Wednesday 22 April 2009

Gleanings from this month's Opera magazine

A clutch of obits for sadly young musicians. David-Alexandre Borloz, a Swiss baritone who we saw at Grange Park was only 32. Australian soprano Deborah Riedel was only 50. Phyllida Ritter, who I first knew of as the Covent Garden Friends Administrator, was 49. Richard Salter, a British baritone hardly known in this country, was 65.

In Argentina they revived an opera sacra (!) by Monsignor Licino Refice based on the life of St. Cecilia; it was premiered in Rome in 1934 with Claudia Muzio, no less, in the title role. In Mexico they've just premiered an opera by Jose Maria Vitier with a libretto by the writer Carlos Fuentes. The opera, Santa Anna, was part of Fuentes 80th birthday celebrations.

In her review of Handel's Orlando from Melbourne, the reviewer suggests that Handel's treatment of Orlando is a subtle and ironic form of humour - the incongruity of a great warrior worrying about affairs of the heart. Interesting, I'd need to think about that one, but it makes you realise that Handel's original audience would have come to the opera with an entirely different set of mental baggage to us.

And over in Dresden history of a different sort came up. Evidently Boris Godunov may not have killed the Tsarevich after all and the new production at the Semper Opera used this fact.

In the review of Palestrina from Munich, the opera is described as a gloomy re-write of Die Meistersinger, another idea to go away and cogitate on.

In Rome, they've just had their first production of Verdi's Otello since 1968 and their first Der Rosenkavalier for 45 years.

In Pamplona you could hear Bellini's I Puritani in the 900 seater theatre - bliss.

Stockholm saw a new opera based on Torgny Lindgren's novel Batseba. As usual, it sounds as if the transformation of the novel to operatic stage was problematic. Novels usually have so much material in them that you end up having to jettison far too much material for comfort.

In Zurich, a new production of Tristan und Isolde set in the Villa Wesendonck, dealing with Wagner's affair with Mathilde Wesendonck - fascinating idea, and it sounds as if they production worked well.

The Haydn and Handel Society of Boston (USA) gave the first American performance of Haydn's The Creation 190 years ago.
Seattle saw Rosalind Plowright's Kytemnestra (in Elektra) - now, when can we hear it please!

Some more dates. Covent Garden's 1897 staging of La Boheme was not replaced until 1967 and the 1900 Tosca lasted until 1966!

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