Monday, May 10, 2010

Les Contes de Hoffmann at Opera Bastille

Les contes de Hoffmann, Opéra Bastille, May 7, 2010

Giuseppe Filianoti at his best

Jesus Lopez-Cobos    Conductor
Robert Carsen    Stage Director

Laura Aikin Olympia
Inva Mula Antonia
Béatrice Uria-Monzon Giulietta
Ekaterina Gubanova La Muse / Nicklausse
Giuseppe Filianoti Hoffmann
Cornelia Oncioiu Une Voix
Rodolphe Briand Spalanzani
Jason Bridges Nathanaël
Alain Vernhes Luther, Crespel
Léonard Pezzino Andres, Cochenille, Frantz, Pitichinaccio
Franck Ferrari Lindorf, Coppélius, Dr Miracle, Dapertutto
Vladimir Kapshuk Hermann
Yuri Kissin Schlemil

Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus

I'm very busy for the rest of this month so I'll make just a quick entry about this very good production of Les Contes de Hoffmann, directed by Robert Carsen, premiered last Friday at the Paris Opera. This production was given in Paris many times already, and I saw it live only now - this past Friday. I saw it on DVD  before --which I wholeheartedly recommend to everyone-- but on the huge stage of Opera Bastille the show looks far more spectacular.

Carsen transposed the action into a theater, so you can see it happening in the canteen, in the backstage, and also in the pit. It is witty, it's opulent, it perfectly uses/explores the vast stage at the Bastille, the flow of the action is impeccable, and it's spectacular. In short, it's efficiently pleasant. If it's not enlightening or illuminating, it definitely is entertaining and you spend a very good Friday evening. 

Compared to DVD the show not only looked different on stage (many things that happen on stage could not be captured by a camera), but also some elements of the action were slightly modified. Those adjustments were in fact refreshing and made happy many folks who came to see their beloved production again. In the end it became clear why the changes were so good: Robert Carsen actually came to supervise this revival. The theater was packed and the crowd went positively wild after the show ;) 

Robert Carsen lets Giuseppe Filianoti enjoy his moment

Concerning the singers, the entire cast was a top notch. Like in Werther this season, also here everything went well, every cast member was great. Nobody stood out -- they were all great.

Giuseppe Filianoti  was my major surprise. He sang wonderfully (always a bit pushy, but it works!), totally invested in his role, and didn't lose on intensity towards the end of the show (as he usually does). This role is far more difficult than the ones I've seen him in before, but he pulled it with brio. Respect!

Ekaterina Gubanova and Laura Aikin

Ekaterina Gubanova and Laura Aikin were wonderful too. I know Laura as a smashing Lulu, as a stunning Aithra in Aegyptische Helena, a superb Konstanze in the Herheim's production of The Abduction from the Seraglio, and now she pulls a memorable Olympia. At this stage of her career, to sing such a strong and flexible Olympia... r-e-s-p-e-c-t!
Gubanova is --in my humble opinion-- one of the best mezzos around these days. The roles I've listened to her singing were all remarkable: her Brangane (Tristan) is awesome, this Nicklausse is fantastic, her Marguerite (La damnation de Faust) is unbeatable, her Olga (Onegin) brilliant. She received huge applauses on the opening night and deserved them greatly.

Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Inva Mula and Franck Ferrari

Inva Mula was a fantastic Antonia too, and so completed a very high profile female singing of the opening night. Franck Ferrari had a tough task to fill the shoes of Bryn Terfel [who sang Lindorf at al. in the previous incarnation of this production]. A comparison is unavoidable, and even if he is not the Bryn's caliber, I thought he was very good for the role. His voice is big enough to fill a huge auditorium of the Bastille and although he started suffering towards the end, his overall performance was completely satisfying.  Kudos to him too!

The conducting was fine but not great, as it never is with Lopez-Cobos.

Here are a few videos from this production:

Filianoti's Kleinzach

There is one more video from this production with Filianoti  on YT. The sound is as good/bad...

Bryn Terfel in the previous run of this production

Desirée Rancatore as Olympia in the same production you can find on DVD

See also the last part of the episode with Antonia

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