Thomas Hampson’s long, thriving career on both sides of the Atlantic has established him as one of the most successful and versatile operatic baritones in the world. More than that, he is regarded as an emblematic figure in US opera – an articulate spokesman, championing its heritage, shaping its future and acting as an example to successive generations of young talent. Michael White talks to an all- American singer with a distinctly European perspective on his art
A weekend in Boston
Boston, founded in 1630, is one of the oldest and most walkable cities in the USA.
Opera has played a central role in John Adams’ growth as an artist, ever since Nixon in China burst onto the scene in 1987, heralding a new era for the art form, full of contemporary vigour and courting its fair share of controversy. As Adams celebrates his 70th birthday this month, Thomas May looks back at the composer’s legacy and offers a glimpse into his new work, The Girls of the Golden West
American soprano Leontyne Price celebrates her 90th birthday on 10 February. Leonine by name and by nature, she was an indomitable force whose regally assured vocal qualities won over audiences and critics on the recital platform and on record. Why, then, did some critics feel that she was never quite at ease on the operatic stage?
Brick by brick
Pink Floyd’s best-selling album The Wall embodies the sense of anxiety and alienation of a generation in the 1980s, exploring the uneasy relationship between the individual and society. Now, band leader Roger Waters has sanctioned his work’s transformation into an opera, soon to be premiered as part of the 375th anniversary celebrations of Montreal, the city where the idea for the album first took hold
A passion for opera
If you go down to the woods...
The roof is on and the walls are taking shape at Britain’s newest opera house, set in the magnificent environs of West Horsley Place, a forgotten rural idyll within easy reach of London. It’s here that Grange Park Opera is preparing to establish a festival in its splendid new theatre this summer.
A trip down memory lane in one of Europe’s most theatrically cultured and musically sophisticated capitals fails to deliver the operatic riches expected of it. Professor Anthony Ogus nevertheless finds consolation in less urbane circumstances
Der Rosenkavalier, Strauss
Too much reality – or what passes for reality in the heads of opera directors – can be a baleful thing. There is such layered suggestion and allusion in Richard Strauss’s best-loved work that shining too strong a light can shatter the magic of the shadows
L’Amour de loin, Saariaho
Robert Lepage’s vivid, enormously affecting production of one of the most important new operas of our time is a landmark in its own right, delving into the profound theatricality beyond the opera’s dreamy surface
The New York City Opera closed its doors after 70 years in 2013, but began reviving last year with a mixed bag of productions ranging from Puccini to Daniel Catán – in other words, they’ve been all over the place. With this production of Candide, however, there’s a real sense of a company returning to form and feeling at home
The Dictator’s Wife, Fairouz
Many large opera companies in the USA now have as part of their regular season a programme for commissioning opera world premieres by young, emerging composers and librettists. The WNO calls theirs American Opera Initiative, now in its fifth season, with the purpose of telling different American experiences through opera
Madama Butterfly, Puccini
In his quest to present Puccini’s operas in their original forms, Riccardo Chailly resuscitated the two-act version of Madama Butterfly, which received its disastrous world premiere at La Scala in 1904. Puccini reworked the opera four times before he settled upon the familiar three-act version from 1907 that we tend to see today. So is this return to the composer’s first intentions really worthwhile?
La traviata, Verdi
A brilliant display of fireworks in Piazza De Ferrari set the scene for an equally brilliant Traviata. which inaugurated the opera season in Genoa. The theatre was full and the audience elegantly attired, probably unprepared for this unexpected and surprising new reading of this favourite opera, the key for which director Giorgio Gallione had found in Verdi himself
Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Shostakovich
What is Shostakovich without the humour? A thorough, professional and unremittingly earnest production in Munich provided an answer: a teeny bit dull. It’s not something I ever expected to think about this opera