Monday, September 27, 2021

Der fliegende Holländer from Bayreuth


Mary, Erik, Senta

Conductor: Oksana Lyniv
Director: Dmitri Tcherniakov
Daland:  Georg Zeppenfeld
Senta: Asmik Grigorian
Erik: Eric Cutler
Mary: Marina Prudenskaya
Der Steuermann: Attilio Glaser
Der Holländer: John Lundgren

Richard Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer streamed from Bayreuth this summer on July 25.  It's regie, of course.  That means that the staging is modernized.  During the overture a mother hangs herself.  It's rather wildly realistic looking.  This doesn't seem to be the traditional plot about a sailor.  I'm here for Asmik Geigorian.

The sailors sit around drinking in a bar and never go to sea.  The girls don't spin, but instead practice the spinning chorus.  Senta smokes.  Erik comes in and chases the other girls away.  He warns Senta that her father wants to find her a husband.  Erik and Senta are exes and fight like it.  

Asmik is 40 but here passes for younger.  She is good looking, her voice is strong and her acting good.  The sound of her voice does not particularly appeal to me.  For me it is the feeling in the music.

Daland brings the Dutchman home and introduces him to his daughter as her bridegroom.  She swears to be faithful until death.  This takes place around the dining room table.  She gets excited over him for no apparent reason.  The ho hum everydayness of the staging takes all the fizz out of it.  Asmik tries to make up for it, but it's too much to ask.

In Act III everyone is outside eating and drinking except the sailors who sit glumly.  The townspeople ridicule them until the Dutchman takes out his gun and shoots a few.  Ugh.  Everyone but Senta runs off.  Erik complains to Senta who sits staring.  They sing about eternity on the sea, but there is no sea.  The Dutchman throws Senta on the floor.  Mom comes in and shoots him.  Senta laughs and tries to comfort her.  That's it.  I'll probably never watch this again.  The chorus is excellent.

Friday, September 24, 2021

For the Love of Opera


I wrote this in February of 2020, before the pandemic:

"One of the reasons I began blogging was to spend time praising my beloved favorites.  At the time these were Cecilia Bartoli, Anna Netrebko, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky.  I quickly added Jonas Kaufmann after a trip to see Cecilia in Zurich.  Dmitri has died, but the other three are still singing, and I still follow their careers.

"All of these lists will be limited to singers active during the life of this blog.  I can also be said to love from early in the blog René Pape, Karita Mattila, Nina Stemme, Maria Guleghina, Susan Graham, Angela Gheorghiu, Elina Garanča, Piotr Beczala, Renée Fleming, Natalie Dessay, and Juan Diego Florez.  This should not be regarded as a complete list.  Forgive me if I have omitted your favorite.  Dessay has retired from opera.

"Newer enthusiasms include Lisette Oropesa, Sondra Radvanovsky, Isabel Leonard,  Christine Goerke, Pretty Yende, Javier Camarena, Anja Harteros, Erin Morley, Lawrence Brownlee, Anita Rachvelishvili, Ludovic Tezier, Luca Pisaroni,and Matthew Polenzani.  It is interesting to me that none of these newer artists have aroused the level of passion experienced from the earlier discoveries. Lisette might manage it, though.  Part of this lessening of passion can be attributed to my advancing age."

One name will be conspicuously missing from this rather too long list.  Only the singers in the first paragraph count as true loves.  So I thought I was too old to experience the true passion for a singer.  None of them have topped this sudden love for the Norwegian soprano, Lise Davidsen.  I was sincere in thinking this was simply not any longer possible.  

It seems to have a personal aspect which the others do not have.  Before appearing on the international opera stage, Lise sang Bach and Lieder, things I also sang.  I feel sympathy for her musical mind.  With Cecilia it was the strangeness and shock of her very individual interpretations which always surprised me.  With Lise it is the familiarity.   Of course, she also has the most exciting voice I've ever heard.

Lise is "an amazing human being" to quote the Screaming Divas.  Love comes to me not from surprise, but from comfort and familiarity.  She reaches the deep corners of my musical soul.   Thank you, dear.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Keith Bohm in Recital

Faculty Recital: Keith Bohm, saxophone

Sacramento State School of Music
Capistrano Hall - Room 151
Accompanied on the piano by John Cozza.
The earliest piece in this recital was written in 1959:  Printemps by Pierre Gabaye, with piano accompaniment.

Arabesque on a theme by Debussy (2018) by Jenni Watson was accompanied by an electronic sound track.  This was fun.

Suite en duo (1971) Aria, Allegro, by Guy Lacour came in 2 movements and was played on two saxophones with no accompaniment:  Keith on tenor sax and Russell Veirs on alto sax.  There was much talking about the fact that originally the slow movement Aria followed the fast movement Allegro, but Keith likes it better this way.

Soar (2016) by Alastair Penman brings us back to piano accompaniment.

Ray (2017) brings us back to Jenni Watson.

All of these pieces have at least a hint of jazz.  Keith seems not to care for ugly modernity.

Fuzzette, the Tarangula (1962) by Robert Muczynski is in 9 movements and has a narrator and a flute player.

The program ended with Tango Suave (2012) by Jean Matitia.  

A whole program of saxophone is not unpleasant.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony in Sacramento

Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera opened their 2021-2022 season last night in the Memorial Auditorium.  This venue was chosen because it is one of the few places with a built in pipe organ, and they wanted to feature the Organ Symphony by Camille Saint-Saëns.  The rest of the program also included organ. 

The conductor for the performance was Robert Moody,

and the organist was James Jones. 

Originally the program was set to include Barber's Adagio for Strings in an arrangement for organ, but the organ itself is being repaired and would not play the piece.  Short pieces for organ were substituted.

Next was Edward Elgar's (1857-1934) Enigma Variations (1899). One source says there are 14 variations.  This information would have made sense to include in the program.  Some but not all of the variations included organ for a different sound.

To end the program we enjoyed the Organ Symphony by Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921).  I liked the sound of this piece much better than the previous one.  Memorial Auditorium is not an ideal space for classical concerts due to the acoustics.  Towards the end of this piece the organ began to boom in.  I was disappointed that we had to wait so long for this loud booming sound.  All in all it was enjoyable.  Welcome back.