Friday, October 22, 2010

Doge Boccanegra to land in Strasbourg next Sunday

As you probably know by now, I'm not crazy about Verdi unless his operas are produced in a way that their sometimes 'cheap' musical side is compensated by clever staging solutions.

With that being said I must say that I was pretty lucky recently. I've seen superbly produced two of my least favorite Verdi's: Rigoletto by Barrie Kosky at Komische Oper in Berlin, and the positively mind-boggling Aida by Calixto Bieito at Theater Basel.

Add to that two extraordinary productions of La Traviata [one by Christoph Marthaler at Opéra Garnier in Paris, and another by Hans Neuenfels at Komische], the most unforgettable Macbeth by Krzysztof Warlikowski at La Monnaie/De Munt in Brussels (one of the best opera shows ever!), a very good Otello by Andreas Kriegenburg at Deutsche Oper Berlin -- I have no reason to complain about Verdi.*

On a less fortunate side, I'm yet to see an interesting production of La forza del destino or Un ballo in maschera. Don Carlo could be done more audaciously too [historically, it's outrageously inaccurate anyway so there's lots of room to play...]

Simon Boccanegra is another opera by Verdi that I've never seen well produced. It's regularly either heavy or pretentious, exhibiting all the problems of typical opera by Verdi -- suspended heavy dramatic action and if the director does not try to give some depth to the libretto, the result is invariably boring. Hopefully Keith Warner will be able to add that extra chemistry in his new Simon Boccanegra which will open next weekend, Sunday, October 24, at Opéra National du Rhin in Strasbourg.

The cast looks very promising, with Sergey Murzaev, Andrew Richards, Nuccia Focile, Michail Ryssov and others, and a very talented Rani Calderon will be conducting.

To get a first hand insider-look on the production please see the blog entries by Andrew Richards here, here, here and here.

Here is a freshly posted trailer, evidently filmed during the piano rehearsals:

Ed: Yours Truly managed to score a ticket for that premiere but it's unclear if I could stay till the curtain calls (if I want to use my Miles)... So more on this show on Sunday evening/Monday morning.

 * The only opera by Verdi that I like "no matter what" is Falstaff. That score is a musical treasure: you could tell it was a fruit of dedicated research on making positive interference of various musical patterns as to give color and dynamics to an already lively storyline. 


  1. Andrew Richards is wearing a caftan? Is he Mrs. Roper in this production?

  2. Gotta dash... Thank you for a good laugh :)

  3. I just started reading your blog. Just wanted to comment that I'm glad someone in the opera world feels the same way I do about Verdi.

  4. Well gain one, lose one. Lost me with the Verdi diss. Bye.

  5. Sorry for that. When did you see me dissing Verdi? There are some Verdi operas I like and some I don't. Those that I don't really like can be made sound wonderful if/when appropriately produced (Rigoletto and Aida are perfect examples I mentioned above). That's not dissing.


  6. Did you see the Christof Loy Boccanegra at Frankfurt a few seasons back? I saw it in the spring of '07 and loved it. I thought a "Loy minimalism"--sparse furnishings, palette of black, white, and crimson--worked strikingly well for the drama. Still, I was coming into it without previous knowledge of opera or director (I am ashamed to say) so I probably missed out on a lot of subtleties which contributed to how it worked, or didn't work... was curious to know if you had thoughts on it.

  7. yes, you are so right - unimaginative opera productions can be soooo boring.
    i was involved in a uninspired/traditional/pedestrian production of otello in mid america.
    the dvd of a salzburg production (stephen langdrige) made the opera sizzle for me.
    is the paris traviata you refer to the one with schaefer and kaufmann - with the lawnmower and yard furniture in act ii? - that was spectacular!

  8. Hi Lucy! I didn't see the Boccanegra by Loy. Loy can be good but not always, and it's certainly troubling when you see it for the first time (esp if you're used to flashy productions).
    I just arrived to Strasbourg and hope today's show will be good.

    Hi Belelvino! Yes, yes that the Paris Traviata I had in mind (with Schaefer and Kaufmann). I missed that Otello by Langridge. Will look for it soon. Thanks.