There is something so very Don Draper about René Pape. The German bass is blessed with one of the most beautiful, sonorous instruments of all time. There is never a hint of a Bayreuth bark about Pape’s voice—it is rich, deep, loud, like a fine Cabernet Sauvignon. When he first came on the opera scene everyone swooned over that beautiful voice. But just as Don Draper refuses to curry favor with anyone in his life, Pape has proved to be a stubborn, mystifying artist. Read more »
I always think of Don Giovanni as half of the greatest opera ever written. Or, actually, about 2/3 of the greatest opera ever written. The first act is a masterpiece of the operatic canon. There’s sex, there’s danger, there’s suspense, there’s humor, and there’s absolutely great music. And there’s also a wonderful sense of ambiguity—for instance, what exactly is Don Giovanni doing in Donna Anna’s bedroom? is it a rape, or something else? Is Zerlina really just a naive young thing? “Batti batti bel Masetto” has such an artificial, coy feel to it that you have your doubts. All of these events converge in the suspenseful Act One finale. Read more »
One of my favorite terms to use to describe productions nowadays is “regie lite.” Regie lite productions dominate Glyndebourne, Salzburg, and increasingly, the Metropolitan Opera. Traditional stage directions are tweaked, periods are reset, but not in a way that radically deconstructs the work. If hardcore “regie” directors do a Michael Jackson total-deconstruction makeover on the opera, regie lite productions do a, well, Nancy Pelosi botox session. After viewing a new DVD of Stefan Herheim’s production of Rusalka, I’ve got a new category: “regie slick.” Read more »
The appeal of Ariadne auf Naxos (for me anyway) is the acknowledgment that underneath it all, opera (and all other forms of “high art”) is really show business.
A good performance of a Rossini opera buffa usually bubbles along merrily.
It’s rare to encounter a video of an opera that has zero redeeming qualities, but I think I might have found it: the latest Arena di Verona La Traviata.
Bel Canto at Caramoor is something that I’ve always wanted to attend but never have because … well because frankly I’m just too lazy during the summers, and I’m also a big baby about outdoor performances.
The Salzburg Festival has long had the image of this place where for a little over a month, the very best singers are brought together with the very best conductors and the very best directors to create the very best productions the opera world has to offer.
Some ideas are so absurd that the only way to describe them is to simply use the liner notes.
Once upon a time, a man and a woman met. He could sing, she could sing. They fell in love, got married, and became a power couple to rival Billary.