Friday, May 24, 2019

Parterre new productions

In Parterre's end of season awards I found this list under new stagings.  The first group is the nominees with the most popular at the top.  I'm assuming that these all took place in New York.  I have added composers' names.  I have included links to articles in Parterre Box.
I have a vague memory of German friends mentioning Goldmark's Die Königin von Saba, but I have never seen it.  There is a vast repertoire of German Opera that never is heard in America.  I should look into this.

The Mile-Long Opera appears to be more of an event than an opera.  People stand about 10 feet apart along a mile and a half stretch of walk way in New York City called the High Line and sing.  This would be to experience first hand.

This next group is the write-ins, a few of which I recognize.  I will assume that the grossly mispelled Les Huguenots is the one from Paris with Lisette Oropesa.  I have no idea if this is true or not.  I also saw the Forza from the Royal Opera.  Many of the others also took place in New York.  Murasaki's Moon was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 
  • Murasaki’s Moon
  • Les huguenots saw this
  • Elektra Lyric Opera of Chicago
  • Tosca Philadelphia Orchestra
  • Kata Kabanova at Covent Garden
  • Kopernikus by Claude Vivier
  • La Forza del Destino Royal Opera  saw this
  • David Hertzberg’s The Rose Elf
  • Rape of Lucretia (New Camerata)
  • Sarah Kane's Psychosis 448
I see live or find films of lots of things going on in Europe, but the same is not true of opera in America.  Here in our country performances go out into the air and are never seen again.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Ranking the Simulcasts

This is the list of HD broadcasts this season from the Metropolitan Opera shown in reverse order.  I skipped Carmen and Magic Flute for reasons of excess familiarity.  Perhaps one of these is your favorite.  I will discuss those I saw and then rank.

👍🏻Dialogue des Carmélites by Francis Poulenc  Revival.  This was my first time in French.  It was a towering performance which Isabel Leonard brought virtually to perfection. 


👍🏻Wagner's Die Walküre  Revival shown for Christine Goerke.  The Met revived the whole Ring but only Die Walküre made it into movie theaters. 

👍🏻Donizetti's La Fille du Regiment  Revival.  I enjoyed this enormously, more than I thought possible.  Pretty Yende, Javier Camarena, Maurizio Muraro and a special guest appearance by Kathleen Turner made this a very lively and up beat performance.

Bizet's Carmen  Revival.  This features Roberto Alagna again in French repertoire, which I cannot rate because I missed it.


👍🏻Francesco Cilèa's Adriana Lecouvreur  Production from the Royal Opera.  This was one of two HD transmissions to feature the duo Anna Netrebko and Anita Rachvelishvili.  Their voices and performance styles are extraordinarily well suited to one another and worked to great effect here.  It's not the greatest opera, but the cast was great across the board.  I especially enjoyed the work of Ambrogio Maestri.

Verdi's La Traviata  New production replaces the red dress.  I found the new very decorative production to be no more than just functional.

Mozart's Magic Flute  Revival which I missed.  I prefer Flute in German.


Marnie by Nico Muhly  New Opera presented a year after its premier in London.  It's based on a movie by Alfred Hitchcock and starred Isabel Leonard in a tour de force..

👍🏻Puccini's La Fanciulla del West  Revival of the old Giancarlo del Monaco production.  Both Eva-Maria Westbroek and Jonas Kaufmann were fabulous in their roles, but for me the story makes a bit more sense if Minnie might possibly marry Jack Rance.


👍🏻Camille Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila  Revival.  I like Roberto Alagna, especially in French repertoire. The Production created the impression that the Israelis were very poor in contrast with the much richer Philistines.  What I liked was the sexual chemistry between Roberto and Elina Garanca. 

Verdi's Aida  Revival.  This was one of two HD transmissions to feature the duo Anna Netrebko and Anita Rachvelishvili.  It failed due to the truly catastrophic singing of Aleksandrs Antonenko as Radames.  I thought the scene between the two ladies was the best I had seen.  That overall it was spoiled by the tenor is sad.

So we have six thumbs up which is probably too many.  I do love opera.  What we are missing again this year is a run away favorite.  Can I have a tie?  Both of these operas were the best versions I've seen.
  • Dialogue des Carmélites by Francis Poulenc
  • Francesco Cilèa's Adriana Lecouvreur  

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Dialogue des Carmélites in HD


Conductor...............Yannick-Nézet-Séguin
Production..............John Dexter

Blanche de la Force.....Isabel Leonard
Madame de Croissy.....Karita Mattila
Madame Lidoine........Adrianne Pieczonka
Mother Marie.............Karen Cargill
Sister Constance........Erin Morley

Dialogue des Carmélites by Francis Poulenc brings the 2018-19 HD season to an end.  When I saw this opera in San Francisco long ago, it was in this same production, only in English.  This is my first time in French.  Poulenc, who lived before supertitles, wanted the opera performed in the language of the audience.  The production follows the historical context of the French Revolution while creating a context through abstractions.  The giant white cross will stay in memory forever.

The opera begins in the home of Blanche de la Force with her father and brother.  Her brother worries that she is always afraid while her father dismisses just about everything she says.  But when she tells him she wishes to join the Carmelite convent, he doesn't refuse.

The convent of Carmelite nuns is changing.  There are two novices, Blanche and Constance, and the mother superior is dying.  Isabel and Erin are charming in their relationship throughout the opera.  Karita Mattila plays her death scene to the ultimate extreme.  It is frightening to watch.  The opera is about death, so I suppose this is one extreme.


After she dies, a new mother superior is sent in from outside:  Madame Lidoine.  Adrianne Pieczonka played her very low key.

Blanche provides the story.  She loves the private life and prayer, but news of the outside world seeps into the seclusion of the convent.  The nuns agree to commit to becoming martyrs.  Even Constance agrees.  All but Blanche agree.

Her brother comes to warn her she is in danger.  The priest is removed from his position and tries to escape.  Finally they are all arrested and forced to give up their nun clothing for "normal" clothes.  At this point Blanche escapes and finds her brother.  She learns that her father has gone to the guillotine.  She rejoins them right at the end.  We hear the sound of the guillotine falling.

Isabel is such a spectacular performer.  She gives us beauty, emotional connection, great singing and her own personal magnetism.  She keeps the stream of emotion going.

This opera is deeper than opera usually is.  Altogether it was a great performance with emotional and musical intensity and exceptional theatrical clarity.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Lisette Oropesa wins Beverly Sills Award


After just winning the Richard Tucker Prize, Lisette Oropesa has now received the Beverly Sills Award from the Metropolitan Opera.  Congratulations.


Thursday, May 02, 2019

Hannigan does Weill



Barbara Hannigan sings Youkali of Kurt Weill with the pianist Alexandre Tharaud. Song recorded for Radio France.  I don't think I knew he wrote songs in French.  We don't want to go too long without some Weill.