Wednesday 11 June 2008

From this Month's opera

Gleanings from this month's Opera magazine.

In an interview with Stephen Langridge and his father Philip, Stephen makes the interesting comment that when young and going to concerts sung by his father he was exposed to either 'really wacky modernism or Schütz, Scheidt and Schein.'. Later, when SL was doing work experience at Opera Factory he was living in a squat and used to phone singers to tell them when their call was for the next day from a payphone with the help of a bag of 10p pieces given him by the stage manager.

In another interview, Ferrucio Furlanetto comments that in 1977 when he got his first big break, as Don Giovanni, it was almost unheard of for a 27 year old to be cast in this opera. Whereas nowadays it is getting increasingly difficult to hear older singers in these roles. That said, he comments that he is no longer doing Figaro on stage, having seen a 55 year old colleague on stage looking like a 55 year old Figaro.

Evidently Furlanetto with be singing in Verdi's Don Carlo when the new Hyntner production is revived in 2010. He also sang in the French version in the previous Luc Bondy production, though as native Italian speaker he prefers singing the work in the Italian translation rather than the original French. The article goes on to comment that scholars (and some listeners!) prefer the French whereas singers prefer the Italian translation.

One of the few roles that Furlanetto has yet to do which he'd like to is Baron Ochs, now that's an interesting idea.

Still on the subject of age, 85 year old Franco Zefirelli is evidently miffed that the Met. plan to replace some of his productions. Having seen his over-cooked, over decorated La Traviata I'm surprised they've lasted so long.

The controversy surrounding the completion of Turandot continues. One letters correspondent comments that there is still a need for an authentically Puccinian solution which refers to the Puccini sketches which Alfano did not use. Oh well, we can but hope. I have only just recently heard the full Alfano completion live, thanks to Midsummer Opera, and this confirms me in my belief that full Alfano is preferable to the truncated Toscanini/Alfano currently in use.

There is now also a new conclusion by Han Weiya, but Julian Budden does not sound as if he was too impressed when he heard it in Beijing. And Shang Hai opera are going to be the first Chinese company to tour an original language Western opera to the west (to Dalhalla and Savolinna). At the performance in Shang Hai the company omitted the organ, which gave an interesting slant on Verdi's orchestration in the storm scene.

La Forza del Destino in Vienna, with Preziosilla as a Las Vegas cow girl! Still in Vienna, the first performance of Marin Marais's Alcione since 1771 - amazing what treasures are still remaining to be found. Gluck's Orfeo made it to Stockholm in 1773, only 11 years after its first performance. The opera has just returned, in Berlioz's 1859 version (with a cadenza by Saint-Saens written for Pauline Viardot) with Orfeo portrayed as an elderly, paunchy figure (production by the choreographer Mats Eck).

And in Berlin, an American Aida which had the 2nd Act danced by cheer leaders and the triumphal scene as an apple-pie eating competition.

And in Antwerp, a new opera by Luc Van Hove based on Fellini's La Strada, why try to improve on something like Fellini's film.

CNN opera has found its way to Chile, where a new piece by Sebastian Errazuriz bases itself on a 2005 tragedy where 45 soldiers died in a mountain storm.

Mixed reviews of the new production of Herold's Zampa from the restored Opera Comique in Paris. I have happy memories of playing the overture in the school orchestra and would have great curiosity to see the complete opera.

More curiosities. Leoncavallo's Edipo Re performed with Cav. in Thessaloniki - its not a hidden masterpiece evidently. And Gounod's La Nonne Sanglante performed in Osnabrück - evidently an opera worth investigating, based on an episode from Lewis's Gothic novel, The Monk.

And in Chicago a revival of Il Barbiere included the rarely performed final aria for Almaviva, something I'd love to hear live.

In New York, Martin Bernheimer seems less than enamoured of Satyagraha, his comments echoing my thoughts on the opera.

Christopher Morley in his review of L'Incoronazione di Poppea from Birmingham Conservatoire admits something which no-one seems to want to say; that the opera has stretches of tedium within the score.

In We hear that.. I see that Jonas Kaufmann is doing his first Lohengrin next year. And that Colin Lee will be singing Argirio in Tancredi at the Theater an der Wien.

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