Friday, July 1, 2011

Saint François d'Assise opens the Munich Opera Festival today

Die erste Viertelstunde dauert eine Ewigkeit, die restlichen vier Stunden nur eine Sekunde.
Kent Nagano on Saint François d’Assise

I am sorry that I cannot go to Munich to see the premiere of Saint François d'Assise, an opera that I particularly like, but it is good to know that the Bavarian Radio Klassik provides a live broadcast, starting today from 16:00 (cet).

Paul Gay and Christine Schäfer as St. Francis and Angel

This is one of the two new productions that will be presented at this year's Opernfestspiele, the other being Mitridate, rè di Ponto [that I'll hopefully be able to see later this month]

From an interesting article we learn about Kent Nagano's love for the music by Olivier Messiaen.
When he started as a young conductor he got interested in Messiaen's work, managed to analytically decipher it but could not get any information about colors, styles... information needed to perform it with his orchestra at Berkeley.  He then contacted the aged composer for advice and that was a beginning of their relation that later evolved into friendship. Messiaen even complimented Nagano's reading of the Turangalîla Symphony by describing it as perfect... Later on, Kent moved to Paris and became a close friends with Olivier and his wife Yvonne Loriod (a pianist).

Nagano conducted the famous Salzburg performance, which remains the best audio recording of Saint François d'Assise to date. I also liked Ingo Metzmacher's conducting with Rod Gilfry  brilliantly singing the title role (available on DVD.)

This is one of those peculiar operas that are great fun to listen to in a good auditorium.

Munich show is staged by the Austrian scandal-meister Hermann Nitsch [see video below, filmed during the painting rehearsals], conducted by Kent Nagano while in the cast we find: Paul Gay (Saint François), our beloved Christine Schäfer (L'Ange), John Daszak (Le Lépreux),  Nikolay Borchev (Frère Léon)....

St.Francis is a tremendously difficult role to sing: Merde Paul pour ce soir! ;)

Production photos below are ©BSO Wilfried Hösl:


and a tiny excerpt from the Amsterdam show:

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