Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ach Berlin...

Just 1 quick hello from Berlin  ((for work and for a few operas too)).

EU lesson: iPhone in France works fine but as soon as you cross the fr-borders, while still remaining in the EU, your iPhone becomes useless - worse, YOU pay every text msg and every call you receive as if you'd phoned to the farthest corner of the Universe at the busiest time of the day. \end{rant}
Ed1: L'etoile was cute. Rattle and Staatskapelle showed how this score has to be played if you want the public to feel and hear the richness of the texture of this music. Madge Kozena sounded much better than in my previous experiences of her singing in a large auditorium. Fouchecourt - excellent, Stella Doufexis - always reliable. The cast is really good although the orchestra and Simon Rattle dominate the show. As for Dale Duesing and his staging, it's very uneven... I'll explain it more when I get some decent internet connection. The show starts very well and then the momentum was lost and the show simply didnät work for me... I have an impression that he either had to wrap up the show very fast or he ran out of ideas in the last third of his inszenierung. It's a show that would please the public at the Met or at the Paris Opera. For Berlin UDL it's "too nice", too pleasant, zero surprise... Dunno, maybe I've set a bar too high and my expectations were hard to match?! Go figure.

"The Chartreuse aria" reminded me of chartreuse -- a French liqueur made in a Monastery close to Grenoble. As much as that monastery is beautiful, the liqueur is dreadful - looks and tastes like a shampoo ;)

Ed2: Just saw Fidelio at the Komische Oper. Homoki was right: Benedikt von Peter is a young genius director. His show is close in spirit to what you'd expect from Herheim, but it's (very) different in form. It is very Regie, and highly nontrivial. If anyone saw the show and reads this blog, do tell how you understood the white flags and banners at the end of the show.
Carl St.Clair obviously didn't conduct. Was replaced by Martin Hoff (whoever that is) and the orchestra sounded very good. Props to Caroline Melzer for singing this killing role (Leonore) -- she gave her all and sang *everything*.  I took some photos - will post them when I become iPhone independent :)

Ed3:  Friday night -- La Traviata at the Komische, dir Hans Neuenfels. I've been blessed to cleverly avoid horrifying productions of this opera, i.e. the ones with kilometers of fabrics, loads of kitsch and tons of pathos, with a deranged Violetta screaming Che str-ah-ano... Except for 2-3 productions on video and a horrid show produced by Gruber shown in Lyon last year, all the productions I've seen were good or excellent.  
This show is really something special: it follows very closely the libretto, it only introducing an angel-protector of Violetta's, but the amount of little ideas that support the flow of drama --that is sometimes very minimalistic and sometimes very opulent in terms of number of actors and the stage dynamics-- is huge.
The elegance of costumes is a treat per se, and a direction of actors is rarely seen in an opera. Too bad they don't make DVD of their productions. It is a lesson of stage directing!
Brigitte Gelleris is a wonderful Violetta.
If you can possibly come to Berlin and see this Traviata, please do - it's the classiest form of  Regie-theater for you. It's regularly on the program of the Komische.
And yes: Komische Oper in Berlin is definitely the coolest opera house in Europe I've seen so far.

Ed4:  Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail: This is the best Calixto Bieito's show ever, and --if not the best then-- one of the best opera-shows I've ever seen in my entire life. Even without Mozart this would be a smashing piece of theater.
In the end  I felt sorry Mozart couldn't see this show. He would have been proud of his music and of this theater.

There is a moment in which Bieito's show is "too much to stomach -- when one prostitute was being slowly massacred. Many people started to yell in protest but refused to leave auditorium. 15 mins later they must have understood how wrong they were to react so violently, but a spontaneous reaction to refusing what you're seeing is totally comprehensible too...
It's clearly a "for adults only" show, but with all the cruelty and in spite of somewhat pessimistic finale, it's deeply human/humanistic.
One of the rare shows that I call unforgettable!



  1. I like "didnät" (see above). :)

  2. LOL, gotta love the German keyboard ;)

    BTW, T-Mobile sucks big time. From the hotel I stay in, my AirPort detected a T-Mobile hotspot. The signal was great, I paid 30 euros... and only 10 minutes later the connection was lost never to came back again for more than 2 minutes.

    At work, no normal Internet either.

  3. In Munich there is soo nothing going on opera-wise at the moment (have no ticket for Carmen).
    Must be a nice work though that you have, that it takes you to cities abroad!

  4. Munich will be a blast in June/July. Be patient!

    Meanwhile you can go to Paris and see Les Contes de Hoffmann, to Stuttgart to see Kat'a Kabanova, or to Berlin to see this amazing Fidelio, or Hoffmann, or even L'etoile ;)

  5. Unlike you I am a poor girl, man, and cannot afford this type of travel at all!

  6. Oh, I'm all but not rich! Look, Munich - Stuttgart by coach (return trip!) costs you 16 euros. Sunday matinee Kat'a Kabanova and it's all good. :)

  7. The Sunday matinee is not singing, it is a Publikumsgespräch as far as I can tell (they don't usually have singing that early in the morning here ;)).
    The coach option is rather cheap I concede ;), I am not a group person however and taking a coach is something I would only do in an emergency. One is too close too all these people and also I am afraid that those coach drivers drive too long hours and too fast.
    For your amusement I will add that the next thing I will consider travelling to (by train) is Palestrina in Frankfurt ;) ;).

  8. Actually, in the Traviata, it's suppossed to be her pimp, not an angel (or death, as I read it when I first saw it.)