Paolo Bordogna

Funny Business

by Courtney Smith

The Italian bass-baritone Paolo Bordogna has been exploring hidden aspects of opera’s buffo roles, bringing out the humanity and pathos in characters who tend to be dismissed as buffoons. Courtney Smith discovers more about an unusual career path that has led him to record a solo album celebrating the art of the basso buffo

Boy wonders

by Amanda Holloway

Opera Now spotlights the art of the baritone, presenting ten of the most promising and distinctive voices in a new generation of young talent

Sheer imperfection

by Benjamin Ivry

She was known as ‘The diva of din’ and ‘the First Lady of the sliding scale’, a figure of ridicule mixed with admiration on account of her unflagging belief in her own highly dubious singing talents. Florence Forster Jenkins may have massacred Mozart, but she had legions of adoring fans, sold out New York’s Carnegie Hall, and has been the subject of numerous stage plays. The off-key opera-singing socialite is about to be immortalised by Hollywood in a new film starring Meryl Streep. Benjamin Ivry contemplates the reasons for Mme Jenkins’ enduring appeal

Passports please

by Simon Rees

You may not think of the Arctic or the Andes as obvious opera destinations, but for Opera Now’s globe-trotting correspondents, some of the most rewarding experiences of opera can be had while travelling off the beaten track. Meanwhile, we invite the best arts travel specialists in the business introduce this year’s holiday highlights for culture vultures

Love duets, passionate beginnings, tragic ends

by Michael Tanner

Hot under the collar

by Michael White

As opera critics go, I have a high threshold of boredom. I can sit through anything from Monteverdi to Mascagni and find something to divert me. I’m amused by preening divas, backstage tantrums, excess and high camp. I understand when things go wrong, because I know they’re sometimes bound to. In fact, I’m relatively tolerant of failure: it’s instructive.

Bel Canto López

by Heidi Waleson · illustrations: Andrew Ciofi, Todd Rosenberg

Composer Jimmy López and librettist Nilo Cruz, both opera first-timers, have reshaped their source material into a more conventionally active narrative, which works theatrically but leaves some of the magic of the original behind

Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci Mascagni/Leoncavallo

by Francis Muzzu · illustrations: Catherine Ashmore

Having faced a barrage of boos during Guillaume Tell at his Covent Garden debut earlier this year, director Damiano Michieletto was either brave or foolhardy enough to return to face the audience for a second time. At his curtain call on opening night, the house erupted into cheers, though a few people insisted on making their discontent glaringly obvious

Strazsny Dwór Moniuszko

by Simon Rees

Stanisław Moniuzsko’s opera The Haunted Manor is treasured by the Poles for its fearless statements of national identity (it was first performed in 1865, when Warsaw was under Russian rule), embedded in a plot that rarely rises above farce

Armida Rossini

by Robert Thicknesse · illustrations: Annemie Augustjins

Rossini’s sexiest score should be a complete delight – and, for much of the time in this new production, it was. However, shadows were cast by a soprano who took a while to get going, and a staging that veered from silly to acute and back again, with little real core

Giovanna d’Arco Verdi

by Juliet Giraldi · illustrations: Brescia e Amisano

In the wake of the attacks in Paris last November, the opening night of the new season at the Teatro alla Scala was considered a possible target for terrorists and was the scene of a huge security operation. The sense of solidarity with the French was reinforced by the coincidence that the opera in question happened to celebrate France’s national heroine, Joan of Arc

Idomeneo Mozart

by Susan Nickalls · illustrations: Michele Crosera

Few recent season openings can have been more sombre than that of Idomeneo at La Fenice, which took place a week after the terrorist attacks in Paris. As a mark of respect, there was a minute’s silence and the singing of the Italian and French national anthems along with a warning that the ‘sound of gunshots’ would be part of the performance

Opera di Firenze

Marco Tutino is one of Italy’s most celebrated living composers and a leading exponent of increasingly fashionable Neo- Romanticism. His latest opera, Le braci, was warmly received by audiences in Florence. The work is based on Embers, the novel by the Hungarian writer, Sándor Márai.

Company Profile

by Robert Thicknesse

Théâtre de la Monnaie (de Munt)

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