Monday, October 31, 2011

Les contes d'Hoffmann anglo-bavarois (trailer added)

Yes, all the eyes and ears of the opera world will be in Munich for the tonight's opening of the Richard Jones production of Les contes d'Hoffmann.
Yours Truly will not be there, but I should remind you that Arte-TV will broadcast the show only 3 weeks after the premiere: Monday, November 21 at 20:40 (cet) Thursday, December 29 at 22:00 (cet)

Note also that the tonight's premiere will be live broadcast on the BR-Klassik website starting from 19:00 (cet).

Always wonderful Diana Olympia Damrau [debut in 3 roles -- she already sang Olympia in Mannheim]

Like Krzysztof Warlikowski, Richard Jones too seems to have been inspired by Amy Winehouse -- one of the most fascinating pop personalities of our time. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

More on Bolshoi... and Руслан и Людмила

If you did not see the re-opening gala concert at The Bolshoi Theater, you can still do it on Arte Live Web (c.f. also video here). I usually dread those concerts but when I saw that Dmitri Tcherniakov directed the show, I obviously rushed to see it and, yes Dima The Great did a very good job by actually making sense of the evening. He gave credit to everyone involved in the process of creating the theatrical magic, to the workers who for the past 6 years were working hard to construct that great building, to all the folks working backstage, and to all the artists. At the same time he recounted the history of The Bolshoi Theater --one of the greatest temples of Russian culture that resisted all the radical changes in Russia since 1824 to this day.

There was too much ballet for my taste, but as we all know the Russians love ballet... so not much surprise there!

Tcherniakov talking to the press about his new production -- Ruslan and Lyudmila

Operatic bits were OK. Placido Domingo did not show up, and I guess Angela Gheorghiu would have done much better if she followed the example and skipped the event too. She did not prepare ONE aria she was supposed to sing there. And it was not some tricky unknown piece that needed a heck of a work to prepare, but it was the Lisa aria from The Queen of Spades. Angie literally appeared with the score in hands and she would look at it like every 5 seconds. She clearly didn't bother to work on the pronunciation either... and so, to me, her appearance was borderline disrespectful (considering the importance of the event, the worldwide coverage...)
Check out here -- her aria starts at 1:37:10. [Note in particular the annoyed looking Galina Vishnevskaya after Miss Gheorghiu finished singing. She didn't clap.]

The same aria would have been gloriously sung by Krassimira Stoyanova, Anja Harteros, Svetlana Ignatovich, or Olga Guryakova, Renée Fleming...

Obviously there was no Anna Netrebko, Olga Borodina, Ekaterina Gubanova, or Tatiana Monogarova, Olga Peretyatko... which might partly be due to the Moscow/Petersburg petty quarrels (I speculate!)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Jones' Macbeth in Lille

Macbeth, Opéra de Lille, May 15 2011

Director ..... Richard Jones [Geoffrey Dolton]
Conductor ..... Roberto Rizzi Brignoli

Dimitris Tiliakos ..... Macbeth
Susan Maclean ..... Lady Macbeth
David Lomeli ..... Macduff
Dimitry Ivashchenko ..... Banco
Bruno Ribeiro ..... Malcolm
Miriam Murphy, Julie Pasturaud ..... Lady Macbeth’s servants
Patrick Schramm ..... A doctor, A servant, A herald
Vincent Vantyghem ..... A murderer

Lille National Orchestra & Lille Opera Chorus

The Bolshoi Theatre re-opens: Gala for the people!

After 6 years of painful works and lots of scandals along the way, The Bolshoi Theater is finally set to open its gates to the public.

Tonight's opening will be accompanied by a big gala concert, and the first premiere is scheduled for next Wednesday: Ruslan and Lyudmila by Glinka, with Russia's best Dmitri Tcherniakov directing, and with Vladimir Jurowski conducting the show.

As for the Gala Concert, Arte Live Web will live broadcast it tonight [Friday, October 28] starting from 20:40 (cet) -- video is embedded below. What would be a gala concert without Angela Gheorgiu and/or Placido Domingo?! So yes, they will both be there, in addition to Dmitri Hvorostovski, Natalie Dessay, Violeta Urmana... Enjoy!

O Schönheit at Théâtre du Châtelet

Cycle Mahler, Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, October 27 2011

Daniele Gatti, Stephen Gould, and Marie-Nicole Lemieux

Conductor ..... Daniele Gatti
Contralto ..... Marie-Nicole Lemieux
Tenor ..... Stephen Gould
Violin ..... Frank Peter Zimmermann

Orchestre National de France

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Malena Ernman, Peter Mattei, and Krassimira Stoyanova

I said I was not much interested in the CD business, but I do follow the new releases when I can. Before summer 2011 I recommended you a few superb recording, and I still believe all three of them are magnificent -- each in its own way. 

Some CD's are great for the way the program presented on them is interpreted and those are that I like the most. Christine Schäfer, René Pape and Anna Larsson (among others) are the true geniuses of interpretation. They manage to turn their 'imperfections' to their advantage that add to their already extraordinarily humanized way of singing the known songs or arias.

But then you have those who have an uncommon sense of musicality, who dare to sing the known stuff in their own, recognizable, way -- that actually gives a whole new flavor to the songs and arias they sing. Malena Ernman and especially Peter Mattei are good examples of that kind of singing. They both recently released new CD, and both contain several very interestingly performed tunes.
Krassimira Stoyanova, instead, is a quite different case: a singer who managed to avoid the stardom, and almost stealthily impose herself as one of the best living singers.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Grand production of Les Troyens in Karlsruhe

Les Troyens, Badische Staatstheater Karlsruhe, October 15 2011

Director ..... David Hermann
Conductor ..... Justin Brown

Énée ..... John Treleaven
Chorèbe ..... Armin Kolarczyk
Panthée ..... Lucas Harbour
Narbal ..... Konstantin Gorny
Iopas ..... Eleazar Rodriguez
Ascagne .....Stefanie Schaefer
Cassandre ..... Christina Niessen
Didon ..... Heidi Melton
Anna ..... Karine Ohanyan
Helenus/Hylas ..... Sebastian Kohlhepp
Priam/Spectre de Priam ..... Luiz Molz
L'ombre d'Hector/Le dieu Mercure ..... Avtandil Kaspeli
Un prêtre de Pluton ..... Andrey Grabovsky
Polyxène ..... Veronika Pfaffenzeller
Soldat troyen ..... Marcelo Angulo
Soldat troyen ..... Alexander Huck
Un soldat/Un chef grec ..... Florian Kontschak

Badischer Staatsopernchor
Badische Staatskapelle

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in Nuremberg

Last Saturday (October 15th), the Staatstheater Nürnberg premiered their new production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. The show was broadcast to the central city square for public viewing and apparently it was a success. 

Last Scene from The Mastersingers of Nuremberg at Staatstheater Nürnberg: Hans Sachs (Albert Pesendorfer)

Now, what is so special about this particular production? 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

We will baroque you: La Didone by Cavalli on

You can watch La Didone by Francesco Cavalli live from the Théâtre de Caen on . William Christie conducts Les Arts Florissants, and a brilliant cast lead by the most wonderful Anna Bonitatibus. The same show is live broadcast on the Arts Flo Media website as well.

It starts now (here you can find the libretto with its English translation.) Enjoy!

Peace in Cologne - War and Peace at the Köln Opera

War and Peace (Война и мир), Oper Köln, October 8th, 2011

Director ..... Nicolas Brieger
Conductor ..... Michael Sanderling

Andrei Bolkonsky ..... Johannes Martin Kränzle
Natasha Rostova ..... Olesya Golovneva
Sonya ..... Adriana Bastidas Gamboa
Fiodor / Ivanov ..... Alexander Fedin
Akhrosimova ..... Dalia Schaechter
Peronskaya ..... Kathleen Parker
Ilya Rostov/Marshal Davout ..... Wilfried Staber
Pierre Bezukhov ..... Matthias Klink
Hélène Bezukhova ..... Katrin Wundsam
Anatole Kuragin ..... Mirko Roschkowski
Dolokhov / Capitain Jacqueau ..... Daniel Golossov
Old lackay ..... Werner Sindemann
Marya Bolkonskaya ..... Regina Richter
Nikolay Andreyevich Bolkonsky / General Belliard ..... Magnús Baldvinsson
Matryosha ..... Sandra Janke
Gavrila ..... Anthony Sandle
Doctor Métivier / Marshal Berthier ..... Johann-Werner Prein
Denisov ..... Matias Tosi
Ordonnance of Prince Andrei ..... Philipp Hoferichter
Napoleon ..... Miljenko Turk
Adjutant of General Compans ..... Jeongki Cho
Adjutant of General Murat .....Gustavo Quaresma Ramos
Adjutant of Prince Eugène / Gérard ..... Ralf Rachbauer
Mr. de Beausset ..... Martin Koch
Capitain Ramballe ..... Dennis Wilgenhof
Leutenant Bonnet ..... John Heuzenroeder
A French Officer Sévag ..... Serge Tachdjian
Platon Karataev ..... Manfred Fink

Chorus of the Köln Opera

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Les Troyens gone blue in Karlsruhe: David Hermann offers the best production of this opera ever, and Heidi Melton rocks

I am enchanted. The musical treat of rare quality, and a magnificent production by David who I knew/felt was capable of delivering this big a show (he and Christof Hetzer.)

Who the hell is Heidi Melton? A jaw-dropping Didon in all departments: Didon of the century, no less.

Orchestra, chorus, maestro... Amazing!

Heidi Melton singing Adieu, fière cité...

Will blog when I return to Paris.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Carsen's Tannhäuser paints Elisabeth in Paris

Tannhäuser, Opéra Bastille in Paris, October 6th 2011

Robert Carsen, Sophie Koch, Mark Elder, Christopher Ventris, Nina Stemme

Sir Mark Elder ..... Conductor
Robert Carsen ..... Director

Nina Stemme ..... Elisabeth
Sophie Koch ..... Venus
Christopher Ventris ..... Tannhäuser
Stéphane Degout ..... Wolfram von Eschenbach
Christof Fischesser ..... Hermann Landgrave 
Stanislas De Barbeyrac ..... Walther von der Vogelweide
Tomasz Konieczny ..... Biterolf
Eric Huchet ..... Heinrich der Schreiber
Wojtek Smilek ..... Reinmar von Zweter

Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus

Thursday, October 13, 2011

To share

Despite its unbearable snootiness the Bayerische Staatsoper [BSO] in Munich remains one of those rare places in Europe where you can see the opera stars regularly singing in very good productions.  Fidelio, Mitridate and Rusalka, all premiered last season, are good illustrations of how good and artistically healthy that opera house is [Fidelio was visually ruined by a memorably bad filming --if you only saw the webcast-- but its content is becoming more resonant with what the current economical situation entails...]

Months ago I've ordered the tickets for the new BSO production of Les Contes de Hoffmann [directed by Richard Jones, with our dear-dear Diana Damrau making her debut in four roles, with Rolando Villazon hopefully back to his memorable Hoffmann-mode, and with the rock-solid John Rellyea.] Unfortunately in late August I received a mail from BSO informing me that all seats were sold out to subscribers (sic!) Tough luck and I decided to go to Basel instead and see Wozzeck (FANTASTIC! - will blog soon about that one too) and Rusalka.

Happily, the world's best TV  -- Arte, natürlich!-- is there to help. They will live broadcast  Les Contes de Hoffmann from Munich on Monday, November 21, starting from 20:30 cet. Good!

Another good news to share is that the Birmingham Ring, created in the 90's by Graham Vick, was presented last week at La Cité de la Musique in Paris and Arte Live Web provided the live webcast, that will be available for about 6 months for free viewing (all four videos also embedded below)

This is orchestrally a thinned version, that Jonathan Dove adroitly and cleverly scaled down to about 20-30 instruments. The story is slightly alternated, cut at several places as to make the whole cycle manageable by the small sized theaters without ruining anything to the flow of dramatic action in all four operas. The cycle is called the Ring Saga. It is different, and you might actually like it!
Peter Rundel is a briliant conductor and the ensemble of singers is definitely interesting.

Yes, there is also Cherubini's Médée from Brussels also available for free viewing (La Monnaie rocks!), but I think I should write a few helpful lines to help you better "read" through this MAGNIFICENT production by Warlikowski.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mahagonny in Antwerp: Whata show!

Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, Flanders Opera in Antwerp (Vlaamse Opera), October 9th 2011

Director ..... Calixto Bieito
Conductor ..... Yannis Pouspourikas
Sets ..... Rebecca Ringst

Jim Mahoney ..... John Daszak
Leocadia Begbick ..... Leandra Overmann
Fatty der Prokurist ..... Erin Caves
Dreieinigkeitsmoses ..... Claudio Otelli
Jenny Hill ..... Noëmi Nadelmann
Jack O'Brien/Tobby Higgins .... Gijs Van der Linden
Sparbüchsen Billy ..... William Berger
Alaska Wolf Joe ..... Jaco Huijpen
Acteur ..... Guntbert Warns

Symphonic Orchestra of the Flanders Opera
Flanders Opera Chorus


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hello from Antwerp

I said I might, and in the end I did come to Antwerp to see the new Calixto Bieito production of Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny

Flanders Opera in Antwerp

After the fantastic premiere of the Robert Carsen production of Tannhäuser  in Paris last Thursday, last night I saw a true gem production --and a rarity these days--  War and Peace at Köln Oper.

After atrocious Salomé and Faust in Paris, this week feels like cortisone to my love for opera. So, it's all good.

Will blog about all three shows later tonight when I come back to Paris.

Now I should go to see what the Flanders Opera looks like from the inside.
Greetings from the rainy city of diamonds.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Love La Monnaie

Been extremely busy! Will blog Friday night... Many things to blog about but the most important is that my dear and beloved La Monnaie/De Munt and the amazing Peter de Caluwe won the title of the BEST OPERA HOUSE IN 2010-2011. Together with the Komische Oper Berlin and Theater Basel this is definitely the most exciting and artistically invigorating opera house in the world and I am more than happy that Opernwelt acknowledged it.  Congrats and thank you to all the great and competent stuff of La Monnaie.

This is the kind of prize that falls regularly in right hands. I didn't blog about Les Huguenots (the best production of 2010-2011) but I will soon (next weekend). Die Passagierin also received a prize (very deserved as well -- too bad the London crowd prefered Puccini and Gounod to the fascinating life story and highly non-trivial Shostakovich-kind music by Moisey Weinberg). SUPERB Wozzeck by Andrea Breth in Berlin, and wonderful Rusalka by Kusej in Munich got their honorable mention too...

So all good stuff got honored by this prestigeous selection committee.  And yes, congrats to our beloved tiny Urbain from Les Huguenots -- Julia Lezhneva -- the best young singer of 2010-2011!