Friday, September 18, 2020
Thursday, September 17, 2020
I regret to show this announcement:
"Hello friends, I want to share with you that I have tested positive for COVID-19 and am currently in the hospital for medical treatment. I am doing well but also have COVID-related pneumonia, so I need medical supervision. I knew of course there was always going to be a risk that I might get infected. But I don’t regret going back to performing because I strongly believe that we need culture, now as ever. I am expected to make a full recovery thanks to the wonderful care I’m receiving.
We are very, very grateful that Yusif and Tiago have tested negative for the virus. Yusif has tested positive for antibodies so he is clear to perform, which makes me very happy. Thank you all for the well wishes and continued support."
from Anna Netrebko
We can only hope for the best.
P.S. There is news that Anna is singing in hospital.
Sunday, September 13, 2020
This is the recital from the Metropolitan Opera starring Joyce DiDonato with Carrie-Ann Matheson on the piano and the ensemble Il Pomo D'Oro. I'm going to tell who accompanies each piece.
- “Addio Roma” from Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea, Il Pomo D'Oro
- Didon’s Final Scene from Berlioz’s Les Troyens, Matheson. I am very impress with Carrie-Ann Matheson as accompanist.
- “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen” by Gustav Mahler, Matheson. Wonderful Mahler. Sing more Mahler for us.
A clip from Maria Stuarda is inserted here while Joyce takes a break.
- “Oh Shenandoah” Traditional
- “As with rosy steps the morn” from Handel’s Theodora, Il Pomo D'Oro
- “Illustratevi, o cieli” from Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria, Il Pomo D'Oro
- “Dopo notte atra e funesta” from Handel’s Ariodante, Il Pomo D'Oro. This is the most heavily florid piece on the program so far. It's nice to hear Joyce sing some coloratura.
The second pause comes here. They have put in an interview concerning Dead Man Walking.
- “I Dream a World” (World Premiere) by Kenyatta Hughes, arranged by Craig Terry, with text by Langston Hughes, Matheson and cello.
- “Intorno all’idol mio” From Cesti’s Orontea, Il Pomo D'Oro.
- “Voi che sapete” From Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Matheson. This is the role Joyce made her Met debut in.
- “La vie en rose” By Louiguy, arranged by Craig Terry, Matheson. And now for something completely different. Joyce has given herself much to enjoy.
- “Canción al árbol del olvido,” Op. 3, No. 2 by Alberto Evaristo Ginastera, Matheson.
- “You'll Never Walk Alone” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, arranged by Craig Terry, Matheson.
This is all about lonliness, isolation and leaving. She has chosen each piece for love, and it is a great success. Sing what you love.
Thursday, September 10, 2020
Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust is tonight's stream from the Metropolitan Opera, 2008. See my discussion here of how it fits into the stream of Faust operas and plays. The expense of installing the complex Lepage production has prevented it from being revived. This is our only opportunity. I am enjoying the complex but pleasing staging. It allows for large masses of people moving on and off, dancing, birds flying, etc. These fill the long stretches of instrumental interludes. The opera was intended by Berlioz for the concert stage, but I am enjoying this staging. If I remember correctly, the people who managed the Paris opera did not like Berlioz.
It is important to remember that Robert Lepage is the creator of Cirque de Soleil. This explains the presence of acrobats who climb around the set. We even have three of them being crucified. They disappear suddenly when the scene changes. Giordani and Relyea climb all over the set like the acrobats. Lepage tends to forget that singers and acrobats have very different professions.
This is an excellent cast. I sometimes wonder what has become of John Relyea. This is one of my favorite performances of Marcello Giordani. The pervasive legato of Berlioz seems to suit him very well.
The set is more a commenting tableau than a staging. Events are suggested rather than shown, but it stays true to the story.
"D'amour l'ardente flamme" was performed by Susan Graham and Pedro Diaz Cosme on English horn. This is a highlight of this opera and was quite gorgeous.
I enjoyed seeing this again. Thank you.
Wednesday, September 02, 2020
Conductor Peter Schneider
Director Sven-Eric Bechtolf
Ein Musiklehrer Markus Eiche
Der Komponist Rachel Frenkel
Der Tenor (Bacchus) Stephen Gould
Zerbinetta Erin Morley
Die Primadonna (Ariadne) Lise Davidsen
This has popped into my awareness just at the right moment. It is Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos from the Wienerstaatsoper, 2017. My copy has no subtitles. We begin with this wonderful view of the rich man's garden and progress to the artists' dressing room. Everyone does their own makeup.
I'm here for Lise Davidsen, of course. In the opening scene Rachel Frenkel earns a mention. She is an excellent Komponist, who appears only at the beginning. Originally this opera consisted of only the second act which appeared after a play by Moliere. In our production she appears around the set in the second half.
Complaining. The voice/orchestra balance is terrible. In the second half the purported audience is shown at the rear of the stage. This would be the rich man and his guests. The singers all turn towards us, of course, which seems rude. The set for the second half is grand pianos thrown all around. One realizes that if everything was changed at the last minute, it would all be exactly as chaotic as this staging.
I have not come in vain. While Lise sings “Es gibt ein Reich,” Der Komponist walks slowly as though in a trance down from the onstage audience. He cannot believe what he hears. Such a glorious legato which moves effortlessly from low to high, from soft to loud we have never heard before. The upper register is gorgeous. The clowns come out before she finishes, so there is no opportunity to clap. This is a great lady. It's always wonderful to have someone new to love.
You might also want Erin Morley for your Zerbinetta.
This is one of Strauss's more significant tenor roles, and it very well suits the Heldentenor we have here.
Saturday, August 29, 2020
Lise Davidsen with James Baillieu, piano.
I have changed the picture to this one that shows both of the faces of the performers in Lise Davidsen's Metropolitan Opera sponsored recital on Saturday. For the performance they were dressed in normal recital clothes.
Lise began with what is already her signature piece: “Dich, teure Halle” from Wagner’s Tannhäuser and followed it with “Allmächt’ge Jungfrau” from the same opera. I reviewed her performance of this at Bayreuth in 2019 and said: "Lise Davidsen is utterly magnificent. I adore her 'Dich teure Halle.'" It's somewhat less impressive with piano but is still excellent. I have also seen her in a production of Fidelio from the Royal Opera described here.
In a similar vein she performed “Es gibt ein Reich” from R. Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. This also displays perfectly her suitability for German repertoire. I enjoyed this very much.
Operatic pieces included one Verdi, “Morrò, ma prima in grazia” from Un Ballo in Maschera, and one Puccini, “Sola, perduta, abbandonata” from Manon Lescaut. All of her operatic selections were easy for her. She is never pushing or struggling with the notes. She has been taught an excellent legato as well. Or perhaps she comes by it naturally.
Operatic works were alternated with song repertoire.
- “Ved Rondane,” Op. 33, No. 9 By Edvard Grieg
- “En Svane,” Op. 25, No. 2 By Edvard Grieg
- “Våren,” Op. 33, No. 2 By Edvard Grieg
- “Säf, säf, susa,” Op. 36 By Jean Sibelius
- “Var det en dröm?” Op. 37 By Jean Sibelius
- “Ruhe, meine Seele!” Op. 27, No. 1 By Richard Strauss
- “Cäcilie,” Op. 27, No. 2 By Richard Strauss
- “Heimliche Aufforderung,” Op. 27, No. 3 By Richard Strauss
- “Morgen!” Op. 27, No. 4 By Richard Strauss
- “Johnny” By Benjamin Britten
- “Heia, heia, in den Bergen ist mein Heimatland” From Kálmán’s Die Csárdásfürstin
- “O lovely night!” By Landon Ronald
- “When I have sung my song to you” By Ernest Charles
- “I Could Have Danced All Night” From Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady
She grows on me very quickly. The Queen of Norway loves her. This is an excellent selection of pieces for her voice. She sings from a place of joy and peace. And she's 6'2". We should await a long career.
She was hosted by Christine Goerke.
Friday, August 28, 2020
Wednesday, August 26, 2020
I have fallen quite by accident into a film of the Wiener Philharmoniker directed by Christian Thielemann with mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča singing Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder at this year's Salzburg Festival. For many years these were my favorite Wagner.
This is something I sang myself. Which means my head is full of ideas of how it should go. Tempo, legato, etc. It can't be helped. Maybe it's just not Wagnerian enough. I think it wouldn't have occurred to me that it should be like Schumann. There's no evidence that she looks at him. She's not required to, you know. Now looking back at these songs I hear that they are not like a Wagner opera at all. Perhaps she's right. The orchestra claps and stands.
The concert goes on.
Monday, August 24, 2020
Director - Nathaniel Merrill
Gretel - Judith Blegen
Hänsel - Frederica von Stade
Gertrud - Jean Kraft
Peter - Michael Devlin
Witch - Rosalind Elias
I watched the Met stream from 1982 of Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel. It is perfection. It plays in my head in German, but this is also very nice. I could do this forever. Blegen and von Stade are lovely children. Elias as the witch looks like someone from the Wizard of Oz. This is the one you want if you speak English. And luckily you can have one of your own.
Sunday, August 23, 2020
The program for next year's Whitsun Festival at Salzburg has been announced. I was sorry to see the homage to Pauline Viardot disappear, but in today's world it's only a small loss. In 2021 Cecilia Bartoli will celebrate Rome, the city of her birth.
|Fri, May 21||7:00 PM||OPERA|
|George Frideric Handel|
|Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno|
|Cecilia sings Piacere.|
|Sat, May 22||11:00 AM||CONCERT|
|Orchesterkonzert · Poema Sinfonico|
|Conducted by Zubin Mehta|
|includes Respighi's Pini di Roma.|
|Concert performance Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart|
|La clemenza di Tito|
|Cecilia sings Sesto|
|Sun, May 23||11:00 AM||CONCERT|
|Sacred Concert · Dixit Dominus|
|George Frideric Handel|
|Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno|
|Mon, May 24||11:00 AM||CONCERT|
|Cain, Overo Il Primo Omicidio|
|Concert performance Giacomo Puccini|
|Anja Harteros, Jonas Kaufmann and Bryn Terfel|
Friday, August 21, 2020
David McVicar (stage director),
Ivor Bolton (conductor)
Anna Caterina Antonacci | Queen Elizabeth I
Leonardo Capalbo | Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex
Paula Murrihy | Frances, Countess of Essex
Duncan Rock | Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy
Sophie Bevan | Penelope, Lady Rich
Leigh Melrose | Sir Robert Cecil
David Soar | Sir Walter Raleigh
Benedict Nelson | Henry Cuffe
This production on medici.tv of Benjamin Britten's Gloriana comes from Teatro Real de Madrid. The opera was composed to honor the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953. The queen herself came to the first performance. It looks as you wish it to. The costumes are magnificent.
The relationship between Elizabeth I and the Earl of Essex is well known. Less well known is his rivalry with Lord Mountjoy.
There is a masque portraying Concord dancing. I am fascinated to see that this female role is played by a man in drag. Accurately in short. All the dancers are guys. It's fun. All is to glorify the Queen who adores it.
The star of this production is Anna Catarina Antonacci whom I have seen in Carmen with Kaufmann, in La Ciociara by Marco Tutino in San Francisco, in Sancta Susanna by Paul Hindemith at the Paris Opera, and in La Voix humaine by Poulenc in San Francisco. This is a wonderful variety of roles all performed by a great singing actress. There is great range in her portrayals, and that certainly is true here as well. Her Elizabeth is mature.
Here we see Essex and Mountjoy plotting treason against the Queen. Other versions slant the story more in favor of Essex. I'm fascinated that with the inclusion of period musical forms Britten is trying to bring the past to us. The music is still Benjamin Britten and not Elizabeth's time. There is a gathering of the court for entertainment, and Essex has brought his wife dressed more beautifully than the Queen. Elizabeth orders the women to change their attire and steals Frances's dress. When everyone reappears, Elizabeth is wearing the beautiful dress which she declares too long. It is surprising that at this moment she sends Essex off to Ireland. The scene ends with yet another dance.
In the next scene Essex returns from Ireland offering a truce. The Queen wanted victory, not a truce. There is something stunning about this. The use of musical forms to frame the scenes is very attractive. Why have I never seen it before? I feel they are trying to show the truth, very rare in an opera.
Monday, August 17, 2020
Out of the list, I was in:
The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart)
Die Fledermaus (Strauss)
Hansel and Gretel (Humperdinck)
Salome (Richard Strauss)
The Queen of Spades (Tchaikovsky)
The Force of Destiny (Verdi)
Death in Venice (Britten)
The Bartered Bride (Smetana)
Out of what remains, I have not seen at all:
Akhnaten (Philip Glass)
Albert Herring (Britten)
Operas that I have seen only in HD from the Met:
Maria Stuarda (Donizetti)
Operas I have seen only on DVD:
The Fairy Queen (Purcell)
Written on Skin (George Benjamin)
Anna Nicole (Mark Anthony Turnage)
The Minotaur (Harrison Birtwistle)
The Coronation of Poppea (Monteverdi)
Benvenuto Cellini (Berlioz)
The Silken Ladder (Rossini) (La Scala di Seta, I have an unwatched dvd.)
That makes 88 live, 3 HD only, 6 DVD only and 4 not at all. I think that's pretty good. The list comes from the ENO and emphasizes their repertoire.
Edited end of 2018 I find that Akhnaten and Gloriana are the only ones I have still not seen.
Edited again in August, 2020, I find that Gloriana is the only one I haven't seen. Perhaps it will never play here. I am pleased to say that today I watched and very much enjoyed Britten's Gloriana. That makes 88 live, 3 HD only, 6 DVD only and 0 not at all.
I see the list is still in place, so compile your own.
Thursday, August 13, 2020
Another interesting cast features Anja Kampe and Bryn Terfel in Wagner's The Flying Dutchman.
Monday, August 10, 2020
Leoš Janáček’s Katya Kabanova
Elizabeth Cree, by Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell
Francesco Cavalli’s Eliogabolo
August 6, 2019
Conductor William Christie
Director David McVicar
Giulio Cesare - Sarah Connolly, mezzo
Curio - Alexander Ashworth
Cornelia, Pompei's wife - Patricia Bardon
Sesto, Pompei's son - Angelika Kirchschlager, mezzo
Cleopatra - Danielle de Niese, soprano
Nireno - Rachid Ben Abdeslam, countertenor
Tolomeo, Cleopatra's brother - Christophe Dumaux, countertenor.
Achilla - Christopher Maltman, baritone
This performance of Handel's Giulio Cesare took place at Glyndebourne in 2005. This is the David McVicar version that ran at the Met with David Daniels and Natalie Dessay in 2013. I called it Julius Caesar the Musical. I enjoy remembering that Natalie was ill for one of the performances, and Danielle de Niese was in town. Naturally she took advantage of the opportunity and stood in for Natalie. That would have been fun to see.
We are projected in time into the British Empire. The Egyptian servants wear the Fez, and the Roman Army are dressed in the red uniforms of the British Army. There is no evidence of Islam, I guess. Cleopatra looks like a modern woman. There are WWII ships and dirigibles.
In the real time of Julius Caesar the rulers of Egypt were descendants of one of the generals of Alexander the Great but still called themselves Pharoahs. This is the original and in my opinion is better than the Met version.
I think I prefer this cast. They are sincere in their change from Roman to British empire. Angelika Kirchschlager is maybe the best trouser singer I have ever experienced. It's worth it to see her alone.
I'm never really wild about countertenors, so I am happy to see that Giulio Cesare is sung by the great Dame Sarah Connolly. She even sort of looks like Caesar and carries herself like a great general. This is Danielle de Niese's first big success, indeed this is her masterpiece. She sings, she dances, she brings us joy.
I notice that the two dead guys, Tolomeo and Achilla, come back to life. I also noticed this in Cecilia Bartoli's version. The characters must have singing in the finale. Here it is staged, but we're not sure what it should mean.
I loved it. It runs for a little longer from Glyndebourne, so try to see it.
Saturday, August 08, 2020
Christof Loy: Director
Elsa Dreisig: Fiordiligi, soprano
Marianne Crebassa: Dorabella, mezzo
Andrè Schuen: Guglielmo, bass
Bogdan Volkov: Ferrando, tenor
Lea Desandre: Despina, soprano
Johannes Martin Kränzle: Don Alfonso, bass
This year isn't just the Beethoven year, it is also 100 years of the Salzburg Festival. They were determined not to just skip the whole thing like almost all the other festivals, so they reduced it as far as possible. There are quite a few concerts but only two operas, down from 10. We are concerning ourselves with Mozart's Cosi fan tutte.
This is a regie production which provides virtually no context. We are in white rooms with no furniture. The clothing is the usual modern black outfits, except for the guys. They start out in the usual black suits, but when it's time for them show up in disguises, they are in the above outfits. If you have no idea what goes on in this opera, you still won't. They are supposed to be in disguise, but they would know who they are. Obviously. Despina's first act aria is cut. In fact the whole performance is at least a half hour shorter than usual.
I notice that Dorabella has a tattoo on her ankle. So these are modern children.
In their funny outfits after the poison gag the guys woo the same girls they did at the beginning. This is not how it's supposed to work. They switch back and forth. Hmmm. These guys are not in disguise. They are just messing with them. The girls get pissed and the boys split.
This production seems to have its own plot. The guys are back in their dark suits way before they usually are. I don't think I like any of these people.
But the music is gorgeous. The soprano ornaments her arias. Have I ever heard this kind of ornamentation in Mozart before? I don't think so. The tenor is also lovely.
No one is fooled at any point. They end up in the beginning arrangement, but it could have gone either way. I still want a trick ending.
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
Conductor: Jiří Bělohlávek
Production: Frank Philipp Schlössmann
Vítek: Thomas Glenn
Albert Gregor: Miro Dvorsky
Kristina: Susannah Biller*
Dr. Kolenatý: Dale Travis*
Emilia Marty: Karita Mattila*
Baron Jaroslav Prus: Gerd Grochowski
A Cleaning Woman: Maya Lahyani*
A Stagehand Austin Kness*
Janek: Brian Jagde*
Count Hauk-Šendor: Matthew O'Neill*
A Chambermaid: Maya Lahyani
This was my fifth Janáček opera after Katya Kabanova, Jenůfa and The Cunning Little Vixen in San Francisco and From the House of the Dead on DVD. The music never makes me think of Wagner. He eschews Romantic tonality without even seeming to notice it exists. I'm going to say something outrageous now so please duck: to me he almost reminds me of Mussorgsky. Almost. Am I too far out on a limb yet? Wikipedia says he was influenced by Puccini. I can see that in the vocal writing. It's sort of verismo without the Italian soul.
The act I set is shown in the picture above. The other two scenes are equally simple. There was a giant clock in two acts that showed the actual time.
We begin with a court case that has been going on for almost 100 years. Count Prus died intestate, and the members of the Prus family possess the estate. One Albert Gregor claims that Count Prus named his ancestor Ferdinand Gregor as the intended heir. The case drags on rather like Bleak House.
Then one day Emilia Marty is in town in her guise as a famous opera singer and drops by the law office to ask about the case. Though none of them have ever seen her before, except possibly across the footlights, she seems to know all about the case. She describes an existing will and tells them exactly where to find it.
Characters speculate about Emilia's age. She must be at least 30, they say. She is very beautiful and all the men fall in love with her. It would be better to see it without knowing what's going on, perhaps. She knows where the will is because she was present when it was placed there almost 100 years before. Emilia has had many names and is over 300 years old. She began her life in Crete as Elina Makropulos and has returned because she feels herself to be dying and wants another dose of the life-sustaining drug.
Isn't this fun! Five of the smaller parts were played by Adler Fellows, and another was played by Thomas Glenn, a former fellow. If there is a Janáček style, no one knows what it is, so don't worry. Susannah Biller as Kristina was especially nice.
The star of the show, singing the virtually immortal Elina, is Karita Mattila. She is towering, intense, gorgeous, outrageous, and utterly fabulous. There was lots of audience screaming. They closed the curtain before we were finished screaming, seemed not to know what to do with sustained applause.
Friday, July 24, 2020
Wednesday, July 22, 2020
Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Conductor: Antonio Pappano
Thursday, July 09, 2020
Daveed Diggs - Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson
Leslie Odom Jr. - Aaron Burr
Lin-Manuel Miranda - Alexander Hamilton
Phillipa Soo - Eliza Hamilton, wife of Hamilton
Renée Elise Goldsberry - Angelica Schuyler, sister of Eliza?
Wednesday, July 08, 2020
Sunday, July 05, 2020
Siegmund, brother.....Gary Lakes
Sieglinde, sister.........Jessye Norman
Fricka, Wotan's wife.....Christa Ludwig
Saturday, July 04, 2020
Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Sunday, June 21, 2020
Saturday, June 20, 2020
Friday, June 19, 2020
Sunday, June 14, 2020
Wednesday, June 10, 2020
Jan 16, 2021 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Die Zauberflöte. This is the old Julie Taymor production and will be done in German.
- Conductor Gustavo Dudamel
- Production Julie Taymor
- Pamina Christiane Karg
- Queen of the Night Kathryn Lewek
- Tamino Stanislas de Barbeyrac
- Papageno Thomas Oliemans
- Sprecher Christian Van Horn
- Sarastro Stephen Milling
Jan 30, 2021 Charles Gounod Roméo et Juliette
- Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin
- Production Bartlett Sher
- Juliette Nadine Sierra, she sang this for us in San Francisco this season.
- Stéphano Julie Boulianne
- Roméo Stephen Costello
- Tybalt David Portillo
- Mercutio Joshua Hopkins
- Capulet Laurent Naouri
- Frère Laurent Ildar Abdrazakov
Mar 27, 2021 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Don Giovanni This is the old Michael Grandage production with an excellent cast.
- Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin
- Production Michael Grandage
- Donna Anna Ailyn Pérez
- Donna Elvira Isabel Leonard
- Zerlina Hera Hyesang
- Don Ottavio Ben Bliss
- Don Giovanni Peter Mattei
- Leporello Gerald Finley
- Masetto Alfred Walker
- The Commendatore Ryan Speedo Green
Apr 17, 2021 Jake Heggie Dead Man Walking This is a new production of an opera new to the Met. It's not new to me since I was at the world premier.
- Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin
- Production Ivo van Hove
- Sister Rose Latonia Moore
- Sister Helen Prejean Joyce DiDonato
- Mrs Patrick De Rocher Susan Graham
- Joseph De Rocher Etienne Dupuis
Apr 24, 2021 Richard Strauss Die Frau ohne Schatten. This is a spectacular cast.
- Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin
- Production Herbert Wernicke
- The Empress Elza van den Heever
- The Dyer's Wife Nina Stemme
- The Nurse Evelyn Herlitzius
- The Emperor Klaus Florian Vogt
- Barak Michael Volle
- The Geisterbote Ryan Speedo Green
May 8, 2021 Giuseppe Verdi Nabucco. This will be Netrebko's first Abigaille.
- Conductor Marco Armiliato
- Production Elijah Moshinsky
- Abigaille Anna Netrebko
- Fenena Varduhi Abrahamyan
- Ismaele Najmiddin Mavlyanov
- Nabucco George Gagnidze
- Zaccaria Dmitry Belosselskiy
May 22, 2021 Vincenzo Bellini Il Pirata. This is a new opera for me.
- Conductor Maurizio Benini
- Production John Copley
- Imogene Diana Damrau
- Gualtiero Javier Camarena
- Goffredo Nicolas Testé
Wednesday, June 03, 2020
Sunday, May 31, 2020
Saturday, May 30, 2020
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Production............Gian Carlo del Menotti
Des Grieux...........Plácido Domingo
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
King Heinrich....John Macurdy
Sunday, May 17, 2020
Wednesday, May 13, 2020
The Composer.......Tatiana Troyanos
Music Master.........Franz Ferdinand Nentwig
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Conductor: Alain Altinoglu
Production: Richard Eyre
Set and Costume Designer: Rob Howell
Werther: Jonas Kaufmann (tenor)
Charlotte: Sophie Koch (mezzo-soprano)
Sophie: Lisette Oropesa (soprano)
Albert: David Bizic (baritone)
Monday, May 11, 2020
- Handel Giulio Cesare Cornelia is the step-mother of Sesto who has just lost his father Pompey.
- Handel Agrippina Agrippina is the mother of Nero*
- Mozart Die Zauberflöte The Queen of the Night is the mother of Pamina.*
- Verdi Il trovatore Azucena is the mother of Manrico (or not). She also has mother issues of her own. Her mother haunts the story.*
- Smetana The Bartered Bride Both of the main characters have mothers in the cast.
- Mascagni Cavalleria rusticana Turiddu's mother is prominent.
- Strauss Elektra Elektra's mother Klytemnestra has killed her father.*
- Humperdinck Hänsel und Gretel The mother sends the children out alone into the woods. *
- Janáček Jenůfa Jenůfa's step-mother kills Jenůfa's child.*
- Strauss Salome Salome's mother starts this whole mess.*
- Puccini Madama Butterfly The main character becomes a mother during the opera.*
- Wagner The Ring This features Erda, mother of the Earth. Her children include the Valkyries and the Norms.*
- Massenet Werther. Charlotte's dead mother haunts the story and persuades Charlotte to marry Albert.*
Thursday, May 07, 2020
Count Almaviva..........Dwayne Croft
Countess Almaviva.......Renée Fleming
Dr. Bartolo.............Paul Plishka
Don Basilio.............Heinz Zednik
Barbarina...............Danielle de Niese
The Metropolitan Opera has rerun free of charge the 1998 telecast of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro. I would have seen the original, of course. It was in the center of my infatuation with Cecilia Bartoli. Watching it again I find that it is a Figaro for the ages. There is not even the tiniest hole in this cast. Even Barbarina features Danielle de Niese making her Met debut at 19.
This opera features the Countess in two glorious arias-- Porgi Amor and Dove sono--sung gloriously by Renée Fleming.
The Met cast Bartoli into more or less the same Fach as Kathleen Battle only with a comic slant. In her career she was known for her very successful coloratura singing, and this provides the explanation for the replacement of Deh vieni non tardar, an entirely legato aria, with something with at least some coloratura.
Bryn is perhaps my all time favorite Figaro, and Cecilia and Bryn's flirting is the best ever seen in this opera.
The last time I watched it I wrote this:
It was a surprise when it was announced that Cecilia would sing the role of Susanna, a role I don’t think she has sung since. There was a huge scandal because she insisted on performing different arias. I know “Un moto di gioia” is one of her favorites. Her choices, especially the final aria, are very successful, but she does not sing “Deh vieni non tardar.”
I have felt since I first saw this film that I never really understood this opera before. In a world where everything had to be about status and privilege, where the operas were clearly divided between elevated moral dramas about the upper classes and comedies in dialect from the lower classes, Mozart has brought us real people from all the various classes of his era, people with serious problems, people like us. I don’t think I really understood how deeply serious Figaro really is.
Cecilia is key in the success of this entire performance because she makes you feel how much Susanna loves Figaro and how much she hates the idea of sex with the count, how much she loathes his attentions while successfully masking her emotions from him. This is the content of the Marriage of Figaro, not just the jokes. I have read the book this is based on, but it is Mozart and da Ponte who give true life to these people.
There is a wonderful rapport between Cecilia and Bryn which they exploited in a duet album and dvd. This rapport is at its best here. They are exciting and very charismatic together.
As if this were not wonderful enough, there is also the fabulous countess of Renée Fleming, who needs only to sit around being miserably regal while singing two of the most gorgeous arias ever written. Gorgeously. She is in top form.
It is a succession of perfectly executed scenes by ideally cast singing actors. When was Figaro’s discovery of his parents ever so perfect? The count and countess are effectively upper class while Susanna and Figaro are common, as it should be. The entire production is pure perfection in singing, conducting and ensemble acting, and never becomes stale.
As one who has long adored Cecilia and has seen a lot of her stage work, this is her masterpiece.