Wednesday, 27 February 2008

From this month's Opera

Gleanings from this month's Opera Magazine.

In an inteview with John Treleaven the tenor makes the interesting point that by Act 3 Tristan is meant to be dying, whereas in Act 3 of Siegfried the character is bright and fresh, which makes it harder for the tenor. Amazingly
he is the first British tenor to have tung Siegfried at Covent Garden since Alberto Remedios in 1982. (And I can testify that Remedios and Gwynneth Jones made a knock out combination, especially in Siegfried Act 3). Treleaven seems to be the only Cornish Tristan in operatic history.

Treleaven's musical start in life is slightly curious, he used to sing to himself when swimming in the harbour and was overheard by a teacher who invited him for lessons! Evidently for the last 10 years he's been studying with Jean Cox, a tenor whom I remember standing in for Alberto Remedios when ENO toured their Ring in the 70's. Treleaven is a prime example of the virtues of not starting out in the Wagner repertoire, I can remember him from his days with ENO doing Verdi and all sorts.

In Vienna, Franz Welser-Möst has been doing Die Walkure with the Staatsoper, Christopher Norton-Welsh describes it as 'one of the quietest performances I have heard'. Certainly a performance worth investigating.

Over in Lyon, Laurent Pelly has reached La Vie Parisienne, though the reviewer found the dialogue difficult to understand, despite a Francophone cast; quite a disappointment. Nadja Michael, Covent Garden's current Salome, was singing Marta (Tiefland) in Berlin but her voice was described as developing a wild vibrato, which is worrying; hopefully not a case of too much, too soon.

An interesting pair of viewpoints cropped up when Peter Mussbach's production of Don Giovanni cropped up in Berlin having first appeared at La Scala.
Giorgio Gualerzi dismissed the La Scala version (openly provocative), whereas Carlos Maria Solare simply found the Berlin incarnation boring. Still in Berlin, Dessau's Trial of Lukullus, a work that it would be interesting to hear over here.

In Dublin Opera Ireland gave Turandot in version set in Mao's China, with a chorus half of whom were from the Xinghai Convervatory of Music, and with a Chinese Calaf and a Japanese Turandot. In Amsterdam Strauss's Daphne received its first ever staging. In Madrid they performed Rossini's Tancredi, enterprisingly giving performances of both the endings. I must confess I've always preferred the jolly, upbeat Venice version as this, though less remarkable than the tragic Ferrara ending, seems to fit the rest of the opera better.

Having heard Barry Banks as Edgardo in London, I noted that he has been doing Tonio in La Fille du Regiment in Houston. How about getting the chance of hearing him in the role over here? In New York, another favourite of ours Alice Coote was doing Hansel, with Philip Langridge no less as the Witch. Hansel and Gretel was also on the menu in Hexham, where Opera North's Education Department alighted. Evidently their education is working as the show seems to have attracted mainly family groups. The opera will be returning to Covent Garden next season in a new production by Caurier and Leiser with Anja Silja and Felicity Palmer (as mother and the witch).

New Sussex Opera have been doing Idomeneo; we'd hoped to see it but dates and locations did not work out. It was conducted by the young conductor Nicholas Jenkins and the Idomeneo was his father, tenor Neil Jenkins. Rather appropriate for an opera which hinges on parental relationships. At 62 Neil Jenkins is evidently still 5 years short of Anton Raaff's age when he created the title role.

On DVD, Hartmann's Simpliciu Simplicissimus appears set in Harmann's Munich appartment. But most notable for me was the fact that Marcia Haydee appears in a spoken role. Haydee is forever associated in my mind with Kenneth Macmillan's ballet's, notably Requiem and Song of the Earth. And we have a fascinating book about Sullivan's Ivanhoe, but still no decent recording!

In We hear that.., Bryn Terfel is due do a new Dutchman at Covent Garden next season, directed by Tim Albery; don't hold your breath.

Alfie Boe is returning to La Boheme, this time in a new Jonathan Miller production at ENO (why another new production?).

Danielle de Niese is singing Galatea to Charles Workman's Acis at Covent Garden next season, and Natalie Dessay is doing her first Cleopatra in a new production in Paris of Giulio Cesare directed by Laurent Pelly (hmmm).

Gerald Finley is doing his first Hans Sachs for Glyndebourne in 2011, now that I really want to hear.

ENO is opening 2008/2009 with a new Cav and Pag directed by Richard Jones.

Over at Grange Park, Claire Rutter is doing Norma in 2009.

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