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  • CwbyLA: Thank you very much for these selections coloraturafan. What would we do without you? I always look... 1:27 PM
  • isoldit: I am so glad you have a wealthy mother, she is in the minority, you are lucky you were born with a... 1:23 PM
  • overstimmelated: (Meant to add:) …although I would be the first to admit that “that aspect of... 1:22 PM
  • overstimmelated: The new procedures are outlined on the website now: http://metopera.or g/metopera/cont... 1:17 PM
  • Feldmarschallin: Rue Georges Mandel 36. I have been there many times. She was the best. 12:55 PM
  • mercadante: While I understand what you mean by Regie-lite etc. but that seems to imply that some directors... 12:55 PM
  • Ilka Saro: Yes, a combo of Ms Chase of Broadway, with a nod to Mr. Piave. ;) 12:54 PM
  • guy pacifica: Worth noting in the overview of upcoming Boston opera performances is the Boston Symphony... 12:36 PM
  • Ilka Saro: Sounds like the famous Horne repartie from inside her cavernous egg costume in her La Scala debut... 12:35 PM
  • atomicwings: How else is the asp going to bite her? 12:31 PM

Final chapter

Richard Strauss’ Elektra has always been something of a touchstone opera for this reviewer.  It was one of the first operas I attended at the Met (Birgit Nilsson’s return in 1980—I still have her “Orest!” ringing somewhere in my brain).  It was the first full opera recording I ever bought (Nilsson, Solti) on cassettes that I still have in my collection.  My other live Elektras include Ute Vinzing, Hildegard Behrens and, most recently, the excellent Christine Goerke in Chicago.

But none of my previous Elektra experiences prepared me for this stunning, overwhelming performance from the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, with brilliant and incisive stage direction by Patrice Chéreau (his final opera staging before his death in 2013).  Esa-Pekka Salonen leads a superb cast and the Orchestre de Paris in a reading of Strauss’ score that doesn’t stint on the powerful climaxes yet brings out all the musical textures—there are, of course, the booming brass-and-drums moments, but Salonen also finds the thrilling quiet moments.  The playing and singing in the Recognition scene are exquisitely sweet.   Read more »

Fatal attraction

Benjamin Britten’s final opera Death in Venice, based on Thomas Mann’s 1912 novella, is given a lush and quite beautiful production from stage director Deborah Warner for the English National Opera in this Opus Arte DVD filmed in 2013. Featuring almost magical settings by Tom Pye, luminous, wind-blown fabrics and water projections lit by the heat and sun effects of the lighting by Jean Kalman, the production gives an almost perfect frame for Britten’s tale.  But for all the beauty and appropriateness of the frame, the picture itself is, for this reviewer, a deeply flawed masterpiece. Read more »

A tsar is torn

Let’s face it—there is no operatic suffering like Russian operatic suffering.  In Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, all the Russian people starve and suffer, but none has suffering like the mental agonies of Tsar Boris.  Now add to this suffering the sharp edge of a modern police state setting and numerous acts of violence brought by Catalan director Calixto Bieito, and you have one of the darkest, gloomiest, and bleakest performances of Boris Godunov ever, a Bayerische Staatsoper production from Munich 2013, released by Opus Arte.  Read more »

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Take another little piece of my heart now, baby!

George Benjamin’s 2012 opera Written on Skin received great acclaim at its opening at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, and the Royal Opera quickly mounted it in March 2013.

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On the beach

The sea, the sky, the wind, the storms that are so frequently depicted in the music of Benjamin Britten are brilliantly illuminated in the new DVD of Peter Grimes on Aldeburgh Beach, a collaboration between Aldeburgh Music, film director Margaret Williams, and stage director Tim Albery.

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Submerged

As part of the celebration of the three-year long restoration of the Theatre Royal de Liege (and, from what we can see in this DVD it is a glorious restoration indeed), the Opera Royal de Wallonie went all the way to find as Belgian an operatic experience as was possible.

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Lake, placid

Having recently reviewed Glass’s The Perfect American on this site and participated in spirited discussions about the film Saving Mr. Banks, it is perhaps not surprising that Walt Disney should spring to my mind as I watched the Unitel Classica video of Die Zauberflote from the floating stage of the Bregenzer Festspiele.

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When owls attack

Philip Glass’s 25th opera The Perfect American was originally commissioned for New York City Opera during the aborted regime of Gerard Mortier.

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Game theory

I first became aware of the work of Austrian film director Michael Haneke a few years back when I followed a tip from a friend and rented the well-reviewed The White Ribbon.

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Lots of Gluck

De Nederlandse Opera’s remarkable 2011 feat of premiering productions of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Aulide and Iphigénie en Tauride on the same day and virtually the same set has been issued on a 2-DVD set by Opus Arte.

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