Friday 14 November 2008

Gleanings from this month's Opera magazine

The interview is with Patricia Bardon, who is singing Maurya in the new ENO Riders to the Sea, something I'm looking forward to immensely. Evidently as a child she wanted to be Tina Turner or Aretha Franklin. She is someone who you associate with Handel, but evidently she waited 10 years before her first major Handel role. The interview was done before the ENO Partenope, but she talks about a previous production which was played for laughs and wonder's whether the work is a comedy. Quite. Interestingly she's performing it again in a production by Pierre Audi, now that won't be comedy! Apart from Handel I still remember her striking performance in Bizet's Djamileh.

The previous issue's article about musical criticism and current standards seems to have created quite a heated correspondence. It is an interesting point about what qualifies a critic to be a critic; I suppose my view would be that it takes someone who has ears to listen and who can write comprehensibly about what they've heard - something that is not always as easy as it sounds.

Some interesting comments about the initial critical reception of Donizetti's Parisina d'Este. Evidently the critics found it noisy and shouted, comments that today seem quite unbelievable. It makes you realise that earlier critical views are always so difficult to assess and to place in context.

Scottish Opera's 15 minutes operas are back next year. Maybe this time I'll get to hear some of them.

Evidently Opus Arte have recorded Jonathan Dove's Pinnochio, I can't wait.

Obits for Peter Glossop, a singer whom I never got to hear live alas, but I still treasure his recording of Verdi's Macbeth in concert with Rita Hunter, doing the original version.

I Masnadieri in Australia - evidently the critic Chorley, after hearing the opera in 1845 in London he described it as the worst opera Verdi ever wrote! Still in Australia, a new Orlando had a theme running through it, sheep! It was also so cut that it lasted under 3 hours.

Over in Austria they performed Karl V by Karl Krenek, as it is 12 tone its rather a different style to his Johnny spielt auf.

Over in Brazil, Ariadne auf Naxos was staged for the first time since the 1980's, with Zerbinetta and her ensemble as a rock group.

And in Paris they did the 4 Act Italian version of Don Carlo, is nothing sacred.

And in Berlin Il Turco in Italia appeared set in Fellini's film era, sound familiar. ENO did a similar thing some years ago, and it didn't work then.

Mozart's Idomeneo in the tiny Cuvillies Theatre in Munich. Hugh Canning raises the problem of doing Idamante as a tenor; having too many tenors in the cast. You wonder what Mozart might have made of the opera had he lived. Still it did have John Mark Ainsley as Idomeneo.

In Venice, Death in Venice made an appearance, 35 years after it was first performed there in 1973. Evidently this was a production which takes the erotic relationship between Aschenbach and Tadzio seriously.

At Fort Worth, Of Mice and Men opened in a new production, with the 89 year old Carlisle Floyd in attendance. They also performed Angels in America, Peter Eotvos's operatic version. The reviewer comments, quite rightly, the problems of trying to boil a 7 hour play down to an opera lasting less than 3 hours. You wonder why people try in the first place.

Is it me, or does the best bit of the new operatic version of David Cronenberg's The Fly seem to be the pictures of a naked Seth Brundle. And in San Francisco the imported production of Handel's Ariodante was so bad the review says it makes a good case for opera in concert! More cuts in the Santa Fe Radamisto, which ran for under 3 hours. Still the designs looked fab.

Finally, in We hear that...
Mary Plazas is doing Lucrezia Borgia in Buxton.
Covent Garden are doing a new production of Tchaikovsky's Cherevichki next year.
Nina Stemme is doing Isolde at Covent Garden in 2009-10, I hope they are doing a new production for her!

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