Monday, February 28, 2011

Fallen Masks on the Rhine: David McVicar completes his Ring in Strasbourg

Götterdämmerung, Opéra National du Rhin (ONR) in Strasbourg, February 25 2011

The Mask of Erda -- in front of the ONR in Strasbourg

Director ..... David McVicar
Conductor ..... Marko Letonja

Siegfried ..... Lance Ryan
Hagen ..... Daniel Sumegi
Gunther ..... Robert Bork
Alberich ..... Oleg Bryjak
Brünnhilde ..... Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet
Gutrune ..... Nancy Weissbach
Waltraute ..... Hanne Fischer
First Norn ..... Sara Fulgoni
Second Norn ..... Hanne Fischer
Third Norn ..... Nancy Weissbach
Woglinde ..... Anaïs Mahikian
Wellgunde ..... Kimy McLaren
Flosshilde ..... Carolina Bruck-Santos

Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg
Chorus of l'Opéra national du Rhin

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hérodiade - part deux

Hérodiade, Vlaamse Opera in Ghent, February 13 2011

conductor ..... Dmitri Jurowski
director ..... Joachim Schlömer

Salomé ..... Carmen Giannattasio
Jean ..... Zoran Todorovich
Hérode ..... Philippe Rouillon
Hérodiade ..... Julia Gertseva
Phanuel ..... Petri Lindroos
Vitellius ..... Igor Bakan
Jeune Babylonienne ..... Julianne Gearhart
Le grand Prêtre ..... Thierry Vallier
Le grand PrêtreGuido Verbelen
Animaux/Dancers ..... Anna Tenta and Slawek Bendrat

Chorus and Orchestra of the Flanders Opera

Hérodiade and the 19th century French repertoire

I decided to split the discussion about Hérodiade in two parts: (1) As this opera is in a bulk of 19th century French operas, I think it is the right moment to throw in a couple of paragraphs about my observations concerning the perception of this genre in France today; (2) A short review of the wonderfully successful new production of Hérodiade presented at the Flanders Opera (Vlaamse Opera).

I believe one could even make an interesting social study about the cultural diversity in France from this little cultural corner that mixes creative art and national heritage -- 19th century operas. Don't worry! This is not what I intent to do here ;)
If I was to paint a black-and-white picture about the relation between the French public today and the 19th century French operas, the critics would have called it schizophrenic. Below I explain why.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rusalka, Tannhäuser and Faust

A scene from Rusalka at Komische Oper in Berlin (photo ©KOB)

Barrie Kosky presented his new production of Rusalka at the Komische Oper in Berlin.
[Super-duper talented Patrick Lange conducted!] Here is a trailer for us to drool (OK, not quite -- I went to see a superb production of Hérodiade in Ghent -- that I'll post about tomorrow)

Last week on ARTE Lounge...

... René Pape was a guest and he sang Abendlich strahlt der Sonne Auge (from Das Rheingold) and Some enchanted evening (from South Pacific?)

Video appended below:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

You like Ligeti, Varèse, Lutoslawski, Saariaho, Salonen? Here is something for you!

One thing that amazes everyone visiting Paris or staying a bit longer à Paname is that feeling that the culture is still considered to be of vital importance for the city and its people. Public money is invested in all kinds of interesting projects that aim at popularizing art and support creativity.

It is not  functioning perfectly as a system, but it is fascinating when you see that such a noble intention actually works well. A perfect example is La Cité de la Musique --not surprisingly, a project initiated and promoted by Pierre Boulez-- with its numerous activities, symposiums, seminars, concerts, freely accessible media library, many outreach activities catalyzing contacts with youngsters from all social layers. As a classical music aficionados, you cannot resist it as the whole complex breathes love for music and desire to share it through all the activities proposed there. This are counter-examples to that of La Cité de la Musique where you can see the tax-payers' money generously used to entertain a small group of people, without creating anything artistic or/and new.

Since I prefer to keep it positive here, I thought I should mention another significant positive example: just finished "Festival Présences", that was in fact a series of Top-class concerts thematically revolving around Esa-Pekka Salonen.

He and several other invited conductors, together with  Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France (OPRF), performed music composed by Salonen and by composers who highly influenced and inspired Salonen's creativity. All concerts were organized at Théâtre du Châtelet (always beautiful a place to visit), and they all were free (!) Isn't this just a dreamlike way to popularize contemporary music?!

Since I was insanely busy during the past few weeks and so had to skip the Festival altogether, I was happy to discover that Arte Live Web (don't you love them too!) joined the project and provided live broadcast from Théâtre du Châtelet of four Festival concerts, all conducted by Esa-Pekk. They are now available for free viewing and they will remain free for the next 5-6 months. Below are the links to videos with the programs. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Melanie Diener kills Fidelio

Fidelio (in concert), Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris, February 21 2011

Kurt Masur

Kurt Masur ..... conductor

Melanie Diener ..... Leonore
Burkhard Fritz ..... Florestan
Matthias Goerne ..... Pizzaro
Kurt Rydl ..... Rocco
Sophie Karthäuser ..... Marzelline
Werner Güra ..... Jaquino
Bálint Szabó ..... Fernando

Orchestre National de France and Choeur de Radio France

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Fairy Queen at Cité-μ

The Fairy Queen, Cité de la Musique in Paris, February 15 2011

Philip Pickett ..... conducting
Mauricio Garcia Lozano ..... director

Joanne Lunn ..... soprano
Dana Marbach ..... soprano
Faye Newton ..... soprano
Christopher Robson ..... countertenor
Tim Travers-Brown .... countertenor
Ed Lyon ..... tenor
Joseph Cornwell ..... tenor
Michael George ..... bass-baritone
Simon Grant ..... bass-baritone

New London Consort

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Betrothal at Opéra Comique

Larissa Diadkova, Tugan Sokhiev, and Mikhail Kolelishvili

Director ..... Martin Duncan
Conductor ..... Tugan Sokhiev

Don Jérôme ..... Brian Galliford
Ferdinand ..... Garry Magee
Louisa ..... Anastasia Kalagina
The Duenna ..... Larissa Diadkova
Antonio ..... Daniil Shtoda
Clara d’Almanza ..... Anna Kiknadze
Mendoza ..... Mikhail Kolelishvili
Don Carlos ..... Yuri Vorobiov
Father Augustin .....Eduard Tsanga
Brother Elustaf ..... Vasily Efimov
Brother Chartreuse ..... Marek Kalbus
Brother Benedictine ..... Mischa Schelomianski
Lauretta ..... Eleonora Vindau

Orchestre et Chœur du Capitole de Toulouse

Monday, February 14, 2011

Jansons and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra at Pleyel

Salle Pleyel - Paris, February 14 2011

 You know you are insanely busy when you miss the first half of the year's best concert with the world's best orchestra conducted by the best conductor, accompanying the best pianist -- and the concert occurs in  the city you live...
The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Maestro Mariss Jansons

So I missed Leif Ove Andsnes, and I'm really sorry for that, but I am still thrilled to be able to listen to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra taking the best of the Beethoven's 7th under his greatness, Mariss Jansons. Blogging from la Salle Pleyel...
What they do is just a whole level above any other orchestra today. Only the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra gets close, even if not quite up there.

The only thing that comes to mind after such a great concert is one big Thank you!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bronfman, Staatskapelle, and Mr. Barenboim at Pleyel

Staatskapelle Berlin - Daniel Barenboim - Yefim Bronfman, Salle Pleyel in Paris, February 6 2011

Castellucci's Parsifal in Brussels

Parsifal, La Monnaie/De Munt in Brussels, January 30 2011

Opening scene -- seen during the overture of Castellucci's Parsifal in Brussels

Music direction ..... Hartmut Haenchen
Director ..... Romeo Castellucci
Choreography ..... Cindy Van Acker
Bondage artist ..... Dasniya Sommer

Amfortas ..... Thomas Johannes Mayer
Titurel ..... Victor von Halem
Gurnemanz ..... Jan-Hendrik Rootering
Parsifal ..... Andrew Richards
Klingsor ..... Tómas Tómasson
Kundry ..... Anna Larsson
Vier Knappen ..... Ilse Eerens
Angélique Noldus
Gijs Van der Linden
Guillaume Antoine
Klingsors Zaubermädchen ..... Hendrickje Van Kerckhove
Anneke Luyten
Angélique Noldus
Ilse Eerens
Tineke Van Ingelgem
Margriet van Reisen
Stimme aus der Höhe ..... Anna Larsson

La Monnaie Symphony Orchestra, Chorus and Youth Chorus

"Tout art doit être dérangeant."
Romeo Castellucci

Monday, February 7, 2011

To see

[Sorry guys -- too busy these days.]

Three interesting operas to see within next 10 days on Mezzo-TV:
  1. Alcina from Vienna, that we got to see in Paris in concert, was filmed in Vienna and it will be broadcast tomorrow, February 8 at 20:30 (cet)
    dir-Adrian Noble, cnd-Marc Minkowski, cast: Anja Harteros, Veronica Cangemi, Vesselina Kasarova, Kristina Hammarström, Benjamin Bruns, Adam Plachetka

  2. Giulio Cesare from Opéra Garnier in Paris will be on Mezzo-TV next Saturday, February 12 at 20:30 (cet)
    dir-Laurent Pelly, cnd-Emmanuelle Haïm, cast: Lawrence Zazzo, Natalie Dessay, Isabel Leonard, Christophe Dumaux, Varduhi Abrahamyan, Nathan Berg, Dominique Visse, Aimery Lefèvre

  3. Francesca da Rimini  from Opéra Bastille in Paris will be live broadcast on Wednesday, February 16 at 19:30 (cet)
    dir-Giancarlo Del Monaco, cnd-Daniel Oren, cast: Svetla Vassilieva, Roberto Alagna, William Joyner, George Gagnidze, Wojtek Smilek, Louise Callinan...

Bobby is apparently in top form vocally and after 7 years of absence from the Paris Opera he's back, in the role of Paolo [Francesca da Rimini] in the production that apparently received a cascade of boos after the premiere. After the atrocious production of Andrea Chénier last year, I obviously would not pay to see any opera "directed" by Giancarlo del Monaco anymore, but since it goes on TV I may give it a try.
Do subscribe to Mezzo-TV if you possibly can. It's not expensive at all, the program they offer is really great (opera, concerts -- as well as jazz, if you like it), and they need subscribers to keep doing such a great job as they did thus far.

And last but not least, there is a video available for free viewing of the entire closing concert of the Folle Journée de Nantes,  in the last part of which you may find a superb Olga Peretyatko singing Vier Letzte Lieder [starting from the 1:03:50 mark in the video appended below]

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New productions in February

Not many new productions will be premiered in February, but we can still expect some high quality new shows.

David Mc Vicar [a.k.a. Mr. Hyperproductive] will complete his Ring in Strasbourg and that should be the most significant new event this month, together with an intriguing new opera in London produced by always profound and positively "weird" Richard Jones, as well as the new Guth-project that will be unveiled in Barcelona. More specifically,
  • Feb 25 at ONR in Strasbourg: Götterdämmerung [dir-David Mc Vicar, cnd-Marko Letonja] with Lance Ryan, Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet, Daniel Sumegi, Ann Petersen, Oleg Bryjak...
  • Feb 17 at ROH in London: Anna Nicole [dir- Richard Jones, cnd- Antonio Pappano] with Eva-Maria Westbroek, Gerald Finley... (see trailer)
  • Feb 20 at GTL in Barcelona: Parsifal [dir- Claus Guth, cnd- Michael Boder] with Klaus Florian Vogt/Christopher Ventris, Anja Kampe/Evelyn Herlitzius, Alan Held/Boaz Daniel, Hans-Peter König/Eric Halfvarson

New Rusalka, directed by Barrie Kosky in Berlin, could be great. Belcanto fans will be waiting for new Norma in Zurich with Elena Mosuc and Vittorio Grigolo as Pollione (?!)

Besides the above 3, a list of new productions also includes [ordered chronologically according to their premieres]:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Paris in February

A selection of events (classical music and opera) to see in Paris - February 2011.

Best of 2010 (3): Singers

This blog is my modest opera/concerts "diary" that somehow got to be read by many and I thank you all for that.

As you may have noticed I mostly try to talk about things I like --instead of dwelling on stuff I dislike -- except, of course, when it's unavoidable (or for defining purposes). Rarely but I do sometimes trash the lazy/'untalented' directors, and my reason is quite simple: money is tight today, waste it on no-concept, no-idea, on nothing creative, or stale theater...  is irresponsible -- it harms opera, it wastes our time, and often insults our intelligence. Happily that happens very seldom as I am more experienced in picking good and interesting shows to see.

All photos in the above collage were taken by Yours Truly

With singers the story is more difficult as we are living in an era of many-many gifted performers who besides their beautiful voices and fantastic vocal techniques, also excel as actors.

I've tried to post my Best of 2010 several times and each time I felt I was unfair to many brilliant singers - especially when I'd made a too extensive list (with more than 15 names.)

Finally, after restraining my discussion to the least possible number of those who I thought delivered extraordinary stuff in 2010 (either on an operatic stage or in a concert hall), I ended up with...