Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Manon Lescaut


Manon Lescaut, soprano: Kristīne Opolais
Lescaut, her brother, baritone: Christopher Maltman
Chevalier des Grieux, tenor: Jonas Kaufmann
Geronte de Ravoir, Treasurer General, bass:  Maurizio Muraro

Conductor:   Royal Opera Music Director Antonio Pappano

I go back and forth about this opera, Puccini's Manon Lescaut.   Manon doesn't seem to get to have any fun in this version of the story.

I saw it in Vienna a few years ago where it was all about couture.  There were dresses in store windows, and the scene where the girls names are called was staged as a fashion show.  The singers were almost incidental, but in spite of that it still had a basic unity.

I don't feel repulsed by this production.  I adored the first scene quite madly.  Street people.  A Manon who actually looks like a school girl.  The most wonderfully handsome des Grieux you've seen.  What's not to like?  It sort of goes down hill after that.  The scene in Geronte's house is a bedroom.  This worked for me.  But why did the bed from the previous scene show up in the scene where Manon is supposed to be getting on the boat?  Remember I'm the person who doesn't want to read explanations of the staging before, during or after.  I think this opera is hard to stage because it's all highlights and no continuity.

At the end they are on a wrecked freeway in Monument Valley which is in Arizona, not Louisiana.  It is however a desert.

We weren't here for the sets.  You will seldom ever see such spectacular casting.  The singing was magnificent.  Kristine almost makes it up to Jonas's level.  The tenor part in this opera is actually more significant than the soprano.  She can get away with rather low levels of intensity, but he must sing full voice almost all the time.  Jonas is simply spectacular, for singing, for acting, for looks, for phrasing, every aspect is absolutely beautiful.  All that big singing is thrilling.

The glorious score grows on me.  See this if you possibly can.

This discussion of the opera is interesting.



I seem to recall commenting on the requirement to sing constantly big and wondering if Jonas could do it.  He seems to be doing fine.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Laurie E. Nelson Board President

From Two in Tune:

Sacramento Region Performing Arts Alliance Elects Laurie E. Nelson to be Board President

The Sacramento Region Performing Arts Alliance has elected Laurie E. Nelson as president of the board. With her leadership, the organization will undergo a three-month review of all available opportunities to preserve the opera and philharmonic for the community, including the possibility of a modified or partial season that would be presented in early 2015. We’d like to thank all of our supporters, subscribers and donors for your patience as we consider how best to ensure that this vital community resource grows and thrives.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

Blogging



I have been trying to get into Twitter and tried my hand today while watching the stream of #ConcertDeParis honoring Bastille Day.  A number of foreigners sang in French:  Olga Peretyatko (Soprano) "Salut a la France",  Elina Garanca (Mezzo) "Ah que j'aime les militaires",  and Lawrence Brownlee (Ténor) "Ah, mes amis".  The Twitter feed threw around a lot of criticisms of French diction.  With Google Translate at the ready I followed along.

So I thought I would ask all these native French speakers which foreigner they preferred in their language.  Jonas Kaufmann.  Unqualified agreement.  He was preferred over Sophie Koch.

The French also complained about the use of Operetten Lieder as encores on Jonas's recitals.  Soon he will be doing whole concerts of these items.  I'm sort of looking forward.

It was a lovely concert which ended with La Marseillaise

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Our American Singers


Cast 

Violetta Valéry: Ailyn Pérez
Alfredo Germont: Stephen Costello
Giorgio Germont: Quinn Kelsey
Conductor:  Giuseppe Finzi

This all American trio set the stale war horse La Traviata ablaze at the San Francisco Opera.  They were supposed to be the second cast, but why completely escapes me.  My feeling was that we were lucky to have them.  I switched my ticket to see them.

Quinn came close to equaling my favorite Germont, Thomas Hampson.  For me the perfect combination is a warm tone and warm heart.  This was beautiful and strongly emotional singing.

Stephen Costello was best in the final duet where they sing of Paris.

But I was here for the rising star of opera Ailyn Pérez.  She has beauty of voice coupled with excellent penetration.  She was never covered by the only occasionally too loud orchestra.  She is also beautiful and an excellent actress who acts with both voice and body.  There is great depth already in her interpretation of Violetta.

I felt happy just to have been there.

My one negative thought was about the strange claustrophobic sets.  I don't know how all those women in gigantic skirts made their way in and out.

I don't usually go on a Friday night and was rather amazed to see the full house absolutely packed with attractive young people.  I hoped they were all there to see Ailyn.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Modern Operas, a list

This is my list of operas since 1976. I have seen the ones in bold.

The Martyrdom of saint Magnus 1976 Davies
Einstein on the Beach 1976 Glass
The Women in the Garden 1977 Fine
Le Grand Macabre 1977 Ligeti
Lear 1978 Reimann
The Red Line 1978 Sallinen
The Lighthouse 1979 Davies
King Harald's Saga 1979 Weir
The Village Singer 1979 Paulus
Sweeney Todd 1979 Sondheim
Donnerstag aus Licht 1980 Stockhausen
The Lighthouse 1980 Davies
Satyagraha 1981 Glass
Akhnaten 1983 Glass
Saint Francois d'Assise 1983 Messiaen
Un re in ascolto 1984 Berio
The Mask Of Orpheus 1984 Birtwhistle
Samstag aus Licht 1984 Stockhausen
The man who mistook his wife for a hat 1986 Nyman
Nixon in China 1987 Adams
A Night at the Chinese opera 1987 Weir
The Aspern Papers 1987  Argento
Montag aus Licht 1988 Stockhausen
Greek 1988 Turnage
The death of Klinghoffer 1991 Adams
Gawain 1991 Birtwhistle
The ghosts of Versailles 1991 Corigliano
Dienstag aus Licht 1991 Stockhausen
Mary of Egypt 1991 Taverner
Life with an idiot 1992 Schnittke
McTeague 1992 Bolcom
Orphée 1993 Glass
Blond Eckbert 1994 Weir
La Belle et la Bête 1994 Glass
The Dangerous Liaisons 1994 Susa
Harvey Milk 1995 Wallace
Der Koenig Kandaules 1996 Zemlinski
Rent 1996 Larson
A Streetcar Named Desire 1998 Previn
Little Women 1998 Adamo
A View from the Bridge 1999 Bolcom
The Great gatsby 1999 Harbison
L'Amour de Loin 2000 Saariaho
Dead Man Walking 2000 Heggie
El Nino 2000 Adams
Sophie's Choice 2002 Maw
Tea, a Mirror of Soul 2002 Dun
Galileo Galilei 2002 Glass
The Little Prince 2003 Portman
L'Upupa Und Der Triumph Der Sohnesliebe 2003 Henze
Welfare: the opera 2004 Picket
Doctor Atomic 2005 Adams
The Tempest 2005 Ades
Margaret Garner 2005 Danielpour
Grendel 2005 Goldenthal
An America Tragedy 2005 Picker
Ainadamar 2005 Golijov
The First Emperor 2006 Dun
Adriana Mater 2006 Saariaho
Appomattox 2007 Glass
Phaedra 2007 Henze
The Bonesetter’s Daughter 2008 Wallace
The Letter 2009 Moravec
Il Postino 2010  Catán
Moby Dick 2010 Heggie
Heart of a Soldier 2011 Theofanidis
Anna Nicole 2011 Turnage
Kommilitonen 2011 Davies
Written on Skin  2012 Benjamin
Dog Days   2012 Little
The Secret Garden 2013 Gasser
The Perfect American 2013 Glass
The Gospel of Mary Magdalene 2013 Adamo
Dolores Claiborne 2013 Picker
The Perfect American 2013 Glass
Bonjour, M. Gaugin 2013 Carlone
Brokeback Mountain 2014 Wuorinen
27  2014 Gordon
Anya17   2014 Gorb

I won't comment on the ones I haven't seen. Of the ones I have seen, I would put them into these categories:

Great works: Saint Francis, L'Amour, Moby Dick, Ainadamar

Excellent operas: Nixon, Le Grand Macabre, Satyagraha, Dead Man, Ghosts, Orphée

Ok, I guess: Little Women, Lighthouse, Atomic, Liaisons

Boring: Streetcar, Lear, Klinghoffer

AAAAh!: Sweeney Todd

I have promoted Atomic to ok. After all, if you closed your eyes and imagined you were at the symphony, it was very nice. I should look into Schnittke and Stockhausen. Akhnaten actually sounds interesting. With a Glass opera it helps if you are on drugs. With Satyagraha you must view the opera in a meditative trance state. Don't fight it.

The Tempest has received very good reviews. This is a major area of interest for me. I am maintaining this list as I go along, adding any new operas.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Attention!


We have a date in Sacramento at the Tower Theater for Manon Lescaut from the Royal Opera starring Kristine Opolais and Jonas Kaufmann:  Tuesday, July 29, 2014.  It's posted for 7:00 on Fandango now. 

Monday, July 07, 2014

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Di Rigori

There is something like a "Di Rigori" contest going on in YouTube, including a lot of versions I haven't heard. Here is Mario Lanza:



And how about Jonas Kaufmann:



We've hardly started. Here is Piotr Beczala:



Have I posted anything by Fritz Wunderlich before?



This is a nice bunch, but why stop now?  I'm very fond of Domingo's version:



Can we end without Pavarotti?