Author Archive | James Imam

Italian Festival Unearths Rossini Rarities

Festival della Valle d’Itria, Martina Franca, July 30-31, 2018—It is the 150th anniversary of Rossini’s death, and Italy is celebrating in style. Parliament has ushered in a “Rossini year”, and a wealth of Rossini initiatives are taking place across the nation. But what can be learned about the composer when the Rossini revival that began […]

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Scarlatti And Handel At Martina Franca

Festival della Valle d’Itria, Martina Franca, 28-29 July, 2018–The Festival della Valle d’Itria in Martina Franca, Puglia draws faithful audiences by sticking to a winning formula: by presenting obscure operatic titles and selecting casts on the basis of their vocal merits rather than their fame. This was the approach cultivated by artistic directors Rodolfo Celletti […]

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A Good Case For Cilea From Vienna

Vienna Staatsoper, November 18, 2017—In Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, a leading actress at the Comédie-Française (based on the real life Adrienne Lecouvreur) is poisoned by her rival for the heart of a count. The story may look titillating, but librettist Arturo Colautti’s version is convoluted, and the score can sound maudlin compared with grittier verismo works. […]

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Filarmonica della Scala On Top Form In Mahler 2

La Scala, Milan; October 16, 2017–These are exciting times for the Filarmonica della Scala. Founded by Claudio Abbado to provide La Scala’s regular players with an opportunity to play symphonic repertoire, the orchestra has been getting better and better since Riccardo Chailly became music director two years ago. A recently-concluded tour over the summer, which […]

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La Scala Shows There’s Still More Mileage In Zeffirelli’s Bohème

La Scala, Milan, June 7, 2017—Zeffirelli’s superannuated production of La bohème returned to La Scala–yet again. From the naive slapstick to the bonnets-and-cravats period tack, this is aged opera at its tritest–a production one imagines must have felt a little fresher when it opened at this house more than half-a-century ago. But Zeffirelli’s conception is […]

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Hibla Gerzmava Rescues La Scala’s Problematic Anna Bolena

La Scala, Milan, March 31, 2017—Donizetti’s Anna Bolena has had a tumultuous history at La Scala. Triumphs include Maria Callas’ legendary live-recorded 1957 performance—an abiding benchmark interpretation. Scandals include Montserrat Caballé’s late-cancellation in 1982, when, for the first and only time at La Scala, an irate audience prevented the performance from going ahead. It’s therefore […]

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Riccardo Muti Returns to La Scala

La Scala, Milan, January 21, 2017—Riccardo Muti’s return to La Scala has been a long time coming. The opera house and its former music director parted on painful terms back in 2005. Thereafter he had conducted here only once: with the Vienna Philharmonic that same year. On this occasion the public turned up in droves […]

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