Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Die Entführung aus dem Serail from Vienna

Musical Direction - Antonello Manacorda
Production - Hans Neuenfels

Bassa Selim - Christian Nickel (spoken)
Konstanze - Lisette Oropesa (soprano)
Konstanze - Actress - Emanuela von Frankenberg
Blonde - Regula Mühlemann (soprano)
Blonde - Actress - Stella Roberts
Osmin - Goran Jurić (bass)
Osmin - Actor - Andreas Grötzinger
Belmonte - Daniel Behle (tenor)
Belmonte - Actor - Christian Natter
Pedrillo - Michael Laurenz (tenor)
Pedrillo - Actor - Ludwig Blochberger 

Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail  (The Abduction from the Seraglio) comes to us from the Wiener Staatsoper.  It is directed by Hans Neuenfels, one of the more scandalous regie producers.  One of his characteristics is to dress the chorus all in the same outfits.  Here in spite of the fact that they are a mixed chorus, they are all dressed as men in black.

This is a Singspiel, which means it comes with spoken dialog in German.  In the original version of the opera there is a character, Bassa Selim, who does not sing.  Everyone else both sings and speaks.  So Neuenfels has seized on this and doubled all the rest of the cast.  So in addition to the singers, he has cast a whole other cast who play the rest of the roles and only speak.  He has also added more words.  This is hard to follow.  Two people in the same outfits are the same person.  You get a lot of easy to understand German from the actors and beautiful singing from the singers.  The actress Blonde occasionally speaks English.  "Me too."

Lisette is singing a very serious aria, and a young man in his underwear is holding a giant snake.  Huh?  What you would want to keep from this is Lisette and her arias.  "Martern alle Arten" is especially great.  She changes the opera completely.  Suddenly it is enormous.

I can think of only one semi-legitimate reason for this double casting.  Singers have careers that take them all over the world.  This is why the performing of operas originally in other languages but sung in the local language of the opera house is a practice that has pretty much died out.  We perform Hansel and Gretel and Magic Flute in English, but that is pretty much it.  The singer learns the role with the original text and then sings it everywhere with only some brief rehearsal.

So Neuenfels wanted to add a lot of new German dialog, and in order to have extended rehearsals, he assigns these new words to local people he can rehearse for a long time.  This is the only thing I can think of.  We don't care about this added dialog.  Maybe Neuenfels doesn't really like opera.

They love only Lisette.  As do I.  Serious booing for Neuenfels.

Sunday, October 11, 2020




Conductor - Riccardo Frizza
Director - Jose Maria Condemi

Mario Cavaradossi - Brian Jagde
Floria Tosca - Lianna Haroutounian
Baron Scarpia - Mark Delavan

When this performance of Tosca first played in San Francisco in 2014, I must have missed it.  It is being streamed today from the San Francisco Opera.  I saw Brian sing Cavaradossi in Santa Fe in 2012, and may have felt it was to soon to see him again.

There are some fun things in this production.  From the evidence, Tosca seems to be the most conservatively dressed female in all of Rome.  In the Te Deum we have men in uniforms of the Swiss guards.  In Act II we see that the walls are painted with figures, as they would be in the Palazzo Farnese,  but the lighting is too dim to allow us to see them.  In general they have done a wonderful job of creating the atmosphere of Rome.  A little more light would have been nice.

Mark Delavan is fine but not really snarly enough for Scarpia who needs to project evil in the sound of his voice.  But then I've seen Thomas Hampson in the role, and he isn't snarly at all.

Brian is lovely, handsome and romantic.  Better than at Santa Fe. And Lianna Haroutounian plays the Diva with charm and intense jealousy.  She's trying to make the best of a bad situation, and ultimately fails.  She presents the varied emotions of the character vividly.  I like her very much.  She is why you would want to see this.  She crosses herself before jumping.  Of course.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Cecilia again.

Here is a film I haven't seen before. It's from Rossini's Semiramide.

I've often wished Cecilia would sing this role.

Friday, October 09, 2020

Queen of Baroque


Cecilia Bartoli announces a new CD from Decca:  Queen of Baroque.  It will be released on December 18, 2020.  Pre-order now by clicking below.  It can be delivered in time for Christmas.  It's described as:

A collection of the very best of Bartoli's treasured recordings of musical delights and discoveries of the 17th and 18th century. Featuring two previously unreleased world premiere recordings of forgotten jewels by Leonardo Vinci and Agostino Steffani. With guest appearances from Philippe Jaroussky, June Anderson, Franco Fagioli and Sol Gabetta.

And here is a sample.


Thursday, October 08, 2020

Erin Wall (4 November 1975 – October 8, 2020)




This is what I wrote about Erin when I first saw her at the Santa Fe Opera in 2007.

"Since she was by far the best singer at Santa Fe, (Daphne in Daphne) I thought it would be nice to know more about Erin Wall. She's from Alberta, Canada, and has competed in the Singer of the World in Cardiff."  The full review is here.

I've seen her in some wonderful things over the years.  My favorite was are Arabella at Santa Fe.  Most recently she sang Donna Anna in San Francisco in 2017.

I enjoyed everything I saw and wish I had seen more.  She has died of cancer.  I feel it is a loss.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Weber's Euryanthe


Conductor- Constantin Trinks
Director- Christof Loy

Euryanthe- Jacquelyn Wagner, soprano
Count Adolar, her betrothed- Norman Reinhardt, tenor
Eglantine- Theresa Kronthaler, soprano
Count Lysiart- Andrew Foster-Williams, baritone
King Louis VI- Stefan Cerny, bass

Weber's Euryanthe, 1823, comes to me from Operavision. The performance is Theater an der Wien, Vienna, in 2018.  It's unusual for an early German language opera because there is no spoken dialog.  We seem to be getting orchestral recitative.

Women's costumes are from the 1950s.  We are in a large room with windows on the left and a door at the back, containing only a small hospital bed and a grand piano.Throughout the opera a super plays the queen.

Adolar loves Euryanthe and praises her purity.  Lysiart says purity is not to be found among women.  They argue and make a bet.  The King must hold the proofs of the bet.  They all just look like business men in dark suits.

A blond woman enters and sings about her Adolar.  She must be Euryanthe.  And the dark haired woman must be Eglantine.  Euryanthe has rescued Egalantine, but despite this she still tries to ruin Euryanthe's life by betraying her.  Because she too loves Adolar.  The music is very serene.  If you didn't know what was going on, would you guess it was this?  Egalantine has a nice rage aria to liven things up.  

At the beginning of Act II we have an extended male nude scene with Lysiart.  The lighting and camera angles are carefully managed to blunt the effect of this.  Why do it if you can't see it?  This is an opera about violent jealousy.  The two villians, Eglantine and Lysiart sing an extended duet where they swear revenge on Euryanthe.  At the end of Act II Eglantine is seen banging away theatrically on the piano.  I don't really hear a piano.  They blame Euryanthe for revealing a secret she has sworn to keep, and she runs out.  Even Adolar rejects her.  The secret is personal, so I don't see what the fuss is about.  Adolar's sister Emma has killed herself and her ghost still roams.  She needs the tears of an innocent to put her soul to rest.

Act III same room, no furniture.  They're supposed to be outdoors and attacked by a giant serpent.  Instead we're still in the same white room.  There are no hit tunes in this opera, but there is a very nice hunting chorus with horns.  This is Weber, after all.

The scene changes, and the hospital bed is back.  This production explains nothing.  Eglantine is marrying Lysiart, who appears to love her.  They sing about roses, but the flowers appear to be lilies.  Eglantine is killed, and Euryanthe marries Adolar.  Emma goes to her rest.

The women have all the fun in this opera.  The villain is a woman.  Small people with evil passions, but good wins in the end.


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Metropolitan Opera in HD for 2021-2022

Disclaimer.  The contents of this list comes from Opera Wire.  I hope it is accurate.

Oct. 9, 2021 – Boris Godunov by Mussorgsky. The opera will be presented in its original 1869 version which appears to have no role for Marina.  This opera was presented at the Met in the longer version in 2010 in the same production which also starred René Pape in one of his greatest roles.

  • Production - Stephen Wadsworth
  • Conductor - Sebastian Weigle
  • René Pape - Boris
  • Alexey Markov
  • Stanislav Trofimov
  • David Butt Philip
  • Ain Anger
  • Maxim Paster 


 Oct. 23, 2021 – Fire Shut Up in My Bones by Terence Blanchard, libretto by Kasi Lemmons.  This opera had its premier in 2019 at Opera Theater of St. Louis.

  • Production- James Robinson and Camille A. Brown
  • Conductor- Yannick Nézet-Séguin
  • Angel Blue, Destiny/Loneliness/Greta
  • Latonia Moore - Billie
  • Will Liverman- Charles


Dec. 4, 2021 – Eurydice by Matthew Aucoin.  This is a new Orpheus opera having its Met premier.  The world premier was at the LA Opera 2/1/2020 just before everything shut down.

  • Production- Mary Zimmerman
  • Conductor- Yannick Nézet-Séguin
  • Erin Morley _ Eurydice
  • Joshua Hopkins, baritone - Orpheus
  • Jakub Józef Orliński, countertenor - Orpheus' alter ego. 


Jan. 1, 2022 – Cinderella by Massenet is usually called Cendrillon, but will here be presented in an English-language translation. We had this with the same production in French with Joyce DiDonato in 2018.  This is a shorter, more family oriented version.

  • Production- Laurent Pelly
  • Conductor-Emmanuel Villaume 
  • Isabel Leonard - Cinderella
  • Jessica Pratt - Fairy Godmother
  • Emily D’Angelo - Prince Charming
  • Stephanie Blythe - MMe
  • Laurent Naouri - Pandolfe


Jan. 29, 2022 – Rigoletto by Verdi.  No more Rat Pack. This is a new production by Bartlett Sher.  I am so pleased we will all get to hear Quinn Kelsey's wonderful version of Rigoletto.

  • Production - Bartlett Sher
  • Conductor - Daniele Rustioni
  • Rosa Feola - Gilda
  • Piotr Beczala - Duke
  • Quinn Kelsey - Rigoletto


March 12, 2022 – Ariadne auf Naxos by Richard Strauss. This is for Lise Davidsen, of course.  I am very happy with this choice.  When Brandon Jovanovich comes out at the end, we will know he is a god.

  • Production - Elijah Moshinsky
  • Conductor - Marek Janowski
  • Lise Davidsen - Ariadne
  • Brenda Rae - Zerbinetta
  • Isabel Leonard -  The Composer
  • Brandon Jovanovich -  Bacchus


March 26, 2022 – Don Carlos by Verdi.  Met Opera audiences will get a chance to see Verdi’s famed opera in its original French version for the first time in its history. Elina and Sonya were in a version from Paris in 2017.

  • Production - David McVicar
  • Conductor - Yannick Nézet-Séguin
  • Elina Garanca - Eboli
  • Matthew Polenzani - Don Carlos 
  • Sonya Yoncheva - Elisabeth
  • Étienne Dupuis - Rodrigue
  • Günther Groissböck - Philippe II
  • John Relyea - Grand Inquisitor

May 7, 2022 – Turandot by Puccini.  This is the traditional Zeffirelli production, and Anna Netrebko's Met role debut.

  • Production - Franco Zeffirelli
  • Conductor - Marco Armiliato
  • Turandot - Anna Netrebko
  • Calaf - Yonghoon Lee
  • Liu - Michelle Bradley


May 21, 2022 – Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti.  This is a new production, but I loved the old one.  The ghost at the fountain was genius.

  • Production - Simon Stone
  • Conductor - Riccardo Frizza
  • Nadine Sierra - Lucia
  • Artur Rucinski - Enrico
  • Javier Camarena -  Edgardo
  • Matthew Rose -  Raimondo


June 4, 2022 – Hamlet by Brett Dean which had its world premier at Glyndebourne in 2017.

  •  Production - Neil Armfield
  • Conductor - Nicholas Carter
  • Brenda Rae - Ophelia
  • Rod Gilfry - Claudius
  • Allan Clayton -  Hamlet
  • Dame Sarah Connolly -  Gertrude
  • Sir John Tomlison - Ghost

Our list includes 3 new operas, and new productions of Rigoletto and Lucia di Lammermoor.  In addition we can count the Met premier of the original French version of Verdi's Don Carlos.  This is pretty interesting stuff.

Things we are missing:

Die Meistersinger with Lise Davidsen and Antonio Pappano.  This is something I would really like to see.  Otto Schenk is their current production.

Most of the rest is repeats of recent HD broadcasts.

Metropolitan Opera in HD for 2020-2021 -- Cancelled

More news:  I regret to say the entire 2020-21 Met season has been cancelled.  We await the 2021-22 season announcement.

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 

Friday, September 18, 2020

Thursday, September 17, 2020




 I regret to show this announcement:

"Hello friends, I want to share with you that I have tested positive for COVID-19 and am currently in the hospital for medical treatment. I am doing well but also have COVID-related pneumonia, so I need medical supervision. I knew of course there was always going to be a risk that I might get infected. But I don’t regret going back to performing because I strongly believe that we need culture, now as ever. I am expected to make a full recovery thanks to the wonderful care I’m receiving. 
We are very, very grateful that Yusif and Tiago have tested negative for the virus. Yusif has tested positive for antibodies so he is clear to perform, which makes me very happy. Thank you all for the well wishes and continued support."

from Anna Netrebko 

We can only hope for the best.

P.S.  There is news that Anna is singing in hospital.

P.P.S.  Anna was in hospital for her birthday, Sept. 18, but as of this morning, Sept. 23, has been released and is recuperating.

P.P.P.S.  She reports that all is well with her voice, but is bored with nothing to do..