Friday 30 June 2006

From this Month's Opera

Some gleanings from this month's Opera magazine.

Prokofiev's operas seem to be in the air at the moment, not only are Glyndebourne doing Betrothal in a monastery but Grange Park Opera have The Gambler planned for next year. And the Bolshoy are bringing The Fiery Angel when they come on tour this summer.

There are at least 2 letters commenting on the use of signers for the deaf at the opera. There was one present last night, when we saw John Adams's Nixon in China at ENO. Luckily she was quite discreet, from where we were sitting in the upper circle. Mind you, given that we had surtitles AND the cast's diction was excellent thanks to amplification, you can't help feeling its over-kill.

The new opera house in Oslo is opening early, in April 2008. I have great curiosity as I worked in Oslo in the 80's and attended the opera there, seeing a La Traviata on a rotating stage which seemed inspired by the Zefirelli film, The Magic Flute and Tristan, with Berit Lindholm as Isolde. The opera house was quite small but was a rather stylish 1950's building on the 1st floor, so access was via a fabulous staircase. At least that's how I remember it. Perhaps we need to go back in 2008.

Anne Sofie von Otter comments on the production of Handel's Serse at the Theatre des Champs Elysee, Paris in 2004 that it didn't do it for anyone. This was one of those productions which came to London as a concert performance. We all felt a little like the poor relation, though the performance was rather good. Its rather pleasing to find out that we did not miss too much.

Rosalind Plowright is doing Massenet's Herodiade for Dorset Opera, its almost enough to make you want to make the trip down to Blandford Forum!

Jonathan Dove's Flight was performed at the Adelaide Festival in March. It is an opera that I've never seen live, but fell in love with on disc. It sounds as if there was a good cast, David Walker, Mary Hegarty and conducted by Brad Cohen (who I've seen working with the Salomon Orchestra). Unfortunately Elizabeth Silsbury was not very taken.

A poor review also, for the new Pelleas et Melisande at the Salzburg Festival, produced Stanislas Nordey, conducted Simon Rattle. Great shame, as the production is coming to Covent Garden.

During May the Palais Garnier notched up its 60th performance of Rameau's Platee, even more appealing as it had Paul Agnew in the title role. Shame that in London, the Royal Opera seem to have disposed of their production of the work, I'm not sure it ever made it to the Royal Opera House from the Barbican where it was premiered.

Martin Bernheimer, when reviewing Lohengrin at the Met (production Robert Wilson) described tenor Klaus Florian Vogt as boyish, sounding sweet and riding the climaxes with some effort. Call in a Heldencrooner, says Bernheimer; now that's a useful term, we'll have to make efforts to bring it into regular use.

Divine Art record company have re-issued the 1920's recordings of Cav and Pag by members of the British National Opera Company. The cast includes Heddle Nash, Harold Williams, Dennis Noble, Miriam Licette and Frank Mullings. I can remember that a friend I shared with at university had the original 78's of I Pagliacci at Frank Mullings took a bit of getting used to. Alan Blyth describes him as an acquired taste!

Some rather delectable bits and pieces in their We Hear that... column; Roberto Alagna in Le Cid at Organe in 2009, Christine Brewer as Brunnhilde at the Proms next year, William Christie doing Poppea at Glyndebourne in 2009. Deborah Voigt finally gets to do Ariadne at Covent Garden in 2007/8

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