Monday, November 21, 2011

One more proof of greatness: Ruslan and Lyudmila directed by Dmitri Tcherniakov

Dmitri Tcherniakov is one of the five best opera directors today, and this new production of Ruslan and Lyudmila --by which the new Bolshoi Theater in Moscow reopened its gates to the opera lovers-- is one of numerous proofs that this man is uncommonly gifted, clever, audacious (in any sets of circumstances) -- in short, a genius.

You should keep in mind that the Moscow opera goers are far more conservative than those filling up the seats at the Paris Opera, and that the Bolshoi is even more conservative than The Met. With that in mind one starts watching this fascinating production and realizes how smoothly Tcherniakov leads his public to make them open up and start thinking about this opera as of something that is not taken out from the shelves and unfolded for their entertainment, but of something that is close to them, talks to them.

From the production photos alone, the show seemed to be one of those tired historic opulent productions, but 10 minutes in the show and you understand it's just the costumes that have been used to appropriately depict a traditional wedding in contemporary Russia... 

Notice that Tcherniakov started using video in a way similar to what Denis Guéguin does in  Krzysztof Warlikowski productions. Also the photos leaked prior to the premiere resembles the trick Stefan Herheim used before unveiling his Lohengrin in Berlin [when the photos mislead us to believe that the show was going to be traditionalist.]

And so, while the new productions at the Paris Opera look like tired copies of already notoriously stale productions broadcast from the Met, The Bolshoi here makes a quick leapfrog by rethinking through this Pushkin inspired opera that Tcherniakov prepared together with Vladimir Jurowski who made the score sound refreshing, and with a superb line up of singers: Mikhail Petrenko, Albina Shagimuratova, Charles Workman, Yuriy Mynenko (!), Alexandrina Pendatchanska, Almas Svilpa, Vladimir Ognovenko, and Elena Zaremba.
Tcherniakov and Jurowski are this new creative and open Russia. 

Now, do read the synopsis before watching Ruslan and Lyudmila in the video attached below. Enjoy :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Oh là là !

I don't know if there is anything even remotely positive to say about "Celles qui aimaient Richard Wagner", a recently released film by Jean-Louis Guillermou about... well, about Richard Wagner -- I guess.

The story conveyors are certain Judith (young) and Brigitte (aged), diehard Wagner fans, both socially rather inapt, living stuck between their own lives and the life of fantasies built on a biography of Richard Wagner [OK, it's more about Judith, but the episode with Brigitte helped highlighting the Wagnerites' weirdness... or so I understood!]

As for the horny Richard, he had a magic formula: just approach any attractive woman, whisper on her ear that she's your new muse, and she's instantly blinking with 'green lights' (oh yes, there's a background-sound from the prelude to Tristan each time he's about to knock one)... and so on... aren't you yawning already?!

100% of dialogs sound annoyingly artificial [Aaah Richard! Je vous appartiens!], and occasionally unintentionally hilarious [HE: "Vous me semblez toute chavirée ma chère!" SHE: "Ce ne sont que ces chaleurs trop vives qui m’indisposent."]

The director often lets Roberto Alagna (alias Joseph Tichatschek) act on his own, without proper guidance, and since Roberto has next-to-zero naturalness in his acting the result is very far from flattering (see a tiny excerpt here.) Even worse is Stéphane Bern (a well known French TV/radio talk show presenter) who impersonates a spoiled but grotesque King Ludwig II.

And so, with a few decent actors and with these personalities unsuccessfully trying to do the acting job, with evidently not enough money invested in the project to back the director's ambitions (costumes and makeup from a second rate theater), in addition to the impossible dialogs, somewhere half-way through the movie you start doubting if the whole thing isn't just a big fat parody. Then you start taking it all lightly and chuckle more and more often... but soon it all becomes more serious and you realize that it's just that -- a horribly bad movie.

Below is a trailer and there are a few theaters in France and another few elsewhere in Europe where you can still catch this thing.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Una Notte di Bel Canto: Théâtre des Champs Élysées Re-Opens

I Capuleti e i Montecchi (in concert), Théâtre des Champs Élysées, November 11 2011 [11/11/11]

Olga Peretyatko - Giulietta

Evelino Pidò ..... Conductor

Anna Caterina Antonacci ..... Romeo
Olga Peretyatko ..... Giulietta
Juan Francisco Gatell ..... Tebaldo
Carlo Cigni ..... Lorenzo
Giovanni Battista Parodi ..... Capellio

Orchestra et Chorus of the Opéra de Lyon

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Œdipus gouges out his eyes at the Best Opera House in 2011 - Free video for your eyes only

Starting from tonight [November 12, 2011] at 20:00 (cet) you can watch the video of the barely finished run of the new production of Oedipe -- a wonderful opera by George Enescu presented at the Best Opera House in 2011, La Monnaie/De Munt in Brussels.

From Oedipe at La Monnaie [photo ©Berndt Uhlig]

The reviews were full of praise for the opera itself, for Peter de-super-Caluwe who lead the project to resuscitating this rarely performed opera, for Leo Hussain and his enthusiastic, passionate albeit accurate conducting, and for the singers/actors who gave this opera new life.
As expected, many negative reviews for Alex Ollé and Valentina Carrasco from La Fura dels Baus, who produced the show, who make the grand scene too grandioso-s  for the opera crowd, but I am sure it was "special" [I absolutely LOVED their Le Grand Macabre at La Monnaie a couple of years ago; the same show will be presented next week at Liceu in Barcelona!]

Ah yes, the link is HERE and note that the video will be available for free viewing three weeks only!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Le Nozze di Figaro - Les Noces Liegoises

After their really bad production of Otello, I stopped mentioning the webcast projects by Opéra Royal de Wallonie in Liège. However, since Anne-Catherine Gillet --a wonderful Belgian soprano-- sings the role of Susanna in their new production of Le Nozze di Figaro, I cannot but encourage you to give it a try and watch the video of the show that was live webcast less than 2 weeks ago.

ACG is a true Mozartian gem and although she sounds 5 times better in auditorium than on any video or CD, it is a treat anyway. If you get a chance to listen to her singing live, do not miss it!

From Le Nozze di Figaro at ORW in Liège: Cinzia Forte, Anne Catherine Gillet, and Jennifer Rivera

Another good reason to see this show is that Jennifer Rivera --a superb American mezzo-- is quite obviously enjoying herself in the role of Cherubino. Other cast members are good too: Mario Cassi, Cinzia Forte, Wiard Withold...   

Le Nozze are always fun to see, especially when the cast is this cool.

Directed by Philippe Sireuil and conducted by Christian Zacharias, the video of the full performance can be found on this link (embedded below is only a trailer)

Lulu in Paris: Talented Mr. Decker (2)

Lulu, Opéra Bastille in Paris, October 28 2011

Conductor ..... Michael Schønwandt
Director ..... Willy Decker

Lulu ..... Laura Aikin
Gräfin Geschwitz ..... Jennifer Larmore
Eine Theatergarderobiere, Ein Gymnasiast, Ein Groom ..... Andrea Hill
Der Maler, Der Neger ..... Marlin Miller
Dr Schön, Jack ..... Wolfgang Schöne
Alwa ..... Kurt Streit
Der Tierbändiger, Ein Athlet ..... Scott Wilde
Schigolch ..... Franz Grundheber
Der Prinz, Der Kammerdiener, Der Marquis ..... Robert Wörle
Der Theaterdirektor, Der Bankier ..... Victor Von Halem
Eine Fünfzehnjährige ..... Julie Mathevet
Ihre Mutter ..... Marie-Thérèse Keller
Die Kunstgewerblerin ..... Marianne Crebassa
Der Journalist ..... Damien Pass
Ein Diener ..... Ugo Rabec

Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus

Sunday, November 6, 2011

And the Winners of the Concours Régine Crespin are...

I do not believe in singing competitions, or better, I don't believe their results are realistic. There are so many factors entering the selection process and the selection of the winners, that taking the results seriously is just silly. Importantly, the finalists are all good, they are all under 30, and they will hopefully enjoy some media exposure that they most certainly deserve.

Of 45 selected singers selected for the First Concours Régine Crespin --organized by the Long-Thibaud Foundation-- and after two rounds of competition the jury, chaired by Alexander Pereira (new director of the Salzburger Festspiele), decided the 6 finalists who would sang at the big public concert at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

And so the final concert took place yesterday - Saturday, November 5th 2011, with Betrand de Billy conducting the Orchestre National de France  and with Sophie Koch who hosted the evening. Each of the 6 finalists -- Marina Bucciarelli, Marie-Adeline Henry, Julia Lezhneva, Roman Burdenko, Kihwan Sim, Ida Falk Winland -- sang two arias.

Finalists: Marina Bucciarelli, Marie-Adeline Henry, Julia Lezhneva, Roman Burdenko, Kihwan Sim, Ida Falk Winland

Arte-Live-Web (again them!) live broadcast the concert and the video is embedded below.
The Top-3 are:

  1. Kihwan Sim [La calunnia è un venticello (Il barbiere di Siviglia) - 0:34:15, Ombre di mia prosapia (La Gioconda) - 1:40:05]
  2. Roman Burdenko  [Si puo? Si puo? (Pagliacci) - 0:12:58, Kto mozhet sravnitzya (Iolanta) - 1:21:30]
  3. Ida Falk Windland [Je marche sur tous les chemins (Manon) - 0:49:40, Glitter and Be Gay (Candide) - 1:55:15 ]
where the numbers indicate the time-mark starting from which you can see/hear the corresponding aria in the video below.

 Congratulations to all 6 finalists and to the winners in particular!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

La Clemenza di Tito in Paris: Talented Mr. Decker

La Clemenza di Tito (La clémence de Titus), Opéra Garnier in Paris, September 12 2011

Willy Decker ..... Director
Adam Fischer ..... Conductor

Klaus Florian Vogt ..... Tito
Hibla Gerzmava ..... Vitellia
Stéphanie d'Oustrac ..... Sesto
Allyson McHardy ..... Annio
Amel Brahim-Djelloul ..... Servilia
Balint Szabo ..... Publio

Chorus and Orchestra of the Opéra National de Paris

Friday, November 4, 2011

Semper Rusalka in Dresden (take two)

Rusalka, Semperoper Dresden, November 3 2011

Conductor ..... Tomáš Netopil
Director ..... Stefan Herheim
Set Design ..... Heike Scheele

Prinz ..... Zoltán Nyári
Rusalka ..... Tatiana Monogarova
Die fremde Fürstin ..... Anda-Louise Bogza
Wassermann ..... Georg Zeppenfeld
Ježibaba ..... Tichina Vaughn
Erste Elfe ..... Vanessa Goikoetxea
Zweite Elfe ..... Barbara Senator
Dritte Elfe ..... Sofi Lorentzen
Jäger, Priester ...... Gerald Hupach
Metzger ..... Torsten Schäpan
Polizist ..... Friedrich Darge
Mr. High (Chorsolist) ..... Michael Auenmüller
Mr. Low (Chorsolist) ..... Jun Seok Bang
Der Apotheker (Chorsolist) ..... Jae-Suk Kim
Der Besserwisser (Chorsolist) ..... Alexander Schafft

Sächsischer Staatsopernchor Dresden (Pablo Assante)
Staatskapelle Dresden

Don Carlo in Berlin -- one to remember [Runnicles et al]

Don Carlo, Deutsche Oper Berlin, November 2nd 2011

Conductor ..... Donald Runnicles
Director ..... Marco Arturo Marelli

King Philip of Spain ..... Roberto Scandiuzzi
Don Carlo ..... Massimo Giordano
Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa ..... Boaz Daniel
Inquisitor ..... Ante Jerkunica
A monk ..... Ryan McKinny
Elisabeth of Valois ..... Lucrezia Garcia
Princess of Eboli ..... Anna Smirnova
The page Thibaut ..... Hila Fahima
Count of Lerma / Herold ..... Matthew Peña
A voice ..... Kathryn Lewek
Flemish deputies ..... Alexey Bogdanchikov
Flemish deputies ..... Hyung-Wook Lee
Flemish deputies ..... Simon Pauly
Flemish deputies ..... Jörn Schümann
Flemish deputies ..... Marko Mimica
Flemish deputies ..... Tobias Kehrer

Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin (William Spaulding)
Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Rake's Progress in Lille

The Rake's Progress, Opéra de Lille, October 16, 2011

Tom and Anne -- Alek Shrader and Christiane Karg

  David Lescot ..... Director
  Arie Van Beek ..... Conductor

Alek Shrader ..... Tom Rakewell
Christiane Karg ..... Anne Trulove
Alan Ewing ..... Trulove
Christopher Purves ..... Nick Shadow
Frances McCafferty ..... Mother Goose
Anne Mason ..... Baba-Turk
Alasdair Elliott ..... Sellem

Orchestre de Picardie
Choeur de l’Opéra de Lille (Yves Parmentier)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Homoki le Grand: The Bartered Bride at the Komische

The Bartered Bride, Komische Oper Berlin, November 1st 2011

Vasek, Janik, Maestro Vedernikov, Marenka, Kecal, and Ludmila

Director ..... Andreas Homoki
Conductor ..... Alexander Vedernikov

Krušina ..... Tom Erik Lie
Ludmila ..... Gertrud Ottenthal
Mařenka ..... Christiane Kohl
Mícha ..... Carsten Sabrowski
Háta ..... Caren van Oijen
Vašek ..... Thomas Ebenstein
Jeník ..... Timothy Richards
Kecal ..... Jens Larsen
Zirkusdirektor ..... Peter Renz
Esmeralda ..... Anastasia Melnik

November 2011 in Europe: New Productions

Apart from the new Ruslan and Lyudmila at the Bolshoi (produced by the most unpredictable and supremely talented Dimitri Tcherniakov), there are several very interesting new productions to be premiered in Europe this November. Sebastian Baumgarten will present his Carmen at the Komische in Berlin, and potentially good should also be new Ariadne auf Naxos in Cologne. I wonder what peculiarity will have new Queen of Spades that Peter Konwitschny is preparing in Graz (c.f. rehearsal pics here. Gotta love that man!)

Creativity and the deepest human touch should be the epithets for the new Eugene Onegin at ENO, directed by  Deborah (Dido and Aeneas) Warner, and for the new Marthaler show in Basel -- Lo stimolatore cardiaco.

Ordered according to their premiere, an extensive selection of new productions to be presented in theaters across Europe this November includes:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Singing City (updated)

You remember the superb production of Parsifal directed by Calixto Bieito?

No, I have no news about the potential DVD release, but the documentary filmed during the production creating process has been actually released on DVD.
I purchased a copy today at the Dussmann store in Berlin (German equivalent to the FNAC, Virgin, Feltrinelli...) It's also available on amazon. It's in German with English subtitles.