Sunday 19 April 2020

A Life on Line: Don Giovanni, Rusalka and Easter weekend

W. A. Mozart: Don Giovanni - Markus Suihkonen, Tuomas Pursi - Finnish National Opera
W. A. Mozart: Don Giovanni - Markus Suihkonen, Tuomas Pursi - Finnish National Opera
Last week started with Easter weekend and so much of our on-line content reflected Holy Week, starting with Adrian Butterfield, Rachel Brown and Silas Silas Wollston in the opening Sonata of Bach’s Palm Sunday Cantata 182, Himmelskönig, sei willkommen on YouTube, and the London Handel Players joining remotely for movements from Handel's La Resurrezione on YouTube. Still on YouTube, the choir of St Marylebone Parish Church gathered on-line for the Easter Hymn from Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana. And also in an Easter mood, Matthew Sharp contributed a baritone and cello Leonard Cohen/JeffBuckley/Johann Sebastian Bach piece on Facebook.

Oxford Bach Soloists, directed by Jeremy Hamway-Bigood, with Daniel Norman (Evangelist), Roderick Williams (Christus) and the Gesualdo Six presented the first episode of St John Passion in Isolation on YouTube and fundraising for Help Musicians.

Still with Bach's William Vann presented the first episode of his Fugue Masterclass on YouTube and on Instagram Anneke Scott reached Day 26 of #AChoraleADay with the final chorale "Gott Lob und Dank, der nicht zugab" from Bach's cantata Wär Gott nicht mit uns diese Zeit, BWV 14. Carmen and Tamaki from Villiers Quartet performed Bach's Invention No. 1 in C Major, BWV 772 for violin & viola

On Instagram, Satoko Doi-Luck multi-tracked herself on harpsichord,  five members of the Marian Consort gave us William Byrd's Emendemus in melius, and James Baillieu plus an amazing variety of friends from around the world assembled on-line for Howard Goodall's The Lord is my Shepherd. Pianist Simon Lepper collaborated with soprano Lauren Fagan and violinist Roberto Gonzalez-Monjas for a lovely account of Richard Strauss' Beim schlafen gehen. The orchestra of English National Ballet and conductor Gavin Sutherland are also working from home, in the overture from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.

The City Music Foundation is releasing a series of videos of performances by its artists on YouTube, do subscribe to their channel and help support these young artists. If, like me, you are missing your regular dose of Gregorian chant on a Sunday, then try the Neumz website where you can hear the Benedictine Nuns from the Abbey of Jouques in a project to record the entire Gregorian chant, day by day. And the director of the London Bel Canto Festival, Kenneth Querns-Langley is offering on-line singing tuition at their Bel Canto Vocal Studio, visit the festival website for more details.

Away from music, the general director of Holland Park Opera, Michael Volpe, in his #CucinaVolpe, was describing how to make Oliva all’Ascolana.

We caught English Touring Opera's Easter Sunday transmission of Bach's St John Passion, an archive recording of the performance from the Hackney Empire [see my review] to which contributions from choirs around the country had been added. We also caught the Metropolitan Opera's archive broadcast of its 2014 performance of Dvorak's Rusalka conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin with Renée Fleming, John Relyea, Dolora Zajick, and Piotr Beczala in the venerable 1993 Otto Schenk, Günther Schneider-Siemssen production which Fleming first sang in, in 1997. The production was profoundly beautiful, though Schneider-Siemssen's set for Acts 1 & 3 seemed to provide little scope for the director beyond lovely picture making. This was a production for anyone wanting Dvorak's fairytale told without any disturbing undertones.

Rather different was Mozart's Don Giovanni from Finnish National Opera, directed by theatre director Jussi Nikkilä, conducted by Patrick Fournillier with Tuomas Pursio, Hanna Rantala, Koit Soasepp, Tamuna Gochashvili, Tuomas Katajala, Markus Suihkonen, Henri Uusitalo and Olga Heikkilä. This was a modern take on the story, told fairly straight but with great style. Nikkilä used a group of dancers to articulate his vision, and their portrayal of Giovanni's conquests at the opening clearly indicated his bisexual tastes. Oh, and Leporello had the names of Giovanni's conquests tattooed on his body!

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