Friday 6 February 2009

Gleanings from this month's Opera

From this month's Opera magazine.

The interview is with Vivica Genaux, who makes some interesting observations on the difficulty of making a decent mark in a role like Rosina (Barber of Seville) where you get just 20 minutes rehearsal and have to fit in to an existing concept.

There is an obituary for Richard Hickox; evidently when I saw him conduct Aida in Manchester, at the RNCM, in 1974 it was his operatic debut. And an obit. for Richard Van Allan; Van Allan sang for Glyndebourne Touring opera in his early days, covering an amazingly wide range of roles - Cavalli to Mozart, Haydn, Rossini through to Britten, Prokofiev, Maw and Dove.

Also in the Obits., one for the English mezzo Enid Hartle, written by Linda Esther Gray.

A Viennese performance of Gluck's original Orfeo, which was written for Vienna, where Stephen Lawless and Lynne Hockney seem to have made sense of the final dances, rather than them being something embarrassedly tacked on. Still in opera seria land, they Handel's Ezio has cropped up in Turin of all places, along with a performance of Peri and Caccini's Euridice. One of the earliest operas, I saw it many, many years ago in Florence and, I am afraid, found it entirely forgettable.

Over in Lyons there were doing La Clemenza di Tito, with Sesto transmogrified into an androgynous one which the reviewer refers to as Sesta! How would the opera work if Sesto was really turned into a woman! And in Marseille they have been doing Reyer's Salammbo. I know Reyer mainly for his opera Sigurd, which covers the same territory as the Ring but in a different fashion. It is an opera I have long wanted to hear but entirely failed to do so. I know it mainly from an excerpt on a Regine Crespin recital record.

Still in France, and back on the cross dressing track, Giorgio Batistelli seems to have come up with that rare thing, a contemporary comic operaDivorce a l'Italienne; complete with a heroine played by the Rossini bass Bruno Practico.

Peter Eotvos's Love and Other Demons has wandered its way from Lewes to Lithuania (in the same production). In Lithuania, Mariso Montalvo, for whom the leading role was written, was finally able to perform in the opera having had to drop out of the Glyndebourne performances due to ill health. There was also a staging of Ponchielli's I Lituani - beat that for a combination of obscurity and local colour.

Evidently the original of the holy Grail is kept on an altar in Valencia Cathedral, so it seems entirely apt that they should be performing Parsifal.

We missed the Reginald Goodall celebrations at the London Coliseum, which was a shame as it sounds as it it was fascinating. Evidently Peter Pears said that no-one had ever conducted Peter Grimes better than Goodall.

Over in Munich they have been digging up one of E.T.A. Hoffman's operas ReadingLiebe und Eifersucht. The review was not impressed, alas. The review of the ROH's latest outing of Les Contes d'Hoffman says they should think twice before replacing the production. True perhaps, but for some reason the production is still attached to a woefully old-fashioned edition of the score. Can't we have a re-studied version which uses a version of the score which utilised recent scholarship (and spoken dialogue!).-

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