Jonathan Sutherland

In Review Stage Reviews
Gran Teatro del Liceu 2017-18 Review(s) – La Favorite
Apart from the onslaught of syphilis, 1840 was a good year for Gaetano Donizetti. He become the first composer to have three operas (“La Fille du Régiment”, “Lucrezia Borgia,” and “La Favorite”) debut in three different theaters in Paris within a period of less than 12 months. The last of the trifecta was written specifically for Rosine Stolz (née Victoire Noël) who apart from being a celebrated mezzo, was also the…
In Review Stage Reviews
Gran Teatro del Liceu 2017-18 Season – Manon Lescaut
Any time an opera production begins with non-textual lines, especially in a language different to the libretto, alarm bells ring louder the tubular Grail chimes in “Parsifal." Such was the case in Davide Livermore’s new staging of “Manon Lescaut” for the Gran Teatre del Liceu which had already been seen in co-production with the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. Instead of opening in a pre-revolutionary square in Amiens c.1760 as Puccini…
In Review Stage Reviews
46th Istanbul Music Festival – Review: Joyce DiDonato Brings Bravura & Brilliance To The Bosphorus
When Dorothy arrived in Oz, she made the memorable comment “Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more." Mega diva Joyce DiDonato’s first glimpse of the superb 6th century church of Aya Irini in the gardens of the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul may well have elicited the same response. The operatic career of the former Joyce Flaherty from Prairie Village KS (pop. c.22,000) has taken her to many places…
In Review Stage Reviews
Palazetto Bru Zane 2018 Festival Review: Gounod Gala Is A Goldmine of Hidden Operatic Gems
No one ever pretended that opera was a cheap art form. As an extreme example, the Salzburg Festival has a budget of over 60 million euros for just six weeks, making its balance sheet the envy of several small Pacific island states. But even in countries with an immense musical patrimony such as Italy, there is a tendency for populist governments to see public funding for “elite” musical activities, particularly…
In Review Stage Reviews
Teatr Wielki Warsaw 2017-18 Review – Carmen: Rinat Shaham & Leonardo Capalbo Salvage Senseless Production By Andrzej Chyra
Sir Anthony Hopkins is a world-famous actor who also happens to be a gifted composer. Despite his considerable musical skills, he has made it quite clear that he is unqualified to direct an opera. In Poland, Andrzej Chyra enjoys A-list celebrity status as a one of the country’s foremost film and television actors. He is also probably partial to the polka, but unlike Hopkins, Chyra leapt into the role of…
In Review Stage Reviews
Deutsche Oper Berlin 2017-18 Review – Nabucco: Željko Lučić Stands Tall While Keith Warner’s Printing Press Production Needs Serious Editing
With over 150 opera productions to his credit, British director Keith Warner is hardly a neophyte in the lyric theatre.  The mystery is how this respected regisseur could have made such a muddle out of “Nabucco” for the Deutsche Oper Berlin.  After all, it is not so difficult to stage Verdi’s first great operatic triumph. Jean-Paul Scarpitta managed to come up with a highly effective production in Rome in 2013…
In Review Stage Reviews
Deutsche Oper Berlin 2017-18 Review – La Traviata: Kristina Mkhitaryan’s Outstanding Violetta Gains the Russian Soprano “Prima Donna Assoluta” Status
The Deutsche Oper Berlin has long been a mecca for iconoclast regie theater directors ranging from Hans Neuenfels and Claus Guth to Ole Anders Tandberg, whose recent staging of “Carmen” had more viscera on the stage than verismo. Curiously, the extant production of “La Traviata” by the former Deutsche Oper Intendant Götz Friedrich, dating back to 1999, is surprisingly uncontroversial. In his programme notes Friedrich avers that despite silly socialites simulating palm-reading…
In Review Stage Reviews
Vienna State Opera 2017-18 Review – La Traviata: Not Even Plácido Domingo Can Save Jean-François Sivadier’s Misguided Production
It is not too difficult to stage Verdi’s ever-popular tear-jerker “La Traviata.” Francesco Maria Piave’s libretto and stage directions are so detailed any director with access to a few lengths of velvet and some stock chandeliers can create a plausible mis-en-scène to serve Verdi’s marvelous, emotive music. French director Jean-François Sivadier, whose operatic resumé is shorter than a Rossini semiquaver, managed to turn the glamorous demi-monde divertissements of 19th century…
In Review Stage Reviews
Vienna State Opera 2017-18 Review – Capriccio: A Win for the Words When Music Misses The Mark
Of Richard Strauss’ 15 completed operas, his last opus “Capriccio” is arguably the most abstruse. For a start, it isn’t even called an opera but a “Conversation Piece for Music.” Many Strauss scholars are baffled by this highly cerebral, seemingly escapist bagatelle composed in the midst of the mayhem of World War II. It was as if Strauss and librettist Clemens Krauss were writing something for their own intellectual amusement…
In Review Stage Reviews
Vienna State Opera 2017-18 Review – Samson et Dalila: Despite Solid Turns From Roberto Alagna and Elina Garanca, Modern Makeover of Classic Bible Story Goes Up In Flames (Literally)
Taking the biblical element out of “Samson et Dalila” makes about as much sense as setting “Madama Butterfly” in Botswana. Typical of many opera directors trained in the theater, Alexandra Liedtke seems to have limited understanding of Saint-Saëns’ music and even less about Lemaire’s libretto. As is often the case when a regisseur feels their genius may be unappreciated, Liedtke chose to project some gratuitous quotes onto the proscenium scrim before…