Wednesday 2 July 2008

From this month's Opera

Gleanings from this month's Opera Magazine.

An interesting interview with conductor Kazushi Oni. Oni seems an interesting throwback, he coaches singers from the piano and in 2005 he saved the French premiere of Henze's Die Bassariden after industrial action by re-scoring it (in 3 days and nights) for 3 pianos, 7 percussionists and other instruments. Henze was impressed.

A clutch of distinguished obituaries. Edmund Barham, the tenor whom many of us remember as being a stalwart of ENO, aged only 58. Leyla Gencer the Turkish bel-canto soprano. And John Noble, the first Pilgrim in RVW's opera and Wat Tyler in Alan Bush's opera of the same name. (Now when is someone going to revive that opera we ask ourselves?)

In his review of Siegfried from the new Ring at the Staatsoper in Vienna, Christopher Norton-Welsh comments that despite some good personenregie director Sven-Eric Bechtholf has come in for some criticism because he has not subtext. How refreshing!

Still with the Ring, Strasbourg has reached Die Walküe, in David McVicar's new production. Rodney Milnes seems impressed and it tempts me to go over there for next season's Siegfried. McVicar's production involves extras playing Rams (specified in Wagner's libretto, they pull Fricka's chariot!) and horses. The horses are folk in sculpted metal costumes, but this means that the actual libretto for the Ride of the Valkyrie could be followed. Grane also accompanies his mistress to the Todesverkundigung, as specified by Wagner, and accompanies her to sleep at the end. Which of course raises the important point that McVicar will include Grane during the closing scenes of the final opera. It sounds a fascinating and lovely so can't we see it in the UK please.

Another non-schocking Ring. This time Rhinegold in Hamburg directed by Claus Guth, conducted by Simone Young.

Unusual operas. Wolf Ferrari's Il Segreto di Susanna seems to have been a hit on Montreal and over in Prague they have been exploring Leoncavallo's La Boheme. Hartmann's Simplicius Simplicissimus in Hanover, now when are we going to hear the opera in the UK. In Rome, performances of Saul, no not Handel's oratorio but an opera by Flavio Testi setting Gide's drama of the same name - the reviewer describes the opera as involving and stimulating. So how about doing it in tandem with the Handel version.

Still in Rome, Zefferelli has just committed a new Tosca, consolation for the retirement of his productions in New York perhaps. Luigi Bellingardi described the spectacle grand and luxurious, just on the brink of kitsch.

Over in Ireland, Ariadne auf Naxos with the composer as a woman, having a Lesbian affair with Zerbinetta, sniffing coke etc. Hmmm.

At the gala for the opening of the new opera house in Oslo, Solveig Kringelborn sang a song from Waldemar Thrane's Mountain Adventure (of 1824, a Jenny Lind favourite) accompanied by a Norwegian species of Alpenhorn. Then there was a performance of Va pensiero sung by a choir of amateurs, 1 each from Norway's 430 muncipalities; what a wonderful idea.

A couple of whatever happened to her sort of appearances at Carnegie Hall; Kathleen Battle returned for a recital and Aprille Millo sang at a gala. Millo in particular is one of those names who seems to have dropped from the circuit.

A fit of campery (or more) seems to have come over Acis and Galatea at Wilton's Music Hall with Damon, Corydon and Cleon as sailors attempting to deduce Acis during Stay, shepherd stay. In his review of a DVD of Ariodante George Loomis comments that whilst no-one observes the entrance and exit rules for opera seria it would be interesting to see a director try.

That Icon of early 19th century opera, Pauline Viardot (younger sister to Malibran) survived rather longer than Malibran; Viardot died in Paris in 1904. She had a strong relationship with Turgenev and he spent much time living either with or nextdoor to Viardot and her husband. She wrote operettas with Turgenev as librettist. Michael Steen's new biography sounds interesting reading.

We hear that...; Christine Brewer is doing Gluck's Alceste at Santa Fe next year - sounds a good reason for going. Paul Groves also stars. Susan Bullock gets to sing Brunnhilde at Covent Garden in the 2012-13 Ring cycles (sounds worth waiting for). Catherine Malfitano is having a go at another new Tosca at ENO in 2010 (Keith Warner's production can't be that old can it?). Angela Gheorghiu will do Luisa Miller at Covent Garden in 2009-10 (perhaps???). Hope they get a new production, the previous new one was less than acute. Still at the Garden, Francesca Zamballo is doing Tchaikovsky's Cherevichki with Sergei Leiferkus, and John Tomlinson will be the Grand Inquisitor in the 2009 revival of Don Carlo.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:07 pm

    Hello Robert,

    Thanks for sharing, your blog is an inspiration for my classical music + opera blog, newly sprung.

    Best wishes in London town. I adore that city. Perhaps you've heard Katie Van Kooten perform? She is from my town, and we've worked together.

    Mozart's Left Toe


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