A bold, mostly considered take on Monteverdi's potent tale of sex, power and violence.
The opera may be 375 years old, but with its sex, murder and lust for power it feels as contemporary as the latest HBO hit.
Erin Helyard’s superlative Handel certainly hits the musical sweet spot.
Plus, the secrets of Rembrandt and Vermeer and why Monteverdi’s sex and politics shocker is the 17th century’s GoT.
Robert Hollingworth has, with customary thought and flair, thrown his little beans (I Fagiolini) into an interesting musical salad to honour Monteverdi’s 450th birthday and his own group’s 30th. His starting point is the only contemporary account of Monteverdi conducting Vespers: a Dutch tourist espied the maestro working away from St Mark’s on June 24, 1620 (the feast of the birth of St John the Baptist). Drawing key elements from Monteverdi’s monumental 1641 collection of liturgical music, Selva Morale e Spirituale (The moral and spiritual wood) Hollingworth fashions a Vespers service for that feast, embellished with vocal and instrumental music of the period. There is much exuberant singing and playing to enjoy in this programme, which eschews the perhaps more famous 1610 collection of Vespers music. (Mind you, 1641 contains the ever-popular Beatus vir with its walking bass.) Hollingworth is happy to give his cornettists, Gawain Glenton and Andrea Inghisciano free rein in the realm of ornamentation. The results are brilliant and impart a splendid sense of occasion. Florid vocal passages are also handled with consummate ease and clarity (Dixit Dominus) while intimate devotional moments, like Donati’s Dulcis amor Iesu! are equally touching. Together with The English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble and…
Ahead of Sydney Chamber Choir’s Dido & Aeneas, the conductor delves into the music of Purcell, Monteverdi and Gesualdo.
Erin Helyard and team create a fertile ground for creative collaboration and innovation.
The Australian-born, Europe-based baritone on YouTubing dead divas, the operas he could do without, and wardrobe mix-ups.
Pinchgut Opera’s AD has just cut his first solo disc. The in-demand harpsichordist talks about the joys of Handel and musical theatre.
In a season of ‘H’s’, Erin Helyard returns to his beloved Handel and finally gets to host some Johann Adolph Hasse.
Pinchgut Opera continues to unearth seldom heard baroque gems with Vivaldi’s Bajazet. Set in times when Tartars were taking on the Turks, there’s plenty of strong dramatic action, with torture, poisoning and rape all in the script. Erin Helyard’s liner notes explain that Bajazet was a pastiche with Vivaldi melding his own material with favourite arias by various composers. Helyard opts for all-Vivaldi arias, with one by Handel thrown in to maintain the hybrid spirit, and directs Orchestra of the Antipodes from the harpsichord. The twin natural horns of Darryl Poulson and Doree Dixon blow up a gale for Tamerlano’s In si torbida procella, and while the occasional ragged patch and on-stage noises can be distracting, the gusto and momentum of this 2015 live performance is preferable to the studio. The final disc contains some of Vivaldi’s starkest music with melodies stripped back to convey the awful action on stage. New Zealand baritone Hadleigh Adams is excellent in the title role while the countertenor pairing of American Christopher Lowrey as Tamerlano and local boy Russell Harcourt as Andronico works nicely, Lowrey’s more plummy timbre offset against Harcourt’s fluid soprano. Mezzo Helen Sherman is a riveting Irene, almost stealing the show…
★★★★☆ A complex interweaving of plots and realities – with fantastic music.
Agnew and Les Arts top off their fine Monteverdi series.
Always inventive, Rameau’s love of pushing the limits of convention won him both ardent admirers and die-hard detractors.
This unusual production, titled Le Prophète after Meyerbeer’s opera, brings us 19th-century works originally composed or arranged for piano four hands – a common practice at the time, primarily as a way to experience new symphonic works and operas in the home. The programme consists of the original, substantial Overture to Le Prophète arranged by Alkan, nine of Alkan’s own Organ Preludes arranged by Liszt’s pupil José Vianna da Motta, and Ignaz Moscheles’ potpourri from Weber’s operas Oberon and Euyranthe. They are performed by Australian duo Stephanie McCallum and Erin Helyard with brio and great precision of ensemble. Charles Valentin Alkan was an eccentric who composed almost exclusively for the piano. His music is technically challenging and often bizarre, with a large cult following today thanks to advocates like McCallum and Marc-André Hamelin. His Preludes are the most interesting music here, ranging from the quirky to the sentimental. The other works, while of historical interest, are less compelling. The duo plays on three original Erard pianos of the period (from 1847, 1898 and 1839). While I prefer the sound of a modern Steinway, the lucidity and lightness of these instruments ensure that big sforzandi and crowded textures are never overbearing.
★★★★½ Les Arts proves the madrigal is more than just a load of old nymphs and shepherds.