Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Conductor...............Maurizio Benini
Production..............Bartlett Sher 

Figaro..................Peter Mattei
Rosina..................Joyce DiDonato
Count Almaviva....Juan Diego Flórez
Dr. Bartolo.............John Del Carlo
Don Basilio.............John Relyea

The Met is streaming Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia that originally played in 2007 while I was driving across the country.  I don't seem to have had much enthusiasm for it, but seeing it now I like it a lot.  This is such a marvelous cast.  Every one is among the best in their class.  At this point in my life Mattei may be my favorite Figaro.  He plays the role with great vigor.  There is a strange, ghost-like man who wanders the stage.  The main trio are young and lively, great singers, actors, musicians.

This opera was originally called Almaviva and ended with the big aria usually heard as the finale to La Cenerantola, here sung by the tenor.  Later Rossini removed it from this opera and assigned it to Angiolina, a coloratura mezzo.  In modern times it is only rarely heard in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and only when a company wishes to particularly honor a tenor.  Juan Diego's performance is excellent.

I find this is highly recommended.

Monday, March 30, 2020


I have not been feeling too well.

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Conductor...............James Levine
Production..............Otto Schenk

Hans Sachs..............Michael Volle
Eva.....................Annette Dasch
Walther von Stolzing....Johan Botha
Magdalene...............Karen Cargill
David...................Paul Appleby
Beckmesser..............Johannes Martin Kränzle
Pogner..................Hans-Peter König

When the Metropolitan Opera presented Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in December of 2014, I must have been in Ohio for Christmas.  The Met is streaming it today, and I realize this is my first time seeing it.  The Sachs was supposed to be Bryn Terfel, I think.  I generally love this opera, but I'm afraid this version is not working for me.  Paul Appleby's David is excellent, but so far he's my favorite.

[I haven't been feeling well.]

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Terrence McNally (November 3, 1938 – March 24, 2020)

American playwright Terrence McNally died today from the corona virus.  In the opera world he is best known as the librettist for three operas by Jake Heggie:  Dead Man Walking (2000), Three Decembers (2008), and Great Scott (2015).  Of these I have seen only Dead Man Walking.  I was also present at the world premier in San Francisco before I started blogging. 

He was most famous for plays and musicals and in 2019 won a lifetime achievement Tony.  Of all his works I have also seen Master Class in New York, a play about Maria Callas.  He loved the arts.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Anna Netrebko's Lucia

The Met streamed Lucia di Lammermoor starring Anna Netrebko.  It was better than I remembered it.  I especially like the production with the ghost.  Here's my original review.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Korngold's Das Wunder der Heliane

 Marc Albrecht | Conductor
 Christof Loy | Stage director 

Sara Jakubiak | Heliane
Josef Wagner | The Ruler, her husband
Brian Jagde | The Stranger
Okka Von der Damerau | The Messenger
Derek Welton | The Doorman
Burkhard Ulrich | The Blind Judge
Gideon Poppe | The Young Man

From Deutsche Oper Berlin on Medici.tv we have Korngold's Das Wunder der Heliane, 1927.  I am watching it because Lotte Lehmann said Heliane was her favorite role.  It is the outer extreme of post Romanticism.

In Act I there are three characters:  The Stranger, the Ruler and his wife Heliane.  She is the only one with an actual name.  The Ruler is pissed because his wife doesn't love him.  So he kills anyone who seems happy, including The Stranger who wanders into town and cheers people up.  While he is in jail awaiting his execution, Heliane comes in to comfort him.  She announces herself as the Queen.  This is one of the wildest scenes in opera.  At The Stranger's request she first takes down her hair, then takes off her shoes, and finally takes off everything else.  Is this part of comforting?  So did Lotte like the nudity?  Husband comes back and things go from bad to worse.  The music is very intense.

In Act II Heliane is tried for being unfaithful to her husband.  The blind Judge enters, and both The Ruler and Heliane call him Father.  He speaks to Heliane as though she were a child, so I presume that he is her father.  She testifies in a long amazing aria "Ich ging zu ihm."

The Stranger comes into the courtroom and asks to be left alone for a moment with Heliane.  The King and the Judge allow this.  Our Stranger is very persuasive and gets Heliane to kiss him "for the first and last time."  She does, and he stabs himself and dies.

The chorus enters complaining that The Stranger has been taken from them.  She tells her husband she is pure and he decides that if she is pure she will bring The Stranger back to life.  The act ends with her swearing that she will.

The ending in Act III is complex.  The Stranger rises from the dead, but this only enrages the King who stabs his wife.  You should know it has a happy ending.  What is one to make of such a thing?  They played it very low key, but the music is large and soaring.  I'm glad I took the time to see it.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Corona Crisis

Sadly, one cannot help wondering about the possible devastation to our art form as a result of all the cancellations.  We must come back with love.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Pie Jesu

A piece I love by the artist I have always loved most. She has hidden herself in this music.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020


Apparently if you had a "what the hell was that" reaction to Agrippina, that is exactly what was desired.

We had a preview of Kate Lindsey's athleticism in San Francisco in 2015 when she played Cherubino in Nozze di Figaro and turned cartwheels on stage.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Agrippina in HD

Conductor...............Harry Bicket
Production..............David McVicar

Agrippina.............Joyce DiDonato
Nerone, her son.........Kate Lindsey
Claudio, her husband the emperor.....Matthew Rose 
Poppea, her rival..........Brenda Rae
Ottone..................Iestyn Davies (countertenor)
Narciso.................Nicholas Tamagna (countertenor)
Pallante................Duncan Rock
Deborah Voigt announced that Handel's Agrippina, 1709, was the oldest opera ever presented at the Met.  As I mentioned after the last time I saw it, it was composed for Venice early in the era of Neapolitan opera.  That means lots and lots of da capo arias and a happy ending.  What is more Venice than Naples is the mixing of comic and serious elements.  The Venetians weren't fussy about that stuff.

This is the most I have enjoyed a Baroque opera maybe ever.  This is regie, of course.  The clothes are modern with lots of WWII military uniforms.  There is a bar scene where all the characters seem to meet by accident.  Maybe it's on the frequently mentioned Campidoglio. When Rome conquers England, they return with Elizabeth II's crown.  One of the scenes showed the ceiling of the Pantheon which brought some character to the mostly abstract sets.

What makes this a great opera is the well designed plot.  No matter how difficult the complexities are for our heroine, she conquers them all.

I was going to say there is no hit tune until Nerone sang "Come nembo" while snorting cocaine.  This is known because Bartoli recorded it.  The most unusual thing about this production is the staging of the character Nerone.  I think we are to presume that he is a very athletic, well-tattooed juvenile delinquent.  He loves his mother and acts up continuously.  Kate Lindsey said she had to train for this role.  We believe her.  Her rendition of "Come nembo" was excellent.

The music was always excellent, but no one topped the magnificent Joyce DiDonato who created a wonderful, perfectly believable evil character and topped it with gorgeous singing.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Imani Winds

My alma mater presented a woodwind quintet called Imani Winds.  A woodwind quintet is a traditional ensemble with exactly the makeup of players you see illustrated.  And yes, a French horn is not a woodwind.  There is composed repertoire for this ensemble, but mostly they played arrangements.  The members left to right are:  Mark Dover, Brandon Patrick George, Monica Ellis, Jeff Scott and Toyin Spellman-Diaz. 

This concert had a theme:  The Beauty of Strife.  Artworks that came to us through war and political conflict.

Nkosi si di Leli by Enoch Mankayi Sontonga, arranged by Valerie Coleman is the South African National Anthem.  There is no note for this interesting piece because we all are familiar with the strife in South Africa.

Le Tombeau de Couperin [the tomb of Couperin] by Maurice Ravel is arranged by Mason Jones from the orchestral version of this piece.  Ravel is responding to the deaths of his friends in WWI by attempting to create a French suite such as Couperin might have written.  We heard 4 of the movements.

Quartet No 8 by Shostakovich is arranged from a string quartet by Mark Popkin.  We heard 5 movements.  It was explained from the stage that this work has a unifying theme.  Just as Bach wrote a piece using his name as a theme [BbACB], Shostakovich made a theme of his initials DSch [DEbCB] which appears through the work.  This work was composed from his reaction to the bombing of Dresden in WWII.

"Gift of Life" from Wanderings by Derek Bermel is concerned with conflict and cultural merging in Jerusalem.  It has a certain Klezmer quality.

Traditional Spirituals arranged by Valerie Coleman is "Steal Away" and "Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit" arranged for woodwind quintet.  We all know that these come from the period of American slavery, but what I didn't know was that they sometimes contained instructions on how to find the underground railroad leading to freedom.

Wapango by Paquito D'Rivera is originally for woodwind quintet and is a Mexican dance by a composer from Cuba.

I have listed this all out because of what a wonderful program it was.  Classical recitals are seldom this lively and fascinating.  We ended with an unknown encore with singing, including a little audience participation singing.  I loved it all.  I tried to find out what Imani means but failed.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera Announces Cast

This is very last minute.  Operas are generally cast years in advance.

Meet the Cast
The Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera is pleased to announce a distinguished cast of singers for the production of The Barber of Seville. With performances in leading opera houses across the country, including The Metropolitan OperaSeattle OperaChicago Opera Theater, and LA Opera, these incredible artists are sure to impress.

Join us as we continue to celebrate opera in Sacramento with the production of The Barber of Seville.
The 2019/20 season is generously underwritten by the Nancy and Hank Fisher Family Fund.
Chris KenneyFigaro
Mr. Kenney was a resident artist at Chicago Lyric Opera where he performed in The Barber of Seville, Dead Man Walking, and Madama Butterfly.  He debuted at Michigan Opera Theatre in Pagliacci, and was a resident artist at Washington National Opera where he appeared in The Barber of Seville. Mr. Kenney also appeared in leading roles with Santa Fe Opera.  Read more.
Maya Gour, Rosina
Ms. Gour is making her Seattle Opera debut this season in Rossini’s Cinderella.  She has been a resident artist at Teatro Nuovo, Sarasota Opera and the Ravinia Festival in Chicago. 

Read more.
Matthew GrillsCount Almaviva
Mr. Grills appears regularly with Seattle Opera in the Rossini and Donizetti leading tenor roles, including Almaviva in The Barber of Seville and Nemorino in The Elixir of Love.  He has recently made house debuts at The Metropolitan Opera, Dallas Opera, and the Bayerische Staatsoper.

Read more.
Thomas HammonsDr. Bartolo
Mr. Hammons has appeared on the stage at The Metropolitan Opera for over 250 performances in operas ranging from ToscaLuluLa Boheme and The Marriage of Figaro

Read more.
Sharmay MusacchioBerta
Sharmay made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2018 in Suor Angelica. She has also performed recently with Chicago Opera Theatre, and makes regular appearances with LA Opera. 

Read more.
The Barber of Seville Artistic Team
Conductor: Christoph Campestrini
Director: Jennifer Williams
Scenic Designer: Mariana Sanchez
Lighting Designer: Caitlin Rapoport
Costume Designer: Sheilagh McCafferty

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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Bayerische Staatsoper 2019-20 plus stream selections

The first list is premiers.  Only one is a world premier.  The rest are production premiers.  I would like to see all of them, even the opera studio.  You can see that I almost got my wish.  The only one I didn't get is the one I wanted most.  Can we please have tote Stadt?  Please?  It plays more in the summer.  You can see I got my wish finally.  See performance calendar for dates.

++ = selected for streaming


pre Korngold:  Die tote Stadt ++ Jonas Kaufmann, Marlis Petersen
pre Abrahamsen: The Snow Queen ++ Barbara Hannigan, Peter Rose
pre Bartok: Duke Bluebeard's Castle ++ Nina Stemme, John Lundgren
pre Verdi: I Masnadieri ++ Diana Damrau, Charles Castronovo
pre Abramovic:7 Deaths of Maria Callas++ 7 different women-world premier
pre Rameau: Castor et Pollux ++ ? don't know these people
pre Verdi: Falstaff++ Wolfgang Koch, Okka von der Dammerau
pre Thomas: Mignon Opera studio

 Here is the rest of the opera repertoire.  Dates in front signify when this opera was streamed before.


Beethoven:  Fidelio:  Adrianne Pieczonka, Günther Groissböck, Klaus Florian Vogt

Berg:  Wozzeck: ++ Christian Gerhaher

Bizet:  Carmen Matthew Polenzani
2015 Donizetti:  L’elisir d’amore: Pretty Yende, Mariusz Kwiecien, Ambrogio Maestri
2015 Donizetti:  Lucia di Lammermoor Pretty Yende, Javier Camarena, Quinn Kelsey

Gluck:  Alceste Dorothea Röschmann,

Haydn:  Orlando Paladino Mathias Vidal, Tara Erraught

Humperdinck:  Hänsel und Gretel:  Tara Erraught

Johann Strauß:   Die Fledermaus: 
2019 Krenek:  Karl V. Bo Skovhus

Mozart:  Cosi fan Tutte Tara Erraught

Mozart:  Die Zauberfloete Pavol Breslik

Mozart:  Don Giovanni Erwin Schrott, Luca Pisaroni, Carmen Giannattasio

Mussorgsky:  Boris Godunow:  Dimitry Ulyanov

Offenbach:  Les Contes d’Hoffmann Michael Spyres

Puccini:  La bohème: 
 2019 Puccini:  La fanciulla del West Anja Kampe, Brandon Jovanovich

Puccini:  Tosca:  Anja Harteros

Puccini:  Turandot:  Anna Netrebko, Yusif Eyvazov

Rossini:  Guillaume Tell:  Gerald Finley, Michael Spyres

Rossini:  Il barbiere di Siviglia

Rossini:  La Cenerentola Teresa Iervolino
2019 Smetana:  Die Verkaufte Braut

Strauss:  Salome Marlis Petersen, Wolfgang Koch

Strauss:  Die sweigsame Frau

Tchaikovsky:  Eugen Onegin: Pavol Breslik

Verdi:  Don Carlo Charles Castronovo, Ludovic Tézier, Ildar Abdrazakov, Anja Harteros
2013 Verdi:  Il Trovatore Anja Harteros

Verdi:  Nabucco:  Placido Domingo, Liudmyla Monastyrska
2018 Verdi:  Otello:  Jonas Kaufmann, Anja Harteros

Verdi:  Rigoletto:  Ludovic Tezier, Erin Morley

Verdi:  La traviata:  multiple

Wagner:  Der fliegende Holländer:  Michael Volle
2018 Wagner:  Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg:  Wolfgang Koch, Jonas Kaufmann, 

Wagner:  Lohengrin:  Klaus Florian Vogt, Anja Harteros
2018 Wagner:  Parsifal:  Anja Kampe

I would like to see Netrebko's Turandot and anything with Anja Harteros.  We have been promised over and over Die Meistersinger with Jonas Kaufmann.  Could we finally see it, please?

Monday, February 17, 2020

Plaisir d'amour

This weekend someone sang this. It is very much a favorite, perhaps because it's me.

Joan Baez

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf

Victoria de los Angeles (definitely of the angels)  My favorite.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Spiritual Sacramento Philharmonic

The latest performance of the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera took place in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, a beautifully decorated space with the usual resonance found in large churches.  They did an excellent job of selecting repertoire that would withstand the echoes.

Our conductor was Douglas Boyd, a former oboist from the UK.  I enjoyed his work.

The concert began with Ralph Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis for post-romantic orchestra.  I am a great admirer of Vaughan Williams and was pleased to hear that they succeeded in developing the color and phrasing to make the piece soar.  With him it's all in how you perform him.  A British conductor performs a British work.

This was followed by a complete contrast:  Psalm Tunes for Archbishop Parker's Psalter, a piece for a cappella choir by Thomas Tallis.  One of the psalm tunes is the theme from the previous piece.  These are short pieces in English which one might expect to hear in an Anglican church.  Tallis composed for both Catholic and Protestant churches during the Tudor period in England.

We finished by combining the resources of both of the previous pieces to present the Gabriel Fauré Requiem.  In addition we enjoyed soloists baritone Timothy Murray, Liisa Davila soprano and Dan Flanagan violin.

Fauré worked as an organist in a church in Paris, and would have heard his Requiem in circumstances very much like this.  This was the highlight of the program.  I especially enjoyed "Pie Jesu" sung by Ms. Davila.

It was a very unusual program for a symphonic orchestra such as ours.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Metropolitan Opera in HD for 2020-2021

Oct 10, 2020  Giuseppe Verdi Aida.   This is a new production featuring Anna Netrebko.  Anna and Anita Rachvelishvili were wonderful together last time, and this casting solves the tenor problem.
  • Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin
  • Production: Michael Mayer
  • Aida Anna Netrebko 
  • Amneris Anita Rachvelishvili
  • Radamès Piotr Beczala 
  • Amonasro Ludovic Tézier 

Nov 7, 2020 Giuseppe Verdi Il Trovatore  Sonya and Quinn will be interesting.
  • Conductor Michele Mariotti
  • Production Sir David McVicar 
  • Leonora Sonya Yoncheva
  • Azucena Ekaterina Semenchuk
  • Manrico Roberto Aronica
  • di Luna Quinn Kelsey

Dec 12, 2020 Ludwig Van Beethoven Fidelio.  I love Fidelio.
  • Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin 
  • Production Jürgen Flimm
  • Leonore Lise Davidsen   This should be an excellent role for her.
  • Marzelline Golda Schultz 
  • Florestan Brandon Jovanovich 
  • Jaquino Alek Shrader 
  • Don Pizarro Tomasz Konieczny 
  • Rocco Franz-Josef Selig 
  • Don Fernando Christian Van Horn 

Jan 16, 2021 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Die Zauberflöte.   This is a new production and will be done in German.  I've heard there will be a rerun of the old production in English in December.
  • Conductor Gustavo Dudamel
  • Production Simon McBurney, new director for the Met. 
  • 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 a new production with an excellent cast.
  • Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin
  • Production Ivo van Hove, new director at the Met.
  • 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, February 12, 2020

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Sacramento Music

I have recently attended a couple of concerts in Sacramento by groups I have not seen before.  It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to get out of town, so I am trying to know more about the place where I live.

Carlos & Brennen are a duo consisting of Brennen Milton on clarinet and Carlos M. Fuentes on piano.  For their recent concert at Crocker Art Museum they added soprano Robin Fisher.  Concerts at Crocker involve associating the repertoire to the current exhibits which in this case are landscapes.  When instrumental groups add a singer, they must track down repertoire for this specific combination.  So they needed pieces for clarinet, piano and soprano which illustrate the outdoors. For this concert we heard:

O Lady Moon by Alan Hovhaness, an American composer.  In this piece a cat and a rat are carrying a barrel of sake over Mount Fuji.

Coty by Quincy Hilliard, from Mississippi.  Daybreak, Sunset, Dance.  This is for only clarinet and piano.  The composer said it reminded him of his home.

Hirtenlied by Giacomo Meyerbeer.  Meyerbeer is most famous as a French opera composer, but this song is in German and translates to Shepherd Song.  The whole trio perform.  Again we are outdoors.

Three Vocalises by Ralph Vaughn Williams.  Prelude, Scherzo, Quasi menuetto.  This features only the soprano and clarinet and has no words.

Silentium Amoris by Carlos McMillan Fuentes, our pianist.  Seduction, Infatuation, Silentium Amoris.  The first two movements are instrumental and the third is the full trio on a poem by Oscar Wilde.

I very much enjoyed the variety of repertoire in this concert.  I'm always ready for something new.  Our clarinetist played from a score on a tablet (iPad?) with a foot pedal to turn pages.  I have a complaint:  they provided a sheet with English texts but did not provide sufficient light to be able to read it.  AND they specifically requested that people not use flashlights.

Sinfonia Spirituosa, a new group directed by Lorna Peters, harpsichord, performed at Clara.  This concert while all from the Baroque, was also varied.

Six movements from the Suite "La Bizarre" by Georg Philipp Telemann.  Overture, Gavotte en Rondeau, Sarabande, Fantasie, Minuet I and II, Rossignol.

Passamezzo and Gagliarda for Two Violins and Continuo by Johann Vierdanck.  I had never heard of this composer, but he was a student of Heinrich Schütz and died young.  For continuo we expected the usual cello and harpsichord, but got only the cello part.  This was very pleasing.

Chaconne in G Minor by Henry Purcell for the full ensemble.  The members of the ensemble varied quite a lot.  Then suddenly came "Curtain Tune on a Ground" from Timon of Athens.  Our version was very uptempo and jazzy sounding.  "Where am I?"  I love Henry Purcell best.

From the tragedie lyrique "Les Boreades" by Jean-Philippe Rameau.  Entree de Polimnie, Gavotte pour les heures et les zephirs, Minuet I and II, Contredanse en rondeau.

Sinfonia Spirituosa in D Major by Telemann.  Spirituoso, Largo, Vivace.  This is the group's theme music.

They are new and in only their second season.  It interests me how much is going on in the provincial city of Sacramento.  I wish them good luck.  If I have a complaint, it is the constant tuning.  This may be necessary with period instruments.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Judith live from Munich

Conductor Oksana Lyniv
Production Katie Mitchell

Duke Bluebeard John Lundgren
Judith Nina Stemme

Judith:  Concerto for Orchestra in five movements / Duke Bluebeard's Castle by Béla Bartók streamed from Munich.

And now for something completely different.  Bluebeard is now a full length opera.  All the music is by Bartok, and I loved him more than ever.  We begin with a silent movie accompanied by the Bartok concerto for orchestra, where Detective Nina investigates a stalker who kidnaps women off the streets.  We have cell phones, cameras, computers, all the modern devices of criminology.  We have Bluebeard vaping.  This is followed immediately by the opera Duke Bluebeard's Castle.  She tracks him down and frees his three prisoner wives.  I was surprised at how well the story fit this treatment.  It explains why she so aggressively insists on seeing all of the rooms.

I loved it.  When was an opera this exciting?  Except for Bluebeard himself, it was an all female production with a female conductor and director.  He gets it in the end.

I was completely drawn in to this concept and was happy to see the woman triumph in the end.  This could be the new wave.  I need to look into this.  It will be available on demand for the next month.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

San Francisco Opera 2020-21

  • Beethoven's Fidelio  Sept 12, 2020 -- Oct 1, 2020  This is for the Beethoven year and stars Elza van den Heever as Leonora and Eric Owens as rocco. Our new maestra Eun Sun Kim will conduct.  This is a new production.  I would like to see Elza in this role.
  • Verdi's Rigoletto Sept 14 -- Oct 4.  For me this is too soon.  We saw Quinn Kelsey triumph in this production in 2017, and I don't think Rigoletto is that good.  Rigoletto is George Gagnidze, Gilda is Nina Minasyan and The Duke of Mantua is Pene Pati.
  • Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte  Oct 6, 2020 -- Oct 28.  This is a new production by Michael Cavanagh, part 2 of the new Da Ponte series which began last fall with Nozze di Figaro.  I liked part 1 very much so curiosity is working.  There is a swimming pool, so perhaps the singers will all look good in swimming suits.  Speranza Scappucci will conduct.
  • Poul Ruders' The Handmaid's Tale Oct 29 -- Nov 22.  This opera premiered in 2000 in Copenhagen, and it comes with a violence warning.  It will star Sasha Cooke who has recently drawn our attention.
  • Puccini's La Bohème  Nov 15 -- Dec 6, of course.   Nicola Luisotti, our former maestro whom I liked very much, will conduct.  There are two casts for this, so you must choose your favorites.
  • Rossini's Barber of Seville  April 25 -- May 16, 2021.  Almaviva and Rosina are double cast, so choose your favorites.  I am very happy to see the return of Larry Brownlee, a personal favorite.  Last time I went to both casts, but probably not this time.
  • Zemlinsky's Der Zwerg [The dwarf] April 27 -- May 15, 2021.  I've never seen this.  Naturally it comes in a new production.  Heidi Stober will appear here.  The conductor is Henrik Nánási.
  • A Celebration of Verdi & Wagner, Concert May 2, 6, 8, 2021.  The conductor is Henrik Nánási, and the singers are Lianna Haroutounian and Iréne Theorin, both excellent.  There is no mention of which pieces they will sing.