Anna Netrebko once said about her early years: “I was brave, and I had a nice clear ringing voice which was always heard very well. But I was not any kind of artist at all.” This candid assessment of herself is something to keep in mind while watching the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Audition Grand Finals which were held yesterday afternoon. Without fail, all nine finalists had nice clear ringing voices. Whether they develop into great artists is another question. Read more »
Is Manon Lescaut a cold, clinical tale of the splendors and pitfalls of transactional sex, or is it a romantic Italian opera at its most lush and melodic? Actually, it’s both. There’s always been a disconnect between Domenico Oliva and Luigi Illica’s adaptation of the Prévost novel and Puccini’s music. The libretto is episodic, with the title character portrayed as a calculating courtesan who abandons her lover des Grieux “without even a kiss goodbye.” This is however Puccini’s most romantic score. It swells with romantic ardor at every moment.
The director of a new DVD of this opera, Jonathan Kent, favors the transnational, exploitative aspects of the opera. His production is updated to modern times, and the opera begins at a seedy red light hotel. Manon Lescaut moves from a quick initiation into the sex trafficking world to being a spoiled porn star. Read more »
There might be nothing in the world as joyous as a Rossini overture. Il Signor Bruschino is considered one of Rossini’s minor works but about 30 seconds into the overture you are officially in “Rossiniland” (the theme of this new video staged by the Pesaro Rossini Opera Festival in 2012). The violins tap the orchestra stands in a persistent knocking sound and the piece just bubbles along until its inevitable accelerating crescendo.
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The annual Richard Tucker Gala is probably the event of the year to indulge your love of verismo staples and can belto screaming.
Enthusiasts of Janácek’s opera will want to pick up this video immediately.
The production by Sebastian Baumgarten is the type of regietheater that’s not a rethinking or reconstruction, but just a hot mess.
It’s fun to wonder what might have happened if Rossini had never composed Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Would Giovanni Paisiello’s earlier adaptation of the work be a repertory favorite? Or would it have faded into obscurity with an occasional revival here and there?
The Metropolitan Opera yesterday afternoon was an uncommonly cozy place, as the auditorium was packed to the rafters with friends and family members of the nine National Council Audition Finalists.