Don’t be in such a hurry, cher public: linger a while to discuss off=topic and general interest subjects.
Kindly allow me to be even more borrrrring than usual ( only to my few non-fans), but after having heard so many tenors since that guy with the white teeth came toward me as Radames in 1951…you know, Mario somebody, and going through a huge number of wonderful tenors (you know who they are), I just wonder what it is about that Polish guy that makes my eyes water.
My feeling is that all of us just have a certain inner emotional reaction that cannot be explained, just as we do not necessarily “get” some fine artists.Again,I quote a friend who knew me only a short time, who said after a Beczala Rigoletto, that she never saw me so enthusiastic.
The reason I am posting this is that,with this wonderful new York weather, I had the chance to relax and put on my Apple TV (which gives you a chance to watch Youtube in the comfort of your couch and big screen TV), and I watched the Ingemisco, Pourquoi me reveiller, De miei bollenti spiriti and cabaletta, and Di Rigori,one after another. I do not do such things even with Zinka Milanov…and at one point,those eyes just got watery.
I imagine that there is a certain “communication’ between certain artists and their audiences that cannot necessarily be described fully..just what they seem to do for us…much like watching a film we have seen so many times. (How many tears have I shed at Bogey’s, “Here’s looking at you,kid!”)
Next week the Met will release its complete schedule for 2014-2015, and I think I will end up seeing 17 Ballos and 12 Yolanthas. (Well, I did see every Milanov Chenier, despite Kurt Baum half the time.).
Thanks for listening, but i know you understand where I am coming from. Now tell us..who GETS TO YOU like this????? Charlie
A singer whose voice really ‘gets’ me is Mark Reizen. Sometimes the much less soulful Leonard Warren too -- there’s something in his tone.
Der Mensch hat so eine Stimme -- es drängt in die Tiefe des Herzens!
“…even more borrrrring than usual…” Is that possible?
VAT???????? You DARE to place me..MOI??in the “boring’ category????? Just for that…we will soon be acting out (real bulllets) act Two scene 2 of Onegin…. but when you die, instead of holding you in my arms..like Kwiecien and Piotr..I will sing “Ding dong..the witch is dead!!!!”
Just kidding….I think….
Death is the better option.
Forgive me if this has already been posted, but excerpts from JK’s impending Hoodiereise, er *Winterreise*, are posted at Sony.de:
Released 2.14.14 in Deutschland and 2.17 UK and rest of Europe, along with MET Parsifal DVD/Blu-Ray.
Salzburg Don Carlo and Aridane Auf Naxos foloow on 3.3.14 and MET Faust as well.
Omg he looks super handsome on that album cover!!
Couldn’t help notice…not a curl in sight on that cover…Kaufmann’s revenge?
The Grim Reaper Undertakes the Winterreise, or Dad Borrowed My Hoodie to Go to the Mall. The white crow cutout flapping delicately in the foreground suggests a deodorant ad. Classical CD cover design is truly the pits.
“The Grim Reaper Undertakes the Winterreise…”
Now, now, Bostridge’s Winterreise is hardly news any more……
Bostridge was just one of the undead, La V.
This one’s the real Fourth Horseman.
Hoodiereise and Die Krähe as deodorant commercial……
A marketing concept soon to be featured at the Met Opera Gift Shop.
You guys are on the ball!
I don’t know if anyone here has seen the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham, but this video summarizes what I wanted to say to Ken Ham all the time he was speaking:
I watched the whole “debate.” Mr. Ham was a disaster. He is totally full of shit and made no sense. I am glad he works for the Creation Museum because that’s where he belongs--in KY. Now I will watch Billy Madison (whoever he is).
LOL Clita be warned! Its mostly stuff like this:
Yes it is, but isn’t that insult gorgeous? Btw, here is the whole scene:
Apart from the videos issued by other companies, is Jonas Kaufmann now an exclusive SONY artist?
Yes Quanto I believe he is exclusive Sony artist now.
He is indeed, although you’d never know it from Sony’s current North American promotion. I believe the MET Faust is on Decca, the other videos are on Sony.
Batty what has happened to the Rumpus Room? Is it closed for the winter? Camille do you know anything?
All I know is that Batty relayed to us back in the Intermission Feature a week or, more likely, two Sundays ago that Genevieve had undergone some type of spiritual awakening and had imminent plans to turn the Rumpus Room into some kind of church or temple. There was talk of transmogrification. Sounds rather grim and puritanical to me.
There has been no further word from Batty. I fear the worst. Maybe it’s a rebel sect of Mormon sister wives that has overtaken the Rumpus Room, or rumors of Rosicrucians.
Let us pray for Batty, Genevieve, and the Rumpus Room on Hiway 13 down by the Minimart.
Feldi and Camille, Genevieve has asked me to thank you warmly for your concern, and says not to worry. She is merely engaging in the good ol’ American custom of melding religion with capitalism. (And aren’t the two very close anyway?)
Her spirituality, like that of so many in some parts of this country, is situated in her wallet, and is flourishing: Sister Genevieve’s Full Immersion Tabernacle of the Transmogrified Rumpus Room is doing a land-office business. Baptisms – with the resultant tithings – have been at record highs, especially after the congregation has partaken of her home-brewed Communion Wine, which is always dispensed generously (she calls the process “Dunking the Drunks”).
Does “Dunking the Drunks” include Donuts?
Does Debbie do Dallas, while we’re at it….????!!!!!!
Batty, I weep for the Rumpus Room. SOB!!!!!!!
It seems the new Don Giovanni at ROH is a misogynist fantasy, which in itself is a cliche. I see the Don as a seducer who used to have charm but has lost his touch, and is reduced to forcing himself on women due to his sex addiction. Anyway, this is what Intermezzo says at the “new” production at ROH:http://intermezzo.typepad.com/intermezzo/2014/02/don-giovanni-royal-opera-house.html#more
Manou was surely there -- I look forward to hearing her thoughts on this.
Aren’t you going yourself, Cocky?
I haven’t done anything about it so far, Regina. It does look like a very good ensemble cast though, I shall go and look at dates.
Sold out! I wasn’t expecting that. Oh well, doubtless they’ll revive it straight away next season.
Apparently the performance has cuts in the next to the last scene with Giovanni being dragged down to hell removed, both words and music --
“nothing is resolved at the end of the opera, which is drastically truncated. Rather than being dragged away to any kind of hell, Giovanni is left alone on stage after the Commendatore’s appearance, and the music cuts straight to the final ensemble, which is sung from the wings”
I guess that’s the next thing for opera directors.This is a production by Kaspar Holten, Director of Opera at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and he has given himself authority to remove a section of the music and text that doesn’t fit his concept, or that he doesn’t like, or something. Imo this is completely outrageous and unacceptable. There was a production of Traviata by Konwitschny, brought in from elsewhere that “has lost all its ballet music and some aria repeats”.
Cutting the aria repeats is a bad old tradition that should be abandoned. There is no “ballet music” in Traviata, there is a chorus of gypsies and matadors that may have dancing added to it.
Some operas such as Don Carlos, Faust, Tales of Hoffmann were either left unfinished or come in several different versions and so choices must be made as to what music to perform but there is no excuse for snipping out bits of the music that the director doesn’t think is necessary or doesn’t like or just feels like getting rid of.
To me that is a desecration, abominable, should never ever happen.
“There was a production of Traviata by Konwitschny” at ENO, I meant to add.
You realize you are describing every performance of La traviata and Rigoletto in the Met’s entire history, right?
Though I think in general we should strive to present all the music in the score, I don’t see the point of being dogmatic about it. Plays are done with cuts all the time, and indications of literal repeats in symphonic works are generally left up to the conductor. The Konwitschny was a special case, an adaptation really, with the opera performed as a single act, so the cuts in that piece were not arbitrary or “traditional” — they were decided upon as part of the creative process. The music is still there in the score (just look) and if you are determined to hear the Gypsy Chorus in Traviata you can always cue it up on your iPod on the way home.
What you are referring to La C is snipping out a bar here, a repeat there, as I said that is a bad old tradition that should be abandoned. But I never heard of leaving out the music and text of Giovanni being dragged down to hell before or the “ballet” in Traviata (there is no ballet in Traviata) being cut, this seems to be a sinister new trend.
Yes, with Villazon as Don Ottavio, I’m told. It’s off to Japan so the cast will probably be starrier than the “good ensemble” cast assembled for the new production.
The Konwitschny Traviata at ENO was a bit peculiar, being performed with no interval and with a lot of cuts -- we were all in the pub by 9.30pm. However, although it was taken to extremes, all of them felt like they could be ‘traditional’ cuts -- aside from the choruses of matadors and gypsies at Flora’s party, everything else was stuff you’d be unsurprised to have excised from a 1950s broadcast. And I don’t think cutting those 2 choruses is really in a different category -- even though they aren’t traditionally cut, they don’t move the plot on, so I don’t see how it differs from cutting say the Basilio and Marcellina arias in Figaro. I’m not saying I’m for or against cuts like these -- just that Konwitschny didn’t really do anything shocking.
Cutting a chunk out of the penultimate scene of Don Giovanni does strike me as a different thing if they are removing text at a point in the opera where the drama is fast-paced, and altering the outcome as a result. I’d like to know exactly where the cut is from and til though, and see the show, before condemning it out of hand on principle though.
Regina, this is the second time in a couple of days you’ve spilled a fascinating nugget re ROH 2014-2015 -- got any more?
Grim -- there is a lot of argument over cuts in Don Giovanni and it seems that Mozart himself may have cut the whole of the final sextet, i.e. ending with the the chorus of demons and Don G’s and Leporello’s screams. What Holten does is segue directly from there to the final ensemble “Questo e il fin di chi fa mal”, so you could argue that he is restoring part of a cut that Mozart may have made himself. I’m not sure I find that any more heinous than dropping Elvira’s Act II aria when the “Prague” version is performed. That happens quite often these days, and is certainly justifiable as that’s How the opera was in its original state. It’s undesirable in my view, as the Vienna addition enriches Elvira’s characterisation -- even turns her into an entirely different person. In the Prague version she is a personaggio di mezzo carattere, ie half-comic, half-serious, but In quali eccessi…Mi tradi tips the balance much more in the direction of opera seria and makes her almost equal in stature to Donna Anna. Anyway, I shall go and see for myself. I haven’t so far read a review that makes a strong case for the cut from the dramatic point of view, which would be the only reason for making the cut.
There was a period of about a century when the standard practice was to omit the entire last section of Don Giovanni, with the opera ending in the descent to hell and the D-minor chords (or else, if it occurred to the conductor to end the opera in the same key Mozart did, perhaps a tacked-on D major chord.) Even Gustav Mahler made this big cut as late at 1905 or 1906, meanwhile reordering Act 2 so Don Ottavio and Donna Elvira sang their big arias after Donna Anna’s “Non mi dir.” (Previously Elvira’s aria had been placed following the Catalog aria in the first act.)
As I am sure I’ve said on parterre before, we don’t have much room to criticize others’ musical choices in Don Giovanni when more often than not (and, again, always at the Met) the opera is performed in a corrupt hybrid edition Mozart never sanctioned.
Yes, the cut taken in the Don Giovanni at Covent Garden sounds ghastly, but it’s going to happen for a few dozen performances at the most until this production is retired in (probably) five or six years, since it’s generally regarded as a failure. The music is still there in the score and, as I said above, you have the option of listening to it on your little earbuds on the tube trip home.
Oh, and Cocky, I actually asked Rupert Christiansen about how the finale cut worked, because it sounded so bizarre, and he confirmed that indeed it was the “barbarous” jump from the clinching D-minor chords at the end of the “descent”
to the D-major mock fugue final “Presto”
This seems to me awfully ugly and, missing the intervening G-major, musically unidiomatic. (I haven’t seen it in the theater, so I can’t say how well it plays, but it’s hard to imagine it would go over very well.)
Oh I see -- per Regina’s description of the cut, it seems far less serious than Grim was making out -- you still get all of the d-minor music and all of the text up to the point of what is usually the Don’s demise in a traditional staging. All we’re missing therefore is each set of characters stating how their own respective stories resolve. I think it’s a shame because it’s very beautiful music (esp Anna and Ottavio) but I don’t think it’s a great loss in terms of drama -- I can’t get up in arms about this, really, it isn’t any different from a Bonynge style cut to tighten up the Act II finale of Devereux, or something like that. Sometimes I’m grateful for such cuts, sometimes I think they’re a shame, but I can’t get too excited about it.
Oh I see Regina, thank you for explaining. From the Guardian review and Intermezzo it seemed as if the music and text was cut after the Commendatore’s exit, Giovanni’s struggles, Leporello’s fear, chorus of demons to the final ensemble.
Yes some people maintain that the final sextet was cut in Vienna although that seems unlikely to me (it was against 18th century aesthetics to end a stage work with a violent or tragic death).
The last time Don Giovanni was presented in San Francisco, a couple seasons back, it was presented sans the final sextet and there was a great beating of breast and rending of garments over it at that time. How it actually worked in the theatre, what the reasoning was and/or whom it was responsible for this edition, will best by remembered by the Bay Area correspondants.
Thanks La Cieca for the clarification.
Yes thank you La C for explaining exactly what was cut. It still sounds pretty awful though not as bad as what I thought at first.
Hehe Cocky -- these are only rumours but from quite good sources. The only new production I am oretty sure about is the Mart Kusej Idomeneo with Polenzani as the King, Sophie Bevan as Ilia -- Carol Vaness was apparently unavailable -- and Michael Spyres as Arbace. So that’s at least two Americans in one RO production, one of them in a supporting role! The Kaufmann Chénier is next season too : McVicar directing Pappano conducting and it was supposed to be Westbrok as Maddalena, but that may no longer be the case. More tantalisingly, I’ve heard from two different sources that a) JK will sing his first Otello in Feb 2015 and b) that his first Otello will be at Covent Garden conducted by Pappano. This may be wishful thinking on someone’s part as I have also heard that JK is supposed to have offered his first Otelllo to at least three different conductors. There’s also supposed to be a new Cav and Pag conducted by Tony P with JK as Turiddu and Antonenko as Canio but I don’t really believe we will get three doses of Jonas in one season at Covent Garden. Then there is Kasper’s King Roger starring Mariusz Kwiecien currently starring as Mozart’s “King Rogerer” at Covent Garden
La Cieca -- it is not generally regarded as a failure -- as is fairly customary the reviews are very mixed with some very enthusiastic critics, a few expressing modified rapture and only a couple trashing it. My reading of the overall picture is that the production and cast needs some tweaking for future revivals, but I am sure you are right to assume that the days of productions staying in the rep for decades is over. Zambello’s “popular” staging lasted a decade and had something like 7 changes of cast in five runs. My reckoning is that this one will get two more revivals. According to one review I read, the RO has an American co-producer. Houston in 15/16 maybe?
By the way, Grim -- the Konwitschny Traviata was a brilliant piece of Musiktheater if that’s how you want your Traviata, but I can’t see it getting many revivals. It was certainly less of a waste of time than ENO’s two previous productions by Jonathan Miller -- one of his least brilliant offerings -- and a later one by an Irish director who set the opera against the background of the Irish potato famine, so there were poor people dying of starvation in almost every scene and eventually Violetta joins them,. Konwitschny
There is always the HD broadcast on 12th, which does not seem to have affected ticket sales.
To briefly explain what happens at the end of this production…..
The statue and the Don do not meet: the statue stays on the higher level. There is no grasping of hands. The voices are heard from hell and the houselights rise slightly.
The Don is now alone onstage. The set behind him is white. There is a pause. Voices sing “Questo e il fin” from the pit. The Don remains onstage alone.
In this interview: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/opera/10584510/Mariusz-Kwiecien-the-dashing-opera-hunk-returns-to-Covent-Garden.html Kwiecien talks more about the interpretation. This Don appears to have a breakdown as the opera progresses. Both the voices from hell and the final sextet could be voices in his head. Or the sextet has now become heavenly voices. His white room reminded me of a void, or maybe an asylum. I thought about “la morte e nulla.” His punishment is not the flames of hell, but a vacuum.
I didn’t like every aspect of the production, especially the treatment of Donna Anna, but I am looking forward to seeing it again live and in the cinema.
As an afterthought, wouldn’t Luisotti have agreed to the cut? Or was it his idea? Why are directors always blamed for this? Was it Holten’s idea to put comedic effects and dissonance into Luisotti’s continuo playing?
The cutting of repeats, the corrupt performing editions as ghastly as they were, were at least done and sanctioned by the conductor and musical staff.
The cutting described by La Cieca would seem to be horribly detrimental to Mozart’s key scheme which strikes me as marvelously contrived.
Regina said -
“the Konwitschny Traviata was a brilliant piece of Musiktheater if that’s how you want your Traviata, but I can’t see it getting many revivals. It was certainly less of a waste of time than …a later one by an Irish director who set the opera against the background of the Irish potato famine”
I realise that I am not typical but I actually don’t care very much about the productions, I can always close my eyes and listen to the music and have done so many times. The music is what I am primarily there for and I would hate it, be furious, if I went to Traviata and they left out the chorus of gypsies and matadors. Actually the reality is I would most likely know they were going to cut it and wouldn’t go to the performance or listen to it, I hate the “traditional” cuts of second verses and repeats and exclamations of the other characters as Violetta dies as it is.
The music is what I am primarily there for and I would hate it, be furious, if I went to Traviata and they left out the chorus of gypsies and matadors.
But you did not go to Traviata, and you still can’t shut up about it.
Where is it you have been seeing all these uncut Traviata performances, or do you only complain when you think you can blame a director for the cuts?
“Where is it you have been seeing all these uncut Traviata performances?”
Only once that I can remember, Angela G at ROH , conducted by Solti, that was uncut.
I really hate the ‘Romantic’ 19th century cutting of the final sextet, but it works after a fashion. Barenrboim did it here back in 1986 (Ponelle directed) and I felt somewhat cheated but it worked for the musical interpretation -- dark and menacing, and Barenboim conducted the &*@##% out of the Commendatore scene so it worked.
But cutting these two delicious bars in G Major just after the Don has gone down the stage trap and moving on to the D Major final sextet is plain musical silliness. It doesn’t work textually, tonically or even texturally. Anyway the Ottavio / Anna duettino is really one of the most beautiful musical moments in the opera.
I really like the final sextet and their assertion that all wrongdoers will meet a similar fate to the Don, which I find ironic (I think it’s supposed to be), as if to think, if only -- ? But we know that what happened to the Don is a bit unusual, a bit supernatural. I also like it when Leporello says he will go to the tavern, to find a better master. He could not find a worse one, but is the tavern the best place to go to find a master.
Peter--I like the part when Zerlina and Masetto say they’re going home to have dinner. Of course, I may just be thinking about those tasty brownies over at The Enchanted Island…
Also, Don Ottavio thinks he can get some “comfort now” from Donna Anna, but she tells him he has to wait a year until she can get over her grief. Da Ponte was such a clever librettist and was at the height of his powers in the Don.
Cheers Regina -- that IS a lot of Kaufmann isn’t it, if it does all happen. Not impossible though -- not withstanding the way it turned out, wasn’t Harteros booked for Angelica, Mimi and Desdemona all in 1 season, or was that across 2?
Hopefully this means a new production of Otello, if it is happening.
Grim -- re the chorus of gypsies and matadors. I agree with you about the music, but I usually find the staging of this scene toe-curlingly naff. I don’t think I have ever seen it well done, so it was a bit of a relief that Konwitschny cut it out. It was also amazing what he achieved scenically with a red-curtain and a chair -- that was the setting basically. Corinne Winters was spectacularly good, too. Her dramatic and vocal performance alone made up for any niggles about the cuts. Neither the Alfredo nor the Germont were much above day-to-day ENO routine, but we don’t have any British “Italian” tenors at the mo.
I saw it years ago with the ladies and gentlemen swapped over, so we got a bunch of drag queens singing ‘we are the gyp-sy queens…’ which was probably still toe-curlingly naff but pretty entertaining. I think it may have been ETO.
Here it is without any naff faux gypsies and picadors, what a fabulous piece of music, I often listen to it ten times in a row, but listening to something on a recording is never as good as hearing it live.
Going on the 18th. Incidentally, I would not give up so easily -- keep checking the website and there will certainly be returns (and day seats, too).
Yes, Manou -- I hear quite a few disliked the opening night. At least judging by comments on Intermezzo’s site.
Reading the reviews, it sounds a bit of a mess.
By the way, it is a co-production with Houston Grand Opera. Thank God Holten’s Danish, although London-resident! I’m just imagining a dream cast: Iain Paterson as the Don, Andrew Shore as Leporello, Clare Rutter as Anna, Emma Bell as Elvira, Andrew Staples as Ottavio (he’s singing it in Salzburg, this summer), conducted by Jane Glover!
Rutter takes on the Principessa di Morte next month in Glasgow I see -- wonder whose bright idea that was!
Scottish Opera are a bit desperate these days. Very sad. It used to be a wonderful company, now a shadow of its former self. It’s days as an institution to be taken seriously will be numbered if Scotland gets its independence -- the attitude of politicians there is that opera is “foreign muck”. I’m not optimistic. And this from a company that gave Janet Baker her first Didon, Rosenkavalier, Dorabella in the company of singers like Helga Dernesch -- who sang Brünnhilde for them -- and Elizabeth Harwood. I suppose it could be worse, though. The fate of New York City Opera springs to mind.
Those are brilliant production photos, I have to say- everyone seems to be caught in a moment of dramatic intensity.
Haven’t seen it, so can’t judge, but I agree that the cut in the final scene is musically unfortunate to an extent that what appears on stage would have to be pretty bloody cool. Mainly though, I’m just glad that the Zambello production has gone, since it managed to unite both anti-traditionalists and anti-interventionalists by sitting firmly and unimpressively on the fence. After all, it had an even more exciting original cast than this one- Keenlyside, Ketelsen, Vargas, Poplavskaya, DiDonato and Persson, and it STILL managed to be a dull evening.
Question about the cut section: I’ve never understood why Elvira’s final utterance harks back to ‘Bisogna aver coraggio’. Can anyone cleverer than me help?
I don’t think that was the original cast, Armerj -- that would have been Bryn, Pieczonka, Alan Held, Melanie Diener, Rebecca Evans and Reiner Trost -- it was followed by a second series starring Keenlyside with Christine Goerke, Ildebrando d’Arcangelo, Ana Maria Martinez, Natalie Christie (where is she now) and John Mark Ainsley in the corresponding roles. I think your cast was 2007 or 2008, because Joyce was in the Live in HD cinema broadcast.
Born on this day in 1898 soprano Erna Sack
Happy 77th birthday tenor Wieslaw Ochman
Happy 57th birthday bass Matthew Best
First performance ever of Fanciulla del West at the Bastille in Paris caused a scandal, or a bar-room brawl, in a production by Nikolaus Lehnhoff updated to modern day Wall St and Hollywood, with audience members descending the stairs after the performance and shouting “Shame!shame!” with others shouting back “Shut up you assholes, you just didn’t understand it”.
Well, at least they bothered actually to see the production before making up their minds.
You mean people are still shocked by the production that was already done in Amsterdam and has been available on DVD for several years now?
Well, this is the same publique that flipped out over the Warlikowski Médée from La Monnaie that barely ruffled feathers in Brussels.
Speaking of Belgian opera houses, this is a reminder that the live stream of the ORW Fidelio starts at 19:00 CET / 13:00 EST on Medici.
As reported by La Cieca last November, Jennifer Wilson sings Leonore, replacing the originally announced D. Voigt
Oops -- correction: Livestream starts at 20:00 cet / 14:00 est
On the other hand, the ONLY shocked audience members I’ve seen foaming at the mouth at the sight of the naked Venus in the Carsen Tannhäuser (followed by an orgy with naked people covered in blood), were American tourists. Whad’ya know, to each his own, ain’t it, Chanterelle?
I’d flip if I had to hear HER as Medea too, just sayin……
Well, let’s put it this way: apparently, 95% of the audience present at the performance were completely unaware of this “bagarre” going on on the staircase. My guess is that Ms. Marie-Aude Roux from Le Monde is doing her best to create some buzz around this series of performances.
The Lehnhoff Fanciulla at Bastille has got fairly good reviews, but is not selling well, in spite of Stemme’s name, and the ONP has been offering 30% discounts on the first categories. I don’t think it’s because of the production -some people like it, others hate it-, but because, as Grim pointed out, this is the first time Fanciulla is performed at the Paris Opera, so people are unfamiliar with the work; and, as has been pointed out repeatedly before, people’s decision to purchase tickets for an opera is determined primarily by the title.
BTW, somebody on an opera blog had a nice story to tell about a section of the audience. Since there are cheap tickets to be had, several rows in the first balcony were occupied by primary school kids. They were very attentive and well behaved and they loved the show. They were fascinated by the Hollywood Wild West staging.
Which opera blog? Do share a link…
Merci oedipe! Je me demande depuis longtemps pourquoi je n’avais pas trouvé un tel forum participatoire.
Ah, mais il existe depuis de longues années ce forum…
Amazing that a Puccini opera that has been going up the rankings for at least 40 years now should be perceived as a bit of a risk by the public in one of the world’s great cities.
I was there at the premiere: My impressions: a}about half of the audience (on a very conservative estimate) were disapproving: the applause was only enthusiatic for the chorus, and reasonably warm for Stemme and Sgura, less so for Berti. b)I was unaware of the “fighting in the staircase”. c) I’d previously watched the DVD of the Amsterdam production and found it reasonable watchable, certainly not offensive d)The worst aspect of the show (at least in my impression of it)in Bastille was that the performers ,and particularly the conductor, sounded bored. I believe being boring is the ultimate sin, if you are trying to be provocative (or vulgar) at the same time: I admit this is a complete amateur’s point of view, I’ll add however that I thought the FT review was quite fair.
I haven’t yet seen this Fanciulla, so I don’t have an opinion. But I gather that the people who disliked the production didn’t find it offensive, but poor taste and tacky.
The meaning of “offensive” is elastic anyway, depending on the country one is talking about.
Oedipe -- I saw it in Amsterdam with Westbroek and it’s easy to see why people who love the opera might find it tasteless or tacky, because it’s clear that Lehnhoff doesn’t take the piece entirely seriously on its own terms. He adds a layer of Brechtian alienation and irony, interesting in themselves, suggesting that he either thinks the piece is preposterous pile of hokum if performed by the book or that he had to do something different with it. The whole concept that Minnie is a movie star acting in a Spaghetti Western -- she eventually gets an Oscar for her performance at the end, or that’s strongly implied -- puts the whole piece in an parenthetical framework. It’s never boring though. Act One reminded me of some cowboy-themed gay bars I visited in San Francisco in the 1990s! I have no recollection of a Wall Street scene, though and it seems odd that the action would move to New York when most of it seems to be in Hollywood. I read an interview in which Westbroek said she didn’t much like the staging and much preferred dear old Faggioni at the Garden!
Did you see the Werther, Albertine? And if yes, on which date?
Yes indeed, Oedipe, on the 2nd of February:that’s why I was in Paris in the first place : it was easily the best live performance I’ve ever seen. I think it would be presumptious of me to try to find words of praise high enough for Alagna and Plasson, but the whole team also seemed in a state of grace; the audience response was most enthusiastic throughout. I’ve been incredibly lucky in my choice of date (I think partly because of Nina Stemme) since I usually try to book for an early rather than late performance in the series for Alagna.
I was asking about the date of the performance because this Werther has been going from strength to strength and the February 5 performance was simply miraculous, in spite of a few little “accidents”*. I am still under the influence! Alagna is finally cured of his tracheitis, so he was in great voice and didn’t cough. And his approach to the character has evolved, through subtle and gradual changes, to an incredibly poignant and disturbing incarnation. From the minute he set foot on stage, even before he opened his mouth, the personality of this Werther was clearly defined; at the same time, there was an evolution in the characterization which made the final suicide look inevitable.
But what I found even more remarkable about the 2/5 performance as compared to the prima was the cohesion of the cast and the pure magic that Plasson and the orchestra created. The staging, now 8 years old, is non-interventionist, but the sparse sets, the elaborate lighting and, especially, the director’s work with the singers, the attention given to their most minute gestures and expressions give this production a classic elegance of the highest order. At times, the characters’ interactions on the stage made me think of a nicely tuned ballet. Everybody’s singing has improved too from the prima, and Karine Deshayes has become a convincing, moving Charlotte. Her Act3 monologue was a highlight: even though her mid-register has remained somewhat weak, her high notes were stunning. Hélène Guilemette was a charming, warm-voiced Sophie and Jean-François Lapointe was an appropriately uptight and dull Albert.
I have encountered even some Alagna detractors who have come away from this performance quite impressed. BTW, this is the first time Alagna has sung Werther at the Paris Opera, and only the second time (the first being in Toulouse in 1997) he has sung the role in France. But there will be no broadcast and no recording of either sound or image. I simply can’t imagine this kind of thing happening to a native star singer in Germany, UK, or America! (As an aside, the Paris Opera has never published a DVD or a CD of Alagna during his whole 25+ year career.) Fortunately, some crazy fans recorded long stretches of all the performances. The sound and image are lousy, but without such “pirate” recordings in ten years nobody would even know that Alagna was a great Werther at the Paris Opera.
*A few little accidents: nothing serious, but… In the second act, Roberto stumbled on a “cobblestone” and almost fell on his face. Then, in the third act, some idiots started applauding in the middle of the Poème d’Ossian. Then, the sheet of paper on which the poem was written started rolling down the slanted stage towards the pit and, on the way out to commit suicide, Alagna kicked the rolled sheet of paper with the dexterity of a soccer player. And finally, in the last scene Charlotte is supposed to run across the orchestra section and reenter the stage through a side door, on the way to the house where Werther lies dying. Well, Karine Deshayes came running across the orchestra section, reached the side door and…the darn door was locked! So she turned around and took the hall exit in order to get to another stage door. In the meantime, the orchestra was playing and she needed to make it to the stage in the next few seconds (she did).
I have seen the Fanciulla tonight. More about it tomorrow.
Less amazing, though, than Aida being performed this season for the first time in 40 years!!!
On the other hand, some baroque operas that are unlikely to ever be performed in the US, the UK, or Austria, can be seen at the Paris Opera. So it’s all a give-and-take, I guess. Differentiation in repertory among the top houses is not a bad thing, IMO.
My surprise is at the public’s attitude rather than the programming policy. It’s not as if Puccini is likely to be unpleasant to listen to or boring — though admittedly Fanciulla isn’t a tune-a-minute stuff.
Still, I suppose Marco Berti and Claudio Sgura aren’t exactly huge draws.
Yes, people here have a hard time relating to this opera, both the music and the subject matter (maybe the subject matter more than the music).
They relate more easily to Turandot?
Nope. They worship Mozart. After Mozart come Verdi and Wagner.
It’s a very good thing Oedipe -- most opera houses’ reps are far too samey and they all chase not only the same singers but now the same directors, so you go to Munich and you get more or less the same styles as in Amsterdam, Brussels, and then 10 years late, Covent Garden catches on when the whizz-kids are already old hat.
But Regina, we always have McVicar.
Oedipe -- thank you for such a detailed report on the Werther, I am so kicking myself for not hopping over to Paree on the Eurostar for a matinee now! Grrrrrrr
You can still go tomorrow your Maj…
Thank you so much Oedipe for this extensive account of the 5 February performance of Werther: the one I attended was already awsome, I thought. My previous history of this opera was the premiere in Torino (2005) which was the first time I was seing Alagna live (the 1st night I thought it was slightly work in progress) and then the production in Vienna last spring when Kassarova had replaced Garanca, in which Roberto was already the real thing. But the one I saw now in Paris, it was pure magic. What a shame the performance is not recorded properly.
Jennifer Wilson as Fidelio. Just shut her off. Zero acting, apart from casting the same nasty look all the time. Her big aria was not bad, but she sounded completely uninvolved, and the voice did not really shine. Very little applause afterwards. Horrible orchestra.
I stuck it out to the end, as Fidelio is one of my favorite operas. I unfortunately have to agree re: Wilson’s lack of expressive characterization (eyes locked on the conductor far too often). It was as she received no specific coaching in respect to the fact that the production was going to be televised (however, there does seem to be a quality voice somewhere in there).
Also agree that the conductor and orchestra seemed to be sleepwalking through the score (some horrible horn muffs in act 1, for instance). The production was serviceable, nothing more.
I did quite like Cinzia Forte and thought Hawlata and Todorovich were pretty good, but when the Marzelline is the best thing about a Fidelio, well ……
No accounting for tastes. For me her singing was on a level so far beyond Stemme and the others singing this role now that comparison is meaningless.
Not intended as a criticism, but I wonder Buster how you might have reacted to Flagstad in the role… She too was not known for her riveting acting….
Flagstad did it all with the voice. I find her incredibly moving on the first Bruno Walter recording from 1941, less so on the second one from ten years later, although I like to listen to that performance too, for Walter.
Nothing spoke to me in Wilson’s voice, sorry. I will hear her later this year as the Dyer’s Wife, maybe I like her better live.
Thanks Regina -- always wondered why Wilson is not hired more often here, and now I know one of the reasons.
I’ve seen her in the Ring, Buster, and she was beyond dull as a performer. Magnificent voice, but opera needs more than that IMHO. Her RO Turandot was okay -- and effortless vocally -- but all she has to do in that is scowl and be wheeled around on the RO’s “Sweet” trolley, built to convey Sharon Sweet’s Principessa as they couldn’t find four strong enough strongmen to lift her around the stage!
Speaking of Fanciulla, Mattila says in her ROH magazine interview that it’s the one role she wishes she had done, and that it’s ‘probably’ too late now. I do think she’d have been stunning in that, but I also think she could still get away with it.
lol -- and risk “Grannie get your Gun” put-downs????
She still looks stunning -- taut, blonde and stylish, I doubt it would cross anybody’s mind from the visual point of view. It’d be her singular train-whistle effect on the highest notes, and possibly stamina issues, that’d call the wisdom of assuming the role in to question, IMO.
Maybe she could sing it in Helsinki -- the house there seats about 1400.
Yes, you’re right. She does look wonderful. It annoys me even more that she hasn’t sung Emilia Marty or Katya at Covent Garden. She was supposed to have done Katya, but they transferred her to something else, Fidelio, I think, or maybe Ballo, when another singer dropped out, and we got the forgettable Janice Watson instead.
Born on this day in 1812 writer Charles Dickens
(hard to find video representation of operatic versions of Great Expectations (Argento’s Miss Havisham’s Fire rev. one-acter Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night), Arthur Benjamin’s Tale of Two Cities and Thea Musgrave’s A Christmas Carol)
Born on this day in 1896 tenor Galliano Masini
Born on this day in 1913 conductor Oskar Danon
Born on this day in 1915 conductor Carlo Felice Cillario
Born on this day in 1923 artistic administrator and writer George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood
Happy 81st birthday tenor Stuart Burrows
Happy 75th birthday baritone Norman Welsby
Ilona Steingruber’s Lulu has really grown on me, the past year. That 1949 recording, conducted by Herbert Häfner, sounds like an operetta gone off the rails. Insteading of making the work less frightening, the effect is actually the opposite. Fascinating recording!
Required viewing -- Hunted (Documentary about homophobia in Russia):
While some of you watched Anna Netrebko, we sailed over to BAM for opening night of Billy Budd. Review on Superconductor.
Amazing Alberto Zedda yesterday in Antwerp, conducting Rossini’s Otello for the first time. The 86 year old maestro had lost none of his passion for the composer, and was as animated and brilliant as ever. Rarely did the orchestra sound as ardent and beautiful.
Triumphs for Gregory Kunde (Otello) and Carmen Romeu (Desdemona) too. Kunde was amazing, a powerful, masculine sound, with a beautiful timbre, fearless. I loved Romeu, who looked fabulous in her little black dress, and has a vibrant sound, and a special edge to her voice that suited the character very well, both in the more dramatic passages, and in that stunning third act.
In April, Bartoli and Osborn will do this production (“the fridge Rossini”) in Paris, but Zedda, and this cast should not be missed.
So happy that you were able to attend Zedda’s Otello. He is indeed amazing both as a conductor and a teacher. He has played a big role in the Rossini renaissance ( the most recent one) and people seem to love to work with him.
He also “single handedly” trains the next generation of young Rossini singers at the Accademia Rossiniana in Pesaro, Italy every summer.
Obviously, I’m a fan.
I was happy to be there! There was a loud Viva Zedda! from the audience when the orchestra returned after intermission. People were thrilled to have him back, as they should. He looked a little small for his tux, but I could not believe he was 86! Outstanding first act finale, brilliant second act, with a few singers getting overexcited there, but it all came together in act three, which was a miracle. Romeu there just meltingly beautiful. She is a Pesaro singer, not, like the Emilia, the fine Raffaela Lupinacci?
I have a ticket for a Bartoli/Osborn evening in Paris, but I doubt that will be as exciting as yesterday night.
Thanks for the report, Buster. Lucky you! Did you hear that Zedda fainted during a concert performance of La Donna del Lago last summer in Pesaro? After a short time he returned to the podium in his shirtsleeves and finished the performance.
A few years ago Palm Beach Opera brought in Zedda to conduct L’Italiana, and he raised the (usually mediocre) playing level of the orchestra by several notches. They also allowed him to pick some of the singers, and he cast two Pesaro regulars in the lead roles (Enkelejda Shkosa and Lorenzo Regazzo).
My pleasure -- for the Zedda/Otello fans:
For those who have ordered tickets for this years Festspiele I went into the box office yesterday and asked about the stand of things. They said they are overwhelmed with requests and it will take between 4 and 6 for them to sort things out and then to do a lottery as to who gets what. No need to call up or write before that since the longer they are held up the longer it will take. The things most in demand are Tosca, Macbeth and Forza and for those who ordered things other than that, it looks very promising. The Tosca was the first thing to sell out on the Saturday of the counter sale. For Macbeth it took longer since everyone was only able to buy two tickets instead of the regular 4. So everyone just needs to be patient.
Born on this day in 1906 bass-baritone Ferdinand Frantz
Born on this day in 1912 soprano Ilona Steingruber
Born on this day in 1914 tenor Giacinto Prandelli
Born on this day in 1915 conductor Newell Jenkins
Born on this day in 1927 opera stage director Nathaniel Merrill
Happy 71st birthday baritone Malcolm Donnelly
This is for Camille who asked about her a few days ago.
Gun-Brit Barkmin kann, mit einigen Anzeichen von Anstrengung, mit Defiziten in der Tiefe, die Salome absolut singen (wenn sie es auch extrem wortundeutlich tut), und das will etwas heißen. Aber sie tut es „vom Blatt“, und das, was sie sich als Gesten eingelernt hat, mag vielleicht an sich „richtig“ sein, wirkt aber nicht sonderlich interessant. Der Tiefpunkt ist diesbezüglich der Tanz – mit seinem halben Königreich hätte Herodes schwer überzahlt, der war nicht einmal ein kleines Ringlein wert. Die Dame ist nicht fürs Feurige. Doch seien wir gerecht – ein (nicht ganz nachvollziehbarer) Jubelsturm empfing die Sängerin am Ende: Es ist offenbar noch eine wirkungsvolle Partie, selbst wenn man ihr eine Menge schuldig bleibt…
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