Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Die Walküre in Paris (take two)

I love this opera and I feel sorry for not having gone to see it more often than just a couple of times during this run at the Paris Opera.  This is a refined production, made by a German, a production which clearly relies on the director's huge life and theater experience.

Ricarda Merbeth, Philippe Jordan, Katarina Dalayman and Thomas Johannes Mayer

I saw the premiere and I managed to score a ticket to see the last show too. Like at the premiere, I was very impressed by the singers/actors: scenically they all seemed to be even more at ease than on the premiere, while vocally  they unleashed their pipes free for the last show. It was a real treat!

I thought Falk Struckmann would be our Wotan for the last show, but no  -- it was again Thomas Johannes Mayer who remains my biggest surprise of this Walküre. He can sustain the same level of singing throughout the whole performance. It's towards the end where he delivers his best, with the voice that remains fresh. His volume is maybe not matching his female costars, but a Wotan with this level of stamina and courage to attack every note at any moment of the show  is a rare gem.  Katarina Dalayman is definitely a smashing Brunnhilde: her voice is fresh, beautiful and powerful and no vibrato. Add to that her unmatchable breathing technique and you can only say:  Katarina rocks! Yesterday, Ricarda Merbeth sang the entire role with such a stunning power and conviction that it will take long time for me to see anyone beat this Sieglinde. I beat in a few years from now she'll be excellent Brunnhilde too. 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Countdown to Черняков's Don Giovanni in Aix-en-Provence

You've certainly noticed that Dima Tcherniakov is one of my fave directors, so I obviously expect a lot from his new Don Giovanni which will be premiered in 4 days at Théâtre de l'Archevêché in Aix-en-Provence -- Thursday, July 1st

 Dmitri Tcherniakov during one of the rehearsals of his new production of Don Giovanni in Aix [photo by ArtComArt]

What do we know?
  1. We know the cast and I think it's awesome: Bo Skovhus, Kyle Ketelsen, David Bizic, Colin Balzer, Marlis Petersen, Kristine Opolais, Kerstin Avemo, Anatoli Kotscherga, and an excellent conductor, Louis Langrée, will lead a very good Freiburger Barockorchester.
  2. Here is a link to the gallery of more than 40 photos taken during the rehearsals [photos by ArtComArt] It looks promising... and I can tell the ultra-conservative French traditionalists will boo it [which is of course good! ;) ]
  3.  I remind you that the third show will be live broadcast via Arte Live Web on Monday July 5. [embedded after the jump]

Thanks to ArteLiveWeb...

I skipped the recital of Felicity Lott & Ann Murray in Musée d'Orsay in Paris because there were so many opera to see. Arte Live Web comes into help. They recorded the evening and made it available to all of us on this link (including all of you outside France and Germany)

If you like the songs by Schumann, Brahms, Britten, Poulenc, Porter, Barber, Fauré, Hahn, Saint-Saëns, Lehrer, Rodgers,  Lehmann, or Cole Porter (!), you can enjoy 80 minutes of cool singing by 2 dive who have all the experience needed to sing this repertoire (second part of the concert is particularly good!):


Brilliantly sung Elektra in Baden Baden: Jane Henschel rocks, Thielemann at his best

Elektra is one of my absolute favorite operas, and the Martin Kusej's production that you can find on DVD is to me the best production of this opera ever, and one of my most memorable operatic experiences. It's excellently sung, marvelously played, and the universal thread of this drama is perfectly projected to our time: a dysfunctional family background made Elektra to be the way she is -- a dysfunctional angry person-- living in a nasty suburb. Viewed through that prism the story of Elektra speaks to us on so many different levels, question our attitudes, our certainties and our points of view. In doing so Kusej never  made Elektra look like a monster, which is unfortunately the most often image projected by unintelligent directors... OK, I shouldn't go too far in praising Kusej, but if you get to see that DVD -- it's a gem.

Final scene from Wernicke's production of Elektra in Baden Baden

Friday, June 18, 2010

Gatti conducts - Christine Schafer shines

Mahler's Symphony #4, Théâtre du Châtelet - Paris, June 17 2010

Christine Schafer

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Paris hearts Joyce

Les grandes voix: Joyce DiDonato,   Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, June 16 - 2010

David Zobel and Joyce DiDonato

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Delicately produced Pelléas and Mélisande

Pelléas et Mélisande, Opéra Comique in Paris, June 14 2010

Conductor  Sir John Eliot Gardiner
Directior  Stéphane Braunschweig

Pelléas Phillip Addis
Mélisande  Karen Vourc'h
Golaud  Marc Barrard
Arkel  Markus Hollop
Geneviève  Nathalie Stutzmann
Yniold  Dima Bawab
Un médecin  Luc Bertin-Hugault

Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique

Monday, June 14, 2010

Macbeth in Brussels: The best Warlikowski so far?

Macbeth, La Monnaie/De Munt, June 13 2010

Krzysztof Warlikowski

music direction  Paul Daniel 
direction  Krzysztof Warlikowski 
set design and costumes  Małgorzata Szcześniak 

Macbeth         Scott Hendricks 
Lady Macbeth    Iano Tamar
 Banco        Carlo Colombara
 Macduff     Andrew Richards 
Malcolm        Benjamin Bernheim 
Dama di Lady Macbeth     Janny Zomer 
Servo / Medico / Araldo     Justin Hopkins 
Sicario      Gerard Lavalle 
Apparizione     Jacques Does

La Monnaie Symphony Orchestra & Chorus

Saturday, June 12, 2010

La donna del lago: excellent singers in a godawful production

La donna del lago,  Opéra Garnier, Paris, June 11 2010

Roberto Abbado    Conductor
Lluís Pasqual    

Juan Diego Florez 
Giacomo V (Uberto di Snowdon)
Simon Orfila 
Duglas d’Angus
Colin Lee 
Rodrigo di Dhu
Joyce DiDonato  
Daniela Barcellona 
Malcolm Groeme
Diana Axentii 
Jason Bridges 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Aspettando la Donna del lago c'è la Joyce DiDonato

La Donna del lago [or La dame du lac, as it was duly translated into French ;)] is expected to open next Monday, June 14, and so far no detail about the production leaked to the press. The show will take place at Opéra Garnier, which is a big theater but not as big as Bastille ==> the situation with tickets is absolutely insane. To score a ticket for one of the shows in June is literally impossible. The show was sold out months in advance and if/when there is a couple of tickets returned there are immediately dozens of people emerging from nowhere, assaulting the box office, ready to pay whatever the price just to get those tickets. You don't see this kind of craziness in Opera these days...

Joyce on France2 singing the final rondo from La donna del lago - June 10, 2010

Don Giovanni - Or sai che orrore

Don Giovanni, Théatre des Champs-Elysées, June 9 2010

Jean-Claude Malgoire conductor
Pierre Constant director

Nicolas Rivenq  Don Giovanni
Laurent Naouri  Leporello
François Lis Il Commendatore
Donàt Havàr  Don Ottavio
Sandrine Piau  Donna Anna
Véronique Gens  Marie-Camille Vaquié  Donna Elvira
Ingrid Perruche  Zerlina
Christian Helmer  Masetto

La Grande Écurie et la Chambre du Roy
Ensemble Vocal de l'Atelier Lyrique de Tourcoing

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Summer Opera Festivals on Arte

Summer is approaching fast and many good old summer Opera Festivals too.

Arte TV will live broadcast two interesting new productions [and France2 one more]:

Krzysztof Warlikowski at La Monnaie/De Munt: the world's most talked about director in one of the coolest opera houses

His opera productions between 2004 and 2009 --when Gerard Mortier was at the head of the Paris Opera [and when Paris Opera mattered in the world of regular theaters too]-- spurred many strong reactions among public. Those who liked his shows loved them, and those who didn't they hated them.

At the very core of his theater is a generic notion of human suffering -- even if the shape or form changes, deep down it's always about suffering. He was already an important theatrical name before producing operas, but the way he shook the opera world was quite extraordinary.

My first encounter with his work was his production of Iphigénie en Tauride in Paris, which for many inexplicable and often irrational reasons, remains one of the most fascinating shows I've ever seen. It was emotionally and mentally disturbing even though there was nothing shocking in or about the show. Add to that a weird scene of Krzysztof coming up on stage after each show to rake all the angry boos -- it all made the event memorable and surreal. His goal is clearly not to please everyone, but rather to invite us to explore something new. That magic often works, but sometimes it doesn't -- in any case his audacity and the way he resets theatrical language to reconnect it (in his own way!) to the antique theater is most certainly fascinating.

His theater is modern on many levels, with many contemporary references  (especially cinema related), but with most disturbing rhythms you could find in theater: most of the "action" is faster/slower than you'd want it to be.

When he produces a show for some theater in Paris (that is not an opera) it's not only strange that his so peculiar shows are sold out long in advance, but for an opera-goer like me it's like a shock to see a massive presence of young and very-young people in the crowd.

Why all this story about Krzysztof Warlikowski? His new opera production is to be premiered next Friday at La Monnaie/De Munt in Brussels [the exemplary well managed opera house!]. It will be Macbeth, with Scott Hendricks, Carlo Colombara, Andrew Richards, and Iano Tamar.

Aimez vous Debussy? Towards new Pelléas at Opéra Comique in Paris

Opéra Comique in Paris is preparing to unveil their last new production this season: Pelléas et Mélisande, produced by Stéphane Braunschweig The premiere is scheduled for next Monday - June 14.

While his recent Ring in Aix was swinging from OK-ish [Die Walküre] to downright bad [Die Götterdämmerung], and his Don Carlo --remember the opening of the 2009 Season at La Scala?!-- turned into a global operatic failure [nevertheless released on DVD], I believe Brunschweig will be excellent in a more introspective work such as Debussy's Pelléas. In any case, this is one of the shows not to be missed this month in Paris.

A sneak peek at the Braunschweig's Pelléas et Mélisande -- Opéra Comique in Paris

Here is a short trailer...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Genoveva at Pleyel with Anne Schwanewilms, Matthias Goerne...

Genoveva (in concert), Salle Pleyel, Paris, June 7 2010

Anne Schwanewilms as Genoveva

Jun Märkl  conductor

Anne Schwanewilms  
Matthias Goerne  
Matthias Klink  
Birgit Remmert  
Markus Marquardt  
Hidulfus / Drago
Gun-Wok Lee  
Jae-Hyong Kim  

Orchestre National de Lyon
Choeur de l'Orchestre de Paris

Monday, June 7, 2010

Free stuff

  • Franco-German TV Arte, via Arte Live Web, offers to all the viewers worldwide:

    1. Two concerts performed by Orchestre de Paris and Ensemble intercontemporain at Pleyel in Paris and conducted by Pierre Boulez, are available here and here. Always reliable --even if sometimes opinionated ;) -- fellow blogger Musica sola, who's a big fan of Boulez, wasn't happy about the Orchestre de Paris...
    2. Paavo Järvi who'll become the artistic director of Orchestre de Paris --and we're very looking forward to that change!-- made a great impression with (his) Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra in a performance of the Symphony #6 by Bruckner, 2 weeks ago in Frankfurt. Arte filmed it and the full video recording is available here.
    3. Also recently in the Frauenkirche of Dresden took place a concert/Hommage to Schumann by Staatskapelle Dresden, with Daniel Harding conducting. Full video of that concert is avalable here
    4. If a funny-ish one-man-show in French about Carmen might interest you, then you may wish to see Olivier Martin-Salvan in his show O Carmen, recently recorded at the Théâtre du Rond Point in Paris. If so, here is your link.
  • Medici tv proposes --also for free-- the opening concert of Festival St.Denis: Mass by Schubert and Requiem by Cherubini, performed by the Orchestre National de France, conducted by Riccardo Muti and with classy soloists: Topi Lehtipuu, Luca Pisaroni and Elin Rombo. Check out here
  • I updated the programs for 2010-2011 in European opera houses. 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A kékszakállú herceg vára: from Petra Lang with love

Bluebeard's Castle (in concert), Pleyel, Paris, June 4 2010

Petra the Great

Philippe Jordan conducted Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, while our fave Petra Lang sang the role of Judith, and Peter Fried was Bluebeard. Did we like it?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Neuenfels' Traviata at the Komische Oper

La Traviata, Komische Oper Berlin, May 21 2010

   Conductor Lutz Rademacher
   Director Hans Neuenfels

Violetta Valéry Brigitte Geller
Flora Bervoix Elisabeth Starzinger
Annina Caren van Oijen
Alfred Germont  Peter Lodahl
Georges Germont Anton Keremidtchiev
Gaston, Vicomte de Letorière  Adrian Strooper
Baron Douphol  Hans-Peter Scheidegger
Marquis d'Obigny  Ingo Witzke
Doktor Grenvil  Tilmann Rönnebeck
Der Zuhälter  Christian Natter
Joseph  Jan Proporowitz
Ein Kommissionär   Matthias Spenke

Daniel Barenboim - Fryderyk Chopin

Thanks to Federica, I learned that Daniel Barenboim was a guest on Rai-Tre last Sunday, May 30, in the prime-time show Che tempo che fa. The entire show can be found on this link. It's a little more than 36 min long and if you like Daniel you'll like the show too.

Barenboim promotes his new book about Chopin and the show was naturally about Chopin.
N.B. a prime-time talk-show on national television about Chopin! Gotta love that. ;)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Otello in Berlin (2)

  • Apologies to all of you who I owe an e-mail -- (i) I so suck in catching up with mails, (ii) I was really-really extra  busy

If you can make it and go to Berlin to see this new Otello, you should. With all the FANTASTIC shows at the Komische oper [by far the best opera-theater in the World!], there is no better place to spend several days and see well produced, challenging and inspiring opera-shows.

As I mentioned in my post about the premiere of Otello in Berlin, contrary to my habits, I decided to stay for the post-premiere party at the Deutsche Oper.

Così fan tutte - euh, ça passe

Così fan tutte, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées (TCE), Paris, June 2, 2010

Ceiling at the TCE

Jean-Claude Malgoire   conductor
Pierre Constant   director

Rachel Nicholls   Fiordiligi
Lina Markeby   Dorabella
Robert Getchell   Ferrando
Joan Martín-Royo   Guglielmo
Nicolas Rivenq   Don Alfonso
Anne-Catherine Gillet   Despina

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

L'Etoile in Berlin: scintillating music in too sweet a show

L'Étoile, Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin (UDL), May 19 2010

Conductor  Sir Simon Rattle 
Director  Dale Duesing
King Ouf I.  Jean Paul Fouchécourt 
Lazuli  Magdalena Kožená 
Princess Laoula  Juanita Lascarro 
Siroco  Giovanni Furlanetto 
Prince Herisson de Porc-Epic Douglas Nasrawi 
Aloès  Stella Doufexis
 Tapioca Florian Hoffmann

Staatskapelle Berlin

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Die Walküre ride in Paris: supreme singing in a wonderful production by Günter Krämer

Die Walküre, Opéra National de Paris - Opéra Bastille, May 31

Philippe Jordan Conductor
Günter Krämer Director

Robert Dean Smith Siegmund
Günther Groissböck Hunding
Falk Struckmann Thomas Johannes Mayer Wotan
Ricarda Merbeth Sieglinde
Katarina Dalayman Brünnhilde
Yvonne Naef Fricka
Marjorie Owens Gerhilde
Gertrud Wittinger Ortlinde
Silvia Hablowetz Waltraute
Wiebke Lehmkuhl Schwertleite
Barbara Morihien Helmwige
Helene Ranada Siegrune
Nicole Piccolomini Grimgerde
Atala Schöck Rossweisse 
Gertrud Wittinger Ortlinde