Stell auf den Tisch
die duftenden Reseden,
Die letzten roten Astern trag herbei,
Und laß uns wieder von der Liebe reden,
Wie einst im Mai.
Gib mir die Hand, daß ich sie heimlich drücke
Und wenn man's sieht, mir ist es einerlei,
Gib mir nur einen deiner süßen Blicke,
Wie einst im Mai.
Es blüht und duftet heut auf jedem Grabe,
Ein Tag im Jahr ist ja den Toten frei,
Komm an mein Herz, daß ich dich wieder habe,
Wie einst im Mai.
Place on the table
the fragrant mignonettes,
Bring inside the last red asters,
and let us speak again of love,
as once we did in May.
Give me your hand,
so that I can press it secretly;
and if someone sees us, it's all the same to me.
Just give me your sweet gaze,
as once you did in May.
Flowers adorn today each grave,
sending off their fragrances;
one day in the year is free for the dead1.
Come close to my heart, so that I can have you again,
as once I did in May.
His Strauss Lieder is still my favorite. Perhaps I should provide a short explanation. "One day in the year is free for the dead." That would be November 1, All souls day or Allerseelen. The dead live again. In this case they want to experience each other together again.
Don Giovanni: Simon Keenlyside (baritone) Donna Anna: Hibla Gerzmava (soprano) Commendatore, Anna's father: Kwangchul Youn (bass) Don Ottavio, Anna's fiance: Paul Appleby (tenor) Donna Elvira: Malin Byström (soprano)
CHARACTERS FROM THE LOWER CLASS
Leporello, Giovanni's servant: Adam Plachetka (baritone) Zerlina: Serena Malfi (soprano) Masetto, Zerlina's fiance: Matthew Rose (baritone)
Conductor: Fabio Luisi Production: Michael Grandage
Well, nasty is the word of the week, and it seemed suitable for this somewhat raunchy Don Giovanni from the Metropolitan Opera in HD. General reaction: Oh, THAT'S what it's about. Don Giovanni is about sex, a subject we are getting rather a lot of this year. The Don seems not to focus on certain areas for his sex crimes. He covers the gamut of entitled male animal. We have to say that Da Ponte seems to know rather a lot about his subject.
I didn't mind the drab production this time because the characters filled it so vividly. The Don begins at the bottom with rape and murder. He enters Donna Anna's bedroom while she is sleeping, and she awakens to fight him off. If we take the libretto at its face, she is successful in fighting him off, unless we assume he raped her while she was asleep. Her father comes in, and Don Giovanni kills him. There is an amazing piece of blocking where the Don leans over the Commendatore and raises his hand in the air to represent the Commendatore's soul flying away. Wow. This is not Don Giovanni as Austin Powers, as I have often imagined, but rather a deeply evil Don. This Don Giovanni will not escape his doom. Don Ottavio vows to avenge the Commendatore.
Don Giovanni is never far from a woman. When Donna Elvira appears, Giovanni starts to seduce her until he sees who it is. He comes upon a wedding party, and from all the women present he chooses to pursue the bride. He serenades Donna Elvira's maid, and may actually have been successful here. We don't hear if he was successful.
The first time they go to Don Giovanni's house the singers are actually dancing. Not well, but dancing. The second time we are in the Don's house, his first course at dinner consists of fruit being eaten off of a woman's stomach. In case you had forgotten what the opera was about. After Giovanni descends into hell, Donna Elvira says, "I will go into a nunnery." Zerlina and Masetto say, "And we will go home to dinner." Favorite line. Nothing so trivial as sex will bother us.
I want to discuss the performers. Simon Keenlyside was a physical dynamo, though clearly no longer young, his Don Giovanni pursued women with fascinating energy. I enjoyed his performance. Paul Appleby was just the right singer for Ottavio with a beautiful Mozart legato. He is a young singer, and will grow into his roles. Hibla Gerzmava has a huge voice that roared over the ensemble. We could hear her in some Verdi. Adam Plachetka's Leporello was very genuine and funny. I liked him, and find that I saw him before in Marriage of Figaro from Salzburg in 2015. Malin Byström was our Jenufa in San Francisco last Spring. I thought she was a strong performer. My only disappointment was the Zerlina of Serena Malfi. I absolutely adored Mojca Erdmann's Zerlina the last time we saw this production. It was my impression that Serena did not want to take her eyes off the conductor. I'm going to be annoying and give advice: sing with the music.
We all enjoyed this and felt we understood Don Giovanni as never before.
This performance from the Paris Opera of Eliogabalo by Cavalli in Italian with French subtitles is rather more cold than even I can tolerate. I tried watching it without knowing anything, and this didn't work out for me. For an excellent discussion of this production see The Idle Woman. It was composed for a Venetian carnival performance in 1668 which did not take place. Many speculate why this would happen. Cavalli was the most important Venetian opera composer but was coming to the end of his life. It may also have been censors. One writer suggests that it may have been too serious for carnival. It's first performance was in 1999, then René Jacobs revived it in 2004, and it's played in several locations since. A description of the plot can be found here. View the stream here.
The music is clearly still in the style of the late operas of the great Monteverdi. I am no longer "cold" in this aspect of the performance and enjoy it very much.
Campidoglio (the square on the capitol in Rome)
Emperor Eliogabalo has returned to Rome. A rebellion by the Praetorian Guard has been put down. The plot concerns itself primarily with his sexual interests. He's no longer interested in Eretea and needs new women to harass. There are frequent appearances of young men wearing only loin cloths, such as our Amor above.
I find the arias, especially by Nadine Sierra and Paul Groves, particularly beautiful.
Hall in the Senate
I've been in the Senate and there are no halls. Women in tall hats are entering. Eliogabalo has replaced the male Senate with an all female one. Eliogabalo himself is dressed as a woman and sings their praises. We can say already that this opera is about cross-dressing, mostly men dressing as women, such as Lenia who is a tenor.
The women cover their faces and are told to embrace one another. The one who guesses who is touching them wins. Atilia guesses and becomes a proconsul. Flavia cannot guess when it is Eliogabalo and goes off embarrassed.
If you are tired of the impossible to stage da capo arias of Neapolitan opera, this may be just what you want. This is from the era when the composers wrote their own recitative and regarded it as an important part of the work. This opera is strangely relevant. Who would have thought our own country would become something like this.
Nadine suddenly sings a very high note. Fun.
The most shocking thing about this production is how not shocking it is. Obviously Eliogabalo is a scandal. How can such a dark and low key production express this scandal?
Eliogabalo prepares a banquet with two prominent pitchers. Zotico and Lenia taint the pitchers--one is sleeping potion and the other poison. Nerbulone drinks the sleeping potion. Large black owls descend on the table, and the banquet is cancelled. The owls dance. Franco Fagioli is enjoying a peak in his career. His countertenor is very robust.
I am a fan of Nadine Sierra and am happy to see her performance here. Eliogabalo is the only character who gets interesting costumes. He sticks his arms and feet into a bath and they come out covered in gold. He gets in. One of the people dressed in a loin cloth appears to be a girl. He thinks about Flavia while everyone else thinks about killing him. Eventually they succeed.
One would choose an opera about this particular Emperor for the debauchery, surely. It was probably rejected for the seriousness. I personally would have liked a less serious production. The music is glorious but just a little long.
Everyone is at the games, but Eliogabalo does not arrive. Then it is reported that he is dead. Flavia brings in his head and explains that the guards killed him when he broke into her room. Alessandro becomes emperor, marries Flavia and everyone lives happily ever after. This music is very beautiful, but I imagine the Venetians wanted more bang for their buck.
I seek out oddities because I have quite a lot of intellectual curiosity. In the process of writing my music history book I crammed a lot of knowledge into my brain. I cannot resist the opportunity to experience something that I know only from study, such as Les Indes Galantes, Béatrice et Bénédict or Donnerstag aus Licht. What I find is that there is with music no wasted time. I don't always like what I experience, but I always feel that my mind is wider, fuller, more ready for new experiences.
I now feel that I have given to Stockhausen all that he deserves. I might watch the helicopter string quartet again, but that's probably enough. But from Rameau I might want more. If he were performed with the same musical lightness of touch, I would not wish to miss it.
Previous to blogging I had never made it to the end of Tristan. I watched several famous films and loved only Nilsson and Vickers, though only for the singing.
I cannot speak for you, but I can encourage everyone to seek joy in unexpected places. Offer your soul the right to expansion. Find that something you never thought of watching will unexpectedly find its voice. That Tristan will tell its meaning as never before. Perhaps here too it is the lightness of touch that speaks to me. Perhaps the greatest success comes from allowing the music to speak for itself instead of trying so hard to impress us.
Tristan: Stuart Skelton
Isolde: Nina Stemme
Brangäne: Ekaterina Gubanova
King Marke: René Pape
Kurwenal: Evgeny Nikitin
English Horn Solo: Pedro R. Díaz
Conductor: Simon Rattle
Production: Mariusz Trelinski
Things I liked about Wagner's Tristan und Isolde live in HD today.
I liked the outstanding conducting by Simon Rattle. I very much enjoyed listening to him talk about today's performance.
I liked Debbie Voigt interviewing Nina Stemme, one Isolde to another. I liked it when Nina said playing a Valkyrie could make you more of a Valkyrie.
I liked that this was the first time I thought while listening to the performance that only the Metropolitan Opera orchestra could play this piece this much more beautifully than anyone else.
I liked Nina Stemme and Stuart Skelton putting their own personal stamps on this opera. So much emotion, so much emotional singing and acting.
I liked René Pape, the best Wagner baritone around.
I liked so much love. So much love by everyone on the stage, in the pit, behind the stage. So much love. I cried.
I liked the production which took images from the libretto to form the basis for its visual effects.
I liked talk about the anniversary performance of Antony and Cleopatra by Samuel Barber. It was a new house with all the fancy new equipment. Franco Zeffirelli used every new gadget in his production, and most of them failed. Rosalind Elias and Justino Díaz were interviewed from the original cast. And it's not true that the other performances were cancelled.
I liked Richard Wagner's libretto which I could primarily understand in Nina's singing. This was a surprise. This production might just work better without the surtitles. In the house this would be possible. For me the text was too bright against the dark background.
I liked seeing the love in their faces.
I haven't thought of anything I didn't like except Isolde smoking. I feel recovered from Donnerstag.
In case I haven't been clear enough I want to say that I found this Tristan und Isolde to be deeply satisfying on every level. I felt that the story penetrated my consciousness as never before, that the orchestra playing was profoundly beautiful and the singing actors the best ever.
Of course the production is Regietheater. We are moved to an abstraction of today with military uniforms and modern dresses. If there were difficulties, they were to be found in the projections, sometimes symbolic, sometimes personal. A boy is seen and a thin man in a white uniform who cannot be King Marke. I think this comes from the Act III solo by Tristan where he describes how he knows the sad tune he is hearing. His mother died when he was born and his father when he was still a child. So the projections picture the young Tristan and his father who must also have been a high ranking military man. The ghost child is also Tristan.
I thought I was seeing a solar eclipse in the black circle surrounded by light. And some kind of nautical device in the other circle. I always feel free to ignore symbolism.
In center Michael trumpet, Michael tenor (on gurney), Michael dancer
A full length, fully realized performance of Stockhausen's Donnerstag aus Licht (Thursday from Light) has been presented in Basel and live streamed through sonostream.tv. If you hurry, you can see it for yourself. It is important to notice that this work, composed in 1978-80, came very quickly after Philip Glass's Einstein on the Beach (1976). My son assures me there is a full 7 day cycle, but we find one day sufficient. The two operas, Donnerstag and Einstein, share the feature of having instrumentalists appear on stage as characters.
I notice from reading Wikipedia that the staging presented here does not precisely conform to the description of the action in Wikipedia. Then I notice that the Stockhausen Foundation for Music has "grave misgivings" about the staging presented here. With Einstein the opera and the staging are considered one. Wikipedia also reassures us that "no clear meaning is apparent."
Production: Lydia Steier
Dramaturgy: Pavel B. Jiracek
Michael (tenor): Peter Tantsits (act 1), Rolf Romei (act 3)
Michael (trumpeter): Paul Hübner
Michael (dancer): Emmanuelle Grach
Eve (mother, soprano): Anu Komsi
Eve (basset horn): Merve Kazokoğlu
Eve (dancer): Evelyn Angela Gugolz
Lucifer (father, bass): Michael Leibundgut
Lucifer (trombone): Stephen Menotti
Lucifer (dancer): Eric Lamb
Trio MôD has expanded, at least for this concert, into a group called MôD Artists which includes: Maquette Kuper, flute; Deborah Pittman, clarinet; Sterling Cozza, jazz piano; John Cozza, piano; Jack Fanning, bass; Nick Micheels, drums
There seems to be a concept at work here. While the founding members are classically trained, their programming expands outside the usual range of classical programming. This concert focuses on jazz and the blues in repertoire that is still basically classical. This is part of a Wednesday at noon concert series at Westminster Presbyterian Church.
Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano by Claude Bolling (French jazz pianist and composer, b 1930)
Baroque and Blue
The ensemble for this piece was flute, jazz piano, bass and drums. This was my favorite piece on the program and can only be described as a mash up of jazz and classical. Sterling Cozza got heavily into jazz improvisation. It was a treat.
Blues from "Moonflowers, Baby" by Meyer Kupferman (July 3, 1926 – November 26, 2003)
This is a single movement for solo clarinet.
Blue Monkey for Flute and B flat Clarinet by
Lauren Bernofsky (1967-) duet for flute and clarinet.
California Suite by
California Suite is a movie, and these two movements are a small portion of the soundtrack from this movie. The ensemble is flute, clarinet, piano, bass and drums.
For my taste the bass and drums could have been a bit louder. This was a fun program, very upbeat and cheerful. Maki is a busy woman, but is always looking for something new.
Thank you Renée Fleming, soprano (Marschallin)
Erin Morley, soprano (Sophie)
Susan Graham, mezzo-soprano (Octavian)
Franz Hawlata, bass (Baron Ochs) and Andris Nelsons and WCRB. There can never be too much Rosenkavalier.
"I'm sorry that my cancellations have been the source of much disappointment and frustration in recent weeks.
Of course, I can understand the irritation of all those who organized
expensive trips to come and listen. Unfortunately, the performance of a
singer's voice can not be guaranteed and sometimes a singer is
confronted with events that require it to take a long rest. When I
noticed that something was not right with my voice, I thought at first a
beginning of infection. The medical examination has however given
another result: side effects of a drug have broken a small vein on my
vocal cords. So I have to stop singing until the hematoma has
completely absorbed to prevent irreversible damage. So it is with a
heavy heart that I have to cancel my performances Tales of Hoffmann in
Paris. I want to thank here all those who have sent me their well wishes via Facebook and email."
In additional news Roberto Alagna is having sinus surgery at the end of November.
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Wagner
Sa, 8. Oktober 2016, 16 Uhr
Conductor: Kirill Petrenko
Production: David Bösch
This will be missing Jonas Kaufmann who has that he has had a hemorrhage in his vocal cords. I'm still interested in the production.
La favorite, Donizetti
So, 6. November 2016, 19 Uhr Conductor: Karel Mark Chichon
with Elina Garanca, Matthes Polenzani und Mariusz Kwiecien
This is an excellent cast for this gem of bel canto.
Lady Macbeth von Mzensk, Shostakovich
So, 4. Dezember 2016, 19 Uhr Conductor: Kirill Petrenko
Anatoli Kotscherga, Sergey Shorokhodov, Anja Kampe und Alexander Tsymbalyuk
So, 26. Februar 2017, 18 Uhr Conductor: Michele Mariotti
mit Joyce DiDonato, Alex Esposito, Daniela Barcellona und Lawrence Brownlee This is also an excellent cast and not to be missed.
So, 9. Juli 2017, 16 Uhr (im Rahmen von "Oper für alle") Conductor: Kirill Petrenko
Georg Zeppenfeld, Klaus Florian Vogt, Christian Gerhaher, Anja Harteros und Elena Pankratova
There are a lot of big names in German opera listed here including my favorite, Anja.
Ballett: Gala des Staatsballetts
So, 15. Januar 2017