Cher Public

  • lorenzo.venezia: yes, Grim. that’s what I meant by “and conflicting imperial claims of other European monarchs (e.g. Bourbon... 8:14 PM
  • quoth the maven: um…in NO way acknowledging etc etc 7:45 PM
  • quoth the maven: Falstaff is ultimately integrated into the group that has taught him his lesson, in an ensemble that emphasizes that... 7:44 PM
  • irontongue: About that Joan Crawford award – we’ll see who should get it after next summer’s Jenufa, hmmm? 7:41 PM
  • quoth the maven: Hold it, Batty. Just because it’s “not the only way of seeing these things” (by which, I assume you... 7:39 PM
  • grimoaldo: Trying to reply to lorenzo on nationalism, it is a long thread, I am not sure where it will come out - “The biggest... 7:30 PM
  • armerjacquino: lorenzo: you shame me. My degree was in Italian and my specialisation was 19th century. Again my apologies, this time for... 7:18 PM
  • lorenzo.venezia: Armer– oh dear. how to parse this one… First, Italian nationalism: the only time the peninsula was ever “united”... 7:14 PM

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.

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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 »

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, given a new staging for the 2014 Salzburg Easter Festival and released here on DVD by Unitel Classica.  The production also celebrated Strauss’s 150th anniversary.

Arabella, the sixth and final collaboration of Richard Strauss and librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal, is frequently considered the stepchild of Strauss’ wildly popular Der Rosenkavalier, and indeed it contains many similar elements—Viennese setting, instantaneous passion, a specific courtship ritual.  Read more »


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.

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Table bodied

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The dark side of the moon

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

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Speer pressure

One of the things that made François Girard’s 2013 production of Parsifal at the Met so compelling was the way he tried to make the tale of suffering and temptation relevant to a contemporary audience.

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