Friday 27 April 2007

Gleanings from this month's Opera magazine:

There is an interview with Ian Bostridge, centred on his Britten roles because he's doing Aschenbach with ENO. Its curious that interviews rarely mention, or skate round, the fact that Bostridge's distinctive physique (very tall and very thin) combined with his perceived physical fragility (a reputation for cancelling due to illness) mean that there is an otherworldliness about his persona which works well in some roles. I imagine Aschenbach will be one of them, but frankly I can't imagine him as Essex and Bostridge says in the interview that regarding Peter Grimes 'I go on and off that one'.

There's also an interesting interview with Harry Bickett, one of those big-house friendly Baroque conductors who crop up in all sorts of place - though of course there is a lot more to him than that. He evidently got his big break at Munich when Mackerras famously objected to the production, I think it was one of the wackier Richard Jones ones.

I'm going to skip over the review of Norman Lebrecht's obituary to the classical record industry. But don't miss the obituary to Julian Budden, even though it leaves you doing a lot of reading between the lines.

Meanwhile in Italy, they've been doing Candide in Naples, the production looks fabulous but I'm still suffering the aftershock of the Carsen version from Paris. And in Savona, Anna Caterina Antonacci was doing her first Charlotte, at the Teatro Chiabrera. An institution which gives young artists important opportunities and manages to retain them as they get more well known.

Erica Jeal was in Kazan (!) for a new production of Il Trovatore which is shortly going to be touring (the Netherlands). It definitely sounds something worth seeking out and may be a cut above the usual Eastern European touring production.

Barcelona saw the premiere of Peter Konwitschny's Don Carlos in French - now I definitely do wish I'd been there for that. Robert Carsen's Carmelites has made it to Chicago. We saw the production in Amsterdam, with Susan Chilcott; I found it shattering, particularly the ending though D. was less convinced.

Transferring David Fielding's distinctive view of Strauss Egyptian Helen from Garsington to the Met does not seem to have worked very well. Fielding's ironic whimsy does not seem to have transferred to the larger stage. Also in New York, the Basil Hood/Arthur Sullivan Rose of Persia made a very rare outing; Martin Yates was sufficiently impressed as to hope for a UK production some time - he suggested that the ENO's Kismet sets could perhaps do double duty. Now there's an idea.

Back in the UK, Hugh Canning found Francisco Negrin's production of Orlando at Covent Garden an essentially facetious, patronizing response to the magic of Handel's theatre. Amazing how different people can have such varied responses to the same piece of theatre, but than that's the magic of it I suppose. Still, we both agree on the amazing Sir Charles Mackerras.

The London Sinfonietta have been touring Benedict Mason's ChaplinOperas, amazing short theatre pieces which play as accompaniment to Chaplin Films. Annoyingly I managed to miss it. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment have just done Donizetti's Imelda di Lambertazzi, which was recorded for Opera Rara - their first such collaboration. And the review of Opera Rara's latest offering, Donizetti's Dom Sebastian makes me want to dash out and buy it.

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