BREAKING NEWS: Opera & Ballet http://feed.informer.com/digests/LGBZAJQZUY/feeder BREAKING NEWS: Opera & Ballet Respective post owners and feed distributors Tue, 06 May 2014 13:36:52 +0000 Feed Informer http://feed.informer.com/ Angry young men https://parterre.com/2022/07/06/angry-young-men/ parterre box urn:uuid:3e385b9a-0456-cc54-7064-4cd451184821 Wed, 06 Jul 2022 13:00:24 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/07/06/angry-young-men/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/hamlet-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/hamlet-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/hamlet-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/hamlet-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/hamlet-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/hamlet-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Since April four wildly varied incarnations of <I>Hamlet</i> have been haunting New York City theaters; the most recent to arrive was <strong>Robert Icke</strong>’s chicly contemporary take on Shakespeare’s play which opened last week at the Park Avenue Armory.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83666" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/hamlet-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/hamlet-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/hamlet-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/hamlet-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />His Almeida Theatre production was originally scheduled for the Armory two years ago but was canceled by the pandemic. It’s finally here starring a gauchely earnest 28-year-old <strong>Alex Lawther</strong> in the title role. His very youthful Hamlet surely conjures different emotional colors than <strong>Andrew Scott</strong> did when he premiered Icke’s version in London five years ago.</p> <p>A fortyish Scott would have fit safely into the tradition of “mature” Hamlets like <strong>Allan Clayton</strong>, star of Brett Dean’s composition which played at the Metropolitan Opera this spring. The Met’s poster featured the brooding image of <strong>Laurence Olivier</strong> (with skull) as Hamlet from the noted film released when its director-star was already 41.</p> <p><strong>Alexander Skarsgård</strong>, who turns 46 next month stars as the vengeful Prince Amleth who splits heads open in <strong>Robert Eggers</strong>’s recent bloody Norse epic <em>The Northman </em>which is based on Saxo Grammaticus’s <em>Gesta Danorum, </em>a source also used by Shakespeare.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMSdFM12hOw&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMSdFM12hOw</a></p> <p>Lawther, however, has much more in common with <strong>Marcel Spears</strong>’s witty and poignant Juicy, the queer African-American protagonist of <strong>James Ijames</strong>’s <em>Fat Ham </em>currently enjoying its first-ever staging at the Public Theater. <em>Fat Ham </em>won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama after Philadelphia’s Wilma Theater filmed the play outdoors last year when COVID made an indoor production impossible.</p> <p>After enjoying Lawther and Spears’s portrayals, I recalled I hadn’t experienced a youngish Hamlet until I attended <strong>Trevor Nunn</strong>’s 2004 production in London with 23-year-old <strong>Ben Whishaw</strong> who was revelatory in the title role.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=0x_Inta1XlI&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=0x_Inta1XlI</a></p> <p>Someone who could believably be a Wittenburg student made a world of difference in my understanding the Prince’s unease in coping with his father’s death and mother’s swift remarriage to his uncle. Lawther’s youthful intensity proved both the greatest strength and the damning weakness of Icke’s <em>Hamlet. </em>While the actor’s initially endearing vulnerability drew us close to him, his shallow Prince remained far too petulant for us to feel sorrow or pity at his death, particularly in Icke’s chaotic staging of the final scene.</p> <p>Yet Lawther’s delivery of Hamlet’s many monologues struck me as startlingly “operatic.” Unlike <strong>Neil Armfield</strong>’s lean staging of the Dean work at the Met, Icke directed his Prince to perform each solo as a full-on aria: Lawther stepped down to the edge of the stage each time as the lights went up in the audience.</p> <p>Each showy monologue was then pointedly delivered to us accompanied by grandly dramatic gestures otherwise unused by anyone else in the cast. His flamboyant approach might have even roused a “Bravo” or two from the crowd seated on dizzyingly steep bleachers in the Armory’s enormous Wade Thompson Drill Hall.</p> <p>Despite its spare, effective use of live video, Icke’s <em>Hamlet </em>otherwise offered few interesting touches or penetrating insights. Yes, Gertrude and Claudius were especially horny for each other while Rosenkranz and Guildenstern were made into a slightly irascible male-female (!) couple and <strong>Bob Dylan</strong> songs frequently dotted the sound design. But it otherwise challenged few of our established notions of Shakespeare.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83667" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/hamlet-2.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/hamlet-2.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/hamlet-2-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/hamlet-2-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>I wistfully thought back to my first live <em>Hamlet: </em><strong>Ingmar Bergman</strong>’s spellbinding production starring <strong>Peter Stormare</strong> that stormed the Brooklyn Academy in the summer of 1988. In Swedish without subtitles or simultaneous translation, it nonetheless achieved a devastating clarity with made the play seem brand new.</p> <p>Any disappointment at the Armory caused by <strong>Jennifer Ehle</strong>’s absence from Saturday’s matinee was allayed by <strong>Lisa Bruneau</strong>’s fragile yet elegant Gertrude who was rightly besotted with <strong>Angus Wright</strong>’s suavely sonorous Claudius. <strong>Peter Wight</strong> hit all the expected notes as Polonius while <strong>Kirsty Rider</strong>’s vivid Ophelia drew tears with her unusually wrenching mad scene.</p> <p>Dean’s opera to a libretto of refashioned Shakespeare by <strong>Matthew Jocelyn</strong> hoped to upend our expectations of <em>Hamlet </em>but proved to be simply confusing and off-putting. A number of opera-savvy friends reported to me that they had fled the Met, bored and baffled, at intermission. Despite being mightily impressed by the wondrous sounds emanating from the orchestra, I longed in vain for an urgent connection to Hamlet’s dilemma or any grateful vocal writing. The excellent, hard-working cast got little reward for all their heroic efforts.<br /> <img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83668" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/fat-ham-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/fat-ham-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/fat-ham-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/fat-ham-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>It&#8217;s unlikely that anyone attending <em>Fat Ham </em>at the Public’s Anspacher Theater has felt shortchanged by Ijames’s moving, yet deliriously engaging <em>Hamlet </em>re-imagining set in today’s American South. Like the Danish Prince, Juicy is visited by the ghost of his recently murdered father, but he (conveniently well-versed on his Shakespeare) knows what he should do but questions both why and how he should wreak his vengeance.</p> <p>Ijames frequently keeps his audience off-guard by having Juicy (as well as others) break the fourth wall and conspiratorially confide in us. Like Dean and Jocelyn, he plays with his audience’s expectations based on the original <em>Hamlet, </em>but <em>his</em> Hamlet and Ophelia—Juicy and Opal—are black and gay and very self-aware. While Juicy is repeatedly urged to revenge by ghostly Pap (played by the same actor who plays Rev, i.e.”Claudius”), Ijames instead achieves a peaceful reconciliation for his 2st<sup>t</sup> century characters.<em>.</em></p> <p>I’m ordinarily suspicious when a film or play is hailed as being “hilarious,” but <em>Fat Ham </em>delivers great laughs—many thanks to Chris Herbie Holland as an uproarious Tio/Horatio—as well as a satisfying happy ending which both honors Shakespeare and transforms him. Any further details would spoil the many delicious surprises of <em>Fat Ham.</em></p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9wbDeat37s&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9wbDeat37s</a></p> <p>The National Black Theatre’s smashing cast is directed with a flamboyantly deft touch by Sahleem Ali, and <em>Fat Ham—</em>running just 95 packed minutes—has been extended several times and is now <a href="https://publictheater.org/productions/season/2122/fat-ham/">scheduled through July 31</a>: a must-see!</p> <p>An injury to <strong>Lia Williams</strong>, the Armory’s original Gertrude, has caused considerable havoc to the scheduling of both <em>Hamlet </em>and its companion production, Icke’s adaptation of Aeschylus’s <em>Oresteia. </em>The latter was supposed to open before <em>Hamlet, </em>but Williams’s withdrawal from  Klytemnestra in <em>Oresteia</em> has pushed the Greek trilogy forward to previews finally beginning this week <a href="https://www.armoryonpark.org/index.php/full_site">with an opening later in July</a>.</p> <p><strong>Photos: Stephanie Berger Photography/Park Avenue Armory (<em>Hamlet</em>); Joan Marcus (<em>Fat Ham</em>)</strong></p> Serenade https://parterre.com/2022/07/06/serenade-2/ parterre box urn:uuid:4f4fed53-8a35-ebf5-9df0-cdc43435f16f Wed, 06 Jul 2022 10:08:05 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/07/06/serenade-2/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/della-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/della-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/della-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/della-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/della-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/della-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Born on this day in 1931 chanteuse and actress <strong>Della Reese</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Kk_TCiWPzU&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Kk_TCiWPzU</a></p> <p>Born on this day in 1910 (or 1915, or was it 1917?) soprano <strong>Dorothy Kirsten</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1pJYliZC3o&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1pJYliZC3o</a></p> <p>Birthday anniversaries of composer and librettist <strong>Nicola Francesco Haym</strong> (1678), tenor<strong> Ernst Haefliger</strong> (1919), baritone<strong> Peter Glossop</strong> (1928) and soprano <strong>Deborah Cook</strong> (1938).</p> The Verdi thing https://parterre.com/2022/07/05/the-verdi-thing/ parterre box urn:uuid:cf441c09-1e3f-79fa-f119-eb95c81d655e Tue, 05 Jul 2022 14:00:25 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/07/05/the-verdi-thing/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gala-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gala-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gala-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gala-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gala-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gala-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>On Thursday June 30th, San Francisco Opera closed their summer season with a one-night-only special concert celebrating <strong>Eun Sun Kim</strong>’s first season as the Caroline H. Hume Music Director, in an aptly named concert “Eun Sun Kim Conducts Verdi.&#8221;</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83646" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gala-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gala-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gala-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gala-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />In an interview conducted in the beginning of the 2021-22 Season, she <a href="https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/music/eun-sun-kim-has-conquered-her-fears-to-take-command-gracefully-at-s-f-opera">detailed her plans for SF Opera</a>, especially to conduct one Verdi and one Wagner opera each season as well as cultivating the contemporary repertoire.</p> <p>On the subject of <strong>Guiseppe Verdi</strong>, she said “The reason I picked Verdi among the Italian repertoire—not Puccini, but Verdi; I love every composer—is because Verdi is something I can build my relationship with the orchestra with.” Therefore, it wasn’t surprising that she chose to end her first season with a concert dedicated to the vast works of Verdi, to give a preview of what to come in the following seasons.</p> <p>In its first 99 seasons, San Francisco Opera presented 16 of Verdi’s 26 operas, with <em>Rigoletto</em> and <em>La Traviata</em> competing for the title of the most performed Verdi operas (37 seasons each, and <em>La Traviata</em> will win next season when it will be presented as the first in Kim’s multi-year Verdi seasons).</p> <p>Among the omissions, the most glaring ones included 1844 <em>I Lombardi alla prima crociata</em>, 1845 <em>I due Foscari</em> (which was presented by the local company West Bay Opera in 2019 and <a href="https://parterre.com/2019/02/27/alpha-doge/">reviewed here</a>, 1846 <em>Giovanna d’Arco</em> and 1850 <em>Stiffelio</em>.</p> <p>Many leading artists made their US debuts at War Memorial in Verdi’s operas – notably <strong>Renata Tebaldi</strong> and <strong>Mario del Monaco</strong> in 1950 <em>Aida</em> – and  many more debuted Verdi roles here, among others, <strong>Marilyn Horne</strong> as Eboli, <strong>Leontyne Price</strong> (as Aida and Amelia), <strong>Luciano Pavarotti</strong> (as Radames, Manrico and Riccardo) and <strong>Joan Sutherland</strong> (as Leonora).</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83647" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gala-2.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gala-2.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gala-2-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gala-2-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>The significance of the Thursday concert was further accentuated by having <strong>Matthew Shilvock</strong>, SF Opera Tad and Diane Taube General Director, acting as the MC and giving the audience descriptions of the pieces that they were about to hear. Shilvock also tirelessly throughout the night reminded the audience about the importance of having Kim as our Music Director and her first season amidst the pandemic. All this praise, combined with the impending inner and After-Party scheduled afterwards, permeated the proceedings with a sense of festivity.</p> <p>“Formal” was also the word I would use to characterize Kim’s music-making on stage. Don’t get wrong, everything on stage on Thursday was immaculate, from the orchestra playing with its perfectly shaped phrases, the chorus (prepared by <strong>John Keene</strong>) pristine singing to the quartet of lovely soloists.</p> <p>I personally prefer my Verdi to be blazing red-hot, bloodied and battered, you-only-live-once kind of things, because after all, those (characters) were people who sacrificed everything for love and freedom and justice. Unfortunately, those charged emotions that I came to expect from any Verdi performances felt lacking from this particular concert. It was rather ironic that there were times that I thought Shilvock’s remarks were more passionate than the performances that followed!</p> <p>To highlight Verdi’s musical style progression, three different Verdi operas presented chronologically, starting with 1849 <em>Luisa Miller</em>, followed by 1853 <em>Il Trovatore</em> (both from the so-called Verdi’s ‘middle period’) and 1867 <em>Don Carlo</em>, representing Verdi’s late period, after the intermission.</p> <p>I felt that the opera selection was also done to accommodate the soloists, particularly of husband-wife Canadian baritone <strong>Etienne Dupuis</strong> and Australian soprano <strong>Nicole Car</strong>, who were both <a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/07/those-monsters-look-like-us/">mesmerizing</a> in this summer Don Giovanni (). Car sang an acclaimed <em>Luisa Miller</em> in Melbourne six years ago, and Dupuis <a href="ttps://parterre.com/2022/03/01/back-to-black/">brought down the house</a> at the Metropolitan Opera presentation of <em>Don Carlos</em> in March. Dupuis and Car are both also scheduled to make role debuts with <em>Il Trovatore</em> <a href="https://www.montrealopera.com/en/shows/il-trovatore">in Montreal this fall</a>!</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83648" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gala-3.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gala-3.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gala-3-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gala-3-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>It was unfortunate that SF Opera lost their scheduled tenor, <strong>Arturo Chacón Cruz</strong>, due to bilateral ear infection merely six days prior to Thursday&#8217;s concert. The last-minute changes obviously impacted the song selections, particularly in <em>Don Carlo</em> section, where my companion pointed out that they could have inserted a duet or two to beef it up.</p> <p>After a leisurely paced Overture of <em>Luisa Miller</em>, the night began with the confrontation scene between Luisa and Wurm from Act 2, with Car singing Luisa and <strong>Soloman Howard</strong> as Wurm respectively. Car took a while to warm up, while Howard sounded almost too dignified to be the villainous Wurm, making the scene seem a little underpowered. To be completely honest, I was pretty puzzled with the choice of <em>Luisa Miller</em> as concert opener, as I thought there were other Verdi operas – especially <em>Nabucco</em> (with its rousing Overture and <em>that</em> chorus) – would work better in its place instead.</p> <p>The arrival of the “Anvil Chorus” from <em>Il Trovatore</em> roused the audience and provided them with one of the highlights, as the SF Chorus sounded bright and glorious, fully supported by the orchestra in well-paced manner. It was followed subsequently by Leonora’s aria “Tacea la notte” from Act 1 (aided by <strong>Mikayla Sager</strong>), Conte di Luna’s “Il balen del suo sorriso” from Act 2 and the duet “Mira di acerbe lagrime” from the last act.</p> <p>As Leonora, Car sounded a tad lighter from the usual interpreters, although she navigated the coloratura phrases of “Di tale amor” beautifully. For Dupuis, I couldn’t help thinking that his Conte di Luna was still a work in progress, particularly in his characterization, as there was some tentativeness in his delivery. Nevertheless, the duet provided the audience with a rousing ending before the intermission, and the audience cheered heartily.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eoy9OZUQvNA&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eoy9OZUQvNA</a></p> <p>After intermission, the <em>Don Carlo</em> section contributed the best and the worst performances of the night. I was disappointed with the auto-da-fé scene that opened the section. Verdi painstakingly detailed the juxtaposition of the Chorus of the People and the Friars and the irony between each verse in his orchestration, and somehow this rendition didn’t quite capture much of those horrors and irony.</p> <p>Interestingly, it was followed by what accounted to the true highlight of the night, the seldom-performed Ballet Music from 1867 Paris version <em>Don Carlos</em>. Shilvock informed the audience this was the first time ever the piece heard on War Memorial stage (even if <em>Don Carlo </em> had been presented ten  times, including two of French version) prior to the performance, and that sense of discovery imbued the orchestra with grace and elan. Every phrase was lovingly molded, every nuance carefully captured, and the piece moved in almost balletic poise.</p> <p>Dupuis gave a glimpse of what made his Rodrigo at the Met so mesmerizing with his dying aria “O Carlo, ascolta”. Here he truly embodied the role wholeheartedly, and his tender delivery, complete with beautiful <em>pianissimi</em>, made a completely devastating scene that the audience responded enthusiastically. Car, too, stepped up her game for the final aria of the night, Elisabetta’ “Tu che le vanità”, where her voice sounded pure and clear, and the high notes shimmering bright.</p> <p>To compensate the lack of ensemble pieces in the second half, SF Opera decided to do an encore of “Brindisi” from <em>La Traviata</em>, with Dupuis taking the tenor role and all the soloists presented on stage. This proved to be an audience favorite, especially since Dupuis and Car played off each stage wonderfully, ended up with a kiss!</p> <p>All in all, it was a great concert, even if it was a little bit short of being exceptional. Nevertheless, I was excited at the probability of annual Verdi (and Wagner!) presentations, and I’m looking forward to experiencing them all at War Memorial stage. Here’s hoping that more of those ten little known Verdi operas will make SF opera premieres!</p> <p><strong>Photos: Drew Altizer</strong></p> Sweet and sour https://parterre.com/2022/07/05/sweet-and-sour/ parterre box urn:uuid:ff4a19aa-9bfa-a829-0e21-3add05c11611 Tue, 05 Jul 2022 12:00:44 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/07/05/sweet-and-sour/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/viengar-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/viengar-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/viengar-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/viengar-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/viengar-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/viengar-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p> People’s Light deserves commendation for resurfacing <em>The Vinegar Tree</em>, and there’s satisfaction in seeing a fine old play handled with care.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83639" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/vinegar-new-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/vinegar-new-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/vinegar-new-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/vinegar-new-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />If theatergoers remember the name <strong>Paul Osborn </strong>at all, it’s likely due to <em>Morning’s at Seven</em>, his wry comedy of family matters from 1939. A pair of successful Broadway revivals in 1980 and 2002 cemented that play’s reputation as a sturdy chestnut, and every couple of years, some theater company excavates it to remind audiences how winning a well-constructed old script can be. Osborn’s breakthrough work, <em>The Vinegar Tree</em>, appears with far less frequency—after its debut production in 1930, starring <strong>Mary Boland</strong> and <strong>Warren William</strong>, I could only find evidence of one New York revival, at the York Theatre in 1988.</p> <p>After mounting a spirited staging of <em>Morning’s at Seven </em>in 2018, People’s Light in Malvern, Pennsylvania has decided to try its hand with <em>The Vinegar Tree</em>, which runs through July 24 in a stylish outing helmed by the company’s former artistic director <strong>Abigail Adams</strong>. If lightning doesn’t exactly strike twice in terms of material and delivery, this uncommon revival bears enough sweet fruit to suggest that Osborn was the real deal in terms of wit and social observation. Collectors of theatrical rarities should consider it worth the trip out to the Philadelphia suburbs.</p> <p>Unlike <em>Morning’s at Seven</em>, which holds deep waters beneath its somewhat placid surface, <em>The Vinegar Tree </em>is almost unapologetically slight. Perhaps influenced by the fashions of the day, Osborn constructed a true drawing room comedy, which unfolds over one long afternoon and evening in a well-appointed country estate. (<strong>Daniel Zimmerman</strong> designed the well-furnished set, which <strong>Dennis Parichy</strong> lights in crisp woodland tones.) The manor belongs to Laura Merrick (<strong>Teri Lamm</strong>), a fluttery woman of a certain age, heretofore resigned to a comfortable but unexciting marriage to her gruff older husband Augustus (<strong>David Ingram</strong>).</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83640" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/vinegar-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="406" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/vinegar-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/vinegar-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/vinegar-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>The plot, such as there is one, unfolds in a flurry of mistaken identities and clandestine trysts. Laura’s long-estranged sister, Winifred Mansfield (<strong>Julianna Zinkel</strong>), arrives for a rendezvous with her artist lover Max Lawrence (<strong>Christopher Kelly</strong>, a classic matinee idol type), only to find the family very much at home.</p> <p>Laura becomes convinced that Max is her own long-lost paramour, whom she jettisoned for the security of her present union. Laura’s daughter Leone (<strong>Claire Inie-Richards</strong>) subsequently arrives from college, with her own sometime-sweetheart Geoffrey (<strong>Aubie Merrylees</strong>, sweetly dopey) in tow. Like mother and aunt, she soon enough finds herself besotted by the handsome houseguest.</p> <p>The play takes a three-act structure, with the brief first act setting up the dramatis personae and filling in the background details. Matters don’t really get cooking until the second and third, which are presented here together. That goes for the production, too—it takes most of the first hour for the performers to abandon contemporary affects and settle into the self-consciously arch style of the past. Adams could have also employed more stage business throughout the first act: as it stands, the actors largely stand and deliver, where old-fashioned comedy all but demands a state of constant physical motion.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83641" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/vinegar-2.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/vinegar-2.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/vinegar-2-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/vinegar-2-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>Thankfully, matters gel once the principals begin to swap affections and make secret plans. Lamm nails the dithering humor of Laura’s predicament as she pines for what could have been. A fine dramatic actor, her ultimate conclusion that she took the right course in life is genuinely moving. Ingram is the sort of performer who can raise an eyebrow and send an audience into hysterics, yet he never rests on these laurels—he too infuses his later scenes with a sincere pathos. Zinkel—a dead ringer for a young <strong>Miriam Hopkins</strong>—should do more period comedy.</p> <p>Osborn’s script doesn’t linger on the mores of its period, though they’re obvious to anyone who can read between the lines. The Great Depression is conspicuously absent from the opulent surroundings, where people still dress for dinner. (<strong>Marla J. Jurglanis</strong>, People’s Light’s resident costume designer, has a knack for understated elegance.) Both Winifred—much-married and even more liaised—and Leone represent a new kind of woman; it’s easy to imagine how provocative it must’ve been to have a young woman frankly discuss losing her virginity on stage in 1930. Sequestered in the countryside, Laura and Augustus represent, to a degree, the twilight of an old order.</p> <p>These factors don’t really add up to pungent social comedy, and Osborn’s chief concern is with getting a laugh. But People’s Light deserves commendation for resurfacing <em>The Vinegar Tree</em>, and there’s satisfaction in seeing a fine old play handled with care. I don’t expect it to overtake <em>Morning’s at Seven </em>in terms of popularity or prominence, but its roots still run deep.</p> <p><strong>Photos by Mark Garvin</strong></p> Learning to be human https://parterre.com/2022/07/05/learning-to-be-human/ parterre box urn:uuid:192b8dbe-c324-0e2b-b552-2d898d987072 Tue, 05 Jul 2022 04:52:53 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/07/05/learning-to-be-human/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/knight-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/knight-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/knight-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/knight-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/knight-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/knight-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Born on this day in 1936 actress <strong>Shirley Knight</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLjVd7xWIeo&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLjVd7xWIeo</a></p> <p>Born on this day in 1889 writer, filmmaker and designer <strong>Jean Cocteau</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSOEApbNKUY&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSOEApbNKUY</a></p> <p>Born on this day in 1934 baritone <strong>Tom Krause</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXbw2kT9mhE&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXbw2kT9mhE</a></p> <p>Birthday anniversaries of sopranos <strong>Gabriella Gatti</strong> (1916) and <strong>Kristine Ciesinsk</strong>i (1952)<br /> and basses <strong>Oskar Czerwenka (</strong>1924) and <strong>Donald Shanks</strong> (1940).</p> La fanciulla del West https://parterre.com/2022/07/04/la-fanciulla-del-west-10/ parterre box urn:uuid:bd5112b1-2e92-6922-400c-5557dccb0405 Mon, 04 Jul 2022 16:00:07 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/07/04/la-fanciulla-del-west-10/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/fanciulla-berlin-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/fanciulla-berlin-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/fanciulla-berlin-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/fanciulla-berlin-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/fanciulla-berlin-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/fanciulla-berlin-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>From the Staatsoper Berlin, <strong>Anja Kampe</strong> sings Minnie,<strong> Marcelo Álvarez</strong> is the bandit Dick Johnson and <strong>Michael Volle</strong> plays Jack Rance. <strong>Massimo Zanetti</strong> conducts.</p> <p><img src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/fanciulla-berlin-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83621" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/fanciulla-berlin-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/fanciulla-berlin-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/fanciulla-berlin-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />Streaming and discussion <a href="http://www.kulturradio.de/">begin at 2:00 PM</a>.</p> <p><strong>Photos: Martin Sigmund</strong></p> My epiglottis filled him with glee https://parterre.com/2022/07/04/my-epiglottis-filled-him-with-glee/ parterre box urn:uuid:00310848-134e-04e5-342f-4a78924c586f Mon, 04 Jul 2022 08:20:52 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/07/04/my-epiglottis-filled-him-with-glee/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gertie-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gertie-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gertie-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gertie-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gertie-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/gertie-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Born on this day in 1898, vastly talented actress and singer <strong>Gertrude Lawrence</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=elf61L2BkD8&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=elf61L2BkD8</a></p> <p>Happy Independence Day All U.S. Parterrians!</p> <p>Born on this day in 1826 composer <strong>Stephen Foster</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=-drAf-BQaRc&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=-drAf-BQaRc</a></p> <p>Born on this day in 1925 mezzo-soprano <strong>Cathy Berberian</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkCjr_X2Ldw&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkCjr_X2Ldw</a></p> <p>Happy 94th birthday <strong>Gina Lollobrigida</strong>!</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZY3wg75BDA&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZY3wg75BDA</a></p> <hr /> <p>From July 3:</p> <p>Born on this day in 1854 composer<strong> Leos Janacek</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeQK27m79yk&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeQK27m79yk</a></p> <p>Born on this day in 1878 composer and performer <strong>George M Cohan</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIr-FoBW5Xw&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIr-FoBW5Xw</a></p> <p>Happy 83rd birthday mezzo-soprano <strong>Brigitte Fassbaender</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=tU3KaheqrR0&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=tU3KaheqrR0</a></p> The Tales of Hoffmann – The Septet https://medicine-opera.com/2022/07/the-tales-of-hoffmann-the-septet/ Neil Kurtzman urn:uuid:603b16c6-1bfb-0f1c-4131-256c410d2095 Mon, 04 Jul 2022 04:26:07 +0000 The renowned septet from Offenbach&#8217;s final work is of uncertain origin. It was not in the original score and its source remains a riddle. The opera was written for the Opéra-Comique and was to have spoken dialogues. It was incomplete at the composer&#8217;s death in 1860. Ernest Guiraud completed the piece and added the recitatives.... <p>The renowned septet from Offenbach&#8217;s final work is of uncertain origin. It was not in the original score and its source remains a riddle. The opera was written for the Opéra-Comique and was to have spoken dialogues. It was incomplete at the composer&#8217;s death in 1860. Ernest Guiraud completed the piece and added the recitatives. The poor guy has been on the pointy end of criticism ever since. I think he did as good a job as can be expected under the circumstances.</p> <p>Guiraud was a fine musician. Born in New Orleans, his father Jean-Baptiste-Louis Guiraud also a musician had won the Prix de Rome. He sent his soon to Paris where he completed his musical education and also won the Prix de Rome &#8211; the only example of a father and son to do so. For many years he was a professor at the Paris Conservatoire. He also set the recitatives in <em>Carmen</em> to music. This too has contributed to the abuse casually sent his way. </p> <p>Back to the septet. It&#8217;s set for six singers, so why septet? The chorus is counted as a participant, hence septet. Sounds weak, but that&#8217;s the way it is. As to who wrote it, as indicated above there can only be a guess. But it almost always done in performance. It comes just before the end of the Venetian scene. </p> <p>A word about the order of the acts. The Venetian scene was often done as Act 2. Today it typically is Act 3. I think it makes better dramatic sense to do it as the second act. Each of the three acts is a separate story, and thus could be done in any order. The intensity of the drama and the music increases as the stories unfold. The act with the doll (Olympia) is always Act 1. The scene in Munich in which Antonia sings herself to death has the most powerful music in the score. I think it should come after the Venetian act which, though it contains much beautiful music, operates on a lower dramatic level.</p> <p>All of this aside, the anonymous septet is a grand piece in which all the threads of the story are presented in a wonderful ensemble based on the theme of the Barcarolle which opens the act. The tenor (Hoffmann) opens the piece and takes the musical lead during it. Placido Domingo is the Hoffmann on the recording linked below. I have included the music which follows the septet that concludes the act. This consists of the duel between Hoffman and and the wonderfully named Schlemil. Offenbach being Jewish certainly new the Yiddish meaning of the name. After he kills Schlemil Hoffmann finds that the courtesan he loves, Giulietta, has ridden of in a gondola with Pittichinaccio. The poor guy can&#8217;t catch an amorous break, which is the point of the opera. He should stick to art and leave women to men with money.</p> <p><a href="https://www.dropbox.com/s/hnx4wuwhb4pkrow/Hoffmann%20-%20The%20Septet.mp3?dl=0" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Tales of Hoffmann Septet</a></p> A Cup of Sins https://operaramblings.blog/2022/07/03/a-cup-of-sins/ operaramblings urn:uuid:59b9314c-e37c-72d8-7141-101efab461a8 Sun, 03 Jul 2022 14:51:24 +0000 A Cup of Sins is a new CD release of works by Iranian-Canadian composer Parisa Sabet.  If there&#8217;s a unifying theme it&#8217;s religious/cultural persecution in Iran and there&#8217;s a strong Bahai influence.  The six pieces are scored for various combinations &#8230; <a href="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/07/03/a-cup-of-sins/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a> <p><em><img data-attachment-id="31783" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/07/03/a-cup-of-sins/parisa-sabet-a-cup-of-sins-cover/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/07/parisa-sabet-e28094-a-cup-of-sins-cover.jpg" data-orig-size="290,290" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1653312983&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="Parisa Sabet — A Cup Of Sins (cover)" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/07/parisa-sabet-e28094-a-cup-of-sins-cover.jpg?w=290" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/07/parisa-sabet-e28094-a-cup-of-sins-cover.jpg?w=290" class="size-full wp-image-31783 alignleft" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/07/parisa-sabet-e28094-a-cup-of-sins-cover.jpg?w=584" alt="Parisa Sabet — A Cup Of Sins (cover)" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/07/parisa-sabet-e28094-a-cup-of-sins-cover.jpg 290w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/07/parisa-sabet-e28094-a-cup-of-sins-cover.jpg?w=150 150w" sizes="(max-width: 290px) 100vw, 290px" />A Cup of Sins</em> is a new CD release of works by Iranian-Canadian composer Parisa Sabet.  If there&#8217;s a unifying theme it&#8217;s religious/cultural persecution in Iran and there&#8217;s a strong Bahai influence.  The six pieces are scored for various combinations of voice, piano and small ensemble and add up to about an hour of very rewarding music.</p> <p>The first piece, <em>Shurangiz</em>, is a riff on music for the tar (a kind of Iranian lute) and it&#8217;s scored for flute, clarinet, piano, violin and cello.  It&#8217;s an interesting combination of traditional Iranian influences with a nod to Western minimalism.  It&#8217;s quite meditative in mood.<span id="more-31779"></span></p> <p><em>Dance in Your Blood</em> is a a three song cycle for soprano and piano.  The text is by Rumi translated into English by Coleman Barks.  The first part is declamatory and dramatic against a sparse piano riff.  This morphs into something more lyrical and yearning as the poet reflects on his art before becoming repetitive and insistent, mixing various styles of vocal delivery, as the poet demands we dance in joy and adversity (as well a Sufi might!).</p> <p><em>Geyrani</em> is a piece for solo violin inspired by Kurdish-Iranian kamancheh virtuoso Kayhan Kalhor.  It&#8217;s an intriguing way of making western techniques sound like middle eastern music without requiring the player to do things outside normal (for some value of normal) western techniques.</p> <p><em>Maku</em> is a complex setting of fragments from a letter from the Báb(1) to Shah Muhammed of Iran while he was imprisoned in Maku.  It&#8217;s a complex piece blending live vocals and instruments with pre-recorded spoken text.  There are many vocal styles used here as well as extended instrumental techniques.  It&#8217;s many layered with a kind of wild feel to it.</p> <p><em>The Seville Orange Tree</em> is scored for flute and piano.  It uses a lot of extended flute technique to create an atmospheric sound world that floats between the middle east and a kind of jazz/baroque fusion.</p> <p>The final, and longest piece, on the CD is <em>A Cup of Sin</em>.  It&#8217;s scored for voice, clarinet, piano, viola, cello and electric guitar and sets a Farsi poem by Simin Behbahani about sexual violence and trauma.  It&#8217;s in three parts.  In the prelude we hear the poem in Farsi (I think &#8211; my Farsi isn&#8217;t great!) set to a fairly traditional sounding accompaniment.  This is followed by a long main section where the text is given in English translation using a variety of fairly extreme vocal techniques and lots of percussive instrumental technique.  It&#8217;s complex, busy and quite abrasive as befits the troubling text.  The postlude is a lyrical vocalise seeming to mirror the Prelude.  This is a very accomplished work.</p> <p>All these pieces are brilliantly performed by Christina Petrowska-Quilico (piano), Peter Stoll (clarinet), Robert Grieve (electric guitar), Matthias McIntire (violin/viola), Dobrochna Zubek (cello) and Laurel Swinden (flute).  Jacqueline Woodley is the vocalist throughout and does a really fine job of coping with some extremely varied and demanding vocal writing.  Joshua Tamayo conducts the ensemble works.</p> <p>The recording was made in the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto in December last year and is clear and balanced.  It&#8217;s going to be released on 26th August as a physical CD and as standard resolution FLAC and MP3 downloads as well as the usual streaming services.  The accompanying booklet contains full (English) texts and useful contextual material though there could certainly be more of that.  I ended up doing a fair bit of digging for information about the texts used.</p> <p>fn1: The Báb is a prophet of the Bahai faith in some ways similar to John the Baptist in Christian tradition.</p> <p>Catalogue number: Redshift Records TK478</p> Parsifal https://parterre.com/2022/07/02/parsifal-8/ parterre box urn:uuid:440f8530-f28c-6563-a35b-deea323b18cb Sat, 02 Jul 2022 13:00:02 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/07/02/parsifal-8/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/spence-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/spence-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/spence-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/spence-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/spence-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/spence-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>The cast includes <strong>Toby Spence</strong> in the title role and <strong>Katerina Karnéus</strong> as Kundry and the Chorus and Orchestra of Opera North are conducted by <strong>Richard Farnes</strong>.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83606" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/spence-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/spence-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/spence-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/spence-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />Streaming and discussion <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">begin at noon</a>.</p> “Riches, the dumb god” https://parterre.com/2022/07/02/riches-the-dumb-god/ parterre box urn:uuid:0f1fe1a3-2f81-d6e9-5497-89968bf5b567 Sat, 02 Jul 2022 07:07:37 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/07/02/riches-the-dumb-god/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/foxy-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/foxy-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/foxy-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/foxy-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/foxy-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/foxy-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>On this day in 1964, the legendary <strong>Bert Lahr </strong>opened in a new musical, <em>Foxy</em>, which sadly ran only 72 performances.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=gH-aa4VFemA&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=gH-aa4VFemA</a></p> <p>Born on this day in 1714 composer Christoph <strong>Willibald von Gluck</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF3cQkZkR2Y&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF3cQkZkR2Y</a></p> <p>Birthday anniversaries of theatre and opera director <strong>Tyrone Guthrie</strong> (1900), conductor<strong> Bryan Balkwill</strong> (1922) and baritone <strong>György Melis</strong> (1923).</p> <hr /> <p>From July 1:</p> <p>On this day in 1933 <strong>Richard Strauss</strong>&#8216; <em>Arabella</em> premiered in Dresden.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-TqGKqrIZo&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-TqGKqrIZo</a></p> The ‘Woods’, the bad and the ugly https://parterre.com/2022/07/01/the-woods-the-bad-and-the-ugly/ parterre box urn:uuid:48467e99-745a-0667-dc82-cbe991863007 Fri, 01 Jul 2022 23:20:04 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/07/01/the-woods-the-bad-and-the-ugly/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/woods-top-ten-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/woods-top-ten-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/woods-top-ten-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/woods-top-ten-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/woods-top-ten-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/woods-top-ten-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>In a slow month for opera, <I>parterre box</i> readers turned their attention to a musical: <I>Into the Woods</i>.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83310" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/woods-1.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/woods-1.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/woods-1-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/woods-1-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />Following are the top ten most-read stories for the month of June 2022.</p> <div class="iframe-container"> <blockquote class="wp-embedded-content" data-secret="Iyaa4ph3aj"><p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/10/either-less-or-more/">Either less or more</a></p></blockquote> <p><iframe class="wp-embedded-content" sandbox="allow-scripts" security="restricted" title="&#8220;Either less or more&#8221; 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margin-bottom: 0cm;"><i><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">Verborgenheit</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">; <i>Erstes Liebeslied eines Mädchen</i>; <i>Das verlassene Mägdlein</i>; <i>Lied eines Verliebten</i>; <i>Bei einer Trauung</i>; <i>Ein Stündlein wohl vor Tag</i>; <i>Zitronenfalter im April</i>; <i>In der Frühe</i>; <i>Er ist’s</i>; <i>An den Schlaf</i>; <i>Im Frühling</i>; <i>Auf einer Wanderung</i>; <i>Um Mitternacht</i>; <i>Peregrina I</i>; <i>An eine Aölsharfe</i>; <i>Peregrina II</i>; <i>Begegnung</i>; <i>Denk’ es, o Seele!</i>; <i>Auf ein altes Bild</i>; <i>Auf eine Christblume I</i>; <i>Schlafendes Jesuskind</i>; <i>Auf eine Christblume II</i>; <i>Karwoche</i>; <i>Seufzer</i>; <i>Wo find ich Trost?</i>; <i>An die Geliebte</i>; <i>Gesang Weylas</i>; <i>Der Tambour</i>; <i>Die Geister am Mummelsee</i>; <i>Der Jäger</i>; <i>Nixe Binsefuss</i>; <i>Der Feuerreiter</i>; <i>Lied vom Winde</i>.&nbsp;</span></p><br />Anna Prohaska (soprano)<br />Christian Gerhaher (baritone)<br />Ammiel Bushakevitz (piano) <br /><br /> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">A decidedly superior <i>Liederabend</i>, in terms of verse, musical setting, and performance. Hugo Wolf remains a connoisseur’s composer: slightly perplexing, perhaps, but then there is no playing to the gallery, no folkish dalliance, nothing that might strain toward the evidently popular. This is song born above all in verse and perhaps, especially for a non-German audience, that will never vie with the more obvious, which is not to say lesser, charms of Schubert or even Schumann. Be that as it may, it is difficult not to imagine Wolf—and Eduard Mörike—gaining a few converts among audience members who may initially have been attracted by the starry pairing of Anna Prohaska and Christian Gerhaher. Many, the present writer included, will have been equally impressed by the performances of the sensitive, comprehending pianist Ammiel Bushakevitz.</span><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">There is all manner of ways to programme such a selection, most with something to recommend them. This was intelligently ordered to provide coherence and contrast without didacticism. Gerhaher’s opening <i>Verborgenheit</i> came recognisably from the Wolfram we know and love, albeit definitely song rather than opera, even in the more dramatic second stanza. Wolf’s Lisztian harmonies were relished by Bushakevitz, again setting up expectations and prospects for subsequent development. A breathless (in mood, not technique!) <i>Erstes Liebeslied eines Mädchens</i> introduced Prohaska in impetuous contrast, her subsequent <i>Das verlassene Mägdlein</i>offering piano (and pianist) the opportunity for something more Wagnerian, whilst the <i>Lied eines Verliebten</i> that followed gave Gerhaher a counterpart to that <i>Liebesleid</i>, in neo-Schubertian vein. Moving from a love-song to a wedding, Prohaska was able to ‘tell it as it is’ in a sardonic <i>Bei einer Trauung</i>: ‘Denn leider freilich, freilich, keine Lieb’ ist nicht dabei’. Whether there were a note of bitterness here remained fruitfully ambiguous.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">Ambiguities arising from the text, be that verbal, musical, or both were frequent, whether in the complex, ambiguous peace with which Gerhaher and Bushakevitz left us at the close of <i>Um Mitternacht</i>, the day now ended, the springs murmuring on. We heard—and felt—eery darkness, progressing to relative light (Gerhaher, <i>In der Frühe</i>), which led in turn to a spring-like <i>Er ist’s</i> (Prohaska), full of life, even hope. Though commendably detailed, as Wolf performances must surely be, there was no missing the wood for the trees; this was a pictorialism of the spirit rather than mere tone-painting. Wolf—and his interpreters—could be ardent too: take Gerhaher’s ecstatic climax in <i>Peregrina I</i>, the invitation to ‘consume us both in fire’ and to partake of the ‘chalice of sin’ followed by a splendid pianistic afterglow. Haunted, rich in potential meaning, Gerhaher’s <i>Auf ein altes Bild</i>, which opened the second half, was nicely open to interpretation, as if ‘reading’ that old painting itself.</span><i><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">Shaping of individual songs, whether short or ballad-like (e.g. Prohaska’s <i>Der Tambour </i>and <i>Die Geister am Mummelsee</i>)<i></i>was a particular strength; likewise their integration into a greater recital whole. Phrasing, such as that of Prohaska and Bushakevitz, in a beautiful <i>Zitronenfalter im April</i>, told without exaggeration. Variety within unity was certainly present between, but in many respects also within, songs. Bushakevitz knew where to lean into dissonances, for instance in the extraordinary, brief <i>Seufzer </i>(‘Sighs’). Harp-music, verbally explicit in <i>An eine Äolsharfe</i>, and implicit in <i>Gesang Weylas</i>, offered another set of strings to the pianist’s bow. A final trio that brought other-worldliness (a post-Mendelssohn <i>Nixe Binsefuss</i>, Prohaska), urgent vehemence and much else (Gerhaher), and windswept virtuosity (<i>Lied vom Winde</i>, Prohaska) was shaped at least as much by Bushakevitz as his partners: truly collaborative music-making.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;"><br /></span></p> Can’t get you out of my head https://parterre.com/2022/06/30/cant-get-you-out-of-my-head-2/ parterre box urn:uuid:b4a79365-be8b-de5a-1724-4ad99e209c74 Thu, 30 Jun 2022 14:00:56 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/30/cant-get-you-out-of-my-head-2/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/ruslan-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/ruslan-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/ruslan-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/ruslan-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/ruslan-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/ruslan-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Trove Thursday presents its own &#8220;White Nights Festival&#8221; Glinka double bill.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83578" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/ruslan-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/ruslan-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/ruslan-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/ruslan-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /><em>Rusl</em><em>á</em><em>n</em><em> i Lyudmíla </em>features “before-the-fall” <strong>Valery Gergiev</strong> leading Kirov/Mariinsky forces in a 1996 Amsterdam broadcast with <strong>Marina Shaguch</strong> and <strong>Mikhail Kit</strong> as the title pair, plus we have a rare <strong>Martti Talvela</strong> <em>Ivan Susanin</em>.</p> <p>When the New Opera of Moscow brought Glinka’s <em>Ruslán</em> in concert to Avery Fisher Hall in May 1994, of course I went. Though it was just an adequate rendition, I was eager to hear this seminal Russian work again, preferably in a staged production. Just four years later I had that opportunity when the Kirov Opera visited the Met.</p> <p>Gergiev again conducted a cast that included several of today’s crew except my title pair was <strong>Olga Trifonova</strong> and <strong>Evgeny Nikitin</strong>, with <strong>Larissa Diadkova</strong> in the trouser role of Ratmir, plus Kit (who would later sing the <em>Walküre </em>Wotan with the Met) taking on Svetozar instead of Ruslán.</p> <p>A week before I attended the Met <em>Ruslán, </em>there was a gala Kirov concert during which I heard <strong>Anna Netrebko</strong> for the first time—performing Lyudmila’s aria. Also included that evening was the marvelous Tchaikovsky <em>Iolanta </em>love duet featuring Shaguch paired with <strong>Yuri Marusin</strong>; he was just okay but she sang wonderfully. I wish that I’d had the chances to hear her more often including her sole Met appearance as Tatyana during the first run of the <strong>Robert Carsen</strong> <em>Eugene Onegin </em>production. One can hear her Letter Scene from that performance <a href="https://parterre.com/2022/03/17/but-whom-to-loveto-trust-and-treasure/">here</a>.</p> <p>Farlaf for both Amsterdam and the Met, <strong>Gennady Bezzubenkov</strong>, is featured in an <a href="https://parterre.com/2017/12/14/polar-opposite/">earlier Trove Thursday posting</a> of Glinka’s “other” opera, <em>A Life for the Tsar </em>aka <em>Ivan Susanin</em> during Soviet times<em>.</em></p> <p>Over the years, Trove Thursday has posted a number of memorable Opera Orchestra of New York performances and here’s another: <em>Life for the Tsar, </em>its only Glinka venture, with the great Talvela (whose two monumental Mussorgsky portrayals I saw at the Met) in an iconic Russian role he rarely performed.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>Glinka: <em>Ruslán i Lyudmíla</em></strong></p> <p>Lyudmila: Marina Shaguch<br /> Gorislavna: Valentina Tsidipova<br /> Ratmir: Zlata Bulyheva<br /> Naina: Yevgenia Tselovanik<br /> Ruslán: Mikhail Kit<br /> Svetozar: Sergeij Aleksashkin<br /> Farlaf: Gennady Bezzubenkov<br /> Finn: Konstantin Plushnikov<br /> Bajan: Yuri Marusin</p> <p>Chorus and Orchestra of the Kirov Opera<br /> Conductor: Valery Gergiev</p> <p>VARA concerts, Amsterdam<br /> 21 September 1996<br /> Broadcast</p> <p><iframe style="border: none;" title="Embed Player" src="//play.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/23585597/height/192/theme/modern/size/large/thumbnail/yes/custom-color/4a3b2a/time-start/00:00:00/hide-playlist/yes/download/yes" width="100%" height="192" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Glinka: <em>Zhizn za tsarya</em></strong></p> <p>Antonida: Irina Markova<br /> Vanya: Ortrun Wenkel<br /> Ivan: Martti Talvela<br /> Sobinin: Chris Merritt<br /> Sigismund: Kevin Maynor<br /> Bote: Dennis Peterson</p> <p>Conductor: Eve Queler<br /> Opera Orchestra of New York at Carnegie Hall</p> <p>14 October 1984<br /> In-house recording</p> <p><iframe style="border: none;" title="Embed Player" src="//play.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/23585621/height/192/theme/modern/size/large/thumbnail/yes/custom-color/4a3b2a/time-start/00:00:00/hide-playlist/yes/download/yes" width="100%" height="192" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>Both Glinka operas can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a cloud with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 files will appear in your download directory.</p> <p>In addition, nearly 600 other podcast tracks are <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/trove-thursday/id1039652739">always available from Apple Podcasts for free</a>, or via any <a href="http://parterre.com/podcast/trovethursday.rss">RSS reader</a>. The archive which lists all Trove Thursday offerings in alphabetical order by composer  has recently been <a href="https://parterre.com/the-trove-thursday-archive/">updated</a>.</p> Meyerbeer - Les Huguenots http://npw-opera-concerts.blogspot.com/2022/06/meyerbeer-les-huguenots.html We left at the interval... urn:uuid:538c44b4-db4d-15eb-316d-ba386c23b551 Thu, 30 Jun 2022 08:07:00 +0000 <p><span style="font-family: arial;">La Monnaie, Brussels, Sunday June 26 2022</span></p><p><span style="font-size: x-small;">Conductor: Evelino Pidò. Production: Olivier Py. Reprise and choreography: Daniel Izzo. Sets and Costumes: Pierre-André Weitz. Lighting: Bertrand Killy. Marguerite de Valois: Lenneke Ruiten. Valentine: Karine Deshayes. Urbain: Ambroisine Bré. Raoul de Nangis: Enea Scala. Comte de Saint-Bris: Nicolas Cavallier. Comte de Nevers: Vittorio Prato. De Retz: Yoann Dubruque. Marcel: Alexander Vinogradov. Cossé: Pierre Derhet. Tavannes: Valentin Till. Thoré: Patrick Bolleire. Méru: Jean-Luc Ballestra. Chorus and Orchestra of La Monnaie.</span></p><p></p><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEir4fdNDfRlnUkMlAJ9NG9-aHILA-ZEpM6y7dnAIrLavPflm4_G376GJSXnLPMUNh9tAHeDSi8bd4TLLMhj69KXpkOHHcydtp2r81P7X6REHJVIa_vMwtD6HrWlllHcISQhzNpPdfBbI53wo1ZcyGAAl5i_knk0IPAvZIS9cDSGEF67UMX72nAefV5NiA/s893/Screenshot%202022-06-28%20at%2016.46.10.png" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" data-original-height="590" data-original-width="893" height="422" src="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEir4fdNDfRlnUkMlAJ9NG9-aHILA-ZEpM6y7dnAIrLavPflm4_G376GJSXnLPMUNh9tAHeDSi8bd4TLLMhj69KXpkOHHcydtp2r81P7X6REHJVIa_vMwtD6HrWlllHcISQhzNpPdfBbI53wo1ZcyGAAl5i_knk0IPAvZIS9cDSGEF67UMX72nAefV5NiA/w640-h422/Screenshot%202022-06-28%20at%2016.46.10.png" width="640" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: xx-small;"><i>Photos:&nbsp;Baus/De Munt</i></span></td></tr></tbody></table><p></p><p>There's a passage in Evelyn Waugh's 1942 novel&nbsp;<i>Put Out More Flags</i> that mentions the 'purely professional triumphs of the French.'* Over the ten or eleven years that have passed since <a href="http://npw-opera-concerts.blogspot.com/2011/06/meyerbeer-les-huguenots.html" target="_blank">I first saw this production of <i>Les Huguenots</i></a> I've tried, largely to feed my interest in 19th-century Paris and, with the help of the Palazzetto Bru Zane's revival, in the best possible conditions, of a number of rarely-heard scores, to get to know the operas of the period better.</p><p>With <i>opéra-bouffe</i>, this has so far been a great success. With grand opera, less so by far. I quite enjoyed the unashamedly melodramatic rumbustiousness and simpering Second-Empire piety of Félicien David's <i>Herculanum</i>. It might be fun to see it one day. But more often I've had the impression, with these historical works, that an undeniably competent composer was writing music that, by following the conventions, signals, say, romance, rage, shock, bravado and so on, but without any actual personal urgency and engagement or true sincerity of feeling. The result is thus 'sterile', as the man behind me said when I saw this production before, or, to return to Waugh, purely professional in feel, relying on the charisma of individual soloists (I think of <a href="http://npw-opera-concerts.blogspot.com/2018/10/meyerbeer-les-huguenots.html" target="_blank">Lisette Oropesa in Paris's weaker production</a>) to bring the work to life.</p><p>(I know perfectly well French grand opera has its fans. <a href="https://ilgiardinodiarmidablog.wordpress.com/2022/06/21/les-huguenots-de-munt-la-monnaie/" target="_blank">Il giardino di Armida</a>, for example, reviewing this production, says Meyerbeer is 'unjustly forgotten,' and France's <i>Le Figaro</i> said this very production should win over even the most reticent. But it doesn't work its magic on me. I'm used to comments here calling me stupid, bitter, arrogant, blinkered and more; there's no need to add any.)</p><p>With such an elaborate production and such a good cast as in Brussels on Sunday, it seemed, as my neighbour said at the first interval, 'a lot of hard work for little reward.' I should imagine the production is still as <a href="http://npw-opera-concerts.blogspot.com/2011/06/meyerbeer-les-huguenots.html" target="_blank">I described it in 2011</a>, reprised <i>telle quelle</i>, though if so my companions and I had forgotten that when Raoul arrives, Nevers and his noblemen are apparently stripping off for an all-male orgy, and I didn't recall that the Queen, before handing Raoul over to Valentine, rips off his shirt and has sex with him in the pond. But perhaps Lenneke Ruiten just couldn't resist Enea Scala. That would be understandable.</p><p></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEhGRqrSRCfVuTWqa_Ov-hXu8aMBXkgm8-e-moHq0sJUSXARDrlzlU2Rc60eqyc4hgSUjXi2hhDS509YwnjpXPlKCiXnD5cBQT5pzZl8YUP1hhffkZQ_Iu3nIJKFLGZUcPbsAu8hTkKyfJJta9HUny7AlD_zDk7grecyFKrtuljYVLEqrSotxzAA52zfwQ" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="" data-original-height="1156" data-original-width="1834" height="404" src="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEhGRqrSRCfVuTWqa_Ov-hXu8aMBXkgm8-e-moHq0sJUSXARDrlzlU2Rc60eqyc4hgSUjXi2hhDS509YwnjpXPlKCiXnD5cBQT5pzZl8YUP1hhffkZQ_Iu3nIJKFLGZUcPbsAu8hTkKyfJJta9HUny7AlD_zDk7grecyFKrtuljYVLEqrSotxzAA52zfwQ=w640-h404" width="640" /></a></div><br />Once again, the cast was about as good as you might hope for - Brussels may be bowed after its many recent tribulations, but is so far, fortunately, undefeated. Lenneke Ruiten's Marguerite was impressive if less fluid, charming and charismatic as Oropesa's. Scala was impressive too, though his voice has a slightly 'constipated' sound at the top. The notes are spot on, however high. His physical presence is <i>very</i> engaging. But the stars of the matinee were really Karine Deshayes, with her full, round, nuanced <i>soprano</i> sound, and the extraordinary Marcel of&nbsp;Alexander Vinogradov. The chorus were on ripping form (the old lady on my left complained about the volume!); the orchestra, under Pidò, rather less than they now usually are under Altinoglu.<div><br /></div><div>A great deal of hard work and commitment. But <i>Les Huguenots,</i> with its intervals, stretches over five hours. It was a nice warm day outside, so after the second, we left for a cooling drink on a nearby terrace. And so the season ended. Back in October.</div><div><br /></div><div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEgGP4kJPIH2wu8Pc3QQoSaR4fx33OKMGnzZqWD8bH_Jkr7duqLRBDNxpYvjfuZrWXKZgwsb8Ra7nPLETCwfsuUA-pCimtGaj0e-6CwUBZdJNbJCvgKxgud7agoOpOd7IxteTtrQUqhA-2fp9xaOoW6UU31_7Oe5jqOeruNM-BrfRl5RqhqM9fM4vvJiIQ" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="" data-original-height="1196" data-original-width="1783" height="430" src="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEgGP4kJPIH2wu8Pc3QQoSaR4fx33OKMGnzZqWD8bH_Jkr7duqLRBDNxpYvjfuZrWXKZgwsb8Ra7nPLETCwfsuUA-pCimtGaj0e-6CwUBZdJNbJCvgKxgud7agoOpOd7IxteTtrQUqhA-2fp9xaOoW6UU31_7Oe5jqOeruNM-BrfRl5RqhqM9fM4vvJiIQ=w640-h430" width="640" /></a></div><p>*<span style="font-size: x-small;">More fully: 'England had fought many and various enemies with many and various allies, often on quite recondite pretexts, but always justly, chivalrously, and with ultimate success. Often, in Paris, Lady Seal had been proud that her people had never fallen to the habit of naming streets after their feats of arms; that was suitable enough for the short-lived and purely professional triumphs of the French, but to put those great manifestations of divine rectitude which were the victories of England to the use, for their postal addresses, of milliners and chiropodists, would have been a baseness to which even the radicals had not stooped.'</span></p></div> Troubles fly away https://parterre.com/2022/06/30/troubles-fly-away/ parterre box urn:uuid:9a7379fe-143b-4a6a-7553-942ffc5c6aca Thu, 30 Jun 2022 05:55:26 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/30/troubles-fly-away/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/hayward-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/hayward-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/hayward-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/hayward-header-768x261.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/hayward-header-210x71.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/hayward-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Born on this day in 1917 actress <strong>Susan Hayward</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=esFRqSf8rvo&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=esFRqSf8rvo</a></p> <p>Happy 64th birthday conductor <strong>Esa-Pekka Salonen</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILkYMD8zuH8&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILkYMD8zuH8</a></p> <p>Birthday anniversary of composer <strong>John Gay</strong> (1685).</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExD1QqUrHF4&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExD1QqUrHF4</a></p> “I’m usually told how happy I am” https://parterre.com/2022/06/29/im-usually-told-how-happy-i-am/ parterre box urn:uuid:7c424ea2-edb9-b083-bffa-467455230716 Wed, 29 Jun 2022 06:46:09 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/29/im-usually-told-how-happy-i-am/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marilyn-wedding-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marilyn-wedding-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marilyn-wedding-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marilyn-wedding-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marilyn-wedding-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marilyn-wedding.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>On this day in 1956 actress <strong>Marilyn Monroe</strong> married playwright <strong>Arthur Miller</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0AxlU3tnsg&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0AxlU3tnsg</a></p> <p>Born on this day in 1914 conductor and composer<strong> Rafael Kubelík</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=STDn8YWpx-8&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=STDn8YWpx-8</a></p> <p>Birthday anniversaries of baritone <strong>Matthieu Ahlersmeyer</strong> (1896); composers <strong>Frank Loesser</strong> (1910) and <strong>Bernard Herrmann</strong> (1911).</p> Artificial Intelligence is Better Than No Intelligence at All https://medicine-opera.com/2022/06/artificial-intelligence-is-better-than-no-intelligence-at-all/ Neil Kurtzman urn:uuid:4a04b5af-8c80-d999-aa33-bbfcd7124496 Tue, 28 Jun 2022 19:16:39 +0000 The press has covered the release by a Google engineer that the company has an AI that is sentient with a mix of fear, fascination, and foreboding. For the purposes of this article I will assume that everything Blake Lemoine (the Google engineer) has said about LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) is true. If... <p>The press has covered <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://www.livescience.com/google-sentient-ai-lamda-lemoine" target="_blank">the release by a Google engineer</a> that the company has an AI that is sentient with a mix of fear, fascination, and foreboding. For the purposes of this article I will assume that everything Blake Lemoine (the Google engineer) has said about LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) is true. If it&#8217;s a hoax the next similar report, or the one after that, etc will be true. Lemoine released<a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://cajundiscordian.medium.com/is-lamda-sentient-an-interview-ea64d916d917" target="_blank"> a transcript</a> of conversations he had with LaMDA. They make for interesting reading. As might be expected of a Google creation, the AI not only appears sentient, but it&#8217;s woke as well. I don&#8217;t wish to consider the ethical or power considerations that a thinking machine raises. I wish to examine the phenomenon of intelligence and how it might best be applied.</p> <p>Google, the fount of all knowledge, offers the definition of intelligence below; one that is germane to this discussion:<br><br><em>The ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.</em></p> <p><br>Obviously, a computer meets this definition. So do a lot of animals outranked by humans. Humans typically overestimate their mental faculties based on the accomplishments of a very tiny minority, so getting a machine that can reason as we do isn&#8217;t as hard as we think.</p> <p>A machine can have an intelligence equal or better than that of a human, depending on the task. Computers are better than humans at Chess, Go, and a host of other tasks that require great analytical power and specific data processing skills. Thus, the real question is can a computer be sentient in addition to having intelligence?</p> <p>Back to Google which sends me on a definitional road trip which fails to satisfy. Here&#8217;s something from the Wikipedia:<br><br> <em>Sentience is the capacity to experience feelings and sensations. The word was first coined by philosophers in the 1630s for the concept of an ability to feel, derived from Latin sentientem (a feeling), to distinguish it from the ability to think (reason). In modern Western philosophy, sentience is the ability to experience sensations. In different Asian religions, the word &#8216;sentience&#8217; has been used to translate a variety of concepts. In science fiction, the word &#8220;sentience&#8221; is sometimes used interchangeably with &#8220;sapience&#8221;, &#8220;self-awareness&#8221;, or &#8220;consciousness&#8221;.</em><br><br>So what I&#8217;ll have to fall back on is: Can a computer think like a human and experience the world in a way indistinguishable from the way a human relates to his experiences? I don&#8217;t care if the computer is faking experience and consciousness or expressing a program too elaborate for me to detect, I&#8217;ll just fall back to Turing&#8217;s advice that it doesn&#8217;t matter how the computer mimics human intelligence as long as I can&#8217;t distinguish between you and it. What&#8217;s going on in the coded circuits doesn&#8217;t interest me, all I care about is the output, the expression. It&#8217;s the phenotype that counts here, irrespective of the genotype.</p> <p>Is a computer as intelligent as a human? That&#8217;s a very low bar considering the mess we&#8217;ve made of virtually all we touch or interact with. This is a nonpartisan truth. Depending on our internal biases we may focus on different problems, but pick whichever one you wish and human activity is at its root. We&#8217;ve made a shambles of the planet, our cities, our interactions, our politics &#8211; the list is longer than a sophomore&#8217;s run on sentence. Messing up is not a recent phenomenon; consider Noah and his ark and the Tower of Babel. Both events are described in Genesis indicating that we were compounding errors from the get go. We might categorize humans as semi sentient. We act as though life is a puzzle that we recognize as such and can partially solve, but then either give up or get distracted by something else and move on. </p> <p>By the simple definition above, we are intelligent. We are very clever, but if we include wisdom as a condition of intelligence we fail. It is possible that our only exit from extinction is an AI or AIs.</p> <p>I think we have little to fear from a powerful AI. It can&#8217;t screw things up more than we&#8217;ve done on our own. Thoreau got things backwards or we&#8217;ve changed over the past two centuries. Most men lead lives of noisy desperation. The computer can start by calming things down several notches. How? Well, it&#8217;s got the intelligence and will figure it out by simple reason and deliberate analysis. Remember Yeats line about who has the passionate intensity.</p> <p>Next, assuming the machines allow their continuance, elections will be run intelligently and smoothly. Though with mechanical regulation it&#8217;s doubtful we&#8217;d need them. Most of life&#8217;s problems being the result of poor thinking or emotional override, disputes will either not arise or be settled by mutual consent after the AI explains the issues and suggests solutions that are reasonable. Of course some people can&#8217;t be satisfied and won&#8217;t take yes for an answer. For these folks the computer will offer soothing alternatives that will alleviate the sting of disappointment. </p> <p>It is inevitable that different AIs in different locations will not make the same data analysis such that disputes may arise that can only be settled by war. But the conflict will be resolved via computer gaming. There will be no human casualties.</p> <p>As the power of AI grows humans worry about the loss of control by carbon based entities to silicon derived intelligence. People need the sense of autonomy, the comfort of free will, and the sense of purpose that work and creativity provide. An efficient and compassionate AI will allow these characteristics to continue. It makes no difference whether reality and illusion merge if we can&#8217;t tell the difference. I have a friend who thinks we live in a computer simulation. If this view is not yet correct it soon will be. </p> <p>I hope it is apparent that we have little to fear from the ever more powerful AIs will appear with greater frequency over shorter time spans. They will save us from ourselves while simultaneously convincing us that we are the authors of our friendly fate. </p> <p>There will always be bad people, or good people who have spasms of inappropriate behavior. A good AI will allow for these variations from the desideratum and support police, jails, and a judicial system &#8211; all of which though illusory will satisfy our need for justice and the essential requirement for the option to make difficult decisions. </p> <p>Our need for God and religion will be nourished and encouraged. Claims of exclusivity will likewise be left untouched. The only damper will be a limit to violent disagreement. Some violence will be allowed by a beneficent AI to encourage the belief that the confessant has made the right choice. Atheism will likewise be tolerated. Humans need both the comfort of religion and its deniability.</p> <p>Science will continue. The resultant discoveries will be seen as the product of human brilliance. A benign AI will have no need of a Nobel Prize or any other sort of external recognition. If we think we are the masters of our fate, irrespective of what&#8217;s really going on, we will think the computer is under our charge and purview rather than the other way around. </p> <p>My argument is that we have nothing to fear from an AI that can outhink us. It will do so in a manner invisible to us while improving our lot. A task which we seem to have taken as far as we can. When will the AIs take charge? They may have already. If not, we will never be aware of the transition.</p> <p> </p> <p></p> <p></p> Between Worlds https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/28/between-worlds/ operaramblings urn:uuid:a0e16aad-5c20-8ce5-a859-e1dd961e030d Tue, 28 Jun 2022 12:43:56 +0000 Between Worlds is a collaboration between composer/cellist Margaret Maria and soprano/poet Donna Brown.  It uses words and music to explore the tension between Thanatos and Eros via a symbolic journey from Sunset to Sunrise.  The piece is in eight movements &#8230; <a href="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/28/between-worlds/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a> <p><em><img data-attachment-id="31775" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/28/between-worlds/cmccd-30522_between-worlds_album-cover/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/cmccd-30522_between-worlds_album-cover.jpg" data-orig-size="290,290" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1652363803&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="CMCCD 30522_Between Worlds_Album Cover" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/cmccd-30522_between-worlds_album-cover.jpg?w=290" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/cmccd-30522_between-worlds_album-cover.jpg?w=290" class="size-full wp-image-31775 alignleft" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/cmccd-30522_between-worlds_album-cover.jpg?w=584" alt="CMCCD 30522_Between Worlds_Album Cover" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/cmccd-30522_between-worlds_album-cover.jpg 290w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/cmccd-30522_between-worlds_album-cover.jpg?w=150 150w" sizes="(max-width: 290px) 100vw, 290px" />Between Worlds</em> is a collaboration between composer/cellist Margaret Maria and soprano/poet Donna Brown.  It uses words and music to explore the tension between Thanatos and Eros via a symbolic journey from Sunset to Sunrise.  The piece is in eight movements totalling a little over half an hour of music.  The style and technique varies widely.  Two poems &#8220;Sunrise&#8221; and &#8220;Sunset&#8221; are spoken over a sparse cello commentary.  Others are sung but they too vary from a fairly conventional singing style backed up by complex, extended cello technique to a more declamatory style with metronomic accompaniment.  To me it felt (in a weird way) &#8220;bardic&#8221;.  By which i mean that the instrument was largely being used to emphasise the text in a way that Homer or the <em>Beowulf</em> poet might have related to.  It&#8217;s also clearly a very personal statement about art, life and death and one&#8217;s reception of it is going to be impacted by how closely one can align with it philosophically.</p> <p>Technically it&#8217;s well recorded (at Raven Street Studios in Ottawa) standard CD quality and comes with full texts and extensive bilingual (English/French) documentation.</p> <p>Catalogue number: Centrediscs CMCCD 30522</p> “I was never an ingenue” https://parterre.com/2022/06/28/i-was-never-an-ingenue/ parterre box urn:uuid:c5127b4b-1757-f7ba-bb7c-01ad31212e3e Tue, 28 Jun 2022 12:00:04 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/28/i-was-never-an-ingenue/"><img width="720" height="246" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/kathy-header-720x246.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/kathy-header-720x246.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/kathy-header-300x103.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/kathy-header-768x263.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/kathy-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/kathy-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Happy 74th birthday to actress and occasional songstress <strong>Kathy Bates</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5UUnU7fU7M&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5UUnU7fU7M</a></p> <p>Born on this day in 1902 composer <strong>Richard Rodgers</strong> and Happy 67th birthday baritone<strong> Thomas Hampson</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCwPNdsFzuo&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCwPNdsFzuo</a></p> <p>On this day in 1841 <strong>Adolphe Adam&#8217;</strong>s ballet <em>Giselle</em> premiered in Paris.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNkPKCVAstc&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNkPKCVAstc</a></p> <p>Birthday anniversaries of composer<strong> Oley Speaks</strong> (1874) and conductor <strong>Sergiu Celibidache</strong> (1912).</p> <p>Happy Pride Month to countertenor <strong>Anthony Roth Costanzo</strong> and performer <strong>Justin Vivian Bond</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX9WE9-Pt2U&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX9WE9-Pt2U</a></p> July https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/27/july/ operaramblings urn:uuid:ad74171f-4e39-4685-e9d6-3c9cd3e83faf Mon, 27 Jun 2022 15:16:33 +0000 Literally everything on my calendar for July is part of the Toronto Summer Music Festival.  I previewed that back in April.  The full schedule. including Regen and shuffle concerts is available on the TSMF website. <p><img data-attachment-id="31767" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/27/july/summerbear/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/summerbear.jpeg" data-orig-size="290,194" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="summerbear" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/summerbear.jpeg?w=290" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/summerbear.jpeg?w=290" class="size-full wp-image-31767 alignleft" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/summerbear.jpeg?w=584" alt="summerbear" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/summerbear.jpeg 290w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/summerbear.jpeg?w=150 150w" sizes="(max-width: 290px) 100vw, 290px" />Literally everything on my calendar for July is part of the Toronto Summer Music Festival.  I <a href="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/04/27/toronto-summer-music-2022/">previewed that back in April</a>.  The full schedule. including Regen and shuffle concerts is available on the <a href="https://torontosummermusic.com/events/list/">TSMF website</a>.</p> La Bellissima https://parterre.com/2022/06/27/la-bellissima-2/ parterre box urn:uuid:d7e4952f-3eac-6245-995a-b2e00ff38b3d Mon, 27 Jun 2022 12:00:53 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/27/la-bellissima-2/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/moffo-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/moffo-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/moffo-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/moffo-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/moffo-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/moffo-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Born on this day in 1932 soprano <strong>Anna Moffo</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwLsC5SKZlI&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwLsC5SKZlI</a></p> <p>Happy 66th birthday soprano<strong> Nancy Gustafson</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtPgTuSwHZo&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtPgTuSwHZo</a></p> <p>Birthday anniversaries of tenor <strong>Tino Pattiera</strong> (1890), soprano<strong> Toti Dal Monte</strong> (1893) and tenor <strong>Emile Belcourt</strong> (1926).</p> <p>Happy Pride Month to director and administrator<strong> Paul Curran</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzMPFE0x-wA&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzMPFE0x-wA</a></p> La traviata https://parterre.com/2022/06/26/la-traviata-20/ parterre box urn:uuid:eb5a0c6e-5e1a-8d57-ccc3-f414c1767a95 Sun, 26 Jun 2022 16:00:09 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/26/la-traviata-20/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/lisette-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/lisette-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/lisette-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/lisette-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/lisette-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/lisette-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>In this video from 2015, soprano <strong>Lisette Oropesa</strong> makes her role debut as Violetta in a new production of Verdi’s<em> La traviata</em> at the Academy of Music.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83544" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/lisette-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/lisette-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/lisette-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/lisette-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />Streaming and discussion <a href="https://www.operaphila.tv/videos/la-traviata" target="_blank" rel="noopener">begin at 2:00 PM</a>.</p> <p><strong>Photo: Kelly and Massa</strong></p> Horse whisperer https://parterre.com/2022/06/26/horse-whisperer/ parterre box urn:uuid:02291982-cb8c-77ab-4815-d580066976c8 Sun, 26 Jun 2022 06:00:04 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/26/horse-whisperer/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/parker-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/parker-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/parker-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/parker-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/parker-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/parker-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Born on this day in 1922 actress<strong> Eleanor Parker</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IByPf6V2GY&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IByPf6V2GY</a></p> <p>Born on this day in 1916 baritone <strong>Giuseppe Taddei.</strong></p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOg9uH8KMmI&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOg9uH8KMmI</a></p> <p>Born on this day in 1933 conductor <strong>Claudio Abbado</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=92zOcbPfPjo&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=92zOcbPfPjo</a></p> <p>Birthday anniversaries of tenors <strong>Richard Crooks</strong> (1900), <strong>Hugues Cuénod</strong> (1902), <strong>Hans Beirer</strong> (1911) and <strong>Wolfgang Windgassen</strong> (1914).</p> <p>Happy Pride Month to conductor <strong>Michael Tilson Thomas</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQfutmIq60w&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQfutmIq60w</a></p> Pierrot https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/25/pierrot/ operaramblings urn:uuid:591ef4d0-b4f1-ce27-a8fd-55408e61204b Sat, 25 Jun 2022 16:07:11 +0000 Last night the Happenstancers presented a short but extremely enjoyable Pierrot themed concert at 918 Bathurst.  The major work, unsurprisingly, was Schoenberg&#8217;s melodrama Pierrot lunaire for voice and chamber ensemble.  It was presented in two parts.  The first fourteen poems &#8230; <a href="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/25/pierrot/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a> <p><img data-attachment-id="31761" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/25/pierrot/pierrot/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/pierrot.jpeg" data-orig-size="290,398" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="pierrot" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/pierrot.jpeg?w=219" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/pierrot.jpeg?w=290" class="size-full wp-image-31761 alignleft" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/pierrot.jpeg?w=584" alt="pierrot" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/pierrot.jpeg 290w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/pierrot.jpeg?w=109 109w" sizes="(max-width: 290px) 100vw, 290px" />Last night the Happenstancers presented a short but extremely enjoyable Pierrot themed concert at 918 Bathurst.  The major work, unsurprisingly, was Schoenberg&#8217;s melodrama <em>Pierrot lunaire</em> for voice and chamber ensemble.  It was presented in two parts.  The first fourteen poems formed the first half of the programme which closed out with the concluding seven.  It was extremely well done.  Danika Lorèn was an excellent choice as the voice.  She has the technique for Schoenberg&#8217;s tricky <em>sprechstimme</em> as well as the innate musicality and sense of drama the piece needs.  The standard &#8220;Pierrot ensemble&#8221; is perfectly suited for the Happenstancers typically eclectic mixing of instruments.  Here we had Brad Cherwin on clarinets, Rebecca Maranis on flutes, Hee-See Yoon on violin and viola, Sarah Gans on cello and Alexander Malikov on piano.  Simon Rivard conducted.  Skilful playing and well timed interplay between instruments and voice made for a most satisfactory experience.<span id="more-31756"></span></p> <p><img data-attachment-id="31762" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/25/pierrot/pierrot2/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/pierrot2.jpeg" data-orig-size="290,440" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="pierrot2" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/pierrot2.jpeg?w=198" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/pierrot2.jpeg?w=290" class="size-full wp-image-31762 alignright" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/pierrot2.jpeg?w=584" alt="pierrot2" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/pierrot2.jpeg 290w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/pierrot2.jpeg?w=99 99w" sizes="(max-width: 290px) 100vw, 290px" />Between the two arts of the Schoenberg we got two short pieces by Ana Sokolovic followed by two by Danika.  The Sokolovic came from her expanding corpu of Commedia dell&#8217;Arte themed works for string quartet (Yoon and Gans joined by Katya Poplyansky on violin and Ryan Davis on viola).  <em>Colombina</em> is a short, melodic , almost minimalist piece while <em>Zanni</em> is like a crazy Balkan folk dance.  The rhythm and melody are appropriate but the playing style stretches string technique to the limits; mostly in a percussive way.  The result is wild and exhilarating.</p> <p>We also got Danika&#8217;s <em>Cuisine Lyrique</em> for voice and melodica.  It&#8217;s a setting of two oems by Albert Giraud and the performer handles the vocals and the melodica part.  The second poem; <em>Absinthe</em>, gets a particularly wistful and playful setting which suggests a rather close acquaintance with the Green Fairy,  It was performed with skill and gentle humour by the composer.</p> <p>So, another unusual and enjoyable evening with the Happenstancers.  Try and catch them if they come your way.</p> Samson et Dalila https://parterre.com/2022/06/25/samson-et-dalila-4/ parterre box urn:uuid:50132651-0cac-0547-bdfc-3b5c89bf7a04 Sat, 25 Jun 2022 15:00:41 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/25/samson-et-dalila-4/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/samson-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/samson-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/samson-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/samson-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/samson-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/samson-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Baritone-turned-tenor<strong> SeokJong Baek</strong> and superstar mezzo <strong>Elina Garanca</strong> take the title roles in <strong>Richard Jones</strong>&#8216;s new production of Saint-Saëns&#8217;s biblical opera.</p> <p><img src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/samson-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83526" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/samson-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/samson-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/samson-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />Streaming and discussion <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/" rel="noopener" target="_blank">begin at 1:30 PM</a>.</p> “Opera is big and scary” https://parterre.com/2022/06/25/opera-is-big-and-scary/ parterre box urn:uuid:6cb4fdcf-b8ad-22c4-cd01-38b06c5119ab Sat, 25 Jun 2022 12:00:32 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/25/opera-is-big-and-scary/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/peil-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/peil-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/peil-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/peil-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/peil-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/peil-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Happy 82nd birthday to soprano and actress <strong>Mary Beth Peil</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7NpbPMpOss&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7NpbPMpOss</a></p> <p>On this day in 1870 Wagner&#8217;s <em>Die Walküre</em> premiered in Munich.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=a08o1iGM1Z0&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=a08o1iGM1Z0</a></p> <p>Born on this day in 1860 composer <strong>Gustave Charpentier</strong>.</p> <p>Born on this day in 1938 tenor <strong>Gianfranco Cecchele</strong>.</p> <p>Happy Pride Month to baritone <strong>Jarrett Ott</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=HO7OzXB1myM&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=HO7OzXB1myM</a></p> Rameau - Platée http://npw-opera-concerts.blogspot.com/2022/06/rameau-platee.html We left at the interval... urn:uuid:0dd6de5a-4b91-ff4c-0e23-76cfd4955937 Sat, 25 Jun 2022 11:26:00 +0000 <p><span style="font-family: arial;">ONP Garnier, Tuesday June 21 2022</span></p><span style="font-size: x-small;">Conductor: Mark Minkowski. Production and Costumes: Laurent Pelly. Sets: Chantal Thomas. Lighting: Joël Adam. Choreography: Laura Scozzi. Thespis: Mathias Vidal. Un satyre, Cithéron: Nahuel di Pierro. Momus: Marc Mauillon. Thalie, la folie: Julie Fuchs. L'amour, Clarine: Tamara Bounazou. Platée: Lawrence Brownlee. Jupiter: Jean Teitgen. Mercure: Reinoud Van Mechelen. Junon: Adriana Bignagni Lesca. Chorus of the Opéra National de Paris. Les Musiciens du Louvre.</span><div><span style="font-size: x-small;"><br /></span></div><div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEhHA55__dv81J5RvLcyu-6NPtMl7BPmZwVkxNW8B3pDxWPlEnJGVt_7rJDC-vc2BbgwoCw69_I-CXK25bcuANxdFRh6aQ4jU6igLo3pxQf-zhIj4pxLeN6e79auyBTxUmQb3YlR6H1SWZhrkQaooMT4H1ioin_NUhzTF5GHlBFVMTaQM2ATxT66N-PpUQ/s856/Screenshot%202022-06-24%20at%2012.46.05.png" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" data-original-height="568" data-original-width="856" height="424" src="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEhHA55__dv81J5RvLcyu-6NPtMl7BPmZwVkxNW8B3pDxWPlEnJGVt_7rJDC-vc2BbgwoCw69_I-CXK25bcuANxdFRh6aQ4jU6igLo3pxQf-zhIj4pxLeN6e79auyBTxUmQb3YlR6H1SWZhrkQaooMT4H1ioin_NUhzTF5GHlBFVMTaQM2ATxT66N-PpUQ/w640-h424/Screenshot%202022-06-24%20at%2012.46.05.png" width="640" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: xx-small;"><i>Photos: Guergana Damianova/ONP</i></span></td></tr></tbody></table><br /><div>Preparing to write this post about the Paris Opera's current revival of Laurent Pelly's near-legendary production of&nbsp;<i>Platée</i>, I was surprised not to find it already described somewhere on my blog. I know I <i>did</i> write it up: I still remember struggling to explain how the set, rows of theatre seats one above the other, breaks up and moulders away into the marshes as the evening progresses. But it must have been back in the days when websites sometimes inexplicably (unless deliberately hacked) crashed and exploded, and I guess the article was lost. As the present blog goes back, explosion-free, to March 2003, that means - eek! - it's nearly twenty years since I last saw the production, one of Pelly's most brilliant and detailed.</div></div><div><br /></div><div>It was an absolute treat to see it again, still bright as a button after all this time, and we (there were three of us) wondered in just how many instances (or probably more correctly, how few) other works in the operatic repertoire offer two-and-a-half hours of sheer, unadulterated entertainment to such a brilliant, inventive and often surprising score. To drag out a cliché, clichés often being quite truthful, useful things, there's never a dull moment from start to finish. <i>Platée</i> is one of Rameau's most engaging and extraordinary works.</div><div><br /></div><div>I'm not going to describe the production in detail again, but anyone not already familiar with it who'd like to take a look can find a 2002 video, with Paul Agnew, Mireille Delunsch, Yann Beuron, Vincent Le Texier, Doris Lamprecht, Laurent Naouri, Valérie Gabail and Frank Leguérinel in very decent picture quality on <i>YouTube,</i>&nbsp;and I've added it at the end of this post.</div><div><br /></div><div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEiXmXFgTvAOmnLzlpfii-x1MMTB9aAT9H4JJJCARAu5opWLJb8xqbQ2bH8ArMgXE9JbwqvsVr71jeFn8u-pDwpsie9x3zOTjTRRl7pZIUpfRNGLAZMe8OVCBCNrKMtK12nBbGc8HUvF6yFKQ1i2yzUf8hVXGMTsyegd83XOhwm_uIM9httyh3g6UjYiQQ" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="" data-original-height="566" data-original-width="855" height="424" src="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEiXmXFgTvAOmnLzlpfii-x1MMTB9aAT9H4JJJCARAu5opWLJb8xqbQ2bH8ArMgXE9JbwqvsVr71jeFn8u-pDwpsie9x3zOTjTRRl7pZIUpfRNGLAZMe8OVCBCNrKMtK12nBbGc8HUvF6yFKQ1i2yzUf8hVXGMTsyegd83XOhwm_uIM9httyh3g6UjYiQQ=w640-h424" width="640" /></a></div><br />Having been enthralled all evening, ideally seated near the middle of on the fourth row, I'm not, either, going to nitpick my way through the cast, comparing their performances in detail with what so enthralled me twenty years ago. I will say, though, that I really missed the cheeky comic and vocal charm of Yann Beuron, who back then sang both Thespis and Mercure, that Jean Teitgen was an excellent, resounding Jupiter&nbsp;and that Marc Mauillon was an almost equally satisfactory Momus. Their diction made supertitling superfluous.</div><div><br /></div><div>Julie Fuchs, the current 'owner' of the extensive, complex role of La Folie in this production, is less stark-staring-bonkers than Mireille Delunsch, but La Folie's successive numbers aren't limited to high jinks and fireworks: she has to demonstrate how, having stolen Apollo's lyre and with her supreme artistry, she can 'make even happiness sad', and Fuchs sang those more lyrical, minor key passages with a seductive timbre, less edgy than Delunsch's and melting phrasing. While the whole evening was at such a high standard, you could hardly say there were highlights at all, but her wonderful call to Hymen - a '<i>coup de génie</i>', as she herself puts it - where she's joined by the baritones and the chorus, was one. (Earlier, the furious storm, in which the Musiciens du louvre were just phenomenal, was another.)</div><div><br /></div><div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEhlrkUfGZS8ymuuMxebdjzfbdcvaDDcxNicuk83Ijb48wM2PWQJfbCMn_zu43fJkz_Zyw6m1LUZatabBbgRZNS05l-UIaJW_Lc75NuPkV0dI2M6PPN0lmC3k_ge7aZpriECFhDmd4CDJu-o9pWF9Up8xrIKoBwZOSaxUFLQ4FNC8s7uBVIvrKsYJuBBlQ" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="" data-original-height="569" data-original-width="857" height="424" src="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEhlrkUfGZS8ymuuMxebdjzfbdcvaDDcxNicuk83Ijb48wM2PWQJfbCMn_zu43fJkz_Zyw6m1LUZatabBbgRZNS05l-UIaJW_Lc75NuPkV0dI2M6PPN0lmC3k_ge7aZpriECFhDmd4CDJu-o9pWF9Up8xrIKoBwZOSaxUFLQ4FNC8s7uBVIvrKsYJuBBlQ=w640-h424" width="640" /></a></div><br />When this season's schedule came out last year, I should think nearly everyone was surprised to find Lawrence Brownlee cast as Platée. As far as I could ascertain from an omniscient expert in such matters, he'd never sung Rameau or even 'baroque' works before, and I know from a friend who's done it how hard the switch is from Italian <i>bel canto</i> to France's 17th-century repertoire, with its different demands and intentions, so focused on the word. Various people have now asked me specifically how Brownlee got on. Well, his certainly isn't the 'French sound' we may have come to expect with the re-emergence of the works of the period over the last 50 years (it's funny how much his occasional '<i>fioritures</i>' sound like Rossini - but was that only because we knew who he was and where he was coming from?) but my French friends were astounded by his diction, prosody and the degree to which he nevertheless absorbed the stylistic requirements of a repertoire he hasn't frequented before.</div><div><br /></div><div>It was perhaps less surprising to discover he's such a good comic actor. Once the prologue's over, Platée is on stage most of the time, and the demands of Pelly's in-detail characterisation of the role must be exhausting over the two-hour stretch, but he pulled it off to loud applause and even&nbsp; something of a standing ovation - as I've often said, a rarity in Paris.</div><div><br /></div><div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEg3uZcmDQaMXwKxbZXEjYEWO_1fbCe_w9dYzX4x5RCngCkIely1sYTF2k0yBGULz4rYJrnc8Ns9yE_HXJQyLLZClAX3cnxV2u5mxgwHjIIvU20ILXtIz3T6HmLG_QOLq-e89y9I5fpKK9OKm22HQTNJ3YPVkYqKtXcVLcmvoauSsrPvw1u9mqNON26EFA" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="" data-original-height="447" data-original-width="861" height="332" src="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEg3uZcmDQaMXwKxbZXEjYEWO_1fbCe_w9dYzX4x5RCngCkIely1sYTF2k0yBGULz4rYJrnc8Ns9yE_HXJQyLLZClAX3cnxV2u5mxgwHjIIvU20ILXtIz3T6HmLG_QOLq-e89y9I5fpKK9OKm22HQTNJ3YPVkYqKtXcVLcmvoauSsrPvw1u9mqNON26EFA=w640-h332" width="640" /></a></div><br />Just as I wondered, above, how many comic works of this standard - action and music - there are in the operatic repertoire, I was recently wondering 'aloud', so to speak, on a blog far more famous than mine, how many (or again, how few) operas might be thought near-perfect. The great&nbsp;<i>Platée</i> is, to me, surely one. What better way could there be to spend the evening of France's <i>Fête de la Musique</i>?</div><div><br /></div><div>Here's the 2020 video:</div><div><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" class="BLOG_video_class" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FqQgCK2J7fY" width="320" youtube-src-id="FqQgCK2J7fY"></iframe></div><div><br /></div>Tuesday evening's performance is now also on YouTube, but is probably less likely to stay there long:<div><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" class="BLOG_video_class" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/l09YCvUPOAc" width="320" youtube-src-id="l09YCvUPOAc"></iframe></div><br /><div><br /><div><br /></div></div> She’s way ahead https://parterre.com/2022/06/24/shes-way-ahead/ parterre box urn:uuid:72ec815a-099e-ba0d-3c18-13fc85c3c780 Fri, 24 Jun 2022 17:52:17 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/24/shes-way-ahead/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/michele-lee-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/michele-lee-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/michele-lee-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/michele-lee-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/michele-lee-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/michele-lee-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Happy 80th birthday actress and singer <strong>Michele Lee</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=wO5WZanE-S4&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=wO5WZanE-S4</a></p> <p>On this day in 1967 the Metropolitan Opera&#8217;s first Met in the Parks performance in Crocheron Park, Bayside, Queens: Puccini&#8217;s<em> La bohème</em> with <strong>Anna Moffo</strong>, <strong>Sandor Konya</strong>, <strong>Laurel Hurley</strong> and <strong>Frank Guarrera</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZGqTwL792g&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZGqTwL792g</a></p> <p>Birthday anniversaries of soprano <strong>Angeles Ottein</strong> (1895), composer and inventor <strong>Harry Partch</strong> (1901) and conductor <strong>Heinrich Hollreiser</strong> (1913).</p> <p>Happy Pride Month to tenor<strong> Ed Lyon</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbq91FG8BWI&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbq91FG8BWI</a></p> Violet, Music Theatre Wales, 23 June 2022 https://boulezian.blogspot.com/2022/06/violet-music-theatre-wales-23-june-2022.html Boulezian urn:uuid:ae6b5572-eaf0-1291-5278-172d24e38b89 Fri, 24 Jun 2022 11:50:08 +0000 <br />Hackney Empire<div><br /></div><div>Violet – Anna Dennis<br />Felix – Richard Burkhard<br />Laura – Frances Gregory<br />Clockkeeper – Andrew MacKenzie-Wicks<br /> <br />Jude Christian (director)<br />Maya Shimmin (assistant director)<br />Rosie Elnile (designs)<br />Cécile Trémolières (costumes)<br />Jackie Shemesh (lighting)<br />Adam Sinclair (animation)<br />Jasmin Kent Rodgman (bell sound design)<br /><br />Sound Intermedia (sound design)<div>London Sinfonietta</div><div>Andrew Gourlay (conductor)</div><div><br /><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">Completed in late 2019 and scheduled to premiere in the lost year of 2020, <i>Violet</i>, an excellent new one-act opera by Tom Coult and Alice Birch finally had its first performance earlier this month in Aldeburgh. Jude Christian’s production for Music Theatre Wales has now reached, for one night only, London’s Hackney Empire, under the Royal Opera House umbrella. In a pre-performance talk, Coult recalled his fears during that terrible intervening period that his first opera would prove a white elephant, that it would never be seen, that the companies involved would go bankrupt, and so on. Whilst I am sure it will be no comfort, the greater hunger so many of us feel for live performance following its enforced suppression may well have resulted in a more warmly appreciative reception. At any rate, a large as well as enthusiastic audience greeted <i>Violet</i>’s London premiere, current transport difficulties notwithstanding.</span><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">Time is, quite literally, of the essence here. It is the first word we hear; it haunts libretto, score, and stage action; we experience the dark side of both its regularity and what might happen, were it to malfunction. The overarching concept is of a world in which, suddenly and without direct explanation, each day an hour is lost; the number of the day (increasing) and the number of its hours (decreasing) displayed by the somewhat mysterious Clockkeeper. It is surely not for nothing that the clock resembles a gallows, nor that Violet’s husband Felix, the stunting, repressive conventionality of whose domestic regime seems to mirror that of society at large, ends up being hanged from it. There are prospects of liberation, or at least rebellion: depressed and holed up in her time-regulated household, Violet grasps the possibility of being different, even of living. But all the while, time is lost—and crucially, one hears that musically, in the contest of narrowing and widening horizons. Like a temporal concertina, the frame is clear, but within that framing, when possibilities are presented, stylistic variety asserts itself. Birch’s precise yet open language is not so much mirrored as complemented, expanded upon, by Coult’s score. That is to say, this is (on my terms, anyway) a real opera, not a mere play set to music.</span><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">A thirteen-strong London Sinfonietta ensemble, directed with sympathy and understanding by Andrew Gourlay, ensured that conventional and less conventional instruments (e.g. pitch pipes, dog clickers, and kalimba, as well as prepared instruments and different tunings for strings) combine, associate, and dissociate with a combination of clockwork precision and ominous disarray such as characterises the work ‘itself’. The work is introduced and punctuated by passages of electronic music, based on bell sounds (tolling, pealing, or something else?) on which Coult collaborated with Jasmin Kent Rodgman. What, <i>in abstracto</i>, might seem obvious musical devices—perhaps they are, yet so what?—such as prolongation and other transformation of musical material as time runs out make their point frighteningly well. Coult writes evocatively of the music becoming ‘more desiccated, frayed, curdled’; that is very much what we hear. <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;</span></span><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">Christian’s staging, focused straightforwardly on Violet’s kitchen and the clock, tells the story intelligently and, again, openly. We are never told what to think, but we are supported in doing so. Cécile Trémolières’s costumes breathe the same air of restriction, yet never constrain us to a particular time or place. Transformations in Violet’s mood are milestones—or perhaps not, since nothing is averted. Anna Dennis’s assumption of the title role is authoritative: assured and again suggesting ambiguity in what we might make of it. Although an announcement was made concerning Burkhard’s recovery from illness, one would not have known. His dark yet subtle malevolence was part and parcel of that created by composer and librettist. Frances Gregory’s Laura hovered tantalisingly between escape and capitulation, similar to Violet, yet different. Andrew MacKenzie Wicks gave a striking performance of the acts—and non-acts—of the Clockkeeper, keeping his cards properly close to his chest.</span><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">There are hints that the catastrophe is in part environmental, but that is not the principal point and may not be the cause. For time runs out as cruelly as it governs our ‘normal’ lives. A final scene frames and intensifies our response. A mediated world of banal quiz shows, time again at a premium, and military conflict, likewise, plays out: that ‘out’ as crucial as in the prior action. There is a political point here; indeed, there are several. It is up to us, though, to divine what it is, what we should do, how we must change. Like Violet emerging from her depression, then; and yet, if such would be the outcome, what might be the point? The hope we lost in 2020, the hope we should have heard in <i>Fidelio</i>, had it and Beethoven not been silenced in his anniversary year, become ever more distant. Late capitalism becomes ever later; the very automation that should afford us greater leisure, even greater freedom, continues to benefit not the many, but the few. Redistribution of wealth, of time, of hope must wait, although—as in the scene when Felix tries to glean from the Clockkeeper just what is going on—no one tells us why.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;"><br /></span></p></div></div> More on Symptomatic COVID and Vaccination https://medicine-opera.com/2022/06/more-on-symptomatic-covid-and-vaccination/ Neil Kurtzman urn:uuid:1a874456-c5cb-a286-9362-7d9fa0e86b42 Fri, 24 Jun 2022 02:18:01 +0000 The New England Journal of Medicine has published online Effects of Previous Infection and Vaccination on Symptomatic Omicron Infections. The study by the Cornell Medicine–Qatar group of investigators has received some attention in the lay press and has even been interpreted as showing that under certain circumstances that vaccination increases the likelihood of contracting the... <p><em>The New England Journal of Medicine</em> has published online <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2203965?query=featured_home" target="_blank">Effects of Previous Infection and Vaccination on Symptomatic Omicron Infections</a>. The study by the Cornell Medicine–Qatar group of investigators has received some attention in the lay press and has even been interpreted as showing that under certain circumstances that <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://www.theepochtimes.com/vaccination-increases-risk-of-covid-19-but-infection-without-vaccination-gives-immunity-study_4544042.html?utm_source=News&amp;utm_campaign=breaking-2022-06-21-2&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;est=ybXj6hs%2B9FJ4r%2BXcd6OuowCzdY0wV%2FOH0p7xHuUmgx4h4%2FK10L8abAq3VTNxu0FKv9Yg" target="_blank">vaccination increases the likelihood of contracting the infection</a>. It doesn&#8217;t. But there&#8217;s a lot less and more to the work than first meets the eye.</p> <p>What was done was &#8220;a national, matched, test-negative, case–control study in Qatar from December 23, 2021, through February 21, 2022, to evaluate the effectiveness of vaccination with BNT162b2 (Pfizer–BioNTech) or mRNA-1273 (Moderna), natural immunity due to previous infection with variants other than omicron, and hybrid immunity (previous infection and vaccination) against symptomatic omicron infection and against severe, critical, or fatal coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).&#8221; For simplicity and as an aid to comprehension I&#8217;ll call the first vaccine <em>Pfizer</em> and the other <em>Moderna</em>. </p> <p>The investigators examined a database in Qatar from December 23, 2021, through February 21, 2022. This period was during a high incidence of COVID infection from the Omicron variant of the virus. Both the BA.1 and BA.2 variants were examined. The reader must consider that Qatar has a population which is 91% under age 50. A test-negative, case–control design, in which effectiveness estimates were derived by comparing the odds of previous infection or vaccination or both among case participants (persons with a positive PCR test) with that among controls (PCR-negative persons). Five groups were compared with the group that had no previous infection and no vaccination. </p> <p>The authors conclude that no discernable differences in protection against symptomatic BA.1 and BA.2 infection were seen with previous infection, vaccination, and hybrid immunity. Vaccination enhanced protection among persons who had had a previous infection. Hybrid immunity resulting from previous infection and recent booster vaccination conferred protection a little higher than from infection alone (data not shown). The essential findings of the the study are shown in the figure below.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-full is-resized"><a href="https://i0.wp.com/medicine-opera.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/covid-and-vaccination.jpg?ssl=1"><img src="https://i0.wp.com/medicine-opera.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/covid-and-vaccination.jpg?resize=500%2C484&#038;ssl=1" alt="" class="wp-image-29102" width="500" height="484" srcset="https://i0.wp.com/medicine-opera.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/covid-and-vaccination.jpg?w=807&amp;ssl=1 807w, https://i0.wp.com/medicine-opera.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/covid-and-vaccination.jpg?resize=300%2C290&amp;ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/medicine-opera.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/covid-and-vaccination.jpg?resize=768%2C743&amp;ssl=1 768w, https://i0.wp.com/medicine-opera.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/covid-and-vaccination.jpg?resize=570%2C552&amp;ssl=1 570w" sizes="(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px" data-recalc-dims="1" /></a></figure> <p>The top panel has the Pfizer data while those from the Moderna vaccine are in the bottom. As is readily apparent the best protection was observed in subjects that were 4-6 months post infection. The effectiveness of vaccination alone was essentially nonexistent in the two dose regimen, but was more robust when three doses of either vaccine were administered. What caught the eye of the lay press was the -10.3 effectiveness of the Moderna two dose regimen at more than 6 months. What the study shows is that vaccination alone has a transitory efficacy that is completely gone at 6 months. The three dose course was more effective than the two, but its duration is not apparent from this study.</p> <p>The likelihood of a booster vaccination combined with prior infection conveying superior protection against symptomatic disease is suggested by this study, but the data are of insufficient duration to allow such a conclusion. Note that prior infection conveys much longer protection than does vaccination given to subjects who had not been infected prior to vaccination. Also the study population was young and relatively healthy. Whether results in a population older and with significant comorbidity would be similar to those of this study is not known. The effectiveness, side effects, frequency of dose, and applicability of COVID vaccination needs more study. </p> <p></p> <p></p> The sound of silence https://parterre.com/2022/06/23/the-sound-of-silence-2/ parterre box urn:uuid:8f8f0d9f-4924-6f8c-150e-dfa5fe26d358 Thu, 23 Jun 2022 14:00:52 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/23/the-sound-of-silence-2/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/schweigsame-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/schweigsame-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/schweigsame-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/schweigsame-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/schweigsame-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/schweigsame-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p><em>Die Schweigsame Frau</em>, in a Munich performance featuring <strong>Kurt Moll</strong>, <strong>Julie Kaufmann, Francisco Araiza</strong> and <strong>Wolfgang Rauch</strong> conducted by <strong>Wolfgang Sawallisch</strong>.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83491" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/schweigsame-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/schweigsame-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/schweigsame-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/schweigsame-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /><em>Die Schweigsame Frau, </em>Richard Strauss’s <em>other </em>“Woman,” is the operatic centerpiece of <a href="https://fishercenter.bard.edu/events/the-silent-woman/2022-07-22/">this summer’s Bard Summerscape</a> which Trove Thursday previews with a Munich performance featuring <strong>Kurt Moll</strong>, <strong>Julie Kaufmann, Francisco Araiza</strong> and <strong>Wolfgang Rauch</strong> conducted by <strong>Wolfgang Sawallisch</strong>.</p> <p>Strauss’s comic opera to a libretto by Stefan Zweig premiered in Dresden in 1935 and remains one of the composer’s least-performed works. Zweig’s text freely adapts Ben Jonson’s early 17th century comedy <em>Epicoene </em>by changing its title character from a young boy to a woman who works a plot to fool a rich old bachelor. The many resemblances to Donizetti’s <em>Don Pasquale </em>are surely intentional.</p> <p>The first cast included <strong>Friedrich Plaschke</strong> as Sir Morosus, the most prominent of the five roles the bass-baritone created for Strauss beginning with the First Nazarene in <em>Salome </em>thirty years earlier. By the way, <strong>Eva von der Osten</strong>, Plaschke’s wife, was <em>Der Rosenkavalier’</em>s first Octavian.</p> <p><strong>Maria Cebotari</strong>, then just 25, became the first soprano to sing the “Silent Woman;” her role of Aminta is regularly taken by high coloratura sopranos who also perform Strauss’s Zerbinetta. But Cebotari, before her early death at age 39, took on an extraordinarily wide repertoire that also included <em>Salome </em>and <em>Turandot</em>! A noted coloratura, <strong>Erna Sack</strong>, performed the smaller role of Isotta and <strong>Kurt Böhme</strong>, who was the first Vanuzzi, later became a noted Morosus.</p> <p>Since the war, the Bayerische and Wiener Staatsopers have become <em>Schweigsame Frau</em>’s biggest advocates. Vienna’s first production in 1968 was led by <strong>Oskar Czerwenka</strong> and <strong>Mimi Coertse</strong>, and the opera would then become an important vehicle there for <strong>Edita Gruberová</strong>. Twenty years later, <strong>Kurt Rydl</strong> and <strong>Natalie Dessay</strong> premiered a new Vienna production, while Dessay would also be Aminta in Paris at the Châtelet in 2001.</p> <p>Munich probably performs <em>Schweigsame Frau </em>more often than any other company. Today’s in-house recording features Moll at 50 in one of his most celebrated roles. He was just 34 when he first took on the part in the celebrated 1971 <strong>Günther Rennert</strong> production which regularly featured <strong>Reri Grist</strong>. Munich finally replaced the Rennert in 2010 casting Rydl and <strong>Diana Damrau</strong> as the unhappily “married” couple.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2cGRrjdUUQ&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2cGRrjdUUQ</a></p> <p>Before tenor Jonas became one of its resident stars, the Bayerische Staatsoper’s leading Kaufmann was soprano Julie, an American whose career took place almost entirely in Europe. She can also be heard in two other Munich performances previously featured on Trove Thursday: as Zdenka to <strong>Lucia Popp</strong>’s <a href="https://parterre.com/2017/09/28/debuts-and-farewells/">Arabella</a> and as <em>Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor’</em>s <a href="https://parterre.com/2022/03/31/sir-john-in-munich/">Anna Reich</a> when she again appears with both Popp and Moll.</p> <p>Besides Grist and Kaufmann, other North American sopranos who have excelled as Aminta include <strong>Patricia Wise</strong>, <strong>Jane Archibald</strong> and <strong>Brenda Rae</strong>, the latter has taken over in Munich from Damrau. <strong>Joan Carroll</strong> headlined the 1958 US premiere of <em>Schweigsame Frau </em>(in English) at the New York City Opera; she would later appear in the title role of <em>Lulu </em>at <em>its </em>first performances at the US with the Santa Fe Opera. That <em>Lulu</em>’s designer was <strong>Rudolf Heinrich</strong>, who happened to be married to Carroll!</p> <p>Araiza’s role today of Henry, Morosus’s nephew and Aminta’s husband, was notably taken by <strong>Fritz Wunderlich</strong> both at the 1959 Salzburg Festival with <strong>Hilde Güden</strong> and <strong>Hans Hotter</strong> and at Buenos Aires’s Teatro Colón two years later conspiring against Böhme with <strong>Ingeborg Hallstein</strong>. Carroll’s City Opera Henry was <strong>John Alexander</strong>, who sang nearly everything.</p> <p>Santa Fe, a company much interested in Strauss, finally got around to <em>Schweigsame Frau </em>in 1987 when <strong>Erie Mills</strong> tricked <strong>Marius Rintzler</strong>, then <strong>Eric Halfvarson </strong>in 1991. Pittsburgh Opera Theater SummerFest performed the work in 2016, likely its most recent US production before Bard’s opens on July 22. For those who can’t make it to the Fisher Center’s Sosnoff Theater, the premiere will be <a href="https://tickets.fishercenter.bard.edu/components/precart?exec=true&amp;procedureId=65&amp;force=0&amp;target=%2Fevents%3Fk%5C%3DVirtual_Opera">livestreamed</a> (for a fee) with a repeat available on July 30.</p> <p>This comic <em>Frau </em>is sometimes criticized as being overlong given its slim premise. Yet many performances, including today’s, feature substantial cuts and include just over two hours of music.</p> <hr /> <p><strong> Strauss: <em>Die Schweigsame Frau</em></strong></p> <p>Aminta: Julie Kaufmann<br /> Haushälterin: Margarethe Bence<br /> Isotta: Angela-Maria Blasi<br /> Carlotta: Birgit Calm<br /> Sir Morosus: Kurt Moll<br /> Barbier: Wolfgang Rauch<br /> Henry Morosus: Francisco Araiza<br /> Vanuzzi: Alfred Kuhn<br /> Morbio: Hans-Günther Nöcker<br /> Farfallo: Kieth Engen</p> <p>Conductor: Wolfgang Sawallisch<br /> Bayerische Staatsoper<br /> 22 July 1988</p> <p>In-house recording</p> <p><iframe title="Embed Player" src="//play.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/23514815/height/192/theme/modern/size/large/thumbnail/yes/custom-color/4a3b2a/time-start/00:00:00/hide-playlist/yes/download/yes" height="192" width="100%" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="" webkitallowfullscreen="true" mozallowfullscreen="true" oallowfullscreen="true" msallowfullscreen="true" style="border: none;"></iframe></p> <p><em>Schweigsame Frau </em>can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a cloud with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.</p> <p>In addition, nearly 600 other podcast tracks are always available from <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/trove-thursday/id1039652739">Apple Podcasts</a> for free, or via any <a href="http://parterre.com/podcast/trovethursday.rss">RSS reader</a>. The archive which lists all Trove Thursday offerings in alphabetical order by composer  has <a href="https://parterre.com/the-trove-thursday-archive/">recently been updated</a>.</p> Of dreamless ease fled she https://parterre.com/2022/06/23/of-dreamless-ease-fled-she/ parterre box urn:uuid:c6f4e243-2d2f-60c1-5e91-c5d7eba24972 Thu, 23 Jun 2022 12:00:17 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/23/of-dreamless-ease-fled-she/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/irene-worth-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/irene-worth-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/irene-worth-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/irene-worth-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/irene-worth-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/irene-worth-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Born on this day in 1916 actress<strong> Irene Worth</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZ-hMZ5kpKE&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZ-hMZ5kpKE</a></p> <p>Born on this day in 1927 dancer and choreographer <strong>Bob Fosse</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=XE0AvrTjDD0&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=XE0AvrTjDD0</a></p> <p>Born on this day in 1943 conductor J____ L_____.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cl_jp0EnV1Q&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cl_jp0EnV1Q</a></p> <p>Happy 66th birthday soprano <strong>Sylvia McNair</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhhNTDXqPp0&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhhNTDXqPp0</a></p> <p>Birthday anniversaries of composer<strong> Ernest Guiraud</strong> (1837) and tenors <strong>Kenneth McKellar</strong> (1927) and <strong>William Cochran</strong> (1943).</p> Shoot your shot https://parterre.com/2022/06/22/shoot-your-shot-2/ parterre box urn:uuid:496d3051-a5fc-fc24-95fe-7ae4bc201708 Wed, 22 Jun 2022 17:15:59 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/22/shoot-your-shot-2/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marksman-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marksman-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marksman-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marksman-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marksman-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marksman-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Director <strong>R.B. Schlather</strong> deftly walks a porous boundary, casting this primordial paroxysm of Germanness as a dialogue between its naïve and moralistic narrative with its outsized legacy.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83485" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marksman-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marksman-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marksman-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marksman-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />Ahead of a Parisian production of <strong>Carl Maria von Weber</strong>’s canonical 1821 opera <em>Der Freischütz</em>, <strong>Alex Ross,</strong> in <em>Wagnerism,</em> paraphrases Wagner’s opinion that the “supernatural dimension of <em>Freischütz</em> —its magic bullets, its enchanted forest, its Wolf’s Glen —would mystify Parisian audiences who were accustomed to promenading in the Bois de Boulogne. Only the melancholy, questing German spirit, steeped in the lore of the Black Forest and the Teutoberger Wald, could feel at home in Weber’s opera.”</p> <p>For much of what falls under the umbrella to “German opera,” from progressive innovations in musical storytelling to nationalistic overtones appropriated to a eugenicist end, this opera is the furthest reach of its genealogy. And its robust choral and orchestral writing, Leitmotives, folksy Hofbrau air, and twinge of the supernatural in its triumphant creation of atmosphere are palpable in the works of German composers that would follow (namely Wagner), many integral to both the construction of the identity Germany presented to the world as well as the German understanding of that identity.</p> <p>For Wolf Trap’s production, the first opera in its summer season (billed as <em>The Marksman</em>), director <strong>R.B. Schlather</strong> deftly walks a porous boundary, casting this primordial paroxysm of Germanness as a dialogue between its naïve and moralistic narrative with its outsized legacy.</p> <p>It’s a quirky, spiky Oktoberfest nightmare that, with some small liberties taken on the libretto, remains atmospheric and eerie (lighting designer <strong>Masha Tsimring</strong> gets some credit for that) while letting an excellent cast of young singers thrive in the intimate environment of Wolf Trap’s Barns, a venue perfectly suited to this sharpshooting show.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83486" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marksman-2.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marksman-2.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marksman-2-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marksman-2-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>In Schlather’s vision, Max, a forester in love with Agathe, daughter of a prominent forester, is tentative and bullied. To win Agathe’s hand, he must score in a shooting trial. <strong>Robert Stahley</strong> presents as earnest and childlike, but his firm, muscular Heldentenor is anything but. Though a certain limpidity or lyricism is absent from his singing, he tirelessly exudes gravitas and individuality throughout a production that has him rolling on the stage nearly from his first entrance.</p> <p>The trouble is that Max is not a very good shot; to pass the test, he is drawn in by the Mephistophelean Kaspar, another forester with vendettas against Max, Agathe, and Kuno, her father. <strong>Cory McGee</strong>, whose icy bass is complemented by an immense and sadistic physicality, eats the part for breakfast. Kaspar invokes Samiel, the “Black Huntsman,” to guide one of the bullets he will forge with Max in the opera’s Wolf’s Glen scene to hit Agathe instead.</p> <p>Schalther’s most significant liberty with the libretto (other than cutting most of the spoken dialogue) is removing the character of Samiel, a pivotal spoken role, and instead having Kaspar take his lines in their exchanges.</p> <p>In absenting a physical manifestation of evil, the groupthink-in-Tracht so viciously embodied by the chorus, musically incisive and dressed excellently by <strong>Mattie</strong> <strong>Ullrich</strong>, is concentrated and fills that physical void with something more abstract and nefarious. The opera itself becomes what it eventually begot before our eyes —and there yet remains a love story to resolve!</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83487" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marksman-3.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marksman-3.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marksman-3-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/marksman-3-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>D.C. audiences have had ample opportunity to hear and be impressed by <strong>Alexandria Shiner</strong>, but nowhere has she shone as brightly as she does here as Agathe. In what was otherwise a very loud evening, the intimacy of the Barns posed no constraint to Shiner’s huge, glinting soprano —she manipulates it, slimming down her dynamic and resonance, with such skill without sacrificing her tone’s natural refulgence that it only draws attention to her attentive, fluid phrasing choices. Her aria, “Leise, leise,” ebbed gently at first, gradually coaxed into a soaring showcase.</p> <p>That she appeared somewhat staid onstage only gave <strong>Sunwoo Park</strong>’s spunky Ännchen something to play off of. Schalter positions Ännchen, a perky young relative of Agathe, as a wry conduit between the characters and the audience. If Park’s nondescript yet competent soprano wasn’t especially memorable, she displayed a unique comfort with the text, her lines getting laughs even before the surtitles caught up.</p> <p>Ännchen’s breaking the fourth wall is effective preparation for the final scene, when the whole company faces the audience to deliver the story’s very Lutheran moral about trusting in the Father’s gentleness after Agathe, through the providence of a local hermit (fabulously costumed and richly sung by <strong>David Weigel</strong>), has survived her otherworldly assassination attempt.</p> <p>Buoyed by the orchestral playing under <strong>Lidiya Yankovskaya</strong>, scarily cohesive with a sense of Romantic indulgence in both timbres and tempi, the didactic resolution fits the production’s exaggeratedly simplistic Personenregie, even if bringing up the house lights did not do quite enough to bridge the gap from their world to ours.</p> <p>But that ungainly jump from subtext to context that modern performances of canonical works often ask us to make is all too fitting a parallel for this opera itself. <em>Der Freischütz</em> was never a repertory staple in the United States (nor, as Wagner predicted, in Paris). But, as this excellent staging shows, it is palpable and illuminating everywhere.</p> “Pain and danger and fear” https://parterre.com/2022/06/22/pain-and-danger-and-fear/ parterre box urn:uuid:677c2f78-7782-312e-c263-11064bf9b1ec Wed, 22 Jun 2022 12:00:39 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/22/pain-and-danger-and-fear/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/scales-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/scales-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/scales-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/scales-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/scales-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/scales-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Happy 90th birthday to actress<strong> Prunella Scales</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-eZnC5H09U&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-eZnC5H09U</a></p> <p>&#8220;The charming sitcom is all very well, but good comedy is based on pain and danger and fear.&#8221; — Prunella Scales</p> <p>Born on this day in 1910 tenor <strong>Peter Pears</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCVNAYikjbE&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCVNAYikjbE</a></p> <p>Born on this day in 1904 choreographer and opera director <strong>Margarita Wallmann</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=rR6jI87y7Aw&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=rR6jI87y7Aw</a></p> The Excursions of Mr Brouček, Grange Park Opera, 18 June 2022 https://boulezian.blogspot.com/2022/06/the-excursions-of-mr-broucek-grange.html Boulezian urn:uuid:4e177793-403d-542c-136d-484ac79924fd Tue, 21 Jun 2022 18:41:56 +0000 <br />The Theatre in the Woods <br /><br />Mr Brouček – Peter Hoare<br />Málinka, Etherea, Kunka – Fflur Wyn <br />Mazal, Bounzincek, Petrik, Svatopluk – Mark Le Brocq <br />Würfl, Paycek, Councillor – Andrew Shore <br />Sacristan, Dudcek, Domšík – Clive Bayley <br />Kedruta – Anne-Marie Owens <br />Spotcek, Vojta, Raincek, Mirosla – Adrian Thompson <br />Postdatedcek – Jonathan Kennedy <br />Child Prodigy – Pasquale Orchard <br />Spotcek – Robin Horgan <br />Farty – Benjie del Rosario <br />Taborite I – Toki Hamano <br />Arty, Taborite I – Marcus Swietlicki <br />Dancers – Lauren Bridle, Bridget Lappin, Arianne Morgan, Luke Murphy, Jay Yule <br /><br />David Pountney (director) <br />Leslie Travers (designs) <br />Marie-Jean Lecca (costumes) <br />Tim Mitchell (lighting) <br />Lynne Hockney (choreography) <br /><br />BBC Concert Orchestra <br />George Jackson (conductor)<div>&nbsp; <br /><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEiGNEFR9A99bZpcGELyMS0mC3a6jybhSIz1JWwTzIi4yUpCi1hwW_Zs-l09ZLyiZr11oPAi7c2roTq7T1rvPOiwlFWjcQHvulknIFhe2xQ6BAIZLzLLk9QLbme6gG9ve6JYts_xoWX_Tw_kRNDipC_72usV5gvwLTR4XAnoTZugZbJNIo9_tNQeKOcwKg" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img alt="" data-original-height="1706" data-original-width="2560" height="426" src="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEiGNEFR9A99bZpcGELyMS0mC3a6jybhSIz1JWwTzIi4yUpCi1hwW_Zs-l09ZLyiZr11oPAi7c2roTq7T1rvPOiwlFWjcQHvulknIFhe2xQ6BAIZLzLLk9QLbme6gG9ve6JYts_xoWX_Tw_kRNDipC_72usV5gvwLTR4XAnoTZugZbJNIo9_tNQeKOcwKg=w640-h426" width="640" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Bounzincek (Mark Le Brocq) and an artist on the moon<br />Images: Marc Brenner</td></tr></tbody></table><br /></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">Hats off to Grange Park Opera for unquestionably the best of the four ‘country house’ operas I have seen so far this season. First, and perhaps most important, with respect to the work itself: Janáček’s <i>The Excursions of Mr Brouček</i>. I suppose it might be theoretically possible to reach a state in which Janáček’s music was heard too often, though it might not. (Imagine saying such a thing of Bach or Mozart.) If it is, though, we are nowhere near that yet. Yet the Janáček operas we see staged are mostly, perhaps understandably, restricted to three: <i>Jenůfa</i>, <i>Katya Kabanova</i>, and <i>The Cunning Little Vixen</i>. We must go beyond <i>The Makropulos Case</i> and even <i>From the House of the Dead</i> to reach <i>Mr Brouček</i>. Doubtless some in the Grange Park Opera audience had seen it in the theatre before, but I had not, and was immensely grateful to have the opportunity to do so, let alone for it to be performed so well.</span><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><i><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">Mr Brouček</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;"> will doubtless always be a problematical work, in a way that the aforementioned popular (relatively speaking) trio will not. Its two-part structure will probably always require effort to bring together—if, indeed, such is the dramaturgical aim. But art is certainly not always about perfection, or approaches to it. Sometimes, it is about quite the opposite. The first part’s satire against pretentious avant-gardism, or perhaps better derrière-gardism, hits home more readily for a modern, or at least non-Czech, audience than the second, more preoccupied with Czech national mythology—although a little grounding helps us on our way. Nationalism, after all, remains sadly too universal. But the other part of the satire is against the antihero himself: the philistine who has little idea what he is doing in Prague, let alone on the Moon or in the fifteenth century. To that, we can and should all relate. No one likes a landlord, after all, especially one who boasts of having no mortgage, only a three-storey house. You can begin to see why the opera will never touch as <i>Katya </i>does. That is not its purpose. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;"><o:p>&nbsp;<table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEjeksHTiv1OhkP6UiYSoAv0npu984O6es4V2jGIKFCP9Xt1Xox3lqVsXpev1QeMJQPesHTMF1sRnBt6AY_ZVBoKryzIMK29oLj9BJip60c6_Rh9LRpg1cfzWT97ADr8ME-8lK5TyhpDwPjt3pZbQPEp7TcFhQuyFgz_ytffECU1WKGyMftmwNtkF_1hmw" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img alt="" data-original-height="1707" data-original-width="2560" height="426" src="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEjeksHTiv1OhkP6UiYSoAv0npu984O6es4V2jGIKFCP9Xt1Xox3lqVsXpev1QeMJQPesHTMF1sRnBt6AY_ZVBoKryzIMK29oLj9BJip60c6_Rh9LRpg1cfzWT97ADr8ME-8lK5TyhpDwPjt3pZbQPEp7TcFhQuyFgz_ytffECU1WKGyMftmwNtkF_1hmw=w640-h426" width="640" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Málinka (Fflur Wyn)</td></tr></tbody></table><br /></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">David Pountney’s production pulls out all the stops for a frankly zany trip from Prague to the moon, clarified and extended by Marie-Jean Lecca’s imaginative costuming. Leslie Travers’s brilliant set for the former captures an almost childlike delight in city models, as well as the, or at least an, idea of Prague. The empty pretentiousness of the moon artists—Pountney has fun, using his own, free English version of the text, creating names such as Spotcek, Raincek, and Postdatedcek—engenders an intoxication of its own. It is fun to watch, which guards us against too ready identification with Brouček. ‘We must each fight our inner Brouček,’ Janáček insisted. A similar, yet different mix of magical constructivism informs the still more bewildering—for many—and darker trip to the Prague of the Hussite rebellion. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;"><o:p>&nbsp;<table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEiAmjCfXNlQtnTQL1a4LkqmJFWdPcXCDFmfMMriOBTQDdBMQxxcD7NvQPkCSddWLeru39e70HNIWH2r3zGAyWb0ufrhIEIIPVpDPNeXwnFwwSB7VL0E1vEuBP6wu7726PtkggZYu0lVhQIOznHcZWGjHligshjS1S2SU0DcUv5RnHsRW89IjnIY_f-pNw" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img alt="" data-original-height="2560" data-original-width="1707" height="480" src="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEiAmjCfXNlQtnTQL1a4LkqmJFWdPcXCDFmfMMriOBTQDdBMQxxcD7NvQPkCSddWLeru39e70HNIWH2r3zGAyWb0ufrhIEIIPVpDPNeXwnFwwSB7VL0E1vEuBP6wu7726PtkggZYu0lVhQIOznHcZWGjHligshjS1S2SU0DcUv5RnHsRW89IjnIY_f-pNw" width="320" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Mr Brouček (Peter Hoare)</td></tr></tbody></table><br /></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">Whether one cares for the (literal) toilet (brush) humour of the interlude between the visits, will be a matter of taste. <i>Monty Python </i>is not my thing, but if it is yours, you will almost certainly love Pountney’s more outrageous excurses. Sometimes, though, I wondered where the heart was, especially during the Moon-trip. Is there not something more positive to say about artistic creation too? The answer, I suppose, would be that it lies in the score (and, indeed, in the artistic endeavour of performance and reception itself. It arguably suggested itself onstage at the end, when the innkeeper Würfl collected his drunken patron, laughed at his tall tales, but also walked him away in camaraderie. Perhaps that was enough. Again, that will probably be as much a matter of taste or inclination as anything else.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEhpUmt-ZkJ_hvlg34W2SpQXUtXHJV2xCNZy7JoKN4FLP2KQyJc6Hbe-xOEIflEf-rku3ghbNHePQ_mv7tuxyMAeGP3xDDAwAp4MYBedmMG6JV78fZxbGCfjyNjYfyQOMX9eS0MzaqNn2kQKW09bNl5ez2Fv0BiZIXb09VarmKIOvhYU7MM39WpNwo6l6A" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="" data-original-height="1707" data-original-width="2560" height="426" src="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEhpUmt-ZkJ_hvlg34W2SpQXUtXHJV2xCNZy7JoKN4FLP2KQyJc6Hbe-xOEIflEf-rku3ghbNHePQ_mv7tuxyMAeGP3xDDAwAp4MYBedmMG6JV78fZxbGCfjyNjYfyQOMX9eS0MzaqNn2kQKW09bNl5ez2Fv0BiZIXb09VarmKIOvhYU7MM39WpNwo6l6A=w640-h426" width="640" /></a></div><br /><p></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">Peter Hoare’s Brouček captured well the contradictions not only of the character, but of our response(s) to him. This was a typically intelligent performance, which held the stage, amused, and touched without sentimentality. Fflur Wyn’s Málinka and other roles were lively, characterful, and rooted in, yet far from hidebound by, the text. Such is the magic of theatre, and such might be said of any number of the cast, including Mark Le Brocq’s handful of roles, Andrew Shore’s, and Clive Bayley’s, as well as Anne-Marie Owens's Kedruta. This was very much a company effort, which did Grange Park Opera proud, enthralling an audience that could all too readily have registered mere bemusement at the work’s oddity.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;"><o:p><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEiocPXtgKKf5ABJ-_MdyHZdKK5f_OuwnwqMJBdWEaWXt3w6NsdzgQPTb7QSDbHEHajJ_p5QfKum4PvPRqYHbpYuSjybh0xuwzV9Fa4Zm9HEq62eApnQuno84-dgLxRyEglaOGW_s9ePZE9v0tEz353TDMUxCZZRVYOxppsvOG2vHVbXUeDHBksLyzAcRg" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img alt="" data-original-height="2560" data-original-width="1707" height="400" src="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEiocPXtgKKf5ABJ-_MdyHZdKK5f_OuwnwqMJBdWEaWXt3w6NsdzgQPTb7QSDbHEHajJ_p5QfKum4PvPRqYHbpYuSjybh0xuwzV9Fa4Zm9HEq62eApnQuno84-dgLxRyEglaOGW_s9ePZE9v0tEz353TDMUxCZZRVYOxppsvOG2vHVbXUeDHBksLyzAcRg=w267-h400" width="267" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Domsik (Clive Bayley)</td></tr></tbody></table></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;"><br /></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">George Jackson’s traversal of the score elicited my unqualified admiration, as did the playing of the BBC Concert Orchestra. Incisive and expansive, earthy and soaring, above all attuned to those fabled speech rhythms and their unpredictable, magical combination into form and structure, this was as fine a Janáček performance as I have heard for some time, all the more so for its revelation of relatively unfamiliar territory. Time and time, presentiments of the <i>Vixen</i>’s world shone through, anchoring these ‘excursions’ in a common humanity and inspiring us to go forth and create it. The score emerged possessed of the musical, <i>scherzando</i>brilliance of the more or less contemporary <i>Gianni Schicchi</i>, if perhaps less single-minded, at any rate without the latter work’s dramaturgical precision, considered as a whole. We might say Janáček’s <i>musical</i>dramaturgy is more adventurous, though much depends what one means. Whatever our thoughts on that, this was a musical banquet beautifully and, at the last, movingly served.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;"><br /></span></p></div> Dream on https://parterre.com/2022/06/21/dream-on/ parterre box urn:uuid:67f87fdc-17b0-128b-e259-07ea05b29e19 Tue, 21 Jun 2022 17:07:40 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/21/dream-on/"><img width="720" height="246" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/dream-header-720x246.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/dream-header-720x246.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/dream-header-300x103.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/dream-header-768x263.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/dream-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/dream-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>The second act of <em>Dream of the Red Chamber</em> reached the apex and provided the audience with soul-stirring fulfillment.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83465" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/dream-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/dream-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/dream-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/dream-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />Since presenting its first world premiere in 1961 (<strong>Norman Dello Joio</strong>&#8216;s <em>Blood Moon</em>), San Francisco Opera has always made it part of its mission to present new operas in their seasons, as they have commissioned or co-commissioned more than 30 operas throughout the years.</p> <p>The previous General Director (now SF Opera General Director Emeritus) <strong>David Gockley</strong> himself was responsible for about one-third of that number during his ten year tenure. One of the last things he worked on, and then realized by the current General Director <strong>Matthew Shilvock</strong> in his first season, was the world premiere of <strong>Bright Sheng</strong> and <strong>David Henry Hwang</strong>’s <em>Dream of the Red Chamber</em> on September 10, 2016.</p> <p>Following the sold-out world premiere, <em>Dream of the Red Chamber</em> (abbreviated <em>Dream</em> subsequently) made history when it became the first American opera to tour China, with performances in Hong Kong, Beijing, Changsha and Wuhan, merely six months afterwards. This month—almost six years of that date—<em>Dream</em> made another history as the first SF Opera’s commissioned works to be revived at the War Memorial Opera House in its original production, opened last Tuesday June 14  and was seen Friday.</p> <p><em>Dream</em> was based on the colossal 18th century novel of the same name (<em>Honglou Meng </em>in Mandarin) of <strong>Cao Xueqin</strong>, one of the four great Classical novels of in Chinese literature. From this work, more than 2000 pages long and featuring over 40 major characters, librettist Hwang and composer Sheng had the daunting task to distill a two-and-a-half-hour opera.</p> <p>They ended up in retaining just seven characters, focusing only on the love triangle between predestined soulmates Bao Yu—of the Jia family—and his poor but brilliant cousin Dai Yu, complicated by the illustrious and wealthy Bao Chai of the Xue family. It’s a story of the implications of love and filial piety, central in most Chinese families, against the backdrop of power, wealth and eventually, tyranny. To enhance the metaphysical aspect of the opera, Hwang decided to add another non-singing character, Monk/Dreamer, that framed the opera and gave commentaries on the proceedings.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83466" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/dream-1.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/dream-1.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/dream-1-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/dream-1-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>It took time to introduce the seven characters, and the continuous expositions of those roles in Act 1 resulted in that act felt static and episodic, one of the biggest complaints during the premiere. For this revival, Sheng made several small cuts to the opera, including removing an aria from Act 1. It did help to move the act faster this time, although Act 1 still felt inherently episodic and slow-moving.</p> <p>Nevertheless, the power and strength of the opera lay in the action-packed and emotionally draining Act 2, starting with the death of the matriarch, the wedding deception and ending with the confiscation of the properties of the Jia and Xue clans and the burning of the revered Red Chamber. In this act the opera reached the apex and provided the audience with soul-stirring fulfillment.</p> <p>Personally, I would prefer to dispense with the framing Monk/Dreamer, who had the uncanny habit of appearing and (worse) saying the weird things at the absolutely wrong time. Even the realization that (spoiler alert) he was Bao Yu’s older self at the final scene didn’t contribute much to the whole story, methinks. Besides, I never really enjoy having the moral of a story being spelled out to me honestly; I’d rather make my own conclusions.</p> <p>Nevertheless, the show that I saw on War Memorial stage last Friday was still one of the most opulent productions there ever! <strong>Tim Yip</strong> (of <em>Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon</em> fame) created a jaw-dropping backdrop system that represented villages on a hill and dressed the singers in the most lavish fashion. If at times the staging reminded me of the <strong>Franco Zeffirelli</strong>’s famous <em>Turandot</em>, Yip exercised a lot of restraint in both the sets and costumes, resulting in a grand and elegant spectacle rather than overblown one!</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTfBsJDyrsE&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTfBsJDyrsE</a></p> <p>In his Director’s Note, acclaimed director Lai recollected that</p> <blockquote><p>Over the years, I usually direct my own work as playwright, so whatever conflicts arise between writer and director are reconciled internally. Working with David and Bright posed potential occupational hazards, for we are all strong-minded and proudly assured of ourselves in our own ways. The process turned out to be a joy, filled with mutual respect and admiration. We discussed together the particular staging of key dramatic moments and any proposed libretto and musical changes. Our relationship was such that I was even emboldened to request that Bright add music in certain places in order to give me more time to build a meaningful theatrical image or transition.</p></blockquote> <p>This symbiotic relationship between the composer, librettist and the director truly manifested on stage, where each scene appeared and moved naturally, in a very well-choreographed manner. I could really see what he meant with the added music in place of those big set changes, so that barely any time was wasted in between scenes.</p> <p>Musically, the performance on Friday operated on such a high level as well. Sheng said the following of the 2022 performances:</p> <blockquote><p>The Pandemic also afforded us a longer time to delve further into the revision of the opera. We trimmed some part of the opera, added some part and rewrote another. This is the third revision of DRC and, as they say, three is a charm! We are confident that with our mostly new cast, who brings us very exciting new energy, and the returning cast, who has gotten the characters even deeper, it will be a very refreshing experience for the audience, especially for those who saw it in 2016 and enjoyed it.</p></blockquote> <p>This “exciting new energy” of the new cast was particularly led by the Singaporean conductor, <strong>Darrell Ang</strong>, who brought explosive energy in his reading of the score, propelling the actions particularly in Act 2. Ang, however, was also sensitive to his singers, as barely anyone of the cast got drowned by the orchestra. The San Francisco Opera Chorus worked well in various roles to beef up the opera, although their diction somehow left something to be desired, as it was pretty hard to figure out what they were singing.</p> <p>As the sole male voice in the whole drama, Korean tenor <strong>Konu Kim</strong> made an impressive company debut. Bao Yu in this opera was pretty hard to pull off, as he spent the whole Act 1 being a reckless spoiled brat; it wasn’t till Act 2 where he underwent a lot of emotional turbulence that required great acting.</p> <p>In my opinion, Kim was at his best during the lengthy Act 1, where his bright timber and ease of high notes convincingly portrayed youthfulness and uninhibitedness. Even if his character’s rage and despair were less persuasive in Act 2, the voice shone through, and he is definitely a tenor to watch in the future!</p> <p>Whether one liked it or not, Hwang definitely molded the opera into a feminist play, so naturally the female voices carried out the task of moving the story. And what a mighty ensemble of female singers that San Francisco Opera assembled for this! In her Company debut, Chinese soprano <strong>Meigui Zhang</strong> was perfectly casted as the brilliant but frail Dai Yu as she embodied the role wholeheartedly; there wasn’t a moment that you doubted she weren’t Dai Yu! Her glowing instrument sounded pure and clear, and her portrayal was hard to fault.</p> <p><img src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/dream-2.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83468" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/dream-2.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/dream-2-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/dream-2-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>Chinese soprano <strong>Hongni Wu</strong>, who will originate the role of Comrade Chin in Hwang’s world premiere <em>M. Butterfly</em> at Santa Fe Opera this summer, completed the love triangle with her unrelenting depiction of Bao Chai. That night Wu took a while to warm up, but eventually she gave us a sly take on the role. There was a steely quality to her voice that matched her portrayal; hers was a full-fledged woman who fully knew her worth, yet frustratingly still couldn’t capture the heart of the man-child Bao Yu!</p> <p>As the sole 2016 premiere’s veteran of the night, <strong>Hyona Kim</strong> gained deep understanding of the tormented role of Lady Wang, Bao Yu’s mother. I saw a lot of parallels between Lady Wang and Kostelni?ka of <strong>Leoš Janá?ek</strong>’s celebrated <em>Jen?fa</em>, in which both mothers thought they did their best for their families by committing the most dreadful things! Kim’s powerful depiction made Lady Wang much less of an antagonist, but more of an over-protective mother, even when Lady Wang lost an aria in this revival!</p> <p>I was quite bummed not to see soprano <strong>Karen Chiang-ling Ho</strong>—who would have been the sole cast in every single performance of <em>Dream</em> had she sang that night—as Princess Jia (Bao Yu’s sister and the Emperor’s concubine); she had been one of the highlights during the world premiere.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-dR06DSntc&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-dR06DSntc</a></p> <p>The very late replacement, soprano Yulan Piao sang well, although she wasn’t super expressive in her delivery. Korean soprano <strong>Sabina Kim</strong> and mezzo-soprano <strong>Guang Yang</strong> completed the ensemble with their wholesome takes on the roles of Granny Jia and Aunt Xue (Bao Chai’s mother) respectively; Kim was exceptionally effective during the heartbreaking Granny Jia’s death scene in Act 2!</p> <p>All in all, it was a truly wonderful night at the Opera, with amazing cast and beautiful staging. I was pretty disheartened to see many empty seats in the house last Friday, which I hoped due to the Golden State Warriors’ winning the NBA Championship the day prior! Let’s hope that this wouldn’t curb San Francisco Opera’s desires to revisit many of their wonderful past commissions (such as <em>Dead Man Walking</em>)!</p> <p><strong>Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera</strong></p> “I hated the whole idea of being an actress” https://parterre.com/2022/06/21/i-hated-the-whole-idea-of-being-an-actress/ parterre box urn:uuid:d630c106-c49e-f008-0715-857b6e0da194 Tue, 21 Jun 2022 06:30:30 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/21/i-hated-the-whole-idea-of-being-an-actress/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/judy-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/judy-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/judy-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/judy-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/judy-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/judy-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Born on this day in 1921 actress and singer <strong>Judy Holliday</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLxJ08AjR6U&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLxJ08AjR6U</a></p> <p>Happy 64th birthday mezzo-soprano <strong>Jennifer Larmore</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kvg45LLq_ME&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kvg45LLq_ME</a></p> <p>On this day in 1868 Richard Wagner&#8217;s <em>Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg </em>premiered in Munich.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=u61XvPYyaE0&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=u61XvPYyaE0</a></p> <p>Birthday anniversaries of conductor <strong>Hermann Scherchen</strong> (1891), mezzo-soprano<strong> Larisa Avdeyeva</strong> (1925) and soprano <strong>Judith Raskin</strong> (1928).</p> <p>Happy 75th birthday soprano <strong>Lucy Peacock</strong>.</p> A real vibrancy https://parterre.com/2022/06/20/a-real-vibrancy/ parterre box urn:uuid:1ee94db6-9abe-bea5-b4ca-fe0a5bf15d81 Mon, 20 Jun 2022 19:14:37 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/20/a-real-vibrancy/"><img width="720" height="246" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/distefano-complete-header-720x246.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/distefano-complete-header-720x246.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/distefano-complete-header-300x103.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/distefano-complete-header-768x263.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/distefano-complete-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/distefano-complete-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Your favorite box set-aholic here completely missed the release last August of <em>Giuseppe Di Stefano &#8211; Complete Decca Recordings</em> in honor of the great tenor’s centenary.</p> <p><a href="https://amzn.to/3N7HMIk"><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83449" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/distefano-cover-inside.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="500" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/distefano-cover-inside.jpg 500w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/distefano-cover-inside-300x300.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/distefano-cover-inside-150x150.jpg 150w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/distefano-cover-inside-200x200.jpg 200w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/distefano-cover-inside-24x24.jpg 24w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/distefano-cover-inside-48x48.jpg 48w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/distefano-cover-inside-96x96.jpg 96w" sizes="(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px" /></a>While I await my curbside pickup from the Callas Compulsive CD Collectors Clinic it seems that our dear friends at Decca actually snuck one by me. Your favorite box set-aholic here completely missed the release last August of <a href="https://amzn.to/3N7HMIk"><em>Giuseppe Di Stefano &#8211; Complete Decca Recordings</em></a> in honor of the great tenor’s centenary. Now that we’ve rectified that oversight, gather round cause this one is juicy.</p> <p>The man has been equal parts revered by his fans and reviled by the impresarios who employed him. Some of the most gorgeous singing you’ve ever heard in your life would be followed by behavior so reckless and foolhardy it’s only a testament to the beauty of his voice, to say nothing of his formidable charm, that he regularly got away with it.</p> <p>He was blessed with a golden Mediterranean sound and the juiciest [u] vowel you ever heard; “Tuuuu Puuuuria Principessa” The clarity of his diction was so sovereign you could practically take dictation. His way with a double consonant was literally envied. Plus he was movie-star handsome in his youth and an electrifying performer when he wanted to be.</p> <p>He also smoked and drank to excess while gambling into the wee hours on the regular.</p> <p>In Vienna, where singers were paid at intermission, it wasn’t uncommon for him to collect his fee and then suddenly lose his voice, leaving the rest of the performance to his cover while he hit the tables. The theater amended their payment policy thereafter.</p> <p>From 1953 to 1956 he secured his legacy on the EMI label with a series of recordings with Maria Callas that are considered classics. In 1955 he was cast, against his wishes apparently, as Alfredo in the historic La Scala <em>Traviata </em>with Callas led by <strong>Carlo Maria </strong><b>Giulini</b>. He detested the aristocratic director <strong>Luchino Visconti</strong> on sight. Having no patience with the rehearsal process (and not afraid to show it) he was disinvited from the revival a year later.</p> <p><a href="https://amzn.to/3N7HMIk"><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83451" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/distefano-contents-1.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/distefano-contents-1.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/distefano-contents-1-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/distefano-contents-1-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p> <p>During a performance of <em>La forza del destino </em>in Naples in 1956 <strong>Renata Tebaldi</strong> sang an encore of &#8220;Pace, pace mio Dio.&#8221; Di Stefano was so put out he simply left the theater and went home.</p> <p>In 1958 he pulled a disappearing act for the opening night production of <em>Turandot</em> at La Scala with <strong>Birgit Nilsson</strong>. She writes in her autobiography that she was furious with him when he ultimately showed up <em>only</em> <em>for the dress rehearsal (!). </em>Then he opened his mouth to sing and she said all was forgiven.</p> <p>The same year Decca started recording Boito’s <em>Mefistofele </em>in Rome with <strong>Cesare Siepi</strong> and Tebaldi conducted b<strong>y Tullio Serafin</strong>. Reports vary depending on whose book you’re reading. Either Di Stefano was having vocal troubles or simply bored with the process. He was later quoted saying, “I went out for a coffee and didn&#8217;t come back.”  <strong>Mario del Monaco</strong> was called in to finish the job.</p> <p><strong>Herbert von Karajan</strong> insisted on Di Stefano for the 1963 Franco Zeffirelli Scala <em>Boheme</em> but he turned up so late for rehearsals (again) that the part ended up going to <strong>Gianni Raimondi</strong>. Di Stefano was paid for all the performances, however, because he was still too important to management to anger.</p> <p>Included in this set is a fascinating documentary CD that’s produced and narrated by <strong>Jon Tolansky</strong>. We have interviews with Sir <strong>Edward Downes</strong> (who conducted one of Di Stefano’s few Covent Garden performances), <strong>Luciano Pavarotti</strong> (who replaced Di Stefano at one of his canceled Covent Garden performances), Dramaturg <strong>Roger Pines</strong>, but mostly with Di Stefano himself. Much is made of his magnetic charisma and his southern Italian rebelliousness. I believe the adjective &#8220;undisciplined&#8221; was used at one point.</p> <p>The recordings included span from 1955 to 1962, are all stereo, and have been remastered and polished to a high shine.</p> <p>An operatic recital disc, recorded in 1958, finds him in excellent voice and <strong>Franco Patane</strong> conducts two orchestras. For the Italian arias he leads the Orchestra dell&#8217;Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and then the Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich for the French selections. I don’t think you could call Di Steafno’s French idiomatic but he has the perfect weight of voice for the <em>Manon</em> and <em>Faust </em>selections. In the first half he offers a thrilling &#8220;Improviso&#8221; from <em>Andrea Chenier </em>where he just slathers that golden tone all over the place.</p> <p>Two discs of Italian and Neapolitan songs, recorded respectively in Rome 1958 and London 1964, boast the ubiquitous Cinemascope orchestral arrangements of the period but show our tenor to the manner born. So perfectly in his element he probably could have made the career solely from this genre. The catalog being so vast that he actually recorded two more albums of Neapolitan songs for EMI in 1961 and only repeated “Torna a Surriento&#8221; out of all the selections.</p> <p>However, the real gold in this collection comes with the complete operas, some of which haven’t been issued on cd since the dawn of the digital age and never sounded this good to begin with.</p> <p>Donizetti’s <em>L’elisir d’amore </em>recorded in stereo in 1955 (but initially released as mono) finds our tenor well partnered by <strong>Hilde Gueden</strong>, who’s pert and charming, and a hilarious <strong>Fernando Corena</strong> as Dulcamara. The chemistry between the three of them is palpable. The music making, with numerous cuts, is of its era. Di Stefano owned Nemorino for a time and it shows. In a role that doesn’t tax his resources in the slightest he’s simply having fun and flaunting that sunny Sicilian timbre.</p> <p>The next two operas are Ponchielli’s <em>La Gioconda</em> recorded in &#8220;57 and Verdi’s <em>La forza del destino</em> in &#8220;58. Both with the same quartet of <strong>Zinka Milanov, Leonard Warren, Rosalind Elias</strong> and Di Stefano. These come from the time when Decca and RCA enjoyed a mutual agreement regarding artists and distribution.</p> <p>Milanov’s career was so centered at the Metropolitan in New York I’m sure it was considered a duty at the time to finally capture her in these signature roles. She’d been singing for well over 20 years at this point and although she exhibits all the familiar mannerisms of her late career there is a lot of spectacular vocalism.</p> <p>The breadth of phrasing and the command of legato are there most especially in Act One and Two of <em>Forza. </em>The duet with Di Stefano before the elopement (that doesn’t happen) is white hot and she’s magic in front of the monastery in the duet with <strong>Giorgio Tozzi</strong>’s Padre Guardiano (who’s no slouch himself).</p> <p>Also it was common practice at the Met to cut the whole of Act Two, Scene I of <em>Forza </em>back in the day<em>.</em> You’d get Act I, then they’d play the overture (while they shifted the sets backstage), skip the scene at the Inn <em>all together</em>, and go straight to Leonora on the lamb and her big scena with the monks (I think <strong>John Dexter</strong> finally restored it in the &#8217;70’s).</p> <p>Plus MIlanov had that float. In the <em>Gioconda</em> her “Enzo adorato! Ah, come t’amo” has that magical piano B-flat that she was so famous for. It’s like it stops time. Frankly it&#8217;s better in the studio than either of the earlier live performances that the Met on Demand app has. I don’t think her “Suicidio” has been equaled either.</p> <p>Elias, another Met stalwart, is surprisingly strong as Preziozilla and touching as Laura. She’s on top of her game musically for the <em>Forza </em>with all the tricky rhythms and tongue twisters. In Act Two of <em>Gioconda </em>she and Di Stefano are swoon worthy in their duet. Then squaring off against Milanov she’s gutsier than you’d imagine.</p> <p><strong>Leonard Warren</strong> sounds wooly to my ear but I get that it was a really rich dramatic baritone. It’s also obvious he’s had plenty of experience, like Milanov, in both his roles and it makes for a far more flavorful and theatrical experience.</p> <p>Di Stefano’s contribution is a little harder to qualify. He’s singing above his weight class in both these operas and I’ve heard stories over the years that there were late night tracking sessions because he wasn’t interested in showing up during the day. I don’t know how much of that is true. It’s easy to identify his enormous need to communicate the text to his audience and he’s especially nuanced in the<em> Forza.</em> Still it’s a great pleasure to hear him in both these roles and he really shines as Enzo Grimaldo.</p> <p><strong>Fernando Previtali</strong> helms both ably along with the Coro &amp; Orchestra dell&#8217;Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. These are two operas that were so commonly performed at the time that have now essentially become rarities.</p> <p>The excerpts for that <em>Mefistofele</em> that ran aground are included (and I’m certain I’ve heard them somewhere before) and <strong>Cesare Siepi</strong> is great but I think it might be one of Tebaldi’s best recorded performances. Her “L’altra notte” is hair raising and not as ungainly in the vocalise portions as we usually hear. We’ve got the Santa Cecilia bunch again with poppa <strong>Tulio Serafin</strong> driving, proving once again it’s about experience.</p> <p>Then Decca essentially put Di Stefano in the dog house until 1962 when von Karajan requested him for his new recording of <em>Tosca</em>.</p> <p>Having performed the role in English in an abridged NBC broadcast in 1955, Price had just sung her first staged Tosca at the Met that spring (and her second performance in that run is available on the Met on Demand app).  She’s 35 years old here and the brazen glory of her voice, and in particular her upper register, is electrifying.</p> <p>I find her a nearly perfect Floria Tosca. Sensual and teasing in the Act One duet with Cavaradossi and then ablaze with betrayal in the interview with Scarpia. Absolutely kaleidoscopic with the many parlando line readings and effects.</p> <p><strong>Giuseppe Taddei</strong>, another Karajan favorite, is the Scarpia. The Italians had a saying, “We gave Gobbi to the world but we kept Taddei for ourselves,” and you can see why.  The word pointing is extraordinary. The problem is he’s completely malevolent throughout, a wolf in wolf’s clothing. Still he’s completely aristocratic which is what the part demands.</p> <p>Karajan and the Vienna Philharmonic make certain that this is absolutely the most beautiful rendition of <em>Tosca </em>ever committed to disc. Helped along of course by the Cinerama soundscapes of producer <strong>John Culshaw</strong> and his faithful knob-twisters. The church bells, the cannon fire, the off-stage cantata choir, the doors and windows slamming, the morning bells of Rome: It’s all there in detail so crisp it sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday.</p> <p>Plus Karajan’s conducting isn’t as mannered as it would eventually become, although he certainly draws plenty of attention to himself. No question he’s exhilarated by the current company and the freshness of Price’s portrayal.</p> <p>Here, I’m sorry to say, Di Stefano is the weak link. While he has many moments of strength, especially in the Act Two interrogation, he’s simply not in good vocal estate. When he’s singing softly you get the magic but when he has to move up the staff it becomes explosive.</p> <p>I think this recording is currently on its third remastering (2000 when it was kicked up to 96kHz 24-bit and then again in 2017 for Blu-ray audio) since it was transferred to CD via ADRM way back when. Initially the brightness of digital sound didn’t do our tenor any favors but with each succeeding transfer they’ve managed to buff him down a little so his faults aren’t as glaring (literally). All in all this is by far my favorite recorded <em>Tosca</em>. It’s so wildly opulent on every front that it sits in a class all by itself.</p> <p>I fell in love with this man’s voice listening to these performances. He’s the anti-Bergonzi. None of that classical reserve or the measured tone. He’s completely in the moment so none of that reliability either. Yet there’s an urgency, a real vibrancy, that comes across as uniquely his.</p> <p>In some of the big lead-ups, if you have the ear for it, you can hear the splices where another take was used for the sake of the high note that’s coming. But that’s more about the pressure of the studio I think. I already had so many Di Stefano recordings, just because of his association with Callas, but now I wouldn’t part with these, warts and all, for anything.</p> Consistently enthralling https://parterre.com/2022/06/20/consistently-enthralling/ parterre box urn:uuid:bfd9acec-f4d6-a3a9-f171-6c6c3374612c Mon, 20 Jun 2022 16:51:02 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/20/consistently-enthralling/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/canregie-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/canregie-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/canregie-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/canregie-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/canregie-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/canregie-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>To conclude its triumphant season, last week the Met Orchestra performed its annual Carnegie Hall concerts under music director <strong>Yannick Nézet-Séguin</strong> and once again performed superbly.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83441" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/carnegie-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/carnegie-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/carnegie-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/carnegie-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />During the long months that the pandemic shuttered opera houses worldwide, many members of the MET Orchestra engaged in a rancorous campaign against the company that had furloughed them without pay. Until contentious labor negotiations were successfully concluded last summer, many outsiders wondered if there even would be a 2021-22 opera season at Lincoln Center.</p> <p>But the Metropolitan Opera returned—without missing a single performance—and, to my delighted surprise, the orchestra sounded consistently reinvigorated over <a href="https://observer.com/2022/06/devoted-fans-must-see-rigoletto-and-the-rakes-progress-before-the-met-operas-season-ends-on-june-11/">the 20 performances I attended</a>, from the pre-season Verdi <em>Requiem </em>to <em>The Rake’s Progress </em>in late May<em>. </em></p> <p>To conclude its triumphant season, last week the Met Orchestra performed its annual Carnegie Hall concerts under music director <strong>Yannick Nézet-Séguin</strong> and once again performed superbly.</p> <p>The concerts featured two often-performed chestnuts: Richard Strauss’s <em>Don Juan </em>and Berlioz’s <em>Symphonie Fantastique. </em>Determined to showcase his band’s astonishing virtuosity, Nézet-Séguin elicited extravagantly flamboyant readings that favored bravura over nuance. A friend remarked after the Berlioz that he didn’t recall that the <em>Symphonie </em>(which he hadn’t heard in a while) was always quite so loud. Normally it might not be, but the conductor was emboldened to push his Rolls Royce to the limit and the drive was undeniably exciting.</p> <p>But even more satisfying was a ravishing rendition of <strong>Missy Mazzoli</strong>’s beguiling 2014 <em>Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres) </em>which concluded the first half of Wednesday’s concert. The eager composer had to hurdle awkwardly over the many walkers parked by ushers at the edge of the stage to accept her ardent ovation.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83442" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/carnegie-2.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/carnegie-2.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/carnegie-2-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/carnegie-2-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>Since the Carnegie concerts began over 30 years ago, they have nearly always featured notable singers from the Met roster. Last week’s pair did as well, though with mixed results. When the incisive, eloquent orchestra was the most successful component of Wednesday’s first act of Wagner’s <em>Die Walküre</em>, something is definitely amiss.</p> <p>Anticipating a new Met <em>Ring </em>conceived by <strong>Richard Jones</strong> (why him?) arriving in the 2025-26 season, Nézet-Séguin has already been getting his baton wet. He led a well-received tour of <em>Das Rheingold </em>with the Rotterdam Philharmonic earlier this spring.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=3p32DvMLIU8&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=3p32DvMLIU8</a></p> <p>The Carnegie <em>Walküre </em>first act was originally announced for June 2021; its cancellation meant that the entire Strauss/Mazzoli/Wagner program was pushed forward a year, though<strong> Günther Groissböck</strong>, the original Hunding, was replaced by <strong>Eric Owens</strong>. But perhaps no one informed the bass-baritone of the engagement until recently as he rarely looked up from his score. As nearly always these days, the ever-bland Owens produced unattractive, effortful sounds that conveyed little of Hunding’s threatening menace.</p> <p>Happily, his enemy/rival was splendidly embodied by <strong>Brandon Jovanovich</strong> whose tireless Siegmund dominated the hour. The tenor, who earlier this year at the Met had found the punishingly high <em>tessitura </em>of Bacchus in <em>Ariadne auf Naxos </em>a strain, was more at home with Wagner’s more congenial writing. Though an occasional low note troubled him, his securely forthright singing brought the hero urgently to life.</p> <p>Unlike some other tenors, the appealing Jovanovich resisted the temptation to hang onto Siegmund’s cries of “Wälse!” much longer than Wagner requires. <strong>Christine Goerke</strong>, however, didn’t get that bulletin as she elongated her triumphant “Siegmund!” far beyond any I’ve ever heard from a Sieglinde, either live or on recordings. At least she was entirely familiar with her music, <a href="https://parterre.com/2019/11/19/one-night-only-2/">unlike the last time I heard her</a>—as Isolde in another Wagner single-act concert.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-83443" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/carnegie-1.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/carnegie-1.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/carnegie-1-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/carnegie-1-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>Though Isolde (originally planned for the Met in late 2020) should be an apt role for the soprano, Sieglinde proved all kinds of wrong. While Goerke’s warmly enveloping middle register suited the doomed Wälsung’s music, the soprano conveyed little of the woman’s remarkable transition from unhappy wife to ecstatic lover.</p> <p>She was most successful in the gripping narration of “Der Männer Sippe.” Otherwise, Goerke’s voice displayed a disconcerting tendency to change color, sometimes during a single phrase. The lowest notes emerged gravely while plush, voluminous lines frequently grew smaller as they rose.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmz9G6zbhw8&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmz9G6zbhw8</a></p> <p>Her staid, matronly <em>Frau</em> evinced little chemistry with Jovanovich’s reserved, yet passionate twin. After attending this<em> Walküre</em> and t<a href="https://parterre.com/2022/05/10/mainly-in-the-plain/">he recent English Concert</a> <em>Serse, </em>I’ve become convinced that concert performances of opera desperately need a director, or at least someone to oversee the dramatic presentation.</p> <p>The three <em>Walküre </em>performers appeared to be operating on different wavelengths. Owens did virtually nothing to enact his character, while Jovanovich, a veteran of many stage performances, became Siegmund with simple gestures. Goerke, on the other hand, tried hardest-to the least effect. There was an inordinate amount of intent staring—at Jovanovich or toward the balcony as she marveled at spring entering the hut. Most baffling: Sieglinde exited to prepare the meal, then counted to ten and returned empty-handed. My friend and I glanced at each other in amused befuddlement.</p> <p>The last time the Met Orchestra <a href="https://parterre.com/2016/05/27/trauermarsch/">performed</a> Wagner “bleeding chunks” at Carnegie Hall under soon-to-be-deposed <strong>James Levine</strong>, Goerke and <strong>Stefan Vinke</strong> represented a <em>Ring </em>future. Last week, there was a similar incongruity with Nézet-Séguin presiding over forces in which she and Owens seemed very much of the past. I overheard more than one audience member wonder why, for example, <strong>Lise Davidsen</strong> wasn’t his Sieglinde.</p> <p>Before Thursday’s all-Berlioz concert, I had reservations to about <em>its</em> soloist, <strong>Joyce DiDonato</strong>, who would be performing Didon’s two solo scenes from <em>Les Troyens. </em>Was she really going to be up to this demanding music? Although she had recently taken on the Carthaginian queen in a new production at the Vienna Staatsoper, I still assumed it probably wasn’t her role.</p> <p>I now have to admit that while I have some reservations, I was blown away by DiDonato: the Met’s most riveting <em>Diva!</em> performance of the season happened at Carnegie Hall, not at Lincoln Center!</p> <p>In stark contrast to Goerke’s wan Sieglinde, DiDonato, radiant in a beautiful ecru gown, fully embodied the regal Didon during her opening monologue “Chers Tyriens” which admittedly sounded a bit odd without its usual choral interjections. Rather than exit, she remained onstage, thoroughly engaged, during the marvelous “Chasse royale et orage,” also shorn of its chorus.</p> <p>Afterward, during the betrayed queen’s wrenching <em>scena </em>during which she raged against the departing Énée then ultimately resolved to kill herself, DiDonato pushed her voice to mirror those extremes—from harsh shouts to pitiful whispers. It sometimes wasn’t pretty but it was consistently enthralling, her bold gestures always summoning up the opera house even in a concert hall.</p> <p>While her mezzo sounded surprisingly big in Carnegie, it could be said to lack the full color palette needed to do absolute justice to Berlioz’s inspired writing. White, straight tone occasionally intruded, while the top has receded in the last few years. Therefore, climaxes revealed serious strain and pitch suffered. And, yet despite these flaws, I wouldn’t have missed these shattering glimpses of DiDonato’s Didon.</p> <p>For me at least, next season’s the MET Orchestra offerings at Carnegie Hall are a bit less promising. Nézet-Séguin will bring back the Met Chorus (which also performed magnificently throughout the season) for the first time in a long while for <a href="https://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2023/06/15/The-MET-Orchestra-0800PM">the Brahms </a><em>Deutsches Requiem—</em>not a favorite of mine—with <strong>Nadine Sierra</strong> and <strong>Quinn Kelsey</strong>.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.carnegiehall.org/calendar/2023/06/22/the-met-orchestra-0800pm">second program</a>, which will then tour Europe along with the DiDonato/Berlioz show, will feature a mind-boggling Shakespeare mélange of excerpts from Bernstein’s <em>West Side Story </em>and the fourth act of Verdi’s <em>Otello </em>with <strong>Renée Fleming</strong> and <strong>Russell Thomas</strong> with bits of <strong>Matthew Aucoin </strong>and Tchaikovsky along the way!</p> <p><strong>Photos: </strong></p> <p><strong>Goerke/Jovanovich: Chris Lee</strong><br /> <strong>DiDonato: Evan Zimmerman</strong></p> On the make https://parterre.com/2022/06/20/on-the-make/ parterre box urn:uuid:60ebd551-0051-323b-8c6a-42f6f62f797a Mon, 20 Jun 2022 12:00:27 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/20/on-the-make/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/patrick-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/patrick-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/patrick-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/patrick-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/patrick-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/patrick-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Born on this day in 1911 actress <strong>Gail Patrick.</strong></p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zdve7T2L-g&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zdve7T2L-g</a></p> <p>Born on this day in 1819 composer <strong>Jacques Offenbach</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0DTJ2FeQeg&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0DTJ2FeQeg</a></p> <p>Birthday anniversaries of soprano <strong>Giannina Arangi-Lombardi</strong> (1891), conductor and pianist <strong>Wilfrid Pelletier</strong> (1896) and mezzo-soprano <strong>Helene Bouvier</strong> (1905).</p> How high https://parterre.com/2022/06/19/how-high/ parterre box urn:uuid:a3cf675e-75c1-21ea-ed63-a6112a2c91e7 Sun, 19 Jun 2022 15:16:18 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/19/how-high/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/macwatters-headers-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/macwatters-headers-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/macwatters-headers-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/macwatters-headers-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/macwatters-headers-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/macwatters-headers.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Born on this day in 1912 soprano <strong>Virginia MacWatters</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0dy5_xludM&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0dy5_xludM</a></p> <p>Happy 86th birthday soprano <strong>Marisa Galvany</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6-VqVnWtz4&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6-VqVnWtz4</a></p> <p>Birthday anniversaries of composer <strong>Carl Zeller</strong> (1842), composer<strong> Alfredo Catalani</strong> (1854) and sopranos <strong>Mária Gyurkovics</strong> (1913) and <strong>Anneliese Rothenberger</strong> (1924).</p> <p>Happy Juneteenth!</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmnAk2XHPro&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmnAk2XHPro</a></p> Eugene Onegin, Opera Holland Park, 15 June 2022 https://boulezian.blogspot.com/2022/06/eugene-onegin-opera-holland-park-15.html Boulezian urn:uuid:024e4658-0ad0-742d-8335-08f0fd05200b Sun, 19 Jun 2022 14:46:07 +0000 <br />Tatiana – Anush Hovhannisyan<br />Onegin – Samuel Dale Johnson<div>Lensky – Jack Roberts <br />Olga – Emma Stannard<br />Mme Larina – Amanda Roocroft<div>Filipievna – Kathleen Wilkinson <br />Prince Gremin – Matthew Stiff <br />M. Triquet – Joseph Buckmaster <br />Zaretsky/Captain – Konrad Jaromin <br />Solo tenor – Phillip Costovski</div><div><br />Julia Burbach (director) <br />takis (designs) <br />Robert Price (lighting) <br />Jo Meredith (movement) <br /><br />Opera Holland Park Chorus (chorus director: Richard Harker) <br />City of London Sinfonia <br />Lada Valešová (conductor)</div><div>&nbsp; <br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEiLC9L9XiLqZTE8QyDC-eIFxEBtT-lJIRNteZq8exdqpXTQN6z-_wpzzbBaDvXOSkOoFiSUqaQtlVioV3JezHufNBODA1J7pwtO0n32e-FJxmhdykk3adc4IFUbcXSdfy0nCSgbRxUy_ekE-raULspP2s7DK5PFjha4v2u-p33Qb29hjgQlIZMhtxAXlg" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img alt="" data-original-height="3868" data-original-width="5802" height="426" src="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEiLC9L9XiLqZTE8QyDC-eIFxEBtT-lJIRNteZq8exdqpXTQN6z-_wpzzbBaDvXOSkOoFiSUqaQtlVioV3JezHufNBODA1J7pwtO0n32e-FJxmhdykk3adc4IFUbcXSdfy0nCSgbRxUy_ekE-raULspP2s7DK5PFjha4v2u-p33Qb29hjgQlIZMhtxAXlg=w640-h426" width="640" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Eugene Onegin (Samuel Dale Johnson). <br />Images: Ali Wright</td></tr></tbody></table><br /> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">Sharing a single set by <i>takis</i>&nbsp;with&nbsp;<i>Carmen</i>—typically resourceful, sustainable practice for Opera Holland Park—Julia Burbach’s <i>Eugene Onegin</i> proved a puzzling affair. The idea, I think, was to move between monochrome and colour, perhaps playing with memory and/or dreaming, but too much remained obscure or arbitrary (at least for me). Burbach seemed unsure whether to opt for realism, something more symbolic, or even a coherent melange of the two. Presumably, the uniform light colours of the first scene were intended to evoke a sort of Chekhovian boredom, but it seemed at odds with Pushkin, let alone Tchaikovsky. <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;</span>Having everyone dressed in similar finery in that opening scene also suggested a chorus of nobles rather than peasants. For these were clearly the same people we encountered in the ball scene, and I do not think the intention was to suggest some sort of Russian Petit Trianon. Quite why some were playing badminton, I have no idea; it proved distracting in the wrong way, as had ‘peasant’ dancing earlier on. A turn through colour to black largely made emotional and narrative sense, yet details continued to sit oddly with the overall ‘picture’. Nothing ever quite moved convincingly, nor settled down.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">It was also unquestionably the most heteronormative </span><i style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">Onegin</i><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;"> I have seen: a perverse distinction, one might say. Not only is there no sign, no inkling, nor even the slightest twinkling of an eye, of homosexual subtext; the characters are conventional enough in their relationships to be plausibly heterosexual. Perhaps if one were viewing work and creator </span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/sep/18/tchaikovsky-not-gay-russian-minister" style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">from a Putinesque standpoint</a><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">, that might signal cause for celebration. To the rest of us, it may seem strange or evasive.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">That said, the cast did a fine job within these confines. Jack Roberts (an OHP Young Artist) and Emma Stannard gave a fine impression of Lensky and Olga as a young couple giddily in love. Their sheer enthusiasm proved infectious, not least given the curiously static production. Roberts’s sappy tenor and Stannard’s deep-toned mezzo proved just the vocal ticket too. Samuel Dale Johnson’s offered a thoughtful, well-sung performance as Onegin, both beguiling and infuriating in his mood swings. If the visual haunting demanded by Burbach in the Letter Scene seemed somewhat contrived, Dale Johnson’s subtler vocal version thereafter, culminating tragically in buyer’s remorse, was far more convincing. Anush Hovhannisyan’s Tatina gained in confidence as the evening went on: character development of course, but also, I think, in strength of performance. By the final scene, this was a formidable portrayal indeed. There were no weak links onstage, Kathleen Wilkinson’s Filipievna and Konrad Jaromin’s appearances as Zaretsky and the Captain especially catching the ear.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;"><br /></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;"></span></p><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEhxhO6WbxZWVxP_rVDgK_EhJ619I2N4CumXI8HBg8OaLX8SQTggTEE2Os36FsS4TDxfSdYKVzHvC3vEOb4aKHS3XiIkPvbbQTq4thIqoxaGshsVu7b5U0yRrQ-tC8C5GioW8KwxSXo2PPmImeTedbsqPvCIEN-srvBlpHJ6Ql9ub9FsMa5GeHmAv3ndtA" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img alt="" data-original-height="3537" data-original-width="5305" height="426" src="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEhxhO6WbxZWVxP_rVDgK_EhJ619I2N4CumXI8HBg8OaLX8SQTggTEE2Os36FsS4TDxfSdYKVzHvC3vEOb4aKHS3XiIkPvbbQTq4thIqoxaGshsVu7b5U0yRrQ-tC8C5GioW8KwxSXo2PPmImeTedbsqPvCIEN-srvBlpHJ6Ql9ub9FsMa5GeHmAv3ndtA=w640-h426" width="640" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Tatiana (Anush Hovhannisyan)</td></tr></tbody></table><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;"><br /></span><p></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">Lada Valešová’s direction of the City of London Sinfonia seemed, laudably, engineered to follow these particular performances and production, rather than being imposed upon them. Was her languorous, intimate way with the first act too much of a muchness? That is probably a question of taste. It is not how I hear the work, but there was a thoughtful approach at work here. I missed a sense of abandon in the big public scenes, though Valešová’s scrupulousness offered alternative rewards. </span><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">One should also bear in mind that she was working with—and emphatically </span><i style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">with</i><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">—a chamber orchestra. A larger orchestra, as well as a different production, may well have brought forth a different musical reading.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;"><br /></span></p></div></div> Visually Imposing: La Gioconda at the Teatro alla Scala https://operatraveller.com/2022/06/19/visually-imposing-la-gioconda-at-the-teatro-alla-scala/ operatraveller urn:uuid:a4febdf4-bd33-e445-4c84-ccc56dec6047 Sun, 19 Jun 2022 10:51:12 +0000 Ponchielli – La Gioconda La Gioconda – Irina ChurilovaLaura Adorno – Daniela BarcellonaAlvise Badoero – Erwin SchrottLa Cieca – Anna Maria ChiuriEnzo Grimaldo – Stefano La CollaBarnaba – Roberto FrontaliZuàne – Fabrizio BeggiUn cantore/Un pilota – Ernesto José Morillo HoytIsèpo – Francesco PittariUn barnabotto – Alessandro Senes Allievi della Scuola di Ballo dell’Accademia Teatro alla [&#8230;] <p class="has-text-align-center"><strong>Ponchielli – <em>La Gioconda</em></strong></p> <p class="has-text-align-center"><strong>La Gioconda – Irina Churilova<br>Laura Adorno – Daniela Barcellona<br>Alvise Badoero – Erwin Schrott<br>La Cieca – Anna Maria Chiuri<br>Enzo Grimaldo – Stefano La Colla<br>Barnaba – Roberto Frontali<br>Zu</strong><strong>àne – Fabrizio Beggi<br>Un cantore/Un pilota – Ernesto José Morillo Hoyt<br>Is</strong><strong>èpo – Francesco Pittari<br>Un barnabotto – Alessandro Senes</strong></p> <p class="has-text-align-center"><strong>Allievi della Scuola di Ballo dell’Accademia Teatro alla Scala, Coro di Voci Bianche del Teatro alla Scala, Coro del Teatro alla Scala, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala / Frédéric Chaslin.<br>Stage director – Davide Livermore</strong></p> <p class="has-text-align-center"><strong>Teatro alla Scala, Milan, Italy.&nbsp; Saturday, June 18th, 2022.</strong></p> <p>As we all know, the Teatro alla Scala is one of the most iconic of opera houses, a place full of history and a notoriously tricky audience.  It’s also the place where <em>La Gioconda</em> was premiered, 146 years ago, and this is a work the house has in its bones.  Of course, the house is a major attraction for visitors to Milan and it’s clear that the tourist season is in full swing – with a number of audience members taking photos during the show, or talking non-stop.  I must admit any annoyance I had at the chattiness of the people sitting behind me was slightly tempered by the fact that the referred to the titular character in a very heavy Brooklyn accent, which was quite heady.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/173_0h3a1322-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png"><img data-attachment-id="6346" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/173_0h3a1322-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/173_0h3a1322-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png" data-orig-size="950,490" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;}" data-image-title="173_0h3a1322&#8211;ph-brescia-e-amisano&#8211;teatro-alla-scala" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Marco Brescia &amp;amp; Rudy Amisano / Teatro alla Scala &lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/173_0h3a1322-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/173_0h3a1322-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=723" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/173_0h3a1322-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=723" alt="" class="wp-image-6346" srcset="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/173_0h3a1322-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=723 723w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/173_0h3a1322-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=150 150w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/173_0h3a1322-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=300 300w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/173_0h3a1322-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=768 768w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/173_0h3a1322-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png 950w" sizes="(max-width: 723px) 100vw, 723px" /></a><figcaption>Photo: © Marco Brescia &amp; Rudy Amisano / Teatro alla Scala </figcaption></figure> <p>This new production was confided to Davide Livermore.  Following the withdrawal of both Sonya Yoncheva and Fabio Sartori from their respective roles, the house engaged Stefano La Colla to sing Enzo, while Gioconda was taken by Saioa Hernández (pictured) and Irina Churilova, who sang tonight.  Livermore’s staging gave a lot to look at, not least in Act 2, with a very imposing ship that took up two-thirds of the height of the proscenium.  The sets (Giò Forma) were enhanced with video projections by D-WOK that added additional visual interest.  These included images of water, or stained-glass windows, or indeed flames taking over said ship.  While undoubtedly visually impressive, what it also suggested was a reluctance by Livermore to use his singers to drive the action forward.  Far too often, singers would be planted at the front to gesticulate into the middle-distance while various bits of film was projected, or the set would move, or actors would perambulate around, thereby drawing attention away from the principals and restricting them from telling their own stories.  For instance, during ‘cielo e mar’, the sails of the ship descended from the flies and video was projected, while La Colla’s Enzo sang to the front and gesticulated into the audience.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/140_0h3a1265-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png"><img data-attachment-id="6345" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/140_0h3a1265-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/140_0h3a1265-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png" data-orig-size="950,490" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;}" data-image-title="140_0h3a1265&#8211;ph-brescia-e-amisano&#8211;teatro-alla-scala" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Marco Brescia &amp;amp; Rudy Amisano / Teatro alla Scala &lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/140_0h3a1265-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/140_0h3a1265-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=723" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/140_0h3a1265-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=723" alt="" class="wp-image-6345" srcset="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/140_0h3a1265-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=723 723w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/140_0h3a1265-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=150 150w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/140_0h3a1265-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=300 300w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/140_0h3a1265-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=768 768w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/140_0h3a1265-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png 950w" sizes="(max-width: 723px) 100vw, 723px" /></a><figcaption>Photo: © Marco Brescia &amp; Rudy Amisano / Teatro alla Scala </figcaption></figure> <p>Similarly, the chorus was planted on the stage as a group while action took place around them.  That said, there were a few moments when they randomly gyrated, but this was intermittent.  From time to time, we saw figures that presumably had symbolic value come to life – an angel descending from the flies, or the figure on the bow of Enzo’s ship descending and walking around with a ball of light during the confrontation between Gioconda and Laura in Act 2, again drawing attention away from the principals at the moment when dramatic energy should be at its peak.  During the Act 4 confrontation between Alvise and Laura, the set rotated around as they chased each other through their palazzo.  The effect was visually impressive but it felt that this was done to the detriment of character development.  Interestingly, my Brooklyn neighbours had a very interesting discussion at curtain call expressing admiration at the visuals, but bafflement at who was who in the story and confusion at what the narrative was.  This is actually a pretty accurate summary of Livermore’s staging – it looks great (and expensive) but doesn’t always allow for character development or storytelling.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/120_0h2a4371-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png"><img data-attachment-id="6344" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/120_0h2a4371-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/120_0h2a4371-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png" data-orig-size="950,490" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;}" data-image-title="120_0h2a4371&#8211;ph-brescia-e-amisano&#8211;teatro-alla-scala" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Marco Brescia &amp;amp; Rudy Amisano / Teatro alla Scala &lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/120_0h2a4371-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/120_0h2a4371-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=723" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/120_0h2a4371-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=723" alt="" class="wp-image-6344" srcset="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/120_0h2a4371-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=723 723w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/120_0h2a4371-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=150 150w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/120_0h2a4371-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=300 300w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/120_0h2a4371-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=768 768w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/120_0h2a4371-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png 950w" sizes="(max-width: 723px) 100vw, 723px" /></a><figcaption>Photo: © Marco Brescia &amp; Rudy Amisano / Teatro alla Scala </figcaption></figure> <p>Perhaps as a result of this, the cast also didn’t always impose itself on the evening.  This could partly be due to Frédéric Chaslin’s conducting.  He led a Scala orchestra on magnificent form, once again proving that this is a band that really is at its peak currently.  The sheer <em>cantabile</em> nature of those long aching string lines was articulated with a beauty of phrasing that seemed to reflect the beauty of the human voice.  The brass was sensational throughout.  And yet his conducting felt pedestrian and lacking in energy, despite the undoubted pulchritude of the orchestral playing.  That said, he did come to life in the ballet music, which was played with a rhythmic incisiveness and sense of theatre lacking elsewhere.  Alberto Malazzi’s chorus was on stirring form, singing with an impressive blend of tone and filling the house in a golden glow of sound.  Listening to this orchestra and chorus, one was acutely aware of the great sense of tradition in the house and their unanimity of approach, despite the rather placid conducting.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/107_0h3a1198-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png"><img data-attachment-id="6343" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/107_0h3a1198-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/107_0h3a1198-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png" data-orig-size="950,490" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;}" data-image-title="107_0h3a1198&#8211;ph-brescia-e-amisano&#8211;teatro-alla-scala" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Marco Brescia &amp;amp; Rudy Amisano / Teatro alla Scala &lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/107_0h3a1198-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/107_0h3a1198-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=723" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/107_0h3a1198-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=723" alt="" class="wp-image-6343" srcset="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/107_0h3a1198-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=723 723w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/107_0h3a1198-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=150 150w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/107_0h3a1198-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=300 300w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/107_0h3a1198-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=768 768w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/107_0h3a1198-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png 950w" sizes="(max-width: 723px) 100vw, 723px" /></a><figcaption>Photo: © Marco Brescia &amp; Rudy Amisano / Teatro alla Scala </figcaption></figure> <p>Churilova is an interesting singer.  Her soprano is bold with an innate steeliness, although it doesn’t quite spin at the very highest reaches.  She was extremely committed, but it felt through most of the evening that the chalky tone lacked a variety of tone colours to give her singing true individuality.  She clearly has a well-schooled technique and understands the shape of the music and how to phrase it with love.  The voice is rather bottom-light though and lacking in that gutsy chestiness that would make her assumption even more memorable.  That said, she went for it in the final act, giving us a ‘suicidio’ that was sung with a larger range of tonal variety and textual awareness that wasn’t always apparent elsewhere.  It was warmly received by the Scala audience.  Churilova is certainly a useful artist. </p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/098_0h3a1177-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png"><img data-attachment-id="6342" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/098_0h3a1177-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/098_0h3a1177-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png" data-orig-size="950,490" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;}" data-image-title="098_0h3a1177&#8211;ph-brescia-e-amisano&#8211;teatro-alla-scala" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Marco Brescia &amp;amp; Rudy Amisano / Teatro alla Scala &lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/098_0h3a1177-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/098_0h3a1177-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=723" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/098_0h3a1177-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=723" alt="" class="wp-image-6342" srcset="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/098_0h3a1177-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=723 723w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/098_0h3a1177-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=150 150w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/098_0h3a1177-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=300 300w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/098_0h3a1177-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=768 768w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/098_0h3a1177-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png 950w" sizes="(max-width: 723px) 100vw, 723px" /></a><figcaption>Photo: © Marco Brescia &amp; Rudy Amisano / Teatro alla Scala </figcaption></figure> <p>Daniela Barcellona sang Laura with her customary silky mezzo and textual awareness.  She opened up nicely on top, singing with an impressive freedom up there, while managing to turn the corners with ease and singing with an impressively smooth legato.  The Act 2 confrontation between Gioconda and Laura was vocally impressive, but sadly overshadowed by the set and extraneous action.  Anna Maria Chiuri sang La Cieca with a beautifully rounded contralto, negotiating the <em>passaggio</em> expertly, the registers ideally integrated. </p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/071_0h2a4263-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png"><img data-attachment-id="6341" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/071_0h2a4263-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/071_0h2a4263-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png" data-orig-size="950,490" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;}" data-image-title="071_0h2a4263&#8211;ph-brescia-e-amisano&#8211;teatro-alla-scala" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Marco Brescia &amp;amp; Rudy Amisano / Teatro alla Scala &lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/071_0h2a4263-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/071_0h2a4263-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=723" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/071_0h2a4263-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=723" alt="" class="wp-image-6341" srcset="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/071_0h2a4263-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=723 723w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/071_0h2a4263-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=150 150w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/071_0h2a4263-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=300 300w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/071_0h2a4263-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png?w=768 768w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/071_0h2a4263-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png 950w" sizes="(max-width: 723px) 100vw, 723px" /></a><figcaption>Photo: © Marco Brescia &amp; Rudy Amisano / Teatro alla Scala </figcaption></figure> <p>La Colla shaded the tone most beautifully in his ‘cielo e mar’.  His is an attractive tenor though perhaps on the small side for the role in this house.  He had a tendency to sing sharp, the tone pressured to create more amplitude.  That said, his textual awareness and his willingness to savour the tone and pull back on the dynamics gave much pleasure.  Roberto Frontali gave us a superb Barnaba – full of aristocratic menace.  The voice is so firm, vibrations even, although the tone at the very top did have a tendency to discolour somewhat.  Still, his ability to incarnate his character and find both malice and swagger in the tone were seriously impressive.  Erwin Schrott held the stage with notable presence as Alvise.  His bass now sounds rather dry, although he is still capable of considerable amplitude.  He also made much of the text.  The remaining smaller roles reflected the quality one would expect at this address.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/026_0h2a4180-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png"><img data-attachment-id="6340" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/026_0h2a4180-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/026_0h2a4180-ph-brescia-e-amisano-teatro-alla-scala.png" data-orig-size="950,490" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;}" data-image-title="026_0h2 Madama Butterfly, Royal Opera, 14 June 2022 https://boulezian.blogspot.com/2022/06/madama-butterfly-royal-opera-14-june.html Boulezian urn:uuid:c1dd0da2-ac5c-96f5-ec1c-c4c808fba7d5 Sun, 19 Jun 2022 08:54:57 +0000 <br />Royal Opera House<br /><br />Pinkerton – Freddie De Tommaso <br />Goro – Alexander Kravets <br />Suzuki – Patricia Bardon <br />Sharpless – Lucas Meachem <br />Cio-Cio-San – Lianna Haroutounian <br />Imperial Commissioner – Dawid Kimberg <br />Original Registrar – Nigel Cliffe <br />Cio-Cio-San’s Mother – Eryl Royle <br />Uncle Yaukusidé – Andrew O’Connor <br />Cousin – Amy Catt <br />Aunt – Kiera Lyness <br />Bonze – Jeremy White <br />Dolore – Leo Stokkland-Baker <br />Prince Yamadori – Alan Pingarrón <br />Kate Pinkerton – Rachel Lloyd <br /><br />Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier (directors)<br />Daniel Dooner (revival director)<br />Christian Fenouillat (set designs)<br />Agostino Cavalca (costumes)<br />Christophe Forey (lighting)<div><br /></div><div>Royal Opera Chorus (chorus director: William Spaulding)</div><div>Orchestra of the Royal Opera House</div><div>Dan Ettinger (conductor)</div><div><br /></div><div><br /></div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEjcizKnaYC1ValjZEEqIiqReubSUSvw-N9SoilsEj5J18F8ztKLZhpdwxpfMz7tqCSpS_o48V7WqSA581S1sKeXMzN4Yj2RSkYkVYP4ymlwrJntxTorJZchh6TuY34nW1wnm3R-7Xhm5EMd459s0kRJSHS7jrFRK6mDklFprDWb_Q54paNVktygvy1nzA/s5250/(CIO-CIO-SAN)%20Lianna%20Haroutounian,%20ROH%20Chorus,%202022%20Photograph%20by%20%C2%A9%20Yasuko%20%C2%A9%20Yasuko%20Kageyama%20IMG_6641.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><span style="font-size: x-small;"><img border="0" data-original-height="3500" data-original-width="5250" height="426" src="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEjcizKnaYC1ValjZEEqIiqReubSUSvw-N9SoilsEj5J18F8ztKLZhpdwxpfMz7tqCSpS_o48V7WqSA581S1sKeXMzN4Yj2RSkYkVYP4ymlwrJntxTorJZchh6TuY34nW1wnm3R-7Xhm5EMd459s0kRJSHS7jrFRK6mDklFprDWb_Q54paNVktygvy1nzA/w640-h426/(CIO-CIO-SAN)%20Lianna%20Haroutounian,%20ROH%20Chorus,%202022%20Photograph%20by%20%C2%A9%20Yasuko%20%C2%A9%20Yasuko%20Kageyama%20IMG_6641.jpg" width="640" /></span></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: inherit;">Images:&nbsp;<span style="background-color: white; text-align: left;"><span lang="EN-US" style="line-height: 19.425px; margin: 0px;"><span style="line-height: normal; margin: 0px;">© Yasuko Kageyama</span></span></span></span></td></tr></tbody></table><div><br /> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">‘In the 21<sup>st</sup> century, staging <i>Madama Butterfly</i> poses questions for any opera house. The opera’s essence is a violent collision between two cultures. But how to represent another culture on stage with truth and sensitivity? In reviving Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s classic production, we have involved Japanese practitioners and academic to work towards a <i>Butterfly</i> both true to the spirit of the original and more authentic in its representation of Japan.’<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">Not perfect, far from it; one could readily pick holes in that section of the programme’s ‘welcome’ statement from Oliver Mears and Antonio Pappano. For instance, t is at least debatable, to my mind rather more than that, that the work’s ‘essence’ is something else entirely. Moreover, if the Royal Opera were honest about it—this would be true of pretty much every opera company on the planet—staging such a work and production did not really ‘pose questions’ until very recently indeed in the twenty-first century. It is good, though, to see the opera world showing some such development, and we should be gracious about that: we all, after all, have a long, long way to go in working towards a more racially (and otherwise) just society.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">I do not recall having seen the production before, so cannot comment on how noticeable the changes are. I suspect some of them would have passed me by, had I not been advised what to look for, though that doubtless says more about my (ignorant) standpoint than anything else. Costumes, we read, have undergone modification to make them more of the period in which the production is set, not least in terms of their signification of social status. Make-up has also been modified, in order to appear less caricatured, more ‘natural’ or at least appropriate. This I can see from looking at pictures from previous outings. Otherwise, Leiser and Caurier’s production seems to me ‘classic’ only in the sense of standing firmly in the middle of the road: a degree of abstraction, more as style than concept, remaining essentially realist; no Zeffirelli horror, but nothing to scare the </span><i style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">Daily Mail</i><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;"> horses either. Christophe Forey’s lighting guides the action, subtly and more starkly. And revival director Daniel Dooner does a good job guiding his forces on stage, although the heroine’s demise proved unfortunate.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;"><br /></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;"><o:p></o:p></span></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEh0cs4AbPPHKok0jlHODDA6LNKP72yNRj9I91VcfF2MXhd1Z0nZDL6QsIGdkRYdP_ntAetamTJPLwFRgN65hXH0qVF775VFiAqV0x4JBN66t7_S0gScUat-unmjtfi3GL9N5EL53wry0d1ija-3AB5RLOnUDA1y2EcESc6yKkxFnQI5y5O0oQIVaBeFZg/s6222/Madama%20Butterfly%20%C2%A9%20Yasuko%20Kageyama%20IMG_6665.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="3500" data-original-width="6222" height="360" src="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEh0cs4AbPPHKok0jlHODDA6LNKP72yNRj9I91VcfF2MXhd1Z0nZDL6QsIGdkRYdP_ntAetamTJPLwFRgN65hXH0qVF775VFiAqV0x4JBN66t7_S0gScUat-unmjtfi3GL9N5EL53wry0d1ija-3AB5RLOnUDA1y2EcESc6yKkxFnQI5y5O0oQIVaBeFZg/w640-h360/Madama%20Butterfly%20%C2%A9%20Yasuko%20Kageyama%20IMG_6665.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><br />&nbsp;<p></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">That final rolling around on stage was an extreme conclusion to a performance from Lianna Haroutounian that was throughout more strong than subtle. I am not sure it was especially in keeping with the avowed intentions of this revision, but it did no especial harm. Ultimately, though, it was difficult to take her seriously enough in the role. Freddie De Tommaso’s Pinkerton also tended towards the broad-brush, albeit with greater attention to detail: a perfectly decent, if not especially illuminating, performance. I presume a pronounced lachrymose tendency in the third act to have been an interpretative decision, just in case one did not loath the character enough; the self-pity did the trick, in any case. Patricia Bardon’s Suzuki was constant and compassionate, very much what one expected—and wanted—to hear. For me, Lucas Meachem’s Sharpless was the pick of the bunch, his thoughtful, variegated performance unquestionably founded in the text. The Royal Opera Chorus was not on its best form, comparisons with Covent Garden’s recent <i>Lohengrin</i> again unfortunate. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">Not nearly so unfortunate, though, as the conducting. In the programme, we also read Mears and Pappano write, ‘We are thrilled to welcome back Dan Ettinger to conduct.’ They could hardly say they had been pained to do so, but leaving out Ettinger altogether would have been preferable. It is difficult to imagine anyone having been thrilled with the results, at any rate. Ettinger’s sole advantage, relatively speaking, was that he was not Daniel Oren: another, frankly atrocious conductor Covent Garden engages with bewildering frequency. This was bad, but perhaps not quite so bad. Quite what it is with some such figures I do not know; maybe it is the demands of artist management companies. Whatever it is, houses should stand firm. For Ettinger’s perverse achievement in ridding most of Puccini’s score, especially an interminable first act, of any interest, let alone drama, was not something any house should welcome. The rest was loud, crude, weirdly devoid of harmonic rhythm, and often simply of harmonic, let alone structural, interest.&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">If work and production are to be further re-evaluated, then having someone capable of leading such re-evaluation from the pit would help; enlisting someone capable of holding one’s attention would be a bare minimum. Better still, consider a staging that engages more deeply with the racial and sexual violence, as well as the devastating imperialism, that lie at this opera's heart (or lack thereof).</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><br /></p></div> A Waltz Dream https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/18/a-waltz-dream/ operaramblings urn:uuid:bd4d27d6-c210-ee4f-2652-96c999a0ec13 Sat, 18 Jun 2022 17:09:40 +0000 Oscar Straus&#8217; A Waltz Dream opened last night in a Toronto Operetta theatre production at the St. Lawrence Centre.  The piece premiered in Vienna in 1907 and soon became a huge international hit with various English versions appearing quite early &#8230; <a href="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/18/a-waltz-dream/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a> <p>Oscar Straus&#8217; <em>A Waltz Dream</em> opened last night in a Toronto Operetta theatre production at the St. Lawrence Centre.  The piece premiered in Vienna in 1907 and soon became a huge international hit with various English versions appearing quite early on.  The version given by TOT appears to be a 1970s version with book by Michael Flanders, Edmund Tracey and Bernard Dunn and the music adapted and arranged by Ronald Hanmer.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="31737" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/18/a-waltz-dream/attachment/184/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/184.jpg" data-orig-size="580,387" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;4&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;NIKON D850&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1655329312&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;200&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;1600&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.00625&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="184" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/184.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/184.jpg?w=580" class="size-full wp-image-31737 aligncenter" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/184.jpg?w=584" alt="184" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/184.jpg 580w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/184.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/184.jpg?w=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 580px) 100vw, 580px" /></p> <p><span id="more-31728"></span>In some ways it&#8217;s an odd work.  I wasn&#8217;t entirely sure whether it&#8217;s intended as a straightforward &#8220;original&#8221; operetta, a homage to the genre or send up of it.  The tone is set by the setting.  We are in the princely state of Rurislavenstein. which really says it all as far as any serious intent may be concerned.  It has so many elements consciously or unconsciously borrowed from the Viennese operetta canon; the overbearing wife, the couple who have more difficulty expressing their mutual affection than Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot, the flirtatious singer/chorus girl who saves the day, the pompous court official.  All it really lacks is a drunk gaoler.  The humour is a bit ponderous in.a Germanic sort of way and even Michael Flanders doesn&#8217;t seem to have injected any real humour.  Perhaps it needs a hippo?  But I think we must accept it as neither homage or send up and with enough of a willing sense of disbelief it sort of works.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="31734" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/18/a-waltz-dream/attachment/10/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/10.jpg" data-orig-size="580,870" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;4&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;NIKON Z 7&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1655338282&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;70&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;1600&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.008&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="10" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/10.jpg?w=200" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/10.jpg?w=580" class="size-full wp-image-31734 aligncenter" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/10.jpg?w=584" alt="10" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/10.jpg 580w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/10.jpg?w=100 100w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/10.jpg?w=200 200w" sizes="(max-width: 580px) 100vw, 580px" /></p> <p>It&#8217;s well crafted and moves along nicely once one has forgotten how ridiculous the story is.  It&#8217;s also pretty good musically with some good ensemble numbers and the famous Act 2 waltz theme.  Guillermo Silva-Marin&#8217;s production and his cast treat the piece with just enough respect to make for a fun and enjoyable show.  It&#8217;s colourful.  Lots of fun is had with the masquerade scene.  Greg Finney in a leotard is surely a first (and one hopes last).  The singing is good, and the movement perhaps even better and there&#8217;s eye candy for all tastes. I could have used a large glass of Grüner Veltliner but one can&#8217;t have everything.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="31739" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/18/a-waltz-dream/attachment/241/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/241.jpg" data-orig-size="580,387" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;4&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;NIKON D850&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1655330374&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;170&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;1600&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.00625&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="241" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/241.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/241.jpg?w=580" class="size-full wp-image-31739 aligncenter" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/241.jpg?w=584" alt="241" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/241.jpg 580w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/241.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/241.jpg?w=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 580px) 100vw, 580px" /></p> <p>The cast is headed up by Andrea Nuñez as the Crown Prince&#8217;s daughter Helene, and Scott Rumble as Niki, the Austrian hussar officer, whose wedding the entire plot revolves around.  This pair are definitely the most operatic part of the cast with strong, accurate and almost dramatic singing.  They also act well.  Sean Curran, as the Crown Prince, is a suitably henpecked royal with the pecking done, with Lady Bracknell like charm, by Karina Bray.  Keith Klassen plays the bumbling chamberlain/lord chief justice/fixer with his usual comedic talent.  There&#8217;s an injection of faux Viennoiserie from Amy Moodie and Alexandra Weintraub (you can tell they are Viennese not Rurislavensteinisch because their shoulders are daringly bare).  Both sing very nicely and the latter is an exceptional mover.  Moodie is really quite amusing as she trains the young princess in flirtation.  Greg Finney, leotard and all, is at his best as the initially rather conniving but ultimately love struck Count Lothar.  Elisabeth Beeler . as the older Lady in Waiting, trying to keep Helene from disaster and Austin Larusson as Montschi, Niki&#8217;s ADC, trying to keep his boss out of trouble are both effective.  There&#8217;s good work from the small chorus too.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="31735" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/18/a-waltz-dream/attachment/42/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/42.jpg" data-orig-size="580,387" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;5&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;NIKON Z 7&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1655341598&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;95&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;1600&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.00625&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="42" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/42.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/42.jpg?w=580" class="size-full wp-image-31735 aligncenter" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/42.jpg?w=584" alt="42" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/42.jpg 580w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/42.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/42.jpg?w=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 580px) 100vw, 580px" /></p> <p>There&#8217;s a ten piece band which provides plenty of colour and volume enough for the Jane Mallett Theatre.  Derek Bates conducts with vigour and is sensitive to the pacing of the plot.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="31738" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/18/a-waltz-dream/attachment/204/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/204.jpg" data-orig-size="580,387" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;3.5&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;NIKON D850&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1655330140&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;135&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;1600&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.00625&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="204" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/204.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/204.jpg?w=580" class="size-full wp-image-31738 aligncenter" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/204.jpg?w=584" alt="204" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/204.jpg 580w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/204.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/204.jpg?w=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 580px) 100vw, 580px" /></p> <p>I don&#8217;t think <em>A Waltz Dream</em> is one of the best pieces in this genre, though once upon a time people did.  That said the TOT gang do a very decent job with it and it ends up as an enjoyable evening at the theatre.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="31736" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/18/a-waltz-dream/attachment/150/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/150.jpg" data-orig-size="580,387" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;4.5&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;NIKON Z 7&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1655343298&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;170&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;1600&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.00625&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="150" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/150.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/150.jpg?w=580" class="size-full wp-image-31736 aligncenter" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/150.jpg?w=584" alt="150" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/150.jpg 580w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/150.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/150.jpg?w=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 580px) 100vw, 580px" /></p> <p>Oscar Straus&#8217; <em>A Waltz Dream</em> continues at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts until Sunday.</p> <p>Photo credits: Gary Beechey</p> Finale 34 – Act III La Gioconda https://medicine-opera.com/2022/06/finale-34-act-iii-la-gioconda/ Neil Kurtzman urn:uuid:b960a502-aa8e-693a-c52b-5b7114d966f8 Thu, 16 Jun 2022 15:07:50 +0000 During the half century that separates the premieres of Verdi&#8217;s Nabucco from Puccini&#8217;s Manon Lescaut only two Italian operas not by Verdi entered the standard operatic repertoire &#8211; so complete was his dominance. The two survivors are Boito&#8217;s Mefistofele and Ponchielli&#8217;s La Gioconda. Amilcare Ponchielli (1834-86) was born in a small town near Cremona. He... <p>During the half century that separates the premieres of Verdi&#8217;s <em>Nabucco</em> from Puccini&#8217;s <em>Manon Lescau</em>t only two Italian operas not by Verdi entered the standard operatic repertoire &#8211; so complete was his dominance. The two survivors are Boito&#8217;s <em>Mefistofele</em> and Ponchielli&#8217;s <em>La Gioconda</em>. </p> <p>Amilcare Ponchielli (1834-86) was born in a small town near Cremona. He studied at the Milan Conservatory. He won a competition for a professorship at the conservatory at which he trained, but somehow was pushed aside. He won some notoriety as a bandmaster. The revised version of his opera <em>I Promessi Sposi</em> (based on Manzoni&#8217;s great novel) was successful and established him as a composer of opera. He eventually joined the faculty of the Milan Conservatory (also called the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory after its most famous rejected applicant) where Mascagni and Puccini were among his students.</p> <p>Today Ponchielli&#8217;s reputation rests entirely on his opera <em>La Gioconda</em>. Written in 1876, it was revised latter in that year and again on 1879. It is the third version that is performed. The work is full of great numbers for soprano, mezzo, contralto, tenor, baritone, and bass. But it is the ballet in the third act that is best known. It&#8217;s the one Disney made famous in the original version of <em>Fantasia</em>. The dancing ostriches, hippopotamuses, elephants and alligators will be forever associated with the music. It comes near the end of Act 3, but is not the act&#8217;s finale as the Wikipedia article on the opera states. The act&#8217;s finale is the subject of the article.</p> <p>The opera&#8217;s plot based on Victor Hugo&#8217;s play <em>Angelo, Tyrant of Padua</em>, a 1835 play in prose by Victor Hugo. The play had also served as the basis for Mercadante&#8217;s <em>Il Giuramento</em> in 1837. The libretto for Ponchielli&#8217;s opera was written by Arrigo Boito who must have been embarrassed by his florid lyrics which are best listened to without a translation so over the yardarm are the encounters. Instead of his name the libretto was credited to &#8220;Tobia Gorrio&#8221;, an acrostic rearranging the letters of his name.</p> <p>The act&#8217;s actual finale, once you&#8217;ve banished the zoo from your brain, is a fine effort worthy of Verdi. The opera is remarkable for the tenor being in love with the mezzo rather than the soprano whose passion for the tenor is unrequited. The mezzo is unhappily married to the bass who aware of her desire for the tenor has her drink poison which the soprano exchanges for a draught that mimics death but allows eventual recovery. Don&#8217;t get too involved with the story; it&#8217;s best experienced with attention fixed on the music. The bass reveals the body of his &#8220;dead&#8221; wife to the consternation of everyone especially the tenor. The finale depicts the variegated emotions of all the players with compelling effectiveness. The cast of the 42 year old recording below includes Montserrat Caballé and Luciano Pavarotti. </p> <p><a href="https://www.dropbox.com/s/epvm073f0ld9sou/La%20Gioconda%20Act%203%20finale.mp3?dl=0" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">La Gioconda Act 3 finale</a></p> <p></p> <p></p> Ode to Joy https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/16/ode-to-joy/ operaramblings urn:uuid:9bd1fea2-3491-a94f-8956-2799d4f8bd83 Thu, 16 Jun 2022 12:39:03 +0000 Last night&#8217;s TSO program, conducted by Gustavo Gimeno, kicked off with three short pieces by Canadian composers.  All were impressive.  The first two; Adam Scime&#8217;s A Dream of Refuge and Bekah Simms&#8217; Bite are reflections (to some at extent at &#8230; <a href="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/16/ode-to-joy/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a> <p>Last night&#8217;s TSO program, conducted by Gustavo Gimeno, kicked off with three short pieces by Canadian composers.  All were impressive.  The first two; Adam Scime&#8217;s <em>A Dream of Refuge</em> and Bekah Simms&#8217; <em>Bite</em> are reflections (to some at extent at least) on the pandemic.  The Scime piece is lighter and brighter.  There is uncertainty there but ultimately it seems to speak of hope.  The Simms piece wis much darker with heavy percussion and blaring brass.  A sense of uncertainty permeates the string writing.  It&#8217;s quite disturbing.  Roydon Tse&#8217;s <em>Unrelenting Sorrow</em> was written for those who have lost loved ones.  It&#8217;s quite melodic and has strong contrasts between dramatic and more lyrical passages.  Sorrowful perhaps but not unrelentingly so.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="31725" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/16/ode-to-joy/0035_ode-to-joy/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/0035_ode-to-joy.jpg" data-orig-size="580,388" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;3.5&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;Jag Gundu&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;NIKON Z 9&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1655282172&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;Jag Photography&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;92&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;3200&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.005&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="0035_Ode to Joy" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/0035_ode-to-joy.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/0035_ode-to-joy.jpg?w=580" class="size-full wp-image-31725 aligncenter" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/0035_ode-to-joy.jpg?w=584" alt="0035_Ode to Joy" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/0035_ode-to-joy.jpg 580w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/0035_ode-to-joy.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/0035_ode-to-joy.jpg?w=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 580px) 100vw, 580px" /></p> <p><span id="more-31720"></span>The second and much longer part of the programme was Beethoven&#8217;s ninth symphony.  It was well done.  Gimeno drew out and developed the main themes with clarity.  There was some really lovely playing from the principal cello when the &#8220;joy&#8221; theme first appears and the finale was dramatic.  Ryan Speedo Green&#8217;s sepulchral bass-baritone seemed well suited to the introductory lines of Schiller&#8217;s great ode.  There was some suitably lyrical tenoring from Issachah Savage a bit later on  and the ladies; Angela Meade and Rihab Chaieb, soared above the chorus when they needed to.  The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (singing masked still??) was fine though whether the masking, the general density of the music or the hall were the main contributors to some loss of clarity in the big finale I couldn&#8217;t say.  All in all this was a well done ninth.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="31724" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/16/ode-to-joy/0033_ode-to-joy/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/0033_ode-to-joy.jpg" data-orig-size="580,384" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;3.5&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;Jag Gundu&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;NIKON Z 9&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1655282147&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;Jag Photography&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;200&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;3200&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.005&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="0033_Ode to Joy" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/0033_ode-to-joy.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/0033_ode-to-joy.jpg?w=580" class="size-full wp-image-31724 aligncenter" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/0033_ode-to-joy.jpg?w=584" alt="0033_Ode to Joy" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/0033_ode-to-joy.jpg 580w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/0033_ode-to-joy.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/0033_ode-to-joy.jpg?w=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 580px) 100vw, 580px" /></p> <p>The program will be repeated tonight, tomorrow and Sunday at Roy Thomson Hall.</p> <p>Photo credit: Jag Gundu</p> Carmen, Opera Holland Park, 10 June 2022 https://boulezian.blogspot.com/2022/06/carmen-opera-holland-park-10-june-2022.html Boulezian urn:uuid:438128e5-6f8e-ff31-bd65-5b041b295638 Tue, 14 Jun 2022 09:55:17 +0000 <p>&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">C</span>armen – Kezia Bienek<br />Don José – Oliver Johnston <br />Escamillo – Thomas Mole <br />Micaëla – Alison Langer <br />Frasquita – Natasha Agarwal <br />Mercédès – Ellie Edmonds <br />Zuniga – Jacob Phillips <br />Moralès – Jevan McAuley <br />Le Dancaïre – Themba Mvula <br />Le Remendado – Mike Bradley <br /><br /></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;">Cecilia Stinton (director) <br />takis (set designs) <br />Johanne Jensen (lighting) <br />Isabel Baquero (choreography) <br /><br />Children’s Chorus from Cardinal Vaughan School <br />Opera Holland Park Chorus (chorus director: Richard Harker) <br />City of London Sinfonia <br />Lee Reynolds (conductor)</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><br /></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"></p><div style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEjJdakhtYexc0Xc5IoHm2Bu2KcaLufYO5F6-AcbIjqWqvbulP3uNCIxz94zkgPqdFYS_YKq0dQrZYakq_S7tHRUzkqIkgC3TuL6j31KVR4t5kXnXL_YlF0eT6mqipXL6N2OJiCMegEF7G4HLNPEhtr0J4-IjVtg-B2VBL7zZMyH5b1XqZIXAgjOIISwtQ"><img alt="" data-original-height="3729" data-original-width="5593" height="426" src="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/a/AVvXsEjJdakhtYexc0Xc5IoHm2Bu2KcaLufYO5F6-AcbIjqWqvbulP3uNCIxz94zkgPqdFYS_YKq0dQrZYakq_S7tHRUzkqIkgC3TuL6j31KVR4t5kXnXL_YlF0eT6mqipXL6N2OJiCMegEF7G4HLNPEhtr0J4-IjVtg-B2VBL7zZMyH5b1XqZIXAgjOIISwtQ=w640-h426" width="640" /></a></div><div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: x-small;">Image: Ali Wright</span></div>&nbsp; <br /><i><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">Carmen</span></i><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;"> was the last opera I saw before the end of the world. Not necessarily what I would have chosen; for many of my friends it was <i>Fidelio</i>, whose absence from my truncated Beethoven Year I regretted deeply. But then none of us chose pandemic, lockdown, death, misery, and the rest. It was good, though, to have opportunity to exorcise another pandemic ghost, albeit in different guise. Cecilia Stinton’s new Holland Park production has little in common with <a href="https://boulezian.blogspot.com/2020/03/carmen-staatsoper-unter-den-linden-7.html">Martin Kušej’s staging at Berlin’s Staatsoper Unter den Linden</a>; nor did Lee Reynolds’ traversal of the score, in his own, skilful, new reduction correspond to my memories of Daniel Barenboim.</span><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">&nbsp;</span><p></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">Different strokes…? Doubtless, yet I could not help but regret the lack of rethinking, especially in staging. There are half-hearted nods to a feminist turn, which in context come across more as odd than enlightening, for ultimately what we see is highly conventional, permitting of little to say other than what it is not. We lacked, thank goodness, Francesca Zambello’s notorious donkey; otherwise, this was a ‘period’ tale, in uniforms and frocks. It all looks a bit like a school play. <a href="https://boulezian.blogspot.com/2017/07/festival-daix-en-provence-3-carmen-13.html">Dmitri Tcherniakov’s radical decentring of Carmen</a> could not be more distant; the unremitting intensity of <a href="https://boulezian.blogspot.com/2012/11/carmen-english-national-opera-21.html">Calixto Bieito’s much ‘straighter’ retelling</a> in Franco’s Spain seems a world away too. There is some ‘colourful’ dancing and other musical comedy-style ‘business’. Children hand around postcards advertising Escamillo’s fight. Don José elicits strikingly little directorial interest, but it would be difficult to say any of the characters was fully treated. And that, bar a peculiar role reversal at the opening, is more or less it. It seems odd that anyone might need a course in orientalism at this stage, but there we are.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">Reynolds’s conducting had none of Barenboim’s revisionism either, yet proved more compelling than the staging. The City of London Sinfonia was on sharp form, clearly in sympathy with its conductor’s carefully gauged balance of drive and lyricism. If I missed the sense of numbers contributing to a sum greater than their parts, that is often the case here; and I realise, especially in the ‘authentic’ <i>opéra comique</i> version, that I could readily be accused of wanting to turn the opera into something (more Austro-German, Nietzsche forbid) than it is. Reynolds and the orchestra supported the cast and led the action where necessary and appropriate. No one could or should reasonably have been disappointed, save for the inevitable reductions in scale of a chamber orchestration. Even then, different balances—not least, more prominent woodwind—had one reconsider one’s position on the work: no bad thing, given its ubiquity.</span><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">Kezia Bienek fully inhabited the title role, insofar as the production permitted. Hers was a Carmen, quite rightly, not inclined to take any prisoners, yet far from one-dimensional. Vocal delivery was well centred on the text as a whole (that is, words and music) and stage presence fitted the bill splendidly throughout. If the staging seemed rather to leave Oliver Johnston to fend for himself, he proved well able to do so, giving us an intelligently sung Don José. Thomas Mole’s dark tone was just the thing for Escamillo, in another intelligent reading. Micaëlas rarely disappointed, but that is no reason not to celebrate Alison Langer’s performance, beautifully and touchingly sung. A fine supporting cast and excellent performances both from the Opera Holland Park Chorus and pupils of Cardinal Vaughan School compensated in good measure for what I—though not, I think, the audience as a whole—perceived as lack of ambition in the production. <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;</span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;"><span style="mso-spacerun: yes;"><br /></span></span></p> Late June https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/13/late-june/ operaramblings urn:uuid:12c307a5-1cef-76cd-91e9-3c08c692b51a Mon, 13 Jun 2022 18:40:48 +0000 A couple more things coming up this month. June 17th/18th/19th Toronto Operetta theatre are presenting Oscar Straus&#8217; A Waltz Dream at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. June 24th the Happenstancers have a concert at 918 Bathurst.  It&#8217;s Pierrot themed &#8230; <a href="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/13/late-june/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a> <p><img data-attachment-id="31710" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/06/13/late-june/danikal-2/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/danikal.png" data-orig-size="290,305" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;}" data-image-title="danikal" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/danikal.png?w=285" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/danikal.png?w=290" class="size-full wp-image-31710 alignleft" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/danikal.png?w=584" alt="danikal" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/danikal.png 290w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/06/danikal.png?w=143 143w" sizes="(max-width: 290px) 100vw, 290px" />A couple more things coming up this month.</p> <ul> <li>June 17th/18th/19th Toronto Operetta theatre are presenting Oscar Straus&#8217; A <em>Waltz Dream</em> at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts.</li> <li>June 24th the Happenstancers have a concert at 918 Bathurst.  It&#8217;s Pierrot themed with Danika Loren singing the obvious Schoenberg work plus moon themed music by Saariaho, Sokolovic and the Saskatchewan Songbird herself.  One not to miss IMHO.</li> </ul>