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 Rogers 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.  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.  Sorry.  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.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Authentic Die Fledermaus

Orlofsky and Adele

Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus comes from the Wiener Staatsoper and streams on OperaVision. Catch it while you can.

Conductor Franz Welser-Möst
Director Otto Schenk

Gabriel von Eisenstein Kurt Streit
Rosalinde Michaela Kaune
Frank Alfred Šramek
Prinz Orlofsky Zoryana
Kushpler Alfred Rainer Trost
Dr. Falke Markus Eiche
Dr. Blind Peter Simonischek
Adele Daniela Fally

This is as authentic a production of this the most famous of German operettas that you are likely to see, both theatrically and musically.   This is the most I have liked Franz Welser-Möst.  Of course, the orchestra he is conducting could play this in their sleep, but nevertheless it was stylistically quite wonderful.

The cast were all unfamiliar to me but were filled with joy and great comic intensity.  Who wouldn't want to go to a party where everyone was having this much fun.  Es lebe Champaigne der Erste.  We get all the old jokes.  The Viennese understand this better than anyone else.

Salzburg 2020

The Salzburg Festival of 2020 has been announced.  This year is the 100 anniversary of the festival, so there will be much celebrating.



OPER

  • Richard Strauss ELEKTRA

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart DON GIOVANNI

  • Giacomo Puccini TOSCA (Netrebko, Eyvazov, Tézier)

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE

  • Luigi Nono INTOLLERANZA 1960

  • Gaetano Donizetti DON PASQUALE (Cecilia Bartoli)

  • Modest Mussorgski BORIS GODUNOW (Ildar Abdrazakov) 

  • Giuseppe Verdi I VESPRI SICILIANI (Plácido Domingo)

  • Morton Feldman NEITHER

  • Händel / Mozart DER MESSIAS (Mozart's arrangement of Handel's Messiah orchestrated for an orchestra of his time and translated into German.  The San Francisco Symphony performed this when I was in the chorus.  At Salzburg it will be staged.)

There will be a distinguished selection of plays in German.

KONZERT

  • OUVERTURE SPIRITUELLE Pax (Britten War Requiem begins a series of concerts.)

  • WIENER PHILHARMONIKER (Five concerts, including Wesendonck Lieder w. Garanca).

  • ORCHESTER ZU GAST

  • BEETHOVEN-ZYKLUS (8 concerts of piano sonatas.)

  • Still life — Zeit mit FELDMAN

  • MOMENTS MUSICAUX (5 concerts with surprise contents)

  • KAMMERKONZERTE (7 concerts, 3 Beethoven)

  • LIEDERABENDE (Christian Gerhaher, Matthias Goerne, Benjamin Bernheim, Sonya Yoncheva)

  • SOLISTENKONZERTE (11 distinguished concerts.)

  • KIRCHENKONZERT

  • MOZART-MATINEEN MOZARTEUMORCHESTER (5 concerts)

  • CAMERATA SALZBURG

  • HERBERT VON KARAJAN YOUNG CONDUCTORS AWARD

  • YOUNG SINGERS PROJECT

  • SONDERKONZERTE

Time to completely overdo.  This is the festival to top all festivals, even their own.  They are proud to proclaim the presence of Placido Domingo.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Mozart at the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera


Our conductor for this all Mozart program was Michael Christie.  In our all Mozart program at the
Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera I didn't notice that he used a baton.  He has won a Grammy.  This concert took place in Fremont Presbyterian and was split into two concerts. 

The program began with Mozart's Symphony No. 41 "Jupiter."  The program did not list the movements, as I believe is still traditional.  I admit that Mozart's symphonies are more standardized than other composers, but I still like seeing the movements.  This was good but not thrilling.  Mr. Christie's tempos are a bit fast IMHO.

We were treated to semi-staged opera scenes from Mozart's Cosi fan tutte and Le nozze di Figaro.   These were remarkably well coordinated since neither the conductor nor the singers could see one another.  The following cast listings are made up by me, since nothing in the program lists these.

Ellie Dehn, soprano -- Despina in Cosi, Susanna in Nozze.
Jana McIntyre, soprano -- Fiordili in Cosi, Marcellina in Nozze.
Julie Miller, mezzo-soprano -- Dorabella, in Cosi, Countess in Nozze.
Michael Day, tenor -- Ferrando in Cosi, Basilio in Nozze.
Benjamin Taylor, baritone -- Guglielmo in Cosi, Count Almaviva in Nozze.
James Hayden, bass-baritone --     ,  Figaro in Nozze.
Scott Levin, bass-baritone -- Don Alfonso in Cosi, Gardener in Nozze.

The singers all wore standard concert attire except Doctor Despina.

Act I Finale to Cosi fan tutte begins when the two lovers in their disguises pretend to take poison.  Robitussin is Doctor Despina's cure.  The supertitles were loosely translated for laughs. 

Act II Finale to Le nozze di Figaro begins just before Susanna steps out of the Countess's wardrobe instead of the expected Cherubino.  This is an excellent place to begin since you cannot have a Cherubino without a costume of some kind.

These are two of Mozart's magnificent ensemble scenes in opera.  He comes in an era when most opera consisted of a series of arias with perhaps a duet here or there.  Amazing ensembles are a treat, and these were beautifully sung with a real sense of ensemble.  The two sisters in Cosi were especially beautiful together.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Marin Alsop to Vienna


Marin Alsop who has been conducting in Baltimore since I lived in Maryland, is off to Vienna to conduct The Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra.  She is the first female conductor for this orchestra.  Good luck.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Blogging

I have introduced a new label:  #MoD.  This is short for Metropolitan Opera on Demand.  Please select it from the filters list to read reviews of HD transmissions from the Met.  Met on Demand has both audio and video files.  I have focused almost entirely on the video files.