Headshot of La Cieca

Cher Public

  • "I asked for examples of productions or new opera that addressed important..." - armerjacquino
  • "I asked for examples of productions or new opera that addressed important social..." - redbear
  • "Never saw her live unfortunately. Based on her recordings and broadcasts, I can think..." - PCally
  • "I haven’t heard that performance. JML is completely write however about Sills..." - PCally
  • "If a young Amara showed up at the Met these days, she’d own the place. They..." - danpatter
  • "Rolandi it was. Maybe it was Hale who was Cesare. Ah yes, the lovely Ashley..." - mjmacmtenor
  • "You had some nice experiences at NYCO then. The Guilio Cesare revival would..." - whiskey per tutti
  • "Working on it…. httpv://www.youtub e.com/watch?v=X2Wm _oaaCGg" - m. croche

Grail mix

Contemporary stagings of Parsifal tend to be spare, abstract affairs scrubbed of religious associations, knights in armor and, sometimes, a grail. Modern dress, stylized gestures and suggestive symbols are supposed to help audiences navigate Wagner’s mystifying tale of redemption.  Stephen Langridge’s 2013 take for Royal Opera, now available on Opus Arte, is an especially grim, heavy handed specimen that doesn’t show a great deal of confidence in the music or the audience.   There’s misery at nearly every turn, with the music functioning for long stretches as accompaniment to an almost cinematic treatment of suffering and fear. While some of the imagery may be riveting, there is little sense of the hero’s spiritual development, or what makes the Grail brotherhood tick. Read more »

Magic “Flute”

A confession:  I have a real love/ hate relationship with Mozart’s Die Zauberflote.  I have always found its music to be an unfortunate mix of the sublime and the cloyingly cutesy.  I abhor the trend toward Disneyfied productions of this opera, usually to establish it as “family-friendly” (another term I abhor.)  So I must admit I was a bit dismayed when I opened La Cieca’s package to me and found this DVD of a 2014 production at the Dutch National Opera.

Happily, I find this production to be the best Zauberflote of my experience, because it takes the trials of Tamino and Pamina very seriously, making their quest to find love a genuinely human experience and a very human effort to determine the nature of good and evil.

Read more »

The devil is in the details

Certain operas are better in theory than practice. Boito’s Mefistofele has some undoubtedly fine tunes, and is perhaps neck-and-neck with Boris Godunov as a top bass star vehicle. But as an opera, it only works in fits and starts. For one, the fidelity to Goethe’s Faust gives the libretto a rather episodic, detached feel.

Gounod’s Faust might be a lot cheesier but it’s also more tightly focused and thus better theater. Boito’s opera has some some stunning choral work in the Prologue and Epilogue, a famous tune in Margherita’s lament “La altra notte” and an extremely enjoyable “Walpurgis Nacht” act but also a lot of filler. It’s not a long opera but it feels endless.   Read more »

Arabella_amazon

Coming out

Christian Thielemann’s spirited, precise conducting and the superb, sumptuous playing of the Staatskapelle Dresden are the finest features of this strongly cast performance of Strauss’s Arabella.

Read more »

capuleti_amazon

Star, crossed

The key to enjoying Bellini’s I Capuleti e Montechi is to do a hard factory reset and reformat your brain to forget all other works based on Romeo and Juliet.

Read more »

rigoletto_amazon

Table bodied

Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Read more »

trovatore_amazon

Flame war

The role debut of a world-class singer is always a time of great anticipation, hopefully to be followed by celebration, if not unbridled jubilation.

Read more »

capriccio_amazon

When I have sung my songs

Soprano Renée Fleming is certainly making the role of the Countess in Richard Strauss’s final opera Capriccio the focus of her late-career years.

Read more »

giovanni_macerata

Juan and two

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.

Read more »

rusalka_amazon

The dark side of the moon

After viewing Stefan Herheim’s production of Rusalka, I’ve got a new category: “regie slick.”

Read more »