Saturday 30 May 2009

Gleanings from this month's Opera magazine

Rather later than usual, here are my gleanings from the May edition of Opera magazine.

The interview is with Christopher Purves, who is currently singing Falstaff at Glyndebourne. He comments that he finds sight-reading easy but difficult to learn music - its gratifying to learn that better singers than me have such problems. Purves still sings Bach, Purcell and Handel and comments that they are a colossal challenge and few other operatic roles approach them.

Various eminent musicians and writers were asked to name their favourite Haydn opera. I rather liked Rupert Christiansen's comment 'Haydn. I stared hard at the Editor's email requesting a paragraph about my favourite Haydn opera with disbelief. Haydn? Surely a misprint for Handel.'

There is an obituary for Christopher Raeburn, the record producer who did so many of Decca's post-war operatic recordings.

Deborah Warner's ENO production of Death in Venice popped up in Brussels with John Graham Hall doing some of the performances. So why didn't we get the chance to hear him in the role in London? And Death in Venice amazingly received its first Czech performance in January at the State Opera in Prague. Even more impressively, the title role was sung in English (good English as well evidently) by Jiri Hajek.

Massenet's Werther had received 1389 performances at the Opera Comique in Paris by the 1970's but took until 1984 to reach the Palais Garnier.

And Long Beach Opera in California gave what were only the 3rd and 4th performances of The Cunning Little Vixen in Southern California.

Handel's Partenope seems to be popping up all over, probably because it is one of his few lighter operas. Pierre Audi has just done it in Vienna, at the Theater an der Wien. But he has fudged the ending and Rosmira goes off with Emilio rather than Arsace. Hmmm.

Philippe Boesmann's new opera, Yvonne, princesse de Bourgogne, has just appeared in Paris. Evidently it has tunes, a story, a structure that works etc. So many new operas don't, lets hope that it travels.

The Met in New York celebrated its 125th birthday with a gala which included 26 different operatic excerpts, many presented in stagings evoking the original stagings. Juan Diego Florez performed La donna e mobile wearing a copy of the costume Caruso wore (needless to say Florez's costume was far smaller than Caruso's). And Natalie Dessay gave a taster for her complete Violetta in Santa Fe this summer (which we'll be seeing I'm delighted to say).

The Met have also unveiled a new production of La Sonnambula, its first new production of the opera for 36 years amazingly.

Over in the Lincoln Centre, the revamped Alice Tully Hall was the site of a rare revival of Kurt Weill's The Firebrand of Florence.

In Andrew Clark's review of Scottish Opera's latest Five:15 offering, he comments that too often 'composers and libettists are encouraged to behave like opera virgins; they think their job is to reinvent the wheel'. Quite so! I wish more people thought like that in opera admin, and we might get a few more well crafted new operas. It seems that Five:15 did offer this, Clark described Stuart MacRae's Remembrance Day as a full fledged operatic miniature; heartening given that MacRae's first opera, The Assassin Tree was disappointing. His librettist in the new piece is the novelist Louise Welch (someone whose novels I love) and she seems to have come up with a good economical text. Hurrah. Lets hope they do more.

The DVD of the 1983 performance of Strauss's Intermezzo from Glyndebourne has turned up. I remember being there at one of the performances and finding the opera enchanting, with Felicity Lott superb as Pauline.

From the We hear that... column.

Emma Bell is doing Eva (Die Meistersinger) at Covent Garden in 2011, conducted by Pappano. So presumably she is finally saying good by to her Handel roles.

Martin Duncan is directing Rossini's Armida at Garsington next year. That's the one with the trio for three tenors (an ensemble never sung by The Three Tenors, not surprisingly). Almost worth braving the weather for.

Barbara Frittoli is doing her first Adriana Lecouvreur at the Liceu in 2012, now that is worth travelling to Barcelona for.

John Graham-Hall will be singing in Peter Grimes at La Scala in 2012, in the role of Bob Boles.

Janis Kelly makes her much overdue Covent Garden debut in October in Gianni Schicchi.

And Charles Mackerras will be conducting The Cunning Little Vixen at the Garden in 2010 with Emmas Matthews and Bell!

All in all, lots to look forward to.

1 comment:

  1. Great article, I'm really enjoying your blog.


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