For all their orchestral and vocal attractions, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s 15 operas are rarities in the West. If The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh is staged in an upcoming Met season as rumored, it will be the theater’s first representation of the composer’s music since 1945 (The Golden Cockerel), and it took The Tsar’s Bride 112 years to make it to Covent Garden.
“Hailed ‘the Meryl Streep of opera’…” begins one sentence of a promotional piece for a Diana Damrau recording of another opera, reproduced on the soprano’s website. This is a lofty claim, but I considered it as I watched Erato’s DVD memorializing the last of five 2013-14 Traviata productions (New York, Zurich, Munich, London, and Paris) in which Damrau sang her first Violettas.
There is, of course, a superficial similarity. Both women are attractive, refined blondes with German roots, and both can appear elegant or plain as a role requires. Both impress offstage as merry women and good storytellers, engaging in conversation and interview (I remember years ago hearing Damrau talk about the role of Strauss’s Sophie, and although she joked and laughed a lot, there was nothing frivolous about her insights). Both are admired technicians and hard workers. Read more »
There aren’t many opera video releases that can be recommended without reservation. There’s always an “on the other hand.” Beautiful, intelligent productions are often hampered by a weak or so-so cast. Or wonderful singers are hampered by a nonsensical, boring, incoherent and/or turgid production. The Deutsche Oper Berlin’s new release of Janácek’s Jenufa is that rare combination of a video release that combines excellent musical values, detailed acting, and a thoughtful production. Enthusiasts of Janácek’s opera will want to pick up this video immediately.
Christof Loy’s production takes a fairly non-interventionist approach to the opera. He begins by having Kostelnicka led onstage into what looks like a jail cell, with stark white walls. The opera is her flashback. The same white room is the unit set for the entire opera, but there is a back panel that opens up to reveal cornfields. Read more »
The winter 2014 final run of the Met’s first/only Rusalka production (a new one is scheduled in a few seasons) seemed both a nod to the theater’s past and a hint of its future.
The production by Sebastian Baumgarten is the type of regietheater that’s not a rethinking or reconstruction, but just a hot mess.
You might be surprised, though, when that title turns out to be Show Boat.
Beginning with the dark, ominous music of the prelude of Charles Wuorinen and Annie Proulx’s opera Brokeback Mountain, we know we are in for a very different and far less sentimental version of the work than was had with Ang Lee’s iconic 2005 film.
Contemporary stagings of Parsifal tend to be spare, abstract affairs scrubbed of religious associations, knights in armor and, sometimes, a grail.
A confession: I have a real love/ hate relationship with Mozart’s Die Zauberflote.