEM→
Puccini’s early twentieth century opera MADAMA BUTTERFLY offers soloists and audience much of what they relish in the genre. The main characters are complex, with savage twists and turns in their emotional journeys. The music serves the drama well as the compact storyline hurtles towards its terrible conclusion.
The design and dramatic realisation of this Opera Australia production makes for a spellbinding night of theatre. The commitment of the cast to convey timeless feelings, struggles and the unique beauty of Puccini’s score ensures this example of opera is always fresh and relevant for 2015.
Conductor Anthony Legge brings the score to life with clarity and focus in moments of conversation, atmosphere or large arias alike. The brass entries with fragments of the US national anthem penetrate hauntingly.
George Bizet’s CARMEN has been wowing opera-goers for over 140 years now with its alluring mixture of the unpredictable and dangerous, love and loathing, and, as the program notes state, “the ultimate femme fatale is back to stamp her feet, toss her hair and dance”.
As a staple of Opera Australia’s programming (the last major run at the Opera House was only a couple of years ago), American director Francesca Zambello was presented with a real challenge in bringing something fresh to the story of that most famous of feisty gypsy girls and the ultimately doomed desires of her suitors, whilst at the same time maintaining the levels of passion and intensity both musically and visually that the audience has come to expect.