Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mi frulla per la testa...

I have quite a number of events to blog about, but for some reason I didn't feel a verve to write... OK, I'm most of the time really busy, but since I don't socialize via tweeter or Facebook,  I could find 15 minutes here and there when on a train commuting and throw a few lines for a blog-entry... For some reason I didn't feel like doing it. 

It's probably the effect of spring on my brain -- time to clean up one's life. Or the blow I felt after seeing the 2011-2012 program at the Paris Opera was actually more serious than I initially thought would be... Or a series of downer-shows (Orlando Furioso, Cendrillon, Luisa Miller, Der Messias) demolished my enthusiasm and made me doubt my passion for opera in general.

When there is something intellectually stimulating, emotionally invigorating - I'm all for it. But when a series of shows makes the opposite effect on you, you start feeling a seed of doubt  planted somewhere between your heart and brain.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Anna Bolena, Anna Netrebko, and... and Tobias Kratzer

Apparently the excitement about The Dream Team [Netrebko - Garanca] and Anna Netrebko's debut as Anna Bolena at the Wiener Staatsoper is growing so fast that the scarce tickets are nowadays negotiated on the Internet for 800 €/tic (sic!)  [in spite of the TV broadcast scheduled for April 5.]

It will be interesting to see if this show will be any good. Staatsoper is a very conservative house where the surprises are rare but possible (La forza del destino, Macbeth, Lohengrin...) Eric Génovèse will certainly not rock the boat, but will most probably opt for something relatively subtle, even if  totally conventional. It will however be interesting to see whether or not he'll manage to make any drama actually work [libretto is hopeless unless the director gives it some spin].

Cité de la Musique 2011-2012

The program for 2011-2012 at Cité de la musique in Paris only reminded me that there is still a place where the love for music comes first: a bunch of rarities from all epochs, new works, some stuff from the repertoire.... simply great!

In front of the entrance to Cité de la musique

They will soon post everything on their website. A good part of it can be found below.

NB, on the right - under "Germany", that I updated the details of the 2012 program at Opera Cologne [8 new productions including War and Peace (no less)!]

"Turkisch. Oper kann das!"

The question of subtitles, surtitles, English-or-no-English... is back on the table every now and then.

In theaters with a huge stage, such as the one at Opera Bastille in Paris, the surtitles are often a laughing matter. They are displayed like 5-6 meters above the stage floor and if you're seated in any of the first 15-20 rows, it is impossible to read the surtitle and see what's going on onstage. If you're far away, instead, then you see well the surtitles and can continuously watch the show but you're so far from the stage that  you miss most of the details/subtleties of the dramatic action [if there's any, that is!]

In Paris, the surtitle display board is set up so high, that the folks seated in the back rows of the first balcony cannot see it at all (hidden by the second balcony) ---> those seats are cheap. To double/triple the price of these seats, the Paris Opera decided to lower the surtitle display by 1 meter or so. The folks in the front seats will still have to either keep pretending they didn't care about translation (ha!), or to keep looking up for some translation and hope not to miss any of the onstage action.

The most reasonable solution to the problem --in this type of theater, at least-- is the one implemented at Opera Weimar. There they opted for subtitles, that you read on the thickness of the stage-floor (that separates the stage from the pit). You see them from everywhere, and it's more pleasant to read because you don't miss any action while reading the translation.

Another solution is to have a display on a seat in front of you, such as the case at Komische Oper in Berlin: you can choose the language (German or English), or to turn it off altogether. The novelty at the Komische (a theater I love so dearly!) is that starting from 2011-2012 two extra language options will be added to the existing ones: French and Turkish. The latter decision made some buzz in the media: immigration is a hot issue everywhere in the Western world, and Turks represent the largest immigration in Germany. With Berlin counting more than 300,000 German-Turks, this evolution is  totally reasonable, and it only enhances my admiration for Andreas Homoki, the current artistic director of the Komische.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Der Video Messias

Der Messias,  Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, March 16 2011

Conductor..... Hartmut Haenchen
Director ..... Oleg Kulik
Video ..... Robert Nortik

Priest ..... Michel Serres

Tenor ..... Tilman Lichdi
Soprano ..... Christina Landshamer
Mezzo ..... Anna Stephany
Bass ..... Darren Jeffery

Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
Châtelet Chorus

Monday, March 21, 2011

Siegfried in Paris on weed

Siegfried, Opéra Bastille in Paris, March 6 2011

Günter Krämer ..... Director
Philippe Jordan ..... Conductor

Torsten Kerl, Christian Voigt ..... Siegfried
Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke ..... Mime
Juha Uusitalo, Egil Silins  ..... Der Wanderer
Peter Sidhom ..... Alberich
Stephen Milling ..... Fafner
Qiu Lin Zhang ..... Erda
Elena Tsallagova ..... Waldvogel
Brigitte Pinter, Katarina Dalayman ..... Brünnhilde

Paris Opera Orchestra

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Emotional moment in Nabucco Romano

I thought the best would be to simply ignore this new production, but since this show was very highly profiled, celebrating 150 years since the liberation and unification of Italy, it carried much deeper meaning than just yet another production of Nabucco. All the politicians, the entire government... everybody came to see the show and to sing along the unofficial Italian national anthem Va, pensiero sul'ali dorate. You all know that this opera was very politically charged at the time, that the story about Hebrew slaves was an allegory of the situation in which lived divided Italians... and that the famous "Viva Verdi!" actually meant "Viva Vittorio Emanuele, Re d'Italia!"

First of all, my doubts were totally confirmed as far as the production goes: it is a desperately shabby show with no ground idea, without actually telling anything, with acting reduced to singers occasionally rising and opening their arms, with no scenic dynamics among protagonists whatsoever... To that add Leo Nucci [at 69] barking the hell out of Nabucco, so that even wonderfully sounding Dmitry Beloselskiy and Anna Malavasi couldn't rescue anything.

BUT, one of those big emotional moments actually happened right after the chorus ended singing Va, pensiero. A first burst of Bravi! soon converted into calls for encore (Biiiiis!), and then someone from the crowd shouted "Viva l'Italia!", Muti turned to the crowd and said
I agree with that "Viva l'Italia!" See, I'm not young anymore, but as an Italian who travels around the world I feel great pain for what's happening in Italy*. So if I respect your requests tonight and we repeat Va, pensiero, I won't do it only for patriotic reasons. Tonight --while the chorus sang Oh mia patria si bella e perduta! [Oh, my country so beautiful and lost!]-- I was thinking, if we kill the culture on which the history of Italy is founded, then our country will really be beautiful and lost.

The chorus then stood up to join a general applause. Then Muti invited everyone from the crowd to sing along and so the entire theater sang with the chorus Va, pensiero.

In the end of the aria the chorus members are the folks in the crowd were wiping their tears off...
Watch here (video of the whole show is available on Arte+7 website):

Ah bella Italia!

*) Muti is unclear on purpose: his pain can be interpreted as a reaction to the separatist movements that have recently gained in popularity both in the North and South of Italy, or it can be his reaction to the outrageous cuts by the Government on the public subsidies to opera (abrupt slash was 37%!)

2011-2012 at Théâtre des Champs Elysées

Next season will start a little bit later than usual because they want to enlarge the pit [to be able to host a full philharmonic orchestra for the staged performance of The Rite of Spring] and to properly celebrate 100 years of existence [Théâtre des Champs Elysées was inaugurated in 1913.]

So the season will start in November 10, but the program they prepared for 2011-2012 is SUPERB!

Below I will fast-type the content of the program (i.e. a broad selection of what I find interesting), but you should consult their website (or see here) where the more complete program will be available "soon" (that's what they said today when I asked).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cinderella for Adults

Cendrillon, Opéra Comique in Paris, March 11 2011

Director ..... Benjamin Lazar
Conductor ..... Marc Minkowski

Cendrillon ..... Blandine Staskiewicz 
Le Prince charmant ..... Michèle Losier
La Fée ..... Église Gutiérrez
Mme de La Haltière ..... Ewa Podleś
Pandolfe ..... Laurent Alvaro
Noémie ..... Aurélia Legay
Dorothée ..... Salomé Haller
Le Roi ..... Laurent Herbaut
Le Doyen de la Faculté ..... Vincent de Rooster
Le Surintendant des plaisirs ..... Julien Neyer

Orchestra and chorus of Musiciens du Louvre - Grenoble

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sans un mot...

Croix Rouge FrançaiseBritish Red CrossAmerican Red Cross, Canadian Red CrossDeutsches Rotes Kreutz, Croce Rossa ItalianaCruz Roja Españolaany other...

TV alert: New productions on Arte & Mezzo

You may wish to set your DVR's or see them live: three new productions will be live broadcast on  TV in the next few weeks on two coolest TV channels.

  • Nabucco will be broadcast on Arte TV, next Thursday (March 17), with a delay of less than two hours -- starting at 22:15 (cet)-- from Teatro dell'opera di Roma 
    [dir- Jean-Paul Scarpitta , cnd- Riccardo Muti (?), cast: Leo Nucci (Nabucco), Antonio Poli, Dmitry Beloselskiy, Elisabete Mato, Ezgi Kutlu]
  • Orlando Furioso will be on Mezzo TV, next Friday (March 18) at 19:30 (cet), live from Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Paris
    [dir- Pierre Audi, cnd- Jean-Christophe Spinosi, cast: Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Jennifer Larmore, Verónica Cangemi, Philippe Jaroussky, Kristina Hammarström, Romina Basso, Senn Astolfo]
  • Anna Bolena will go live on Arte TV, on Tuesday April 5th at 20:15 (cet), from Staatsoper, Vienna
    [dir- Eric Génovèse, cnd- Evelino Pido, cast: Anna Netrebko, Elina Garanca, Francesco Meli, Ildebrando D`Arcangelo, Elisabeth Kulman]

We will barock you (6): Orlando Borioso

Orlando Furioso, Théâtre des Champs Elysées (TCE), March 12 2011

Pierre Audi ..... Director
Jean-Christophe Spinosi ..... Conductor

Marie-Nicole Lemieux ..... Orlando
Jennifer Larmore ..... Alcina
Verónica Cangemi ..... Angelica
Philippe Jaroussky ..... Ruggiero
Christian Senn ..... Astolfo
Kristina Hammarström ..... Bradamante
Romina Basso ..... Medoro

Ensamble Matheus
Chorus of TCE

Budapest Festival Orchestra and Petra Lang

BFO & Petra Lang, Salle Pleyel in Paris, March 5 2011

Iván Fischer and Petra Lang

Iván Fischer, conductor
Petra Lang, soloist
Budapest Festival Orchestra

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Whata show in Dijon! Cisco Aznar - new gem from Catalunya

I expected everything but this. I just saw the best show this year and one of the best I've ever seen in France: Turandot by Busoni in Dijon.

It's Herheim-like style, but with a load of contemporary choreography, and with the best taste of Spain in the background.

Cisco Aznar, with two phenomenal singers today: Sabine Hogrefe (Turandot) and Thomas Piffka (Kalaf)

Cisco freaking Aznar, where have you been hiding?!

I thought I'd never say this but here you have it: there are too MANY ideas for a ~2 hours show (completely opposite from Orlando Furioso, that I saw last night in Paris... more on that later tonight)!

Busoni's Turandot has very little to do with the Puccini's shouting-fest. It's more human,  deeper, with no trace of verismo in dramatic approach, and musically is completely different. 

Auditorium in Dijon is amazing. HUGE,  wonderfully maintained, the stage is as broad and deep as the one at Bastille.  I am in awe... but gotta run to catch the train back to Paris. Cheers

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Opera Program in Paris 2011-2012 2012-2013

The program looks as if it was tailored  for a yawny 1991-1992 season, and not 20 years later, but for those who see opera as a way to dwell in the past rather than embracing the present and /or future, the Paris Opera is a home for you.

Ceiling at Opéra Garnier in Paris -- a detail in which Marc Chagall painted the outside look of  Palais Garnier

Below you can also find the program of Opéra Comique (a.k.a. La Salle Favart)
See also links to the 2012-2013 program at La Salle Pleyel,  Cité de la musique (a.k.a. Cité μ),
Théâtre des Champs Elysées

See also links to the 2011-2012 program at La Salle Pleyel, Cité de la Musique and Théâtre des Champs Elysées

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Grand Officier Barenboim and Omer Meir Wellber in Paris

Orchestre de Paris, Salle Pleyel, March 1st 2011

Symphony No.4 - F. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Piano Concerto No.2 - F. Liszt
Siegfried Idyll - R. Wagner
Piano Concerto No.1 - F. Liszt 

Orchestre de Paris
Omer Meir Wellber, conductor
Daniel Barenboim, piano

Gewand Dvorak: Chailly at La Salle Pleyel

Dvorak Night, Salle Pleyel in Paris, February 28 2011

Maestro Chailly and Leonidas Kavakos

The Carnival Overture
Violin Concerto in A-minor
Symphony no.7

Gewandhausorchester Leipzig
Riccardo Chailly, conductor
Leonidas Kavakos, violin

Congrats to Isabel Leonard!

It feels good when some of these distinctions land in right hands.  Isabel Leonard receives the Beverly Sills award 2011. Congratulations!

Here is a video with Isabel singing the role of Sesto in a new production of Giulio Cesare, presented last month at Opéra Garnier in Paris -- aria L'angue ofeso mai riposa:

and Smanie impalcabili from Cosi Fan Tutte at the Salzburg Festival 2009, when everyone in the crowd was holding his/her breath, fearing she might fall while singing...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What new to expect in Europe this March!?

Many new productions in Europe to be premiered in March.

The Paris Ring continues with the premiere of Siegfried, and in Berlin all eyes will be focused on new Graham Vick's production of  Tristan und Isolde. Deborah Warner will present her new gem  Death in VeniceBesides,  I vespri siciliani in Turin should be a good show, while our curiosity will peak when new Turandot by Busoni opens in Dijon. Die Fledermaus by Ch.Loy in Frankfurt is bound to be a special event too...

Many good & interesting new productions in March across Europe: a complete (?) list can be found below, chronologically ordered according to their premieres.

Exciting program in Paris - March 2011

My selection of events (classical music and opera) to see in Paris in March 2011.