Saturday, April 17, 2021

Cherubini's Medea Audio


Stephen Barlow, conductor

Medea – Lise Davidsen
Giasone – Sergey Romanovsky
Glauce – Ruth Iniesta
Neris – Raffaella Lupinacci
Creonte – Adam Lau

This is an audio recording from the 2017 Wexford Festival of Luigi Cherubini's opera Medea, 1797. I haven't been able to locate a video.  I am here for Lise Davidsen, of course.  There will be no confusion about when Lise is singing.  

Cherubini was born only 4 years after Mozart and lived well after Beethoven.  Listening to this one has to wonder why one never hears his music.  There needs to be someone to sing the leading role which has a certain weight.  The opera is performed here in Italian and sung throughout.  Originally it was an opera comique in French with spoken dialog.  In the 21st century there is generally a return to French, but not here.  It's rather like Beethoven's early period without the melodrama.

Giasone (Jason) is marrying Glauce and Medea is not happy about it.  She shows up to prevent the marriage and failing that to destroy everyone.  The aria from Lise Davidsen's recent album is in the first act. It sounds wonderful here, too.  Medea pretends to give the fiance a gift, but it is poisoned.  I prefer to see operas.  In this one you need at least to see the children to get the idea.

What a wonder she is.  She roars like a lion  One can only adore.

Elizabeth Blumenstock

 

This is someone I know. I know her as the concert mistress of American Bach Soloists, a group I very much admire.  Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin, is performing Nicola Matteis Jr: Fantasia and Thomas Baltzar: A Prelude for the Violin.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Freddie de Tommaso

 

Lise was pitching him, so I thought I would give Freddie de Tommaso a listen.  We don't get many real Italian tenors these days, so I liked him very much.  He is lyric, but might expand into more operatic repertoire.  His style is dead on.  I wanted a selection where you could see him singing.  Firenze.  I'd know it anywhere.  Near the Ponte Vecchio.

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Monday, April 12, 2021

Lisette Oropesa takes a bis

  

This is "Addio des passato" from La Traviata.  I love that the encore performance is back in international opera.  Lisette gets better every year.

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Jessye sings Mahler

  

This is Urlicht from Mahler Symphony #2, Resurrection.

Apology

I have been blogging for a long time.  When I first started, I had a lot to say.  This was fun.  But time has passed and I have said a lot of things.  I no longer feel issues rising from within.  I am also having trouble commenting on opera that I am never live at the performance.  I am going to comfort myself by reviewing only things that I feel an inward desire to talk about.

I don't know how long this will last.

P.S.  I only have eyes (and ears) for Lise.

Friday, April 02, 2021

Lise's New Album

Lise Davidsen's new album is out, and I'm having a hard time thinking of anything to say.  Listen for yourself?

I chose this track because it is the thing I least expected.  I was thinking to criticize her Italian work, and then came this.  She is glorious beyond my wildest imagination.  Everyone who has experienced her live says you need to be there.  Go away stupid virus.  I'm doing all I can do.  If you wanted something serious and sensible, I apologize.  I follow opera for passion alone.

The recording includes Beethoven, Mascagni, Verdi, Cherubini and Wagner.  My son said it's amazing, like something from a bye-gone era.

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Sunday, March 28, 2021

San Francisco Ring -- Götterdämmerung

 

Conductor - Donald Runnicles 
Director - Francesca Zambello 

Brünnhilde - Iréne Theorin 
Siegfried - Daniel Brenna 
King Gunther - Brian Mulligan 
Hagen, Alberich's son - Andrea Silvestrelli 
Gutrune, sister of Gunther - Melissa Citro 
Waltraute - Jamie Barton 
Alberich - Falk Struckmann 

Götterdämmerung completes the Richard Wagner Ring cycle.  This is my first time for this production.

Act I

The balance between the orchestra and the three Norns is terrible. Why is this always such a problem?  Why don't properly placed microphones solve this?  Instead of threads, these strands of fate are fat electrical cables, and when one breaks, the Norms die.

We see Siegfried and Brünnhilde after their night together still blissfully in love.  He gives her the ring and goes off to explore.  The Rhein valley looks like a refinery.  

Siegfried ends up at the posh home of Gunther, Hagen and Gutrune.  He has taken the tarnhelm with him and tells them where he got it.  He drinks a potion, falls immediately for Gutrune and forgets all about Brünnhilde.  

Now we are back with Brünnhilde where she waits for Siegfried.  Her sister Waltraute arrives.  I like very much Iréne Theorin.  I remember that she was an emergency replacement.  I'm not sure I think Jamie Barton is a Wagnerian.  Waltraute tells Brünnhilde about how much Wotan has changed.  

After Waltraute leaves, Siegfried returns with the tarnhelm on his head.  The other three parts of the San Francisco Ring had subtitles, but this one does not.  It's hard.  He takes the ring from Brünnhilde and leads her off.

Act II

Alberich shows up to lecture his son Hagen.  If the ring is so powerful, why doesn't it work for anyone but Alberich?  I have always wondered about this.  I'm trying to make it all the way to the end, but it's pretty rough going.  Gunther drags Brünnhilde onto the stage in front of a crowd of his subjects.  Siegfried has eyes only for Gutrune, and she for him.  Siegfried swears he doesn't know Brünnhilde, and she swears things, too, only hers are true and his are not.  I enjoy very much how Theorin enthusiastically jumps about in her role.

Act III

All the fun parts of this opera are in this act.  The Rhein maidens are back, and they are covered in plastic bags full of garbage.  Siegfried enters and I'm booing. He's carrying a military style rifle which the maidens take from him.  Perhaps none of them can rule the world with the ring because they haven't renounced love.  It's harder than you think. The bad acoustics at the San Francisco Opera House are all too apparent in this recording.  They give him back his gun and he goes off.

One both hates and loves Daniel Brenna's Siegfried.  One loves the singer and hates the character.  One is no longer charmed by his egotism.  I'm shouting at the screen "You f**d up buddy."  Hagen, Gunther and Siegfried are together.  Hagen gives Siegfried a potion to reverse the other one, and he tells the story of Brünnhilde in the ring of fire.  That means he lied when he swore he didn't know her.  So Hagen kills him.  The big discovery of this Ring cycle was Andrea Silvestrelli as Hagen.  Magnificent.

For the ending we return to Gutrune with Siegfried's body.  When Hagen tries to steal the ring from Siegfried's dead hand, S raises it in the air and Brünnhilde appears.  It works out as it should.  My favorite thing is Brünnhilde gets to be Brünnhilde again.  Big finish.  I'm crying.  The sheet of gold is back where it belongs.  It's all about women now.  A great ending.

We loved Donald Runnicles, and it's great to see him again.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Lise Davidsen from Trondheim in Norway

 


Lise gave a concert today from Trondheim with James Gaffigan who is their regular guest conductor.  The program alternated instrumental numbers and vocal numbers.  On Monday Lise gave an all Grieg recital with 100 in the audience. The Norwegian government reimposed the lockdown just before this concert.  There are more than no people here but maybe 10?  We don't get to see them.

Verdi                    Overture from the Sicilian Vespers

Verdi                   "Ma dall 'arido stelo divulsa" from Ballo in Maschera                          

Verdi                     Dance from Act III Macbeth  

Verdi                    "Tu che la vanita" from Don Carlo

Intermission

Beethoven             Leonore Overture #3

Beethoven            "Abscheulicher" from Fidelio

Wagner                 Forrest Murmers from Siegfried

Wagner                 "Dich teure Halle" from Tannhaeuser

 

It was nice to see so many young women in the orchestra in Trondheim.  Lise stays in the wings until just before she sings as though perhaps this were an opera. Each of her numbers is introduced by an instrumental piece by the same composer.  So we are hearing instrumental pieces by Verdi.  For the second Verdi she comes out in the break which is what is expected.  I have heard her sing the Verdi Requiem from a few years ago, but this is the most Verdi opera I have heard.  I think she will work her way into the Verdi heroines, and perhaps Don Carlo would make a good start.

The Beethoven and Wagner I have heard before, of course, but they are wonderful again.  This concert is all Lise sings big, which is what she is famous for.  I find her very exciting.

After the end of the concert, Decca released the new recording which can be found on lisedavidsen.com.  Only the third aria from the Thursday concert is from the new recording.  She is very wonderful and has a style uniquely her own.  Future things include a recording of Fidelio and a whole Grieg album.  Forgive me if I can't act like this glorious soprano is all new to me. James Gaffigan recommends being in the room with her.  I'm working on it.

James Gaffigan is very lively and entertaining in addition to being a good conductor.  I enjoyed him.


Thursday, March 25, 2021

New CD from Lise Davidsen

 Update:  It's out.  It's fabulous.  My son called it amazing, like something from a bygone era.


I am dangerously close to becoming a fanzine for Lise.  She announced her new album this morning.  It comes out here in the US at the end of April, and that's a long time.  I love the photo.  She is aiming for greatness and should succeed.

Track List:

1. "Absheulicher! Wo eilst du hin?" from "Fidelio" (Act I No.9)
2. "Ah! Perfido", Scene and Aria for Soprano and Orchestra Op.65 - Recitativo. Allegro con brio
3. "Ah! Perfido", Scene and Aria for Soprano and Orchestra Op.65 - Aria. Adagio
4. "Ah! Perfido", Scene and Aria for Soprano and Orchestra Op.65 - Allegro assai "Ah crudel! crudel!"
5. "Dei tuoi figli la madre"from "Medea" Act I
6. "Voi lo Sapete" from "Cavalleria Rusticana" (Act I; Romanza e Scena)
7. "Pace Pace" from "La Forza Del Destino" (Act IV Sc 2)
8. "Ave Maria, piena di grazia" from "Otello" (Act IV)
9. Wesendonck Lieder, WWV91 - Der Engel
10. Wesendonck Lieder, WWV91 - Stehe Still
11. Wesendonck Lieder, WWV91 - Im Treibaus
12. Wesendonck Lieder, WWV91 - Schmerzen
13. Wesendonck Lieder, WWV91 - Traume 
 
Sample.   I find this truly excellent.
 
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Saturday, March 20, 2021

Dichterliebe

Sometimes I post films of music just because I love them.  This film of Jonas Kaufmann singing Schumann's Dichterliebe is an example.  I tried while I was still singing to fit in things that I wanted to perform.  Many I succeeded, but a few I did not.  I regret that I never sang Dichterliebe, a truly glorious cycle. I wanted very badly to play Orlovsky, but no one seems to have been able to picture me as a guy.  Sigh.

For me you cannot beat Jonas in Lieder.  Enjoy.

Jonas has said this before, and I've heard it from others as well.  Without an audience it's not the same.  If I could give him a hug, I certainly would.  Bravo.  There's no one like you.

San Francisco Ring -- Siegfried

 


Conductor Donald Runnicles 
Director Francesca Zambello 

Mime: David Cangelosi 
Siegfried: Daniel Brenna *
The Wanderer (Wotan): Greer Grimsley 
Alberich: Falk Struckmann 
Fafner: Raymond Aceto 
Forest Bird: Stacey Tappan 
Erda: Ronnita Miller 
Brünnhilde: Iréne Theorin 

I am enjoying that at the beginning of Siegfried Mime is banging in the rhythm of the score.  We are up to the part of the San Francisco Ring that I have not seen before.  The last time I simply was too tired to do four long operas in a row.  This is part of the caravan series.  Mime and Siegfried live in a busted up caravan.  We actually get a bear--not an actual bear.  

Wotan comes in to check on Siegfried.  I actually love Greer's harsh, growly voice as Wotan.  Mime and the The Wanderer are exchanging riddles and Mime recognizes that this is Wotan.  He is too dumb to figure out who it is who has never known fear.  We figure this out easily.  How about someone who brings a live bear home with him?  The reforging of the sword is very convincing.  In retrospect I suspect that Mime is pretending not to know.

This scene with Alberich and The Wanderer is reminding my of my rule of 3 baritones.  "Never go to an opera with three baritones."  This is a hell of a lot of snarling and growling.  Wotan by himself is fine.  Wotan wanders from place to place seemingly to provide Wagner with someone to explain what is going on.  I insist on my no explaining/all showing philosophy.  These operas are so long because someone is always explaining something.

The character of Siegfried in the person of Daniel Brenna is enjoyable.  The production seems to work in spite of the fact that the dragon is a machine.  Theoretically the machine should disappear when Siegfried takes the Tarnhelm from Fafner.

I like more and more the Wotan of Greer Grimsley.  However, he summons Erda and then doesn't really ask her anything.  He predicts the end of the gods, including her.  Then when Siegfried breaks Wotan's spear with Notung, all truly is over.

This is very cool.  "Mother, behold your fearless child."  He's terrified of a sleeping woman.  Herr Wagner, at last you have done it.  He kisses her awake like sleeping beauty.  We waited a very long time, but this is the best thing ever.  He thanks his mother for giving him life.  If it only ended here!


Thursday, March 18, 2021

James Levine has died

The scandal that swirled around the end of James Levine's career at the Met seemed ho hum to me.  Why?  Because I'd heard about it years ago and assumed someone somewhere was protecting him.  When I wrote about him here I was interested mainly in his musical legacy.  I think in the old days it was assumed that there was a lot of fooling around.  I remember a professor at I.U....  

I'm happy with how the Met is now, so Levine's departure has meant a lot less to me than I expected. 

Monday, March 15, 2021

Classical Grammys for 2021 Winners

 

Here are the Classical Grammy winners for 2021.  The most import award for this year is a Lifetime Achievement Grammy awarded to Marilyn Horne. Congratulations.

Because of my own personal prejudices, I am happy for the Ives win, Porgy and Bess win (but would have also been happy for Agrippina), and a piece by Michael Tilson Thomas sung by Isabel Leonard.  I am unfamiliar with the rest.

75. Best Orchestral Performance
Award to the Conductor and to the Orchestra.

  • ASPECTS OF AMERICA - PULITZER EDITION
    Carlos Kalmar, conductor (Oregon Symphony)
     
  • CONCURRENCE
    Daníel Bjarnason, conductor (Iceland Symphony Orchestra)
     
  • COPLAND: SYMPHONY NO. 3
    Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor (San Francisco Symphony)
     
  • IVES: COMPLETE SYMPHONIES
    Gustavo Dudamel, conductor (Los Angeles Philharmonic)

     
  • LUTOSłAWSKI: SYMPHONIES NOS. 2 & 3
    Hannu Lintu, conductor (Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra)

76. Best Opera Recording
Award to the Conductor, Album Producer(s) and Principal Soloists.

  • DELLO JOIO: THE TRIAL AT ROUEN
    Gil Rose, conductor; Heather Buck & Stephen Powell; Gil Rose, producer (Boston Modern Orchestra Project; Odyssey Opera Chorus)
     
  • FLOYD, C.: PRINCE OF PLAYERS
    William Boggs, conductor; Alexander Dobson, Keith Phares & Kate Royal; Blanton Alspaugh, producer (Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra; Florentine Opera Chorus)
     
  • GERSHWIN: PORGY AND BESS
    David Robertson, conductor; Frederick Ballentine, Angel Blue, Denyce Graves, Latonia Moore & Eric Owens; David Frost, producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus)

     
  • HANDEL: AGRIPPINA
    Maxim Emelyanychev, conductor; Elsa Benoit, Joyce DiDonato, Franco Fagioli, Jakub Józef Orliński & Luca Pisaroni; Daniel Zalay, producer (Il Pomo D'Oro)
     
  • ZEMLINSKY: DER ZWERG
    Donald Runnicles, conductor; David Butt Philip & Elena Tsallagova; Peter Ghirardini & Erwin Stürzer, producers (Orchestra Of The Deutsche Oper Berlin; Chorus Of The Deutsche Oper Berlin)

77. Best Choral Performance
Award to the Conductor, and to the Choral Director and/or Chorus Master where applicable and to the Choral Organization/Ensemble.

  • CARTHAGE
    Donald Nally, conductor (The Crossing)
     
  • DANIELPOUR: THE PASSION OF YESHUAH
    JoAnn Falletta, conductor; James K. Bass & Adam Luebke, chorus masters (James K. Bass, J'Nai Bridges, Timothy Fallon, Kenneth Overton, Hila Plitmann & Matthew Worth; Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus & UCLA Chamber Singers)

     
  • KASTALSKY: REQUIEM
    Leonard Slatkin, conductor; Charles Bruffy, Steven Fox & Benedict Sheehan, chorus masters (Joseph Charles Beutel & Anna Dennis; Orchestra Of St. Luke's; Cathedral Choral Society, The Clarion Choir, Kansas City Chorale & The Saint Tikhon Choir)
     
  • MORAVEC: SANCTUARY ROAD
    Kent Tritle, conductor (Joshua Blue, Raehann Bryce-Davis, Dashon Burton, Malcolm J. Merriweather & Laquita Mitchell; Oratorio Society Of New York Orchestra; Oratorio Society Of New York Chorus)
     
  • ONCE UPON A TIME
    Matthew Guard, conductor (Sarah Walker; Skylark Vocal Ensemble)

78. Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance
For new recordings of works with chamber or small ensemble (twenty-four or fewer members, not including the conductor). One Award to the ensemble and one Award to the conductor, if applicable.

  • CONTEMPORARY VOICES
    Pacifica Quartet

     
  • HEALING MODES
    Brooklyn Rider
     
  • HEARNE, T.: PLACE
    Ted Hearne, Steven Bradshaw, Sophia Byrd, Josephine Lee, Isaiah Robinson, Sol Ruiz, Ayanna Woods & Place Orchestra
     
  • HYNES: FIELDS
    Devonté Hynes & Third Coast Percussion
     
  • THE SCHUMANN QUARTETS
    Dover Quartet

79. Best Classical Instrumental Solo
Award to the Instrumental Soloist(s) and to the Conductor when applicable.

  • ADÈS: CONCERTO FOR PIANO AND ORCHESTRA
    Kirill Gerstein; Thomas Adès, conductor (Boston Symphony Orchestra)
     
  • BEETHOVEN: COMPLETE PIANO SONATAS
    Igor Levit
     
  • BOHEMIAN TALES
    Augustin Hadelich; Jakub Hrůša, conductor (Charles Owen; Symphonieorchester Des Bayerischen Rundfunks)
     
  • DESTINATION RACHMANINOV - ARRIVAL
    Daniil Trifonov; Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor (The Philadelphia Orchestra)
     
  • THEOFANIDIS: CONCERTO FOR VIOLA AND CHAMBER ORCHESTRA
    Richard O'Neill; David Alan Miller, conductor (Albany Symphony)

80. Best Classical Solo Vocal Album
Award to: Vocalist(s), Collaborative Artist(s) (Ex: pianists, conductors, chamber groups) Producer(s), Recording Engineers/Mixers with 51% or more playing time of new material.

  • AMERICAN COMPOSERS AT PLAY - WILLIAM BOLCOM, RICKY IAN GORDON, LORI LAITMAN, JOHN MUSTO
    Stephen Powell (Attacca Quartet, William Bolcom, Ricky Ian Gordon, Lori Laitman, John Musto, Charles Neidich & Jason Vieaux)
     
  • CLAIRIÈRES - SONGS BY LILI & NADIA BOULANGER
    Nicholas Phan; Myra Huang, accompanist
     
  • FARINELLI
    Cecilia Bartoli; Giovanni Antonini, conductor (Il Giardino Armonico)
     
  • A LAD'S LOVE
    Brian Giebler; Steven McGhee, accompanist (Katie Hyun, Michael Katz, Jessica Meyer, Reginald Mobley & Ben Russell)
     
  • SMYTH: THE PRISON
    Sarah Brailey & Dashon Burton; James Blachly, conductor (Experiential Chorus; Experiential Orchestra)

81. Best Classical Compendium
Award to the Artist(s) and to the Album Producer(s) and Engineer(s) of over 51% playing time of the album, if other than the artist.

  • ADÈS CONDUCTS ADÈS
    Mark Stone & Christianne Stotijn; Thomas Adès, conductor; Nick Squire, producer
     
  • SAARIAHO: GRAAL THÉÂTRE; CIRCLE MAP; NEIGES; VERS TOI QUI ES SI LOIN
    Clément Mao-Takacs, conductor; Hans Kipfer, producer
     
  • SEREBRIER: SYMPHONIC BACH VARIATIONS; LAMENTS AND HALLELUJAHS; FLUTE CONCERTO
    José Serebrier, conductor; Jens Braun, producer
     
  • THOMAS, M.T.: FROM THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK & MEDITATIONS ON RILKE
    Isabel Leonard; Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor; Jack Vad, producer

     
  • WOOLF, L.P.: FIRE AND FLOOD
    Matt Haimovitz; Julian Wachner, conductor; Blanton Alspaugh, producer

82. Best Contemporary Classical Composition
A Composer's Award. (For a contemporary classical composition composed within the last 25 years, and released for the first time during the Eligibility Year.) Award to the librettist, if applicable.

  • ADÈS: CONCERTO FOR PIANO AND ORCHESTRA
    Thomas Adès, composer (Kirill Gerstein, Thomas Adès & Boston Symphony Orchestra)
     
  • DANIELPOUR: THE PASSION OF YESHUA
    Richard Danielpour, composer (JoAnn Falletta, James K. Bass, Adam Luebke, UCLA Chamber Singers, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra & Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus)
     
  • FLOYD, C.: PRINCE OF PLAYERS
    Carlisle Floyd, composer (William Boggs, Alexander Dobson, Kate Royal, Keith Phares, Florentine Opera Chorus & Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra)
  • HEARNE, T.: PLACE
    Ted Hearne, composer (Ted Hearne, Steven Bradshaw, Sophia Byrd, Josephine Lee, Isaiah Robinson, Sol Ruiz, Ayanna Woods & Place Orchestra)
     
  • ROUSE: SYMPHONY NO. 5
    Christopher Rouse, composer (Giancarlo Guerrero & Nashville Symphony)

Sunday, March 14, 2021

San Francisco Ring -- Die Walküre

 

Conductor Donald Runnicles 
Director Francesca Zambello 

Sieglinde - Karita Mattila 
Siegmund - Brandon Jovanovich 
Hunding - Raymond Aceto 
Wotan - Greer Grimsley 
Brünnhilde - Iréne Theorin 
Fricka - Jamie Barton 

Die Walküre is of course the next installment in the San Francisco Ring.  Wotan lives in a skyscraper high over a relatively small city somewhat like San Francisco.

Act I is in Hunding's house which looks like an American house in the woods.  Inside is a cabinet full of sport trophies.  This Hunding is really a brute.  There's no question about whose side we are on.

Act II Scene 1.  is in the high rise built by the giants in Das Rheingold.  Jamie Barton is a truly magnificent Fricka.  She storms with great style.  He is clearly for Siegmund, but Fricka turns him to Hunding's side.  The goddess protects marriage no matter how bad it is.  There is lots of plot stuff in this act.  At the beginning Wotan orders Brünnhilde to defend Siegmund.  Then after Fricka's complaints, he reverses himself and tells her Siegmund must die.

Act II Scene 2.  In this scene Sieglinde and Siegmund are under a freeway, the latest symbol of urban wilderness.  Sieglinde has begun to feel guilt, both for staying with a husband who did not love her and for leaving him for Siegmund.  Brünnhilde enters and tells Siegmund he must come with her to Valhalla, thus at least attempting to fulfill Wotan's orders.  Siegmund says he will not go without Sieglinde.  This is all quite wonderful.  Brünnhilde changes her mind when Siegmund threatens to kill both himself and his twin even after Brünnhilde tells him Sieglinde is carrying his child.  The child must live.  I think we have here not at all the normal ending.  Hunding kills Siegmund, Wotan kills Hunding and Brünnhilde rescues Sieglinde.  Wotan just says to tell Fricka that he killed Siegmund, but he didn't actually.

Act III is the only part I remember vividly.  During the Ride of the Valkyries they enter on wires, which I see now are supposed to be parachutes.  I love this.  They are all wearing flying suits except Brünnhilde.

I just realized that Siegfried is a joining of the words for victory and peace.  One who brings peace in victory.  Forgive me Karita, but I long to hear Sieglinde in the voice of LD. Karita's performances always bring us her own personal intensity.

The Ring is very unliberated.  Where is Susan B Antony when you need her?  The gods can only imagine women belonging to men.  I enjoy Greer in many scenes, but he seems able to bring only anger into his voice.  And now I'm going to do what I criticize in others.  For me there is only one Wotan's Farewell and that is James Morris.  Greer has done well, but I want to hear the love bursting forth.  This is the only Wagner I truly love.  The ring of fire is perfect.

 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Fedora


Conductor...............Roberto Abbado
Production..............Beppe De Tomasi

Princess Fedora Romazov...Mirella Freni
Count Loris Ipanov..............Plácido Domingo
Countess Olga Sukarev........Ainhoa Arteta
De Siriex..............................Dwayne Croft

Giordano's Fedora streamed from the Met today.  This is from a broadcast from 1997. This production was mounted to celebrate the retirement of Mirella Freni from the opera stage.  She was 62 and sounds glorious.

Freni enters to a wonderful ovation.  Fedora is engaged to be married, and on the eve of her wedding her fiancé is murdered.  This is Act I in Russia. 

In Act II Fedora has followed Ipanov, whom she thinks murdered her fiancé, to Paris.  Her Ipanov is Placido Domingo who is 5 years younger than Freni.  They meet in her house in Paris and seem to fall in love.  Fedora hears that the czar has been shot.  There is a lot of narrative of people explaining things that happened off stage.  The stories are emotional, just the thing for opera.  I can see why an Italian singer like Freni would love this.

In the act break Mayor Giuliani gives Mirella Freni the key to the city.  It's wonderful to see this.  Brava Mirella.

Act III takes place in Switzerland where the Princess has a house.  The whole production is very traditional.  It's not difficult to see why Freni would love this opera.  Her character is on the stage for every scene and experiences a very wide range of emotions.  She is happy, sad, angry, joyous, guilty, despondent and suicidal all in one opera.

The opera is sort of verismo for the upper classes.  They are glorious together to the end.  It is wonderful to see this again.  They do it all for Mirella.  Love.


Saturday, March 06, 2021

San Francisco Ring -- Das Rheingold


Conductor Donald Runnicles
Director Francesca Zambello

Wotan, head god:  Greer Grimsley
Loge, god of fire:  Štefan Margita
Alberich, Nibelung: Falk Struckmann*
Fricka, Wotan's wife:  Jamie Barton
Erda, goddess of the earth, Ronnita Miller
Mime, Alberich's brother: David Cangelosi
Fasolt, giant: Andrea Silvestrelli
Fafner, giant: Raymond Aceto
Donner, god of thunder: Brian Mulligan
Froh, god:  Brandon Jovanovich
Freia, goddess of the apples;  Julie Adams
Woglinde, Rhinemaiden:  Stacey Tappan
Wellgunde, Rhinemaiden:  Lauren McNeese
Flosshilde, Rhinemaiden:  Renée Tatum

I've seen this San Francisco Opera production of Wagner's Das Rheingold twice before.  I don't remember the other times hardly at all.  I can read about them in this blog, of course, here and here

Runnicles still feels like the best Wagner conductor around.  I liked the production better than before and found that it clarified all plot points even to my fussy standards.

It is a surprise how much I like Greer Grimsley as Wotan.  I don't seem to be able to write a lot these days.  They are streaming the entire Ring throughout the month of March.  I am determined to make it through all four operas this time.


Saturday, February 27, 2021

Lise


I bought this so I could have some Lise Davidsen in the car.  On my car stereo it sounds spectacular.  I can still drive fine, but are driving and ecstasy compatible?  So what is the fuss about?  Her voice is big and extremely beautiful.  She seems to be able to bring sufficient weight into her singing while still achieving the color of a lyric soprano.  

My first reaction to a complete film with Lise:

  • Barbara Baker
    This is what I love best about opera, that some day you will wake up and find that a wonderful new voice has come into your life.

There is much chatter on the internet comparing her to the other Scandinavian sopranos:  Kirsten Flagstad, Birgit Nilsson and Nina Stemme.  I don't hear them in her voice.  I hear something entirely new, big and with a certain bite to the tone.  I have already grown accustomed to it and love it very much.  She is smart and seems to be not at all in need of my advice.

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Monday, February 22, 2021

Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges


My music group has become involved in a project about a forgotten composer named Joseph Bologne or Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745 – 1799).  His mother was a slave on the island of Guadalupe in the West Indies.  In 1753 his father, noticing that his son was a musical prodigy, took him to Paris.  He was a composer, a violinist and a champion fencer.  When Mozart was touring the world, he heard concertos by Saint-Georges in Paris.

I'm listening to a YouTube file that says Violin Concertos, one after the other.  They're quite lively.  This is in the style period generally called Rococo, transitioning to classical.

 

He was in Paris at the time of the French Revolution in 1789.  Since he had acquired a title, he was probably lucky to get through it alive.  He sided with Revolutionary France because of their stance on racial issues.  

Some people don't want to get involved in politics.  But how political is this really?

Starry Heavens Concert

Selfie

All the music on this concert is by Ludwig van Beethoven.

Programm

Ludwig van Beethoven
Irish Songs

 Baritone Edwin Crossley-Mercer and piano trio.

1. Since grey beards inform us (WoO153, Nr. 4)
2. The Pulse of an Irishman (WoO154, Nr. 4

Ludwig van Beethoven
Schottische Lieder op. 108

 Baritone Edwin Crossley-Mercer and piano trio.

1. The Shepherd’s Song
2. O sweet were the hours
3. Come fill, fill, my good fellow
4. O Mary, at thy window be
5. Faithfu’ Johnie
6. Sunset
7. Bonny Laddie, Highland Laddie

Ludwig van Beethoven
Sechs Lieder von Gellert, op. 48

Soprano Lise Davidsen with Sophie Raynaud on piano.

1. Bitten
2. Die Liebe des Nächsten
3. Vom Tode
4. Die Ehre Gottes aus der Natur  "The heavens declare the glory of Gott"
5. Gottes Macht und Vorsehung
6. Bußlied

Ludwig van Beethoven
Heiligenstädter Testament (Brief des Komponisten Ludwig van Beethoven an seine Brüder Kaspar Karl und Johann von 1802) 

Nikolaus Bachler, reader.  There is no music.

Ludwig van Beethoven
Streichquartett a-Moll, op. 132, 3. Satz
Canzona di ringraziamento. Molto adagio 

Musicians from the orchestra of the Bayerische Staatsoper

One knows from hanging around in libraries that these songs exist.  They're in the complete works, after all.  But one never hears them performed.  Schubert seems to have kicked other people's songs out of the way.   The Scottish songs are in Scottish dialect, and Lise sings only in German.  She hits just the right religious note.  I wish I was seeing more of her.  I noticed that both singers rushed on to the next song with no pause between.  Just because songs appear together on the same opus doesn't mean it is all one piece.  It was possible to tell how many songs had been sung only by looking at the program.  A small separation would have worked better for me.  One wishes to characterize each song individually.

For the speaking there are no titles.  Nikolaus Bachlere has a lot of confidence in his diction. 

The colors of the interior of the Bayerische Staatsoper have changed from the last time I visited.  You can see above that they're pale blue now.

This virtual concert comes with a sound machine in case you were missing the normal noises of a concert.  It includes booing.


Thursday, February 18, 2021

Aida from Paris

 


Director -- Lotte de Beer 
Conductor -- Michele Mariotti 

Ksenia Dudnikova -- Amneris
Sondra Radvanovsky -- Aida 
Jonas Kaufmann -- Radames 
Ludovic Tézier -- Amonasro, Aida's father

We've all been warned.  This production of Aida from Paris is a puppet show, at least in part.  Sondra is dressed in black like the puppeteers.  The above picture shows her and her Aida puppet.  She sings, it acts.  The Ethopians have puppet representations and the Egyptians don't.  That means Amonasro also has a puppet.  I wrote about a different opera, The Abduction from the Seraglio, where two people played each character.  One sang, the other acted and spoke lines.  When I see this, I think they don't think singers can act. Of course now that blackface is forbidden, this might be a way to represent a different race.

Sondra was wonderful.  I believe that she was the best spinto soprano in Italian repertoire singing today.  I gave her a brava in "O patria mia."  Jonas's hair wasn't as straight as we'd feared. It took him a while to warm up.

The chorus members wear masks while singing.  That's a first for me.  I greatly enjoyed the singing but was unenthusiastic about the concept. Here is the best part.


Cav/Pag


Production..............Franco Zeffirelli
Conductor...............James Levine 

CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA

Santuzza................Tatiana Troyanos
Turiddu.................Plácido Domingo
Lola....................Isola Jones
Alfio...................Vern Shinall
Mamma Lucia.............Jean Kraft

We are celebrating Franco Zeffirelli week from the Metropolitan.  This Zeffirelli production of Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana might be a real place.  This is Italy. Perhaps there should be a list. This film, this production, this cast brings you the real thing.  

My favorite of this cast is Tatiana Troyanos, of course.  She is so intense that your heart is stirred. Plácido treats her badly, but she takes her revenge.  It's sad all these old productions are gone.  It's Easter Sunday and everyone is at church, except Santuzza who has been excommunicated.  She confronts people as they go in and out of the church.

PAGLIACCI

Nedda...................Teresa Stratas
Canio...................Plácido Domingo
Tonio...................Sherrill Milnes
Silvio..................Allan Monk
Beppe...................James Atherton

This is just ok.  The set is not particularly interesting after the magnificent summoning of a realistic Italian village in CR.  It's still worth seeing for the great cast.  Milnes does a terrific prologue. I think I prefer the current production of Pagliacci.

 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Der Freischütz

Conductor: Antonello Manacorda 
Production: Dmitri Tcherniakov 
 
Ottokar, Prince: Boris Prýgl (baritone)
Kuno, forrester: Bálint Szabó (bass)
Agathe, Kuno's daughter: Golda Schultz (soprano)
Ännchen: Anna Prohaska  (soprano)
Kaspar / Samiel: Kyle Ketelsen (bass)
Max: Pavel Černoch (tenor)
Ein Eremit: Tareq Nazmi (bass)
Kilian: Milan Siljanov  (baritone)
 
Der Freischütz, 1821, by Carl Maria von Weber streamed from the Bayerische Staatsoper.  It's a Singspiel, which means there is spoken dialog just as in Fidelio.  I remember it was covered in school as an historically significant event, though performances are rare.  Once long ago I was in Vienna when it was playing, and I thought not to miss it.  It is my only previous experience of this opera.

You can tell from the picture that it's regie.  These are business men in an office tower.  In the front is a man in a blue suit with brown shoes.  He has not been properly raised.  Blue suits go with black shoes.  I am not buying Freischütz in an office.  Waiters come in wearing pandemic masks.  The contest isn't about marksmanship, it's about being willing to shoot someone.  So the cops don't show up if you shoot someone through the window of an office building?  I'm not buying it.

I love the music in this opera.  I suppose it's the most like Beethoven.  The arias are nice.  Ok.  Alles gute.  So no one is really shooting anyone.  The waiters tell us that it's all fake.  The scenes end entirely without applause.

Max is told he must go to the Wolf's Glen, but in this single set production it looks just like the other scenes.  Max must shoot his fiance.  The music leads us to a happy ending, but then there is a twist.  I won't give it away.  The music is pretty good.  This is the same director that put Les Troyens in a mental hospital.  If you've never seen the opera, this will give you a rough idea.  It streams for 30 days.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Les Troyens

 

 
Conductor...............James Levine
Production..............Fabrizio Melano

Cassandra...............Jessye Norman [Debut]
Coroebus................Allan Monk
Aeneas..................Plácido Domingo

Dido....................Tatiana Troyanos 

This performance of Berlioz' Les Troyens at the Metropolitan Opera is from 1983.  Jessye Norman made her Met debut.  There were performances in the run where Jessye played Dido and someone else Cassandra.  She is spectacular as Cassandra.  No one else approaches her.  It is wonderful to see it again.

Berlioz isn't doing what anyone else was doing at his time.  Not Musically and not theatrically.  It is wise to notice he wrote his own libretto.  He loved Virgil's Aenead and based the opera on it. I know the French always treated him with disrespect and perhaps still do.  After all they were the ones who staged the Dido scenes in a mental hospital.  I prefer some semblance of historical setting which we certainly have here.  Both the Met and San Francisco Operas staged it in the last decade, and both achieved triumphs.  But perhaps this one is the greatest of all.  I love it.

The horse doesn't seem to look like a horse. Cassandra and all the other Trojan women commit suicide at the end of Act II.  

The effect of this production is just as it should be.  How does all this pompous singing translate to an insane asylum? It's designed to bring status to Dido.  I love this opera and this is a wonderful version. 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Covid Label

I have created a new Covid label to designate which performances I have reviewed took place during the pandemic.  Later I will review them as a group to assess how they took the pandemic into account.  A friend thinks this is of historical significance.

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Royal Opera Fidelio revisited

There is an audio copy floating around the internet from a radio broadcast from the Royal Opera of the Fidelio from last summer that includes Jonas Kaufmann.  He became ill before the broadcast into movie theaters, but this is an earlier performance.  So we have Lise Davidsen, Jonas Kaufmann and Tony Pappano together.  Look on rai?  I'm told it has been taken down.  This is the one.  We can only hope we will get other opportunities to see them together.  Two of my opera loves on the same stage might be too much for me.  O Gott, welch ein Augenblick.

My first take is here.  I love this opera as no other and can't really explain why.  Pappano understands.  All it misses is Jonas.  Lise goes back into women's clothes, but looks nothing like she did at the beginning.  She is wonderful in this role, and I hope to see her in it again.

Brahms Requiem from Zurich

Today I am listening to Ein Deutsches Requiem by Johannes Brahms from Zurich.  Lydia Teuscher, soprano, and Konstantin Shushakov, baritone, are the soloists and Gianandrea Noseda conducts.

The orchestra sits on the stage in much the same arrangement as always.  The chorus is distributed around the house.  The audio is ghastly.  I was once in the greatest ever performance of this work with the San Francisco Symphony with Robert Shaw conducting and Kathleen Battle singing, so I am unimpressed.  That's the worst part of getting most of ones music from the internet--the audio seems to be consistently bad.  Professional recordings do a much better job.

Saturday, February 06, 2021

Netrebko Recital

Day:

The Program 

“Lilacs,” Op. 21, No. 5 By Sergei Rachmaninoff 

“Before my window,” Op. 26, No. 10 By Sergei Rachmaninoff 

“How fair this spot,” Op. 21, No. 7 By Sergei Rachmaninoff 

“The lark’s song rings more clearly,” Op. 43, No. 1 By Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov 

“Morgen!” Op. 27, No. 4 By Richard Strauss 

“Il pleure dans mon cœur” By Claude Debussy 

“Depuis le jour” From G. Charpentier’s Louise 

“It was in the early spring,” Op. 38, No. 2 By Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 

“Tell me, in the shade of the branches,” Op. 57, No. 1 By Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 

“Mattinata” By Ruggero Leoncavallo 

Night:

“Uzh vecher … Oblakov pomerknuli kraya” From Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades  (duet with Elena Maximova)  [Once upon a time I was the alto in this duet.]

“The clouds begin to scatter,” Op. 42, No. 3 By Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov 

“Nights of Delirium,” Op. 60, No. 6 By Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 

“Die Nacht,” Op. 10, No. 3 By Richard Strauss 

“Ständchen,” Op. 17, No. 2 By Richard Strauss 

“Songs my mother taught me” from Gypsy Songs By Antonín Dvořák 

“The Dream,” Op. 8, No. 5 By Sergei Rachmaninoff 

“Belle nuit, ô nuit d’amour” (Barcarolle) From Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann (duet with Elena Maximova)

“Amidst the day,” Op. 47, No. 6 By Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Languages:  Russian, French, Italian, German, Czech

This is Anna Netrebko's Met recital from Vienna.  They talk a lot about her career at the Met, but my first time with Anna was at the San Francisco Opera in Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila in 1995.  This was during the reign of Lotfi Mansouri who brought the production, conductor and cast from Russia for us.  Of course, Anna was the person we noticed most.  We've all been fans ever since.  

She is accompanied by pianist Pavel Nebolsin and is joined in 2 duets with Elena Maximova.  This was hosted by Christine Goerke.

Anna performed this recital as only Anna would.  It was a lot of fun seeing her stroll around and dramatize each song.  The Russian songs are her specialty.  I am a long time fan and look forward to future performances.  It is good to remember that Anna had covid last year.


Thursday, February 04, 2021

Another Ariadne

 


Singers: Lise Davidsen, Eric Cutler , Sabine Devieilhe, Angela Brower, Huw Montague Rendall, Josef Wagner 

Conductor: Marc Albrecht 
Stage Director: Katie Mitchell

There is another Ariadne auf Naxos with Lise Davidsen from 2018 in Aix on Opera on Video.  In this one she is very very pregnant and miserable.  She frowns at the camera.  Towards the end she has the baby, and it is the "wunderschoenste Knabe" named Bacchus.  Cute.  Doesn't someone give birth on stage in Wicked?  

Why should the Komponist be the only genderbending?  In the on stage audience are men dressed as women.   Unlike the opera convention, they only dress as women and are not intended to be women.

The tenor keeps bringing her a box with a gun inside.  The three ladies who have assisted in the birth, sing the Bach-like tune and Ariadne at last takes the baby in her arms.  I found this very frightening and upsetting, but nothing terrible happens.  We forget how unhappy Ariadne is.  She decides to hold the baby and love it.  This is pure regie, but the tilt to deep seriousness is fascinating.  This is only for those who truly love regie.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Jenůfa from Amsterdam

 

Conductor: Patrick Lange
Lise Davidsen - soprano, Jenůfa
Claude Eichenberger- soprano, Kostelnička Buryjovka
Helena Rasker - alt, Stařenka Buryjovka
David Butt Philip - tenor, Laca Klemeň
Pavel Petrov - tenor, Števa Buryja

I

Jenůfa (yeh-NEW-fuh) by Leoš Janáček is on the radio this morning from the Netherlands.  I got up early to hear Lise Davidsen as Jenůfa, but with her is a lovely soprano named Claude Eichenberger as Kostelnicka.    This is Lise's debut in this role.  I'm enjoying it very much.

While the live program is enjoying intermissions, we are treated to instrumental interludes, sometimes by Janáček, but also by Dvorak.  It is new to me to hear something by Janáček that isn't from one of his operas.  

Unfortunately, Kostelnička has all the fun in this opera.  Lise gets a terrific finish.  Beautiful performance.

II

So today, Sunday, we have a video.  Remember this is a concert performance. On the radio that doesn't matter.  It is easier to evaluate specific singers when you can see everyone.  Lise seems to dominate this particular ensemble.  She's the only one who doesn't have a chair in Act I, but stands serenely in the center.  Later she gets a chair.  Lise is the most intense Jenůfa I've seen.

The announcer calls it Moravish verismo.  Cute.  

This can now be viewed on Opera on Video.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Fidelio from Birmingham

                                                     Marzelline - Leonore

ConductorWilliam Lacey
DirectorGraham Vick

FlorestanRonald Samm
Leonore Jane Leslie MacKenzie
Rocco Jonathan Best
Marzelline Donna Bateman
Jaquino John Upperton
Don Pizarro Keel Watson
Don Fernando Michael Druiett


This version of Beethoven's Fidelio from Birmingham, England, by way of Operavision, is sung in English in modern dress.  The performance is inside a large tent with the audience and performers all packed into the same space.  A row of washing machines lines one side.  The translation is excellent.  This is fun for some unknown reason.  They haven't fractured it as is sometimes the case.  The main difference is that between scenes there is rioting with a lot of anarchist shouting.  These are the political fights of today.  

I love this opera as I do not love other operas.  Here there is goodness and love.  In this production all is serious.  Rocco is never a clown.  We see the truth of the story even though it is very chaotic.  Only the camera brings sense and organization.  I love Leonore who risks everything for love.  One can't help wondering what it would be like to experience all this chaos and intensity live and in person.  I know what's going on, so I don't become confused by the at times overwhelming intensity.

For the second half many of the audience members stand on numbered spots and when told, put bags over their heads.  I have never experienced anything like this and think it would be amazing.

I like this tenor who does an excellent reading of Florestan's aria.  Much of the credit for the excitement in this performance must go to the young conductor William Lacey.  In the middle of the act, after Florestan and Leonore have sung of their nameless joy, comes a long instrumental part which must be one of the Leonore overtures.  It is staged with people coming out of their cells in the ground.

I've never seen anything like it, but I wouldn't have missed it.  Thank you, Graham Vick, and thank you Beethoven.


Queen of Baroque - Out Today

Note:  I have finally received my copy and listened to about half.  Once again Cecilia displays her greatest talent--the ability to assemble a fabulous program.  Her whole career is shown.  Enjoy.

Amazon says today is the day.

Cecilia Bartoli announces a new CD from Decca:  Queen of Baroque.  It will be released on December 18, 2020.  Pre-order now by clicking below.  It can be delivered in time for Christmas.  It's described as:

A collection of the very best of Bartoli's treasured recordings of musical delights and discoveries of the 17th and 18th century. Featuring two previously unreleased world premiere recordings of forgotten jewels by Leonardo Vinci and Agostino Steffani. With guest appearances from Philippe Jaroussky, June Anderson, Franco Fagioli and Sol Gabetta.  Here is a track list.


Steffani
I trionfi del fato: “E l’honor stella tiranna”*

Vinci
Alessandro nelle Indie: “Quanto Invidio…Chi vive amante”*

Handel
Rinaldo: “Lascia ch’io pianga”

Broschi
Artaserse: “Son Qual Nave”

Pergolesi
Stabat Mater, P. 77: 1. Stabat Mater dolorosa feat. Anderson

Vivaldi
Griselda: Agitata da due venti

Steffani
Niobe, regina di Tebe: “Serena, o mio bel sole… Mia fiamma…” feat. Jaroussky

A. Scarlatti
Il Sedecia, Re di Gerusalemme: “Caldo Sangue”

Handel
Serse: “Ombra mai fu”

Albinoni
Il nascimento dell’Aurora: “Aure andate e baciate” feat. Sol Gabetta

Graun
Adriano In Siria: Deh, tu bel Dio d’amore…Ov’e il mio bene?

Steffani
Stabat Mater: “Eja Mater, fons amoris… Fac, ut ardeat… Sancta Mater… Tui nati, vulnerati” feat. Fagioli, Behle

Caldara
Il Trionfo dell’Innocenza: “Vanne pentita a piangere”

Handel
La Resurrezione (1708), HWV 47: “Disserratevi oh porte d’Averno”

Porpora
Germanico in Germania: Parto ti lascio, o cara

Steffani
I Triondi del fato: “Combatton quest’alma” feat. Jaroussky

Handel
Rinaldo: “Bel piacere”

*Denotes a world premiere recording

And here is a sample.



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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Linda di Chamounix from Firenze

 

 
Conductor - Michele Gamba
Production - Cesare Lievi
 
Linda - Jessica Pratt
Pierotto - Teresa Iervolino
Carlo - Francesco Demuro
Antonio, Linda's father - Vittorio Prato
Maddalena, Linda's mother - Marina De Liso
Il Marchese di Boisfleury, Carlo's uncle - Fabio Capitanucci
Il Prefetto - Michele Pertusi
L'Intendente del feudo - Antonio Gares

Maggio Musicale Fiorentino brings us Donizetti's Linda di Chamounix, 1842.  There are subtitles, but they are in Italian.  The chorus and orchestra are wearing medical masks, so we may assume this performance is current, last week.  

Our heroine has just made her entrance and sings "O luce di quest'anima," the hit tune of this opera.  Well done.  Pierotto is a pants role, and his song does not appear to be part of the story.  Nevertheless, it's good.

There is a stereotypical plot element in this opera.  A male member of the upper class pretends to be poor so he can flirt with girls from the lower classes.  La Donna del LagoRigoletto.  These are some other examples.  Linda is the daughter of tenant farmers in Chamounix, France, though her father is played as far too feeble to be a farmer.  Her boyfriend Carlo is the nephew of  the Marchese who owns the land where Linda's parents farm.  She, of course, does not know this.  I have no idea how Pierotto fits into the plot.
 
The Marchese wants Linda for some reason and will evict her parents if he cannot take her back to his palace.  This is a new twist.  The Prefetto tells her she must go to Paris with the boys for the winter to escape the Marchese.  Pierotto will take care of her.

The music is very beautiful.  In Act II Linda and Pierotto have a charming duet.  He explains to her that he has not been with her because he has been ill.  She explains that Carlo has been there to help her.  Pierotto leaves, and the Marchese arrivcs and tries to get her to go with him to his palace.  After he has gone, Carlo appears in a military uniform, and they sing of love.  He goes over to her and starts unbuttoning her clothing.  She falls on the floor and appears shocked.  Duet.  He leaves.  

It is convenient how each person appears one at a time.  Next comes padre.  She thinks maybe she should button her clothes before he recognizes her.  She reveals herself, he gets angry, Pierotto tells him and her that Carlo is the Viscount.  He gets really angry, curses her and leaves.

Enough plot.  People aren't behaving as they should.  The role of Linda is HUGE.  It all has a happy ending, which makes it lots less interesting than Lucia, I guess.  There's lots of talking.  You shouldn't expect it to enter standard repertoire any time soon, but it's enjoyable.  Lovely cast.
 

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Samson et Dalila

 


Conductor - Patrick Summers 
Production - Nicolas Joël 

Samson - Clifton Forbis
Abimélech - Eric Jordan
The High Priest of Dagon - Juha Uusitalo
A Philistine Messenger - Noah Stewart
An Old Hebrew - Oren Gradus 
Dalila - Olga Borodina

This performance of Camille Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila, 1877, comes from the San Francisco Opera in 2007.  I saw Olga sing this opera three times around that time.  Read about it here.

I love Olga's voice for this.  For me she has the perfect sound.  And all the good stuff in this opera is written for her.  For her type of heavy mezzo this is the peak experience.  I don't mind Elina in the role, but true love is only for Olga.  The second verse of "Mon coeur" is a duet.  For some reason I didn't remember this.  I think it's better without the tenor.

I enjoy the other singers in this production.  This is old fashioned, lush late romantic, in singing, in conducting, and in visual tone.   It is well worth a visit.

Monday, January 04, 2021

La Walkyrie from Paris

 

Left to right:

Stuart Skelton, ténor (Siegmund)
Günther Groissböck, baryton-basse (Hunding)
Lise Davidsen, soprano (Sieglinde)

This is the concert performance from Paris of Wagner's Ring that has been going on this week.  I think you can still catch it.  I'm listening to Act I.  All three of these singers are fabulous in these roles.  Lise just sings and out comes this amazing sound.  Stuart sounds good, too.

Go to the Paris opera to listen.

Friday, January 01, 2021

Three Decembers


Composer --  Jake Heggie
Librettist --  Gene Scheer from play by Terrence McNally
Conductor -- Christopher James Ray
Director -- Tara Branham

Madeline Mitchell, theater icon -- Susan Graham
Beatrice, Madeline's daughter -- Maya Kherani
Charlie, Madeline's son --  Efraín Solís

Heggie's Three Decembers premiered at the Houston Grand Opera in 2008. This performance streams from the San Jose Opera.  The singers are accompanied by two grand pianos.  The pianists wear masks and were separated by a sheet of plastic.

Christmas 1986

This part is just for people who have walked across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and then down into Sausalito.  As I have.  With son Chris.  We took the ferry back to the City.  This is Madeline's memory of their father on Christmas when he was still alive.  All three are on the same stage singing, but each is in a different place.  Mom has written a letter and kids are discussing it on the phone.  Mom is going to star in a Broadway musical.  Mom sends greetings to Charlie's gay lover, calling him Curt instead of Burt.  Burt has AIDS.  

Mom and daughter fight in a dressing room somewhere.  Then Charlie and Bea walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and complain about how cold it is.

This opera is socially distanced.  Each of the three characters has their own part of the stage, and they talk on the phone. 

1996

Burt has died.  Charlie is boxing up his stuff.  Mom sings him a lovely lullaby when he lays down to sleep.  Mom is taking Bea to the Tonys with her.  She expects to win.  The children sing about shoes as they prepare to accompany their mother to the Tonys.  When she finally arrives, they fight and Mom reveals that their dead sainted father was a drunk and jumped in front of the subway.  The children storm off, leaving her to go to the Tonys alone.

2006

Mom dies in her sleep, and everyone talks about her.  She appears to talk about herself.  She praises life, art, music and theater, all things that I love, too.  Susan Graham is in her element.

It streams to the end of January from San Jose Opera.

Messiah from San Francisco

This is a performance of Handel's Messiah from Grace Cathedral, an Episcopal cathedral on Nob Hill in San Francisco, by the American Bach Soloists.  They are the original instruments ensemble I visit regularly in Davis, but they perform Messiah only in Grace Cathedral, which is a bit far away for me.  They are seriously striving for an authentic style, and I think the effort here was very successful.  If you are not getting enough Messiah, I recommend this one.  Disclaimer--there is no historical basis for using a countertenor to replace the alto solo.  This is my usual complaint.