It's been quite a while since I went mad for a singer, but Lisette Oropesa is definitely worth it.
Wednesday, July 08, 2020
Sunday, July 05, 2020
Siegmund, brother.....Gary Lakes
Sieglinde, sister.........Jessye Norman
Fricka, Wotan's wife.....Christa Ludwig
This performance of Wagner's Die Walküre streamed today from the Metropolitan Opera, played at the Met on April 8, 1989. One forgets. James Morris is the most intensely emotional Wotan that ever existed. Everyone is wonderful. Hildegard Behrens indeed seems like a goddess. Gary Lakes has that true Heldentenor sound and pairs well with the ever great Jessye Norman. Who could top Christa Ludwig, and I actually recognized Kurt Moll under all that makeup.
I liked the set for not distracting from these magnificent singing actors. All was as it should be.
One forgets. One forgets that in his prime James Levine was truly a great conductor. Why he wanted to go on past even merely competent we will never know.
One forgets that this is the greatest Wagner performance ever assembled, that James Morris towers over Wotan like a true god. Thank you for the reminder.
Saturday, July 04, 2020
There has been some controversy about Johann Sebastian Bach's Matthäus-Passion, claiming that it is anti-Semitic and should never be performed.
In my time in school my teacher John Lewis was a great lover of Bach, so as I result I sang everything: St Matthew, St John, Christmas Oratorio, Magnificat, B minor Mass, and misc. cantatas. The "Erbarme dich" from St Matthew is my favorite Bach aria. It is important to notice that this aria begs the Lord to forgive ME! The loss of this work from our repertoire would for me be the most terrible tragedy.
There are two types of texts in the Passions: Invented poems found in the arias and choruses, and actual Biblical texts from the translation by Martin Luther. The Roman Catholic Church used only the Latin Bible. The Evangelist, Jesus and others speak what to Christians is the sacred word of God. Except for Pilate and his guys, everyone in the story is a Jew including Jesus, Judas, Peter, etc. Jesus has just processed into Jerusalem and been hailed as the Messiah. My theory is that the priests of the temple saw Jesus as competition. It's politics, not religion. So the anti-Semitic parts come entirely from the New Testament.
These are the core beliefs of Christianity. Calling them anti-Semitic just seems absurd. Which side of the quarrel are we supposed to be on? You can be a Christian without being a Jew, but you can't be the Messiah without being a Jew.
Calling this, the greatest of all Christian musical religious works, evil is not something I could accept. Should we translate it into Latin? I've been feeling flabbergasted. America is founded on freedom of religion, and this feels to me a bit like book burning.
Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Garrett Sorenson - Narraboth
Elizabeth DeShong - A page
Greer Grimsley - Jokanaan
Nadja Michael - Salome
Kim Begley - Herod
Irina Mishura - Herodias
I loved seeing this again. I mean, of course, Salome from the San Francisco Opera. I saw it live here, 11/2/2009. Each of the main characters represented their role to a T. This opera is based on a play by Oscar Wilde and follows the original closely in German.
The biggest problem with Salome is that Salome is 15 and the voice required to sing her is about 40, I would say. Nadja overcomes all this. She convinces as a young woman insanely in love. I don't know what would improve on this. In the house I could not see the dance well enough to tell what was going on. It turned out to be very sexy and merely suggestive of nudity.
I also found Greer Grimsley beautiful and believable. This Johanahan might lure young women to follow him with his charisma.
As an overall theatrical experience, this may just possibly be the best. I'd have to watch Maria Ewing again to be sure.
Monday, June 22, 2020
Sunday, June 21, 2020
Saturday, June 20, 2020
Today at 11:30 PDT we were treated to a live performance from the Royal Opera House in London. The photo is of a rehearsal with David Butt Philip, tenor, and Dame Sarah Connolly, mezzo-soprano, preparing Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. This is one of my favorite things in the whole world and could simply not be missed.
The ensemble orchestra was conducted by Antonio Pappano. The chamber orchestra seemed to include only one instrument per part, including 2 violins, 1 viola, etc. This seemed to work fine. In the live performance there was also no audience.
Before the Mahler, Vadim Muntigarov performed a short piece representing the Royal Ballet. There was a small fee to support the opera house. I loved it.
Friday, June 19, 2020
Don Alvaro..............Giuseppe Giacomini
Don Carlo...............Leo Nucci
Padre Guardiano.........Bonaldo Giaiotti
Fra Melitone............Enrico Fissore [Last performance]
Marquis de Calatrava....Richard Vernon
The live stream from the Met today is Leontyne Price's last performance at the Metropolitan Opera of Verdi's La Forza del Destino, March 24, 1984. This was also one of her signature roles. The first scene makes a lot more sense than the Munich version with Jonas and Anja. There the whole family sits around a table. In this version people come in and out depending on whether they are relevant to what is going on. Talking about eloping with the father there is pretty silly. The shooting is handled well.
In fact I think perhaps this is the most sensible production of Forza I've seen. They are in a war and wear military uniforms. What a concept. Giuseppe Giacomini and Leo Nucci both look and sound similar. One must work out a method to tell which is which. It is hopeless to choose who is better. The cast for this performance is excellent from top to bottom. Isola Jones is my favorite Preziosilla.
Unfortunately a somewhat silly production makes this extremely gloomy opera somewhat more tolerable. A trick ending would be tolerated. The Munich version cuts a lot.
But we are here for Leontyne Price. She is a singer to love. Her Verdi is like no one else's. She puts her own personal magic into the Italian's line. Thank you for all the joy you have brought us.
Sunday, June 14, 2020
Giorgetta, Michele's wife-Patricia Racette
It's hard to like this opera. It's rough and nasty. Since their child died, Giorgetta has grown tired of her husband and their life on a barge and flirts with his employees, including the incredibly handsome Brandon Jovanovich. In this opera Patricia Racette is overdressed for her environment. However, they are in Paris, Giorgetta's native city, so we will cut her some slack. There is much wonderful singing from our three stars.
Patricia Racette-Sister Angelica
Meredith Arwady-The Abbess
Ewa Podleś-The Princess
I realized watching Suor Angelica that I could not be a nun. Obedience isn't something I do. I guess that leaves out the army, too. My mother knew exactly how to deal with this.
This opera is deep with religious significance. Angelica has had an illegitimate child, it was immediately taken from her, and she was forced into a convent. She has been here for 7 years with no news from her family.
Then suddenly out of the blue a high class carriage carrying her aunt appears. The aunt is here not to see Angelica, but to get her signature on a document that disposes of the family wealth and titles. Angelica has to ask to find out that her son has died. These two together are wonderful singing actresses who thrill us and break our hearts.
Angelica knows about herbs and plants. In short she knows how to poison herself and does. She realizes perhaps before it is too late that she has committed a mortal sin, and begs the Madonna to forgive her.
Only Patricia Racette and Ewa Podleś came out for bows. They were both magnificent, towering performances. This was Ewa's San Francisco Opera debut.
Michael Harvey-Buoso Donati
Paolo Gavanelli-Gianni Schicchi
Someone smokes in all three operas, but in this one they all do, are in a hospital room. It is amusing that Buoso Donati gets a casting credit since he's already dead. It would be strange to play a dead body.
The house that Gianni Schicchi acquires is apparently in a high rise next door to the Duomo in Florence. There is, of course, no building in Florence anything like that.
Magnificent in the dual roles of Michele in Il Tabarro and Gianni Schicchi was Paolo Gavanelli. He was both very funny and terrifying (in the appropriate places--not very funny as Michele and terrifying as Schicchi).
This is Patricia Racette's masterpiece where she triumphs in three different roles. Hers was by far the silliest "O mio babbino caro" I've ever heard. Her Lauretta is virtually a child.
I loved seeing it again.
Wednesday, June 10, 2020
Jan 16, 2021 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Die Zauberflöte. This is the old Julie Taymor production and will be done in German.
- Conductor Gustavo Dudamel
- Production Julie Taymor
- Pamina Christiane Karg
- Queen of the Night Kathryn Lewek
- Tamino Stanislas de Barbeyrac
- Papageno Thomas Oliemans
- Sprecher Christian Van Horn
- Sarastro Stephen Milling
Jan 30, 2021 Charles Gounod Roméo et Juliette
- Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin
- Production Bartlett Sher
- Juliette Nadine Sierra, she sang this for us in San Francisco this season.
- Stéphano Julie Boulianne
- Roméo Stephen Costello
- Tybalt David Portillo
- Mercutio Joshua Hopkins
- Capulet Laurent Naouri
- Frère Laurent Ildar Abdrazakov
Mar 27, 2021 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Don Giovanni This is the old Michael Grandage production with an excellent cast.
- Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin
- Production Michael Grandage
- Donna Anna Ailyn Pérez
- Donna Elvira Isabel Leonard
- Zerlina Hera Hyesang
- Don Ottavio Ben Bliss
- Don Giovanni Peter Mattei
- Leporello Gerald Finley
- Masetto Alfred Walker
- The Commendatore Ryan Speedo Green
Apr 17, 2021 Jake Heggie Dead Man Walking This is a new production of an opera new to the Met. It's not new to me since I was at the world premier.
- Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin
- Production Ivo van Hove
- Sister Rose Latonia Moore
- Sister Helen Prejean Joyce DiDonato
- Mrs Patrick De Rocher Susan Graham
- Joseph De Rocher Etienne Dupuis
Apr 24, 2021 Richard Strauss Die Frau ohne Schatten. This is a spectacular cast.
- Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin
- Production Herbert Wernicke
- The Empress Elza van den Heever
- The Dyer's Wife Nina Stemme
- The Nurse Evelyn Herlitzius
- The Emperor Klaus Florian Vogt
- Barak Michael Volle
- The Geisterbote Ryan Speedo Green
May 8, 2021 Giuseppe Verdi Nabucco. This will be Netrebko's first Abigaille.
- Conductor Marco Armiliato
- Production Elijah Moshinsky
- Abigaille Anna Netrebko
- Fenena Varduhi Abrahamyan
- Ismaele Najmiddin Mavlyanov
- Nabucco George Gagnidze
- Zaccaria Dmitry Belosselskiy
May 22, 2021 Vincenzo Bellini Il Pirata. This is a new opera for me.
- Conductor Maurizio Benini
- Production John Copley
- Imogene Diana Damrau
- Gualtiero Javier Camarena
- Goffredo Nicolas Testé