Sunday, March 17, 2013

D'Oreste, d'Ajace ho in seno i tormenti

In a few hours will begin the premiere of Idomeneo at the Frankfurt Oper, directed by our 'new' fave Jan Philipp Gloger. His production of Le Nozze di Figaro made big waves in German press despite the fact that it was staged at theater of a lesser prestige (in Augsburg and Heibronn), which proved once again that "prestigious" is most often misleading [if not even meaningless] as far as the quality of  productions is concerned.

Oper Frankfurt

Then came that divine production of Alcina in Dresden that I still hold for one of the most wonderful productions I've seen. I unfortunately did not see his Flying Dutchman that opened the Festival in Bayreuth last year [it will be streamed next August, btw].

And so today is la prima of his fourth big show this time at the Frankfurt Oper -- the house twice voted the best opera house in Europe in the past 5 years; maybe less prestigious but definitely the top tier in terms of quality of productions AND of musical performances.

Too many favorable elements converged: one of my favorite operas, produced by one of my top-directors, performed in an auditorium of fantastic acoustic quality...  and so the temptation was just too big for me to resist and I TGV-ed to this snowy and freezing city to see this new Idomeneo. Let's hope Julia Jones will be good conducting and the rest will be cool.

The production that buzzed my brain for almost a month after the show was the one at the Komische Oper in Berlin directed by Benedikt Von Peter, which must be one of the most profoundly staged opera shows ever. Benedikt is now the general director of Theater Bremen but we hope he will soon resume directing operas too...

OK, Mozart's Idomeneo -- version Gloger with elettrifying Elza van den Heever, in a few... .

Edit: Superb show - JPG is already a top-8 director; excellent cast (Elza & Roberto rocked, others were great too). More tomorrow...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lucrezia Borgia with Elena Mosuc and Charles Castronovo [the best belcanto duo in business?!]

Lucrezia Borgia, Cirque Royal in Brussels, March 3rd 2013

Director ..... Guy Joosten
Conductor ..... Julian Reynolds

Don Alfonso ..... Paul Gay
Donna Lucrezia Borgia ..... Elena Mosuc
Gennaro ..... Charles Castronovo
Maffio Orsini ..... Silvia Tro Santafé
Jeppo Liverotto ..... Roberto Covatta
Don Apostolo Gazella ..... Tijl Faveyts
Ascanio Petrucci ..... Jean-Luc Ballestra
Gubetta ..... Jean Teitgen
Rustighello ..... Alexander Kravets
Astolfo ..... Justin Hopkins
Oloferno Vitellozzo ..... Stefan Cifolelli
Usciere ..... Alain-Pierre Wingelinckx
Un coppiere ..... Gerard Lavalle

Orchestre symphonique de la Monnaie

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

ROH 2013-2014

I did not mention the 2013-2014 season in GTL Barcelona simply because there was nothing really new or interesting to mention, except that the Dima Tcherniakov production of The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya --premiered last year in Amsterdam-- will be remounted in Barcelona, with our beloved Svetlana Ignatovich singing [plan a trip to La Rambla in April 2014! ]

As expected, Kasper Holten continues reanimating the Royal Opera House, and with his team they propose a very promising 2013-2014 season.
You cannot get rid of all the bad productions in just two years and so he kept the old disposable CarmenTraviataTosca...  on the program. Importantly, however, the pitiful Don Giovanni will be replaced by the new production staged by Holten himself. Amen to that!

One of the underrated Verdi operas --that I really like-- Les Vêpres siciliennes will be on the program in 2013,  directed by Stefan Herheim (no less!) The last show in the run will be live broadcast to the cinemas around the world.

New Parsifal directed by Stephen Langridge could be interesting too [curiosity factor = 80/100], and the Claus Guth production of Die Frau ohne Schatten is not to be missed: it comes from Milan where it was recently premiered and enthusiastically acclaimed by pretty much everyone.

Finally, Maria Stuarda will be intelligently staged (just hope Leiser & Caurier do not decide to make it too dark) and definitely worth a trip [Elena Mosuc will be missed in the cast though].

All casts look very good on the paper [happy to see that the phenomenal Alfred Kim will make his house-debut]. The only snag is that John Daszak (one of the very best opera singers today) is only proposed a tiny role (Aegistus in Elektra): that (English)man is a living treasure for any relevant 21st century opera stage -- he sings AND acts like no one out there.

 N.B. that Eurostar often proposes good deals to frequent travelers

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Eugene Onegin: Praise Kasper Holten

Could it be that Kasper Holten [the author of arguably the best Ring production to date] is bringing a wind of change to the tired Royal Opera House that after so many tepid shows --Don Carlo, Carmen, Roméo et Juliette, Tosca, Adriana Lecouvreur, Tamerlano, La Traviata, and even Les Troyens... -- finally comes up with something more challenging, creative, smart and passionate?!
I most definitely hope so, and my hope was growing bigger after I read a few ultra-conservative media discussing what they recently saw in London [e.g. this].

Old remorseful Onegin standing next to a young desperate Lensky who will romantically die the next day

The recently premiered Kasper Holten production of Eugene Onegin, after its run at the ROH, will travel to Turin where it will be presented in May this year and then it will move to Australia.

I would have missed this amazing show --which was a major European operatic event of the first trimester in 2013-- if it was not broadcast to the selected cinemas across Europe. To be honest, the super-expensive seats for a rather unimpressive production of Ring des Nibelungen in London last fall significantly reduced my interest in live shows at the ROH. This Eugene Onegin had precisely the opposite effect on me  [eagerly waiting the list of the new ROH productions in 2013-2014].

So thanks to whoever decided the ROH would broadcast this show [last year's Tosca was truly dreadful].

Jenufa from Munich

If you saw more than one production of this excellent opera, then this Barbara Frey production will most probably not be your favorite one, but since Karita Matila is singing the title role and this opera is musically really magnificent... I would like to invite you all to watch the today's show that will be live streamed from Munich on this link starting from 19:00 (cet).

Our faves Stefan Margita and Ales Briscein will sing the roles of Laca and Steva respectively. Tomasz Hanus (conductor) can be great or wobbly, so let's hope for the best and enjoy the show!

Trailer  attached below

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Does anyone listen?

"Trying to reproduce pure historical reality is an illusion. We don't know exactly how opera was at the end of the 18th century. We only have images from the last 70 or 80 years. We have a duty to transpose the work to the present,"

Michael Haneke 
prior to the premiere of his second --which will also be his last-- opera production
Cosi fan tutte at Teatro Real in Madrid

Friday, March 1, 2013

An extraordinary performance

D'amour l'ardente flamme is a notoriously difficult aria from La damnation de Faust by Hector Berlioz. In a slow pace, Tugan Sokhiev remarkably conducted his orchestra and the phenomenal Olga Borodina who delivered one of the reference renditions of this aria.

Красивая Ольга!

One could nitpick about her pronunciation, but this is vocally huge.
Concert version of the opera was given in Paris and in Vienna.
Video attached below is from the concert given at Musikverein Wien.


The Met 2013-2014

No, it is not that the recently presented Met productions are worse than those presented before. It is just that the standards remained the same as they were in the 80s, 90's, 00s. Somewhat surprisingly The Met refused to embrace the change in opera by preferring to label as Eurotrash anything that would be a slight theatrical attempt to elevate opera to the new artistic heights. And so while the others moved on, The Met continued with the same old static, no-brainer, uninteresting shows created only to entertain the most conservative part of the opera aficionados [recent such examples that I could see were Il Trovatore, Don Giovanni, (Faust), Carmen, Capriccio, Boris Godunov, Maria Stuarda, ...].

There were attempts to cross the line and bring a bit of life to the creative process, and even though some of the new shows were really bad [e.g. Sonnambula, Ring, Armida] they revealed something important & positive -- that the house's artistic management wanted to take risks but was just too afraid to really go for it [instead of N snoozefests directed by Bartlett Sher,  they could have given a chance to a bundle of talent -- Thaddeus Strassberger (also American), for example]. In any case, even these failed attempts to create something new are to be preferred to the old mothball events such as La Bohème by Zeff...

Happily, however, there are some rare but true gems  -- c.f. the new & currently running Parsifal (tomorrow in the movies!)

The Met's 2013-2014 program  indicates a big improvement as it announces the arrival of two great directors: (a) Deborah Warner who will present her take on Eugene Onegin [with Anna Netrebko singing, the event should be a winner], and (b) the über-talented Dima Tcherniakov who will most probably be viciously booed for his staging of Prince Igor, but like all of his productions this will provide a breath of fresh air to the house. Yours Truly is tempted to go to NYC for  the premiere despite the fact that one show in the run will be live broadcast in the cinemas worldwide.

You could nitpick about a few names missing in the casts but overall it is the top notch, as you would expect it to be from The Met's artistic management.