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/ Wirth prize winner https://operaramblings.blog/2022/12/01/wirth-prize-winner/ operaramblings urn:uuid:1843425d-8f3e-9fa3-a1ea-dcce880edc4a Thu, 01 Dec 2022 18:55:18 +0000 The 2021/22 winner of the Wirth Vocal prize at McGill&#8217;s Schulich Schoolof Music is Innu soprano Elisabeth Saint-Gelais.  She performed in the RBA at noon on Wednesday, accompanied by Louise Pelletier.  It was impressive.  She has power to burn and &#8230; <a href="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/12/01/wirth-prize-winner/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a> <p>The 2021/22 winner of the Wirth Vocal prize at McGill&#8217;s Schulich Schoolof Music is Innu soprano Elisabeth Saint-Gelais.  She performed in the RBA at noon on Wednesday, accompanied by Louise Pelletier.  It was impressive.  She has power to burn and a rather lovely voice and, not so common among young dramatic sopranos, considerable control across her registers.  She also displayed considerable linguistic skill in French, German and Czech though I&#8217;m completely unqualified to comment on the quality of her Anishinabe.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="32903" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/12/01/wirth-prize-winner/dsc08479/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc08479.jpg" data-orig-size="580,387" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;2.8&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;ILCE-7RM3&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1669787117&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;70&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;125&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.0125&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="DSC08479" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc08479.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc08479.jpg?w=580" class="size-full wp-image-32903 aligncenter" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc08479.jpg?w=584" alt="DSC08479" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc08479.jpg 580w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc08479.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc08479.jpg?w=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 580px) 100vw, 580px" /></p> <p><span id="more-32881"></span>She started off with two songs from Berlioz&#8217; <em>Nuits d&#8217;été</em> which were a good indicator of what was to come.  She has a big, full, almost mezzo-ish sound.  The <em>Vier Lieder</em>, Op 27 of Strauss followed.  These often trip up young singers but Saint-Gelais navigated them extremely well with, for example, real heft in &#8220;Heimliche Aufforderung&#8221; and lyricism in &#8220;Morgen&#8221;, all without going squally in her upper register.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="32902" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/12/01/wirth-prize-winner/dsc08475/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc08475.jpg" data-orig-size="580,387" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;2.8&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;ILCE-7RM3&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1669786971&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;200&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;500&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.005&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="DSC08475" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc08475.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc08475.jpg?w=580" class="size-full wp-image-32902 aligncenter" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc08475.jpg?w=584" alt="DSC08475" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc08475.jpg 580w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc08475.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc08475.jpg?w=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 580px) 100vw, 580px" /></p> <p>A sense that she is something of a stage animal came over in a nicely dramatic, and humorous, account of Barbara Assignaak&#8217;s &#8220;NMAKAAN&#8217;JIK KIKZOOTAADWAK&#8221; in which we were told that Saint Germain&#8217;s character, a crow, is counting out blueberries for her lover.  Two pretty Duparc songs and a lovely rendering of Dvořák&#8217;s &#8220;Song to the Moon&#8221; closed out a highly satisfying recital.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="32901" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/12/01/wirth-prize-winner/dsc08446/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc08446.jpg" data-orig-size="580,387" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;2.8&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;ILCE-7RM3&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1669786096&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;70&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;320&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.0125&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="DSC08446" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc08446.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc08446.jpg?w=580" class="size-full wp-image-32901 aligncenter" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc08446.jpg?w=584" alt="DSC08446" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc08446.jpg 580w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc08446.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc08446.jpg?w=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 580px) 100vw, 580px" /></p> <p>Definitely one to watch!</p> <p>Photo credits: Karen E. Reeves</p> Rebanks fellows https://operaramblings.blog/2022/12/01/rebanks-fellows/ operaramblings urn:uuid:25b567c8-64b9-e7a1-0ecc-2e988aaf44fe Thu, 01 Dec 2022 15:34:10 +0000 Last night at Mazzoleni Hall we were entertained by the Royal Conservatory&#8217;s Rebanks fellows.  The programme was, to say the least, varied and very enjoyable.  It began with a movement from Mozart&#8217;s Piano Quartet in G minor played by Isobel &#8230; <a href="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/12/01/rebanks-fellows/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a> <p>Last night at Mazzoleni Hall we were entertained by the Royal Conservatory&#8217;s Rebanks fellows.  The programme was, to say the least, varied and very enjoyable.  It began with a movement from Mozart&#8217;s <em>Piano Quartet in G minor</em> played by Isobel Howard &#8211; violin, Caleb Georges &#8211; viola, Joanne Yesol Choi &#8211; cello and Sejin Yoon &#8211; piano.  It was a pleasant, if conventional, start to the evening.  There were rather more fireworks in the &#8220;Allegro ma non troppo&#8221; from Strauss&#8217; <em>Violin Sonata in E flat major.  </em>There was some seriously virtuosic playing here from Aaaron Chan &#8211; violin and Ben Smith &#8211; piano.</p> <div data-shortcode="caption" id="attachment_32891" style="width: 590px" class="wp-caption alignnone"><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-32891" data-attachment-id="32891" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/12/01/rebanks-fellows/1-group-photo/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/1.-group-photo.jpg" data-orig-size="580,387" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;2.8&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;STUARTLOWE.COM&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;NIKON Z 9&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1669862172&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;Stuart Lowe&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;24&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;800&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.008&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="1. Group Photo" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt; from L to R: Michael Bridge, accordion; Caleb Georges, viola; Isobel Howard, violin; Sejin Yoon, piano; Hannah Crawford, soprano; Daniel Hamin Go, cello; Tim Beattie, guitar; Jonelle Sills, soprano; Aaron Chan, violin.&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/1.-group-photo.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/1.-group-photo.jpg?w=580" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-32891" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/1.-group-photo.jpg?w=584" alt="1. Group Photo" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/1.-group-photo.jpg 580w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/1.-group-photo.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/1.-group-photo.jpg?w=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 580px) 100vw, 580px" /><p id="caption-attachment-32891" class="wp-caption-text">from L to R: Michael Bridge, accordion; Caleb Georges, viola; Isobel Howard, violin; Sejin Yoon, piano; Hannah Crawford, soprano; Daniel Hamin Go, cello; Tim Beattie, guitar; Jonelle Sills, soprano; Aaron Chan, violin.</p></div> <p><span id="more-32886"></span>And so to the vocal part of the programme.  The usually quite dramatic Hannah Crawford gave us two fairly lyrical arias; the Countess&#8217; &#8220;Porgi amor&#8221; and Liu&#8217;s &#8220;Signors, ascolta&#8221;. They were well done and it was interesting to hear her in a more lyrical vein.  By contrast, Jonelle Sills, who I think of as in more of a lyrical vein, gave extremely dramatic, indeed fierce accounts of her two arias; &#8220;Or sai chi l&#8217;onore&#8221; from <em>Don Giovanni</em> and &#8220;Stridono lassù&#8221; from <em>Pagliacci.  </em>Hair raising stuff here.  Trevor Chartrand accompanied in both cases.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="32892" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/12/01/rebanks-fellows/2-mozart-quartet/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/2.-mozart-quartet.jpg" data-orig-size="580,387" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;2.8&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;STUARTLOWE.COM&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;NIKON Z 9&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1669855780&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;Stuart Lowe&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;79&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;800&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.004&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="2. Mozart Quartet" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/2.-mozart-quartet.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/2.-mozart-quartet.jpg?w=580" class="size-full wp-image-32892 aligncenter" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/2.-mozart-quartet.jpg?w=584" alt="2. Mozart Quartet" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/2.-mozart-quartet.jpg 580w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/2.-mozart-quartet.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/2.-mozart-quartet.jpg?w=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 580px) 100vw, 580px" /></p> <p>After the interval we hit new heights of eclecticism.  It started conventionally enough with a very virtuosic &#8220;Una limosna por el amor de dios&#8221; by Agustin Barrios played expertly on guitar by Timothy Beattie (how many fingers does he have??).  Less conventionally he was joined by cellist Daniel Hamin Go for Astor Piazzolla&#8217;s &#8220;Libertango&#8221;; another virtuoso piece inspired by, you guessed, the tango.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="32894" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/12/01/rebanks-fellows/4-tim-beattie-daniel-hamin-go/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/4.-tim-beattie-daniel-hamin-go.jpg" data-orig-size="580,387" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;2.8&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;STUARTLOWE.COM&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;NIKON Z 9&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1669859713&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;Stuart Lowe&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;135&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;560&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.004&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="4. Tim Beattie &amp;amp; Daniel Hamin Go" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/4.-tim-beattie-daniel-hamin-go.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/4.-tim-beattie-daniel-hamin-go.jpg?w=580" class="size-full wp-image-32894 aligncenter" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/4.-tim-beattie-daniel-hamin-go.jpg?w=584" alt="4. Tim Beattie &amp;amp; Daniel Hamin Go" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/4.-tim-beattie-daniel-hamin-go.jpg 580w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/4.-tim-beattie-daniel-hamin-go.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/4.-tim-beattie-daniel-hamin-go.jpg?w=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 580px) 100vw, 580px" /></p> <p>Go returned with accordionist (the first such to become a Rebanks fellow) Michael Bridge for an impressive arrangement of Fauré&#8217;s <em>Élégie for Cello and Orchestra</em>.  Bridges then closed out the show with two solo accordion pieces; Granados&#8217; <em>Spanish dance no.5 &#8220;Andaluza&#8221;</em> and Zampronha&#8217;s very complkex and slightly weird <em>Trazo</em> (Stroke).  It&#8217;s rare (and very welcome) to hear such interesting use of less conventional instruments.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="32893" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/12/01/rebanks-fellows/3-michael-bridge/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/3.-michael-bridge.jpg" data-orig-size="580,387" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;2.8&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;STUARTLOWE.COM&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;NIKON Z 9&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1669861120&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;Stuart Lowe&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;200&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;720&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.004&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="3. Michael Bridge" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/3.-michael-bridge.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/3.-michael-bridge.jpg?w=580" class="size-full wp-image-32893 aligncenter" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/3.-michael-bridge.jpg?w=584" alt="3. Michael Bridge" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/3.-michael-bridge.jpg 580w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/3.-michael-bridge.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/12/3.-michael-bridge.jpg?w=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 580px) 100vw, 580px" /></p> <p>So, an enjoyable evening and a fitting showcase for the programme.</p> <p>All photo credits Stuart Lowe.  I&#8217;ve captioned the group photo.  The participants in the others should be easily identifiable!</p> Yours, mine and ‘Hours’ https://parterre.com/2022/12/01/87044/ parterre box urn:uuid:93d16e2e-7615-6f32-24a1-39a5b27854c0 Thu, 01 Dec 2022 14:00:29 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/12/01/87044/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-broadcast-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-broadcast-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-broadcast-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-broadcast-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-broadcast-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-broadcast-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Of course the Met premiere of <em>The Hours </em>grabbed most of the attention last month!</p> <p><img src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-broadcast-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86726" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-broadcast-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-broadcast-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-broadcast-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />The ten most-read stories for November 2022 are:</p> <div class="iframe-container"> <blockquote class="wp-embedded-content" data-secret="VOylkTDkXY"><p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/23/unhappy-hours/">Unhappy &#8216;Hours&#8217;</a></p></blockquote> <p><iframe class="wp-embedded-content" sandbox="allow-scripts" security="restricted" title="&#8220;Unhappy &#8216;Hours&#8217;&#8221; 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&#8212; parterre box" src="https://parterre.com/2022/11/14/higher-and-higher-3/embed/#?secret=8q6F1BAIn7" data-secret="8q6F1BAIn7" width="600" height="338" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></div> <div class="iframe-container"> <blockquote class="wp-embedded-content" data-secret="hIrw1I2HfE"><p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/16/color-my-world/">Color my world</a></p></blockquote> <p><iframe class="wp-embedded-content" sandbox="allow-scripts" security="restricted" title="&#8220;Color my world&#8221; &#8212; parterre box" src="https://parterre.com/2022/11/16/color-my-world/embed/#?secret=hIrw1I2HfE" data-secret="hIrw1I2HfE" width="600" height="338" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></div> Everyone’s an outlaw https://parterre.com/2022/12/01/everyones-an-outlaw/ parterre box urn:uuid:ac8e857f-42d5-0027-f9a7-5b6c9d5c872a Thu, 01 Dec 2022 11:00:30 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/12/01/everyones-an-outlaw/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/ernani-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/ernani-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/ernani-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/ernani-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/ernani-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/ernani-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>On this day in 1962, the Metropolitan Opera presented <em>Ernani</em> starring <strong>Carlo Bergonzi, Leontyne Price, Cornell MacNeil</strong> and <strong>Giorgio Tozzi</strong>, conducted by <strong>Thomas Schippers</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPgEyGykuJE&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPgEyGykuJE</a></p> <p>On this day in 1951 <strong>Benjamin Britten</strong>&#8216;s <em>Billy Budd</em> premiered in London</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=loofqNmPauk&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=loofqNmPauk</a></p> <p>Broadway openings on this day:</p> <p>In 1956<strong> Leonard Bernstein</strong>&#8216;s <em>Candide</em>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgXMxhMhYm4&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgXMxhMhYm4</a></p> <p>In 1958 Rodgers and Hammerstein&#8217;s <em>Flower Drum Song</em>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=9p5MRGQP5e4&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=9p5MRGQP5e4</a></p> <p>In 1968 <strong>Burt Bacharach</strong>&#8211;<strong>Hal David</strong>&#8216;s <em>Promises Promises</em>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=15S4M5EAG8Y&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=15S4M5EAG8Y</a></p> <p>Born on this day metteur en scène (etc.) <strong>Tom Volf</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xmsGzhhDGE&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xmsGzhhDGE</a></p> <p>World AIDS Day 2022.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UHYpQLeWaw&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UHYpQLeWaw</a></p> “Oh, thoughtless crew! Ye know not what ye do!” https://parterre.com/2022/11/30/oh-thoughtless-crew-ye-know-not-what-ye-do/ parterre box urn:uuid:f442cb60-0ba5-714b-5cce-dbfc8c4cc877 Wed, 30 Nov 2022 20:19:56 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/30/oh-thoughtless-crew-ye-know-not-what-ye-do/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/yeomen-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/yeomen-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/yeomen-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/yeomen-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/yeomen-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/yeomen-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>One wonders whether an obsession with metrics and measurement has the potential to create arts organizations that are more preoccupied with finding systems that quickly and efficiently tick the Arts Council’s boxes than with creating meaningful, impactful art.</p> <p><em><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-87038" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/yeomen-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/yeomen-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/yeomen-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/yeomen-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />In part 1 of this story, <a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/28/a-game-of-3-d-chess/">I examined the complex and often contradictory relationship</a> between Arts Council England and the UK government. I suggested that Arts Council’s widely panned cuts to the classical music sector were partially enabled by this “arm’s-length” relationship and the ambiguities of control that it creates. </em></p> <p><em>In part 2 of this story, I examine the implications of this leadership structure for the Arts Council’s treatment of the organizations that it funds, showing how the ambiguities of “arm’s-length” arts funding resulted in the latest brouhaha over opera audience statistics. </em></p> <hr /> <p>The Arts Council keeps the organizations that it funds in a near-permanent state of precarity.</p> <p>In order to get funding, arts organizations apply to the Arts Council to become “National Portfolio Organizations” or NPOs.</p> <p>Every arts organization in England must reapply for its National Portfolio status every three to five years. During this reapplication process, the Arts Council can cut or increase its funding or cut the organization from its National Portfolio altogether.</p> <p>Thus, even England’s most treasured artistic institutions must apply over and over again to ensure their funding is maintained: neither Royal Opera House nor the National Theater are immune from losing National Portfolio status.</p> <p>The November 4 announcement which heralded cuts to many of England’s most important classical music organizations came as the Arts Council revealed which arts organizations had been chosen as National Portfolio Organizations for the next three years and which ones had not.</p> <p>The Arts Council views this precarity as a net positive. “You sometimes feel that people think that we’re actually <em>there</em> to fund certain organizations,” <strong>Claire Mera-Nelson</strong>, the Arts Council’s director of music, quips: “They have received public funding, and we [the Arts Council] have been the vehicle through which they’ve received it, for decades.”</p> <p>Fixed-term funding provision allows the Arts Council to ensure that arts organizations who receive tax-payer money are operating at their best: “ultimately, our job is to safeguard public investment: we don’t want to keep putting money into an organization that is causing problems.”</p> <p>The Arts Council likes to position itself as a “development agency.” They don’t see themselves as merely funding arts organizations; they also aim to nudge these organizations towards best industry practices through their funding decisions. Mera-Nelson cites, as an example, the Arts Council’s work in promoting environmental sustainability in the arts.</p> <p>It is implicit in the way that the Arts Council operates that the constant state of financial precarity perpetuated by its NPO program allows the Arts Council to compel the organizations that it funds to comply with its developmental agenda.</p> <p>An unfortunate side effect of the Art’s Council’s focus on “development” is its unique preoccupation with measuring the performance of the organizations that it funds. In an annual survey, National Portfolio Organizations must respond to a series of 147 metrics in order to demonstrate compliance with the Arts Council’s developmental goals.</p> <p>Some of these metrics do seem like important data to monitor (number of tickets sold; diversity statistics). But others appear rather frivolous (i.e., whether or not an arts organization has a TikTok; whether the organization’s website has interactive games.)</p> <p>One can only imagine the enormous amount of time that it must take for arts organizations to fill out these surveys and the vast infrastructure that must be constructed in order to collect this data.</p> <p>And one also wonders whether an obsession with metrics and measurement has the potential to create arts organizations that are more preoccupied with finding systems that quickly and efficiently tick the Arts Council’s boxes than with creating meaningful, impactful art.</p> <p>The main problem with these surveys is that they reduce art to a series of discrete, measurable components.</p> <p>However, art is a complex and ephemeral cultural construction: it cannot be reduced to the number of bums on seats in an opera house or the number of social media followers an orchestra has. All the alchemy, the magic—indeed, the creativity—of art can so easily be lost when it is reduced to raw data.</p> <p>The Centre for Cultural Value, a cultural policy think tank based at the University of Leeds, explicitly recommends against this quantitative approach to artistic evaluation. They argue that the evaluation of the cultural sector should “[prioritize] the learning (and learning what to do differently) over monitoring goals of evaluation” and should “explore why and how things happen, as well as what.”</p> <p>This more qualitative approach makes sense: a life-changing performance that plays to just twenty people is infinitely more valuable than a completely forgettable performance that attracts hundreds of people from the Arts Council’s target demographics but leaves them bored and disinterested by the end.</p> <p>Indeed, it is precisely the Arts Council’s reluctance to consider the human impact of art that has led to this debacle over opera funding. Opera means a great deal to a great many people. And opera fans are passionate—even fanatic—in their love for the artform.</p> <p>The Arts Council has no way of accounting for this passion in its evaluative mechanisms. Its measurement systems—by design—value raw figures of participation over the individual experiences of audience members. Simply put, an overreliance on data and metrics risks tearing the heart and soul out of artistic engagement: how people actually think and feel about the art.</p> <p>The Arts Council <em>does</em> measure artistic impact. But it has outsourced this job to a private company called Counting What Counts Ltd., seemingly run not by artistic experts, but by economists and consultants.</p> <p>This company created an “impact and insight toolkit” that uses a series of audience surveys to measure arts organizations &#8211; again, against a set of discrete “quality metrics.” These metrics include such hazy categories as “inquisitiveness,” “growth,” “authenticity,” and “contribution.”</p> <p>As any seasoned arts lover will tell you, these categories are so context-dependent as to be nonsensical. “Authenticity” means something completely different in concert performance of Monteverdi’s <em>Orfeo</em> with a period orchestra than in a new promenade staging of Glass’s <em>Einstein on the Beach</em>. Its meaning is culturally and aesthetically contingent.</p> <p>When applied universally across all forms of art (even just across all forms of opera), these terms become so multivalent as to be completely ambiguous. I am skeptical that hazy terms like “growth” can be used to compare one performance to the next, let alone to compare one arts organization to another. If these terms mean different things to different people, how are they useful metrics?</p> <p>The “impact and insight toolkit,” to me, seems like a crude attempt to turn something as deeply qualitative and subjective as personal reactions to art into quantitative data. It barely scratches the surface on the complexity of thought and feeling that constitutes aesthetic impact.</p> <p>But there is a cruel twist on the Arts Council’s obsession with measurement and evaluation: NPOs can work hard to measure up to the Arts Council’s various metrics and it can still be denied funding in the next funding round.</p> <p>This is precisely what happened to organizations like ENO.</p> <p>In this most recent round of funding decisions, the Arts Council opted to ignore applicants’ previous evaluation history with the Arts Council—a policy the Arts Council calls “NPO sensitivity.”</p> <p>According to the Arts Council, this meant that existing NPOs received limited-to-no feedback on their performance as they prepared their applications for the 2023-2026 portfolio. Where previously the Arts Council (in its “developmental” role) had met with NPOs who were reapplying for funding and reviewed their applications in light of previous performance, the Arts Council opted to maintain radio silence with the organizations it was already funding.</p> <p>Mera-Nelson argues that “NPO sensitivity” makes the application process more equitable, citing the UK government’s Nolan Principles (which govern fairness and integrity in British public life) as legal underpinning for this: “We wanted everybody—no matter where they were starting from—to come into the conversation with the same level of advantage and disadvantage.”</p> <p>However, this immediately poses the question: What is the relationship between the data that the Arts Council collects from the organizations that it funds and the Arts Council’s funding decisions? And if the Arts Council can choose to sideline its evaluation metrics when making funding allocations, what is the point of forcing NPOs to comply with these metrics in the first place?</p> <p>The issue is made all the murkier by then Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, <strong>Nadine Dorries</strong>, who stated prior to the NPO application process that she had “asked Arts Council to consider the track record of organizations in access closely when considering applications for funding.” The Arts Council’s “blank-slate” NPO sensitivity approach is surely directly in conflict with this directive.</p> <p>And surely the main point of collecting so much data from NPOs is so that the Arts Council can help these organizations to improve their operations and become more competitive in future funding rounds? Surely the Arts Council, as a development agency, would want to do its utmost to ensure that the organizations that it funds tick all the boxes required to retain their funding?</p> <p>But the goal of the Arts Council, with its pervasive culture of precarity, doesn’t seem to be ensuring sustained funding to England’s most treasured cultural institutions, but rather to remind their NPOs that their continued funding is never guaranteed.</p> <p>“NPO sensitivity”—that is to say, withholding feedback from NPOs about their performance and prospects for receiving sustained funding—may help to make the application process fairer for arts organizations who have <em>never</em> applied for public funding before, but it also seems like a grand betrayal of the Arts Council’s own development efforts.</p> <p>So much money and effort is put into monitoring and improving the operations of the Arts Council’s NPOs, only for the Arts Council to suddenly decide that all this progress should not play a role in informing future funding.</p> <p>Indeed, it seems to me that the Arts Council uses the data it collects from its NPOs very selectively: When making large-scale ideological changes to funding structures, the Arts Council easily brushes these metrics aside; but when trying to get arts organizations to conform to its developmental agenda, the Arts Council employs these metrics as both carrot and stick.</p> <p>One could easily say that the Arts Council’s obsession with quantifiability essentially allows them to slash funding to any organization of their choosing based on arbitrary metrics, regardless of the organization’s artistic achievements. In other words, it gives them seemingly “objective” numbers to point to in order to shruggingly vindicate any act of artistic vandalism.</p> <p>The Arts Council’s use of previous performance data to inform its funding decisions has been the cause of some controversy following its decision to defund the ENO. <strong>Stuart Murphy</strong>, chief executive of ENO, in an interview with the <em>Guardian</em>, claims that ENO had received “glowing” feedback from the Arts Council in the lead-up to the funding cuts, garnering praise for its audience-widening and diversity efforts.</p> <p>Indeed, Murphy reports that the Arts Council told them that they were “on track” based on their ongoing performance and had expressed no concerns to ENO about their audience numbers. Based on this feedback, the announcement that ENO would have its funding pulled came as a shock to the organization (Murphy characterized the decision as “baffling”).</p> <p>If this is true, it would not only suggest that the Arts Council had been inconsistent in the ways in which applied its “NPO sensitivity” policy (telling an arts organization that they are “on track” could certainly be seen as application feedback), but that the Arts Council may even have been duplicitous its treatment of NPOs in the lead-up to their funding decision.</p> <p>Of course, without being privy to these communications, the general public may never know for sure. But one thing is certain: the ambiguity about the relationship between NPO monitoring and evaluation and the Arts Council’s funding decisions creates fertile ground for these kinds of misunderstandings.</p> <p>At the center of this row over statistics is the Arts Council’s claim that they had seen “almost no growth in audience demand for traditionally staged ‘grand’ or large-scale opera.” Mera-Nelson framed this audience decline as inherent to the size and scale of opera companies like ENO: “My question would be, realistically, how many people, honestly, can have their first opera experience by coming to a ‘grand’ theater?”</p> <p>(A so-called “grand” theater like the Coliseum, one might argue, is the ideal means of providing folks with their first operatic experience: There are plenty of seats for new-comers, the cheaper seats are often subsidized by more expensive ones, and the sheer scale of the spectacle is great for “hooking in” new opera-lovers.)</p> <p>Murphy, however, suggests that the Arts Council’s statistics on audience decline are false, or at least misinterpreted: “It quickly became apparent that no audience analysis had been conducted. […] If the data exists, I would love to see it—or perhaps it was collected during the lockdowns of recent years?”</p> <p>So, I looked at the Arts Council’s own data. I found it distinctly limited: the Arts Council only has publicly available data on the ENO for two seasons. In the 2018/19 season, ENO received 164,804 attendances over 95 performances with a total ticket capacity of 184,607. During the 2017/18 season (the last complete pre-Covid season), ENO received 127,641 attendances across 85 performances with a total ticket capacity of 181,008.</p> <p>This limited data certainly doesn’t preclude the potential for audience growth at ENO. ENO grew its audiences from 70% capacity in the 2017/18 season (with an attendance ratio of 1502 attendances per performance) to 89% in the 2018/19 season (with an attendance ratio of 1735 attendances per performance).</p> <p>I also looked at the broader audience trends for large music organizations in London, as published in the Arts Council’s data (an anonymized 17-organization sample that no doubt includes many organizations comparable to the ENO).</p> <p>Their data shows that, between 2015 and 2018, these organizations increased their earned income (i.e., money from ticket sales) by 12%, even as public subsidy and private donations remained roughly the same. (whereas in 2015/16, earned income only constituted 53% of their total income, by 2017/18, earned income had risen to 56% of total income.)</p> <p>During this same period, audience statistics fluctuated. The total number of attendances for these organizations dropped from 3.95 million to 2.61 million between the 2015/16 season and the 2016/17 season, but rose again to 3.61 million in the 2017/18 season. This broadly follows attendance trends across all Arts Council-funded organizations over the same period: there was a notable drop in attendance in the 2016/17 season across all NPOs (perhaps owing to economic insecurity surrounding the Brexit referendum and/or the general election?).</p> <p>At the same time, the number of activities mounted by these organizations increased from 3,724 to 4,123 between the 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons, but fell to 4,054 in the 2017/18 season. But this only shows part of the picture. Over the same period, attendance at events for children and young people put on by these organizations increased by almost 23%.</p> <p>And so, I looked at data for the Royal Opera House specifically for this period (if one can make any conclusions about the state of “grand” opera in London, it is surely by looking at this prestigious venue). Between 2015 and 2018, rates of attendance per performance rose at the ROH by 32%, even as the number of performances and net number of attendances fluctuated.</p> <p>I also looked at statistics from other opera companies of a similar size around England for this pre-Covid period—which were widely varied. Glyndebourne’s touring operation, for example, decreased its number of performances during this period, but its net attendance remained rather constant and attendance rates for each performance actually increased by 10%.</p> <p>Opera North’s net attendance, meanwhile, grew by 56% during this period, but it also nearly doubled its total number of performances, so attendance rates per performance fell somewhat. But because these are touring companies, fluctuations in attendance rates per performance can very easily be explained by changes in performance venues.</p> <p>In other words, I could find little in the Arts Council’s publicly available data to suggest that there was “almost no growth in audience demand for traditionally staged ‘grand’ or large-scale opera.” The data is so fractured and piecemeal, with organizations dropping in and out of the Arts Council’s public data records, that it is hard to see any sweeping, long-term trends.</p> <p>What I see in the open data is waves of growth and decline in large, London-based music organizations from year to year that don’t seem to be out of sync with broader trends. And with such dramatic political events rocking the English arts sector over the past six or seven years, it would be churlish to extrapolate any broad audience trends from this data.</p> <p>One certainly wouldn’t make such blanket statements that there is “almost no growth” in audience demand for large-scale opera. I don’t know where the Arts Council drew this conclusion from, but it doesn’t seem to be from their own publicly-available data.</p> <p>But I am not a statistician. But actual statisticians at the <em>Times</em>, provided with more complete data by the Arts Council, found that the biggest factors in slow audience growth for opera were Arts Council funding cuts.</p> <p><strong>Neil Fisher</strong>, the journalist who broke this story, describes the statistics as “dodgy,” built on a “self-fulfilling prophecy” whereby the Arts Council slashes opera funding, audience numbers decline as a result, and then the Arts Council uses that decline to justify further cuts.</p> <p>He also revealed that the Arts Council had unfairly targeted the opera sector for cuts, misleading the public over its purported state of decline: audiences at non-operatic musical performances had, in fact, seen a much steeper drop in audience numbers.</p> <p>But, in many ways, these statistics are beside the point. All this discussion on the relative merits of scale might prompt us to wonder whether a system in which small, newly founded arts organizations must compete with large, historied arts organizations for the same pot of arts funding can really <em>ever</em> be fair to anyone involved.</p> <p>The system would seem unfair to those small, understaffed, emerging organizations who face disadvantage competing against well-staffed, established companies. But it is surely also unfair to these iconic, beloved cultural institutions who employ hundreds of creatives and play to thousands of people and yet are constantly at risk of losing long-standing funding to newcomers. Ultimately, no one winds up happy.</p> <p>The Arts Council’s music portfolio includes such esteemed names as Glyndebourne, Wigmore Hall, the Hallé, and English Touring Opera. But these organizations are pitted against a range of smaller organizations, including arts education charities, local festivals, and (in one case) a commercial gym.</p> <p>Naturally, all of these organizations are important to a vibrant arts ecology. But Arts Council England does little to vouchsafe the funding of either large opera companies like ENO and emerging groups like OperaUpClose, instead finding increasingly gladiatorial ways of making these (radically different) organizations battle it out for the same funding pool.</p> <p>Thus, Arts Council England has created a bizarre system in which arts organizations of wildly varying sizes, with wildly varying agendas, and with wildly varying aesthetic, geographic, and financial scopes, to prove their relative worth. And so, the unfortunate situation arises in which the ENO is implicitly viewed as less valuable or less worthy of funding than smaller musical ventures with entirely different remits.</p> <p>The Arts Council, however, seems to appreciate the flexibility of being able to defund large organizations in order to make way for smaller ones. Mera- Julius Reubke https://medicine-opera.com/2022/11/julius-reubke/ Neil Kurtzman urn:uuid:27345514-71c4-e25e-c294-312068549d06 Wed, 30 Nov 2022 20:02:33 +0000 Frederich Julius Reubke (1834-58) is one of music&#8217;s saddest tales. Born in Hausneindorf, Germany, he was the son of an organ and piano builder. After the conclusion of his initial musical training, he moved to Berlin and the entered its conservatory. On the recommendation of conductor Hans von Bülow, Liszt agreed to teach the 21... <p>Frederich Julius Reubke (1834-58) is one of music&#8217;s saddest tales. Born in Hausneindorf, Germany, he was the son of an organ and piano builder. After the conclusion of his initial musical training, he moved to Berlin and the entered its conservatory. On the recommendation of conductor Hans von Bülow, Liszt agreed to teach the 21 year old student piano and composition. He moved to Weimar and lived in Liszt&#8217;s house. It was there that he composed his two major works, the <em>Piano Sonata in B-flat minor</em>, which he composed from December 1856 to March 1857, and the <em>Sonata on the 94th Psalm in C minor</em>, for organ which he finished a month later. He died from tuberculosis in June of 1857. </p> <p>The piano sonata is rarely played despite its intrinsic musical worth. It is in three movements. It is a work of great promise unfilled by the scourge of the <em>White Death</em>.<br>1. Allegro maestoso <br>2. Andante sostenuto <br>3. Allegro assai</p> <p>The piece shows the great influence Liszt had on the very young composer. The great man was deeply affected by his pupil&#8217;s premature death. He wrote the following letter to the young man&#8217;s father. </p> <p>Reubke was one of Liszt&#8217;s favourite pupils; after his death, Liszt wrote a letter of sympathy to Reubke&#8217;s father:</p> <p><em>Truly no one could feel more deeply the loss which Art has suffered in your Julius, than the one who has followed with admiring sympathy his noble, constant, and successful strivings in these latter years, and who will ever bear his friendship faithfully in mind</em></p> <p> <em>Franz Liszt</em></p> <p>Here is a recording of the sonata performed with great virtuosity by Till Fellner. <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://www.dropbox.com/s/az8vqc6qrze95pi/Reubke%20-%20Piano%20Sonata%20in%20B-flat%20minor%20-%20Till%20Fellner.mp3?dl=0" target="_blank">Reubke Piano Sonata</a></p> <p>The <em>Sonata on the 94th Psalm in C minor</em> for organ is regularly played and is considered one of the great pieces for solo organ of the Romantic repertoire. It was not performed until 1871 after it was prepared for publication by the composer&#8217;s brother who was also a pianist. It is in three movements with a Program. The Sonata is played by Richard Gowers on the organ of King&#8217;s College Chapel, Cambridge. Amazingly, considering the complexity of the piece given its many registration changes and combination settings, he played it from memory. A bravura performance. <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://www.dropbox.com/s/s7eudautfe3nv83/Reubke%2C%20Sonata%20on%20the%2094th%20Psalm%20%28King%27s%20College%2C%20Cambridge%29%20Richard%20Gowers.mp3?dl=0" target="_blank">Sonata on the 94th Psalm in C minor</a></p> <p><br>I. Grave &#8211; Larghetto &#8211; Allegro con fuoco &#8211; Grave<br>II. Adagio &#8211; Lento<br>III. Allegro &#8211; Più mosso &#8211; Allegro assai</p> <p><strong>The 94th Psalm</strong></p> <p><strong>(Grave &#8211; Larghetto)</strong><br>1 O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself.<br><em>Herr Gott, des die Rache ist, erscheine.</em><br>2 Arise, thou Judge of the world: and reward the proud after their deserving.<br><em>Erhebe Dich, Du Richter der Welt: vergilt den Hoffärtigen, was sie verdienen.</em></p> <p><strong>(Allegro con fuoco)</strong><br>3 Lord, how long shall the ungodly triumph?<br><em>Herr, wie lange sollen die Gottlosen prahlen?</em><br>6 They murder the widow, and the stranger: and put the fatherless to death.<br><em>Witwen und Fremdlinge erwürgen sie und töten die Weisen</em><br>7 And yet they say the Lord shall not see: neither shall the God of Jacob regard it.<br><em>und sagen: der Herr sieht es nicht an der Gott Jacobs achtet es nicht.</em></p> <p><strong>(Adagio)</strong><br>17 If the Lord had not helped me: it had not failed but my soul had been put to silence.<br><em>Wo der Herr mir nicht hülfe, so läge meine Seele schier in der Stille.</em><br>19 In the multitude of sorrows that I had in my heart: thy comforts have refreshed my soul.<br><em>Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis in meinem Herzen, aber deine Tröstungen ergötzen meine Seele.</em></p> <p><strong>(Allegro)</strong><br>22 But the Lord is my refuge: and my God is the strength of confidence.<br><em>Aber der Herr ist mein Hort und meine Zuversicht.</em><br>23 He shall recompense them their wickedness, and destroy them in their own malice.<br><em>Er wird ihnen Unrecht vergelten und sie um ihre Bosheit vertilgen.</em></p> The Golden Ring https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/30/the-golden-ring/ operaramblings urn:uuid:24612dc4-3d4b-0d44-6fe8-678fd89541fd Wed, 30 Nov 2022 13:35:58 +0000 Georg Solti&#8217;s recording of Wagner&#8217;s Ring cycle made between 1958 and 1966 has probably had more words written about it than any other classical recording.  They are perhaps best. summed up by Gramophone Magazines comment that it is &#8220;The greatest &#8230; <a href="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/30/the-golden-ring/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a> <p><img data-attachment-id="32859" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/30/the-golden-ring/thegoldenring/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/thegoldenring.jpeg" 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;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="thegoldenring" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/thegoldenring.jpeg?w=290" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/thegoldenring.jpeg?w=290" class="size-full wp-image-32859 alignleft" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/thegoldenring.jpeg?w=584" alt="thegoldenring" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/thegoldenring.jpeg 290w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/thegoldenring.jpeg?w=150 150w" sizes="(max-width: 290px) 100vw, 290px" />Georg Solti&#8217;s recording of Wagner&#8217;s <em>Ring</em> cycle made between 1958 and 1966 has probably had more words written about it than any other classical recording.  They are perhaps best. summed up by Gramophone Magazines comment that it is &#8220;The greatest of all the achievements in the history of the gramophone record&#8221;.  It&#8217;s an amzing cast that no-one could afford to assemble for a studio recording today, it&#8217;s the Wiener Philharmoiker and, of course, Solti himself.  But most opera lovers and certainly the audiophile ones will know all this.  So why am I writing about it?</p> <p><span id="more-32854"></span>Two reasons.  First, it&#8217;s being re-released in a new high definition version and, second, the <em>Das Rheingold</em> was the first full opera I ever heard.  So let&#8217;s tell that srory first.  It would have been 1973 and I had just started studying for my A levels (Pure maths, applied maths and physics FWIW).  The elderly gentleman who taught me applied maths had a fantastic, if eclectic, record collection (you have to be a bit obsessive to have the complete Dorati Haydn symphonies recordings!) and what was, for the 1970s, a state of the art stereo system.  He&#8217;d invite me over to listen and drink more gin than a 16 year old ought to.  I was blown away by the Wagner recording; both the amazing performance from an unbeatable cast and orchestra and the extraordinary effects that John Culshaw achieved with his &#8220;soundstage&#8221; technique.  I don&#8217;t know if, but for that, I would ever have developed an interest in opera.  As it was a year or two later one of my first live operas was <em>The Rhinegold</em> at ENO (in English of course).</p> <p>So what about this new release?  So far only a disc of excerpts (<em>The Golden Ring</em>) has been released with <em>Das Rheingold</em> to come in December and the other operas next year.  It&#8217;s in hybrid SACD format and it&#8217;s a complete remaster from the original tapes sampled at 24bit/192kHz and then processed using the latest technology for removing tape hiss and other unwanted artefacts.  It&#8217;s also been given a wider frequency and dynamic range than previous CD releases.  There is no multi track version just a 2.8GHz/1 bit stereo mix which I think is the right thing to have done.  UMG/Decca have the technology to create a surround mix.  They have used it on a number of older DVD re-issues but stereo is what Culshaw was engineering for and I&#8217;m glad they have stayed with his vision.  There is also a 16bit/44.1kHZ CD quality track if you want to play it in the car perhaps.</p> <p>The result is spectacularly good.  There&#8217;s a clarity and detail in the orchestral playing that is as good as I have heard, even on SACD.  The &#8220;soundstage&#8221; effects are even more spectacular and are heard to great effect in the Gods entry into Valhalla, in the forging scene and in the final collapse of everything at the end.  It&#8217;s actually quite startling to listen to.  For comparison I played the Gods entry into Valhalla on my 1997 CD version; the second of two previous tart ups for CD.  The difference is really noticeable, especially at the point where Thor whumps something with his hammer and the orchestra goes into a bassy fff climax.  The old version sounds like a record, the new unlike any recording I&#8217;ve heard before.  It should probably carry a health warning for headphone users.</p> <p>There&#8217;s a booklet with the physical disk with a lot of useful information on the restoration process as well as synopses of the scenes (all 76 minutes of them) on the disk and some interesting historic photos.  There is also a downloadable digital version in MP3 and FLAC but not, of course, SACD format (and there&#8217;s no digital booklet).  The only merit I can see in that is that it&#8217;s cheap and might be worth having if you don&#8217;t have either SACD capability or an earlier version of the CDs.</p> <p>I&#8217;m looking forward to getting my paws on the complete operas.  This is really good stuff.</p> Co-conspirator https://parterre.com/2022/11/30/co-conspirator/ parterre box urn:uuid:2b0f8d67-c304-91be-5f16-57a7ca84898c Wed, 30 Nov 2022 11:00:36 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/30/co-conspirator/"><img width="720" height="246" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/ramey-header-720x246.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/ramey-header-720x246.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/ramey-header-300x103.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/ramey-header-768x263.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/ramey-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/ramey-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>On this day in 1990 the Metropolitan Opera presented a new production of Rossini&#8217;s <em>Semiramide</em>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=swdQrtzPI7U&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=swdQrtzPI7U</a></p> <p>Donal Henahan in <em>The New York Times</em>:</p> <blockquote><p>The evening offered the opportunity not so much for music drama as for a feast of voices, as any work in the bel canto tradition should. And opportunity was seized by a cast that while hardly ideal top to bottom, was capable of splendid bursts. Marilyn Horne, as the Assyrian commander Arsace, for whom Semiramide lusts until he is revealed as her lost son, drew the evening&#8217;s longest ovations. This was not, of course, the vocally astounding Horne of a couple of decades ago, but an artist whose tone quality is parched but who still has the technique to deal with Rossini&#8217;s florid extravagances.</p> <p>As Assur, Semiramide&#8217;s paramour and co-conspirator, Samuel Ramey was perfect. His ably rich and nimble bass, of all the evening&#8217;s voices, met Rossini&#8217;s technical demands most consistently. Lella Cuberli, a Texan who has earned a major European reputation in recent years, made her Met debut in the title role. An attractive woman who moves gracefully and with dramatic purpose, she portrayed Assur&#8217;s partner in regicide as a feline seductress who might have learned her wiles from Shaw&#8217;s Cleopatra. Her agile soprano, while not especially large or velvety, threw off sparks in the coloratura portions of &#8220;Bel raggio lusinghier.&#8221;</p> <p>Other newcomers were Chris Merritt, the onetime City Opera tenor who has also made a major European career in the bel canto repertory, and Young Ok Shin, a South Korean soprano. Mr. Merritt&#8217;s robust but clumsily used tenor did little to enliven the dramatically inert role of the Indian prince Idreno. His flights into the falsetto range into which Rossini pushes tenors were successful in a squeaky way.</p></blockquote> <p>Happy 80th birthday soprano <strong>Luana DeVol</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCb92XlY3Z8&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCb92XlY3Z8</a></p> <p>On this day in 1885 Massenet&#8217;s<em> Le Cid</em> premiered in Paris.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZWXafynRLE&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZWXafynRLE</a></p> <p>Birthday anniversaries of composer <strong>Carl Loewe</strong> (1796) and conductor <strong>Walter Weller</strong> (1939)</p> Everything sacred https://parterre.com/2022/11/29/everything-sacred-2/ parterre box urn:uuid:49527d48-2eb2-f6ed-0227-266be8f4d306 Tue, 29 Nov 2022 15:00:25 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/29/everything-sacred-2/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/gonzaga-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/gonzaga-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/gonzaga-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/gonzaga-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/gonzaga-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/gonzaga-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Wrapping up Diva November, Chris’s Cache offers two sacred works that couldn’t be more unalike.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86984" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/gonzaga-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="404" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/gonzaga-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/gonzaga-inside-300x168.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/gonzaga-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />We&#8217;ll hear Bach’s <em>B-Minor Mass </em>with a typically deluxe <strong>Herbert von Karajan</strong> “cast” headed by <strong>Kathleen Battle</strong> and <strong>Agnes Baltsa</strong>, paired with <strong>Arleen Augér</strong> in the title role (!) of Mayr’s <em>San Luigi Gonzaga. </em></p> <p>While it’s possible that Battle and Baltsa may have sung the Bach Mass earlier in their careers, I doubt they ever sang it again after this starry Salzburg Festival outing.</p> <p>Johann Simon Mayr, best known for his <em>Medea in Corinto, </em>composed his <em>oratorio sacra </em>nearly 75 years after Bach completed his <em>Mass. </em>Mayr, though born in Germany, spent most of his life in Italy and is sometimes better know as Giovanni Simone Mayr. This shortish work for three soloists and chorus offers a rare opportunity to hear Augér and her co-stars <strong>Trudeliese Schmidt </strong>and <strong>Bernd Weikl</strong> (as the saint’s parents) perform florid <em>bel canto-</em>era music.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>J. S. Bach: <em>B-minor Mass</em></strong></p> <p>Kathleen Battle<br /> Agnes Baltsa<br /> Gösta Winbergh<br /> José van Dam</p> <p>Singverein der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien<br /> Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra<br /> Conductor: Herbert von Karajan</p> <p>Salzburg Festival<br /> 27 August 1985</p> <p><iframe style="border: none;" title="Embed Player" src="https://play.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/25158432/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>Mayr: <em>San Luigi Gonzaga</em></strong></p> <p>San Luigi: Arleen Augér<br /> Donna Marta: Trudeliese Schmidt<br /> Don Ferrante: Bernd Weikl</p> <p>Conductor: Günther Wich</p> <p>Bavarian Radio<br /> 7 April 1974<br /> Broadcast</p> <p><iframe style="border: none;" title="Embed Player" src="https://play.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/25158447/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 works 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>After highlighting seventeen extraordinary divas this month, Chris’s Cache will take a needed short break.</p> <p>Watch for a pair of all-Wagner installments next month.</p> <hr /> <div class="iframe-container"> <blockquote class="wp-embedded-content" data-secret="K1qYQ9PRzn"><p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/22/judith-in-disguise/">Judith in disguise</a></p></blockquote> <p><iframe class="wp-embedded-content" sandbox="allow-scripts" security="restricted" title="&#8220;Judith in disguise&#8221; &#8212; parterre box" src="https://parterre.com/2022/11/22/judith-in-disguise/embed/#?secret=K1qYQ9PRzn" data-secret="K1qYQ9PRzn" width="600" height="338" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></div> <div class="iframe-container"> <blockquote class="wp-embedded-content" data-secret="DYNo7IngXm"><p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/15/tragic-carpet-ride/">Tragic carpet ride</a></p></blockquote> <p><iframe class="wp-embedded-content" sandbox="allow-scripts" security="restricted" title="&#8220;Tragic carpet ride&#8221; &#8212; parterre box" src="https://parterre.com/2022/11/15/tragic-carpet-ride/embed/#?secret=DYNo7IngXm" data-secret="DYNo7IngXm" width="600" height="338" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></div> <div class="iframe-container"> <blockquote class="wp-embedded-content" data-secret="2W48IGNvSY"><p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/08/cold-november/">Cold November</a></p></blockquote> <p><iframe class="wp-embedded-content" sandbox="allow-scripts" security="restricted" title="&#8220;Cold November&#8221; &#8212; parterre box" src="https://parterre.com/2022/11/08/cold-november/embed/#?secret=2W48IGNvSY" data-secret="2W48IGNvSY" width="600" height="338" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></div> <div class="iframe-container"> <blockquote class="wp-embedded-content" data-secret="xwgSr0DwGX"><p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/01/days-of-the-diva/">Days of the diva</a></p></blockquote> <p><iframe class="wp-embedded-content" sandbox="allow-scripts" security="restricted" title="&#8220;Days of the diva&#8221; &#8212; parterre box" src="https://parterre.com/2022/11/01/days-of-the-diva/embed/#?secret=xwgSr0DwGX" data-secret="xwgSr0DwGX" width="600" height="338" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></div> <div class="iframe-container"> <blockquote class="wp-embedded-content" data-secret="HlZ5pw94kJ"><p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/10/25/the-conqueror/">The Conqueror</a></p></blockquote> <p><iframe class="wp-embedded-content" sandbox="allow-scripts" security="restricted" title="&#8220;The Conqueror&#8221; &#8212; parterre box" src="https://parterre.com/2022/10/25/the-conqueror/embed/#?secret=HlZ5pw94kJ" data-secret="HlZ5pw94kJ" width="600" height="338" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></div> Rising with The Crossing https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/29/rising-with-the-crossing/ operaramblings urn:uuid:bd2ef706-f178-54f8-7a82-9d5ecb362486 Tue, 29 Nov 2022 13:31:20 +0000 As I understand it the genesis of this recent CD from Philadelphia choir The Crossing and their conductor Donald Nally was members emailing each other clips of recordings from live concerts to keep their morale up during lockdown.  I guess &#8230; <a href="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/29/rising-with-the-crossing/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a> <p><img data-attachment-id="32813" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/29/rising-with-the-crossing/risingwthecrossingartwork/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/risingwthecrossingartwork.jpg" data-orig-size="290,256" 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="RisingwTheCrossingArtwork" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/risingwthecrossingartwork.jpg?w=290" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/risingwthecrossingartwork.jpg?w=290" class="size-full wp-image-32813 alignleft" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/risingwthecrossingartwork.jpg?w=584" alt="RisingwTheCrossingArtwork" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/risingwthecrossingartwork.jpg 290w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/risingwthecrossingartwork.jpg?w=150 150w" sizes="(max-width: 290px) 100vw, 290px" />As I understand it the genesis of this recent CD from Philadelphia choir The Crossing and their conductor Donald Nally was members emailing each other clips of recordings from live concerts to keep their morale up during lockdown.  I guess in that respect it&#8217;s got something in common with <a href="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/09/19/the-shape-of-home/">this show</a>.  No surprise then that the album is quite eclectic.  There&#8217;s around seventy minutes of music with twelve tracks in all.</p> <p><span id="more-32809"></span>It&#8217;s all good stuff but certain tracks stood out for me.  The first is David Lang&#8217;s <em>protect yourself from infection</em> which sets instructions from the Philadelphia authorities during the Spanish flu epidemic; &#8220;Avoid people who are coughing or sneezing&#8221; etc.  This is set relatively low and straightforwardly with the names of the victims weaving over and under the main line.  It&#8217;s a bit grim but very interesting.</p> <p>Also by Lang are two excerpts from his <em>the national anthems</em>.  This is a multi-part work setting the rather banal sentiments that seem to be common to national anthems (so no &#8220;sang impur&#8221;).  Here the main text is sung by low voices with the higher voices weaving fragments over the line like a sort of descant.  There&#8217;s instrumental accompaniment here from the International Contemporary Ensemble (string quartet plus bass).</p> <p>There are two parts too of Buxtehude&#8217;s <em>Membra Jesu nostra</em> marking a rare foray into non contemporary rep.  This sounds every bit as good as choirs that specialise in renaissance and baroque rep.  Accompaniment here is by Quicksilver (string quartet, organ and theorbo).</p> <p>I also liked Ērik Ešenvalds&#8217; <em>Earth Teach Me Quiet</em> (with John Green on keyboards and Edward Babcock on marimba) which is, perhaps predictably, meditative and rather lovely and Santa Ratniece&#8217;s setting of Ainu prayers <em>Horo Horo Hata Hata</em>. It&#8217;s very weird and quite disturbing with what sound like animal noises.</p> <p>The tracks were all recorded live at various venues in the Philadelphia area and they are all clear and detailed. The album is available as a physical CD or in MP3 or FLAC (CD quality and 24 bit).  Il listened to the hi-res version.  There&#8217;s a comprehensive booklet (paper and digital) with full texts etc.</p> <p>If you want to check out some of these tracks, and a lot more, there&#8217;s a wealth of good stuff on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/@TheCrossingChoir">the choir&#8217;s Youtube channel</a>, often with rather cute graphics.</p> <p>Catalogue number: New Focus Recordings FCR281.</p> Bring on the night https://parterre.com/2022/11/29/bring-on-the-night/ parterre box urn:uuid:107a6d5b-0fe7-eeb5-3b5f-9eba9564e77f Tue, 29 Nov 2022 11:00:10 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/29/bring-on-the-night/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tristan-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tristan-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tristan-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tristan-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tristan-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tristan-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>On this day in 1937 the Metropolitan Opera opened its season with<em> Tristan und Isolde</em>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dZnKiKqh6w&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dZnKiKqh6w</a></p> <p>On this day in 1948 Verdi&#8217;s <em>Otello</em> was the first opera to be telecast from the Metropolitan Opera.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bEwti_TWfk&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bEwti_TWfk</a></p> <p>Happy 80th birthday baritone <strong>Philippe Huttenlocher</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNsi9JLuH7s&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNsi9JLuH7s</a></p> <p>Happy 76th birthday soprano<strong> Carole Farley</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkW0pioD_xk&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkW0pioD_xk</a></p> A game of 3-D chess https://parterre.com/2022/11/28/a-game-of-3-d-chess/ parterre box urn:uuid:0c4af1fc-c8af-5868-8f2f-5b174d871860 Mon, 28 Nov 2022 18:21:10 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/28/a-game-of-3-d-chess/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/eno-crisis-first-part-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/eno-crisis-first-part-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/eno-crisis-first-part-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/eno-crisis-first-part-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/eno-crisis-first-part-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/eno-crisis-first-part-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>“Opera needs a reset. We think there needs to be a fundamental shift in the ecology.”</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86973" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/eno-crisis-one-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/eno-crisis-one-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/eno-crisis-one-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/eno-crisis-one-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />“English National Opera is actually a superb organization, but the bottom line is that the public investment going into that organization has not been good value for money for quite a long time.”</p> <p><strong>Claire Mera-Nelson</strong>, director of music at Arts Council England, is blunt about the Council’s recent decision to partially defund one of England’s largest opera companies. She doesn’t sugar-coat the “immense tragedy for the individuals who would be affected by a change of the magnitude we’re suggesting.” However, the straight-talking former conservatoire boss is steadfast in one belief: “Opera needs a reset. We think there needs to be a fundamental shift in the ecology.”</p> <p>The decision to defund the ENO came as part of a shock announcement on November 4 that the Arts Council England had decided to shake up its classical music funding, resulting in devastating cuts across the sector.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=cq4ABTAZ5c8&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=cq4ABTAZ5c8</a></p> <p>Glyndebourne is set to lose 51.8% of its previous funding; Welsh National Opera is having its funding slashed by 35.9%; the Royal Opera House is losing 11.7% of its funding; the London Sinfonietta was having its funding slashed by 41%; the London Symphony and the Philharmonia will each lose out by 12%; and the Britten Sinfonia and the Psappha Ensemble will both cease to receive funding.</p> <p>Arts Council England Chair, <strong>Sir Nicholas Serota</strong> gushed of the announcement: “As well as continuing our commitment to our many established and renowned cultural organizations, I am deeply proud of the support we will be giving to those new organizations which will help ignite creativity across the country.” The council’s CEO, <strong>Darren Henley</strong>, proudly declared that: “This investment program is fairer in its distribution, richer in its variety, and more widespread in its reach than ever before.”</p> <p>The British public don’t seem to share their sentiments.</p> <p>Indeed, many believe that Arts Council England has shown little sign of “continuing its commitment” to the country’s world-renowned classical music industry through these sweeping funding cuts.</p> <p>ENO received an outpouring of support from all corners of British public life: actor <strong>Hugh Laurie</strong>, historian <strong>Simon Schama</strong>, classicist <strong>Mary Beard</strong>, comedian <strong>Rosie Jones</strong>, among others have tweeted to decry the Arts Council’s cuts.</p> <p>A number of MPs from both sides of the aisle, <strong>Harriet Harman, Sir Robert Neill, Dame Margaret Hodge</strong> and <strong>Dame Caroline Dinenage</strong> among them, have slammed the cuts in parliament. <strong>Florence Eshalomi</strong>, member for Vauxhall and former regional member of the Arts Council, described the cuts as a “real-terms cut to London’s cultural sector” and expressed concerns over the impact of these cuts on arts access for disadvantaged Londoners.</p> <p>The British media has been just as critical of the decision. In a searing 10 minute rant, radio host <strong>James O’Brien</strong> branded the cuts an “absolute travesty” for an organization that has “done so much to make opera accessible to people who would never be able to afford it.” The<em> Guardian</em> slammed cuts to the ENO as “devastating,” “heartbreaking,” and “dangerous for the cultural landscape of the country.”</p> <p>The <em>Evening Standard</em> labelled the decision “carnage for the ENO.” The <em>Times </em>branded the cuts “insane.” <em>Prospect Magazine</em> accused the Arts Council of “harming the organizations it should help.” Even the <em>World Socialist Website</em> decried the “assault on culture” perpetuated by the Arts Council’s strategy.</p> <p>But some of the most impassioned criticism has (naturally) come from the classical music sector itself.</p> <p>Composer <strong>Thomas Adès</strong> labelled the Arts Council “apparatchiks” comparing them to “dictators ‘reimagining’ opera according to their own whims” (“Yes, I am comparing you to Stalin,” Adès clarified). Meanwhile, <strong>Dame Sarah Connolly</strong> called the defunding of the ENO an “outrage” and a “cynical act of vandalism.” <strong>Susan Bullock</strong> was yet more blunt: “it’s totally f****d.”</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=quDY-p0EDUM&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=quDY-p0EDUM</a></p> <p>Countless opera companies have released statements in solidarity with those who have lost funding. Notably, the Metropolitan Opera (who has collaborated with English National Opera on a number of productions and whose new Ring Cycle is now under threat because of the cuts) called on Arts Council England to reinstate the organization’s funding.</p> <p>Meanwhile, <strong>Sir Bryn Terfel </strong>set up a petition calling for the Arts Council to “fund the ENO to continue their vital contribution to London’s global cultural status.” The petition currently has over 47,000 signatures.</p> <p>The ENO itself has purportedly experienced a swell in applications to its under-35s program as a result of the announcement as young Londoners flock to the company for affordable to tickets to what may be its final season in the capital.</p> <p>And, on Monday, November 14, a group of protesters, including members of Equity, the Musicians’ Union, BECTU, and the Independent Society of Musicians, marched on the Arts Council’s London office to demand that the funding cuts be reversed. A second demonstration took place on Tuesday, November 22<sup>nd</sup>.</p> <p>The Arts Council, it seems, is losing its comms battle over their restructuring of classical music funding—a situation not helped by a series of tone-deaf press releases sent out by gaffe-prone CEO Darren Henley.</p> <p>Henley first received flack for glibly remarking that “ENO’s future is in their hands”—mere days after the <em>organization that he heads</em> made the decision to axe the company’s funding. He then garnered further outrage for suggesting that it was better to hear opera “in carparks […], in pubs, […] and on tablets” than in an opera house. (In response to this statement, ENO noted that they had, in fact, mounted drive-in opera screenings in car parks during the pandemic).</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyuP4Q3G-iw&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyuP4Q3G-iw</a></p> <p>From an outsider’s perspective, it looks as if the relationship between the English classical music sector and its primary public funder have all but broken down at a time when many of the nation’s most treasured musical institutions are set to financially implode.</p> <p>So how did it all come to this?</p> <p>That’s a difficult question to answer—primarily because it requires grappling with the Arts Council’s (rather labyrinthine) administrative structure.</p> <p>There are broadly two models for public funding for the arts: the “ministerial” model and the “arm’s-length” model.</p> <p>Most mainland European nations (France, Germany, Belgium etc.) use the ministerial model: there is a minister for arts and culture who is part of the elected government, and who directly allocates funding to various cultural organizations.</p> <p>The U.K. and its colonies (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc.) generally take an arm’s-length approach. A Keynesian invention, this involves the government allocating a set amount of money to an independent body—an arts council—who then independently decide how to divvy it up among cultural organizations. The money for arts and culture is essentially kept at “arm’s length” from the government by being given to an independent middleman to deal with.</p> <p>There are pros and cons to each model. The great benefit of the arm’s-length model is that it supposedly keeps decisions about arts funding separate from party politics. The arts cannot be co-opted by the ruling party to suit their political agenda because they are being managed by a purportedly apolitical funding body.</p> <p>The benefit of the ministerial model is that the people have direct democratic say over the funding of the arts: they can vote based on cultural policy and place public pressure on ministers if their policies affect the arts in a negative way (like, for example, defunding a number of high-profile classical music organizations).</p> <p>Critics of the arm’s-length model argue that it is problematic precisely <em>because</em> it is insulated from the processes of democracy. It amounts, essentially, to the partial privatization of arts funding decisions: these judgements are delegated to an opaque third party who is more accountable to itself than to the public that it serves.</p> <p>For example,<strong> Stephen Hetherington</strong>, who oversaw the construction of the Lowry theater complex in Manchester, holds up the Arts Council as an example of “laissez-faire” policy making, in which “the state keeps its subject at a distance, unwilling to accede to the demands of a persistent appellant.”</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=ro5e2f5OsPI&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=ro5e2f5OsPI</a></p> <p>As far back as 1979, the iconoclast <strong>Raymond Williams</strong>, who spent three years as a member of the Arts Council, foresaw major problems with the arm’s-length model. He characterizes the arm’s-length model as a means of deliberately obscuring “directly traceable control” over arts funding decisions and accused its members of having “no discernible representative status.”</p> <p>For Williams, the administrative structure of the Arts Council stifles democratic debate over arts funding and encourages “consensus by co-option” among its members: the system, in other words, is designed to give an air of democratic process while pressuring members into falling in line with funding decisions already made by staff bureaucrats (often in conjunction with the government).</p> <p>When I spoke to Claire Mera-Nelson, she painted a complex picture of the Arts Council’s relationship with government. “We are apolitical,” she asserted: “We are not delivering the government’s strategy: we are delivering an interpretation of some aspects of that (because we are in receipt of public money) but we are also responding to what we see and hear about the needs of the cultural sector.”</p> <p>However, she also noted that the Arts Council’s overarching funding allocation strategy had to be “agreed on” with the government. So, even if the government does not interfere with individual funding choices, it still plays a key role in setting the terms on which the Arts Council makes those decisions.</p> <p>Mera-Nelson often suggests that the Arts Council’s “forensic” bird’s eye view of the arts sector allows it to better allocate funding in accordance with the government’s priorities. She compared her job to sitting in a ship’s crow’s nest. “I’m not steering the ship; I’m not the captain; but my job is to know what is coming at all times from every direction.”</p> <p>She was also quick to assert that there were some avenues through which the public could have a say over the Arts Council’s decision-making process, despite the Council remaining separate from democratically elected government.</p> <p>“People write to us all the time,” she says: “Sometimes that takes the form of a complaint. Sometimes it takes the form of a suggestion. People also invite us to meet them.” She also suggested that concerned citizens could write to their MPs, who could then meet with the Council on their behalf.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrJ2BQUpRXM&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrJ2BQUpRXM</a></p> <p>Yet, to me, the process through which the Arts Council allocates funding still seemed rather “top-down.”</p> <p>There is an actual “council,” as well as a series of regional councils (the chairs of which are salaried employees). But there’s also executive board, with a CEO, two deputy CEOs, a CFO, two EDs, and a COO—all earning over a hundred-thousand pounds. And under that executive board, there are various specialized directors (i.e., director of music, director of dance, director of diversity, director of music education, etc.)</p> <p>Members of the council are appointed by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (a position currently held by <strong>Michelle Donelan</strong>) every four years; the CEO is appointed by Department of Culture, Media and Sport seemingly for an indefinite tenure (the current CEO, Darren Henley, has been in the role for eight straight years; his predecessor, <strong>Alan Davey</strong>, for seven).</p> <p>And all of these public servants play <em>some</em> role in funding decisions. After funding applications have been received, each specialized director produces a report which assesses the applicants from their particular lens (so, for example, the director of music reviews the funding applications for their overall impact on the music sector).</p> <p>From these reports, the various directors get together with the executive board to put forward various competing propositions for what the overall distribution of funding might look like. In a protracted process known as “national balancing,” the board and directors debate and refine these various propositions until they have a distribution of funding that aligns with their overarching funding allocation strategy.</p> <p>Once the board and directors agree on an optimal distribution of funding, they send this proposal forward to the national and regional councils. Then, based on this proposal, the regional councils rule on each individual application under a million pounds. Every application over a million pounds is decided on by the national council, who have the final say in the overall distribution of funding.</p> <p>Mera-Nelson describes this entire process as “like a game of 3-D chess or a Rubik’s cube” in its complexity. The Arts Council generally believes that this sustained process of multi-layer review allows its team to bring to bear multiple different lenses and perspectives on funding allocation. Through iterative review, the Arts Council can strike a compromise in its funding priorities and ideally reach a distribution of funds that pleases everyone.</p> <p>But it struck me that the Arts Council’s decision-making process seemed to primarily consist of bureaucrats talking to other bureaucrats behind closed doors. Indeed, for all that the Arts Council’s funding allocation procedures purport to balance various competing perspectives on the arts, the terms of this compromise are almost entirely set by an unelected cabal of civil servants.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrraO2gHXpE&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrraO2gHXpE</a></p> <p>And no matter how “plugged in” these civil servants may claim to be to the cultural sector, their decisions may not necessarily align with the needs and desires of arts organizations and their audiences. The vocal public reaction to the defunding of the ENO is evidence that the Arts Council’s insular, technocratic funding process does not always meet the cultural needs of the population.</p> <p>Thus, the Arts Council’s approach to funding allocation often results in unelected bureaucrats making rather prescriptive decisions about what art should receive funding and what art should not.</p> <p>In this respect, Thomas Adès is right to compare the Arts Council to a single-party dictator—holding both the public and the arts sector hostage to its own intransigent political agenda under the threat of completely withdrawing funding.</p> <p>While the arm’s-length model insulates arts funding from party politics, it instead exposes funding allocation to the personal political agendas of whichever well-connected plutocrats are chosen to run the Arts Council.</p> <p>It is a system ripe for cronyism (indeed, <strong>John Maynard Keynes</strong> used the early Arts Council to forward the goals of his mates in the Bloomsbury set). Because it is a “non-departmental public body” (i.e., not part of the government), the Arts Council can be opaque about its funding decisions when it wants to be, avoiding the kind of public accountability that usually comes with elected office.</p> <p>The government’s ministers, too, can claim plausible deniability for its decisions. At the same time, the council fulfils public functions, receives public funds, and essentially functions in lieu of an English arts and culture policy. Indeed, <strong>Stuart Andrew,</strong> Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, intentionally distanced his office from the cuts in a speech to parliament: “The individual decisions were taken by the Arts Council [….] The decisions are therefore for the Arts Council’s to comment on.”</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zl0aEz34A4o&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zl0aEz34A4o</a></p> <p>When I was young, I used to watch an old BBC sitcom called <em>Yes Minister</em> about a hapless British cabinet minister who struggles to take control of his own portfolio from a hostile and dictatorial civil service. The central conceit of the show was that government policy was not determined by elected MPs, but by the shady troupe of bureaucrats who staff their ministries.</p> <p>The Arts Council often seems like a real-life manifestation of this sitcom: the tail seems to be wagging the dog on English cultural policy.</p> <hr /> <p><em>In part 2 of this three-part story, later this week I examine the mechanisms of control which underpin the Arts Council’s approach to funding allocation and unpack the controversy over audience statistics and organizational evaluation that has brewed over the Arts Council’s funding cuts.  </em></p> The princess bride https://parterre.com/2022/11/28/the-princess-bride/ parterre box urn:uuid:cb8dde95-2cb5-bb45-d644-51cbd46f0956 Mon, 28 Nov 2022 17:42:47 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/28/the-princess-bride/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/lily-header.jpb_-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/lily-header.jpb_-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/lily-header.jpb_-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/lily-header.jpb_-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/lily-header.jpb_-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/lily-header.jpb_.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>On this day in 1942 the Metropolitan Opera presented a new production of <em>Lucia di Lammermoor</em>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOxZJ6PQGzg&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOxZJ6PQGzg</a></p> <p>Birthday anniversaries of sopranos <strong>Helen Jepson</strong> (1904), <strong>Rose Bampton</strong> (1908) and <strong>Mariana Nicolesco</strong> (1948).</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPyYarecPDc&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPyYarecPDc</a></p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=H69d2gS76fA&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=H69d2gS76fA</a></p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1oQ9clCMns&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1oQ9clCMns</a></p> ALTROCK https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/28/altrock/ operaramblings urn:uuid:1b4f637d-d45a-b121-fb00-e2752b612ac2 Mon, 28 Nov 2022 12:24:44 +0000 Saturday night&#8217;s show in the West End Micro Music Festival continued the theme of combining chamber music with other influences.  This time it was rock; specifically NYC 80&#8217;s rock.  It was really varied, stimulating and, at times, bordering on sensory &#8230; <a href="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/28/altrock/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a> <p>Saturday night&#8217;s show in the West End Micro Music Festival continued the theme of combining chamber music with other influences.  This time it was rock; specifically NYC 80&#8217;s rock.  It was really varied, stimulating and, at times, bordering on sensory overload.  Brad Cherwin riffed with pre-recorded clarinet and electronics on a version of Steve Reich&#8217;s <em>New York Counterpoint</em> to open the show.  Then came what might have been my favourite bit.  It was a version of Julia Wolfe&#8217;s <em>East Broadway</em> for electronics and toy piano.  Watching the usually soft spoken, even demure, Nahre Sol go completely manic and beat the crap out of a toy piano was a blast.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="32846" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/28/altrock/altrock/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/altrock.jpg" data-orig-size="580,403" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;2.2&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;iPhone 6s&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1669497219&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;4.15&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;200&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.041666666666667&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;,&quot;latitude&quot;:&quot;43.654944444444&quot;,&quot;longitude&quot;:&quot;-79.457427777778&quot;}" data-image-title="Altrock" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/altrock.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/altrock.jpg?w=580" class="size-full wp-image-32846 aligncenter" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/altrock.jpg?w=584" alt="Altrock" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/altrock.jpg 580w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/altrock.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/altrock.jpg?w=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 580px) 100vw, 580px" /></p> <p>There was more Julia Wolfe (<em>Blue Dress</em> for drums and cello?) and a David Lang arrangement of Lou Reed&#8217;s Heroin with Cormac Culkeen on vocals and a fairly large ensemble and more vocals with a version of Laurie Anderson&#8217;s <em>Let X=X </em>and<em> It Tango</em>.  The final number was a killer version of David Lang&#8217;s <em>Killer</em> with Hee-Soo Yoon playing mad distorted violin while kicking a bass drum.</p> <p>So, again, WEMMF hit the spot with an intriguing and (over) stimulating blend of rock, classical technique, minimalism and, frankly, sheer lunacy of a kind surely not heard before at Redeemer Lutheran!  Great fun much enhanced by Billy Wong&#8217;s evocative lighting and Dave Grenon&#8217;s sound work.</p> <p>The final concert is next Friday, also at Redeemer Lutheran, QUARTET PLUS PAPER V2 will feature, inter alia, a new multimedia work for pianist, clarinetist/visual artist, video projection and electronics composed and performed by Nahre Sol and Brad Cherwin.</p> It’s beginning to look a lot like Hannukwanzmas https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/27/its-beginning-to-look-a-lot-like-hannukwanzmas/ operaramblings urn:uuid:334d0fb1-ecc2-13cf-0794-7bf3f603d2a5 Sun, 27 Nov 2022 12:43:13 +0000 So what&#8217;s on as we move into the holiday season? Closing out November there&#8217;s Opera Revue at Castro&#8217;s this afternoon at 3pm and a couple of concerts on Wednesday.  At lunchtime Wirth Prize winner Elisabeth Saint-Gelais and collaborative pianist Louise &#8230; <a href="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/27/its-beginning-to-look-a-lot-like-hannukwanzmas/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a> <p><img data-attachment-id="32838" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/27/its-beginning-to-look-a-lot-like-hannukwanzmas/dec22wordcloud/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dec22wordcloud.png" 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;0&quot;}" data-image-title="dec22wordcloud" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dec22wordcloud.png?w=290" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dec22wordcloud.png?w=290" class="size-full wp-image-32838 alignleft" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dec22wordcloud.png?w=584" alt="dec22wordcloud" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dec22wordcloud.png 290w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dec22wordcloud.png?w=150 150w" sizes="(max-width: 290px) 100vw, 290px" />So what&#8217;s on as we move into the holiday season?</p> <p>Closing out November there&#8217;s Opera Revue at Castro&#8217;s this afternoon at 3pm and a couple of concerts on Wednesday.  At lunchtime Wirth Prize winner Elisabeth Saint-Gelais and collaborative pianist Louise Pelletier present an intriguing looking programme in the RBA then at 7.30pm at Mazzoleni Hall the RCM&#8217;s Rebanks fellows are performing.  Both are free but the Mazzoleni concert is ticketed and may be sold out.</p> <p><span id="more-32834"></span>December kicks off with a Soundstreams concert; <em>Indigenous Voices,</em> on the 1st at 8pm at Heliconoan Hall.  On the 2nd Tapestry present <em>A Joke Before the Gallows</em> at 918 Bathurst and WEMMF have their closing concert at Redeemer Lutheran.</p> <p>At Hart House Theatre you can catch <a href="https://harthouse.ca/theatre/show/the-birds">Emily Dix&#8217; adaptation of Daphne DuMaurier&#8217;s <em>The Birds</em></a>.  That runs until December 10th.</p> <p>The first part of the <a href="_wp_link_placeholder">RCM&#8217;s 21C festival</a> starts on December 6th with three concerts featuring the Kronos Quartet.</p> <p>On the 12th at 7.30pm at Heliconian Hall Confluence Concerts Young Artistic Associate, violist Ryan Davis, curates a varied programme with guests Kevin Ahfat, Daniel Go, Bora Kim, Jonelle Sills and Suba Sankaran.</p> <p>Then it&#8217;s <em>Messiah</em> season so here&#8217;s a round up of the usual suspects:</p> <ul> <li>The TSO presents a big orchestra, big choir version with Gustavo Gimeno conducting and soloists Lauren Fagan &#8211; soprano, Stephanie Wake-Edwards &#8211; mezzo-soprano, Michael Colvin &#8211; tenor and Elliot Madore &#8211; baritone.  December 17th to 21st at Roy Thomson Hall.</li> <li>Tafelmusik, of course has the HIP version with Ivars taurins conducting and soloists Karina Gauvin &#8211; soprano, Christopher Lowrey &#8211; countertenor, Valerio Contaldo &#8211; tenor and Brett Polegato &#8211; baritone.  December 16th and 17th at Koerner Hall.</li> <li>The there&#8217;s my favourite; Soundstream&#8217;s <em>Electric Messiah</em>.  This is at Crow&#8217;s Theatre from December 22nd to 24th.  the music director is Apson directs the stage action.dam Scime and Rob Kem.  Soloists are Lindsay McIntyre &#8211; soprano, Elizabeth Shepherd &#8211; mezzo and Andrew Adridge &#8211; bass.  This is <em>Messiah</em> like you have never heard it before; including previous iterations of <em>EM</em>.</li> </ul> <p>And finally a New Year thing, more or less.  Toronto Operetta Theatre are presenting <em>Die Fledermaus</em> at the St. Lawrence Centre on Dec 28th, 30th and 31st.</p> Comme un doux trésor https://parterre.com/2022/11/26/comme-un-doux-tresor/ parterre box urn:uuid:dda7e198-0b32-8709-81f2-2a0ad03cf178 Sat, 26 Nov 2022 22:45:41 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/26/comme-un-doux-tresor/"><img width="720" height="246" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/farrar-header-720x246.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/farrar-header-720x246.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/farrar-header-300x103.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/farrar-header-768x263.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/farrar-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/farrar-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>On this day in 1906 a 24-year-old soprano named <strong>Geraldine Farrar</strong> made her Metropolitan Opera debut on the opening night of the season in <em>Roméo et Juliette</em>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=E62l9NxueUc&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=E62l9NxueUc</a></p> <p>Richard Aldrich in <em>The New York Times</em>:</p> <blockquote><p>Miss Farrar comes back to her native land as one of the American singers who have made name and fame for themselves abroad. It is not always easy to establish the same success in this country, and it may be that all she does will not meet with quite so unqualified acceptance as it has abroad. But she went far upon that road in what she accomplished last evening. She made a most agreeable impression in her impersonation of Juliette; for she is full of excellent instincts making for the best things as a lyric actress. She has a charming personality, a graceful and winning one, and her stage presence is alluring and with much of the girlishness of Juliette.</p> <p>It has been said that by the time an actress has learned the art of denoting the passion and the ecstatic emotion of Juliette she could rarely still be in possession of the juvenile charm that the part needs. But Miss Farrar has it, and has at the same time skill and resource in stage craft. She is a singer of remarkable gifts. Her voice is a full and rich soprano, lyric in its nature and flexibility, yet rather darkly colored and with not a little of the dramatic quality and with a power of dramatic nuance that she uses in the main skillfully. Her singing is generally free and spontaneous in delivery, well phrased and well enunciated, yet she is not a wholly finished vocalist, and there were matters in her singing that could net meet with entire approbation, as in the duet in the fourth act, where she sang with a certain constraint.</p> <p>There will be more interesting and more important music of the exhibition of her artistic powers before the season is much further advanced, but here was ample cause in her Juliette of last evening for the high expectations that have been raised for her in the musical public of New York.</p></blockquote> <p>Happy 81st birthday mezzo-soprano <strong>Susanne Marsee</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyvlI_1chXQ&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyvlI_1chXQ</a></p> The Excitement of Soccer https://medicine-opera.com/2022/11/the-excitement-of-soccer/ Neil Kurtzman urn:uuid:16b711e8-dfd9-423b-5268-f6eb058cb148 Sat, 26 Nov 2022 19:58:50 +0000 The US soccer team held England to a scoreless tie in an &#8212;&#8212; (fill in your own adjective) game that held those fans still awake to the backs of their seats at a FIFA World Cup 2022 match. That the entire world save the USA is enthralled by the game is the full measure of... <p>The US soccer team held England to a <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://www.google.com/search?q=england+vs+usa&amp;rlz=1C1RXQR_enUS988US988&amp;sxsrf=ALiCzsZFeHgGR23ppHHixMv2wXHtuHxnLw%3A1669489274058&amp;ei=emKCY7KNA5ulqtsPl52kmAg&amp;oq=US+bs+England+0-0&amp;gs_lcp=Cgxnd3Mtd2l6LXNlcnAQARgAMgoIABBHENYEELADMgoIABBHENYEELADMgoIABBHENYEELADMgoIABBHENYEELADMgoIABBHENYEELADMgoIABBHENYEELADMgoIABBHENYEELADMgoIABBHENYEELADSgQIQRgASgQIRhgAUABYAGDtFWgBcAF4AIABAIgBAJIBAJgBAMgBCMABAQ&amp;sclient=gws-wiz-serp#bsht=CgRmYnNtEhgIBDABEAIYDzoOZW5nbGFuZCB2cyB1c2E&amp;sie=m;/g/11rq1yn7mq;2;/m/030q7;dt;fp;1;;;" target="_blank">scoreless tie</a> in an &#8212;&#8212; (fill in your own adjective) game that held those fans still awake to the backs of their seats at a FIFA World Cup 2022 match. That the entire world save the USA is enthralled by the game is the full measure of American exceptionalism. </p> <p>One of the distinguishing feature of humans that sets us so far above the skill level of every other species is the hand with its fine motor coordination. Compare it to the foot which is not much use other than for standing, walking, running, or kicking. The list of skills the hand can perform is almost limitless. Here are just a few painting, sculpture, writing, playing a musical instrument, sign language, boxing, swinging a bat, catching a ball, throwing a pass, giving someone the finger, applying lipstick, cutting hair, opening a wine bottle or a can of beer, driving a vehicle (well, the foot helps here too), leading an orchestra, firing a gun, wielding a sword, doing a rectal exam, lots of actions too disgusting to enumerate, and on and on.</p> <p>So what&#8217;s the favorite game of almost all the world? A game in which it&#8217;s illegal to use a player&#8217;s hands &#8211; the goalie excepted. As long as <em>futbol</em> is the focus of only a handful of Americans, mostly soccer moms, America&#8217;s leading position in the world is safe, no matter how many stupid things we do and no matter how long it takes us to count ballots. The Simpsons take on the game is below.</p> <p></p> <p></p> <figure class="wp-block-embed is-type-video is-provider-youtube wp-block-embed-youtube wp-embed-aspect-16-9 wp-has-aspect-ratio"><div class="wp-block-embed__wrapper"> <iframe title="The Simpsons take on soccer" width="500" height="281" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rJu2qSJ9zno?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe> </div></figure> La gazza ladra https://parterre.com/2022/11/26/la-gazza-ladra/ parterre box urn:uuid:5c94a4d6-fd02-10ad-500a-841f6b5bda8e Sat, 26 Nov 2022 16:00:07 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/26/la-gazza-ladra/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/gazza-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/gazza-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/gazza-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/gazza-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/gazza-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/gazza-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Rossini&#8217;s comic opera, recorded November 16 at the Theater an der Wien.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86835" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/gazza-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/gazza-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/gazza-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/gazza-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />Streaming and discussion <a href="http://www.radio4.nl/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">begin at 1:00 PM</a>.</p> <p><strong>Photo: Monika Rittershaus</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> One + 2 https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/26/one-2/ operaramblings urn:uuid:5047beef-b918-2827-e9a3-7104b4334623 Sat, 26 Nov 2022 15:44:35 +0000 The second concert in the West End Micro Music Festival took place at Redeemer Lutheran last night.  Continuing the idea of &#8220;concept&#8221; concerts of chamber music this one teamed up composer and keyboardist Nahre Sol with jazz bassist Ben Finley &#8230; <a href="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/26/one-2/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a> <p>The second concert in the West End Micro Music Festival took place at Redeemer Lutheran last night.  Continuing the idea of &#8220;concept&#8221; concerts of chamber music this one teamed up composer and keyboardist Nahre Sol with jazz bassist Ben Finley and John Lee on Korean percussion and flute.  Violinist Amy Hillis also appeared on one number called, if I recall correctly, &#8220;Mountain Goat&#8221;.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="32832" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/26/one-2/attachment/21/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/21.jpg" data-orig-size="580,402" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;2.2&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;iPhone 6s&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1669410060&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;4.15&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;200&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.066666666666667&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;,&quot;latitude&quot;:&quot;43.654955555556&quot;,&quot;longitude&quot;:&quot;-79.457427777778&quot;}" data-image-title="2+1" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/21.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/21.jpg?w=580" class="size-full wp-image-32832 aligncenter" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/21.jpg?w=584" alt="2+1" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/21.jpg 580w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/21.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/21.jpg?w=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 580px) 100vw, 580px" /></p> <p><span id="more-32826"></span>The basic set up was to take a number of pieces written by Nahre for various combinations of instruments and rearrange them for this trio.  It was intriguing.  Various forms of minimalism(1) combined with the sonorities of jazz bass, the very unusual sound of the Korean flute and some &#8220;different&#8221; percussion was really quite thought provoking.  There was also a jazzier piece written by Ben and a drum solo, plus a fairly extended improvisation.  The whole thing came with an atmospheric lighting plot.</p> <p>So, the whole thing was a bit of an experiment but for the most part a very successful one.  WEMMF continues tonight at 7.30pm at the same venue with ALTROCK which promises a blend of chamber music and 1980s New York underground rock.</p> <p>fn1: I need to find a new set of descriptors for the various kinds of &#8220;minimalism&#8221;.  It seems to have come to mean everything and nothing.  A bit like &#8220;freedom&#8221; perhaps?</p> A star is porn https://parterre.com/2022/11/25/a-star-is-porn/ parterre box urn:uuid:a45267a8-381d-1023-d556-6f954458d88b Fri, 25 Nov 2022 17:17:05 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/25/a-star-is-porn/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/star-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/star-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/star-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/star-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/star-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/star-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Show business fables often involve an ambitious, if naïve, ingenue (male or female) desperate for fame.  This young wannabe finds fame and fortune: but it comes at a cost.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-86818 size-full" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/star-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/star-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/star-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/star-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />Usually romantic heartbreak, losing your bearing due to a swelled head or bad advice, losing one’s old friends and/or family while descending into substance abuse are standard plot points.  In the end the brokenhearted but now wiser ingenue chooses love and domesticity over the glitter of Broadway or Hollywood.</p> <p>This is exactly the plot of the new Off-Off Broadway musical <em>Shooting Star</em> which opened in late October.  It tells the story of Taylor Trent, aspiring actor turned porn superstar “TNT”, as he negotiates the world of all-male pornography.  Tropes familiar from “A Star is Born” to “Boogie Nights” are touched upon scene by scene.</p> <p>However, the huge porn industry (billions of dollars earned every year) is in many ways the dirty little sister of the Hollywood star machine.  The two mirror each other although one may not always want to acknowledge or validate the other…  So why shouldn’t a gay porn musical follow the same storyline and share the same tropes as one about mainstream show business?</p> <p><em>Shooting Star</em> is the brainchild of Bavarian-born <strong>Florian Klein</strong>, also known as “Hans Berlin” in all-male videos.  A veteran of gay pornography but with a background in acting and theater, Klein brings a wealth of personal insight to his book for the musical.  The story is one he personally experienced as an L.A. transplant, a perennially struggling actor and cater waiter who turned to porn because the porn studios at least would book him for gigs and pay him.</p> <p>Taylor Trent (the chiseled and vocally gifted <strong>Coleman Cummings</strong>) is a small-town Midwestern boy who comes to Los Angeles hoping to become a star.  He is sent to Pride Studios by his landlord who wants to get Taylor a job so he can pay that back rent.  His gorgeous bod and epic posterior gain him instantaneous stardom as well as much needed work and easy money.</p> <p>On the porn set he quickly befriends porn mama and director Mr. Sue (talented <strong>Zuri Washington</strong> playing a character clearly modeled on <strong>Pamela Dore aka Mr. Pam</strong>) and meets a motley assortment of porn performers.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter wp-image-86819 size-full" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/star-1.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/star-1.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/star-1-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/star-1-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>The gay for pay Butch O’Neal (<strong>Juan Danner</strong>), druggy slutty bottom twink JR Andrews (<strong>Spencer Petro</strong>), old school veteran “daddy” on the way down James Grant (<strong>Craig Winberry </strong>in the Norman Maine role), Tiger Black (<strong>Grant Evan</strong>) a shifty player in front of and behind the camera and, most importantly, the unattainable, commitment-phobic star top Jesse Apollo (<strong>Grant Latus</strong> in his NY debut).  This bunch of marginalized misfits become a porn family.</p> <p>However, the slippery and corrupt Tiger introduces the susceptible Taylor to New York City porn mogul Martin Lords (a double role for Danner who is clearly channeling Russian-born porn czar <strong>Michael Lucas</strong> down to the duck-lipped pout).</p> <p>Taylor becomes a Lords exclusive but must reject his former Los Angeles posse.  Taylor longs for Jesse Apollo, a talented but frustrated pop singer, but Apollo has been burned by mixing porn work and private romance and will not reciprocate his affections.  Personal loneliness and the abusive Lords weigh down on Taylor who is introduced to drugs by Tiger.</p> <p>Act II brings us to the Cocky Awards (clearly an analogue for the GayVN Awards, the Oscars of gay porn) at the Black Rooster Club where all the shit goes down and Taylor Trent must face losing himself and all he has gained while winning multiple industry awards.</p> <p>What happens?  Will Taylor and Jesse find true love?  Are Taylor’s dreams of mainstream acting success destroyed by his porn fame?  Will gay porn devour our hero and leave him for roadkill along the highway of broken dreams?  You will have to travel to East Williamsburg in deepest Brooklyn (Montrose Ave. on the L subway line!) to find out!</p> <p>The denouement is delivered through narration, which I always feel is a cop out.  We do not see genitalia although we do get a good nude rear view of Taylor/Coleman Cummings’ shapely buttocks.  The actors (male and female) basically strip down to jocks or tight undies and halter tops/bras.  As the action heats up on the porn set, the stage lights go out and we just hear moaning and groaning.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86820" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/star-2.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/star-2.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/star-2-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/star-2-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>Klein emphasizes and re-emphasizes that porn is work, not play and you must always keep a cool head.  It’s business, not pleasure for the performers.  It also can be isolating.  Taylor finds that even though he is having sex with a lot of people, real emotional connection is hard to find, and his fame makes him lonely.  People see the porn image and not the person.</p> <p>One aspect that is not explored is the parallel world of escorting/sex work which provides a steadier income for porn performers.  Nor does Klein go into the subject of safe vs. bareback sex involving the use or disuse of condoms in porn.  AIDS is not a plot point.</p> <p>The older character of James Grant who emerged in the adult industry of the 1990’s discusses how the internet has changed the landscape of the porn industry.  Most porn consumers find a plethora of erotica free online on tube sites whereas in his pre-internet “Golden Days” (Grant’s big solo) people had to pay for video tapes in order to see their favorites in action.</p> <p>The exact location of this porn opus is the gay bar 3 Dollar Bill at 260 Meserole Street – not exactly Broadway or Off-Broadway but exactly the right seedy/fabulous venue for a show of this type.</p> <p>The Black Rooster Club is a large backroom/cabaret black box space with a proscenium stage which includes a convenient runway for performers to interact with the audience.  There are cabaret tables along the runway and folding seats in the back.  Director <strong>Dennis Corsi</strong> provides an immersive staging that keeps the action lively using the entire space including the sides and back of the auditorium.</p> <p>Composer <strong>Thomas Zaufke</strong> and lyricist <strong>Erik Ransom</strong> (<em>Grindr, the Opera</em>) have provided a tuneful, upbeat pop score strong on power ballads and duets that is excellently performed by a uniformly vocally strong cast.  These performers not only look good in jockstraps and thongs but can SINGGGG!</p> <p>Coleman Cummings (Roger in the <em>RENT</em> tour) as Taylor/TNT has a soaring pop tenor and glistening six-pack abs.  His angelic face can morph from farm boy to porn idol in a millisecond.  Grant Evan as Tiger has a fascinatingly silky androgynous voice, Zuri Washington brings sassy power belting to Mr. Sue and Grant Latus’ seductive rock voice evokes Jesse Apollo’s cool/hot allure.</p> <p>Spencer Petro has androgynous sexiness and lost boy fragility as the self-destructive JR Andrews.  Juan Danner nails the sexual ambiguity underneath Butch’s macho façade and is properly repellent as the abusive Martin Lords.  Craig Winberry brings a strong legit baritone, rugged good looks and hauntingly broken machismo to the tragic Grant.  <strong>Maya Santiago</strong> and <strong>Brennon Stylez </strong>in multi-tasking ensemble roles also have rich, vibrant voices, strong dancing skills and hot bods.</p> <p><em>Shooting Star</em> had a sold-out Los Angeles run three years ago. (The New York premiere was produced by <strong>Bruce Michael Harris</strong>.) Yet the quiet and slow death of Off-Broadway means that in New York City it has been relegated to the outer boroughs.  Off-Broadway was a trial ground for up-and-coming songwriters, lyricists, directors and performers who later would graduate to Broadway.</p> <p>In the golden era of musical theater in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, there were off-Broadway venues and clubs which would do revues using fresh young talent where the likes of <strong>Tom Jones</strong> and <strong>Harvey Schmidt</strong> and <strong>Jerry Herman</strong> tried out new material and actors like <strong>Barbra Streisand</strong>, <strong>Tammy Grimes</strong> or <strong>Carol Channing</strong> would make waves and graduate to Broadway stardom.</p> <p>However, gentrification and rising rental and running costs have made Off-Broadway a historical artifact.  It costs nearly as much as Broadway and earns much less.  Meanwhile both Broadway and what is left of Off-Broadway go for safe corporate products that cater to tourist audiences.  Creativity is lost and new voices go unheard.</p> <p><em>Shooting Star</em> is a diverting evening full of fun new discoveries that deserves larger audiences and greater exposure.  The story isn’t new but the youthful cast, vibrant voices and high energy performing (especially on a cold Monday night) keeps any hint of staleness at bay.</p> <p><a href="https://www.shootingstarmusical.com/tickets">Shows continue through on December 18</a> so there&#8217;s still time to hop on that L train, grab a drink and catch some rising stars!</p> <p><strong>photos by koitz; © 2022 koitz</strong></p> The Rake's Progress, Royal Academy of Music, 24 November 2022 https://boulezian.blogspot.com/2022/11/the-rakes-progress-royal-academy-of.html Boulezian urn:uuid:77928253-c1e8-2c1c-f3f8-060cead1afe1 Fri, 25 Nov 2022 16:53:02 +0000 <br />Susie Sainsbury Theatre <br /><br />Tom Rakewell – Ryan Vaughan Davies <br />Anne Trulove – Cassandra Wright <br />Nick Shadow – Jacob Phillips <br />Father Trulove – Hovhannes Karapetyan <br />Sellem – Samuel Kibble <br />Baba the Turk – Rebecca Hart <br />Mother Goose – Georgia Mae Ellis <br />Keeper of the Madhouse – Duncan Stenhouse. <br /><br />Frederic Wake-Walker (director) <br />Anna Jones (designs) <br />Charlotte Burton (lighting) <br />Ergo Phizmiz (collage, animation, AI image generation and illustration) <br />Lottie Bywater (illustration and animation) <br /><br />Chorus <br />Royal Academy Sinfonia <br />Trevor Pinnock (conductor) <br /><br /> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">Blessed by varied approaches to its staging and performance, <i>The Rake’s Progress</i> seems to remain eternally itself (whatever that might mean, as a sometime Prince of Wales might have put it). Not unlike Stravinsky’s evergreen score, the cleverer and in many respects the more involving the more one knows it, everything may seem to come from somewhere else, and in a sense it does; but equally, in another sense, it does not. It makes for great theatre, almost no matter what, and Royal Academy Opera certainly achieved that, as indeed it did when I reviewed an earlier production here <a href="https://boulezian.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-rakes-progress-royal-academy-of.html">by John Ramster</a>, seven years ago.</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;">This new incarnation, directed by Frederic Wake-Walker, relies heavily on eye-catching animation (Ergo Phizmiz) and images of present-day London from Downing Street to City towers to (presumably former) local authority buildings in their shadow. In one sense (yes, Janus-faced again), it was not always clear to me what it might all add up to. Another <i>Rake </i>placing London at its very heart, <a href="https://boulezian.blogspot.com/2017/07/festival-daix-en-provence-1-rakes.html">Simon McBurney’s as seen in Aix</a>, for me penetrated deeper. For instance, with cardboard boxes—a very large one being Baba the Turk’s sedan chair—arriving alongside partygoers on Downing Street, I assumed we might have some sort of insight into more notorious parties still; yet instead, we headed somewhere else. The party had moved on—as, of course, so many Covid partygoers urged us to. Perhaps indeed that was the point, for earlier eighteenth-century costumes and Arcadia notwithstanding, this was a <i>Rake</i> for the age of Instagram, chorus members eager to snap pictures of Baba once she had emerged.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">The odd thing was that Baba simply seemed to be a celebrity, with no evident reason for notoriety and certainly no beard: a sort of cross between Su Pollard and Lady Gaga. Again, perhaps that was the point. There were plenty of visual jokes, which kept a lively audience amused. And who is to say, after all, that one does not miss the point if one does not remain on the surface level? With boxes strewn across scenes, signs of transitory lives, and bubble wrap emerging ingeniously from them, that certainly did seem to be part, at least, of the point. The melancholy work of Bedlam inmates at the end, refashioning material that once had made up their party clothes, was an excellent touch.</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;">Stravinsky points both ways, of course; so too, arguably, does Auden. Trevor Pinnock’s conducted a lively and generous account of the score, the Royal Academy Sinfonia sharp, pointed, yet far from inexpressive. Occasionally I missed greater numbers in the pit, but chamber forces had virtues of their own, not least in solo work, where reference to eighteenth-century music(s) in particular truly hit home. The orchestra contributed greatly to the gaiety of the occasion, but also to its poignancy, and not only in the final act. Lost moments of <i>Cosi fan tutte</i>, suspended in musical animation, made their fleeting point almost as strongly as the fatal games of the graveyard scene (for which special mention should go to the excellent harpsichordist Alexsander Ribeiro de Lara).<i> </i>The chorus, very much a collection of soloists, in gesture and musical line, who could yet come together as more than the sum of their parts, was not the least shining light of the evening’s entertainment.</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;">Nor too were the young soloists, many of them doubtless heading towards careers in whatever remains of the opera business after our Downing Street masters and ‘Arts Council England’ have had their say. Like Stravinsky—Auden too—they may have to emigrate. Good luck to them, if so, if Brexit-Insel continues to treat them as seems likely. Ryan Vaughan Davies was a memorable Tom Rakewell, neglecting neither implied poignancy of situation nor irresistible allure of the moment. Whether one should sympathise or not is perhaps a moot point; it would, however, have been difficult to fail to do so.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">Likewise, from other angles, the rest of the cast—who might, after all, on paper seem difficult to like, let alone to love. Cassandra Wright’s Anne combined cleanness and beauty of Mozartian line with the fleshed-out character of his heroines: a combination far from always achieved. Jacob Phillips’s dark and dangerous Nick Shadow involved us, like it or not. Hovhannes Karapetyan’s dark-voiced, seemingly generous-of-heart Father Trulove, Georgia Mae Ellis’s fun-loving yet formidable Mother Goose, and Rebecca Hart’s capricious yet, at the last, deeply human Baba the Turk all added novelty to their roles without departing unduly from what we (fancied we) already knew. Samuel Kibble’s lively Sellem and Duncan Stenhouse’s compassionate Keeper of the Madhouse rounded off a cast with no weak links and excellent interaction. Perhaps, indeed, that was the point. <o:p></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> The sense of dramatic thrust https://parterre.com/2022/11/25/the-sense-of-dramatic-thrust/ parterre box urn:uuid:179b6fc2-d113-88d7-8a26-39ee0c813214 Fri, 25 Nov 2022 16:27:42 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/25/the-sense-of-dramatic-thrust/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/traviata-header-1-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/traviata-header-1-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/traviata-header-1-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/traviata-header-1-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/traviata-header-1-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/traviata-header-1.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Soprano Lydia Grindatto confirmed the fine impression she had made at Giargiari vocal competition with a charismatic, thoroughly inhabited performance that showed careful preparation in every aspect.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86813" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/traviataa-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/traviataa-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/traviataa-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/traviataa-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />In October, Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts had their strongest <a href="https://parterre.com/2022/10/12/they-are-the-champions/">Giargiari vocal competition in memory</a>. This month, they began their opera season with an Italian warhorse, <em>La Traviata</em>, which in the cast I saw showcased the first-place winner, <strong>Lydia Grindatto</strong> as Violetta. Operas to come this season are <em>Don Pasquale</em> (in February) and <em>Don Giovanni</em> (in April).</p> <p>If the focus on such centrist Italian-language repertoire feels very conservative, it’s worth remembering that the primary goal of AVA is to prepare and polish young singers for careers in opera. On that level, <em>Traviata</em> proved a success.</p> <p>Grindatto in particular confirmed the fine impression she had made at Giargiari with a charismatic, thoroughly inhabited performance that showed careful preparation in every aspect. All Violettas in my experience find their most natural fit in <em>one</em> of the opera&#8217;s three acts. For Grindatto, it’s Act II, where her high-octane emotionalism and shining upper-middle register come into focus.</p> <p>In a bigger house, a bit more vocal heft might be needed, but she scaled the voice skillfully so that when it really opened up, one had the sense of dramatic thrust. In Act I, she negotiated the coloratura honorably—even gesturing at the trills in “Sempre libera” which too often go unmarked—but it lacked the ultimate sense of easy abandon; she was very touching in Act III, but I wanted more intimacy and fragility—we didn’t really get a true pianissimo (nor from virtually anyone else; more on that later).</p> <p>On balance: this was a very significant achievement; I have every reason to think Grindatto will be a successful major-theater Violetta.</p> <p><strong>Luke Norvell</strong> (Alfredo) and <strong>Kevin Godínez</strong> (Giorgio) also confirmed the good impressions they made at Giargiari and in other AVA performances. Norvell, now a second-year, has made notable strides since I first heard him. His lambent juicy-lyric tenor has greater ease at the top now, and he seems more confident and relaxed on stage.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86814" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/traviata-1-1.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/traviata-1-1.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/traviata-1-1-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/traviata-1-1-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />His upper-middle range, where much of this role (and many others) lies, is especially beautiful. His Italian diction and style could use more polish, but all signs are good. Germont père is probably a half-size too big for Godínez at this point, and it’s not a role that allows his exceptional stage charm to come through, but it was solidly and idiomatically sung.</p> <p>In supporting roles, several singers stood out—<strong>Peter Barber</strong> as Douphol, <strong>Angel Raii Gomez</strong> (another Giargiari winner) as Gastone, and especially <strong>Alla Yarosh</strong>, who was vocally and dramatically an uncommonly effective Annina.</p> <p>I wish all these performances had been better served by the production and conductor. Director <strong>Dorothy Danner</strong> faced the on-going challenge of AVA’s very small stage, but except for a few attractive tableaux, the production looked awkward and without any significant dramatic ideas. A pantomime that began the opera made no sense, and having Violetta undress in the middle of her living room was one gaucherie among several.</p> <p>AVA’s veteran maestro <strong>Christofer Macatsoris</strong> is a lionized figure to many, but for me his conducting—which has always emphasized virility over lyricism—has grown alarmingly crude over time. Here, there were some limited payoffs in his brute force: the opening music for both party sequences had an exciting pulse.</p> <p>But against this, the tempi were too often rushed and phrase endings blunted; I didn’t hear a true pianissimo note all evening. The orchestra—often quite good here—sounded off-form. AVA’s singers aspiring to major careers deserve better.</p> <p><strong>Photos: Morgan Horell</strong></p> Trilogy https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/25/trilogy/ operaramblings urn:uuid:b75b0b2b-fbae-6845-cd56-f4a58b12b355 Fri, 25 Nov 2022 16:12:29 +0000 This year&#8217;s fall offering from UoT Opera is three short comic operas presented at the MacMillan Theatre in productions by Michael Patrick Albano.  The first is Paul Hindemith&#8217;s Hin und Züruck; a twelve minute musical joke which manages to send &#8230; <a href="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/25/trilogy/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a> <p>This year&#8217;s fall offering from UoT Opera is three short comic operas presented at the MacMillan Theatre in productions by Michael Patrick Albano.  The first is Paul Hindemith&#8217;s <em>Hin und Züruck</em>; a twelve minute musical joke which manages to send up a lot of operatic conventions in a very short time.  It&#8217;s a musical and dramatic palindrome.  A man discovers his wife has a lover and shoots her.  The paramedics arrive and attempt to revive her.  In this staging this includes a giant syringe and no prizes for guessing where that goes. The remorseful husband shoots himself.  An angel (Ben Done) appears and explains that the usual laws of physics don&#8217;t apply in opera and the entire plot and score is replayed backwards.  It was played effectively deadpan by Cassandra Amorim and Lyndon Ladeur while Jordana Goddard, as the elderly deaf aunt, sat through the whole thing entirely oblivious.  Good fun.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="32821" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/25/trilogy/1-angel/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/1.angel_.jpg" data-orig-size="580,370" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;3.5&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;416-684-4834 RICHARD&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;Canon EOS R6&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1669063717&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;70&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;2000&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.003125&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="1.angel" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/1.angel_.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/1.angel_.jpg?w=580" class="size-full wp-image-32821 aligncenter" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/1.angel_.jpg?w=584" alt="1.angel" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/1.angel_.jpg 580w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/1.angel_.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/1.angel_.jpg?w=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 580px) 100vw, 580px" /></p> <p><span id="more-32815"></span>Offenbach&#8217;s <em>Monsieur Choufleuri</em> is longer and rather more vocally demanding.  It too is a parody of opera, specifically Bellini.  I&#8217;m sure I could hear echoes of <em>I Puritani</em>.  Here Monsieur Choufleuri is a nouveau riche Parisien eager to make his mark on society by staging a musical soirée including the three greatest singers of the day.  Unfortunately they all cancel so Choufleuri, his daughter and her poor, therefore unacceptable to papa, amour who happens to be both a bassoon player in the orchestra at L&#8217;Opéra and, fortuitously, a tenor, save the day by impersonating the three stars.  Cue an exceedingly silly Italian aria in which the cruel father attempts to prevent his daughter marrying his enemy but has to concede in the end.  So lots of flashy coloratura for the daughter, very well sung by Emily Rocha with highly effective support from Ben Done as the boyfriend and Jun Lam Hui as Choufleuri.  The whole thing is held together by the butler who delivers an English narration created by Michael Patrick.  He/she is very nicely played by Nathania-Rose Chan who gets off, in a suitably gender bending way, with George Sand at the end.  Absolutely everybody is at this party my dears.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="32822" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/25/trilogy/2-lovers-12/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/2.lovers.jpg" data-orig-size="580,387" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;3.5&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;416-684-4834 RICHARD&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;Canon EOS R6&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1669064917&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;135&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;1600&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.004&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="2.lovers" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/2.lovers.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/2.lovers.jpg?w=580" class="size-full wp-image-32822 aligncenter" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/2.lovers.jpg?w=584" alt="2.lovers" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/2.lovers.jpg 580w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/2.lovers.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/2.lovers.jpg?w=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 580px) 100vw, 580px" /></p> <p>After the interval the stage is transformed into a 1950s TV set for Douglas Moore&#8217;s <em>Gallantry</em>; a satire on soap operas and their accompanying commercials.  It&#8217;s brilliantly MC&#8217;d by Elita Gagner who does a really good line in cheesy ads for soap and floor wax.  There&#8217;s a very funny dance ad for Billy Boy Wax, choreographed by Anna Theodosakis and wonderfully executed by Megan Jones, Rayleigh Becker, Dascha Tereschenko and Taline Yeremian.  The main plot concerns a married surgeon who is making advances to his nurse.  It gets complicated when their next patient turns out to be the nurse&#8217;s fiancé.  There are lots of sight gags including a disturbing amount of intestine and some very funny acting and solid singing from Ayana Platt as the nurse, James Coole-Stevenson as the surgeon and Burak Yaman as the fiancé.  It&#8217;s not as vocally flashy as the Offenbach but it;&#8217;s very enjoyable.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="32823" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/25/trilogy/3-mc/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/3.mc_.jpg" data-orig-size="580,387" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;4&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;416-684-4834 RICHARD&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;Canon EOS R6&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1669068455&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;75&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;3200&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.025&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="3.mc" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/3.mc_.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/3.mc_.jpg?w=580" class="size-full wp-image-32823 aligncenter" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/3.mc_.jpg?w=584" alt="3.mc" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/3.mc_.jpg 580w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/3.mc_.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/3.mc_.jpg?w=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 580px) 100vw, 580px" /></p> <p>Sandra Horst conducted all three operas with the musicians of the UoT music faculty in the pit.  The stage pit balance was excellent and everything stayed coherent even during the Feydeau like comings and goings in the Offenbach.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="32824" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/25/trilogy/4-doctornurse/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/4.doctornurse.jpg" data-orig-size="580,387" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;4&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;416-684-4834 RICHARD&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;Canon EOS R6&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1669068591&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;86&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;3200&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.0025&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="4.doctornurse" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/4.doctornurse.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/4.doctornurse.jpg?w=580" class="size-full wp-image-32824 alignnone" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/4.doctornurse.jpg?w=584" alt="4.doctornurse" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/4.doctornurse.jpg 580w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/4.doctornurse.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/4.doctornurse.jpg?w=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 580px) 100vw, 580px" /></p> <p>So UoT Opera has emerged from its COVID bunker with a bang.  This show is lots of fun and just the thing on a cold, foggy November night.  There are three more performances tonight through Sunday with tonight and Sunday having slightly different casts.</p> <p>Photos courtesy of UoT Opera.</p> The lady came with an excellent reputation https://parterre.com/2022/11/25/the-lady-came-with-an-excellent-reputation/ parterre box urn:uuid:6251e58d-9c25-7329-2868-e40f4163d8a8 Fri, 25 Nov 2022 07:10:22 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/25/the-lady-came-with-an-excellent-reputation/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/lehmann-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/lehmann-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/lehmann-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/lehmann-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/lehmann-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/lehmann-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>On this day in 1885, soprano <strong>Lilli Lehmann</strong> made her Metropolitan Opera debut in the title role of Carmen (in German, of course.)</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaiiCEtlZ8g&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaiiCEtlZ8g</a></p> <p>Henry E. Krehbiel in the <em>Tribune</em>:</p> <blockquote><p>Among the singers the interest centered chiefly in Fräulein Lehmann, who filled the title role. The lady came with an excellent reputation and sustained it in her acting as well as her singing. Her tall stature and almost military bearing were calculated to produce an effect of surprise which had to be overcome before the audience were ready to enter into the feeling which she infused into the part. To the eye she was a somewhat more matronly Carmen than the fancy is tempted to paint as the ideal heroine of Bizet&#8217;s opera, and it was in harmony with the new picture that she stripped the character of the flippancy and playfulness which the public are inclined to associate with it, and intensified its sinister side. In this she deviated from Madame Hauk&#8217;s impersonation and came nearer to that of Madame Trebelli. In her musical performance, however, she surpassed both of these experienced and ripe artists. Her voice is true, flexible, and ringing, and of most telling quality. She sings with perfect ease and her high notes have a fairly electrifying timbre and power. She has the ability to fill it with the passionate expression and warmth of color which the music of the part often calls for, and utilizes this ability with rare judiciousness and taste. In every respect her Carmen is a unique creation and her art as exhibited in it realizes expectation to the full.</p></blockquote> <p>Happy 77th birthday baritone<strong> Håkan Hagegård</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lBXTWSKBIA&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lBXTWSKBIA</a></p> <p>Happy 72nd birthday soprano <strong>Yvonne Kenny</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQXHQEgGwqw&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQXHQEgGwqw</a></p> <p>Birthday anniversary of librettist<strong> Antonio Ghislanzoni</strong> (1824); sopranos <strong>Adelaide Saraceni</strong> (1895) and <strong>Adele Kern</strong> (1901); composer <strong>Virgil Thomso</strong>n (1896) and conductor <strong>Jean-Claude Malgoire</strong> (1940).</p> When my ship comes in https://parterre.com/2022/11/24/when-my-ship-comes-in/ parterre box urn:uuid:960c0653-6415-d96d-aea8-b5539feb0c42 Thu, 24 Nov 2022 16:58:06 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/24/when-my-ship-comes-in/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/stemme-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/stemme-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/stemme-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/stemme-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/stemme-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/stemme-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>On this day in 2000 soprano <strong>Nina Stemme</strong> made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Senta.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPYWOd5pJLs&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPYWOd5pJLs</a></p> <p>On this day in 1938 tenor <strong>Jussi Bjoerling</strong> made his Met debut as Rodolfo. <strong>Mafalda Favero</strong> also made her debut as Mimi.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OajZ9SCQO8&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OajZ9SCQO8</a></p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXY3IoMWPfw&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXY3IoMWPfw</a></p> <p>Happy 83rd birthday soprano <strong>Maria Chiara</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzngA1_hj0w&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzngA1_hj0w</a></p> <p>Birthday anniversaries of soprano<strong> Lilli Lehmann</strong> (1848). composer<strong> Scott Joplin</strong> (1868), baritone <strong>Marcos Redondo</strong> (1893), tenor <strong>René Maison</strong> (1895) and bass <strong>Norman Walker</strong> (1907).</p> <p>Happy Thanksgiving to US members of the cher public!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Gerstein - Busoni and Liszt, 23 November 2022 https://boulezian.blogspot.com/2022/11/gerstein-busoni-and-liszt-23-november.html Boulezian urn:uuid:52f6bdf5-ad2e-a776-0e57-1eb68d5c83a7 Thu, 24 Nov 2022 16:37:57 +0000 <p><br /></p><p>Wigmore Hall</p><b> Busoni:</b> <i>Elegien</i>, BV 249: ‘Nach der Wendung’; <i>Sonatina seconda</i>, BV 259; <i>Berceuse</i>, BV 252; Sonatina no.6 super <i>Carmen</i>, BV 284; <i>Toccata</i>, BV 287<br /><b>Liszt:</b> <i>Études d’exécution transcendante</i>, S 139<div><br /></div><div>Kirill Gerstein (piano)&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /><br /> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">This was a fascinating first instalment to Kirill Gerstein’s three-artist ‘Busoni and his World’ Wigmore Hall residence. Gerstein more than earned his fee, with a full first half of works by Busoni, gently and intelligently introduced from the platform, followed by all twelve of Liszt’s <i>Transcendental Studies</i>. He offered us much to ponder, much to be thrilled by, and much to look forward to later in the season.</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;">‘Nach der Wendung’, first of the <i>Elegies</i>, takes its leave, as you might expect, from late Liszt. A questing—it is almost impossible not to say ‘Faustian’—piece, it received a duly questing performance. Some writing is more tonal than other; Gerstein clearly communicated harmony and its implications. The quiet radicalism of its passage was conveyed with acute intelligence, whether it wandered into the clouds or down into the rumbling bass. Its introverted vision paved the way nicely for the <i>Sonatina seconda</i>. ‘Tonal oder Atonal?’ as Schoenberg would ask in the first of his <i>Three Satires</i>. Yes, no, or maybe, should probably have been the answer. Its opening bass line here strongly took a cue from Liszt, dissolving into the performing air, floating, resolidifying, and so on. Hearing material that would later find its way into <i>Doktor Faust</i> without the opera’s formal classicism is a fascinating experience. One senses a logic, even if one cannot define it.</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;">The <i>Berceuse</i>, published separately, is the final <i>Elegie</i>. Gerstein took it a little faster than often one hears it: rather, I think, to its advantage. Built and moulded to considerable emotional effect, it emerged more richly ambiguous than ever. The <i>Carmen</i>-<i>Fantasy</i>, another so-called sonatina, brought virtuosity, even hyper-virtuosity, more strongly to the fore. Layers of music, perhaps of meta-music too, were revealed and corroded, all within the Lisztian model of the paraphrase. Gerstein captured extremely well the piece’s ruminative quality: the composer, post-opera, extemporising on its themes. It was a turbulent, even violent necromancy we heard in the <i>Toccata</i>, its ‘advanced’ language no bar to high Lisztian grandiloquence. One gained an impression of multiple prisms, through music one could never quite pin down. The music from—or ‘to’?—<i>Doktor Faust</i>(related to the strange character, if one may call her that, of the Duchess of Parma) sounded as darkly elegiac and as dangerously sulphuric as I can recall.</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;">Brighter primary colours were to be heard from the off in Liszt himself. The opening Prelude seemed to strip away a gauze curtain we had not realised was there. Its virtuosic thrills provided quite the curtain-raiser. ‘Paysage’ offered seductive contrast, phrases beautifully leaned into. A Chopinesque—especially in the cadenzas—‘Mazeppa’ well illustrated Gerstein’s fine command of Lisztian rhetoric: foreign to our more cynical age in many ways, and yet relished for what it is. That quality of big-heartedness took us through pieces such as the ‘Vision’ and ‘Eroica’, vividly brought to life in themselves, yet also part of a greater trajectory. So eager can we sometimes be to defend Liszt against his cultivated despisers, we can forget how fine a thing it is simply, or even not so simply, to love his music. Not that there was anything sentimental to this performance; we loved the music through Gerstein’s intellectual as well as technical command. His turning of corners, as if revealing new vistas, occasionally brought Mahler to mind. Gerstein could charm too, as in ‘Ricordanza’. A bravura tenth study brought us to the flower-like harmonic blooming of ‘Harmonies du soir’, whose darker currents and sheer strangeness—surely attractive to Busoni—were certainly not undersold. The final study, ‘Chasse-neige’ was finely etched, seemingly according to a palette created before our ears. <br /><br />The encore was Bach-Busoni: ‘Nun freut euch, lieben Christen gmein’. Busoni marks it ‘Molto scorrevole, ma distintamente’. That is unquestionably what we heard.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><br /></p></div> Homage to Viardot https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/24/homage-to-viardot/ operaramblings urn:uuid:df62e612-835a-843b-3502-cbf3628cc7fc Thu, 24 Nov 2022 15:24:00 +0000 Yesterday the Ensemble Studio put on a really nicely curated tribute to Pauline Viardot.  Viardot was a singer, pianist, composer and muse who was enormously influential in music circles in paris in the middle years of the 19th century.  She &#8230; <a href="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/24/homage-to-viardot/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a> <p>Yesterday the Ensemble Studio put on a really nicely curated tribute to Pauline Viardot.  Viardot was a singer, pianist, composer and muse who was enormously influential in music circles in paris in the middle years of the 19th century.  She came from a famous musical family and was the younger sister of Maria Malibran. Her own work is little performed today although the Royal Conservatory did her <a href="https://operaramblings.blog/2016/11/19/cendrillon-in-viardots-salon/"><em>Cendrillon</em></a> in 2016.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="32806" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/24/homage-to-viardot/midori-2/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/midori.jpg" data-orig-size="580,387" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;2.8&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;ILCE-7RM3&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1669181434&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;160&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;800&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.00625&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="midori" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/midori.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/midori.jpg?w=580" class="size-full wp-image-32806 aligncenter" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/midori.jpg?w=584" alt="midori" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/midori.jpg 580w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/midori.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/midori.jpg?w=300 300w" sizes="(max-width: 580px) 100vw, 580px" /></p> <p><span id="more-32801"></span>Yesterday&#8217;s programme consisted of songs, and a piano piece by Viardot interspersed with works by composers she influenced; Rossini, Gounod and Gluck (by way of Berlioz).  The Viardot songs are pleasant enough and the &#8220;Habanera&#8221; from the <em>6 Mélodies et une havanaise</em> gave Ariane Cossette and Midori Marsh a chance to do some pretty duetting.  There were more Viardot songs from Alex Halliday, Jonah Spungin, Alex hetherington and Ariane again as well as some virtuosic work on the piano from Brian Cho.  Queen Hezumuryango also gave us a dramatic aria from Gounod&#8217;s little performed opera <em>Sapho</em>.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="32807" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/24/homage-to-viardot/alex-2/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/alex.jpg" data-orig-size="290,435" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;2.8&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;ILCE-7RM3&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1669181757&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;120&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;320&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.008&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;1&quot;}" data-image-title="alex" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/alex.jpg?w=200" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/alex.jpg?w=290" class="size-full wp-image-32807 alignleft" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/alex.jpg?w=584" alt="alex" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/alex.jpg 290w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/alex.jpg?w=100 100w" sizes="(max-width: 290px) 100vw, 290px" />Perhaps ironically though the most interesting parts of the show were from Viardot&#8217;s repertoire as a singer.  Midori Marsh was really quite spectacular (if maybe a bit over the top) in &#8220;Una voce poco fa&#8221;.  Better still, Alex Hetherington resurrected Viardot&#8217;s role in Berlioz&#8217; reworking of Gluck&#8217;s <em>Orphée et Eurdiice</em>.  Specifically she sang &#8220;J&#8217;ai perdu mon Euridice&#8221; with the ornaments etc as marked in Viardot&#8217;s own score.  There&#8217;s a tendency nowadays to play down ornamentation, cadenzas etc and it&#8217;s good to hear how the music was probably originally done.  Odd how the &#8220;composer&#8217;s original intention&#8221; crowd don&#8217;t seem to care about it!</p> <p>All of this was linked together by an informative and witty commentary from Alex and Queen and polished off with the last few moments of <em>Cendrillon</em> staged by Anna Theodakis with Midori as La Fée and Ariane as Cenfrillon.</p> <p>Photo credits: Karen E. Reeves</p> Andsnes - Vustin, Janáček, Silvestrov, Beethoven, and Dvořak, 21 November 2022 https://boulezian.blogspot.com/2022/11/andsnes-vustin-janacek-silvestrov.html Boulezian urn:uuid:ac9dcb7f-4bc8-9d7c-fe4c-0a88a7e91ec1 Thu, 24 Nov 2022 12:00:23 +0000 <br />Wigmore Hall<br /><br /><b>Aleksandr Vustin:</b> <i>Lamento </i><br /><b>Janáček: </b>Piano Sonata 1.X.1905, ‘From the Street’ <br /><b>Valentin Silvestrov:</b> <i>Bagatelle</i>, op.1 no.3 <br />Beethoven: Piano Sonata no.31 in A-flat major, op.110 <br /><b>Dvořák:</b> <i>Poetic Tone Pictures</i>, op.85 <br /><br />Leif Ove Andsnes (piano)<div><br /><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">Leif Ove Andsnes’s performances are always very well worth hearing; this programme, mixing the familiar and unfamiliar was no exception. The first half offered short pieces by Russian and Ukrainian composers, either side of Janáček’s tribute to </span><span style="background: white; color: #202122; font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial;">František Pavlík</span>, a worker<span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;"> killed demonstrating for a Czech university in Brno, followed by Beethoven’s penultimate sonata: however one considers it, and however clichéd this may sound, a sublime song from and to the human spirit and what it might yet achieve.</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;">Aleksandr Vustin, invited by Andsnes in 2019 to his Rosendal Chamber Festival, in what was only Vustin’s second journey outside Russia, died the following year, an early victim of the coronavirus pandemic. His <i>Lamento</i>, itself inspired by the funeral of a friend and its sounds, is tonal, yet moves in often surprising ways. Opening two-part left-hand writing soon has a right-hand melody soar above—a recollection, I learned later, of a bird that began to sing at the funeral and would not stop. It made for an interesting prelude to Janáček’s Sonata 1.X.1905, ‘From the Street’, its first movement in Andsnes’s performance both precise and suggestive: like work and composer, one might say. Proudly turbulent in its post-Romanticism, passages of its music seemed almost to acquire proto-filmic character, perhaps in slow motion, in remembrance. The composer’s profound national pride sang forth still more directly in the second movement, the stubbornness of his writing, not least in sheer persistence of figures, transmuted once more into a declaration of spirit, made with a fine sense of musical drama.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">One of Valentin Silvestrov’s <i>Bagatelles</i>offered cool contrast, behaving (at least I fancied) not entirely unlike Vustin’s piece. The quiet dignity of Andsnes’s performance again made for an interesting prelude to a sonata, this time Beethoven’s in A-flat major, op.110. Its first movement sang with a simplicity both fragile and strong. Welcome, one might say, to late Beethoven. Fractures were often only implied; this was not the most modernist of accounts, nor was there any reason it should be. Yet implied they were. The turn to the minor was communicated with ineffable sadness, yet never mawkishness. Again, this was Beethoven. The scherzo’s gruff humour did not attempt to conceal the difficulties of the trio. The overriding impression was of shocking concision. Mournful dignity characterised Beethoven’s ‘Klagender Gesang’ in the finale, the fugue first offering release <i>and</i>intensification, its voicing to die for: beautiful, no doubt, yet above all truthful. Contrast and complement of material registered and developed throughout, the inverted fugue enabling yet in no sense guaranteeing ultimate triumph. There was, rightly, no easy path.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">The second half was given to Dvořák’s <i>Poetic Tone Pictures</i>, op.85: new, I confess to me, and quite a discovery. Andsnes had explored them during lockdown, welcoming the discovery of ‘life-affirming music of the greatest invention and imagination’. Dvořák can occasionally pale alongside Janáček, but not here. This work emerged as a Schumannesque collection, played with affection, characterisation, and acute understanding. Indeed, the scene-setting of its first piece, ‘Night journey’ immediately brought Schumann to mind: not that it sounded ‘like’ Schumann, but in terms of the role it played in introduction, and its vein of fantasy. Andsnes’s communication of the charm and Romantic snares of this night was finely judged indeed. A wonderful procession of characters, scenes, sketches in a strong sense ensued: not unlike a good novel, or perhaps better, a collection of short stories. ‘At the old castle’ haunted. A vigorous ‘Furiant’ put Andsnes’s fingers duly through their paces. Dances of all kinds, goblins and all, invited us in—not always without danger. Exuberance and introspection informed one another across more elevated canvases and earthier songs. Andsnes’s <i>cantabile</i> in the ‘Serenade’ was just the thing, as was his Lisztian grandiloquence in ‘At a hero’s grave’. Fascinating—and nourishing.</span></p></div> Persian Melodies – not really a review https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/23/persian-melodies-not-really-a-review/ operaramblings urn:uuid:854db6c3-f4ce-10d7-8a28-6c2a60deb1d9 Wed, 23 Nov 2022 20:31:30 +0000 I&#8217;ve been enjoying some of the fusions of classical Western and Persian music created by people like Afarin Mansouri so I took advantage of a free concert at the Four Seasons Centre to take in some actual Persian classical music.  &#8230; <a href="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/23/persian-melodies-not-really-a-review/">Continue reading <span class="meta-nav">&#8594;</span></a> <p>I&#8217;ve been enjoying some of the fusions of classical Western and Persian music created by people like Afarin Mansouri so I took advantage of a free concert at the Four Seasons Centre to take in some actual Persian classical music.  It was a mixed bag of traditional, composed and improvised music and included both songs and instrumentals.  It was interesting and enjoyable.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="32798" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/23/persian-melodies-not-really-a-review/dsc07620/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07620.jpg" data-orig-size="5304,7952" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;2.8&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;ILCE-7RM3&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1669094821&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;30&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;125&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.004&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;}" data-image-title="DSC07620" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07620.jpg?w=200" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07620.jpg?w=584" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-32798" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07620.jpg?w=584" alt="DSC07620" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07620.jpg?w=584 584w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07620.jpg?w=1168 1168w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07620.jpg?w=100 100w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07620.jpg?w=200 200w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07620.jpg?w=768 768w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07620.jpg?w=683 683w" sizes="(max-width: 584px) 100vw, 584px" /></p> <p><span id="more-32790"></span>There were three musicians, all relatively recent newcomers to Canada and largely trained in Iran.  Padideh Ahrarnejad played the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tar_(string_instrument)">tar</a>; which is a plucked string instrument somewhat like a lute.  Academic and musician Ali Massoudi accompanied on <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tombak">tombak</a> which is a drum played with the fingers and capable of a rather remarkable range of sounds.  The vocal numbers were sung by Mahnaz Raad.</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="32799" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/23/persian-melodies-not-really-a-review/dsc07625/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07625.jpg" data-orig-size="7952,5304" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;2.8&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;ILCE-7RM3&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1669094896&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;200&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;500&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.005&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;}" data-image-title="DSC07625" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07625.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07625.jpg?w=584" class="size-full wp-image-32799 aligncenter" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07625.jpg?w=584" alt="DSC07625" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07625.jpg?w=584 584w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07625.jpg?w=1168 1168w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07625.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07625.jpg?w=300 300w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07625.jpg?w=768 768w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07625.jpg?w=1024 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 584px) 100vw, 584px" /></p> <p>I am, of course, no expert on this music.  To be honest I can&#8217;t even tell whether the songs were sung in classical Persian or Farsi (I suspect some of each).  I do though have a bit of a background in the traditional folk music of Great Britain and t seems to me that there are parallels especially in the vocals.  The voice is not &#8220;supported&#8221; and seems to be quite free in how it can play with pitch and rhythm.  The tar too is not limited to strict semi-tone intervals with some use of quarter tones.  There&#8217;s kind of a weird sonic consonance between the sung language (or at least one of them) with Scots Gaelic.  Any readers fluent in both Classical Persian and Gaelic please feel free to comment!</p> <p><img data-attachment-id="32797" data-permalink="https://operaramblings.blog/2022/11/23/persian-melodies-not-really-a-review/dsc07604/" data-orig-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07604.jpg" data-orig-size="5304,7952" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;2.8&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;ILCE-7RM3&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;1669093774&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;focal_length&quot;:&quot;200&quot;,&quot;iso&quot;:&quot;200&quot;,&quot;shutter_speed&quot;:&quot;0.005&quot;,&quot;title&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;orientation&quot;:&quot;0&quot;}" data-image-title="DSC07604" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="" data-medium-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07604.jpg?w=200" data-large-file="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07604.jpg?w=584" class="size-full wp-image-32797 aligncenter" src="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07604.jpg?w=584" alt="DSC07604" srcset="https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07604.jpg?w=584 584w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07604.jpg?w=1168 1168w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07604.jpg?w=100 100w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07604.jpg?w=200 200w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07604.jpg?w=768 768w, https://operaramblings.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/dsc07604.jpg?w=683 683w" sizes="(max-width: 584px) 100vw, 584px" /></p> <p>There wasn&#8217;t much in the way of introduction and though a set list was provided most of the time several numbers were run together so it was really hard to figure out where one was in the programme so I can&#8217;t really comment on individual pieces.</p> <p>All that said, and much not said, I think  that I came away with some kind of feel for the sound world of this music and for the considerable skills of the performers.  I would be more than willing to listen to more.</p> <p>Photo Credit: Karen E. Reeves</p> Unhappy ‘Hours’ https://parterre.com/2022/11/23/unhappy-hours/ parterre box urn:uuid:7b81c66d-f959-dcb5-5704-0a15b99f64f7 Wed, 23 Nov 2022 17:16:25 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/23/unhappy-hours/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>I rarely glance at my watch during an opera, but last night at the Met I did—several times—as <em>The Hours </em>seemed to be going on for hours and hours and…</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86744" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />A while back when I first heard that the Met had commissioned an opera based on <em>The Hours,</em> I was surprised<em>. </em>In the early 1990s I began bearing about <strong>Michael Cunningham</strong>, but I hadn’t read anything of his until I picked up <em>Flesh and Blood, </em>I raced through the gay potboiler unimpressed and soon after met him and his partner at a small dinner party.</p> <p>Soon after, he was being talked about by everyone, thanks to <em>The Hours. </em>I checked the novel out of the library and remember disliking the Virginia Woolf sections but they worked well enough with the other two threads. I never understood though what all the fuss (Pulitzer Prize, PEN/Faulkner Award) was about.</p> <p>My <strong>Meryl Streep</strong> allergy persuaded me to skip the 2002 <strong>Stephen Daldry</strong> film although I love <strong>Julianne Moore</strong> and respect <strong>Nicole Kidman</strong>. I finally watched it on DVD 10 days ago, and my confusion about <em>The Hours </em>becoming an opera increased, especially as it is explicitly based on both the novel and the film.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86745" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-1.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-1.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-1-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-1-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>I recalled that the book worked rather well as it featured a compelling thematic link between its three threads: Virginia Woolf struggles with the composition of her novel <em>Mrs. Dalloway </em>as intimations of her later suicide invade her world; Laura Brown reads <em>Mrs. Dalloway </em>while struggling with her dissatisfaction as a housewife and mother and briefly considers suicide: Clarissa Vaughan mirrors Woolf’s Mrs. (Clarissa) Dalloway by planning a party, one to celebrate her friend Richard’s literary prize though he, ill with AIDS, kills himself before the party.</p> <p>The film failed to effectively weave together the novel’s trio of threads of interiority about suicide and secondarily literary creation. I wondered if an opera would stand a better chance at achieving that?  Based on Tuesday’s breathlessly awaited, star-diva-encrusted stage premiere of <strong>Kevin Puts</strong> and <strong>Greg Pierc</strong>e’s <em>The Hours, </em>its creators didn’t pull it off either.</p> <p>During its over three-hour running time, I often thought that <em>The Hours </em>might have worked much better as a smaller one that focused more intently on the three women and how their stories intersected. The Met’s commission clearly pushed Puts and Pierce to create an opera with 20 singing roles and a large anonymous chorus.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-large wp-image-86746" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-2-720x405.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-2-720x405.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-2-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-2-768x432.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-2-1536x864.jpg 1536w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-2-210x118.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-2.jpg 1925w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>In expanding an intimate book into something BIG AND IMPORTANT, their work ended up feeling both dishonest (for example, its egregiously sentimental let’s-all-hold-hands final trio which admittedly was quite beautiful) and bloated.</p> <p>The biggest problem with both the film and the opera is Clarissa, their very dull protagonist. Though both <strong>Kelli O’Hara</strong> and <strong>Joyce DiDonato</strong> are superstars, the Met’s <em>The Hours </em>felt very much like <strong>Renée Fleming</strong>’s opera and Clarissa its most important focus. Unfortunately, her character’s journey, embodied by the returning Fleming at her blankest/blandest, proved utterly uninvolving. Clarissa’s all-consuming codependent relationship with Richard appears to be based on a very brief summer affair more than 30 years earlier.</p> <p>Why a gay woman (shown living with her partner, played by <strong>Denyce Graves</strong>) has remained obsessed with a gay man (whose ex-lover Louis appears briefly, winningly incarnated by <strong>William Burden</strong>) is never made clear. One advance over the film devised by Pierce though was to create a flashback to that magic summer giving Fleming, Burden and <strong>Kyle Ketelsen</strong> as the dying poet an ecstatic trio of reminiscence.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86747" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-3.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-3.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-3-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-3-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>In the second act, Puts’s lovely duets and trios did much to transform the evening. The long first act contains scads of plodding exposition that occasioned most of my watch-consulting. While Puts doesn’t do much to evoke Woolf’s 1920s or Clarissa’s late 1990s, he goes full 1950s Hollywood with Laura’s entrance, a welcome change of pace from Clarissa and Virginia’s dreary monologues which were largely incomprehensible due to Fleming and DiDonato’s cloudy diction.</p> <p>O’Hara, despite her role’s high tessitura, proved a miracle of verbal clarity which did a lot to make her Laura the most moving of the three central characters.</p> <p>DiDonato’s Virginia emerged as a bundle of frustrating contractions. She sought to convey Woolf’s mental illness by odd looks and jerky physical moment, yet she alone injected a bit of humor into the generally grim proceedings. Given that the leading roles were expressly written for the three divas, it was surprising that the mezzo so often sounded strained with many high notes veering very sharp. That said, DiDonato exceled in her duets with O’Hara, particularly in the ravishing sequence with female chorus that opens the second act.</p> <p>https://</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRu4KaOAFxk">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRu4KaOAFxk</a></p> <p>On the other hand, nearly-64-years-old-but-still-in-pretty-good-voice Fleming, once she warmed up, shone in writing that sounded exactly what you’d expect for music written for nearly-64-years-old-but-still-in-pretty-good-voice Fleming. Not that it wasn’t sometimes challenging as there were moments that clearly pushed her to her limits including that “summer memories” trio.</p> <p>Given the opera’s extravagantly explicit prima donna provenance, anyone else in the large cast was hard-pressed to make much of a mark, particularly was their roles are so insubstantial. <strong>Brandon Cedel</strong>’s handsome, hearty husband to O’Hara stood out, but the usually forthright <strong>Sean Panikkar</strong> sounded distressingly curdled.</p> <p>That <strong>John Holiday</strong> made any impression at all in his glancing roles as Man Under the Bridge and Hotel Clerk was a testament to his glowing countertenor. <strong>Kathleen Kim</strong> returned, shrill as ever as Barbara the flirty florist and Mrs. Latch. A lushly expressive <strong>Stacy D’Eramo</strong> made much of the underwritten role of Kitty, but her brief reappearance as Vanessa Bell went for nothing.</p> <p>https://</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NOawl9-TQg">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NOawl9-TQg</a></p> <p>The marvelous Ketelsen has been cruelly underused by the Met. While it was good to see him again, Richard’s two brief appearances (with the bass-baritone looking far too healthy) gave him little to work with and the scene leading to his suicide was so poorly directed that both he and Fleming made a regrettably muted impact.</p> <p><strong>Phellem McDermott</strong> may have had his hands full just keeping three cluttered stories on track, however, the revelation that Laura is the dead Richard’s mother was handled especially poorly. The banal production design appeared off-puttingly cheap, despite its likely hefty price tag. <strong>Tom Pye</strong>’s five or six slight rooms occupied just the bottom third of the stage picture, while the rest consisted of flowing white sheers apparently from Target. Choreography by <strong>Annie-B Parson</strong> in her Met debut stood out mostly as completely unnecessary, just another stab at filling up the stage.</p> <p>And what of <strong>Yannick Nézét-Seguin</strong>, just now making his first appearance at the Met a full two months into the season? He successfully kept his large and varied forces together and didn’t drown out his stellar trio of ladies. Otherwise, he didn’t put much of a personal stamp on the score, though he clearly reveled in the lush ensembles that occasionally dot the attenuated score.</p> <p>https://</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaZzsS-THRo">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaZzsS-THRo</a></p> <p>It happens rarely these days, but the Met was filled to capacity last night with a buzzing, snazzy crowd that greeted the new work with both rapt attention and rousing ovations. A very similar audience came for and cheered <strong>Nico Muhly</strong>’s <em>Marnie, </em>which fizzled and sank. I did wonder how a less psyched-up, publicity-blitzed audience—especially one that hasn’t done a lot of homework beforehand—will welcome these long, unsatisfying <em>Hours </em>as they tick by through mid-December and on an HD transmission on December 10.</p> <p>Photos: Evan Zimmerman / Met Opera</p> Marchons, marchons! https://parterre.com/2022/11/23/marchons-marchons/ parterre box urn:uuid:ebc38830-4b79-abac-3e61-9ef351158024 Wed, 23 Nov 2022 14:41:18 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/23/marchons-marchons/"><img width="720" height="246" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/pons-header-720x246.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/pons-header-720x246.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/pons-header-300x103.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/pons-header-768x263.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/pons-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/pons-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>On this day in 1940 the Metropolitan Opera opened its season with <em>La Fille du Régiment</em>, starring <b>Lily Pons</b> and featuring the <em>&#8220;Casablanca&#8221;</em> finale!</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GrkVcdUK1M&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GrkVcdUK1M</a></p> <p>On this day in 1903 tenor<strong> Enrico Caruso</strong> made his Metropolitan Opera debut as the Duke of Mantua.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zzk5YLH4oxo&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zzk5YLH4oxo</a></p> <p>Birthday anniversaries of composers<strong> Manuel de Falla</strong> (1876), <strong>Jerry Bock </strong>(1928) and <strong>Krzysztof Penderecki</strong> (1933); bass <strong>Dezso Ernster</strong> (1898).</p> The Hours https://parterre.com/2022/11/22/the-hours/ parterre box urn:uuid:0f853842-f56f-5b20-eb7e-18b0995f28f4 Tue, 22 Nov 2022 22:00:58 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/22/the-hours/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-broadcast-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-broadcast-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-broadcast-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-broadcast-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-broadcast-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-broadcast-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>The world premiere of <B>Kevin Puts</b>&#8216; new opera opens at the Met tonight.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86726" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-broadcast-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-broadcast-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-broadcast-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/hours-broadcast-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>Streaming and discussion <a href="https://www.metopera.org/season/radio/free-live-audio-streams/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">begin at 7:55 PM</a>.</p> <p><strong>Photo: Evan Zimmerman / Met Opera</strong></p> Figures of Fate: Ernani at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino https://operatraveller.com/2022/11/22/figures-of-fate-ernani-at-the-maggio-musicale-fiorentino/ operatraveller urn:uuid:d5623b84-f00c-e5ee-2b75-d389c0534311 Tue, 22 Nov 2022 20:44:54 +0000 Verdi – Ernani Ernani – Francesco MeliDon Carlo – Roberto FrontaliDon Ruy Gomez de Silva – Vitalij KowlajowElvira – María José SiriGiovanna – Xenia TziouvarasDon Riccardo – Joseph DahdahJago – Davide Piva Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino / James Conlon.Stage director – Leo Muscato. Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Teatro del Maggio, [&#8230;] <p class="has-text-align-center"><strong>Verdi – <em>Ernani</em></strong></p> <p class="has-text-align-center"><strong>Ernani – Francesco Meli<br>Don Carlo – Roberto Frontali<br>Don Ruy Gomez de Silva – Vitalij Kowlajow<br>Elvira – María José Siri<br>Giovanna – Xenia Tziouvaras<br>Don Riccardo – Joseph Dahdah<br>Jago – Davide Piva</strong></p> <p class="has-text-align-center"><strong>Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino / James Conlon.<br>Stage director – Leo Muscato.</strong><strong></strong></p> <p class="has-text-align-center"><strong>Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Teatro del Maggio, Florence, Italy.&nbsp; Sunday, November 20th, 2022.</strong></p> <p>This new production of <em>Ernani</em> formed the central point of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino’s fall season, dedicated to Verdi.&nbsp; While the theatre of the Maggio is currently being remodelled – to open next month with <em>Don Carlo</em> – the performances of <em>Ernani</em> took place in the Sala Zubin Mehta, part of the handsome complex of the Maggio.&nbsp; The Sala Mehta is a symphonic hall, though still equipped with a pit, which does limit the technical capacities of the production team.&nbsp;</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/315204228_10160220719919035_4710469864212315202_n.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6668" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/315204228_10160220719919035_4710469864212315202_n/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/315204228_10160220719919035_4710469864212315202_n.jpg" data-orig-size="2048,1365" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;MICHELE MONASTA&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;\u00a9 Michele Monasta&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="315204228_10160220719919035_4710469864212315202_n" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Michele Monasta&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/315204228_10160220719919035_4710469864212315202_n.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/315204228_10160220719919035_4710469864212315202_n.jpg?w=723" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/315204228_10160220719919035_4710469864212315202_n.jpg?w=723" alt="" class="wp-image-6668" srcset="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/315204228_10160220719919035_4710469864212315202_n.jpg?w=723 723w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/315204228_10160220719919035_4710469864212315202_n.jpg?w=1446 1446w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/315204228_10160220719919035_4710469864212315202_n.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/315204228_10160220719919035_4710469864212315202_n.jpg?w=300 300w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/315204228_10160220719919035_4710469864212315202_n.jpg?w=768 768w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/315204228_10160220719919035_4710469864212315202_n.jpg?w=1024 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 723px) 100vw, 723px" /></a><figcaption class="wp-element-caption">Photo: © Michele Monasta</figcaption></figure> <p>That said, Leo Muscato and his team have given us an extremely vivid and technically proficient staging, which provided us with an evening that had clearly been conceived as a coherent whole, from start to finish.&nbsp; The sets, by Federica Parolini, consist of a series of wood panel walls that can be pushed around into a number of flexible formations, in order to provide us with differing views on the action.&nbsp; They also contain a number of doors, through which the chorus was able to emerge in simultaneous formation.&nbsp; Throughout the evening, shadowy hooded figures were present.&nbsp; They provided both the ability to manipulate the walls by pushing and pulling them into formation, but also gave us a clue of what was to happen.&nbsp; Indeed, the significance of these figures became apparent as Silva reappeared at the end, Commendatore-like, surrounded by these figures of fate.&nbsp; This was a significant strength of Muscato’s staging in that he gave us a coherent theatrical argument from start to finish.&nbsp;</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314969436_10160220719889035_4565443189664324157_n.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6667" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/314969436_10160220719889035_4565443189664324157_n/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314969436_10160220719889035_4565443189664324157_n.jpg" data-orig-size="2048,1365" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;MICHELE MONASTA&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;\u00a9 Michele Monasta&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="314969436_10160220719889035_4565443189664324157_n" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Michele Monasta&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314969436_10160220719889035_4565443189664324157_n.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314969436_10160220719889035_4565443189664324157_n.jpg?w=723" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314969436_10160220719889035_4565443189664324157_n.jpg?w=723" alt="" class="wp-image-6667" srcset="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314969436_10160220719889035_4565443189664324157_n.jpg?w=723 723w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314969436_10160220719889035_4565443189664324157_n.jpg?w=1446 1446w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314969436_10160220719889035_4565443189664324157_n.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314969436_10160220719889035_4565443189664324157_n.jpg?w=300 300w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314969436_10160220719889035_4565443189664324157_n.jpg?w=768 768w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314969436_10160220719889035_4565443189664324157_n.jpg?w=1024 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 723px) 100vw, 723px" /></a><figcaption class="wp-element-caption">Photo: © Michele Monasta</figcaption></figure> <p>The plot of <em>Ernani</em> can certainly be confusing to first-times, with mortal enemies becoming friends, and then back again.&nbsp; It’s a shame, then, that my neighbours in the row behind me didn’t stop talking throughout the show, disturbing everyone around them, despite the clarity of Muscato’s storytelling.&nbsp; Personenregie did contain a considerable amount of standing and delivering, not inappropriate for a bodice-ripping romp such as this.&nbsp; Yet there was a fluency to Muscato’s direction that worked.&nbsp; The costumes (Silvia Aymonino) initially looked somewhat California gold rush, but later were more traditional nineteenth-century operatic garb.&nbsp; As a result, this was an efficient framework for the action that had clearly been thought through and was well rehearsed.&nbsp;</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314950866_10160220720229035_3790484020304465443_n.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6666" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/314950866_10160220720229035_3790484020304465443_n/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314950866_10160220720229035_3790484020304465443_n.jpg" data-orig-size="2048,1365" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;MICHELE MONASTA&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;\u00a9 Michele Monasta&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="314950866_10160220720229035_3790484020304465443_n" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Michele Monasta&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314950866_10160220720229035_3790484020304465443_n.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314950866_10160220720229035_3790484020304465443_n.jpg?w=723" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314950866_10160220720229035_3790484020304465443_n.jpg?w=723" alt="" class="wp-image-6666" srcset="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314950866_10160220720229035_3790484020304465443_n.jpg?w=723 723w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314950866_10160220720229035_3790484020304465443_n.jpg?w=1446 1446w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314950866_10160220720229035_3790484020304465443_n.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314950866_10160220720229035_3790484020304465443_n.jpg?w=300 300w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314950866_10160220720229035_3790484020304465443_n.jpg?w=768 768w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314950866_10160220720229035_3790484020304465443_n.jpg?w=1024 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 723px) 100vw, 723px" /></a><figcaption class="wp-element-caption">Photo: © Michele Monasta</figcaption></figure> <p>Musically, this evening reflected the excellent standards one has come to expect from this house.&nbsp; The performance was led by James Conlon, one of the most experienced operatic conductors around, and that experience was evident in his superb support of the singers and the flexible elasticity he brought to his tempi.&nbsp; The cast also added some attractive embellishments to the line as we progressed through the evening.&nbsp; Conlon’s tempi were founded on that ideal combination of rhythmic propulsion embedded under long, flowing lines.&nbsp; In the terrifically immediate acoustic of the Sala Mehta, the effect was visceral, overtaking the senses and pulling the listener in – which is why I was so exasperated with the chatty neighbours.&nbsp; The Maggio orchestra was on tremendous form – the quality of the playing outstanding, absolutely unanimous in sharp attack.&nbsp; The same goes for the Maggio chorus, prepared by Lorenzo Fratini.&nbsp; The tenors and basses sang with irresistible lustiness, the energy the communicated was utterly contagious – I was quite tempted to join in with their opening drinking chorus.&nbsp; It’s a bit of a shame they didn’t encore ‘Si ridesti il Leon di Castiglia’, though, I’d have gladly listened to it a few times over.&nbsp; The sopranos, mezzos and contraltos, also sang with warm tone and good blend.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314800097_10160220720469035_1543591301316582174_n.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6665" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/314800097_10160220720469035_1543591301316582174_n/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314800097_10160220720469035_1543591301316582174_n.jpg" data-orig-size="2048,1365" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;MICHELE MONASTA&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;\u00a9 Michele Monasta&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="314800097_10160220720469035_1543591301316582174_n" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Michele Monasta&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314800097_10160220720469035_1543591301316582174_n.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314800097_10160220720469035_1543591301316582174_n.jpg?w=723" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314800097_10160220720469035_1543591301316582174_n.jpg?w=723" alt="" class="wp-image-6665" srcset="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314800097_10160220720469035_1543591301316582174_n.jpg?w=723 723w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314800097_10160220720469035_1543591301316582174_n.jpg?w=1446 1446w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314800097_10160220720469035_1543591301316582174_n.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314800097_10160220720469035_1543591301316582174_n.jpg?w=300 300w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314800097_10160220720469035_1543591301316582174_n.jpg?w=768 768w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314800097_10160220720469035_1543591301316582174_n.jpg?w=1024 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 723px) 100vw, 723px" /></a><figcaption class="wp-element-caption">Photo: © Michele Monasta</figcaption></figure> <p>The cast of principals looked extremely promising on paper.&nbsp; This was my second time hearing Francesco Meli in the title role, having heard him at the Scala a few years ago.&nbsp; When I saw Meli in <em>Ballo</em> a few months ago, also at the Scala, it struck me that his tone was a lot more solid than on the previous occasions that I had heard him.&nbsp; Overall, today I had a more positive impression of his singing than previously, reinforcing what I heard back in May this year.&nbsp; Meli did take a little while to warm up, however.&nbsp; Initially the vibrations were rather loose and he ducked out of a few unwritten acuti one might have expected him to go for.&nbsp; As the evening progressed, however, he rallied and sang with much more security and firmness of tone, combined with admirable clarity of diction.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314627590_10160220720599035_4720700554127478389_n.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6664" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/314627590_10160220720599035_4720700554127478389_n/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314627590_10160220720599035_4720700554127478389_n.jpg" data-orig-size="2048,1153" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;MICHELE MONASTA&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;\u00a9 Michele Monasta&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="314627590_10160220720599035_4720700554127478389_n" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Michele Monasta&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314627590_10160220720599035_4720700554127478389_n.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314627590_10160220720599035_4720700554127478389_n.jpg?w=723" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314627590_10160220720599035_4720700554127478389_n.jpg?w=723" alt="" class="wp-image-6664" srcset="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314627590_10160220720599035_4720700554127478389_n.jpg?w=723 723w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314627590_10160220720599035_4720700554127478389_n.jpg?w=1446 1446w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314627590_10160220720599035_4720700554127478389_n.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314627590_10160220720599035_4720700554127478389_n.jpg?w=300 300w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314627590_10160220720599035_4720700554127478389_n.jpg?w=768 768w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314627590_10160220720599035_4720700554127478389_n.jpg?w=1024 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 723px) 100vw, 723px" /></a><figcaption class="wp-element-caption">Photo: © Michele Monasta</figcaption></figure> <p>María José Siri was making her role debut as Elvira with this run.&nbsp; Hers is a soprano of plush velvet, somewhat soft-grained, but well-schooled and with an admirable technique.&nbsp; Indeed, she get to really show off her technique in her opening <em>scena</em>, dispatching the intricacies of ‘Tutto sprezzo che d’Ernani’ with studied ease, relishing in the florid sequences, if perhaps without a genuine trill.&nbsp; She capped the ensembles with uninhibited generosity, blazing out over the choral and orchestral forces.&nbsp; Siri also had recourse to a full and juicy chestiness, but there was rather an obtrusive break as she passed through the registers.&nbsp; Still, with her dignified stage presence and generosity of vocalism, there was much to enjoy here.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314505056_10160220719709035_3620426552326705510_n.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6663" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/314505056_10160220719709035_3620426552326705510_n/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314505056_10160220719709035_3620426552326705510_n.jpg" data-orig-size="2048,1365" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;MICHELE MONASTA&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;\u00a9 Michele Monasta&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="314505056_10160220719709035_3620426552326705510_n" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Michele Monasta&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314505056_10160220719709035_3620426552326705510_n.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314505056_10160220719709035_3620426552326705510_n.jpg?w=723" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314505056_10160220719709035_3620426552326705510_n.jpg?w=723" alt="" class="wp-image-6663" srcset="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314505056_10160220719709035_3620426552326705510_n.jpg?w=723 723w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314505056_10160220719709035_3620426552326705510_n.jpg?w=1446 1446w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314505056_10160220719709035_3620426552326705510_n.jpg?w=150 150w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314505056_10160220719709035_3620426552326705510_n.jpg?w=300 300w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314505056_10160220719709035_3620426552326705510_n.jpg?w=768 768w, https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314505056_10160220719709035_3620426552326705510_n.jpg?w=1024 1024w" sizes="(max-width: 723px) 100vw, 723px" /></a><figcaption class="wp-element-caption">Photo: © Michele Monasta</figcaption></figure> <p>Roberto Frontali brought his nobility of line to Don Carlo, giving us a masterclass in long, legato phrasing.&nbsp; He also used the text fully, spitting out ‘Tu se’ Ernani’ with venomous determination as he recognized his opponent.&nbsp; The voice does unfortunately tend to greyness at lower dynamics, but Frontali’s ability to spin those long phrases gave so much pleasure.&nbsp; As indeed did Vitalij Kowaljow as Silva.&nbsp; He was a massive stage presence, his bass endowed with powerful resonance and a warm, complex tone.&nbsp; The voice is huge, filling the house with ease, with tone that is both rich and absolutely solid.&nbsp; In the remainder of the cast, I was particularly impressive by Joseph Dahdah as Don Riccardo.&nbsp; He revealed a very well-schooled tenor, handsome in tone, with an elegant line.&nbsp; Undoubtedly a name to watch.&nbsp;</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314412628_10160220720039035_9067191694693685066_n.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6662" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/314412628_10160220720039035_9067191694693685066_n/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/314412628_10160220720039035_9067191694693685066_n.jpg" data-orig-size="2048,1365" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{&quot;aperture&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;credit&quot;:&quot;MICHELE MONASTA&quot;,&quot;camera&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;caption&quot;:&quot;&quot;,&quot;created_timestamp&quot;:&quot;0&quot;,&quot;copyright&quot;:&quot;\u00a9 Michele Monasta&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="314412628_10160220720039035_9067191694693685066_n" d The beautiful and damned https://parterre.com/2022/11/22/the-beautiful-and-damned/ parterre box urn:uuid:f7e897a4-f372-d599-51b0-2e03a20dddab Tue, 22 Nov 2022 15:42:00 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/22/the-beautiful-and-damned/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/caballe-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/caballe-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/caballe-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/caballe-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/caballe-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/caballe-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>On this day in 1965 <strong>Montserrat Caballé</strong> and <strong>Sherrill Milnes</strong> made their Metropolitan Opera debuts in <em>Faust</em>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNWs2Si1ZSE&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNWs2Si1ZSE</a></p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=wedNJ2Zx6As&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=wedNJ2Zx6As</a></p> <p>Raymond Ericson in <em>The New York Times</em>:</p> <blockquote><p>Gounod&#8217;s &#8220;Faust&#8221; presented already 12 times during the current season of the Metropolitan Opera Company, provided the vehicle for two Met debuts this week-Spanish soprano Monserrat Caballe as Marguerite and American baritone Sherrill Milnes as Valentin.</p> <p>Since Miss Caballe had created a sensation in concert performances of opera here, there was considerable anticipation in the capacity audience as to how she would make out in a full-staged production, and how her voice would sound in a house the size of the Met. There was also speculation that the soprano, who had made her success here in obscure Donizetti operas, might be miscast as Marguerite, although she has a repertory of wide range.</p> <p>As it turned out, it was not an ideal role for her, but when she was at her best on this occasion, singing as superlatively as she had before, there was no doubt that she belonged on the Met&#8217;s stage.</p> <p>Mme. Caballe&#8217;s voice in all its pure loveliness projected beautifully in the auditorium. The exquisite pianissimos, the delicate colorations of phrase, the gleaming high tones were as much a delight to the ear as always.</p> <p>There is more to the soprano&#8217;s singing than just gorgeous sounds. She is a musicianly singer and, instinctively at least, a sincere and tasteful actress, and she combined these qualities in an appealing portrait of Marguerite. She is a plump woman, and her looks were not helped by an unflattering blond wig, but she moved through her role with a becoming simplicity and an honest expression of her emotional awareness of the character she played.</p> <p>The soprano sang the &#8220;King of Thule&#8221; ballad with a haunting tone, but she did not have the technical glitter or animation to do justice to the Jewel Song. Her last high note was pure gold, and the response of her listeners was such that the singer was virtually forced to turn and bow her head to the audience before the demonstration ceased. However, it was after that that she offered some of her most elegant singing, the kind that is most characteristic of her.</p> <p>This was Mme Caballe&#8217;s only appearance with the Met this season, and it is almost unnecessary to express the wish that she will be back next year-and often.</p> <p>(Mme Caballe had already made her American operatic stage debut, singing the top soprano role in &#8220;La Traviata&#8221; for the Dallas Civic Opera Company in November.)</p> <p>Milnes&#8217;s debut had its satisfactions, too. The 29-year-old baritone handled himself with aplomb, although Valentin is not a role that allows much characterization. More to the point was the rich, fresh sound of his voice, which rang out reassuringly in his aria in the Kermesse Scene.</p></blockquote> <p>Born on this day in 1913 composer <strong>Benjamin Britten</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2kdwGS-05A&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2kdwGS-05A</a></p> <p>Happy 60th birthday soprano <strong>Sumi Jo.</strong></p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=08xsZ0vtZyw&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=08xsZ0vtZyw</a></p> <p>On this day premieres of Giacomo Meyerbeer&#8217;s<em> Robert le Diable </em>in Paris (1831) and Pietro Mascagni&#8217;s <em>Iris</em> in Rome (1898).</p> Judith in disguise https://parterre.com/2022/11/22/judith-in-disguise/ parterre box urn:uuid:a3819162-8a42-111b-99f2-e315cc9b70c5 Tue, 22 Nov 2022 15:00:39 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/22/judith-in-disguise/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/judith-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/judith-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/judith-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/judith-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/judith-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/judith-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>No one who followed Trove Thursday will be surprised that Diva November on Chris’s Cache today features<strong> Ann Hallenberg </strong>and <strong>Sandrine Piau</strong>.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86714" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/judith-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/judith-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/judith-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/judith-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />Hallenberg is heard as Giuditta in Mozart’s rarely performed oratorio <em>La Betulia Liberata; </em>Piau in (as far as I know) her only performance as Cleopatra in Handel’s <em>Giulio Cesare.</em></p> <p><em>Betulia Liberata </em>features Mozart’s only prominent role written for a female mezzo-soprano: Giuditta or Judith of “she chopped off Holofernes’s head” fame. The libretto for this <em>azione sacra</em> is by Pietro Metastasio and was set many other times before the young Mozart had at it in 1771.</p> <p>Although I had first heard Hallenberg in Berlin in early 2002, it’s commonly held that her leap into international prominence began in February 2003 when she replaced <strong>Cecilia Bartoli</strong> at short notice in Handel’s <em>Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno </em>at the Zurich Opera. Today’s Mozart performance comes from later that year and might be Hallenberg’s first collaboration with <strong>Christophe Rousset</strong> with whom she’s done many projects, including her famous “Farinelli” tours.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7-pxJKS76Q&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7-pxJKS76Q</a></p> <p>I remain puzzled why PIau never sang Cleopatra beyond this Paris concert performance which followed by several months a stage production in Amsterdam with <strong>René Jacobs</strong> conducting the great Freiburger Barockorchester. Its cast was completely different from Paris, however, except for <strong>Lawrence Zazzo</strong> as Cesare. I don’t know of any other instances of Piau and Jacobs performing together. On the other hand, Ernman, Hämmarström and Dumaux all sang with Jacobs in <em>Cesare </em>at other times.</p> <p>Piau has tended sing the secondary soprano role in several Handel operas: Dalinda rather than Ginevra in <em>Ariodante </em>and Atalanta instead of Romilda in <em>Serse. </em>She continues to perform <em>Alcina</em>’s Morgana though her performance of the title role (available on DVD) with Rousset is quite wonderful.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>Mozart: <em>La Betulia Liberata</em></strong></p> <p>Giuditta: Ann Hallenberg<br /> Amital: Jaël Azzaretti<br /> Cabri/Carmi: Ingela Bohlin<br /> Ozia: John MacVeigh<br /> Achior: João Fernandes</p> <p>Les Talens Lyriques<br /> Conductor: Christophe Rousset</p> <p>Théâtre des Champs-Elysées<br /> 20 November 2003<br /> Broadcast</p> <p><iframe style="border: none;" title="Embed Player" src="https://play.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/25096743/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>Handel: <em>Giulio Cesare</em></strong></p> <p>Cleopatra: Sandrine Piau<br /> Cornelia: Kristina Hämmarström<br /> Sesto: Malena Ernman<br /> Cesare: Lawrence Zazzo<br /> Tolomeo: Christophe Dumaux<br /> Achilla: Nicolas Rivenq<br /> Nireno: Andrew Radley<br /> Curio: Andrew Davis</p> <p>Freiburger Barockorchester<br /> Conductor: René Jacobs</p> <p>Salle Pleyel<br /> 14 June 2008<br /> Broadcast</p> <p><iframe style="border: none;" title="Embed Player" src="https://play.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/25096800/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 works 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>Come back next Tuesday for the final installment of Diva November.</p> <hr /> <div class="iframe-container"> <blockquote class="wp-embedded-content" data-secret="k5LqudjnPY"><p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/15/tragic-carpet-ride/">Tragic carpet ride</a></p></blockquote> <p><iframe class="wp-embedded-content" sandbox="allow-scripts" security="restricted" title="&#8220;Tragic carpet ride&#8221; &#8212; parterre box" src="https://parterre.com/2022/11/15/tragic-carpet-ride/embed/#?secret=k5LqudjnPY" data-secret="k5LqudjnPY" width="600" height="338" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></div> <div class="iframe-container"> <blockquote class="wp-embedded-content" data-secret="TskxDI1zh2"><p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/08/cold-november/">Cold November</a></p></blockquote> <p><iframe class="wp-embedded-content" sandbox="allow-scripts" security="restricted" title="&#8220;Cold November&#8221; &#8212; parterre box" src="https://parterre.com/2022/11/08/cold-november/embed/#?secret=TskxDI1zh2" data-secret="TskxDI1zh2" width="600" height="338" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></div> <div class="iframe-container"> <blockquote class="wp-embedded-content" data-secret="XyIwP07A4M"><p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/01/days-of-the-diva/">Days of the diva</a></p></blockquote> <p><iframe class="wp-embedded-content" sandbox="allow-scripts" security="restricted" title="&#8220;Days of the diva&#8221; &#8212; parterre box" src="https://parterre.com/2022/11/01/days-of-the-diva/embed/#?secret=XyIwP07A4M" data-secret="XyIwP07A4M" width="600" height="338" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></div> <div class="iframe-container"> <blockquote class="wp-embedded-content" data-secret="znuqTG7Mc9"><p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/10/14/this-is-a-gala-day-for-you-2/">This is a gala day for you</a></p></blockquote> <p><iframe class="wp-embedded-content" sandbox="allow-scripts" security="restricted" title="&#8220;This is a gala day for you&#8221; &#8212; parterre box" src="https://parterre.com/2022/10/14/this-is-a-gala-day-for-you-2/embed/#?secret=znuqTG7Mc9" data-secret="znuqTG7Mc9" width="600" height="338" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></div> <div class="iframe-container"> <blockquote class="wp-embedded-content" data-secret="R0kq7jl2hb"><p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/10/01/ocean-thou-mighty-monster/">Ocean, thou mighty monster</a></p></blockquote> <p><iframe class="wp-embedded-content" sandbox="allow-scripts" security="restricted" title="&#8220;Ocean, thou mighty monster&#8221; &#8212; parterre box" src="https://parterre.com/2022/10/01/ocean-thou-mighty-monster/embed/#?secret=R0kq7jl2hb" data-secret="R0kq7jl2hb" width="600" height="338" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> Friend/Daraskaite/Sokolovskis, Cheung - Messiaen, 20 November 2022 https://boulezian.blogspot.com/2022/11/frienddaraskaitesokolovskis-cheung.html Boulezian urn:uuid:e179a084-d214-22b5-2ad1-95b5bc6b3c78 Tue, 22 Nov 2022 14:27:14 +0000 <p><span style="font-family: Georgia, serif;">St John’s Waterloo</span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;"><i>Quatuor pour la fin du temps</i></span></p><br />Anthony Friend (clarinet)<div>Agata Daraskaite (violin)</div><div>Peteris Sokolovskis (cello)</div><div>James Cheung (piano)</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/AVvXsEh7qC65GpkwZiaC4epXIPX1br3zwM6QJ9yXT8PCiFoFowmvIpnZGtOwKi8c4JtNl1fpr37RN_yILl1R6x_M0F7_wA6ft2PufenFISi3KPJrx8Aj9OEj-4ZXGhbCWDB7pEWejqC_Q6EFgRu7WK3tlrubVWFUMUw8RxbVauFYbIBeGOid8Vy6CFd32nyO0w/s6000/Photo%2021-11-2022,%2007%2037%2027%20(1).jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" data-original-height="4000" data-original-width="6000" height="426" src="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEh7qC65GpkwZiaC4epXIPX1br3zwM6QJ9yXT8PCiFoFowmvIpnZGtOwKi8c4JtNl1fpr37RN_yILl1R6x_M0F7_wA6ft2PufenFISi3KPJrx8Aj9OEj-4ZXGhbCWDB7pEWejqC_Q6EFgRu7WK3tlrubVWFUMUw8RxbVauFYbIBeGOid8Vy6CFd32nyO0w/w640-h426/Photo%2021-11-2022,%2007%2037%2027%20(1).jpg" width="640" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Photograph: Matthew Johnson</td></tr></tbody></table><div><br /> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">What a joy to return to a new series of Spotlight Chamber Concerts, itself returning to St John’s Waterloo following <a href="https://stjohnswaterloo.org/about-us/reignite/">refurbishment</a> (and looking like new). Here a single work was on the programme, Messiaen’s <i>Quartet for the End of Time</i>, sounding ever more a classic of the chamber repertoire with every fine performance, of which this was certainly one. A quartet of young musicians, clarinettist Anthony Friend (also presiding impresario of the series as a whole), violinist Agata Daraskaite, cellist Peteris Sokolvskis, and pianist James Cheung offered an eminently musicianly view of Messiaen’s work that, rightly, felt no need to dwell one-sidedly on circumstances of composition, leaving space for all to find their own standpoint. Hope, joy, and the mystery of God can take many forms—and frankly, right now, we should be well advised to take what we can. <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;">The opening ‘Liturgie de cristal’, all four instruments rendering metre and harmony immanenthypnotised, entranced, had one believe. Infinitely flexible within an iron framework, it set the scene wonderfully for what was to follow, whether in affinity or contrast. The coming of the angel who announces the end of time in the following ‘Vocalise’ certainly offered immediate, declamatorily apocalyptic contrast, itself followed by the many faces or melodies of that angel in well-nigh hallucinatory fashion. Their sweetness was both unreal and hyper-real: not unlike the colours of a world created anew after a storm.</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;">The solo clarinet ‘Abîme des oiseaux’, in similar paradox, seemed to stretch time so as both to have all that in our world and, yet, in that of the piece only just enough (fitting, given the end of time itself announced). In Friend’s performance, it emerged, intriguingly, as an heir to the cor anglaise solo, beyond good and evil, in the third act of <i>Tristan und Isolde</i>, a work whose enraptured victims certainly included Messiaen. A shepherd song, yet sweeter, perhaps even stranger, still more mysterious, it was expertly shaped in performance so as not to sound shaped at all. It was spellbinding, but then so was much else, for instance the twin relief and intensification of the ensuing brief ‘Intermède’. Only after did one have pause to think how tricky it is to write for clarinet, violin, cello, and no piano.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">Cheung’s piano returned, of course, for the celebrated ‘Louange à l’Éternité de Jésus’ with cello. Unhurried, never dragging, it always moved, seemingly founded on a sense of harmonic rhythm from which all else grew. It was as intense as it was big-hearted, Sokolovskis’s vibrato generous, yet never excessive. The strange unisons of ‘Danse de la fureur, pour les sept trompettes’ glistened, gleamed, glowed, and occasionally glowered.</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;">Such warm precision was felt again, like the rainbows of which the movement told, in ‘Fouillis d’arcs en-ciel, pour l’Ange qui annonce la fin du temps’. There was darkness too, yet always colourful darkness, the angel’s swords of fire palpably present without need to underline. The final ‘Louange à l’Immortalité de Jésus’ sounded very much a kindred spirit to the earlier ‘Louange’, only this time with violin and piano. Daraskaite’s rich-toned, equally generous playing contributed movingly towards a consolation that came close to passing all understanding.</span></p></div> California to Finish Vote Counting Before Any Other State https://medicine-opera.com/2022/11/california-to-finish-vote-counting-before-any-other-state/ Neil Kurtzman urn:uuid:3aae992c-dddf-2b2c-3313-b4e7b7f7b0ec Tue, 22 Nov 2022 01:59:57 +0000 Wackos of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your minds. California&#8217;s Secretary of Election Returns, Sus Domesticus, declared today that the state would finish counting its votes before any of the other 49 states. Speaking to an audience of preschool students he went on to say &#8220;I effing guarantee it.&#8221; Not only... <p><em>Wackos of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your minds</em>.</p> <p>California&#8217;s Secretary of Election Returns, Sus Domesticus, declared today that the state would finish counting its votes before any of the other 49 states. Speaking to an audience of preschool students he went on to say &#8220;I effing guarantee it.&#8221; Not only would California be first in the nation in vote counting, he further guaranteed that the state&#8217;s vote totals would be in before the polls opened in Florida in 2024.</p> <p>President Biden repeated Domesticus&#8217;s pledge in a statement he made during an interview with <em>15 Minutes</em>. During his 30 second segment he said that he was certain that California would&#8230; The interview ended before he could complete the sentence. The White House later clarified his remarks. An unnamed spokesperson said the President was speaking about the 2024 election while Domesticus was referring to the count of the 2022 election. He further added that Domesticus&#8217;s remarks did not include congressional districts 3, 13, and 23 which might not be counted before the polls close in Florida following the 2028 election.</p> <p>When asked to clarify his remarks, Domesticus said that Florida&#8217;s rapid count of its ballots was an obvious example of election denial, body shaming, and climate change denial as Florida was undeniably warmer than California, but refused to concede the obvious meteorological difference much less agree to a mitigation regime. </p> <p>On hearing Domesticus&#8217;s announcement the Dow Jones Index rose 1440 points. After the White House&#8217;s clarification it fell 1450 points. Rasmussen is taking a poll.</p> <p></p> <p></p> <p></p> <p>Election deniers<br></p> Three dimensions https://parterre.com/2022/11/21/three-dimensions/ parterre box urn:uuid:9b23cd8a-92f7-dbd5-6ff3-f04437110564 Mon, 21 Nov 2022 18:02:24 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/21/three-dimensions/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/con-c-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/con-c-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/con-c-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/con-c-header-768x261.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/con-c-header-210x71.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/con-c-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>Lyric Opera of Chicago&#8217;s <em>Don Carlos</em> was a real feast of good singing and orchestral grandeur.</p> <p><em><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86703" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/don-c-inside-1.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/don-c-inside-1.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/don-c-inside-1-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/don-c-inside-1-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />Don Carlos</em> strikes me as Verdi’s most complex and fascinating work (though until Thursday afternoon I had only seen the Italian version).  I love its fully realized, three-dimensional characters and the seriousness of their dilemmas.</p> <p>The opera also deals with some very deep issues: the clash of the personal versus the political; passion and love versus duty and honor; tyranny versus the longing for freedom, and the conflict between secular law and religious doctrine embodied by the unyielding Grand Inquisitor.  And, above all, the glorious music with nonstop powerful arias and scenes.</p> <p>Lyric Opera of Chicago has assembled a world-class group of singers (and in most cases, actors) to bring the story alive in French.  The delicacy of the French language gives the opera a delicate, romantic quality, less intense than in Italian, but it serves the story very well indeed.</p> <p>The element that doesn’t serve the story is <strong>Robert Jones</strong>’ cold, looming set design, composed of pillars and platforms of grey brick.  The opening Fontainebleau scene and the garden scene make no sense without a hint of greenery or lushness.  The many lines describing the beauty of the forest go for naught.</p> <p>The set works rather well for the monastery scenes, though the only concession to reality is a grey brick black wall that rises for the indoor scene and goes back down for the outdoors.  In addition, the many platform levels serve as an “actor trap,” as we watched several choristers seeming to trip and barely keep themselves from falling.</p> <p>The worst example of this was in the curtain call, as our Elisabetta’s skirt caught on a platform edge and she had to be rescued by the Grand Inquisitor!  Happily, we had very good, moody lighting from original designer <strong>Joachim Klein</strong> and revival designer <strong>Jan Hartmann</strong>.  <strong>Brigitte Reiffenstuel</strong>’s costumes are stylish and appropriate, especially those of the women.  Elisabetta’s golden dress in the auto-da-fe scene is a wonder.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-large wp-image-86704" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/don-c-1-720x405.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/don-c-1-720x405.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/don-c-1-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/don-c-1-768x432.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/don-c-1-210x118.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/don-c-1.jpg 900w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>Despite the designs, we had a marvelous afternoon of music-making.  <strong>Enrique Mazzola</strong> led a stunning performance from the Lyric Opera Orchestra, immensely supportive of the singers and bringing Verdi’s moving music vividly to life.</p> <p>Tenor <strong>Joshua Guerrera</strong>, who was so moving as Macduff last season, sang with ardency and real emotional power—his agony over the loss of Elisabetta is deeply felt.  He used his clarion tenor with tonal beauty and incisive phrasing.  His potent acting made the character’s terrible dilemmas seem very real indeed.</p> <p>He was matched with a wonderful performance by soprano <strong>Rachel Willis-Sorenson</strong>, who sang throughout with limpid beauty and delicacy.  Her final aria “Toi qui sus le néant” was a model of varied emotions and vocal colors.  Perhaps the most moving moment came in Act 1, when Elisabetta is told she will be wedded to the King instead of the Carlos she already loves.</p> <p>When asked if she will accept marriage to the King, she took an agonized pause before barely being able to get out a terribly painful “Oui.&#8221; It’s a great moment in an opera full of them. It should also be said that Guerrero and Willis-Sorenson have tremendous chemistry between them, and it crackles with connection whether they are together or apart.</p> <p><strong>Clementine Margaine is</strong> a powerful, fierce Princess Eboli both as a singer and actress.  Her “Veil Song” in the second act was a marvel, going from delicate romance to remarkable moments of sheer volume that garnered a huge ovation.  She was “a woman scorned” in the Garden scene, and is deeply remorseful as she admits her wrongdoing to the Queen.  Her aria “O don fatal”, one of my favorites in all of Verdi, was dispatched beautifully with all its emotional power.</p> <p>Baritone <strong>Igor Golovatenko</strong> made an excellent Lyric debut as Carlos’ friend loyal friend Rodrigue, his potent voice filled with warmth and tonal beauty.  And though his acting skills were rudimentary, he still managed to make the deep friendship connection with Carlos come to life.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86705" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/don-c-2.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/don-c-2.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/don-c-2-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/don-c-2-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>The only disappointment for me was the King Phillipe of Russian bass <strong>Dmitri Belosselskiy</strong>, a singer I have enjoyed in previous seasons.  He seemed vocally a bit bland, and he was failed to give life to the troubled aria “Elle ne m’aime pas” Belosselskiy was unable to fully reflect the King’s deep conflicts in the scene.  It was a perfectly competent performance amid a lot of vivid ones.  <strong>Solomon Howard</strong> was an unusually vicious, rabid Grand Inquisitor.  He was appropriately scary.</p> <p>I found <strong>Denis Velez</strong> rather annoying as a too-cutesy Thibault.  <strong>Peixin Chen</strong> was a fine Monk.</p> <p>Director <strong>David McVicar</strong> and revival director <strong>Axel Weidauer</strong> told the story very well and crafted the production for maximum emotional impact.  There was quite a bit of odd blocking choices, with lots of aimless wandering during some arias, but I suppose it’s tough to block singers appropriately on those grey platforms with multiple levels.  But they succeeded mightily in keeping the action moving so that the opera’s four hours went by without longueurs.</p> <p>I enjoyed very much my first chance to see/hear the opera in French, and it was a real feast of good singing and orchestral grandeur.  I must also mention the splendid work of the Lyric Opera Chorus under <strong>Michael Black</strong>, singing and acting with precision and style.</p> <p>Photos: Todd Rosenberg</p> Better off dead https://parterre.com/2022/11/21/better-off-dead/ parterre box urn:uuid:1c87a784-be0b-8c44-fdaa-e960c85fdb74 Mon, 21 Nov 2022 16:32:27 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/21/better-off-dead/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-header-1-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-header-1-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-header-1-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-header-1-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-header-1-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-header-1.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>I have a horrible confession. I’ve always judged the quality of an opera largely on the number of dead characters at the finale.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86691" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />I don’t know why but there’s something bloodthirsty in me that enjoys the lead up to, and subsequent, murder, suicide, execution, succumbing to illness, of the main character(s) that plays such a large part in the operatic universe. Consequently, while I very much enjoy divertissements like <em>La Traviata</em> and <em>La Boheme </em>(sadly with only one deceased in either) operas like <em>Dialogues of the Carmelites </em>(an entire convent sent to the guillotine or <em>Götterdämmerung</em> (the entire world incinerated) send me into absolute raptures.</p> <p>With nary a surviving principal character at the last act curtain you can only imagine my estimation of Giacomo Puccini’s blood-soaked melodrama <em>Tosca</em>.</p> <p>So it was with something akin to an undertaker’s glee that I approached the Music Center on Saturday night for the revival of LA Opera’s 2013 production now in its third mounting.</p> <p><strong>Bunny Christie</strong>’s set and costumes were much as I remembered them. A large cement box is configured as a church in a state of renovation in the opening, a cluttered warehouse of stolen art in the second act for Baron Scarpia’s lair, and a prison in the third. The costumes, with one very notable exception, were generally plain and while they were theatrical most are far too unassuming to be called operatic.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86692" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-1.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-1.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-1-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-1-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>Director <strong>John Caird</strong>, he of <em>Nicholas Nickleby</em> and <em>Les Miserables</em> fame, returned once again to guide a new set of singers through an overly-fussy staging that too often finds his principles with not enough physical space to carry out the tasks at hand given the amount of music they’ve been allotted to do it in.</p> <p>Certainly a feeling of growing claustrophobia would be welcome in any staging of this opera but with a cramped church, and then an Act II packed to the very rafters with crates and statuary, there’s precious little space left for the actual machinations of the plot to play out. Atmospheric yes; practical not so much.</p> <p>It doesn’t seem like there’s enough space at times for the heightened emotionalism and gesture which Tosca is absolutely begging for. The upside is that it does keep the singers forward and easily projects their voices into the infamously parched acoustic of the auditorium of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.</p> <p>There was drama backstage as well when Ukranian conductor <strong>Oksana Lyniv</strong> sadly had to withdraw from her much anticipated U.S. debut late in the game. Very luckily <strong>Louis Lohraseb</strong>, a recent alumnus of our young artists program, was pressed into service for his mainstage debut. Already with a list of impressive credits for someone so young it was apparent from his entrance into the pit that he’s also a favorite with the orchestra and he proved immediately why.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86693" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-2.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-2.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-2-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-2-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>The LA Opera Orchestra veritably erupted and sparkled under his sure-handed guidance. He made deft work of highlighting Puccini’s kaleidoscopic orchestrations and showed a keen understanding of the works musical architecture as well as providing excellent support for his singers. A very few moments of missed stage to pit synchronization aside it was an impressive achievement.</p> <p>Our cast of singers proved no less adept. Lending the perfect air of totalitarian henchmen to the proceedings were both the Sciarrone of <strong>Zachary James</strong> and <strong>Anthony Leon</strong> as a wary and watchful Spoleta. In spite of his commanding height Mr. James managed to skulk magnificently in the background of his scenes moving forward for extra intimidation as needed. Mr. Leon’s sharp tenor was especially welcome in his cynical asides during the Act II interrogation.</p> <p>I enjoyed <strong>Ryan McKinny</strong> from his imposing Count Almaviva here in the 2015 revival of <em>Le nozze di Figaro</em> where he was adroit at playing menace with a smile. His first Scarpia proved a little paradoxical in spite of the fact that he has all the right equipment for the role. The noble Baron is a daunting task for any bass-baritone.</p> <p>Yet he seemed at times to be singing a tad over his weight class in spite of having a long list of Wagnerian credits on his CV. Sporting an artfully graying beard with mustache he certainly had the aristocratic, if not the authoritarian, air down. I’m certain he’ll find more to the role as the run progresses but for now it’s more a strong outline than a nuanced characterization.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86694" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-3.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-3.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-3-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-3-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>I first reviewed <strong>Michael Fabiano</strong> on these pages when he appeared in my hometown of Santa Monica at the Broad Stage in concert in 2015.  My estimation of his art has only increased since. Yet this was my first opportunity to see him live in a complete opera having missed his LA Opera debut as the Duke of Mantua three years later.</p> <p>From the first his Mario Cavaradossi laid claim to the stage with a beautifully nuanced, &#8220;Recondita armonia.&#8221; Act I features a three-story scaffolding stage right and his positioning on it, well above the stage, only helped bolster his already muscular tenor into the theater bringing the evening’s first prolonged ovation. He was a charming and attentive partner during the duet with his lover Tosca that followed. Meanwhile they gamboled up and down the aforementioned scaffold, singing all the while.</p> <p>The second act found him making some seriously harrowing offstage noises during his interrogation/torture and then unleashing a nuclear-grade A-sharp &#8220;Vittoria!&#8221; at the news of Napoleon’s victory over the Austrians. The last Act showed him to best advantage with a deeply moving &#8220;E luceven le stelle&#8221; that gave him opportunity to brandish a stunning mezza voce on the  ascending phrases.</p> <p>He was gently chiding and sweet in the duet that followed and there was a surprisingly boyish simplicity in his responses to Tosca’s prompting for the planned execution. Considering the average tenor had two speeds; earnest or tragic, it was an uncommonly nuanced portrayal.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86695" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-4.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-4.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-4-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/tosca-4-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>Yet the posters all over the Music Center heralded the much anticipated return of soprano <strong>Angel Blue</strong> to our stage. Literally having just returned from the Richard Tucker Gala at Carnegie Hall last weekend, having won their highest award, then playing opera’s diva ultimo to a hometown audience would test anyone’s nerve. If she had any they certainly weren’t in evidence Saturday night.</p> <p>Her Floria Tosca was nothing less than a triumph and the kind of singing you only dream about hearing in this role. It’s a soft-grained instrument with a sumptuous and easy top that has a delicious core sound. Her attention to detail was well-nigh flawless with all the little nuances and grace notes Puccini wrote into the role. Most especially during the two love duets she was particularly fetching.</p> <p>The amplitude of her lyric-spinto was breathtaking and its pleasures were many. She took the &#8220;Vissi d&#8217;arte&#8221; in the second act at such a stately tempo I started to fear for her breath until she thundered out a glorious penultimate phrase followed by some exquisite shading down for the last line. Gooseflesh.</p> <p>Her characterization was straightforward and sincere with no pretension or guile in evidence. She handled the many parlando passages in the role, a veritable soprano’s litmus test, with imagination and refinement. Balancing on that magic tightrope of melodrama with nothing overdone or underdone.</p> <p>Part of this tricky staging also involves a more complicated than usual finale for our soprano which she brought off with aplomb. She also gets to wear one of the all-time great <em>Tosca </em>gowns designed in pearl gray and liberally tricked out with so many sparkles you’d think it came with batteries.</p> <p>Musically it was a thrilling evening and to hear<em> Tosca</em> so opulently sung is a great treat that shouldn’t be missed. F<a href="https://www.laopera.org/performances/202223-season/tosca/?gclsrc=aw.ds&amp;gclsrc=aw.ds&amp;gclid=Cj0KCQiA4OybBhCzARIsAIcfn9mdFlj5zJFOGEcNDU9yWPX_4RiWmbyngBpkSOso3XUr-aPmFymwrOIaAtuOEALw_wcB">ive performances remain through the 10 December</a> and even I may return for a second visit.</p> <p><strong>Photos: Cory Weaver / LA Opera</strong></p> Everything old is new again https://parterre.com/2022/11/21/everything-old-is-new-again/ parterre box urn:uuid:4323fef9-e852-97fa-e0fd-696dccf48e38 Mon, 21 Nov 2022 16:02:27 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/21/everything-old-is-new-again/"><img width="720" height="246" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/figaro-header-720x246.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/figaro-header-720x246.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/figaro-header-300x103.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/figaro-header-768x263.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/figaro-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/figaro-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>All things were, indeed, made new again, when Boston’s venerable Handel &amp; Haydn Society brought Mozart’s <em>Le nozze di Figaro</em> to the stage, their first time doing so in its entirety, as their 2,576th concert on Thursday.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86687" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/figaro-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/figaro-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/figaro-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/figaro-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />Yet the novelties of the evening did not stop there; under <strong>Raphaël Pinchon</strong>, Mozart’s familiar score rang out as new, as fresh, and as lithe as one could never hope to hear it.</p> <p>Pichon’s take is concise but pensive, detailed but unsentimental. From the breakneck impetus of the overture, the high strings glowed with a colorful ebullience, the reeds were rich and plangent, and brass shone through with muscle and refinement. But the pallet was deployed in good measure with subtle, unexpected uses of rubato highlighting multipart orchestrations undergirding the vocal lines.</p> <p>Even the secco recitatives felt new and exciting, played as they were on fortepiano with <strong>Ronan Khalil</strong>’s light touch. With clean, almost surgical incisions into the score, Pinchon’s happy vivisection of <em>Figaro</em> yielded a performance uncommonly alert and unusually alive.</p> <p>This was aided and abetted by <strong>James Darrah</strong>’s lucid direction. While most may know him for more avant-garde interventions, this period-dress semi-staging unwrapped Mozart and DaPonte’s intricate farse with more ease, clarity, and depth of characterization than many out-and-out productions do.</p> <p>Ease, clarity, and depth of characterization could just as easily describe <strong>Ying Fang</strong>’s Susanna. Her silky soprano has taken on an even greater richness since I last heard her in 2017 and its sweetness and ease spans her entire range. She’s also a spunky actress and her take on the role was as smart as it was domineering.</p> <p>The Figaro of Polish bass <strong>Krzysztof Bazyk</strong> was congenial and technically strong, with arrestingly solid breath control, but he was more “basso” than “cantante” and his conventional Slavic timbre, with its taut sound and even, icy resonances, only occasionally gave way to a more supple baritone range. His is a more mature voice than Figaro calls for, though his high-spirited acting offered a helpful balance.</p> <p>If <strong>Cody Quattlebaum</strong> sought a similar balance, it proved more elusive. In certain moments, his take on the predatory Count Almaviva was truly swoon-inducing with its pianissimo sweetness. But more often, the role was semi-declaimed with a particularly roughshod fervor that sounded out-of-place (and, eventually, tiresome) in an otherwise meticulously measured performance.</p> <p>As the Contessa, <strong>Jacquelyn Stucker</strong> presents a unique case; she has a sumptuous voice with low notes that seem to bob up from nowhere, and she’s a potent actress with a regal bearing and expressive eyes. But whether from nerves or a lack of authority with the material, her interpretative fingerprint is faint.</p> <p>Occasionally, though, her capacities coalesced to form something truly showstopping: “Dove sono,” held aloft by the orchestra’s feather-light support and accented with tasteful ornaments, was an especially delicate moment.</p> <p>Mezzo <strong>Paula Murrihy</strong> put her grainy, high-set mezzo to use as Cherubino with a vigorous “Non so più” that settled into a touching (and musically suggestive) conclusion. <strong>Scott Conner</strong> delivered laughs as Bartolo and Antonio, <strong>Maya Kherani</strong> was an unusually plaintive Barbarina, and <strong>Mary Ann McCormick</strong> was a patchy Marcellina.</p> <p><strong>Zachary Wilder</strong>, fey and fabulous, did the bulk of the comic heavy lifting as Don Basilio &amp; Curzio. And it was a particular treat to hear Basilio’s often-cut aria, especially when performed with such precision and zeal as it was on Thursday.</p> <p>It’s a rare and wonderful gift to feel like you are hearing a familiar score for the first time; Pinchon’s palpable leadership of the soloists and orchestra, as well as a crisp and exacting <strong>Handel and Haydn Society Chorus</strong>, offered just that. With just one week before Thanksgiving, this performance was something to truly be grateful for.</p> For the first time https://parterre.com/2022/11/21/for-the-first-time/ parterre box urn:uuid:3bbd1728-580c-7371-81a4-5b35f792ceee Mon, 21 Nov 2022 14:22:52 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/21/for-the-first-time/"><img width="720" height="244" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/walkure-header-1-720x244.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/walkure-header-1-720x244.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/walkure-header-1-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/walkure-header-1-768x260.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/walkure-header-1-210x71.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/walkure-header-1.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>On this day in 1967 <b> Herbert von Karajan</b> bowed at the Metropolitan Opera in a new production of<em> Die Walküre </em>which he directed and conducted.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnEoAIxMB3w&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnEoAIxMB3w</a></p> <p>Conrad L. Osborne in the London <em>Times</em> (reviewing the performance of December 2):</p> <blockquote><p>I wonder if there has been in our time a lesson in cultural politicking like that taught by the von Karajan Ring Cycle. Here is a production created in two major centers, one an important spring festival, the other an international opera house, the joint nature of the enterprise being used as amortization against what would otherwise be prohibitive costs in time and money. And here is direct and indirect financial support being drawn from the contemporary equivalence of the bygone patrons of art: the other, wealthier entertainment media (television, films and a record company, on the German side) and a huge corporation of expansive outlook (Eastern Airlines, underwriter on the American side to the tune of $500,000). Pre-requisite: a man who combines artistic stature with a feel for power.</p> <p>The first section of the cycle to be placed on view at the Met is &#8220;Die Walküre.&#8221; There has been a fair amount of grousing about it, and I have my reservations, too. But it is incomparably the best Wagner to have been seen and heard at the Met in many years.</p> <p>To begin (and end, too. I suppose), this is Wagner in the hands of a brilliant, imaginative conductor. It is true, that this conductor&#8217;s concept is a subject of legitimate controversy, but it is still the thought-out product of a superior musical mind. As it happens, I sympathize with Karajan&#8217;s approach; I found this the most cohesive and beautiful reading of &#8220;Die Walküre&#8221; in my experience. Most of the complaints center around the first act, but Acts 2 and 3 are proportioned logically in relation to it; it is simply that the scoring of the first act is far lighter and more lyrical than that of the succeeding acts, due to the obvious differences in the nature of the dramatic materials.</p> <p>After looking through and listening to the comments that followed the first night, I was prepared for an understated reading but found simply a scaled reading, one that kept magnificent balance between pit and stage; that maintained sensible proportion so that climaxes were climaxes, and not just the louder following the loud, and that exuded a subtle but unmistakable tension that drew one into the drama and &#8220;forced&#8221; one to listen. And that is what happened; for once, a Met audience shut up and paid attention, intent on the progress of the narrative and on the lovely things that were happening in the pit.</p> <p>Karajan has the wonderful gift of projecting this music in such a way that it seems to happening for the first time (the very rare and precious quality striven for by serious actors and singers), so that though one knows perfectly well what is coming next, one nevertheless leans forward in anticipation to hear it unfold. My own few moments of impatience had nothing to do with the level of volume, which I found entirely satisfying, but with the impulse of the tempo at two or three climatic moments, where both I and the singers longed for a slight quickening which Karajan was not about to grant us.</p> <p>Acts 2 and 3 were simply stupendous &#8211; extraordinary colour and balance and rhythmic rightness, and a delicious quality that I can only call &#8220;wholeness&#8221; in the sound, so that the clarity was achieved without vivisection of the score. It remains to be said that the difference between the playing secured from the orchestra under Karajan and that secured on an average good Metropolitan evening is downright embarrassing; on the occasion I heard &#8220;Die Walküre&#8221; the brass tired in the third act but even the occasional resulting burbles would hardly detract from the gorgeous overall impression. I guess that some hearers are bothered by the fact that the singers are so consistently audible. We heard every word, every note, we followed the singers and went with them. In other words, Karajan is doing what used to be considered the essential task of any competent operatic conductor: accompanying.</p> <p>As a director, Karajan is on shakier ground. But again, I&#8217;m afraid I feel that the thing everyone is complaining about is being done rather well, while the things that are really being fluffed have stirred no notice. For some reason, everyone is suddenly concerned about lighting. Folk who make no murmur season in, season out at light plots which apparently consist of throwing a master switch profess acute discomfort over the dimness of the stage picture. Nonsense. This &#8220;Walküre&#8221; is intelligently and poetically lit. It is prevailing dark because it is supposed to be prevailingly dark. The essential mood of each scene is sensitively set, the transitions are steady and well matched to the score, and the principals are lit in a manner that is understated and subtle, but entirely clear and distinct. The lighting scheme allows for the necessary forming and reforming of Günther Schneider-Siemensen&#8217;s set, and lets it happen in a natural, albeit eminently theatrical way.</p> <p>The real problems relate to the behavior of the principals. There is almost never anything specific enough to illuminate the relationships of the characters or to humanize their motives; nearly all the blocking is unimaginative, and some of it (in Act 1 particularly) is almost amateurish. When a character stands or sits or makes a cross, there must be a reason, and the reason most be organic not only to the Meaning of the Drama (?), but to the character himself. It&#8217;s not happening.</p> <p>Schneider-Siemssen&#8217;s sets are built around a ring unit. It has some obvious advantages and is being used here in a flexible and logical way. I do not see how a sensible judgment can be made until we have it in the context of the whole cycle. The projections include some striking effects, and the fire business is tolerably well done &#8211; gone forever, I assume, is the backroom-of-the-laundry effect we used to get with all that hissing steam.</p></blockquote> <p>Birthday anniversaries of writer and philosopher<strong> Francois-Marie Arouet</strong> (better known as Voltaire) (1694)<br /> and conductor <strong>James dePriest</strong> (1936)</p> <p>On this day in 1901 <strong>Richard Strauss</strong>&#8216; <em>Feuersnot</em> premiered in Dresden.</p> <p>Happy 80th birthday mezzo-soprano <strong>Julia Hamari</strong>.</p> <p>Happy 76th birthday soprano <strong>Anne-Marie Rodde</strong>.</p> Two by two https://parterre.com/2022/11/20/two-by-two-3/ parterre box urn:uuid:5f9f2ca0-6609-d056-89f8-b5f956bde133 Sun, 20 Nov 2022 13:00:55 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/20/two-by-two-3/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/della-casa-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/della-casa-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/della-casa-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/della-casa-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/della-casa-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/della-casa.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>On this day in 1953 the Metropolitan Opera presented a performance of <em>Le nozze di Figaro</em> featuring the debuts of <strong>Irmgard Seefried </strong>and <strong>Lisa Della Casa</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTl6GtsZ9yM&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTl6GtsZ9yM</a></p> <p>Virgil Thomson in the <em>Herald Tribune</em>:</p> <blockquote><p>Lisa della Casa, a Swiss soprano of good European repute, made her first appearance last night With the Metropolitan Opera Company as the Countess, in Mozart&#8217;s &#8220;Marriage of Figaro.&#8221; Her voice, velvety and vibrant, is one of great natural beauty. She seems to be well schooled too, for she sang on pitch and she made no ugly sounds. All the same, both her arias, the &#8220;Porgi amor&#8221; and the &#8220;Dove sono,&#8221; were a touch disappointing for lack of a grand line. Note by note they were lovely, but the notes did not assemble. There was plenty of breath (and the &#8220;Dove sono&#8221; takes it), but one was aware of breathing problems. Miss della Casa seems to be a great find. One does hope that she will get her confidence quickly, for if she does not she will lose her audience. And that would be a pity for an artist with qualities so superior.</p> <p>Irmgard Seefried, a German soprano well known in this country, made her Metropolitan debut at the same time, as Susanna. Vocal security and stage assurance were hers in abundance. The voice is pretty too, though less fresh than Miss della Casa&#8217;s. Competence marked her every move and utterance. I wished all evening that I could find her work more interesting than I did.</p></blockquote> <p>On this day in 1907 bass<strong> Fyodor Chaliapin</strong> made his Met debut as Boito&#8217;s <em>Mefistofele</em>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=phGpmZO41Ic&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=phGpmZO41Ic</a></p> <p>On this day in 1808 Beethoven&#8217;s <em>Fidelio</em> premiered in Vienna.</p> <p>Happy 85th birthday tenor <strong>René Kollo</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLRMTD3eY5w&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLRMTD3eY5w</a></p> <p>Happy 74th birthday soprano <strong>Barbara Hendricks</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=50J3M21wVPo&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=50J3M21wVPo</a></p> <p>Happy 72nd birthday tenor<strong> Vinson Cole</strong>.</p> Finding Beauty Within: Lohengrin at the Teatro Comunale Bologna https://operatraveller.com/2022/11/20/finding-beauty-within-lohengrin-at-the-teatro-comunale-bologna/ operatraveller urn:uuid:5eb4e904-b861-4df9-f754-5ebc08362f5b Sun, 20 Nov 2022 11:10:46 +0000 Wagner – Lohengrin Heinrich der Vogler – Albert DohmenLohengrin – Daniel KirchElsa von Brabant – Anna-Louise ColeFriedrich von Telramund – Ólafur SiguardarsonOrtrud – Anna Maria ChiuriDer Heerufer des Königs – Lukas ZemanVier brabantische Edle – Manuel Pietrattelli, Pietro Picone, Simon Schnorr, Victor ShevchenkoVier Edelknaben – Francesca Micarelli, Maria Cristina Bellantuono, Eleonora Filipponi, Alena Sautier Chorus [&#8230;] <p class="has-text-align-center"><strong>Wagner – <em>Lohengrin</em></strong></p> <p class="has-text-align-center"><strong>Heinrich der Vogler – Albert Dohmen<br>Lohengrin – Daniel Kirch<br>Elsa von Brabant – Anna-Louise Cole<br>Friedrich von Telramund – Ólafur Siguardarson<br>Ortrud – Anna Maria Chiuri<br>Der Heerufer des Königs – Lukas Zeman<br>Vier brabantische Edle – Manuel Pietrattelli, Pietro Picone, Simon Schnorr, Victor Shevchenko<br>Vier Edelknaben – Francesca Micarelli, Maria Cristina Bellantuono, Eleonora Filipponi, Alena Sautier</strong></p> <p class="has-text-align-center"><strong>Chorus of the Ukrainian National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre ‘Taras Shevchenko’, Coro del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna / Asher Fisch.<br></strong><strong>Stage director – Luigi de Angelis.</strong></p> <p class="has-text-align-center"><strong>Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Bologna, Italy.&nbsp; Saturday, November 19th, 2022.</strong></p> <p>This new production of <em>Lohengrin</em> at the Teatro Comunale is an anniversary of sorts, given that Wagner’s opera received its first Bolognese, and indeed Italian, performance at this very house 151 years ago this month.&nbsp; As is the custom at the Comunale, the show was double cast with an Italian and international cast, under experienced Wagnerian, Asher Fisch.&nbsp; Furthermore, the house was able to host singers from the Chorus of the Ukrainian National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre ‘Taras Shevchenko’, who had clearly made an exceptionally difficult journey to be here tonight – and for that, they deserve our utmost respect and admiration.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-full"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_d4_1592_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6654" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/tcbo_lohengrin_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_d4_1592_andrea-ranzi/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_d4_1592_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg" data-orig-size="627,418" 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;1668283178&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="TCBO_Lohengrin_Daniel Kirch-Lohengrin_D4_1592_©Andrea-Ranzi" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Andrea Ranzi&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_d4_1592_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_d4_1592_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg?w=627" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_d4_1592_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-6654" /></a><figcaption class="wp-element-caption">Photo: © Andrea Ranzi</figcaption></figure> <p>The staging was confided to Belgian director, stage and light designer, and composer of electroacoustic music, Luigi de Angelis.&nbsp; He gives us a rather austere staging, setting the action in what appears to be a 1970s military society, with Heinrich bearing a more than passing resemblance to the current King Charles.&nbsp; The use of video on the rear wall of the set created some interesting images, particularly when the swan first appeared in flashes on the screen, which clearly disturbed Anna Maria Chiuri’s Ortrud.&nbsp; Chiuri was immensely watchable in the first act, her military uniform and hat meant that her face was in shadow, which gave her even more of an evil look than we often see.&nbsp; Act 2, is set in an extremely bare stage, with de Angelis using his singers to drive the action forward – although having a clock count down 10 seconds projected on the back wall from time to time seemed unnecessarily confusing, indeed my seat neighbours were perplexed and couldn’t stop discussing this.&nbsp; The same could be said for the giant sword that pointed out of the left-hand side of the set in Act 3 – although perhaps it was the source of Lohengrin’s magic as he defeated Telramund.&nbsp;</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-full"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_d4_1616_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6653" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/tcbo_lohengrin_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_d4_1616_andrea-ranzi/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_d4_1616_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg" data-orig-size="627,418" 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;1668283459&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="TCBO_Lohengrin_Daniel Kirch-Lohengrin_Anna-Louise Cole-Elsa di Brabante_D4_1616_©Andrea-Ranzi" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Andrea Ranzi&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_d4_1616_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_d4_1616_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg?w=627" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_d4_1616_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-6653" /></a><figcaption class="wp-element-caption">Photo: © Andrea Ranzi</figcaption></figure> <p>The chorus, so important in this work, was ranged around the stage in a block in Act 2, while in the other acts, they were positioned in a military courthouse where Elsa was held on trial.&nbsp; De Angelis gives us a useful framework for the action but there were some elements that seemed arbitrary and unconvincing.&nbsp; An actor costumed as Wagner occasionally appears on stage or sits in one of the stage-side boxes.&nbsp; I have no idea on what he added to the proceedings, although when he brought Gottfried out at the end (a young boy dressed in military dress uniform), this could have been a means to make us reflect on how Wagner brought this work to the world. &nbsp;Similarly, having a red projection on the back of the stage during the opening of Act 2 scene between Ortrud and Telramund, felt rather too much of a clichéd view of evil, as indeed did having Elsa as a blonde maiden perambulating in a white dress as an equally clichéd view of innocence.&nbsp; Though I must admit the illuminated white dress for Elsa and white suit for Lohengrin were quite fetching, particularly on the, at times, dimly-lit stage.&nbsp;</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-full"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_d4_1418_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6652" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/tcbo_lohengrin_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_d4_1418_andrea-ranzi/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_d4_1418_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg" data-orig-size="682,384" 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;1668278587&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="TCBO_Lohengrin_Daniel Kirch-Lohengrin_Anna-Louise Cole-Elsa di Brabante_D4_1418_©Andrea-Ranzi" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Andrea Ranzi&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_d4_1418_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_d4_1418_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg?w=682" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_d4_1418_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-6652" /></a><figcaption class="wp-element-caption">Photo: © Andrea Ranzi</figcaption></figure> <p>This was a serviceable enough staging, but what made the evening special was the contribution of the house orchestra and chorus, joined by their Ukrainian guests.&nbsp; As far as I can recall, this was my first time hearing Italian forces in Wagner and it was a revelation.&nbsp; The orchestra played this music as if it were bel canto – and it worked superbly.&nbsp; The opening of the prelude, shimmering strings giving way to a soaring cantabile melody, felt so absolutely right, and throughout the evening, the Comunale orchestra responded to Fisch with playing of supreme beauty.&nbsp; There was something about the way that the music was phrased tonight, the ebb and flow, that made everything seem so natural.&nbsp; Even pages as frequently-heard as the Act 3 prelude and bridal chorus, here seemed to jump off the page, living with rhythmic vitality and the shape of the melodies brought out in a cantabile and pulchritudinous way.&nbsp; Fisch led a reading that was intelligently paced throughout – the four and a half hours passed as if in an instant.&nbsp; The orchestral playing, from the aforementioned shimmering strings, brass playing of virtuosity, and a solo oboe of sheer poetry, was superb.&nbsp; The chorus made a massive sound, a huge, focused block that filled the auditorium in a blaze of sound.&nbsp; The tenors and basses, in particular, singing with exceptional tuning and discipline.&nbsp; This was choral singing of extraordinary distinction.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-full"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_albert-dohmen-enrico-luccellatore_olafur-sigurdarson-telramund_anna-maria-chiuri-ortrud_d4_1138_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6651" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/tcbo_lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_albert-dohmen-enrico-luccellatore_olafur-sigurdarson-telramund_anna-maria-chiuri-ortrud_d4_1138_andrea-ranzi/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_albert-dohmen-enrico-luccellatore_olafur-sigurdarson-telramund_anna-maria-chiuri-ortrud_d4_1138_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg" data-orig-size="682,384" 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;1668272517&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="TCBO_Lohengrin_Anna-Louise Cole-Elsa di Brabante_Daniel Kirch-Lohengrin_Albert Dohmen-Enrico l’Uccellatore_Ólafur Sigurdarson-Telramund_Anna Maria Chiuri-Ortrud_D4_1138_©Andrea-Ranzi" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Andrea Ranzi&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_albert-dohmen-enrico-luccellatore_olafur-sigurdarson-telramund_anna-maria-chiuri-ortrud_d4_1138_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_albert-dohmen-enrico-luccellatore_olafur-sigurdarson-telramund_anna-maria-chiuri-ortrud_d4_1138_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg?w=682" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_albert-dohmen-enrico-luccellatore_olafur-sigurdarson-telramund_anna-maria-chiuri-ortrud_d4_1138_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-6651" /></a><figcaption class="wp-element-caption">Photo: © Andrea Ranzi</figcaption></figure> <p>There are some regrets though.&nbsp; I last heard Daniel Kirch as a decent Parsifal in Bieito’s seminal staging in Stuttgart some four years ago.&nbsp; Unfortunately, the intervening period hasn’t been kind to his tenor.&nbsp; There were some good things tonight: the clarity of his diction, and his willingness to sing softly and to shade the tone.&nbsp; I regret to say, there were also quite a few things that were less good.&nbsp; I did wonder in his first entry if he couldn’t hear the orchestra, placed as he was far upstage, which would explain why he was extremely flat.&nbsp; Sadly, this was the case for most of the evening.&nbsp; Much of the role sits quite awkwardly right in Kirch’s passaggio, which requires exceptionally careful negotiation and wasn’t always successful.&nbsp; He also had trouble sustaining long phrases at higher volumes and the breath control wasn’t always reliable.&nbsp; Kirch gave generously of himself and it gives me no satisfaction to write that it was hard going for him and for us tonight.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-full"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_anna-maria-chiuri-ortrud_d4_1235_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6650" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/tcbo_lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_anna-maria-chiuri-ortrud_d4_1235_andrea-ranzi/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_anna-maria-chiuri-ortrud_d4_1235_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg" data-orig-size="627,418" 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;1668275352&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="TCBO_Lohengrin_Anna-Louise Cole-Elsa di Brabante_Anna Maria Chiuri-Ortrud_D4_1235_©Andrea-Ranzi" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Andrea Ranzi&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_anna-maria-chiuri-ortrud_d4_1235_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_anna-maria-chiuri-ortrud_d4_1235_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg?w=627" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_anna-louise-cole-elsa-di-brabante_anna-maria-chiuri-ortrud_d4_1235_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-6650" /></a><figcaption class="wp-element-caption">Photo: © Andrea Ranzi</figcaption></figure> <p>Making her European debut in this run is Sydney, Australia soprano, Anna-Louise Cole.&nbsp; Cole has a good-sized soprano that could potentially have a bright future in this repertoire.&nbsp; The tone itself, at times, has a touch of metal at the core and she has clearly worked exceptionally hard at the text, singing it with clarity.&nbsp; To my ears, however, the technique sounds unfinished.&nbsp; As the evening progressed, the metal in the core dissipated, being replaced by a chalky sound.&nbsp; Her ‘Euch Lüften, die mein Klagen’ was sung with a genuine attempt to sing quietly, pulling the tone down to a thread, but it also sounded not entirely supported at the core.&nbsp; The top vibrates generously, even more so when she appears to put pressure on the tone to create more volume.&nbsp; Cole most certainly has the raw material and is a promising talent, one hopes that she has the right people around her to guide her forward.&nbsp;</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-full"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_anna-maria-chiuri-ortrud_olafur-sigurdarson-telramund_d4_1153_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6649" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/tcbo_lohengrin_anna-maria-chiuri-ortrud_olafur-sigurdarson-telramund_d4_1153_andrea-ranzi/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_anna-maria-chiuri-ortrud_olafur-sigurdarson-telramund_d4_1153_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg" data-orig-size="627,418" 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;1668274210&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="TCBO_Lohengrin_Anna Maria Chiuri-Ortrud_Ólafur Sigurdarson-Telramund_D4_1153_©Andrea-Ranzi" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Andrea Ranzi&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_anna-maria-chiuri-ortrud_olafur-sigurdarson-telramund_d4_1153_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_anna-maria-chiuri-ortrud_olafur-sigurdarson-telramund_d4_1153_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg?w=627" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_anna-maria-chiuri-ortrud_olafur-sigurdarson-telramund_d4_1153_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-6649" /></a><figcaption class="wp-element-caption">Photo: © Andrea Ranzi</figcaption></figure> <p>As Ortrud, Anna Maria Chiuri made so much of the text, spitting it out with terrific malice.&nbsp; Hers was a more three-dimensional Ortrud than the evil harridan we often see.&nbsp; She brought out a subtle, needling edge in her poisoning of Elsa’s mind.&nbsp; Her ‘Entweihte Götter’ wasn’t just an explosion of sound, but something deeper and more subtle, finding light and shade, yet not lacking in power either.&nbsp; Yes, her final pages took Chiuri beyond her limits, the tone losing body as she raged, but her textual acuity and willingness to take risks were tremendously exciting.&nbsp; Throughout, she sang this music with the kind of phrasing that Fisch found in the orchestra, and with the utmost scrupulous attention to Wagner’s dynamic markings.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-full"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_albert-dohmen-enrico-luccellatore_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_olafur-sigurdarson-telramund_d4_1089_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6647" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/tcbo_lohengrin_albert-dohmen-enrico-luccellatore_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_olafur-sigurdarson-telramund_d4_1089_andrea-ranzi/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_albert-dohmen-enrico-luccellatore_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_olafur-sigurdarson-telramund_d4_1089_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg" data-orig-size="627,418" 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;1668272058&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="TCBO_Lohengrin_Albert Dohmen-Enrico l’Uccellatore_Daniel Kirch-Lohengrin_Ólafur Sigurdarson-Telramund_D4_1089_©Andrea-Ranzi" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Andrea Ranzi&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_albert-dohmen-enrico-luccellatore_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_olafur-sigurdarson-telramund_d4_1089_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_albert-dohmen-enrico-luccellatore_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_olafur-sigurdarson-telramund_d4_1089_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg?w=627" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/tcbo_lohengrin_albert-dohmen-enrico-luccellatore_daniel-kirch-lohengrin_olafur-sigurdarson-telramund_d4_1089_c2a9andrea-ranzi.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-6647" /></a><figcaption class="wp-element-caption">Photo: © Andrea Ranzi</figcaption></figure> <p>As Telramund, Ólafur Siguardarson sang with an exceptionally firm barit SF Opera's Orfeo ed Euridice https://operatattler.typepad.com/opera/2022/11/sf-opera-orfeo-ed-euridice.html The Opera Tattler urn:uuid:795e05f8-389b-751e-f982-b3b24e8bc087 Sat, 19 Nov 2022 18:59:28 +0000 * Notes * Matthew Ozawa's beautiful new production of Orfeo ed Euridice (Act III pictured, photograph by Cory Weaver) opened at San Francisco Opera last week. I attended the second performance last night, and the debuts of Maestro Peter Whelan... * Notes * Matthew Ozawa's beautiful new production of Orfeo ed Euridice (Act III pictured, photograph by Cory Weaver) opened at San Francisco Opera last week. I attended the second performance last night, and the debuts of Maestro Peter Whelan and countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński as Orfeo were both impressive. The musicians were laid out in quite an interesting way, with the horns next to the bassoons in the last row close to the prompter's box. The flutes and oboes were just ahead of them, and the clarinet was off to the side, where the basses usually are. Whelan's conducting was crisp but not metronomic. The woodwinds and harp were especially lovely. The unfussy set, designed by Alexander V. Nichols, was essentially a turntable with projections, which are apparently of brain images. There are swings, making good use of the vertical space without having to take any pauses to switch the scenes. There are also 3 pairs of dancers, meant to represent the title couple in different stages of their life together. Rena Butler's choreography felt comfortingly familiar to me, it was sculptural without being static, and there was athleticism and acrobatics but also elegance. Jessica Jahn's costumes in warm shades for Orfeo and cool tones for Euridice were likewise tasteful, in keeping with the classical plot. The chorus sounded powerful and together throughout the piece, they supported the principals without overwhelming them and negotiated the spinning set with ease. The principals are all clearly talented. I very much enjoyed the humor-infused performance of soprano Nicole Heaston (pictured, photograph by Cory Weaver) as Amore. Heaston sang with rich warmth and was charming. The icier sound of soprano Meigui Zhang was suitable for Euridice. Her voice is clean and graceful, though perhaps not very distinctive, it did contrast with both of the others. Zhang did well with the dancing and did not look out of place among the dancers. The same could be said of Orliński, the piece opens with him doing handstands and leaps during the overture. I was a little shocked to hear his voice, I had thought he was one of the dancers. His sound is strong and clear, very smooth throughout his range. His "Che farò senza Euridice?" was filled with pathos and very moving. * Tattling * This was part of my subscription, and I loved peering at the orchestra from Box X. I was a bit concerned about the trio of chatty young men in Box Y, but they were very much into the opera and didn't say a word during the 90 minute performance. In fact, I had such a nice experience, without talking, coughing, mobile phones, or watch alarms, that I'm a bit hesitant to attend this opera again, I'd like to hold on to this pleasant memory. But I will be there at least twice more, as this opera is rare and San Francisco Opera has only performed it in one other season. Good grief https://parterre.com/2022/11/19/good-grief/ parterre box urn:uuid:b606fd3a-1ecf-25bd-52ec-f926ffafef94 Sat, 19 Nov 2022 16:34:16 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/19/good-grief/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>There are no words superlative enough to describe this celebration of Orpheus’ grief, and I truly applaud San Francisco Opera for presenting such food for thought that will definitely resonate long after with me.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86618" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />On Tuesday, the San Francisco Opera unleashed the last show of their fall Season with a bang, presenting an extraordinarily out-of-this-world production of <strong>Christoph Willibald Gluck</strong>’s revolutionary opera <em>Orfeo ed Euridice</em>, which perfectly married Gluck’s gorgeous score with beautiful singing, ballet, breakdancing, <em>Cirque du Soleil</em>-type of spectacle, and one sensational Polish countertenor <strong>Jakub Józef Orlinski</strong>!</p> <p>Gluck had long been seen as the Father of Modern Opera, or more specifically, Father of Reform Opera, and <em>Orfeo ed Euridice</em> had been touted as the first example of his operatic reforms. Inspired by <strong>Francesco Algarotti</strong>&#8216;s 1755 <em>Essay on the Opera</em>, Gluck wanted to bring opera seria back to basics, where all the various elements of an opera—music (both instrumental and vocal), ballet, and staging—had to be subservient to the overriding drama.</p> <p>Being in Vienna surrounded by kindred souls—including the head of the court theatre Count <strong>Giaco  mo Durazzo</strong>, librettist <strong>Ranieri de&#8217; Calzabigi</strong>, choreographer <strong>Gasparo Angiolini</strong> and the castrato <strong>Gaetano Guadagni</strong> (who created the role Didymus in <strong>Handel</strong>’s oratorio <em>Theodora</em> more than a decade prior), Gluck was sufficiently equipped and empowered to realize his vision, and on October 5, 1762 he premiered <em>Orfeo ed Euridice </em>for Emperor <strong>Francis I</strong> with those four luminaries as part of the creative team.</p> <p>The importance of <em>Orfeo ed Euridice</em> couldn’t be stressed enough, as it had never left standard repertoire and many different versions—both by Gluck himself (the 1762 Vienna (Italian) version and the 1774 Paris (French) version) and other composers (most notably <strong>Hector Berlioz</strong>’s 1859 French version for <strong>Pauline Viardot</strong>)—had been created to accommodate various types of voices for the central role of Orpheus. Gluck’s original 1762 Vienna version were used for this particular performance, with the most significant cut was the extensive Act 3 Scene 3 ballet before the final Chorus.</p> <p>Historically, SF Opera had only staged any versions of <em>Orfeo ed Euridice</em> once in 1959, where <strong>Blanche Thebom</strong>, <strong>Lucine Amara</strong> and <strong>Joan Marie Moynagh</strong> participated in <strong>Dino Yannopoulous</strong>’ staging, conducted by <strong>Silvio Varviso</strong>. The only other occurrence was in 1995, when the starry cast of <strong>Jennifer Larmore</strong>, <strong>Dawn Upshaw</strong> and <strong>Alison Hagley</strong> performed Berlioz’s French version in one night only concert conducted by then Music Director <strong>Donald Runnicles</strong>.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86620" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-1.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-1.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-1-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-1-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>Director <strong>Matthew Ozawa</strong>, working closely with choreographer <strong>Rena Butler</strong> (in her first ever operatic engagement), put the dance as the central character of his interpretation, as he explained in his Director’s Notes:</p> <blockquote><p>Two elements comprise our production: Orpheus’ memories of Eurydice and the terrain of his mind. Because emotions and relationships can be so dynamic, we investigate Orpheus and Eurydice’s relationship through richly athletic dance. The lovers are doubled by dancers and each Orpheus and Eurydice couple represent a distinct phase in their journey.</p></blockquote> <p>To depict the landscape of Orpheus’ mind, we collaborated with physicians from the University of California San Francisco to investigate brain images of individuals who experienced trauma. As a result, every projection we use is made up of brain scans or pictures of neurons and neural pathways. This rich visual tapestry displays our neurobiology, the dance depicts the memory landscape, and the music the emotional journey.</p> <p>Ozawa’s ambitious plan to explore Orpheus’ stages of grief was fully realized by his creative team, chief of all set and projection designer <strong>Alexander V. Nichols</strong>. Nichols placed the action on top of domed turntable with the aforementioned brain scans projected on top of it, setting up the scene that at the same time eerie and beautiful. I was advised to select seats on Grand Tier level for this production, and I was grateful that I took that advice (I wasn’t sure how much of that stunning projection was visible from the Orchestra level)!</p> <p>Upon that gorgeous canvas, <strong>Yuki Nakase Link</strong> showered the set with soft, nature-inspired lighting, with the brightest one (resembling sunlight) was reserved for Amore’s scenes. The combination of both forces created a spectacular <em>mise-en-scène</em>, so alien yet so familiar. Coupled with the busy actions on that set, the lighting perfectly depicted the landscape of Orpheus’ grieving mind, so much so that at times I wondered if the opera were intended to happen entirely inside Orpheus’ head!</p> <p>For this physically demanding show, costume designer <strong>Jessica Jahn</strong> dressed the three central roles in simple tunic-like costumes in bold colors; sleeveless bright red for Orpheus, short-sleeve navy blue for Eurydice, and again, sleeveless bold yellow adorned with gold necklace with yellow tails for Amore, as she came down from the ceiling in a swing. The three pairs of dancers that doubled (or tripled, to be precise) Orpheus and Eurydice wore similar getups as them, albeit in different shades of red and blue respectively.</p> <p>The colors employed by all the dancers (including Orpheus and Eurydice) plus the fact that they danced in formation during the joyful Overture brought to mind Morris’ legendary interpretation  of Handel’s pastoral ode <em>L&#8217;Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato</em>, and that brief scene seemed to symbolize Orpheus and Eurydice’s happy moment together … before grief permeated the stage for the Chorus’ opening number “Ah, se intorno”.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86621" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-2.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-2.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-2-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-2-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>For the Chorus, Jahn suggested a sense of the communal with similarly styled clothes in uniform beige color in Act 1, placed them under black cloaks to represent the Furies, and—in the most haunting usage of fashion in the opera—covered them with sheer shrouds bearing the images and writings of the departed family members of the creative team for the Elysian Fields scene. It was extremely gratifying to see how a small, well-thought change in costuming could bring dramatic effects to the whole production!</p> <p>However, it couldn’t be overstated how much Butler’s role in shaping the direction of the show, both in the nonstop “athletic dance” of the dancer and in the placement and movement of the Chorus. Again, in the  Director Notes), Butler detailed her guiding principle:</p> <blockquote><p>Movement is our soul’s way of flushing out our deepest emotions—a tool to navigate, compartmentalize, and make sense of our distorted psyches when offset by insurmountable grief. What happens when we are denied access to our safest place, love? <em>Orfeo</em> offers us a scenario of love and loss and the vicious repetition it plays in our lives.</p></blockquote> <p>That “vicious repetition” she referred above became the theme of Butler’s choreography, particularly with regards to Orpheus and his three shadow dancers (and to some extent, Eurydice and her shadows), as in each step, the four of them turned into a single inseparable unit, with the shadows pulling Orpheus into all sorts of different directions. In a way, I associated them to the way our mind worked; for every decision we made, there were always doubts and confirmations lurking around that could steer us to either direction!</p> <p>All these wonderful elements gelled beautifully under Ozawa’s direction to create a completely coherent reading from start to finish. My only slight reservation was the direction for Act 3—when Eurydice came into the picture—as the constant movement among Orpheus, Eurydice and their six shadow dancers somehow blurred Amore’s requirement (Orpheus faced Eurydice way too many times), in turn when Orpheus did finally come face to face with Eurydice (resulting in her death), the scene was much less impactful dramatically.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86622" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-4.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-4.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-4-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-4-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>Orlinski was very much in his element on the Opening Night last Tuesday. It was hard to imagine that the production was <em>not</em> built around him, as it exploited his considerable talents, both as a countertenor and a break-dancer. After all, when the curtain was raised (and before a single note from the Orchestra), all one could see was him alone doing handstand in the middle of the stage!</p> <p>Similarly, during the final moments of the opera after Amore revived Eurydice, the two of the ladies and the Chorus retreated upstage as Orlinski was showered in glitter (once again, suggesting the whole show took place in Orpheus head)! Nevertheless, he demonstrated a considerable stamina as he was perpetually in motion (including being upside down) on stage and continually singing during the 80 mins performance!</p> <p>While my colleague <strong>Callum Blackmore</strong> <a href="http://https://parterre.com/2022/09/23/sweet-and-low-orlinskis-orfeo/">reported</a>  Orlinski&#8217;s being slightly underpowered during his role debut as Orpheus in Paris last September, I didn’t get the same impression from his performance. The countertenor seemed to have improved tremendously from t<a href="https://parterre.com/2020/02/26/castles-made-of-sand/">he first time I saw him</a> as the title role in Handel’s <em>Tolomeo</em> in Karlsruhe shortly before pandemic () and even from his sold-out jovial recital in Berkeley with his ex-roommate pianist <strong>Micha? Biel</strong> in Berkeley last spring.</p> <p>Gone was the &#8220;soft-grained&#8221; nature of his voice, and in its place, substantial strength and gravitas, especially in his middle register. His interpretative skills, too, have become deeper and considerably more nuanced. His first utterances of “Eurydice!” in Act 1 were launched with an injured animal intensity, while the following “Chiamo il mio ben”—sung to Eurydice’s casket suspended mid-air—imbued with almost inconsolable sadness. The famous aria “Che farò senza Euridice?” in Act 3 particularly steeped in poignancy and tenderness, easily turned into the highlight of the night.</p> <p>From my Grand Tier seat, I detected some instability on Orlinski’s volume output, with his voice went in and out at times, led me to wonder if that was caused by his constant movement, or whether there were some amplification involved in the process. Nevertheless, it didn’t affect in any way my enjoyment of the show!</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-86623" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-3.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-3.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-3-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/orfeo-3-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></p> <p>So breathtaking was Orlinski’s performance on Tuesday that it was easy to overlook the other two characters, both of them gave their all splendidly as well. Soprano <strong>Meigui Zhang</strong>, who <a href="https://parterre.com/2022/06/21/dream-on/">dazzled</a> as frail Dai Yu in last summer&#8217;s <em>Dream of the Red Chamber</em> (), was brought on board less than two months ago to replace <strong>Christina Gansch</strong> who is expecting her second child, and judging from this performance, it was clear why.</p> <p>While Eurydice was mostly visible during the Overture and the last act, it still required substantial physicality from the singer, including standing on a moving swing a few times during the Act 2 (Zhang also did her own dancing in this show!)</p> <p>Total opposite of the frail Dai Yu before, Zhang’s characterization of Eurydice was a full-fledged woman, complete with feelings and emotions. Personally, Eurydice was always my least favorite character of the opera, as she spent much of her (short) time on stage complaining and doubting. While Zhang didn’t completely eradicate that feeling, she at least personified the role with much dignity and musicality, trading the excitement of seeing her husband with the confusion of his seemingly “uncaring” behaviors.</p> <p>Furthermore, her voice sounded round and full with dark undertones, and it provided the much-needed contrast with Orlinski’s bright sound. I only wished that Eurydice weren&#8217;t relegated to the background in the final scene, as after all, the opera was titled &#8220;Orpheus <em>and</em> Eurydice!&#8221;</p> <p>Much like her <a href="https://parterre.com/2021/11/23/lets-twist-again/">winning</a> Despina in last year <em>Così fan tutte</em>, soprano <strong>Nicole Heaston</strong> stole the show as Amore every time she appeared, both because of her entrance(s) being perched high on the ceiling gleaming bright like sunlight and, most importantly, her sunny (pun intended) disposition bringing a respite from the overall gloomy intensity of the show. With her perfect comedic timing and bright silvery tone, she brought the house down with Act 1 “Gli sguardi trattieni”, where she manipulatively (just like any other Cupids) tested Orpheus’ fidelity with her cruel requirements.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=pn7ziBbXq-s&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=pn7ziBbXq-s</a></p> <p>Conductor <strong>Peter Whelan</strong>, the Artistic Director of Irish Baroque Orchestra, made his American debut with this performance, conducted the SF Opera in a reading full of strength and vigor, while never sacrificing many of the tender moments of the opera. I particularly loved how Whelan emphasized the harp sound in Act 2 (very important to the plot, as it represented Orpheus’ lyre), and Orpheus’ “duet” with the harp “Mille pene” sounded sufficiently sweet and honey-toned, totally believable to have melted the Furies’ hearts!</p> <p>After a slight misstep at the beginning, the SF Opera Chorus (led by <strong>John Keene</strong>) rebounded nicely to present a community in mourning, and particularly in Act 2, turned a truly terrifying Furies with their cries of “No!” And kudos to the six impeccable “shadow” dancers who tirelessly moved the action forward throughout the show: <strong>Alysia Chang</strong>, <strong>Brett Conway</strong>, <strong>Marian Faustino</strong>, <strong>Livanna Maislen</strong>, <strong>Christopher Nachtrab</strong> and <strong>Maxwell Simoes</strong>.</p> <p>If you have stayed with me this far, I bet you can guess how I would like to end this review. There’s no words superlative enough to describe this celebration of Orpheus’ grief, and I truly applaud San Francisco Opera for presenting such food for thought that will definitely resonate long after with me. Given the nature of the production, there’s little chance this production will travel, and certainly not without Orlinski, so you would be wise to try to catch <a href="https://www.sfopera.com/operas/orpheus-and-eurydice/?gclid=CjwKCAiAmuKbBhA2EiwAxQnt702_n60HSUJSNDmrrDON6xCCbzkLun3swYfSmK9OsbGmWev1TZxuSBoC-0gQAvD_BwE">the remaining four shows</a>!</p> <p><strong>Photos: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera</strong></p> Tristan und Isolde https://parterre.com/2022/11/19/tristan-und-isolde-14/ parterre box urn:uuid:23f66b28-67a1-982b-bef7-e11073b290ad Sat, 19 Nov 2022 15:36:52 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/19/tristan-und-isolde-14/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/tristan-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/tristan-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/tristan-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/tristan-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/tristan-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/tristan-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>A recording of a live performance of Wagner&#8217;s music drama from Seattle Opera.</p> <p><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-85860" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/tristan-inside.jpg" alt="" width="720" height="405" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/tristan-inside.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/tristan-inside-300x169.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/tristan-inside-210x118.jpg 210w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" />Streaming and discussion <a href="http://king.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">begin at 1:00 PM</a>.</p> <p>Our own <a href="https://parterre.com/author/christian-ocier/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Christian Ocier</a>&#8216;s <a href="https://parterre.com/2022/10/17/meticulously-shaped-beautifully-tinted-and-propulsive/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">review of this production</a>.</p> <p><strong>Photo: © Sunny Martini</strong></p> Blood-covered hands https://parterre.com/2022/11/19/blood-covered-hands/ parterre box urn:uuid:891cfdc7-50d9-2a93-6624-6450c6df6fd1 Sat, 19 Nov 2022 15:13:36 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/19/blood-covered-hands/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/lucia-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/lucia-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/lucia-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/lucia-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/lucia-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/lucia-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>On this day in 1992 the Metropolitan Opera presented a new production of <em>Lucia di Lammermoor</em> directed by <strong>Francesca Zambello </strong>(not pictured.)</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lt2Kl1G3cw&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lt2Kl1G3cw</a></p> <blockquote><p>The soldiers and townspeople&#8230; are treated as visitors from the world of the Id. They emerge from crevices in the floor and from rocks like moles or grubby Nibelungen. When Enrico, the evil brother, sings his threatening aria in the first scene, these creatures, their military uniforms draped in dirt-dark suggestions of Scottish garb (designed by Martin Pakledinaz), suddenly extend blood-covered hands to their fuhrer.</p> <p>These figures don&#8217;t actually sing (the chorus was offstage), presumably so they can concentrate on their acting, which sometimes means doing mass impersonations of Quasimodo (Victor Hugo was one of Ms. Zambello&#8217;s inspirations). They also become frenzied with pleasure during the third act, rejoicing not over the nuptials, but because Normanno, the captain of the guard, is disdainfully showering them with gold coins; they scamper about like chimps gathering bananas&#8230;.</p> <p>June Anderson—who must have had black-and-blue arms by the evening&#8217;s end, so often was she grabbed and tossed abou—ang Lucia with more and more refined empathy as the opera proceeded. The customary edge in her voice was gone; she seemed absorbed both in the role and its dreamy lyricism. She delivered a mad scene that combined virtuosic control with a lovely, haunting innocence.</p></blockquote> <p>On this day in 1962 soprano <strong>Régine Crespin</strong> made her Metropolitan Opera debut as the Marschallin. Mezzo <strong>Hertha Töpper</strong> debuted as Octavian and <strong>Lotte Lehmann</strong> directed.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOEUsfQw8uA&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOEUsfQw8uA</a></p> <p>Happy 78th birthday mezzo-soprano<strong> Agnes Baltsa</strong>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKL1cqG8R4o&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKL1cqG8R4o</a></p> The Rape of Lucretia, Royal Opera, 16 November 2022 https://boulezian.blogspot.com/2022/11/the-rape-of-lucretia-royal-opera-16.html Boulezian urn:uuid:4c584dc4-d5b4-1790-a91c-cfd9df8b2587 Sat, 19 Nov 2022 14:32:26 +0000 <p>&nbsp;</p><p>Linbury Studio Theatre</p>Lucretia – Anne Marie Stanley<br />Female Chorus – Sydney Baedke <br />Male Chorus – Michael Gibson <br />Tarquinius – Jolyon Loy <br />Collatinus – Anthony Reed <br />Junius – Kieran Rayner <br />Bianca – Carolyn Holy <br />Lucia – Sarah Dufresne <br /><br />Oliver Mears (director) <br />Annemarie Woods (designs) <br />DM Wood (lighting) <br />Sarita Piotrowski (movement) <br /><br />Aurora Orchestra <br />Corinna Niemeyer (conductor) <br /><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><br /></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif;">This new <i>Rape of Lucretia</i>, seen first at Snape, now in the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio Theatre, fittingly features singers from two young artists’ programmes: Britten Pears and Jette Parker. In many ways, its greatest strength is theirs—and that of the young Aurora Orchestra players too. (We tend to speak of a chamber orchestra here; were this ‘newer’ music, we should doubtless call it an ensemble.) Conducted by Corinna Niemeyer, this was an immediate, urgent performance which, like Oliver Mears’s immediate, urgent staging, was experienced to excellent, arguably heightened effect in a small theatre. For all aspects of production and performance came together to have us believe they had been conceived as one, almost as if a new work: a vindication not only of an opera whose different components can sometimes sit a little awkwardly with one another, but also of the very genre, currently under such devastating attack from the Arts Council.</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;">Mears’s staging responds to the postwar trauma of the work, bringing it very much into the foreground. I initially wondered whether that might be too much, too one-sided, whether participants in a modern conflict, brutal and brutalised, might find themselves instrumentalised, barely given chance to tell their own tale. That fear proved unfounded, though in this particular case I am not in general without sympathy with calls for greater abstraction or at least historical remove. The more I watched and listened, the more this seemed an entirely justified, indeed illuminating reading of the work. It was, after all, premiered in 1946. Violence, political and sexual—in war, in general too, they are rarely if ever to be dissociated—asked us difficult questions, from different standpoints, letting none of us off the hook. And the cast, crucially, brought this drama, these questions to life.</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;">Swaggering officers, with their own stories to tell, none the same, were the perpetrators. War did not let them off the hook; it was, after all, their war. <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;</span>Britten’s pacifism loomed large, if unspoken. Even Collatinus was involved in an initial assault on an unnamed woman, though Junius and Tarquinius were more so, in increasing intensity. There was no doubting the heat of the night in which the rape took place, no denying this Tarquinius’s arrogant, damaged animal power, as Jolyon Lee stalked his prey in words, music, and gesture. We were led, if leading were necessary, to adopt the most troubling of male gazes, perhaps in some sense to share in guilt as well as horror. The servants knew what had happened too, one of the most discomfiting scenes being the morning after, when they could see what must have been, yet resolutely tried to carry on, not to mention it. Doubtless it did not befit their station, but it was also a matter of their trying to cope, as women, in this world. How many times had they seen such things before, indeed been assaulted themselves? Carolyn Holy and Sarah Dufresne brought these characters, here far from secondary, to vivid life in gesture and in voice, as indeed did all the cast in their roles.</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;">The tragedy of Anne Marie Stanley’s broken Lucretia’s suicide was spellbinding, the savagery of the deed not spared. She took centre stage, of course, but at what cost? As Collatinus trembled—horrified, weakened, and perhaps ultimately destroyed too—in Anthony Reed’s subtle portrayal, Kieran Rayner’s chameleon-like Junius, seized the aesthetic moment, capturing the corpse on camera for further dissemination. For we like to bestow the dubious, quasi-theological honour of sacrificial lamb after the event, once the deed has been done. Too late for Lucretia, as for the refugees fallen in our seas, on our beaches. Photography renders them literally iconic, especially when one can also hymn their tragic beauty. This was a properly disconcerting moment of self-recognition, or should have been.</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;">Instrumental obbligato lines took us back to Bach, to the cantatas and passions: in the case of oboe towards the close uncomfortably so, given the Chorus’s problematical Christian framing. Mears, for what it is worth, is the first director I have seen to tackle the issue of that framing head on. He did not, I think, offer an answer to the question, but the attempt by Male and Female Chorus to narrate and to explain seemed properly compromised. Were they, at the moment of their prayer of supplication, essentially attempting to convince themselves—and failing? The crisis of this peculiar pair, researchers into crime, perhaps even voyeurs, was increasingly apparent: surrogates in some sense for us, although surely the more ‘active’ participants were too.</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;">All the while, Britten’s score, its eery repetitions vocal and instrumental, its constructivist tendencies already presaging elements of <i>The Turn of the Screw</i>, held us in its thrall, not as something separate from what we saw on stage, but as driving force and still-more-troubling commentary. The sheer creepiness of what we call ‘fate’, yet which has all-too-human as well as divine and sociopolitical roots, is what Britten conveys so well; so too did his performers here.<o:p></o:p></span></p> Imprisoned: La Favorite at the Festival Donizetti Opera https://operatraveller.com/2022/11/19/imprisoned-la-favorite-at-the-festival-donizetti-opera/ operatraveller urn:uuid:712be99a-9aac-0df6-e7e8-df3b56dc0f12 Sat, 19 Nov 2022 12:41:04 +0000 Donizetti – La Favorite Léonor de Guzman – Annalisa StroppaFernand – Javier CamarenaAlphonse XI – Florian SempeyBalthazar – Evgeny StavinskyDon Gaspard – Edoardo MillettiInès – Caterina Di Tonno Coro Donizetti Opera, Coro dell’Accademia Teatro alla Scala, Orchestra Donizetti Opera / Riccardo Frizza.Stage director – Valentina Carrasco. Donizetti Opera Festival, Teatro Donizetti, Bergamo, Italy.&#160; Friday, November [&#8230;] <p class="has-text-align-center"><strong>Donizetti – <em>La Favorite</em></strong></p> <p class="has-text-align-center"><strong>Léonor de Guzman – Annalisa Stroppa<br>Fernand – Javier Camarena<br>Alphonse XI – Florian Sempey<br>Balthazar – Evgeny Stavinsky<br>Don Gaspard – Edoardo Milletti<br>Inès – Caterina Di Tonno</strong></p> <p class="has-text-align-center"><strong>Coro Donizetti Opera, Coro dell’Accademia Teatro alla Scala, Orchestra Donizetti Opera / Riccardo Frizza.<br>Stage director – Valentina Carrasco.</strong></p> <p class="has-text-align-center"><strong>Donizetti Opera Festival, Teatro Donizetti, Bergamo, Italy.&nbsp; Friday, November 18th, 2022.</strong></p> <p>As always, it’s an enormous pleasure to be back in the wonderful city of Bergamo, tonight for the opening of the 2022 Festival Donizetti Opera, featuring this new production of <em>La Favorite</em>, directed by Valentina Carrasco, and conducted by the festival’s Music Director, Riccardo Frizza.  Indeed, it was quite apposite to return to the beautiful, and beautifully restored, Teatro Donizetti, as it was here back in 2019, just before the world changed, that a production of the earlier version of this work, <em><a href="https://operatraveller.com/2019/11/17/discovering-a-rediscovery-lange-de-nisida-at-the-festival-donizetti-opera/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">L’Ange de Nisida</a></em>, was performed on the building site that was then the Teatro in the process of being restored. </p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-full"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4713.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6641" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4713/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4713.jpg" data-orig-size="627,418" 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;1668548555&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="DO2022 La favorite ph Gianfranco Rota_BVL4713" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Gianfranco Rota&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4713.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4713.jpg?w=627" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4713.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-6641" /></a><figcaption class="wp-element-caption">Photo: © Gianfranco Rota</figcaption></figure> <p>Carrasco gives us a pretty straightforward piece of theatre, but with some innovations.&nbsp; She places the action mainly between two sets of what appear to be prison bars – one set at the front of the stage, and other set at the rear.&nbsp; This was an interesting way to illustrate the various states of imprisonment the characters found themselves in – Fernand in his monastery, Léonor as the King’s mistress, and even the King himself in his kingship.&nbsp; The sets (Carles Berga and Peter Van Praet) were simple.&nbsp; A group of structures that could be adjusted easily between being groups of candle holders, as in seen in churches, or as bunk beds, was moved around the stage creating varying stage pictures.&nbsp; So far, so clear.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-full"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4469.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6640" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4469/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4469.jpg" data-orig-size="627,418" 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;1668541365&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="DO2022 La favorite ph Gianfranco Rota_BVL4469" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Gianfranco Rota&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4469.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4469.jpg?w=627" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4469.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-6640" /></a><figcaption class="wp-element-caption">Photo: © Gianfranco Rota</figcaption></figure> <p>Yet as in her recent <em><a href="https://operatraveller.com/2022/07/23/cinematic-ambition-tosca-at-the-macerata-opera-festival/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Tosca</a></em> in Macerata, Carrasco also adds an additional layer to the action, that seemed unclear.  A group of around twenty lady extras, <em>d’un certain âge</em>, were seen on stage sitting on the beds at the opening.  Later, in the Act 2 ballet, we saw them perambulating around the stage, indulging in synchronized hair tussling, fanning themselves, or applying <em>maquillage</em>.  Perhaps Carrasco is attempting to make a point about women of a certain age being discarded by society, hidden behind bars.  Perhaps, they were formerly also the King’s mistresses and Léonor will join their number in due course.  But then, during the ballet, they taunted the King, painting his entire face with said <em>maquillage</em>, as if regaining power over him – was this a way of getting revenge on him in his harem?  The audience seemed to find it hysterically funny, even though sexual slavery is most definitely not a laughing matter. </p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-full"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4425.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6639" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4425/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4425.jpg" data-orig-size="627,418" 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;1668541013&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="DO2022 La favorite ph Gianfranco Rota_BVL4425" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Gianfranco Rota&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4425.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4425.jpg?w=627" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4425.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-6639" /></a><figcaption class="wp-element-caption">Photo: © Gianfranco Rota</figcaption></figure> <p>Personenregie consisted of a fair bit of standing and delivering to the front.&nbsp; The chorus walked around in circles, while at times also indulging in synchronized curtseying.&nbsp; There was a large image of the virgin that towered over the action in the final act – was that a statement about how women are seen and expected to behave?&nbsp; Again, I’m not entirely sure that Carrasco knows or is able to communicate this to her audience, but it is a perceptive idea.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-full"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4243.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6638" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4243/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4243.jpg" data-orig-size="627,418" 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;1668538136&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="DO2022 La favorite ph Gianfranco Rota_BVL4243" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Gianfranco Rota&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4243.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4243.jpg?w=627" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota_bvl4243.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-6638" /></a><figcaption class="wp-element-caption">Photo: © Gianfranco Rota</figcaption></figure> <p>Musically, tonight once again demonstrated the exceptional standards the festival offers us every year.&nbsp; Annalisa Stroppa gave us a commanding Léonor of unflinching commitment.&nbsp; She gave so generously of herself, using her mahogany mezzo to illustrate the music with stylistic panache: long agile runs, brave excursions to the highest reaches, and charming embellishments to the line.&nbsp; And yet, Stroppa left me completely cold for the simple reason that I couldn’t understand a word of what she was singing.&nbsp; Her diction was barely comprehensible, the impact of her performance greatly diminished, despite her wholehearted and generous commitment, by the simple fact that one could understand nothing.&nbsp; It’s a real shame because hers was such a dedicated performance that had one been able to perceive any words, one might have also looked past the voice spreading in the middle to sit around the note rather than on it, or the lack of colour at the very top.&nbsp; Still, I was greatly impressed by Stroppa’s dedication.&nbsp;</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-full"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_5736.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6633" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_5736/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_5736.jpg" data-orig-size="627,417" 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;1668537099&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="DO2022 La favorite ph Gianfranco Rota GFR_5736" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Gianfranco Rota&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_5736.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_5736.jpg?w=627" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_5736.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-6633" /></a><figcaption class="wp-element-caption">Photo: © Gianfranco Rota</figcaption></figure> <p>Javier Camarena sang Fernand in his familiar bright and well-placed tenor.&nbsp; The clarity of his diction was impeccable, looking for, and drawing out, meaning.&nbsp; He was tireless throughout, pinging out on high with ease.&nbsp; Indeed, the way that the voice takes wing, soaring into a golden glow on high, yet always full and rounded, is something really special.&nbsp; He sang his ‘ange si pur’ with gravity-defying beauty, the voice sustaining endless lines with immaculate breath control, and the voice even throughout the range.&nbsp; An impressive assumption.&nbsp;</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-full"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_7227.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6637" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_7227/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_7227.jpg" data-orig-size="627,418" 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;1668548897&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="DO2022 La favorite ph Gianfranco Rota GFR_7227" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Gianfranco Rota&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_7227.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_7227.jpg?w=627" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_7227.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-6637" /></a><figcaption class="wp-element-caption">Photo: © Gianfranco Rota</figcaption></figure> <p>I must admit to initially thinking that Florian Sempey was a little out of sorts as Alphonse XI.&nbsp; He seemed to be making a great effort to focus on producing the tone and creating amplitude at first.&nbsp; Yet this might have been down to first night nerves as Sempey quickly rallied to bring us once again his superb bel canto technique.&nbsp; Sempey understands implicitly how this music should go.&nbsp; His baritone can turn the corners with flexibility – and he has a genuine trill.&nbsp; It goes without saying that his diction was exemplary, legato milky smooth, and breath control tireless.&nbsp; He also gave us some extremely tasteful embellishments to the line.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-full"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_6821.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6636" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_6821/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_6821.jpg" data-orig-size="652,401" 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;1668545409&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="DO2022 La favorite ph Gianfranco Rota GFR_6821" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Gianfranco Rota&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_6821.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_6821.jpg?w=652" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_6821.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-6636" /></a><figcaption class="wp-element-caption">Photo: © Gianfranco Rota</figcaption></figure> <p>The remaining cast again demonstrated the exceptionally high standards of the festival.&nbsp; Evgeny Stavinsky sang Balthazar in a warm, rounded bass, with delightfully complex tone colour.&nbsp; If only one knew what language he was singing in.&nbsp; Edoardo Milletti sang Don Gaspard in a bright, well-placed and attractive tenor.&nbsp; Indeed, one would certainly like to hear his Fernand at some future point, if he can strengthen the clarity of his French diction.&nbsp; Caterina Di Tonno sang Inès in a delightfully fizzy soprano.&nbsp; The youthful choruses, prepared by Salvo Sgrò, made a terrifically homogenous sound, the tenors in particular shining attractively out of the textures.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-full"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_6651.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6635" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_6651/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_6651.jpg" data-orig-size="627,418" 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;1668544519&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="DO2022 La favorite ph Gianfranco Rota GFR_6651" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Gianfranco Rota&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_6651.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_6651.jpg?w=627" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_6651.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-6635" /></a><figcaption class="wp-element-caption">Photo: © Gianfranco Rota</figcaption></figure> <p>Frizza led a reading that was ideally paced, so much so that the three and a half hours flew by.&nbsp; He had clearly rehearsed his orchestra extremely thoroughly – the precision of their attack was staggering and they were as one with the beauty of the phrasing, and approach to articulation, that he elicited from them.&nbsp; Yes, there were a few isolated passages of occasionally sour string intonation, but these were very much passing.&nbsp; What struck me most about Frizza’s conducting was how he brought out the beauty of Donizetti’s orchestration.&nbsp; The horns played with noble pulchritude (and no accidents) in ‘ô mon Fernand’, and there was a constant awareness and ability to communicate the complex interplay between the various orchestral lines that I found truly reflective of bel canto.&nbsp; Frizza, with every passing year, is growing increasingly in stature and mastery of this repertoire, and I look forward eagerly to next year’s instalment.</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-full"><a href="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_6146.jpg"><img data-attachment-id="6634" data-permalink="https://operatraveller.com/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_6146/" data-orig-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_6146.jpg" data-orig-size="627,417" 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;1668539699&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="DO2022 La favorite ph Gianfranco Rota GFR_6146" data-image-description="" data-image-caption="&lt;p&gt;Photo: © Gianfranco Rota&lt;/p&gt; " data-medium-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_6146.jpg?w=300" data-large-file="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_6146.jpg?w=627" src="https://operatraveller.files.wordpress.com/2022/11/do2022-la-favorite-ph-gianfranco-rota-gfr_6146.jpg" alt="" class="wp-image-6634" /></a><figcaption class="wp-element-caption">Photo: © Gianfranco Rota</figcaption></figure> <p>This was definitely an evening that showed the best of this festival.  It had clearly been exceptionally well prepared, both musically and dramatically.  Camarena and Sempey gave towering performances of their respective roles, singing with thrilling bel canto techniques.  Stroppa gave so generously of herself which made it all the more regrettable that one could barely understand a word.  Carrasco’s staging had consi “A gay event” https://parterre.com/2022/11/18/a-gay-event/ parterre box urn:uuid:a02e1d06-a78c-1315-332b-7efc4d90af9e Fri, 18 Nov 2022 14:49:51 +0000 <p><a href="https://parterre.com/2022/11/18/a-gay-event/"><img width="720" height="245" src="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/rosenkavalier-header-720x245.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large wp-post-image" alt="" srcset="https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/rosenkavalier-header-720x245.jpg 720w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/rosenkavalier-header-300x102.jpg 300w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/rosenkavalier-header-768x262.jpg 768w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/rosenkavalier-header-210x72.jpg 210w, https://parterre.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/rosenkavalier-header.jpg 1100w" sizes="(max-width: 720px) 100vw, 720px" /></a></p><p>On this day in 1949 the Metropolitan Opera opened their season with a televised(!) performance of <em>Der Rosenkavalier</em>.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSbcFP9tuLg&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSbcFP9tuLg</a></p> <p>John Chapman in the <em>News</em>:</p> <blockquote><p>The first night of a Metropolitan Opera season is, and should be, a gay event &#8211; not screwball or stinko, but gay in the nicest and pleasantest sense. Last evening&#8217;s inauguration of the Met&#8217;s 65th season was, to this happy listener, all it should be, for the opera was the late Richard Strauss&#8217; &#8220;Der Rosenkavalier.&#8221; Here were wit and melody, and a good company, and Fritz Reiner in charge of the orchestra. The performance was a promise of many fine times to come during the next 18 weeks, for &#8220;Rosenkavalier&#8221; is one of the most enjoyable of all works in the musical theatre. It was chosen for the inaugural as a tribute to Strauss, whose passing removed the last of the giants of the old times. The crush and dither of an opening were more intense than usual because eight television cameras and crews were set up in likely spots and most of the Met&#8217;s 4,000 customers appeared to be lens hounds. They wanted their &#8220;pitchers token&#8221; by this new gadget, and mistakenly thought that if they got in front of one of these things they&#8217;d be visible in all the saloons of six big cities.</p> <p>A Lovely Marschallin.</p> <p>They were wrong on several counts, of course, one of them being that only one camera was on the air at a time &#8211; which gave them only one chance in eight of being waved at by a bartender&#8217;s towel. But a television setup in Sherry&#8217;s carnival room on the Grand Tier attracted such a throng of gawkers that many who had reserved tables for the first-act intermission and had ordered champagne buckets to be waiting failed to get through to their places before the Presentation of the Silver Rose scene began. I&#8217;d say the best part of a generally cheerful report should be a profound salute to Eleanor Steber, who for the first time in her career at the opera house was singing the role of the Marschallin. It seemed to me that she was exquisite in it &#8211; that she sang it, looked it and acted it beautifully.</p> <p>An Interesting Debut.</p> <p>The other principal roles were in the experienced custody of Risë Stevens, in the title role, and Emanuel List, as Baron Ochs. They know a great deal about this work, and their performances were satisfying to these ears and eyes. Mr. List is a tasteful comedian, and he drew huzzas, of course, for the waltz scene &#8211; with noble help from Mr. Rainer and his men. Making her Met debut was Erna Berger as Sophie &#8211; a role she had sung abroad with Herr Strauss conducting. She is small and attractive &#8211; a Dresden doll, no less, for that is where she is from &#8211; and her voice has a nice, fresh quality.</p> <p>My chief spy, a Mata Hari with red hair, reported to me that she heard a couple of well-preserved, well-decorated patronesses talking it over in a powder room during the first intermission. One of them was saying that while she was in Switzerland an old man stayed at her hotel and used to enjoy the little orchestra of an evening. &#8220;We thought he was just a tourist,&#8221; she said, &#8220;but it was Richard Strauss himself.&#8221; Her companion thought this was exciting and asked, &#8220;And was he the Strauss who wrote &#8220;The Merry Widow, too ?&#8221; &#8220;Oh yes!&#8221; the first one assured her.</p></blockquote> <p>On this day in 1974 tenor <strong>José Carreras</strong> made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Cavardossi.</p> <p><a href="//www.youtube.com/watch?v=baxISOPVZpI&#038;fmt=18">//www.youtube.com/watch?v=baxISOPVZpI</a></p> <p>Birthday anniversaries of dramatist and librettist <strong>William Schwenck Gilbert</strong> (1836), composer <strong>Amadeo Vives</strong> (1871), soprano <strong>Maria Ivogün</strong> (1891) and baritone <strong>Jess Walters</strong> (1908).</p> <p>Happy birthday to<em> parterre box</em> <a href="https://parterre.com/author/sylvia-korman/">scribe</a> <strong>Sylvia Korman</strong>!</p>