Monday 6 October 2008

In this month's Opera

Gleanings from this month's Opera magazine.

It shouldn't matter, of course, but I couldn't noticing the mention of John Mark Ainsley's civil partnership in his interview. Many gay singers still seem to live in a glass closet, with all mention of partners omitted from interviews. It would be nice to see more of Ainsley in London, he is a sing whom I have always admired. And, for the record, I find his way with Handel as seductive, if not more so, than anything Mark Padmore or Ian Bostridge can conjure up.

There was also an interesting article by Brian Kellow on the decline of writing about voices in musical criticism. The problem, of course, is that it requires time and space to adequately write about differences in voices. You need to keep a register in your head of the different singers and their performances. It is far easier, and quicker, to simply comment on what is happening on stage. I have been to a number of performances where, when reading the reviews, I couldn't believe how some critics seemed to ignore the apparent vocal difficulties or deficiencies of particular singers.

And Robin Holloway describes his sojourn on the green hill of Bayreuth, having never been there before. Neither have I, and its starting to look as if this is one thing that we'll never do. Perhaps I should have made more effort to get tickets when the Chereau ticket was young!

A couple of venerable names in the obits: Nicola Rescigno and Grace Hoffmann. Both blasts from the past whom I was surprised to encounter again.

In Chile, they've just had their first staging of Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle amazingly enough, given in a double bill with Suor Angelica. Now there's a new combination, passing strange as well.

And in Bologna, they've done Samson et Dalila for the first time since 1951, and prior to that they'd only done it in 1899. The opera is so ubiquitous here that you forget this isn't true everywhere. And Seattle Opera have just done done I Puritani for the first time in their 45 years of existence. And they had Lawrence Brownlee as an Arturo complete with the high F!

And in Sussex, New Sussex Opera are doing RVW's opera/operetta The Poisoned Kiss in early November. Alas, I'm going to miss it.

In Madrid, they've done a series on Orpheus including a concert performance of the Paris version of Gluck's opera. The event gets just a throw away line at the end of the review, rather frustrating as the haut-contre part was sung by Juan Diego Florez. Now that's something I would like to hear.

In Lyon, Jose Montalvo and Dominique Hervieu who were responsible for the version of Rameau's La Paladins which I disliked, have been let loose on Porgy and Bess.

And in Erfurt, Leoncavallo's La reginetta delle rose received an outing. One of his Italian language, Viennese style, operettas (written as money spinners I believe), it would be interesting to encounter one.

In Stuttgart they've just done Halevy's La Juive in a relatively complete edition which meant that it lasted nearly 6 hours. They obviously had more time to go to the opera in the old days.

An interesting comment on the new Don Giovanni in Chicago. John von Rhein comments on how the director ignored the class distinction which drives the action. How true, this is something that often annoys me in new productions.

Roger Parker's review of Monkey at Covent Garden is interesting for the intelligent way he attacks the problem of what is an opera, and what do we expect to hear in an opera house. Parker, again, gives a thoughtful review of Eotvos's Love and Other Demons at Glyndebourne and gives the lie to the suggestions that Eotvos had mellowed his style.

Age seems to crop up in various places. Rodney Milnes, in his review of the Rudolph Kempe Ring from Covent Garden, admits that he was there for the original Ring Cycles in 1957. And then, I learn that Soile Ioskoski is 51, and I still think of her as a young singer!

1 comment:

  1. Classical Music Blog from London based singer and classical music composer, Robert Hugill; News, Views and opera reviews, CD reviews musings on contemporary music and writing new music.

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