Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Next weekend: Rigoletto a Mantova

After Tosca in Rome, La Traviata in Paris, RAI TV is preparing Rigoletto in Mantua (very close to Verona) that will be live broadcast to more than 100 countries next weekend. The show will be split in two days and the broadcast is scheduled for Saturday 4 [at 20:30 (cet)], and Sunday 5 September [at 14:15 and 23:30 (cet)]. Check your local listings...

It is supposed to be fully live and it will be directed by Marco Bellocchio. Even though Marco is a brilliant film director, I don't expect much from his operatic adventure as these mammoth-size projects are regularly in the claws of traditionalists.

Rigoletto is not my fave Verdi at all, but since this will be a global operatic event I wouldn't want to miss it either.

The RAI Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by Zubin Mehta, and Placido Domingo will be  Rigoletto (!) for the whole weekend. Julia Novikova will be our Gilda, Vittorio Grigolo  The Duke of MantuaRuggero Raimondi Sparafucile, and Nino Surguladze Maddalena.

The above pic is a collage of 4 photos taken during the rehearsals by C. Giglioli, and below is one with Placidone, plus a 'long' trailer.

Ed: Videos available on YouTube - click here

When can you tell CD is dead?

When you see exposed --at the central part of the Classical Music section of the FNAC in Paris [Les Halles]--  Katherine Jenkins' new CD and/or Carmen with Andrea Bocelli.

It was bound to happen with all kinds of digital supports developed over the past decade, with more and more of us interested in pure-unedited sound (instead of ironed, filtered, edited, equalized... recording that rarely reflects the sound we get in theater), and finally reconciling opera with what it should be: image with sound.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Celle qui aimait Wagner in cinemas in May 2011

Roberto Alagna is a cast member of the movie called "Celle qui aimait Wagner", directed by a French director Jean-Louis Guillermou. Shooting is underway. Besides Alagna (as Josef Tichatschek), the cast includes Jean-François Balmer, Julie Depardieu, Stéphane Bern, Arielle Dombasle.
The story is apparently about a woman who works at the supermarket, who's a passionate admirer of Wagner and his music, and she tells the story about Wagner... 

Je baille déjà...

Opera Festivals 2010: Aix does it better

And so the Summer of Opera Festivals 2010 is over. It's been good even if somewhat surprising that the most interesting things happened in July (and not in August).

General impression: There are far too many festivals. Many city mayors across Europe support the Opera Festivals financially because they are good for their (cities') image, it's a bonus for tourism, it helps creating some jobs...
I want to believe that quantity implies a few quality productions every year, although this year wasn't particularly good example (except perhaps in Aix).

I believe the (main) purpose of Opera Festivals should be to propose new stuff, to define new directions in performing and staging the well known operas, and to bring to our attention good contemporary operas as well. It's hard to counter-punch that argument without questioning the artistic purpose of Opera Festivals altogether: one may as well extend the standard operatic season and include a couple of more operas in your usual Opera Houses and pretend they were success!

I am perfectly aware that matching the artistic intentions with your financial capacities is very hard, but that's what distinguishes good from mediocre Festival directors, i.e. good from mediocre festivals.

With that in mind,  The Best Festival 2010 was undoubtedly the one in Aix-en-Province:

Bayreuth 2011, Bregenz 2011

It looks strange to see the Bayreuth Festival program without The Ring of the Nibelung on it. You may already consult the program of the Festival in Bayreuth 2011. We note:

  • Tristan und Isolde directed by Christoph Marthaler will be back on in 2011. If you decide to see it on DVD, please do try and see it more than once -- it is necessary. I would also suggest a chapter written by Slavoj Zizek in "In Search of Wagner" because they both [Marthaler and Zizek] opened a new view on Tristan.  
  • Stefan Herheim's historic production of Parsifal will be back, as well as the Neuenfels' Lohengrin - rats! Ah yes, Die Meistersinger will be getting more tired in their last run next year [Rise your hand if you liked this production! - What? Nobody?!]

In Bregenz, instead, they will present a new production of Andrea Chénier on their big stage [to replace Aida that was on for last two years] floating on the lake Konstanz. The show will be directed by Keith Wariner [who'll also replace Kasper Holten as artistic director of the Danish National Opera in July 2011]. Their indoor opera next year will be Miss Fortune (Achterbahn), a new opera composed by Judith Weir, co-produced with the Royal Opera, CG. The show will be directed by Shi-Zheng Chen, and Paul Daniel will conduct.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Belcanto fans...

Here is your treat 2010:  Olga Peretyatko electrified the Rossini Opera Festival by the finale of  "Le Nozze di Teti e di Peleo" and the video is appended to this post. Enjoy!

Salzburg 2011: Easter and Summer Festival

As we all know the Salzburg Festival celebrated its 90th anniversary this year. But besides the Summer Festival, Salzburg also hosts the Easter Festival [initiated by Herbert von Karajan (not fave) in 1967], and so every year you may hop to Salzburg for your Easter holidays and enjoy a series of concerts and one new opera production. There is a snag however: the seats are prohibitively expensive, but since the shows are co-produced with regular opera houses you can opt for a more affordable solution and see the same production at co-producer's.

Last year the Paris Opera was a co-producer and so we could see a hideous production of Niccolo Giommelli's opera Demofoonte [dir. Cesare Lievi, cond. Riccardo Muti] at Palais Garnier.
This year the opera production was Die Götterdämmerung [dir. Stéphane Braunschweig, cond. Simon Rattle] which was premiered at the Festival in Aix-en-Provence 2009, and was pretty awful too.

To break the spell of awful productions the organizers decided to engage Stefan Herheim and Heike Scheele (who else?!) and propose in 2011 a new production of Salomé -- with Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle, and the cast: Emily Magee, Iain Paterson, Pavol Breslik, Stig Andersen, Hanna Schwarz. Two shows are scheduled for April 16 and 25 2011.

I heard that two other opera houses co-produce the show, one of which is supposedly Semperoper Dresden. If anyone knows more about this, please do share it with us...

As for the Summer Festival 2011...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Operadar: Sigismondo Pesarese

One festival we didn't see [and maybe should have] is the Rossini Opera Festival (ROF), which every year takes place in Rossini's native town of Pesaro.

The main event of this year's festival was the rarely staged/performed opera Sigismondo. It was broadcast on the Rai Radio Tre, I listened to it and it's like your usual Rossini...

Salzburg 2010: Assorted pics (3) - austroduck mozart and...

OK, some more pics to fit with a title of this blog... But before, here is a pic of that `hideous' squeaky thing that I also found at the shop of the Modern Art Museum [always in Salzburg]. Its name is apparently austroduck mozart [and its price-tag says ~10€] :-)

Salzburg 2010: Assorted pics (2)

Now, what is wonderful about Salzburg is that you can have your relaxing, and yet active, holidays in the surrounding mountains. Since they are only 30-50 km (~30 miles) away from the city center, you can spend a few days like that: tracking and enjoying the countryside during the day and go to see an opera in Salzburg in the evening.


Salzburg 2010: Assorted pics (1)

Here is the first of two posts containing a selection of assorted pics I took in Salzburg 2010. Hope they give you a bit of Salzburg flavor and you decide to go and see it all yourself next year. If you book your hotel (and even better, various bed & breakfast deals!) in January or February, you may get some good deals and staying in Salzburg will not be expensive.

This is a central street of Salzburg downtown. It's always lively pedestrian-area, touristy, but pleasant anyway. When you cross the bridge you can find a street very similar to this one [that other street is called Linzer-Gasse]. Still this central street remains more attractive because in the middle of it you'll find the birth-house of Wolfgang A.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Salzburg 2010: Dionysos très dithyrambique

Mojca Erdmann and Johannes Martin Kränzle

Dionysos, August 8 2010, Haus für Mozart, Salzburg

Ingo Metzmacher ..... Conductor
Pierre Audi ..... Stage Director
Jonathan Meese ..... Set Design

Johannes Martin Kränzle ..... N.
Mojca Erdmann ..... First Soprano
Elin Rombo ..... Second Soprano
Matthias Klink ..... “A Guest” / Apollo
Virpi Räisänen ..... Mezzo-soprano
Julia Faylenbogen ..... Contralto
Uli Kirsch ..... “The Skin”

Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus

Fascinating Dido by Malena Ernman

I already blogged about the empirical evidence that a successful (good, witty, well assembled...) production of a French opera in Paris is extremely rare. I even believe to have understood why it is so, but discussing it now would take me far from my summerish light mood... On the other hand, if you see any English opera title in Paris don't miss the chance to see it: English operas in Paris are regularly meticulously produced, with a grain of audacity, and with superbly composed production teams...

No, no, this post is not about my beloved Fairy Queen either. It's about a production of Dido & Aeneas, that was premiered at the Paris' Opéra Comique in December of 2008, and then nearly a year ago released on DVD. Besides the fantastic Les Arts Florissants and legendary William Christie, the cast of this magnificent Deborah Warner production included Malena Ernman, Christopher Maltman, Judith van Wanroij, Hilary Summers, Lina Markeby...

And there you discover again that incredible talent of Malena Ernman's (another Swedish miracle) that we've admired many many times so far  (see in particular her sensational Julie [see also this]) Visit her [very] personal website.
She must be the most talented, wittiest, funniest... hardworking singer today. A great artist!

Why do I talk about this? Because I met today someone whom I offered that DVD of Dido & Aeneas almost a year ago --someone who's not at all into opera-- and who today thanked me for the most memorable moment of refined musical beauty (just when I thought my present must have finished on a shelf collecting the dust...)

The following video-clip is... well... just a video-clip. You need to converge to Dido's lament and feel all your foundations shaken up.

Malena Ernman, singing When I am laid in earth (preceded by Thy hand, Belinda)

    Thy hand, Belinda, darkness shades me,
    On thy bosom let me rest,
    More I would, but Death invades me;
    Death is now a welcome guest.

    When I am laid, am laid in earth, May my wrongs create
    No trouble, no trouble in thy breast;
    Remember me, remember me, but ah! forget my fate.
    Remember me, but ah! forget my fate
Many singers recorded this aria but I believe, besides Malena Ernman, the recordings of Janet Baker, Lorraine Hunt, and Véronique Gens (yes, yes!) are somewhat above the rest...

If you looooved Malena as Dido, you might wish to check out Ah! Belinda, I Am Prest With Torment 

This is also a Wilkommen post to a fellow blogger, Likely Impossibilities, who recently moved to Vienna and who will keep us posted about what's on in Operatic Austria -- at least during 2010-2011.  

Malena will sing in a new production of Semele (dir Robert Carsen) at Theater an der Wien  which opens on Sept 15th (but I suspect the tickets are impossible to get)

Try to remember the kind of September...

That's it! This tune [Try to remember...] is now in your head for the day :)

On we go, smoothly immersing to 2010-2011...

Below you can find my selection of events (classical music and opera) to see in Paris this September.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bayreuth 2010: Die Walküre - Webcast, Saturday, August 21st

Just to remind you that Die Walküre will be live broadcast from Bayreuth next Saturday, August 21 starting from 16:00 (cet).

You can see the details on this link.
Basically, you need a good internet connection and you should buy a ticket [14,90€] and then you can see the show live and as many times you wish until September 5. The production is directed by Tankred Dorst and is not good but the orchestra and singing are good, so...

The story behind this production is that Lars von Trier (fave!!!) was supposed to direct this Ring --which would have been his first opera-- but at the very last moment he declined to do it, leaving the direction of the Bayreuth Festival in a complete and total panic. Dorst saved the day with his instant-made production, so I don't want to be too harsh and say what I really think about his show ;)

Now, is it worth your 15€/ticket? I believe it is (especially if you can share it with somebody!):  Christian Thielemann knows his Ring very well and even though you won't be able to feel the depth of the sound you'd have experienced if you were in auditorium, his Ring is still very special. Plus it's well sung. Finally Die Walküre is always better to listen to while watching it too [even if Tankred Dorst directed it;)] Another reason (admittedly half-lame!) is that the same show will be edited and released on DVD early next year and will cost ~40€...

Bayreuth 2010: More pics, more info [Taff!]

I am still to blog/review  Dionysos and Parsifal, but since I have a zillion things to do while here...

In this entry I pack up  some photos and info/rumors I collected in Bayreuth 10 days ago.

This is how the theater and its surroundings look on a sunny day. What surprises me always --when talking to German wagnerophiles-- is the way they perceive this Festival: They still see it as a "popular" event, while on the site it looks just the opposite to popular, i.e. ultra-bourgeois. It's charming and very pleasant, but popular definitely not!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday: Fidelio from Lucerne with Nina Stemme, Jonas Kaufmann, Peter Mattei... and Claudio Abbado

To cheer up your cloudy/rainy Sunday, you may wish to listen to the radio broadcast from the Lucerne Festival where the Mahler Chamber Orchestra conducted by a living legend, Claudio Abbado, will perform Beethoven's Fidelio (I don't know which version!) tonight [Sunday, August 15th] at 21:00 (cet).

A knockout cast includes: Nina Stemme, Jonas Kaufmann, Peter Mattei, Falk Struckmann, Christof Fischesser, Rachel Harnisch, and Christoph Strehl.

From the Lucerne Festival web-site: photo taken last Thursday during the first "Fidelio" concert

Even if you don't have bad weather today, I think this concert is worthy 2 hours of your time tonight. The press talks about the most unforgettable performance, so...

Here is the link to the Swiss radio DRS. Enjoy!

P.S. If you miss it tonight there will be a rerun on another radio station [link here] next September 4 at 20:05.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

3 important DVD releases

I am happy to see that Deutsche Oper Berlin reacted fast and the excellent production of  Rienzi, directed by Philipp Stölzl and with superb Torsten Kerl, Kate Aldrich, and very good Camilla Nylund, Ante Jerkunica, Krzysztof Szumanski, and especially with the World's best chorus (!), will soon appear on your Amazon: UK [end of August], Germany [early September], US-Canada and France [end of September]

I saw the show in February, and very much enjoyed the whole experience -- a clever staging in particular. A big question is how much of it they were able to properly capture on DVD, but in any case this is a DVD to have in your collection!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Salzburg 2010: Elektra - Show 2

Elektra, August 12th 2010, Grosses Festspielhaus, Salzburg

Max Ernst - lithograph, 1939

Daniele Gatti ..... Conductor
Nikolaus Lehnhoff ..... Stage Director

Waltraud Meier ..... Klytämnestra
Iréne Theorin ..... Elektra
Eva-Maria Westbroek ..... Chrysothemis
Robert Gambill ..... Aegisth
René Pape .....Orest
Oliver Zwarg ..... Orest's Tutor

Vienna Philharmonic
Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Salzburg 2010: Why did Lulu sink!?

Lulu, August 11 2010, Felsenreitschule Salzburg

Patricia Petibon in Act-3 of Lulu in Salzburg

Marc Albrecht ..... Conductor
Vera Nemirova ..... Stage Director
Daniel Richter ..... Set Design

Patricia Petibon ..... Lulu
Tanja Ariane Baumgartner, Countess Geschwitz
Cora Burggraaf ..... A Theatrical Dresser, A High-School Boy, A Groom
Pavol Breslik ..... The Painter, A Negro
Michael Volle ..... Dr. Schön, Jack
Thomas Piffka ..... Alwa, Dr. Schön's son, a composer
Franz Grundheber ..... Schigolch, an old man
Thomas Johannes Mayer ..... An Animal Tamer, An Athlete
Heinz Zednik ..... The Prince, The Manservant
Andreas Conrad ..... The Marquis
Martin Tzonev ..... The Theater Manager, The Banker
Emilie Pictet ..... A Fifteen-year-old Girl
Cornelia Wulkopf ..... Her Mother
Astrid Monika Hofer ..... A Woman Artist
Simon Schnorr ..... A Journalist
Gerhard Peilstein ..... The Professor of Medicine, The Professor, The Police Officer
James Cleverton ..... A Servant

Vienna Philharmonic

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Congrats to David Afkham!

For some time I've been raving about a hugely talented young conductor,  David Afkham, and in today's Daily [daily paper of the Salzburg Festival] we learn that he's won the best young conductor award in Salzburg. On behalf of the Jury that included many famous conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Franz Welser-Möst (FWM)...

 David ‹— FWM

FWM said
David Afkham proved his ability in a unique way, and is a worthy winner for the first 'Nestlé' and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award.

I am sorry that I won't be able to attend his concert here in Salzburg, next Saturday (August 14th) at the Felsenreitschule, where he will conduct the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra in a performance of works by Ligeti, Beethoven, and Shostakovich. Hopefully Boulezian or Musica Sola will - so check out for their reports.

Notice that David Afkham will conduct Orchestre National de France at Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in a performance of the Symphony #10 by Shostakovich - December 2 2010.

Salzburg 2010: Verona at the Felsenreitschule - Trebs and Piotr rocked the house!

 Triumph after the memorable premiere: Beczala, Netrebko, Sher, Nézet-Séguin, Petrenko, Braun, Spyres

Roméo et Juliette, August 10 2010, Felsenreitschule, Salzburg

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Conductor
Bartlett Sher, Stage Director

Anna Netrebko ..... Juliette
Piotr Beczala ..... Roméo
Mikhail Petrenko ..... Frère Laurent
Darren Jeffery ..... Le Comte Capulet
Russell Braun ..... Mercutio, friend to Roméo
Cora Burggraaf ..... Stéphano, page to Roméo
Michael Spyres ..... Tybalt, nephew of Capulet
Susanne Resmark ..... Gertrude, nurse to Juliet
David Soar ..... Le Duc de Vérone
Mathias Hausmann ..... Le Comte Paris
Andrei Bondarenko ..... Grégorio
Adrian Strooper ..... Benvolio, nephew of Montaigu

Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra
Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Salzburg 2010: Don Giovanni

Center of Salzburg -- next to Tomaselli café. Look at the banner...

Don Giovanni, August 9th 2010, Haus für Mozart, Salzburg

Yannick Nézet-Séguin ..... Conductor
Claus Guth ..... Stage Director

Christopher Maltman ..... Don Giovanni
Dimitry Ivashchenko ..... Il Commendatore
Aleksandra Kurzak ..... Donna Anna
Joseph Kaiser Joel Prieto..... Don Ottavio
Dorothea Röschmann ..... Donna Elvira
Erwin Schrott ..... Leporello
Anna Prohaska ..... Zerlina
Adam Plachetka ..... Masetto

Vienna Philharmonic
Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus

Monday, August 9, 2010

Salzburg 2010: Une Elektra électrisante

Look how the city of Salzburg was getting ready for the premiere! One of many banners all over the city...

Elektra, August 8 2010, Grosses Festspielhaus, Salzburg

Daniele Gatti ..... Conductor
Nikolaus Lehnhoff ..... Stage Director

Waltraud Meier ..... Klytämnestra
Iréne Theorin ..... Elektra
Eva-Maria Westbroek ..... Chrysothemis
Robert Gambill ..... Aegisth
René Pape .....Orest
Oliver Zwarg ..... Orest's Tutor

Vienna Philharmonic
Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bayreuth Festival 2010: Parsifal

Hi from Salzburg [I loved Dionysos ;)]!

Bayreuth was a crazy experience.

Day 1: I was supposed to come 30min before the show started to pick up my ticket for Lohengrin. After a series of delays (plane, train...) I arrived only 10 min before the show and the person who had my ticket was afraid I wouldn't show up and has SOLD my tic to one of many "Suche Karte"-ers. Damn!
My part in my own malheur:  I forgot to switch back my iPhone from the freaking Airplane mode and obviously didn't answer the series of phone calls from the person holding my ticket in Bayreuth...

Arriving to Bayreuth was extra-awful as it was freezing cold, windy, rainy... Really bad!

Day 2: Life can change from one day to the next. Day 2 went on much better: the weather was beautiful and I could see my beloved production of Parsifal. I'll write a short review on it tonight or tomorrow morning... Even though I saw the same show last year it still takes time to sift all the ideas Herheim had thrown in his best show ever.

Gatti further slowed down the Act-1 --wrt to last year-- and it took him more than 1h50 to wrap it up. You need a perfect orchestra to be able to do that (and they were indeed perfect!), and although it must be hard on the singers (imagine the effort to control the breath!), the result was glorious -- it unfolds the richness of the score in an unusual way...

Tunc vale..

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Salzburg 2010: Lulu, Richter...

Even though it's not my first trip to Salzburger Festspiele I'm getting increasingly excited [taking off tomorrow]  ;)

The reason?! You might have already noticed that I'm an admirer of fine art -- I try and find the stuff I like in any style but I most resonate with modern and contemporary art -- so the program in Salzburg this year looks like a perfect hit to me: Daniel Richter created the sets for Lulu, and Jonathan Meese for Dionysus. Now combine these creations with live theater and a good/dramatic opera, and you get my dream-Lulu.

Cut from "Daily": Patricia Petibon and Vera Nemirova after the premiere of Lulu

I tried not to read any review about Lulu, to keep my enthusiasm [and potential surprises] intact. I did, however, google about Daniel Richer and came across the following video:

Aix 2010: Pygmalion (3)

A quick look back at Aix 2010 [yes, I still have that Don Giovanni wandering in my head!]: I noticed that Oedipus Tyrannus posted the video of Pygmalion on YT.

It is a very refined visual show, musically nearly perfect, and even if you're not too much into dance (such as the case with me) I believe you could appreciate the supreme delicacy combined with "naturalness" of Trisha Brown's  choreography. All four singers are impeccable and Les Arts Florissants & William Christie are at their best. I blogged about this twice already: here and here.

Could there be a better tenor in this repertoire than Ed Lyon?!

Brussels, June 13 2010

Even if you don't particularly like baroque, you cannot but give in to this beauty. It's only 50 min long, and split into 7 videos: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7 . Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bregenz Festival 2010: The Passenger you can never forget

The Passenger/Die Passagierin [opera by Mieczyslaw Weinberg], July 31 2010, Festspielhaus Bregenz

Musical director ...... Teodor Currentzis
Director ...... David Pountney
Martha, polish woman Prisoner in Auschwitz 19, on the ship 34 years old ...... Elena Kelessidi
Lisa, german woman in Auschwitz 22, on the ship 37 years old ...... Michelle Breedt
Walter, Lisa's husband, diplomat 50 ...... Roberto Saccà

Tadeusz, engaged with Martha Prisoner, 25 years old ...... Artur Rucinski
Katja, russian partisan Prisoner, 21 years old ...... Svetlana Doneva
Krzystina, polish woman Prisoner, 28 years old ...... Angelica Voje
Vlasta, czech woman Prisoner, 20 years old ...... Elzbieta Wróblewska
Hannah, Jew Prisoner, 18 years old ...... Agnieszka Rehlis
Yvette, french woman Prisoner, 15 years old ...... Talia Or
Old woman, Prisoner ...... Helen Field
Bronka older prisoner, 50 years old ...... Liuba Sokolova
1st SS-officer ...... Tobias Hächler
2nd SS-officer ...... Wilfried Staber
3rd SS-officer ...... David Danholt
Steward ...... Richard Angas
Boss ...... Heide Capovilla

Wiener Symphoniker, Chorus of the Prag Philharmonic

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bregenz Festival 2010: RESPECT

Festival in Bregenz is maybe less famous than those in Salzburg, Bayreuth, Aix, or Glyndebourne, but what David Pountney does there for years already is simply awesome.

Bregenz is a small --and very posh-- Austrian town on Bodense (Lake Constance), situated almost within walking distance from both Switzerland and Germany. Many learned about the Bregenz festival through the 007 movie Quantum of Solace, where a good part of the action occurs during a performance of Tosca on their big floating stage spectacularly set on  Bodensee.

Every two years they change the sets (and obviously the show as well), the grandeur of which never ceases to attract tourists. If that can invite more people to discover opera, I say go for it! Last year they premiered the Graham Vick's production of Aida  -- now available on DVD -- and so the same installation is still there this year.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Salzburg 2010: Elektra approaching fast...

The main event of this year's Salzburg Festival is supposed to be the new production of Elektra,  directed by Nikolaus Lehnhoff and with our fave Daniele Gatti conducting the Vienna Philharmonic.  I guess I'm not too much enthused as the show will take place at the Grosses Festspielhaus, which will certainly dilute the impact of the music. To that add Lehnhoff, who's not exactly what I like the most in opera, although I appreciated his Lohengrin, Parsifal, Tannhauser, and even Tristan. All of these productions were important as they went a step beyond the conventional reading but the substance was somehow missing... Also important is the fact that Lehnhoff is appreciated by traditionalists so his productions prepared them to stomach more creative works such as those by Herheim, Warlikowski, Bieito, Kusej, and even those by Guth, or Carsen...

Theorin and Westbroek as Elektra and Chrysothemis [photo ©Baus]

The cast is the most appealing element of this Elektra: Waltraud Meier (Klytämnestra), Iréne Theorin (Elektra),  Eva-Maria Westbroek (Chrysothemis), Robert Gambill (Aegisth), René Pape (Orest). 

Good news is that there will be a radio broadcast of the show scheduled for August 21 at 19:30 (cet) on this link.
Ed:  I don't know whether or not Norma with Joyce DiDonato as Adalgisa will be broadcast from Salzburg. If I find out anything in Salzburg I'll post it here.

I realize many people around me often misunderstand the directors' intentions in various productions of Elektra, and it's usually because they are not familiar with the background story of Electra and her fatherS. I hope you won't find this post too patronizing (please don't!), but rather helpful (?) 

Salzburg 2009 (2)

Now I'll be more specific about the Festival.
You book your tics BEFORE going there. You fill out the web form in February and it all works very smoothly. If you forgot to book your seats for some of your favorite shows on the program, there is a good probability to buy the tickets on the site. You first have to check at the main box office, and ONLY if they tell you the show is sold out you go to one of the numerous agencies in Salzburg who are selling the tickets and charge you 10-15 extra euros per middle priced tic.

Salzburg 2009 (1)

The Salzburg Festival 2010 has started, the first three operas have already been premiered and the reviews seem to be very positive -- if that means anything any more, after we realized that >80% of reviewers are tired or lazy to look deeper in any of the today's artistic creations. Try and read some reviews about the new opera by Wolfgang RihmDionysus, and you'll notice a sad fact that they expect the operatic creation to be cliché-ed and conform to what they think should be the way to design the stage for an opera.  In contrast, I suspect the stage design by Jonathan Meese --one of the most brilliant Contemporary Fine Arts creators-- is a particularly exciting element of this Dionysus...  I hope to catch the last show and then I'll be able to comment more on the show and the reviews. A suivre

Since I plan to go to Salzburg next week,  in these 2 posts I'll bring you a bit of my impressions from the Festspiele 2009. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Munich Opera Festival 2010: The Silent Woman

Franz Hawlata, Diana Damrau and Toby Spence

Die schweigsame Frau/The Silent Woman, July 30  2010, Prinzregententheater Munich

Director Barrie Kosky
Conductor Kent Nagano
Sir Morosus..... Franz Hawlata
Haushälterin..... Catherine Wyn-Rogers
Der Barbier..... Nikolay Borchev
Henry Morosus..... Toby Spence
Aminta..... Diana Damrau
 Isotta..... Elena Tsallagova
Carlotta..... Anaïk Morel
Morbio..... Christian Rieger
Vanuzzi..... Christoph Stephinger
Farfallo..... Steven Humes

Salomé from Verbier 2010: Jochaaaaanaan...

Today, August 1st 2010, at 19:00 (cet), there will be a live broadcast of Richard Strauss' Salomé from Salle des Combins in Verbier. The ensemble of artists is more than inviting... 

Deborah Voigt Salomé
Dame Gwyneth Jones Herodias
Siegfried Jerusalem Herodes
Evgeny Nikitin Jochanaan
John Tessier Narraboth   

For the rest of the cast see here.

Valery Gergiev will conduct the Verbier Festival Orchestra, and Arte (the World's coolest TV) provides the webcast to everyone via ARTE Live Web. Alternatively you can watch it on medici.tv.
Video is appended below. If you don't catch it live, you can see it during a month following the live broadcast.

Tessier, Nikitin, and Voigt

Debbie Voigt might be good in this role (?), Nikitin must be excellent as ever, and you cannot not to be curious to see Dame Gwen Jones and Siegfried Jerusalem (unsurpassed Tristan -- c.f. this DVD)

Since the Verbier Orchestra is so special, I guess Valya Gergiev was forced to practice the score for some time with them, and when he invests some of his precious time rehearsing the result is most often very good [although this rarely happens since he became a man who conducts "364 concerts a year" ;)]

Ed: Very good concert!
Gergiev evidently practiced with the youngsters who put their souls and hearts into this performance. The oldies were struggling a bit but who cares! ;) 
Debbie should forget Isolde and keep singing this. Brava!
The most impressive singer tonight was, however, Evgeny Nikitin. Enooormous!

Video embedded below.