Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day: Buon Compleanno!

Leap day makes this year leap... or bissextile.

Being born on February 29th must be frustrating when you're a kid. It becomes cool when you are older though. Gioachino Rossini, for instance, despite his 76 years long life, legitimately celebrated only 19 birthdays. 

Google dedicated their opening page today to Gioachino's 220th birthday. Cool!

You must've already noticed that I am not into old divas, old recordings, I am against the idea that "all good in opera happened in the past", and I defend the idea that overall our singers today are better than those who sang in the past.
However, despite very many fantastic Rossini singers that we admire and enjoy listening today in live performances --Juan Diego Florez, Joyce DiDonato, Gregory Kunde, Daniela Barcellona, Lawrence BrownleeJennifer Larmore, Antonino Siragusa, Cecilia Bartoli, John OsbornVivica Genaux, Olga Peretyatko, Malena Ernman, Colin Lee ... -- I still get particularly thrilled when listening to Marilyn Horne's renditions of the Rossini's arias. An example of her glorious vocal palette is exhibited in the aria below [from La donna del lago]

Monday, February 27, 2012

Runnicles rocks on a Huge Tristan Night in Berlin

Tristan und Isolde, Deutsche Oper Berlin (DOB), February 25 2012

Smashing performance by Petra Maria Schnitzer and Donald Runnicles

Graham Vick ..... director
Donald Runnicles ..... conductor

Peter Seiffert ..... Tristan
Liang Li ..... King Marke
Petra Maria Schnitzer ..... Isolde
Boaz Daniel ..... Kurwenal
Jörg Schörner ..... Melot
Jane Irwin ..... Brangäne
Peter Maus ..... Ein Hirt
Clemens Bieber ..... Seeman
Krzysztof Szumanski ..... Stauermann

Chorus and Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bel Canto 3: Is it possible to have an intelligent production of La Sonnambula?! Apparently...

I didn't go to Stuttgart to see their new production of La Sonnambula, but I realize almost everyone in the operatic circles in Germany is talking about the amazing qualities of that show.

Actually, rare are the opera that I think are as dumb as Sonnambula. Two arias have their fanbase, and there is nothing beyond that.
This is where you need an uncommonly clever, bright, talented director --essentially a magician-- who would find an opening and make the story out of non-story (libretto of La Sonnambula) and reach to the hearts of the public today.
It seems that Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito managed to do just that. All the shows are sold out, the reviewers are de facto competing in showing their appreciation of the show [not that I believe the reviews are a reliable gauge of goodness of the show, but that may be an indicator!]; traditionalists were apparently cringing at first but eventually surrendered to the poetry of the staging, while the rest of the public was totally enchanted, calling the directors geniuses, and everyone's performance terrific. 

Rodolfo: Liang Li*, Teresa: Helene Schneiderman, Amina: Ana Durlovski, Elvino: Luciano Botelho, Lisa: Catriona Smith, Alessio: Motti Kastón
What fascinates me more is that Jossi and Sergio are by now very famous theater and opera directors and at this stage --when Jossi is the general director of the Oper Stuttgart-- they could have picked any opera to direct, and they took on the most difficult one and turned it into a big success. How big is that!?

In the production photos below, many of you will recognize the style of the legendary Anna Viebrock, who was in charge of the sets and costume design.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Der Freischütz

Der Freischütz, Komische Oper in Berlin, February 23 2012

In the Wolf's Glen

Conductor ..... Patrick Lange
Director ..... Calixto Bieito
Set design ..... Rebecca Ringst

Max ... Dmitry Golovnin
Agathe ... Bettina Jensen
Kaspar ... Jens Larsen
Ännchen ... Ariana Strahl
Eremit ... Marko Spehar
Ottokar ... Ipca Ramanovic
Kilian ... Thomas Ebenstein
Kuno ... Hans-Peter Scheidegger

Le Freischütz

Le Freischutz, Opéra Comique in Paris, April 7 2011 

Sir John Eliot Gardiner ..... Conductor
Dan Jemmett ..... Director

Sophie Karthäuser ..... Agathe
Andrew Kennedy ..... Max
Virginie Pochon ..... Annette
Gidon Saks ..... Gaspard
Matthew Brook ..... Kouno
Luc Bertin-Hugault ..... L’Ermite
Samuel Evans ..... Kilian
Robert Davies ..... Ottokar
 Christian Pelissier ..... Samiel 

The Monteverdi Choir 
Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bel Canto 2: Italiana in Nancy; David Hermann brings breath of fresh air to France

L'italiana in Algeri /L'Italienne à Alger at Opéra National de Lorraine in Nancy, February 19 2012

Director ..... David Hermann
Conductor ..... Paolo Olmi

Isabella ..... Marie-Nicole Lemieux
Lindoro ..... Yijie Shi
Mustafà ..... Donato di Stefano
Taddeo ..... Nigel Smith
Elvira ..... Yuree Jang
Zulma ..... Olga Privalova
Haly ..... Igor Gnidii

Orchestre symphonique et lyrique de Nancy

La Scala Ring 2013 - Ticket Sale Opened

It's all in the title. Here is your link.

This is a very good & stylish production of the Ring and I'd like to encourage you to spend one week in Milan and enjoy the event live, in a beautiful auditorium of La Scala.
It's also very convenient for non-Milanese that they planed to stage the full Ring in one week only (there will be two runs -- both in June 2013)

I saw the first two operas of this Ring in Berlin -- I'm still to blog about them (too little time, too many operas...)

Alternatively you may wish to subscribe to the Paris Ring, which had some interesting moments although I believe it would fair to say that it didn't live up to expectations.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Jonas Kaufmann at TCE: Kaufmannmania continues after one more Jonasabend

Jonas Kaufmann is a perfect example of an opera star circa 2010. He doesn't take himself too seriously, looks and acts like "one of us", but constantly impresses us by the sheer amount of talent he radiates like no one else. It's his peculiar timbre and recognizable voice, his unmatched musicality, his amazing scenic presence, uncommon interpretative skills, his piani that regularly make his fans go crackers... I don't believe any opera singer in the past had it all like Jonas does today.

Helmut Deutsch and Jonas Kauffmann: TCE, February 20 2011

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bel Canto 2: Hello from Lorraine!

Freezing cold in Nancy... brrrr.... where I arrived a couple of hours ago to see  L'italiana in Algeri. The City Hall Square where you also find the Opéra National de Lorraine is beautiful.

This is the first opera David Hermann is producing in France, and it is not surprising that it happens outside of Paris (where only talentless or half-witted directors are invited to produce opera these days)
Opéra National de Lorraine in Nancy

I LOVED The Queen of Spades David Hermann produced in Basel a year ago (with outstanding Lisa by Svetlana Ignatovich), worshiped his recent take on Les Troyens in Karlsruhe (with unbeatable Didon by Heidi Melton), which then explains my trip to this lovely (if a bit sleepy) city of Nancy. 

Will blog tonite after the show.

Stéphane Lissner and La Scala: Projects 2012-2015

It appears that the brilliant general director of La Scala, Stéphane Lissner, will stay in Milan until the end of 2015, and a list of their projects is more than impressive.

We can only hope his term in Italy will indeed end in 2015, so he could come to Paris to rescue whatever will remain of the Paris Opera by the autumn of 2015.

Below is a mighty list of what Lissner and La Scala prepare for the period before the end of October 2015.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

From La Monnaie/De Munt with love: Excellent Guy Joosten production of Salomé

Guy Joosten, together with Ivo van Hove and Guy Cassiers, is one of those Flemish miracles of the 90's-00's who possess talent and audacity, style and intelligence to elevate opera shows to the level of significant theatrical events. His Elektra at La Monnaie/De Munt was highly appreciated, but I particularly liked his Salomé, that I was able to see a few years back, when it was premiered at Liceu in Barcelona.

Dir- Guy Joosten, cnd- Carlo Rizzi; cast Chris Merritt (Herodes), Doris Soffel (Herodias), Amanda Echalaz (Salomé), Scott Hendricks (Jochanaan), Gordon Gietz(Narraboth)...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bel Canto 1: Don Pasquale in Parigi (o cara)

Don Pasquale, Théâtre des Champs Élysées in Paris, February 15 2012

Viviani, Rancatore, Mazzola, Corbelli, Demuro

Enrique Mazzola ..... conductor
Denis Podalydès ..... director

Alessandro Corbelli ..... Don Pasquale
Désirée Rancatore ..... Norina
Gabriele Viviani ..... Dr Malatesta
Francesco Demuro ..... Ernesto
Richard Tronc ..... Carlino

Orchestre National de France
Choeur de Radio France