I'm very glad I went to see Manon Lescaut at the movies. Seeing it up close and personal made the entire production make more sense. The YT film reviewed here also has no subtitles. I posted the above picture because this scared me to death. They are flailing away on the edge of a set where they could easily fall and kill themselves. The theatrical tension was upstaged by the real tension.
I actually think this production is excellent. In the now ubiquitous interviews it was discussed why this opera is seldom performed. The answer seemed true: it requires the perfect operatic couple. It has found them in Jonas Kaufmann and Kristīne Opolais. The camera closeups gave us vivid insight into Manon's ever vacillating moods which reflected beautifully in Kristine's face.
We also got to see the soft porn aspects of the second scene up close and personal. Opolais is a very game performer is all I can say.
All in all this is a new level of achievement for filming of an opera.
I am here because of my artistic infatuation with Herr Kaufmann. Waiting for the opera to begin I was reminded of a German song I have only heard once: Ich möchte noch einmal verliebt sein. I would like once again to fall in love. This is a song of a certain age, an age when one does not so easily fall in love any more. Opera brings us the semblance of love. We may imagine love in the feigning of it. I want to thank both the stars of this opera for the masterful semblance of passion. It was simply wonderful.
I always intended to write a Peter Gelb Part II after my Peter Gelb Part I. Missing from the previous essay was a dollar figure attached to each production. The main problem with any of these productions I discussed is how much they cost. The infamous Ring is the high end at $19.6 million. Gelb seems to think spending money on productions is a good thing. It is significant to note that new productions are usually separately funded from the general budget.
What exactly is the problem with Peter Gelb? I think this can be briefly summarized: he imagines himself to be saving the opera genre and not managing the Metropolitan Opera. He seems to correlate spending money on productions with saving opera, a significant logical mistake.
His actual job is to manage the Metropolitan Opera which basically consists of putting on operas people will enjoy, hiring singers to sing them while keeping the budget in balance. I think a sensible opera board would fire him asap. He would be vastly more successful if he stuck strictly to his real job.
And now we hear this. Here is an article that suggests that what we are now witnessing is simple union busting. I like it that the author cites a couple of illegal things going on. Labor law in the US is strict. If he's right, let's hope that shortly after the lock out will come the law suit. The goal of union busting is to get rid of the unions, not merely to reduce their pay.
I have already suggested that there will be no 2014-15 Met season. And I so wanted to see Anna Netrebko sing Lady Macbeth.
It has been suggested that we lend them David Gockley, a man who actually knows how to manage an opera company.
I remind myself at this point of my recent Friday night visit to the San Francisco Opera where lots of young people were seen. Are we sure opera really needs saving?
P.S. The extension of the lockout deadline gives me at least a little hope.
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
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.
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.
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", Elīna Garanča (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 who is French.
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.
Violetta Valéry: Ailyn Pérez Alfredo Germont: Stephen Costello Giorgio Germont: Quinn Kelsey
Conductor: Giuseppe Finzi Production: John Copley
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.
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 Satyagraha 1981 Glass
The Postman Always Rings Twice 1982 Paulus
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 Into the Woods 1987 Sondheim
Montag aus Licht 1988 Stockhausen
Greek 1988 Turnage Hydrogen Jukebox 1990 Glass 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 Flight 1999 Dove 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 End of the Affair 2007 Heggie The Minotaur 2008 Birtwistle 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 Death and the Powers 2011 Machover 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 As One 2014 Kaminsky La Ciociara 2015 Tutino Bel Canto 2015 Lopez Breaking the Waves 2016 Mazzoli Dream of the Red Chamber 2016 Sheng
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.