Saturday, April 18, 2015

Chat Noir

I recently attended a recital with Carrie Hennessey and John Cozza at the Crocker Art Museum celebrating a current exhibit about Toulouse-Lautrec.   The song selections were marvelous:  Satie, Poulenc, Schoenberg and Gustave Charpentier.  All had something to do with night club singing.  The Charpentier was the aria from Louise.

The Schoenberg group included a song "Arie aus dem Spiegel" on a text by Emanuel Schikaneder, the librettist for the Magic Flute.  Carrie thought it sounded like something Papageno would sing.  It is necessary at this point to remember that Schikaneder was the original Papageno.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Woman in Gold

I remember that I went to New York when the Klimt paintings went on display at the Neue Gallerie after the legal settlement.  It was wonderful to see them up close.

So it is only fair that I should see the Woman in Gold movie.  I liked it much more than I thought I would.  It was a beautiful and emotional film.  Helen Mirren is the best.

I tend to feel that art belongs to everyone and should be on display, and that wasn't the point of view of the movie.  They made it clear that if the museum owners had behaved respectfully at any point she might have decided differently.  I feel myself that being treated with respect is what matters most.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Browsing through the ROH season announcement

Werther  Jules Massenet
Dir: Benoît Jacquot
Cond: Antonio Pappano
Benoît Jacquot’s production of Massenet’s tragic opera explores the conflict between duty and our most passionate desires.
  • Werther  – Vittorio Grigolo
  • Charlotte  – Joyce DiDonato
  • Albert  – David Bižić
  • Sophie – Heather Engebretson
  • Le Bailli – Jonathan Summers
  • Johann – Yuriy Yurchuk §
  • Schmidt – François Piolino
  • Käthchen – Emily Edmonds §
  • Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
§ Jette Parker Young Artist
19 June at 3pm
24 | 27* June at 7.15pm
3 July at 3pm
6 | 13 July at 7.15pm
*Live cinema relay

Eugene Onegin
Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky
Dir: Kasper Holten
Cond: Semyon Bychkov
Tchaikovsky’s most famous opera is given an elegiac telling in Kasper Holten’s production.
  • Eugene Onegin – Dmitri Hvorostovsky
  • Tatyana – Nicole Car
  • Lensky – Michael Fabiano
  • Olga – Oksana Volkova
  • Prince Gremin – Ferruccio Furlanetto (except 7 Jan) / Brindley Sheratt (7 Jan)
  • Madame Larina – Diana Montague
  • Filipyevna – Catherine Wyn-Rogers
  • Monsieur Triquet – Jean-Paul Fouchécourt
  • Captain – David Shipley §
  • Zaretsky – James Platt §
  • Royal Opera Chorus, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
§ Jette Parker Young Artist
19 December at 7pm
22 | 30 December at 7.30pm
2 January at 7pm
4 | 7 January at 7.30pm

Monday, April 13, 2015

Cavalleria Rusticana

You can watch the brand new Cavalleria Rusticana from the Salzburg Easter Festival on YouTube. Here are some bits.

I like both Kaufmann and Lyudmyla Monastyrska in this.


I find that I want to comment on the production.  It was hard to understand exactly what was going on.  There was a conductor in the pit and an orchestra, and they were playing.  On the stage it seemed to be a film playing.  Up to six different screens appeared in two rows, and the scenes of people milling around outside the church for Easter services could have actually been films.  The gorgeous choral work could not be seen, and they didn't get a bow.

The only thing I could figure out was a large screen with films of live action which went on behind it.  The maybe four actual sets were shot and put together into what we were seeing.  It was hard to tell exactly since I am possibly seeing a film of a film.  Or who really knows? 

In the scenes with mama Lucia there were two mysterious men that came and went.  I kept rewinding to see what happened.  And who exactly were they?  Mama seemed to be working.

The plot was easy to follow.  It was only confusing if you wanted to understand how they did it.


She's right.  You can't tell from a film, but my current guess is two rows of three boxes.  Sometimes they are only frames that make it look like boxes.  Turiddu is respectable but Santuzza isn't, though they live together and have a child together.

The street cleared and mama Lucia's box appeared in the lower row.  They must be rolled around backstage.  Maybe this would only work for the lower row.  One can't help wondering.


There is a film also of I Pagliacci which I find I don't like quite as much.  There is the same arrangement of two rows of boxes.  In this one when the play is being enacted in one section above, there are closeups projected on the section next to it.  Then at the end there is a big empty stage.  Curious.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

L'Elisir d'amore from Munich

Giannetta, Nemorino, Asher Fisch, Adina, Belcore

Conductor: Asher Fisch
Director: David Bösch

Adina: Ailyn Pérez
Nemorino: Matthew Polenzani
Belcore: Mario Cassi
Dulcamara: Ambrogio Maestri
Giannetta: Evgeniya Sotnikova

I commented a few times on line during the live stream of Donizetti's L'Elisir d'amore from the Bayerische Staatsoper.  "It's in Ailyn's contract that she must look gorgeous."  Now I realize that this role was originally played by Anna Netrebko, and that it is probably she who has this in her contract.  Her Nemorino was also Matthew Polenzani.

"Die Öde verschlingt ihn," also popped into my head when the set was revealed.  This means the wasteland engulfs him and is a line from the Alto Rhapsody.  We're in Somalia, or somewhere war ravaged and deserted like that, but nevertheless, Adina always looks gorgeous.  Everyone else looks terrible.

Above are Adina and Nemorino early in the opera.  Though I have searched for quite a while, I have not been able to find a picture of Belcore's soldiers who in this production are in combat fatigues with lots of guns and gear.  They gang up on Adina in a very threatening way, and only when Belcore threatens to kill Nemorino does she agree to marry him.  In all of the versions of Elixir that I have seen this one makes it clearest that Adina always adores Nemorino and is just messing with him. 

The oddest thing in the whole production has to be:

Nemorino singing "Una furtiva lagrima" while up a telephone pole.  Poor Matthew.

I don't quite know what to say about this production with all its aura of menace.  The women's chorus tried to make it all light and entertaining, but for a while in the first act it got pretty creepy.  Area 51?

Don't get me wrong.  The cast was fabulous, with magnificent singing and acting from beginning to end.  Ailyn Pérez is becoming a great singer.  She got the biggest applause.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

West Edge Summer Festival 2015

I enjoy very much West Edge Opera's theatrical creativity.  This summer from July 25 to August 9 they will present 3 operas, each in its own venue.  And none of them are theaters.

What!  Another Lulu?  It's everywhere, and this one will be presented in Oakland's abandoned train station on 16th street.   Lulu will be sung by Emma McNairy.  I am formally declaring 2015 the year of Lulu.  In addition to this performance it will simulcast from the Met and stream from Munich.

The next opera is As One by Laura Kaminsky, an opera that premiered last fall at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.  And the venue is the Oakland Metro, 630 3rd st, a punk rock venue near Jack London Square.

The third and last opera is billed as Ulysses but is usually called Il ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria by Claudio Monteverdi.  This opera has a very cool contralto role.  It's venue is American Steel Studios at 1960 Mandela Parkway.  This is sort of an architectural tour of Oakland.

After abandoning El Cerrito High School, West Edge has been homeless.  I am very much attracted to this creative solution.  I find it all very exciting.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Selfie of the Week

Close in second place is this....

You have to guess.  I like these, too, but I won't make you guess.

Lawrence Brownlee and Anja Harteros.  I still need to see her live.

The one and only Brigitte Fassbaender with Brownlee.  He gets around a lot.  This has to be for Rosenkavalier and maybe the above one is, too.

To heck with guessing.  The top one is Rene Pape in his makeup for Gurnemanz followed by Luca Pisaroni as Henry VIII in Anna Bolena.  Doesn't Rene look like a street bum?

Sunday, April 05, 2015


And this is Pavol Breslik in Lucia di Lammermoor from the live stream from the Bayerische Staatsoper. 


Leah Crocetto will be singing this, Liu in Turandot, at the Met next season.  The simulcast will be Stemme and Hartig.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Andrew Porter (August 26, 1928 — April 3, 2015)

Andrew Porter wrote for the New Yorker in the seventies, the time in my life when I read it from cover to cover.  He was deeply curious and wrote long pleasing articles.  The one I remember most vividly is the long essay on the completion of Lulu in 1976. He was a fabulous writer.