Cher Public


Stephen Mead AKA “Grimoaldo” saw his first opera aged six when his mother took him to see “Lucia di Lammermoor” because she is Scottish and the opera has a Scottish subject and she could get reduced price tickets because the company was using our church hall as a rehearsal space. He fell in love with the form then and has been a devoted opera goer ever since, attending many hundreds of live performances at many European and American opera houses. He is a fanatical devotee of the operas of Handel and Verdi and also enjoys operetta and many lesser-known French operas. For years he worked in England as a lecturer in adult education on the history of opera and classical music and also gave per-performance talks for operas being performed in London.

Bella come un tramonto

boheme-amazonTwo recent DVD issues of Italian operas by Puccini are both set in Paris, both have second acts in cafes/nightclubs, and both have stellar performances in crucial leading soprano roles. La Bohème, first seen in 1896 in Turin, has been since its premiere one of the world’s most popular operas, with its  tale of love, highjinks and tragedy among young artists and working girls. This performance was filmed at the Puccini festival at Torre del Lago, an outdoor venue, in 2014. Ettore Scola, veteran Italian film director, who died earlier this year, had directed only one opera before in his life, but was chosen for this production which also features real life partners and lovers tenor Fabio Armiliato and late, lamented Daniela Dessì, both very famous in their native Italy due not only for their operatic work but for television appearances as well. Read more »

Sybil, shepherd

SaulAt first glance, when I opened the package that contained this DVD, I thought the cover said David and Jonathan, a work I have enjoyed for years, by the French Baroque composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier, whose music I am very familiar with.

A closer look showed this to be incorrect, it is the first of two operas by Danish composer Carl Nielsen, whose work I am not familiar with at all, Saul and David, which I never heard of, never mind actually heard, before.

I felt flattered that our doyenne La Cieca felt confident in my ability to assess this recording of a production by David Poutney for the Royal Danish Opera of this piece unfamiliar to me, but please bear in mind that this review is written by a complete newcomer to the work.   Read more »

Call me Madame

“To play La Pompadour—what a delightful task! To be La Pompadour—what a gruesome fate!” Thus spoke operetta superstar Fritzi Massary after researching her role as Louis XV’s official mistress in the Leo Fall operetta Madame Pompadour, which was written as a star vehicle for “die Massary” and had its first, hugely successful, performance in Berlin in 1922, followed by runs in Vienna and London. Read more »

Kraus purposes

Perhaps there are not that many people in the world who would look at a CD cover and think “Oh, goody, goody! A libretto by Eugène Scribe I’ve never come across before!”

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Bo, concept

The surprises, and puzzles, of Dmitri Tcherniakov‘s production of Don Giovanni in this DVD of a performance at the Aix-en-Provence festival begin before a note has been played or the curtain has risen.

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Hell night

I got quite a surprise when I opened the latest packet of goodies from La Cieca – a DVD of Orphée aux Enfers, but in German as Orpheus in der Unterwelt.

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Doing it again

The 19th century could not cope with Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti (Thus Do They All, or The School for Lovers)  with a libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte and music by Mozart, first presented in Vienna in 1790.

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And to top it all off, the volcano erupts

the strip on my first and, so far at least, only visit to Las Vegas a few years ago, I noticed what to me was a most unexpected sight and startled my companions by pointing out the window and shouting “Auber!”

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