Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Weber's Euryanthe


Conductor- Constantin Trinks
Director- Christof Loy

Euryanthe- Jacquelyn Wagner, soprano
Count Adolar, her betrothed- Norman Reinhardt, tenor
Eglantine- Theresa Kronthaler, soprano
Count Lysiart- Andrew Foster-Williams, baritone
King Louis VI- Stefan Cerny, bass

Weber's Euryanthe, 1823, comes to me from Operavision. The performance is Theater an der Wien, Vienna, in 2018.  It's unusual for an early German language opera because there is no spoken dialog.  We seem to be getting orchestral recitative.

Women's costumes are from the 1950s.  We are in a large room with windows on the left and a door at the back, containing only a small hospital bed and a grand piano.Throughout the opera a super plays the queen.

Adolar loves Euryanthe and praises her purity.  Lysiart says purity is not to be found among women.  They argue and make a bet.  The King must hold the proofs of the bet.  They all just look like business men in dark suits.

A blond woman enters and sings about her Adolar.  She must be Euryanthe.  And the dark haired woman must be Eglantine.  Euryanthe has rescued Egalantine, but despite this she still tries to ruin Euryanthe's life by betraying her.  Because she too loves Adolar.  The music is very serene.  If you didn't know what was going on, would you guess it was this?  Egalantine has a nice rage aria to liven things up.  

At the beginning of Act II we have an extended male nude scene with Lysiart.  The lighting and camera angles are carefully managed to blunt the effect of this.  Why do it if you can't see it?  This is an opera about violent jealousy.  The two villians, Eglantine and Lysiart sing an extended duet where they swear revenge on Euryanthe.  At the end of Act II Eglantine is seen banging away theatrically on the piano.  I don't really hear a piano.  They blame Euryanthe for revealing a secret she has sworn to keep, and she runs out.  Even Adolar rejects her.  The secret is personal, so I don't see what the fuss is about.  Adolar's sister Emma has killed herself and her ghost still roams.  She needs the tears of an innocent to put her soul to rest.

Act III same room, no furniture.  They're supposed to be outdoors and attacked by a giant serpent.  Instead we're still in the same white room.  There are no hit tunes in this opera, but there is a very nice hunting chorus with horns.  This is Weber, after all.

The scene changes, and the hospital bed is back.  This production explains nothing.  Eglantine is marrying Lysiart, who appears to love her.  They sing about roses, but the flowers appear to be lilies.  Eglantine is killed, and Euryanthe marries Adolar.  Emma goes to her rest.

The women have all the fun in this opera.  The villain is a woman.  Small people with evil passions, but good wins in the end.


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Metropolitan Opera in HD for 2021-2022

Disclaimer.  The contents of this list comes from Opera Wire.  I hope it is accurate.

Oct. 9, 2021 – Boris Godunov by Mussorgsky. The opera will be presented in its original 1869 version which appears to have no role for Marina.  This opera was presented at the Met in the longer version in 2010 in the same production which also starred René Pape in one of his greatest roles.

  • Production - Stephen Wadsworth
  • Conductor - Sebastian Weigle
  • René Pape - Boris
  • Alexey Markov
  • Stanislav Trofimov
  • David Butt Philip
  • Ain Anger
  • Maxim Paster 


 Oct. 23, 2021 – Fire Shut Up in My Bones by Terence Blanchard, libretto by Kasi Lemmons.  This opera had its premier in 2019 at Opera Theater of St. Louis.

  • Production- James Robinson and Camille A. Brown
  • Conductor- Yannick Nézet-Séguin
  • Angel Blue, Destiny/Loneliness/Greta
  • Latonia Moore - Billie
  • Will Liverman- Charles


Dec. 4, 2021 – Eurydice by Matthew Aucoin.  This is a new Orpheus opera having its Met premier.  The world premier was at the LA Opera 2/1/2020 just before everything shut down.

  • Production- Mary Zimmerman
  • Conductor- Yannick Nézet-Séguin
  • Erin Morley _ Eurydice
  • Joshua Hopkins, baritone - Orpheus
  • Jakub Józef Orliński, countertenor - Orpheus' alter ego. 


Jan. 1, 2022 – Cinderella by Massenet is usually called Cendrillon, but will here be presented in an English-language translation. We had this with the same production in French with Joyce DiDonato in 2018.  This is a shorter, more family oriented version.

  • Production- Laurent Pelly
  • Conductor-Emmanuel Villaume 
  • Isabel Leonard - Cinderella
  • Jessica Pratt - Fairy Godmother
  • Emily D’Angelo - Prince Charming
  • Stephanie Blythe - MMe
  • Laurent Naouri - Pandolfe


Jan. 29, 2022 – Rigoletto by Verdi.  No more Rat Pack. This is a new production by Bartlett Sher.  I am so pleased we will all get to hear Quinn Kelsey's wonderful version of Rigoletto.

  • Production - Bartlett Sher
  • Conductor - Daniele Rustioni
  • Rosa Feola - Gilda
  • Piotr Beczala - Duke
  • Quinn Kelsey - Rigoletto


March 12, 2022 – Ariadne auf Naxos by Richard Strauss. This is for Lise Davidsen, of course.  I am very happy with this choice.  When Brandon Jovanovich comes out at the end, we will know he is a god.

  • Production - Elijah Moshinsky
  • Conductor - Marek Janowski
  • Lise Davidsen - Ariadne
  • Brenda Rae - Zerbinetta
  • Isabel Leonard -  The Composer
  • Brandon Jovanovich -  Bacchus


March 26, 2022 – Don Carlos by Verdi.  Met Opera audiences will get a chance to see Verdi’s famed opera in its original French version for the first time in its history. Elina and Sonya were in a version from Paris in 2017.

  • Production - David McVicar
  • Conductor - Yannick Nézet-Séguin
  • Elina Garanca - Eboli
  • Matthew Polenzani - Don Carlos 
  • Sonya Yoncheva - Elisabeth
  • Étienne Dupuis - Rodrigue
  • Günther Groissböck - Philippe II
  • John Relyea - Grand Inquisitor

May 7, 2022 – Turandot by Puccini.  This is the traditional Zeffirelli production, and Anna Netrebko's Met role debut.

  • Production - Franco Zeffirelli
  • Conductor - Marco Armiliato
  • Turandot - Anna Netrebko
  • Calaf - Yonghoon Lee
  • Liu - Michelle Bradley


May 21, 2022 – Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti.  This is a new production, but I loved the old one.  The ghost at the fountain was genius.

  • Production - Simon Stone
  • Conductor - Riccardo Frizza
  • Nadine Sierra - Lucia
  • Artur Rucinski - Enrico
  • Javier Camarena -  Edgardo
  • Matthew Rose -  Raimondo


June 4, 2022 – Hamlet by Brett Dean which had its world premier at Glyndebourne in 2017.

  • Production - Neil Armfield
  • Conductor - Nicholas Carter
  • Brenda Rae - Ophelia
  • Rod Gilfry - Claudius
  • Allan Clayton -  Hamlet
  • Dame Sarah Connolly -  Gertrude
  • Sir John Tomlison - Ghost

Our list includes 3 new operas, and new productions of Rigoletto and Lucia di Lammermoor.  In addition we can count the Met premier of the original French version of Verdi's Don Carlos.  This is pretty interesting stuff.

Things we are missing:

Die Meistersinger with Lise Davidsen and Antonio Pappano.  This is something I would really like to see.  Otto Schenk is their current production.  And Tosca with Sondra Radvanovsky.


Metropolitan Opera in HD for 2020-2021 -- Cancelled

More news:  I regret to say the entire 2020-21 Met season has been cancelled.  We await the 2021-22 season announcement.

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 

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.

P.P.S.  Anna was in hospital for her birthday, Sept. 18, but as of this morning, Sept. 23, has been released and is recuperating.

P.P.P.S.  She reports that all is well with her voice, but is bored with nothing to do..


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

Damnation of Faust Rerun

Conductor...................James Levine
Production..................Robert Lepage

Faust.......................Marcello Giordani
Marguerite..................Susan Graham
Méphistophélès..............John Relyea
Brander.....................Patrick Carfizzi

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

Ariadne auf Naxos from Vienna 👍🏻

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, and can be found on Opera on Video.  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.  She accompanies Zerbinetta on the piano for her big aria and composes a cadenza for her while she sings.  This is a logical addition to the staging.

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.  Lise owns this role.

You might also want Erin Morley for your Zerbinetta.  At the very end the Komponist kisses Zerbinetta.

This is one of Strauss's more significant tenor roles, and it very well suits the Heldentenor we have here.