Wednesday, August 11, 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

I saw this production on DVD, so my real interest was to see Anna singing Juliette in this theater. It was the night of the premiere and again all those super-expensively-dressed people make you feel like a punk in the sea of chiqueness -- but hey...

The number of people lined up in front of the theater with "Suche Karte" cards was impressive and the offers were insane (it went up to 1.000€ for a seat!) Remember that Trebs is really a big star in Austria. She's --as one Austrian lady told me-- "unsere Anna!"

Felsenreitschule is a bitchy place to sing in, when the sets are set like for this Roméo et Juliette: The entire width of this ginormous scene is practically bare and if you have a big voice it works, if you don't you "die". Clearly the trio Petrenko, Beczala and Netrebko were a notch above the rest of the crew, although it would be unfair not to mention Cora Burggraaf who is almost there in the big mix.

The cast is truly awesome and every singer gave his/her best perfect. Regretfully none of the singers is French speaking and although they all made more than admirable effort to properly pronounce the text the comprehension of what they were singing was often a challenge. Piotr Beczala's French was in fact very good in the first part and I guess as the show progressed he got more tired and his pronunciation became less perfect, [which means it was very good anyway!] Trebs made a huge progress in French when compared to her famous Juliette in the Guy Joosten's production at the Met, although she can still improve. With that being said, the trio was just fantastic and I don't know how to express all my praise for each one of them.

Misha Petrenko is one of my favorite singers and his Entends ma prière fervente! was one of the highlights of the first part of the show, which was however dominated by Je veux vivre (splendidly sung by Netrebko) and Ah, lève-toi, soleil! (perfectly sung by Piotr). Piotr Beczala is definitely the most reliable singer today. He didn't miss a single note in the whole evening of this 'scary' to sing tenor-role. This time he didn't only sing beautifully but also acted better than I've ever seen him before. Either it's his long hair and the black trench coat or he really dropped quite a lot of weight... in any case his new look made him scenically more convincing Roméo.  I'm beyond impressed by that man although I'm a bit sorry not to have the opportunity to see Stephen Costello in this role [he will be singing the role alongside another Juliette, Nino Machaidze].

And what about our Juliette? Anna Netrebko was just S-U-P-E-R-B! Amour ranime mon courage (Poison Aria) was of course the highlight of the evening, and there Trebs demonstrated that she's indeed in her best vocal shape, and her performance tonight was even better than her memorable Juliette at the Met! The voice is as beautiful as ever, it's round and darkish but the volume is enormous. During her final aria you simply stop analyzing and you admire that extra touch of talent that we others don't have.
I've seen Anna in several productions and in various concerts/recitals but she was never as good as she's right now. Way to go!

Bartlett Sher's production is as classical as it can possibly be. It nicely explores the hugeness of the stage and he definitely knows how to direct the actors. Other than that it's the traditional Met-like kind of staging with all the good and less good that goes with it. It occasionally gets on the verge to become cheesy but Sher manages to keep it there. With Netrebko and Beczala singing it works well, anyway.

Finally, two words about Yannick Nézet-Séguin: if his Don Giovanni the night before was magnificent [even if a tad too voluminous], tonight he and his orchestra were simply perfect. The guy is simply super-talented and the crowd in Salzburg love him. Let's hope he remains this good and "humble", and his ego never becomes too big for Felsenreitschule. :)

A few pics from the Salzburger Festspiele website:

and a little pile of my pics:

Triumph for Anna and Piotr

Can you realize how enormously wide is Felsereitschule?

This is probably 60% of it's total width

Angela Merkel with her husband were only 7-8 rows in front of us 

In front of the theater before the show-1

In front of the theater before the show-2

Inside the theater: buying one of the new DVD's (this is just to give you an idea about the crowd)

Inside the theater: mingle-time

Inside the theater: mingle-time in beautiful Böhm's atrium

ED: A pic from the post-premiere party appeared in today's 'Daily' :)

Anna always the first for fun time ;)

Here is a YT video [posted by Onegin65] of Anna singing the Poison Aria at the Met in December of 2007


  1. Thanks for the reports and the pics. Between you and Intermezzo, I am now overcome with lust to visit Europe and do all these opera houses.

    Netrebko's sheer joy in performing trumps the diction issue, but I would love to see how she sings Russian.

    (Not trying to be anonymous but the name/URL kept coming up red flagged.) Lily

  2. Hey Lily! Welcome ;) As far as I know she's preparing to sing Tatyana from Eugene Onegin, but that should come later next year or 2012. That should be a blast. I was told last night that she signed to come back to Salzburg Festoval next Summer to sing Mimi (La Boheme).

  3. Fantastic report and great photos! I'm sure it has been a great performance. I agree that one word which comes to my mind when I am thinking about Piotr is reliable ;)). Anna's french diction was good and it has been improving very much in the last year. I would have loved it to be there! ;)))

    It was announced several months ago that Anna would sing Mimi in Salzburg 2012.

  4. As far as I read somewhere that will be together with (among others obviously) Nr. 1 Onegin M.K. :).
    I read somewhere there will be a new Onegin production with those two at the Met I think the year after next.

  5. Hi Carlos! I should have referred to you -- you know everything about her schedule :) I only learned that the other night. There is apparently a discussion whether or not these operas deserve to be presented at the festival -- these operas are supposed to be blockbusters of every opera house in the world, whereas at Festivals you're supposed to present works and productions which are supposed to change horizon of the ordinary opera world... Both sides of the argument are quite plausible... Will post about it one of these days ;)

    Anonymous: Kwiecien was Onegin in Paris in Tcherniakov's production and he was magnificent. If you ever get to see Mariusz in Krol Roger and LIVE, that's quite spectacular!

    Anyways, MK + Trebs + Dunaev or Beczala, and you have a knockout cast for Onegin :)

  6. This will be interesting :-) The production looks ok, seen it on video, better than the Met one in any case (Disneyworld anyone?) and turns out i get double lucky since i will hear Costello in Salzburg and Beczala in ROH :-)I am very curious about both. I think singing Manon lately has improved Netrebko's diction quite a lot, they must have had a language coach at ROH. However i generally have a big problem with French operas. I love them a lot and they rarely sound French... The Manon at the ROH for me certainly didn't, not even from the pit. The Werther i Paris did! And Nezet Seguin's Carmen from the Met which i heard on the radio. So i will trust my ears in his hands and we will see about the rest. The sound from the pit in French opera makes all the difference. I liked Anna in Manon and her voice is in beautiful shape.. however, loud, louder, the loudest does not do anything for me. I mean decibels don't give me an extra kick. If i had to choose Siurina or Kurzak would probably be more attractive musically as Juliette than either of the two who sing in Salzburg. But i'll know more when i have heard it. And i am also looking forward to David Soar's lushious sound again. Heard him in Cardiff recently in Rigoletto and Meistersinger. If he does French as well as he did Italian and German i'll be very happy and route for him to move on to bigger and better things.

    Anyway, considering where and how i saw this opera first and also last live until now i am both excited and terribly afraid of what it will be like :-)It has been a really long more than 10 years wait...

  7. On the posh crowd.. i see Merkel is wairing same stuff as in Bayreuth, which goes to show she is there for the music and not the see and be seen ;-) I like to put on "costume" so to speak, it's part of the fun ritual of going to opera, but i hate to be expected to do so and although i find looking at the posh crowd entertaining, essentially i couldn't care less :-) I'm there for the music and the music alone:-)

  8. Hi Hariclea! Nézet-Séguin is really briliant! Trebs' French is much better than before although it can be improved. I'm not crazy about screamers either but in Felsenreitschule smallish voices die before reaching the audience.
    Costello should be fine too but Beczala is a sure value. If you see Costello that means you won't see Trebs?!

    As for the fashion element of the crowd, you'll see: it's huge! For a couple of nights it's kinda fun as that part helps making the event extra special. But if you go to theater 4 nights in a row, it gets a bit heavy -- too much detached from real life to be fully enjoyable. But that's of course only my opinion... ;)

    Enjoy your R&J and let us know how it went for you.