Sunday, December 08, 2019

Tosca at La Scala


Conductor - Riccardo Chailly,
Director - Davide Livermore

Anna Netrebko - Tosca
Francesco Meli  - Cavaradossi
Luca Salsi - Scarpia

This production of Tosca for the opening of La Scala is constantly in motion.  All the required elements are in place when required, but after they swiftly disappear.  Why is this necessary? 

Anna's Tosca may not be the best sung ever heard, but no one plays the diva to her level.  She knows how to flaunt her goods as possibly no other Tosca before her.  She is aided by the blocking:  after she has given a flower to the madonna, she later takes it back.  So it's the thought that counts?

The second act takes place in the Palazzo Farnese which in real life is decorated with elaborate wall paintings.  Instead of paintings, we have live people standing in boxes above the stage.  This seems exhausting.  If you were in the house, you might have missed this, but the cameras show mouths moving and so forth.  And when our girl is saying "mori" to Scarpia, she is choking him to death.  Three stabs were not enough.  She seems to regret it, though.

Luca Salsi as Scarpia is rather more friendly than I have seen.  I will assume that Netrebko did not complain.  He makes a wonderful, very slimy Scarpia.

Meli is ok.  He doesn't usually rise above ok.  He's cute.  There are a lot of gimmicks in this production.  In the end Tosca "goes to god" by floating upwards.  I'm not sure the gimmicks enhance the overall emotion.  I seem to always enjoy Netrebko.  I think it is her natural intensity.

P.S.  I forgot to mention that this was the original, longer version of Tosca, also called the critical edition. In fact here is a reference to the critical edition from Ricordi.  This comes with a picture of Netrebko.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Blogging

Act bows seem to be working their way back into the opera house.  This refers to when the singers take bows, usually by entering through a gap in the curtain.  They did it at the La Scala Tosca, at the Met for Die Walküre, and perhaps other places.  It used to happen all the time, and had the purpose of allowing singers who appeared only in one of the early scenes to go home early.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

News Stories This Week

I have decided to lump these stories together.

Cecilia Bartoli to head Opéra de Monte-Carlo



Released today:

"On the occasion of a press conference given this Tuesday, December 3 at 17 pm in the garnier room, the princess of Hanover, President of the board of directors of the Monte-Carlo Opera, announced an announcement Important: Cecilia Bartoli will succeed Jean-Louis Grinda as the head of the Monte-Carlo Opera on January 1, 2023.

"Cecilia Bartoli will become the first woman to lead the opera of Monte-Carlo. She will also keep the direction of the musicians of the Prince-Monaco."

Lately all the news is about Cecilia. This will overlap with her contract in Salzburg.

Porgy and Bess Performances Added at the Met



Due to overwhelming public demand for the Met’s acclaimed new production of Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, three additional performances have been added to the schedule, on February 4, 12, and 15, 2020.

This is certainly good news.

Grigolo Fired


Vittorio Grigolo has been fired by both the ROH and the Met for behavior problems.  I'm not exactly sure what he is accused of but it's undoubtedly part of the current trend.  This is bad.  I am on again off again with him.  I hated his Werther but thought he was the best Hoffmann ever.

New Music Director at SFO


This is a very news heavy day in the opera world.

FINALLY the San Francisco Opera has named a new music director:  Eun Sun Kim, a woman from South Korea.  She will assume the title in August 2021.

She first appeared at SFO to conduct Rusalka last June.  For some reason I no longer remember I chose to skip this opera.  I apologize.  Everything I heard about it said it was fantastic. There isn't much to go on, but she has conducted extensively throughout Europe.   See here for details.

Here is a brief sample of her work.


Friday, November 29, 2019

Cecilia Bartoli Announces New Album -- Farinelli -- download now


Preorder this now.  This new album will appear on November 8.  She is still singing very well.  Here is a full list of tracks for Farinelli:

1. ‘Nell’Attendere Mio Bene’ from Polifemo by Porpora
2. ‘Vaghi Amori, Grazie Amate’ from La Festa d’Imeneo by Porpora
3. ‘Morte Col Fiero Aspetto’ from Marc’Antonio E Cleopatra by Hasse
4. ‘Lontan… Lusingato Dalla Speme’ from Polifemo by Porpora*
5. ‘Chi Non Sente Al Mio Dolore’ from La Merope by Broschi
6. ‘Come Nave In Ria Tempesta’ from Semiramide Regina Dell’Assiria by Porpora
7. ‘Mancare O Dio Mi Sento’ from Adriano In Siria by Giacomelli
8. ‘Si, Traditor Tu Sei’ from La Merope by Broschi*
9. ‘Questi Al Cor Finora Ignoti’ from La Morte d’Abel by Caldara
10. ‘Signor La Tua Speranza… A Dio Trono, Impero A Dio’ from Marc’Antonio E Cleopatra by Hasse
11. ‘Alto Giove’ from Polifemo by Porpora
*Denotes a world premiere recording

The beard first appeared in her Salzburg performance of Handel's Ariodante.  The castrato Farinelli probably couldn't grow a beard, but never mind.  She is someone I love, and she looks great in her beard.  There's even a short film.  She begins with the Ariodante makeup and then switches to her own hair.



Farinelli was very popular in London during Handel's opera period.



Amazon tells me that I cannot receive my album until January, but in spite of that, I may listen now. I may also download now. The pieces on this album are mostly by Porpora, a wonderful Italian composer of vocal music who has slipped out of the repertoire. It is wonderful that we get to hear him now by way of la Bartoli.

Other composers include Broschi, Farinelli's brother. His first aria is rather low key for this era.

The sweetness and flexibility of her voice is still with us, as is also the complete originality of her interpretations. She loves this music and wants us to love it, too.

The final track, Alto Giove by Porpora, is the most well known of this repertoire and has a different orchestra accompanying it. Il Giardino Armonico led by Giovanni Antonini accompany most of the tracks, but the final one is accompanied by Les Musiciens du Prince with Gianluca Capuano. She must simply have loved this version. I love it too.

This one comes with visuals.



#ad

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Don Pasquale from Covent Garden


Director Damiano Michieletto
Conductor Evelino Pidò

Don Pasquale Bryn Terfel
Norina Olga Peretyatko
Ernesto Ioan Hotea
Doctor Malatesta Markus Werba

Occasionally operas from the ROH play in a local movie theater here.  This time we saw Donizetti's Don Pasquale with Bryn and Olga Peretyatko.  This is an excellent role for Bryn.  This is regie, of course.  When Norina receives a message from Ernesto, it is by way of her mobile phone.  Ding.

This opera works pretty well in a modern setting.  She's not an imprisoned woman like in so many other Italian comedies.  Instead it's the young man who is being disinherited for wanting to marry the girl he loves.  In Italian comedies love always will out.  One tires of the young people tricking the nasty old man plot.  One is after all old oneself.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Akhnaten in HD


👍🏻
Conductor.................Karen Kamensek
Production................Phelim McDermott

Akhnaten................Anthony Roth Costanzo (countertenor)
Nefertiti, his wife.....J'Nai Bridges (contralto)
Queen Tye, his mother...Dísella Lárusdóttir (soprano)
Amenhotep III, ghost of his father....Zachary James (speaking)
Aye, Nefertiti's father............Richard Bernstein (bass)
High Priest of Amon............Aaron Blake (tenor)
General Horemhab........Will Liverman (baritone)

This performance of Akhnaten from the Metropolitan Opera is my seventh opera by Philip Glass, the others being Einstein on the Beach (live), Satyagraha (live), Appomattox (live), The Perfect American, Orphée (live), and Hydrogen Jukebox (live).  Surely this must make me something of an expert.  All around me were experiencing a Glass opera for the first time.

The story is told on three levels.
  1. Captions appear on the screen describing what is going on in this scene.  "Coronation of Akhnaten" for example.  
  2. There is an English speaking narrator who represents the spirit of Amenhotep III and quotes characters from the opera.  
  3. Action by the singers and actors on the stage show the actions.
The narrative method of most operas is missing.  People in conversation telling their own emotions does not happen.  What does happen that I haven't seen before is juggling.  Everyone juggles.  Sometimes a juggler would drop his ball, and at the end they all do.  I was especially pleased to see an Egyptian tomb painting shown in the intermission of women juggling.  So does juggling belong in the list above?

Akhnaten was an idealist, obsessed with the sun, in love with his wife and wishing to separate himself from the politics of his era.  I felt that this music and theatrical presentation represented his life in a profound way that could not have been imagined, at least by me.

There was only one real aria for which text was provided:  The Hymn to the Sun by Akhnaten.  The singing was beautiful if completely abstract.  The costumes were gorgeous and represented the exalted nature of their status in Egypt.

As a Glass expert, I declare this to be his masterpiece.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Bayerische Staatsoper 2019-20 plus stream selections

The first list is premiers.  Only one is a world premier.  The rest are production premiers.  I would like to see all of them, even the opera studio.  You can see that I almost got my wish.  The only one I didn't get is the one I wanted most.  Can we please have tote Stadt?  Please?  It plays more in the summer.

++ = selected



Premiers



pre Korngold:  Die tote Stadt Jonas Kaufmann, Marlis Petersen
pre Abrahamsen: The Snow Queen ++ Barbara Hannigan, Peter Rose
pre Bartok: Duke Bluebeard's Castle ++ Nina Stemme, John Lundgren
pre Verdi: I Masnadieri ++ Diana Damrau, Charles Castronovo
pre Abramovic:7 Deaths of Maria Callas++ 7 different women-world premier
pre Rameau: Castor et Pollux ++ ? don't know these people
pre Verdi: Falstaff++ Wolfgang Koch, Okka von der Dammerau
pre Thomas: Mignon Opera studio



 Here is the rest of the opera repertoire.  Dates in front signify when this opera was streamed before.

 

Beethoven:  Fidelio:  Adrianne Pieczonka, Günther Groissböck, Klaus Florian Vogt

Berg:  Wozzeck: ++ Christian Gerhaher

Bizet:  Carmen Matthew Polenzani
2015 Donizetti:  L’elisir d’amore: Pretty Yende, Mariusz Kwiecien, Ambrogio Maestri
2015 Donizetti:  Lucia di Lammermoor Pretty Yende, Javier Camarena, Quinn Kelsey

Gluck:  Alceste Dorothea Röschmann,

Haydn:  Orlando Paladino Mathias Vidal, Tara Erraught

Humperdinck:  Hänsel und Gretel:  Tara Erraught

Johann Strauß:   Die Fledermaus: 
2019 Krenek:  Karl V. Bo Skovhus

Mozart:  Cosi fan Tutte Tara Erraught

Mozart:  Die Zauberfloete Pavol Breslik

Mozart:  Don Giovanni Erwin Schrott, Luca Pisaroni, Carmen Giannattasio

Mussorgsky:  Boris Godunow:  Dimitry Ulyanov

Offenbach:  Les Contes d’Hoffmann Michael Spyres

Puccini:  La bohème: 
 2019 Puccini:  La fanciulla del West Anja Kampe, Brandon Jovanovich

Puccini:  Tosca:  Anja Harteros

Puccini:  Turandot:  Anna Netrebko, Yusif Eyvazov

Rossini:  Guillaume Tell:  Gerald Finley, Michael Spyres

Rossini:  Il barbiere di Siviglia

Rossini:  La Cenerentola Teresa Iervolino
2019 Smetana:  Die Verkaufte Braut

Strauss:  Salome Marlis Petersen, Wolfgang Koch

Strauss:  Die sweigsame Frau

Tchaikovsky:  Eugen Onegin: Pavol Breslik

Verdi:  Don Carlo Charles Castronovo, Ludovic Tézier, Ildar Abdrazakov, Anja Harteros
2013 Verdi:  Il Trovatore Anja Harteros

Verdi:  Nabucco:  Placido Domingo, Liudmyla Monastyrska
2018 Verdi:  Otello:  Jonas Kaufmann, Anja Harteros

Verdi:  Rigoletto:  Ludovic Tezier, Erin Morley

Verdi:  La traviata:  multiple

Wagner:  Der fliegende Holländer:  Michael Volle
2018 Wagner:  Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg:  Wolfgang Koch, Jonas Kaufmann, 

Wagner:  Lohengrin:  Klaus Florian Vogt, Anja Harteros
2018 Wagner:  Parsifal:  Anja Kampe

I would like to see Netrebko's Turandot and anything with Anja Harteros.  We have been promised over and over Die Meistersinger with Jonas Kaufmann.  Could we finally see it, please?

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Revival of The King and I


Kelli O'Hara as Anna Leonowens
Ken Watanabe as King of Siam
Ruthie Ann Miles as Lady Thiang

Directed by Bartlett Sher

From the perspective of 2019 Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I seems very different.  Is this cultural appropriation?  We have cute oriental children, a king that goes barefoot, bowing while curling up on the floor, etc. etc. and so forth.  Who knows what the true reality is? The English conquered the world and never reconsidered their own values. 

The musical is based on the memoirs of Anna Harriette Leonowens which were published after the American civil war, while Uncle Ton's Cabin was still well known.  This novel is a topic in Anna's lessons with the children.  They notice that this contradicts what their father has taught.

Anna does not come as a conqueror.  She is hired to teach the children and receives a salary.  She teaches English ideas.  But that is why the king has hired her.  He wants to find a place in this world filled with European conquerors.  He wants to appear to them to be civilized, perhaps realizing that they are filled with cultural prejudices.  It's best to just go with it.

Kelli O'Hara projects the classy but not too classy tone of Anna.  She sings sweetly and does a nice waltz [oops--polka].  I wasn't too sure about Ken Watanabe at first, but he won me over.  Tuptim's lover was a beautiful young man who was not that great as a singer.  Ken sang the king's songs resulting in melodies I don't think I've ever really heard before. 

It ran on television.  It's worth a look.