Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Alek Shrader in Salzburg

I am not going to Salzburg this year for at least three reasons and my only regret is that I won't see one of my dearest operas, The Makropulos Affair, with our favorite Angela Denoke who --together with Johan Reuter and Aleš Briscein-- will certainly make this new Christoph Marthaler production extra special. To that add Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting and you get more than a trip worthy material!

My problem is that this is about the only thing I am truly interested in in Salzburg this summer. Macbeth by Peter Stein, and with his bitterness Maestro Muti in the pit, is not exactly what would make me run to the Felsenreitschule even if I were in Salzburg right now.
As for Die Frau ohne Schatten (FroSch) it is an opera I like very much music-wise but again that alone would not make me make a trip to Salzburg in spite of its smashing cast [sadly the runs of FroSch and Makrop do not overlap, since they are both given at the big Festspielhaus]. Another thing about FroSch is that its premiere was live broadcast on German and Austrian TVs and since the video will be around soon...

Alek Shrader in Salzburg
Finally a revival of the Claus Guth production of Da Ponte Trilogy is of course a nice treat, but since I already saw all three operas both at the Haus für Mozart in Salzburg and on DVD, I guess it's fine to let my place to other folks to discover and enjoy the wonderful festival atmosphere in Salzburg (when the weather is good, that is).

Concerning the Da Ponte Trilogy, particularly interesting will be Così fan tutte that Claus Guth said he would considerably revise for 2011. Like in its previous run the cast is again brilliant, with always amazing Maria hot Bengtsson, a magnificent new mezzo Michèle Losier (great in recent Cendrillon in Paris), his greatness Christopher Maltman, and a new tenor  Alek Shrader (American, of courrrrse!)

Alek Shrader as Lindoro in Opéra National de Bordeaux in

Alek is a new name, he is obviously a beau gosse, and if we can trust all the reviews that gushed over his beautiful timbre and his excellent musicality in Lindoro [L'Italiana in Algeri premiered in Bordeaux earlier this year], he may well be a 'winner' of this year's Festival. Arte TV usually has a nose for this kind of things and I noted that they even devoted a whole opera segment of the Salzburg Festival to talk about Alek (c.f. video below). Good luck man! 

Salzburg 2012

Artistically though, when compared to the Festival 2010 (and especially to 2009, not to dig further in the past), this year's festival is not as exciting, but a real turn for the worse is likely to happen in 2012. From the press we learn that Alexander Pereira announced the following new productions for 2012: (1) The Magic Flute with Nikolaus Harnoncourt and with Jens-Daniel Herzog directing; (2) La schmalzy Bohème with Anna Netrebko and Piotr Beczala [how is that for a festival with ambition to push boundaries of the ordinary city opera repertoire, even if the director was a very talented Damiano Michieletto?]; (3) Die Soldaten that we unfortunately missed in Amsterdam... and will probably miss in Salzburg too. Instead of Willy Decker who directed the show in Amsterdam, Salzburg decided to confide the directing job to "a fresher" Peter Stein.
Well, what can I say? It was fun while it lasted...

Ah yes, one more info is that, after the next year's Carmen, the Easter Festival in Salzburg will be run by Christian Thielemann and the Staatskapelle Dresden will be the residence orchestra there from 2013 to 2017.

To finish this entry on the positive note, here is a video filmed during the rehearsal of Vec Makropulos:


  1. I heard Alek sing last year at Santa Fe in Albert Herring. It's all true, about the voice, I mean, although AH isn't exactly a show off piece for the leggiero tenore.

  2. Thanks! I saw that he was in Toulouse this Spring too, where he sang Almaviva (Il Barbiere), and the French critics were enchanted.

    Definitely one to watch.

    I am still to see the Cosi from Lyon. Hopefully tomorrow :)

    Are you going to Santa Fe this year?

  3. Oh :-( I was waiting for your review on Loy's production of 'Die Frau'. I watched it yesterday and, despite the opera being broadcasted, the atmosphere at the Festspielhaus wasn't easy to 'get' from the video. Also the massive booing at the end must have some meaning...

  4. Alek Shrader was the the up-and-coming star tenor during his Juilliard years. Nice to see his career taking off. Next up: look for Paul Appleby.

  5. I've come and gone to Santa Fe and won't be able to see the Menotti or the Wozzeck. The Faust was wonderful...visually beautiful and camp with some references to WWI and all the men killed...I really thought it was brilliant - a Stephen Lawless production and Chaslin brought grand to a small venue with his conducting - we even got the ballet. Enjoyed every minute of it. Sellars' Griselda was almost a complete waste of time. He just isn't trying anymore though Isabel Leonard was too good - I was in the second row - visually a complete disappointment and very lazy production. I also saw Paul Curran's Boheme. Ana Maria Martinez was wonderful as usual but that David Lomeli needs some discipline and more acting chops. Curran's production is always intelligent if not different. (quick reviews) Thanks for asking.

  6. To schumps53, I think you saw a weird rare view of the Boheme, because I was on August 3, and Lomeli was the best thing in the show. I also saw him at New York City (look after his new york times review) and I agree to disagree, he was dancing and moving, I really thing that he is a disciplined actor and actually does what the director asks fromo him. I never saw the typical "tenor" hand or the any typical singer gesture. He is the real deal, he can diminuendo en every note and has colors and the best high C of the lyrical tenor today. Actually I thought the firs two acts were on crack and suddenly the next two were very static. So blame it on the right people. To also think that the Griselda was a complete waste of time... it just supports my idea of the wrong appreciation point.

  7. gslanfranchi: I actually saw a few videos on YT and I like it. Well this libretto is really beyond impossible to make interesting scenic-wise, and Loy did what he does the best: worked on subtleties of relations among characters, but the whole spectacle is not what you would expect to see in the Grosses Festspielhaus (which is a little bit like a typical Megachurch). The folks came to see the neo-conservative poster boy (Thielemann) and some of drama to chew -- and in the end they were given a great score with little drama to fill up between two snooze-sessions ;)

    THANKS schumps53: I'm glad you liked what you could see in Santa Fe. Isabel is a gem - so serious, so devoted to her art, so professional, and yet so pretty and so down to earth. Great girl with an uncommon talent. Sorry you didn't like much Lomeli. I saw him in Lille a few months back (Macduff) and he was excellent [review to come soon ;)], but then again Macduff is not exactly in the same zone with Rodolfo, is it?!

    Ano: Different folks... Schumps53 is a great opera fan so we could just agree to disagree as you say :) Cheers

  8. Just to prove my point again about Lomeli

  9. @ano - Lomeli (whom I saw on his second outing in early July) has a magnificent instrument - but the tone is inconsistent and Rudolfo is just the right role to expose that. He was great with the boys and Paul Curran's production definitely lends a marvelous hand to these actors, but to me it almost felt like they sent a boy to do a man's job. Ana Maria was magnificent in her voice and her presence, but Lomeli had a hard time in the
    more intimate parts. His singing in act 3 by the way was stunning. That lack of chemistry kind of did me in, but I am thinking things were probably clicking along by August. So glad you went to SFE!

    Griselda - I did not get to see David Daniels by the way who called in sick, and this GREATLY added to my disappointment. There was nothing coherent about that production, the concept of something to do with Santa Fe was completely lost on me, well, maybe the Navajo blanket; the orchestra was the best it could be I believe in the circumstances. Paul Groves was lovely to look at but didn't really know the music very well at that point. Pimps, gun toten drug homies and their king and deposed queen? What does this have to do with Santa Fe? Did he get it mixed up with Albuquerque where they film "Breakin Bad?"(which I love BTW). Sorry OC for taking up so much space, but I like dialogues, hope it's OK!

  10. I flew from west coast of US to Salzburg specifically to see Shrader in Cosi at the 15 August performance. Very disappointing. Beautiful voice but he sounded muffled, like he was singing inside a pillowcase. In the ensemble numbers, you knew he was singing only because his mouth was moving. Was he indisposed? Completely outclassed by Christopher Maltman, who was showered with bravos for his Guglielmo.