Saturday, December 31, 2011

Alcina at Semperoper: birth of a great opera director -- Jan Philipp Gloger

Alcina, Semperoper Dresden, November 4th 2011

Director ..... Jan Philipp Gloger
Conductor ..... Rainer Mühlbach

Alcina ..... Amanda Majeski
Ruggiero ..... Barbara Senator
Bradamante ..... Christa Mayer
Morgana ..... Nadja Mchantaf
Melisso ..... Markus Butter
Oronte ..... Simeon Esper
Oberto ..... Elena Gorshunova
Chorista 1 ..... Manuel Günther
Chorista 2 ..... Michael Kranebitter

Staatskapelle Dresden

Friday, December 30, 2011

Cinderella for the people!

Laurent Pelly knows how to make the festive shows fly -- fun, witty, fast... and it is not surprising that his productions are celebrated at this time of the year.

The Lyon Opera reran this month his highly entertaining production of La Vie parisienne, and was once again met a great success with the crowd in Lyon (that show is available on DVD.)

I told you the other day that his terrific staging of Hänsel und Gretel from Glyndebourne is this week available for free viewing on The Guardian website.

Starting from today, and for the next few weeks, also his Cendrillon [by J. Massenet] can be seen for free on the website of La Monnaie/De Munt. This should be entertaining for children.
Alain Altinoglu, always strong in the French repertoire, conducts and the cast includes Rinat Shaham, Sophie Marilley, Eglise Gutierrez, Angélique Noldus, Nora Gubisch, Ilse Eerens, Lionel Lhote...
You can read a review by the fellow blogger NPW who saw the second show at La Monnaie.


Thursday, December 29, 2011


I am pretty sure we can all agree that the old film-operas are garbage and we all prefer DVDs of the actual theatrical performances. This is probably due to the fact that all these film-operas were HORRIBLY produced, with very creepy and/or cheesy acting, lip-synching...

But the things have changed since and the clever-talented directors make better productions and know how to make interesting operas and films. Kasper Holten --author of the best Ring on DVD to date-- and his team did a superb job: they shortened Don Giovanni to 105 minutes, freely translated it into English, lined up a fantastic cast of singers who can act and who actually do sing throughout the whole film.

Cleverly, they call it Juan and not Don Giovanni. In this way the traditionalists who might be... let me guess... who might be outraged, will calm down soon knowing that this is not Don Giovanni -- this is Juan.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

This and that...

First of all, important news is that the 2008 Glyndebourne Festival production of Hänsel und Gretel directed by Laurent Pelly and conducted by Kazushi Ono, with Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke (!)Jennifer Holloway, Adriana Kučerová, Irmgard Vilsmaier, is available for free viewing on The Guardian website (c.f. here).
Videos will be available during the week of Christmas holidays only, so try not to miss it because the show is terrific.
If you cannot see it this week, the only alternative is DVD of the same production.

Other important and less important news worth sharing -- below...

The Magic Flute by William Kentridge finally came to Paris

Die Zauberflöte/La Flûte enchantée, Théâtre des Champs Élysées in Paris, December 26 2011

Director ..... William Kentridge
Conductor ..... Jean-Christophe Spinosi

Tamino ..... Topi Lehtipuu
Pamina ..... Sandrine Piau
Papageno ..... Markus Werba
Papagena ..... Emmanuelle De Negri
The Queen of the Night ..... Jeanette Vecchione
First Lady ..... Claire Debono
Second Lady ..... Juliette Mars
Third Lady ..... Elodie Méchain
Sarastro ..... Ain Anger
Monostatos ..... Steven Cole
Priests and Armored Men ..... Renaud Delaigue, Alexandre Swan
Speaker of the Temple ..... Robert Gleadow

Ensemble Matheus
Chorus of the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Peter Konwitschny affair (updated...)

Just when we thought the Oper Leipzig became a new exciting place where the creativity meets excellence, we learned that Peter Konwitschny submitted his resignation letter to the house's intendant Ulf Schirmer. This is bad news for the Leipzig Oper and for all of us.

The news broke out on December 24, containing just a few dry lines, from which we could understand that Big Pete wanted to resign from his job as the house's chief director immediately -- starting from January 2012. Normally the contract would run until 2014.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

We will barock you: L-Orlando, or Alexander Mørk-Eidem revisiting Handel's Orlando

Orlando, Komische Oper Berlin, December 21 2011

Director ..... Alexander Mørk-Eidem
Conductor ... Alessandro De Marchi

Orlando ..... Mariselle Martinez
Angelica ..... Brigitte Geller
Medoro ..... Susanne Kreusch
Dorinda ..... Ingrid Frøseth
Zoroastro ..... Andreas Wolf
Isabella, Zoroastro's Assistant ..... Bernd Stempel

Friday, December 23, 2011

PC TV Holidays

Gift to Bartók fans

The other day I blogged about the Bluebeard Castle, one of the most fascinating of all the operas.
I said that the Philharmonia was magnificent, even if Iván Fischer and  Budapest Festival Orchestra [BFO] remain unsurpassed as far as the music by Bartók is concerned.
Bartók is their home specialty, and they really bring it to a new level of skills and interpretation.

If you get a chance to listen to their live performance (Bartók or anything else), it's not to be missed.

I thought I'd share two `Bartóky' videos in this post that I found particularly interesting:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Opera meets Theater: Superb Neuenfels production of Reimann's Lear

Lear, Komische Oper Berlin, December 20 2011

Tómas Tómasson

Director ..... Hans Neuenfels
Conductor ..... Friedemann Layer
Co-director ... Henry Arnold

King Lear ..... Tómas Tómasson
King of France ..... Tilmann Rönnebeck
Duke of Albany ..... Hans Gröning
Duke of Cornwall ..... Christoph Späth
Earl of Kent ..... Thomas Ebenstein
Earl of Gloucester ..... Jens Larsen
Edgar, son of Gloucester ..... Martin Wölfel
Edmund, illegitimate son of Gloucester ..... Andreas Conrad
Goneril. daughter of Lear ..... Irmgard Vilsmaier
Regan, daughter of Lear ..... Erika Roos
Cordelia, daughter of Lear ..... Caroline Melzer
Fool ..... Elisabeth Trissenaar
Servant ..... Volker Herden
Knight ..... Michel Podwojski

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Vasily Petrenko in Paris

Wallin-Sibelius-Tchaikovsky, Salle Pleyel in Paris, November 30 2011

Vass Petrenko

Conductor ..... Vasily Petrenko
 Soloist/Violin ..... Joshua Bell

Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra

Ô petite étoile du destin... Simon Rattle, Magdalena Kozena

L'étoile, Staatsoper Unter den Linden im Schiller Theater, Berlin, December 19 2011

Conductor ..... Simon Rattle
Director ..... Dale Duesing

King Ouf I ..... Jean-Paul Fouchécourt
Lazuli ..... Magdalena Kožená
Princess Laoula ..... Juanita Lascarro
Siroco ..... Giovanni Furlanetto
Prince Herisson de Porc-Epic ..... Douglas Nasrawi
Aloès ..... Stella Doufexis
Tapioca ..... Florian Hoffmann

Staatskapelle Berlin

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Macbeth in Leipzig: The Great Dictator by Peter Konwitschny

Macbeth, Oper Leipzig, December 15 2011

Conductor ..... William Lacey
Director ..... Peter Konwitschny

Duncan ..... Bert Franzke 
Macbeth ..... Marco di Felice
Banquo ..... James Moellenhoff
Lady Macbeth ..... Amarilli Nizza
Macduff ..... Giuseppe Varano 
Malcolm ..... Norman Reinhardt
Kammerfrau der Lady .... Jean Broekhuizen

Chorus of the Oper Leipzig (Alessandro Zuppardo)

Infernal Dance by the Philharmonia Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen

Bluebeard Castle/Le Château de Barbe-Bleue (in concert), Théâtre des Champs Elysées, November 15 2011

Esa-Pekka Salonen, Carole Bouquet, Michelle DeYoung, John Tomlinson

Conductor ..... Esa-Pekka Salonen

Judith ..... Michelle DeYoung
Kékszakállú ..... John Tomlinson

Prologue ..... Carole Bouquet

Monday, December 19, 2011

One more Christmas gift to traditionalists: La Forza del Destino from Paris

I said I would not blog about the sad-sad production of La Forza del Destino, recently premiered at the Paris Opera, but since the video-links of the show appeared and the run of this appalling production is over, I'll just put in my two sentences and let you enjoy or "enjoy" this thing.

Curtain calls after the show on November 17 2011 at Opéra Bastille: Vladimir Stoyanov, Philippe Jordan, Patrick Marie Aubert, Violeta Urmana, Zoran Todorovich, Kwangchul Youn, Nadia Krasteva [the best soloist, Nicola Alaimo, not in the photo]

In all honesty, I went to see this show hoping it would change my too strong opinion about this opera --one of the dumbest operas of all times-- and that I'd find a way to convince myself that, musically, this opera was indeed one of the greatest works done by Giuseppe, as the numerous Verdi aficionados often suggest.

While I knew nothing would change the incongruities of the libretto, and that this kind of staging would only emphasize them, I thought the performers would make this giant snoozer miraculously enjoyable.  Hélas, hélas!

Kwangchul Youn was obviously fantastic and Nicola Alaimo excellent, but all in all I spent 5 very long hours [2 intermissions] fighting the snooze-balloons, survived them all, only to hear "Pace, pace mio Dio!" and say -- Never Again!

Premiere of Orpheus in der Unterwelt: Stölzl meets Offenbach backstage

Orphée aux enfers, Staatsoper Unter den Linden im Schiller Theater, Berlin, December 16 2011

Conductor ..... Julien Salemkour
Director ..... Philipp Stölzl

Eurydice ..... Evelin Novak
Public opinion ..... Cornelius Obonya
Orpheus ..... Stefan Kurt
Pluto ..... Ben Becker
Jupiter ..... Gustav Peter Wöhler
Styx ..... Hans-Michael Rehberg
Juno ..... Irene Rindje

Staatskapelle Berlin
Staatsopernchor (Frank Flade)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

La Traviata in Berlin: Omer Meir Wellber, Christine Schäfer, and Francesco Demuro - Bravi Tutti!

La Traviata, Staatsoper Unter den Linden im Schiller Theater - Berlin, December 17 2011

Conductor ..... Omer Meir Wellber
Director ..... Peter Mussbach

Violetta Valéry ..... Christine Schäfer
Flora Bervoix ..... Maraike Schröter
Annina ..... Rowan Hellier
Alfredo Germont ..... Francesco Demuro
Giorgio Germont ..... Alfredo Daza
Gaston ..... Paul O’Neill
Baron Douphol ..... Bernd Zettisch
Marquis d'Obigny ..... Arttu Kataja
Dr. Grenvil ..... Andreas Bauer

Staatskapelle Berlin

Macbeth in Muti's house: When in Rome do as the Romans do

Macbeth, Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, December 9 2011

Director ..... Peter Stein
Conductor ..... Riccardo Muti

Macbeth ..... Dario Solari
Banco ..... Riccardo Zanellato
Lady Macbeth ..... Tatiana Serjan
Dama di Lady Macbeth ..... Anna Malavasi
Macduff ..... Antonio Poli
Malcolm ..... Antonio Corianò

Orchestra e Coro del Teatro dell’Opera
(Roberto Gabbiani)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Peter Konwitschny is doing fine

I saw his new production of Macbeth two nights ago in Leipzig [and LOVED it!] Konwitschny himself was watching the show. I was too close to take photos, but I'm happy to share this good news with you.

CC pic taken after the Thursday show

More on the show... soon!

Christmas gift to traditionalists: The Flying Dutchman -- free only this weekend

Recently premiered production of The Flying Dutchman with a superb Manuela Uhl is available for free ONLY this weekend (December 17 and 18, 2011)

Mark Rucker (Dutchman) and Manuela Uhl (Senta)

The show has been recorded on November 29 at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie in Liège

Dir- Petrika Ionesco, Cnd- Paolo Arrivabeni, Cast: Mark Rucker, Manuela Uhl, Alistair Miles, Corby Welch, Joëlle Charlier, and Yuri Gorodetski 

Video is embedded below:

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Apparently the rehearsals leading to the premiere of The Queen of Spades in Graz [trailer here] were very intense and Peter Konwitschny (one of the rare true artists among opera producers) simply burned out. He was hospitalized for exhaustion before the premiere, and he's been staying at that same hospital in Graz for more than six weeks already -- which obviously means that his health problems were very serious.

Konwitschny is the artistic director of Oper Leipzig, where the preparations of his new production of  Macbeth are underway. The premiere is scheduled for December 10, and will most probably happen without Big Pete.
Get well soon, big man! We need you!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Are you ready for la bellezza scaligera?!!

I am just too busy to blog and there would be many things to blog about: Rusalka and Wozzeck from Basel (great!), a few superb shows from Berlin, a couple of excellent concerts from Paris, great Alcina from Dresden...  I will NOT blog about the tragically bad new productions from Paris, such as Faust or/and La Forza del destino.

BUT, tonite is the night of La Prima della Prima: Don Giovanni from La Scala. I was told it was not inventive (after Calixto Bieito, Martin Kusej, and Dmitri Tcherniakov it is hard to keep up the quality level) but Robert Carsen shows are always intelligent and pleasant to see. Plus a superb cast will make us forget one of the biggest let-downs in recent years -- the live broadcast of Don Giovanni from The Met.