Saturday 14 March 2009

From this month's Opera

Gleaning from the March issue of Opera magazine.

In the feature article, Michael Tanner considers something which I've long felt to be true, that concert performances of operas can be profoundly satisfying.

The interview is with Veronique Gens. Evidently her family hails from the Auvergne, where her grandmother had a house, so she is well placed to record the Canteloube; certainly makes me want to dash out and buy her recording on Naxos. Opera speculates that she must be one of the few international sopranos who can milk a cow!

Gens seems to prove the adage that the French don't like French singers, she has never sung at the Opera or the Chatelet in Paris. But in Brussels she'll be doing Iphigenie (en Aulide) where Pierre Audi is planning to do both Iphigenies in the same evening. Why? I remember when David Freeman did it, with Marie Angel. Both operas were cut and neither seemed to relate to the other.

Also, joy of joys, Gens is returning to Covent Garden to sing the title role in Agostino Steffani's Niobe. No, I've never heard of it either. Steffani was an older contemporary of Handel's, and may have helped him get his job in Hanover. Interesting Steffani wrote a Hamlet opera, now that would be interesting!

There is also an article celebrating ETO's 30th anniversary; in fact this week their Spring season starts at the Hackney empire and we're off to see The Magic Flute on Saturday. Their recent roster of operas has been impressively catholic, including quite a lot of Janacek and Handel, alongside early Italians like Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda and a forthcoming series of concerts of Norma. Last tour they did Rusalka and the Peter Brook derangement of Carmen. In fact the Rusalka evidently sold better than the Carmen; nor surprising really because the Dvorak was the better production I think.

In Austria, Toby Spence was doing Tom Rakewell; now why couldn't we have heard him doing it in the new Covent Garden production. As I never want to see that production again, I do hope someone else in the UK casts him in the role. Still in Austria, it is 45 years since Strauss's Intermezzo has been done in Vienna. Still in Vienna, there was a staging of Oscar Straus's mDie lustige Nibelungen, now why can't UK opera companies put this on as a Satyr Play epilogue to their Ring cycles.

Over in Ghent, a new production of Britten's The Rape of Lucretia cast mainly with Dutch or Flemish singers; good to see that such works are getting cast with non-anglophone singers.

And in Toulouse, Enescu's Oedipe, an opera that I have always wanted to hear and entirely failed to. But this performance was the first fully staged performance in France since the opera's creation, so I'm not going to hold my breath regarding seeing it. Couldn't some enterprising company borrow the production? (Too expensive probably).

And in Germany the Komischer Oper, Berlin, did La Traviata in German with a cast hailing from Ireland, Wales and Greece; not surprisingly not much of the German came over.

Another opera I've always missed in the theatre, Marschner's Der Vampyr cropped up in Bologna of all places, in a new production by Pier Luigi Pizzi. For these performances they included a cabaletta written by the 20-year old Wagner for the tenor's big Act 2 aria.

Over in Mexico they did enterprisingly did Acis and Galatea, but in Spanish.

And in New York, Opera in the Heights offered the very 19th century programme of Don Pasquale, preceded by the 1st act of Lucia di Lammermoor - what a combination. And at the Met, Stephanie Blythe sang Orfeo. Blythe was also Dalila in Pittsburgh. Wonderful to find that in some places, body fascism absent.

New York City Opera gave a concert performance of Barber's Antony and Cleopatra. Another opera that I've always missed. Unfortunately Martin Bernheimer's view of the work has rather put me off.

In the We hear that... column:-
Richard Jones will be doing a new Il Trittico at Covent Garden with Anja Harteros as Suor Angelica, in 2011.

Jonas Kaufman will sing Parsifal at the Met in 2013-13 in a new production shared with Lyon.


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