Thursday, February 28, 2013

De Nederlandse opera 2013-2014

While mentioning the best opera houses in the world I forgot to mention the Zurich Opernhaus which now --under Andreas Homoki-- should be making strides of improvement. But this post is about those big opera houses that are steadily great, and superbly run by Pierre Audi -- De Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam -- the house that I relatively frequently visit and love dearly.

For 2013-2014 they are proposing a top-notch cast for the revival of their Ring des Nibelungen, but more importantly they propose five new productions, including Armide/Glück [one of my fave operas] directed by Barrie Kosky, and The Gambler staged by Andrea Breth, with Marc Albrecht conducting and the phenomenal John Daszak in the cast. Their new Faust might be very interesting too: a superb cast lead by the most exciting singer right now, Sonya Yoncheva; good guy from La Fura (Àlex Ollé) will  direct and always brilliant Marc Minkowski will conduct.

The DNO production of Lucia di Lammermoor is one of a few that are worth seeing. Good news is that their show will be back on stage in 2014. Soooo....

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Teatro Real in Madrid 2013-2014

Together with La Monnaie/De Munt and a few German opera houses, and thanks to a remarkable work by Gerard Mortier, Teatro Real in Madrid is nowadays among the best --if not the very best-- opera house in Europe.

For its interior it was the most beautiful opera house since quite some time, but now it is also artistically the most amazing opera theater we have around. Even though their 2013-2014 will begin with a mediocre production of Il Barbiere, everything that comes after that is brilliant.

See below

Paris Opera 2013-2014

After a couple of really bad years at the Paris Opera, a glimpse over the 2013-2014 makes you think: OK, it's less bad than before. Revivals are more often than not well done in Paris, so I won't say much except encourage everyone to go and see a wonderful production of La Clemenza di Tito with a wonderful Stéphanie d'Oustrac, and the superb Warlikowski production -- The Makropulos Affair.

I like Robert Carsen, but seriously... Out of 8 new production at the OdP, two of them [Elektra & Zauberflöte] are staged by Carsen, whose Capuleti and Alcina will be revived too!
Olivier Py too is supposed to come up with two new production [Alceste & Aida].

No younger directors, no contemporary opera, revivals of the embarrassingly bad Cosi and Italiana...

New Traviata by Benoît Jacquot will most probably be a tepid sellout  show [smt like the awful  ROH production by Eyre]... If we cannot be entirely enthused by the list of conductors, overall  --and modulo a few exceptions-- the lineup is good. I like the casts for the most part [YAY for Sonya Yoncheva and Jochen Schmeckenbecher!]. 

To stay positive, on the paper, it looks as if the operatic program at the ONP is improving.

see below...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Thank You Denmark

For Borgen, for The Hunt, for A Royal Affair, for Adam's Apples, for Kapringen, for the insuperable actor Mads Mikkelsen, or the phenomenal Pilou Asbaek and Sidse Babett Knudsen, for the immeasurably talented Thomas Vinterberg, for Lars von Trier (who sees the deepest corners of the human soul)...

Tak Danmark for saving film from the aggressive commercial mediocrity and socially/culturally damaging propaganda.  You're the island of hope!

On the same note --but independently from Denmark-- thank you Michael Haneke for Amour.

I'm halfway through Borgen S02 and it is enriching in more than one way. Excellent filming, acting, amazing intellectual content, decent depth of arguments, openness to the 21st century, and despite the main theme the fact that they resisted at every stage to dive into nationalism or cheap self-celebration is praise-worthy...  -- great great stuff: one of the best TV shows of this genre ever.  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Les Contes d'Hoffmann on La Rambla

The (re)new production of Les contes d'Hoffmann, directed by Laurent Pelly, is finishing its run tonight [Saturday, Febr 23rd 2013] at the Grand Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona and the brilliant Mezzo TV will be live broadcasting this last show to us.

Pelly proved to be particularly doué for staging the works by Offenbach so this may well be a treat for all opera aficionados. Merci Mezzo!

In addition to always excellent conductor, Stéphane Denève, the top-notch cast includes Michael Spyres, Laurent Naouri, Michèle Losier, Natalie Dessay, Kathleen Kim, Tatiana Pavlovskaya, Susana Cordón, Salomé Haller...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Calixto Bieito is a genius!

I'm watching the Munich production of Boris Godunov directed by Calixto Bieito --that I DVRed while I was at the theater attending the Martin Kusej show-- and it looks to me as a 'scary sequel' of his [Calixto's] take on Der Fliegende Holländer.
I'll probably throw in a few paragraphs about this gem when I finish watching it but as of now I just wanted to unleash one more time "Calixto Bieito is a freaking genius!"

He is a good man, humanist to the core, a man with a huge heart, with a big pair... , and with a subtle ear for every human state or emotion.

I am also glad the Bayerische Staatsoper (BSO) finally scores a big show.
The advantage of the BSO over the other big opera houses is that they're constantly trying to explore various theatrical styles, which means taking risks all the time. Unfortunately, several of their recent new productions fell flat, but this one grandly compensates for all those unhappy outcomes.  [I love the cast too!] I believe this is the first great BSO show since Mitridate [if I don't count The Ring]. So, congrats to BSO from their old fan!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Good Shows Alert

  1. Mezzo TV will live broadcast the new production of Boris Godunov from Munich, tonight (Wed, Feb 20, 2013) starting from 19:00. The show is produced by Calixto Bieito (with Rebecca Ringst!) which should be a guarantee that the show will be a bright spot in the sea of mediocrity of what is currently produced in operahouses worldwide. The cast is good as ever (always high Bayerische Staatsoper standards), and his greatness Kent Nagano will be conducting. 

  2.  The Perfect American, opera by Ph. Glass, was recently created at Teatro Real in Madrid [one of the top 3-4 Opera Houses in Europe today]. Christopher Purves --who we can never admire enough-- sings the role of Walt Disney and the rest of the cast is very good. Directed by Phelim Mc Dermott (to discover!), this opera to see was conducted by Dennis Russell Davies. Here are the links to Arte-LiveWeb and Medici-tv.

  3. La Monnaie/De Munt --a.k.a. the best opera house in Europe  [although Berlin, Madrid, Dresden, Lyon, Zurich... boast terrific opera houses too]-- completed the run of their new production of Manon Lescaut which is now available for free viewing on this link [until March 3rd].  Opportunity to see a show produced by Mariusz Trelinski (one more Polish talent!)
    OK, Puccini is cheesy with too much pathos to take, but that mixture is diluted by a high quality of direction and the superb singing by Eva Maria Westbroek and Brandon Jovanovich. So do give it a go! 

  4. Usually I would not encourage anyone with IQ>80 to go to cinema,  pay for one of very pricey seats just to see a broadcast --live from The Met-- of one of The Met's catastrophic recent productions (better go to a restaurant or donate to charity). A few exceptions happen, however, and those are usually the shows co-produced with Opéra de Lyon: The Nose, From the House of the Dead, and now Parsifal.  Although the cast is unlikely to match the brilliance of the show presented in Lyon, it should be brilliant too in its own way [btw, why do they push Kaufmann to sing Wagner?] and the François Girard production is truly great -- perhaps not the Castellucci kind of great, or the Herheim kind great, but great for totally different reasons. Daniele Gatti conducts! So, do try and go to your local theater and see this gem: live broadcast is scheduled for Sat, March 2nd at 18:00 (cet).

From the Calixto Bieito production of Boris Godunov presented at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich

Pour les parisiens: En ce moment --et pendant seulement quatre jours-- vous pouvez voir  Der Weibsteufel [Le diable fait femme] à l'Odéon Théâtre de l'Europe. C'est un spectacle mis en scène par Martin Kusej et la production vient du Residenztheater à Munich... A ne surtout pas louper!