Thursday 18 December 2008

Gleanings from this month's Opera Magazine

In the interview with Jonas Kaufman he is described as one of the world's leading lyric tenors, which seems strange for a man who has Florestan and Aeneas (Les Troyens) in his repertoire. It is interesting that Hugh Canning suggests that Wunderlich is a sing whose career Kaufman's resembles, so certainly a space to watch. And he's doing Don Carlos at Covent Garden next year; if only it was in French life would be complete!

A survey of lesser known tenors makes the interesting point that in the era of the 78, most singers with a certain degree of celebrity could be asked to make a few records. But nowadays this becomes increasingly unlikely and there are all sorts of people who have fallen through the cracks.

In Montpelier they have been digging up hidden gems again. First off Pizzetti's Fedra. Pizzetti is definitely a name rare on the London operatic stage; surely we ought to get a fresh look at his operatic version of Murder in the Cathedral?

The second Montpelier opera was La Esmeralda by Louise Bertin. Until Montpelier revived it the opera had last been performed in 1836, but Liszt had prepared the vocal score and Berlioz took the rehearsals. Sounds like another one for the lists of possibles.

Still in the neglected opera corner, over in Karlsruhe they have been trying out Alfanos' Cyrano de Bergerac.

In Dublin, Balfe's Falstaff has received a rare outing (and there is going to be a recording). If we can get decent new editions of the operas, let us hope that this is a promise of more Balfe operas to come. Perhaps singing them in Italian might get over the slight neo-G&S aura which hangs over his work.

And in Macerata they've presented Marco Tutino's opera The Servant based on the Robin Maugham short story (and Joseph Losey film). Sounds the sort of thing it would be interesting to present in the UK.

Drottningholm revived FLorian Gassman's 1769 opera buffa Opera Seria, which turns out to have a libretto by Calzabigi, librettist of Gluck's Reform operas.

And in Martina Franca they heard Mercadante's final opera, Pelagio. Mercadante's music has been heard at Wexford, but even they do not appear to have managed to conjure the composer out of Verdi's shadow, and performances of his operas are still rare.

In Munich they've just presented Robert Carsen's new production of Ariadne auf Naxos, not a rareity I grant you, but it was performed in the small(ish) but perfectly formed PrinzRegenten Theater, which has an auditorium shaped like Bayreuth's. Still in Munich, Agnes Baltsa appeared as Klytemnestra in Elektra. Baltsa is a singer who seemed something of a fixture at Covent Garden for a period before disappearing with remarkable rapidity.

Weimar's Ring has reached it's conclusion, but seems to provide no element of final redemption, which seems to negate Wagner's point. But trying to judge an opera performance based on what someone has written is always tricky, even though I end up doing it rather a lot. Over in Lisbon, Susan Bullock has been doing her duty as Brunnhilde in Graham Vick's Siegfried. We, of course, have to wait a few years yet to hear her in the role.

In the UK age is catching up on me and I marvel that ENO's Jonathan Miller Barber of Seville is currently 21 year's old and WNO's Giles Havergal Barber is 22 years old. In the former John Tessier sounds as if he was terrific, but its too much to hope that he got his final aria (the one Rossini re-used in La Cenerentola).

Opera North's Tosca starred Takesha Meshe Kizart who, it turns out, is the great-niece of Blues legend Muddy Waters.

Finally, in We hear that... It seems that Richard Bonynge is conducting Roberto Devereux at Holland Park next year. Rosemary Joshua is doing Despina at Covent Garden in 2011, I'd like to say that I wish it was something more exciting, but that would let me down by showing how low Cosi comes in my reckoning.

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