Opera 3

Posted by: Kay

Opera 3 - 08/04/10 04:32 PM

Starting a new topic because my slow beach connection can't handle 190 posts....I am excited!

Just got an email advising Roanoke area opera fans that we will be getting simulcasts this fall through Virginia Western Community College!

Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 08/10/10 07:01 PM

Oh, I missed seeing this! That is great news, Kay. How many are you going to go see?
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 09/23/10 05:51 PM

They just got the website up and running, with a PDF of the schedule. Looks like I'll have to miss Don Carlos because of a long standing conflict.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 09/23/10 05:54 PM

Hmmmm....based on the date of Barbara's response, this was about the time my computer crashed.
Posted by: Pete

Re: Opera 3 - 09/26/10 08:38 PM

Kay: Speaking of Roanoke area opera. . .

This afternoon, my spouse and I attended a the opening of a concert series; the Virginia Chorale Trio. They sang a series of Broadway songs, very, very well.

Reading through the program, the short bio revealed an Opera Roanoke connection: the tenor is Scott Williamson. I spoke briefly to him at the reception; he knows you, of course (and I finally learned how to pronounce Koehler). The soprano was his wife, Amy. I don't know if you know the baritone, Steve Kelley, or the artistic cirector, Charles Woodward; their credits seem to be centered around Hampton Roads.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 09/27/10 03:33 PM

Soctt recently assumed leadership of Opera Roanoke from Steven White, who is on track for much bigger things. Amy acquitted herself very nicely in last season's "Lucia."

Hmmmm.....never thought there was a problem with the name...KOH-ler (my husband's family HATED the pronunciation with the long A but I run into it a lot)...on a trip to Austria and Germany we got called "Kewler" a lot.

May I assume that "Gran-zoh" is acceptible?
Posted by: Pete

Re: Opera 3 - 09/27/10 09:47 PM

The long a sound is how it would have been pronounced in Wisconsin. I should have realized that in Arkansas, it would have been a long o. I can underestand the Germans considered the oe to be an o with umlaut, and "Kewler" comes close to that.

And yes, my name changed spelling several times over the years, from Grantzow to Granzow to Granzo to Granzeau. Accent the first syllable, the eau is a long o.

[This message has been edited by Pete (edited 09-27-2010).]
Posted by: Pete

Re: Opera 3 - 09/27/10 09:58 PM

Mary Page has seen the Virginia Chorale; a pleasure I've missed out on. I'm working on attending one or two showings of the Met, myself.

I don't know what Amy's high note is, but she hit it several times Lovely lady, too.
Posted by: Jon

Re: Opera 3 - 09/30/10 07:13 AM

With American surnames containing "-oe-", I figure it could be either OH or AY. A particular name might cause me to favor one choice or the other when I guess, but really I have to ask to make sure.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 09/30/10 10:31 AM

Had my husband's family favored the "ay" pronunciation, I would probably have been a pioneer in retaining the patrinomic after marriage...I don't think I could have gone through life as "Kay Kayler"...although I know of at least one who did...encountered her on the internet in fact.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 10/06/10 09:18 PM

First simulcast of the season coming up this Saturday, Das Rheingold.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 10/06/10 09:42 PM

We won't get it until Sunday for some reason.
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 3 - 10/07/10 10:54 AM

Then you won't get it live. But...Bryn Terfel.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 10/09/10 06:36 PM

Wow! Wow, wow, wow! They pulled all the stops out on this one. The shortest three Wagnerian hours I've ever spent.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 10/09/10 10:02 PM

A very successful production, I'd say. And EVERYBODY sounded good. Performed without an intermission, so the backstage stuff was shown before the opera started. I'd thought the Rhine Maidens would probably be shown via a projection, but no, they were flown in live in front of a motion-and-voice-activated projection of bubbles. The three singers found the whole experience scary; the expression on the face of one girl when she first saw the harness she was going to wear -- well, it was priceless! But they all went through with it and the result was a very effective piece of theater.

Eric Owens's Alberich almost stole the show -- almost, but not quite. (Has anyone ever stolen the show from Bryn Terfel?) I especially liked Franz-Josef Selig's Fasolt. The audience in my theater found it all quite exhilirating and applauded enthusiastically and at some length, all the way through the curtain calls. Well, the singing and the production had to be good, to take your mind off the story. The story...oh dear, that story.
1. Don't ignore the fact that Hell hath no fury like a Nibelung scorned.

2. When contemplating home improvement, make sure you have enough in the bank to pay the construction workers.

3. Don't let a little dab of gold on your finger give you delusions of grandeur.

4. Keep the in-laws happy at all costs.

5. For a finale, make up a new word, like "Valhalla".
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 3 - 10/10/10 12:10 PM

Yep, that just about sums it up. My audience applauded too...and the Met audience booed Loge, ha.

I'm not a Wagner fan, but I loved this production. Only two things I'd quibble about. Terfel seemed to spend more time standing still than singing. And calling a piece of cloth a "helmet" required more suspension of disbelief than I could come up with. The stage set surprised me. At first I thought, oh no, not another bare set! But this one worked very well. Those long planks were remarkably versatile, especially the slanted ones the singers could slide down. That long tilted stairway Wotan and Loge descended into Nibelheim was very dramatic. I only decided to go to this performance at the last minute, but I'm certainly glad I did!
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 10/10/10 02:53 PM

The way those planks were manipulated was really clever, and there was no "bare set" feel to it at all. But unless I misunderstood the interview, they'll be using those planks for all four Ring operas. I'm just wondering how clever they'll seem to the Met audience by the end of Götterdämmerung.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 10/10/10 06:59 PM

Terfel sang the entire opera with his hair pulled down and hiding what was supposed to be an empty eye socket. Only in the curtain calls did he smile and pull back his hair to reveal a living eye underneath. It occurs to me that it must be extremely difficult to perform anything with only half your vision. You need both eyes to focus properly. Maybe that's why Terfel stood motionless so often. He had a few quick movements, but nothing tricky. I imagine Eboli in Don Carlos has the same problem -- unless her eyepatch has a pinhole opening.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 10/15/10 09:53 PM

Tomorrow night I'll be attending a LIVE OPERA...or rather a "concert" almagam of the best bits of the various Fausts...including I hope Boito and Busoni, but I expect we will start off with the wild ride from Berlioz (the three Faustian B's?) and wrap with the angelic chorus from Gounod...with a soldiers chorus, a jewel song, etc., in between. This is Roanoke, after all, the audience that could barely sit still for the Wagnerian pistache last year.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 10/19/10 10:41 PM

never saw the "official" review of the Faust concert...but it was excellent and as near a sell out as I've seen for opera in Roanoke...it helps to have a huge chorus including a lot of "cherubim" from the local children's choir.

Steven White...who flew out to one of his Met gigs as soon as it was over, led a rousing performance of the REAL highlights from Boito, Berlioz and Gounod....NO jewel song, and NO soldier's chorus...But a heavenly HEAVENLY chorus or two and a wonderful Mephisto himself by Jeffrey Tucker who almost made me forget about Siepi.

One (probably the only) plus about living down the road from Liberty University is that their music department is stupendous and we get to borrow their choir for events like these.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 10/23/10 05:11 PM

Just back from four and a half hours of Boris; it didn't seem that long at all. I'm glad I got to see/hear René Pape in the role; what a beautiful performer he is. In fact, there were quite a few beautiful baritone and/or bass voices in this production, but each one had such a distinctive quality that there was nothing monotone-ish about the performance. I liked this Boris. A LOT.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 10/24/10 06:32 PM

Well, that makes two good ones I've missed this season. We'll be there for Don Pasquale though.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 10/24/10 08:03 PM

I'm off to Wexford tomorrow: Virginia by Mercadante, The Golden Ticket (aka Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, co-production with the Opera Theater of St Louis) and Smetana's The Kiss.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 11/06/10 04:47 PM

Also posted on RIP in the Chat topic

Shirley Verrett
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 11/06/10 09:22 PM

I was very sorry to hear of Verrett's death. My only live encounter with her was when she sang Queen Elizabeth in a Maggio Musicale Firenze production of "Maria Stuarda", Sanzogno conducting, at the Edinburgh Festival in 1969. In retrospect, I'm dubious about the edition that was used, but hearing her voice offstage and then her arrival in a litter onstage at the start of the opera made my heart miss a whole lot of beats. The rest of the cast (Gencer, Tagliavini et al) weren't anywhere near her standard.

[This message has been edited by Andrew (edited 11-06-2010).]
Posted by: Jon

Re: Opera 3 - 11/08/10 11:48 AM

I recall seeing Verrett twice. Once was in recital at IU in 1974, in which she sang a varied program (including "Una voce poco fa") with graceful assurance.

The year before, when I spent the summer in London, I saw her in a new Carmen production at Covent Garden, and for once Carmen was as magnetic as those onstage say she is. I'll never forget her entry on Escamillo's arm in the last act, dazzling in ivory mantilla. And unlike the occasion Andrew just mentioned, her companions were every bit her equal: Domingo, Te Kanawa, Van Dam. It was quite an evening.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 11/08/10 08:04 PM

Wow! what a cast!

Yesterday, at one of Opera Roanoke's "filler" recitals I heard something I've never encountered before. The baritone, Richard Zeller, closed a program that was mostly German lieder with a solo version of the Te Deum from Tosca ("Va, Tosca")...Never heard it without the traditional chorus before. It needs the chorus.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 11/12/10 01:29 PM

Don Pasquale tomorrow. Who's going?
Posted by: Jon

Re: Opera 3 - 11/12/10 08:27 PM

I have to stay home. Having been away at a conference last week, I have to stay in and grade essays this time. I wish I could see this, though.
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 3 - 11/13/10 07:06 AM

Ah, too bad, Jon. I'm going.
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 3 - 11/13/10 08:59 AM

Wouldn't miss it for the world.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 3 - 11/13/10 09:45 AM

I'm going.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 11/13/10 11:26 AM

Et moi.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 3 - 11/13/10 07:05 PM

Ah, what fun! To tell the truth, I went to this opera only because my wife wanted to see it, but how glad I am I did! It was a romp. The plot is so silly that the question of suspending disbelief doesn't even come up. The singing was so unforced it was a real pleasure to listen to, like "Oh, what's this coming up, a high C, OK, sing it, all right, that's done, what's next?" What surprised me was seeing how good a comic actor Anna Netrebko is, in everything from her dainty little ballet steps to her tomboyish bouncing up and down on the bed (which must have been a trampoline for her to get up so high). Good show, from start to finish.
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 3 - 11/13/10 08:59 PM

You could tell they were all having fun on the stage, and every time the camera showed James Levine, he was grinning from ear to ear. I was amazed to hear this was his 40th year with the Met. That means he's 68 years old, since he was 28 when he was first hired.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 11/13/10 09:45 PM

We loved that rapid-fire duet sung by Pasquale and Malatesta (repeated as a mid-act encore!). And Del Carlo and Kwiecien stayed in character even after they left the stage, pantomiming their way past the backstage camera until they were no longer in sight. Oh yes, they were having fun, all right.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 11/14/10 02:06 AM

Speaking of Malatesta, is there any other opera that has a baritone character named Mal-anything who is one of the good guys? Netrebko was wonderful, as she always is, but I want to put in a word for the tenor, Matthew Polenzani. What a sweet voice he has, and such a lovely high pianissimo. Made me think of Tagliavini.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 11/14/10 06:42 AM

Well, there's Malcolm in Macbeth.
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 3 - 11/14/10 11:29 AM

Har har.

Oh wow, I do hate being odd man out, but I just didn't connect with this production. There's no faulting the singing, but...oh, I don't know. I just felt something was missing. All right, throw rocks at me.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 11/14/10 01:43 PM

Actually, I've just realised that Malcolm is a tenor, not a baritone. And he doesn't have a lot to sing.

Glad to see the Don Pasquale reports. When I first saw it, as a student in Oxford way back in 1967, I found the climactic moment in Act 3 when Norina hits Pasquale rather upsetting, even though she immediately regrets it. Later, I realised that much depends on the director and the singer of the role of Pasquale - is he just a buffoon who deserves all he gets or is he the victim of a nasty trick?

That patter-duet always brings the house down. At the Met, did they insert the spoken "Don Pasquale!", "Dottore!" (or is it the other way round?) just before the end? The first recording I bought of the opera was conducted by Riccardo Muti, and I was most disappointed to find that he'd omitted this extra piece of business which (I think) doesn't appear in the score.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 11/14/10 04:02 PM

Hmmm, I don't recall any spoken words at the end. Pasquale was played as a likable buffoon, but I found my sympathies swinging more toward him right before the three conspirators confessed all. Good timing!

Rita: Hiss!! Boo!!

[This message has been edited by Austin (edited 11-14-2010).]
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 3 - 11/14/10 06:05 PM

She threw a pillow at him instead of slapping him, but the word "slap" appeared in the subtitles.

For Rita:

Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 3 - 11/15/10 11:19 AM

Nyah, nyah...that's not a rock, it's a soda can.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 3 - 11/15/10 07:36 PM

Hmm, so it is. OK, how about this one?

Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 3 - 11/16/10 12:11 PM

Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 12/05/10 01:22 PM

The Elena Garanca Carmen is out on DVD -- no Blu Ray yet. The Met website is selling it for $40, but Amazon has it for $8 less.
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 3 - 12/05/10 06:34 PM

Hurray! Amazon, here I come!
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 12/05/10 07:02 PM

Following Rita...
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 3 - 12/05/10 11:54 PM

And that takes care of five Christmas presents right there!
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 12/11/10 07:01 PM

Eboli without an eyepatch? Why?

We didn't care much for this Eboli, but the rest of the production was simply grand. Make that GRAND.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 3 - 12/11/10 09:36 PM

Don fatale? Anna Smirnova? Ha! She didn't look the part, she can't act worth spit, and she sang Eboli as if she'd really rather be somewhere else. But she's the only thing I can fault in this production. Grand Opera at its grandest. Hell, I even liked the sets!
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 12/12/10 01:38 AM

I did too, and there were so many of them! Seamless changes -- no delays, no sound.

A strange thing happened to me during the "Nel giardin del bello". I started hearing another voice in my head, singing the aria the way I thought it ought to be sung. It was Tatiana Troyanos's voice. Weird. Two voices at the same time, two different tonal qualities, not always the same tempo, one clean vibrato and one slurry one. Both voices, side by side. That's never happened before (and I hope it never happens again!).

Troyanos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrbPQjftRCA

Austin, Eboli has been played without an eye patch before -- by Grace Bumbry, for one.

Whenever Rodrigo and Carlo sang together, it was obvious how hard Simon Keenlyside had to work to get the proper sound out. You could almost see him willing that diaphragm to open down a little more. But all Roberto Alagna had to do was remember to keep his mouth open, and the sound just came pouring out. They still managed to produce a nice blend, just the same. Alagna didn't quite nail his first aria, but he got stronger as the opera progressed. Carlo, like Rhadames and the Duke of Mantua, starts the opera with a big aria but with no onstage warm-up time. The square-jawed Russian singing Elizabeth (Marina Poplavskaya) has a good strong soprano and was well-matched with Alagna.

It was an exciting production, I thought. Nothing but winners so far this season.
Posted by: Jon

Re: Opera 3 - 12/13/10 08:05 AM

Eboli without an eyepatch? Why?

The whole opera (the Schiller play, too) is remote from history in many ways: Philip was about 30 at this time, Carlos was mentally unstable to a critical degree, Rodrigo didn't exist, etc. So an eyepatch more or less won't make much difference, and by no means all productions include it -- in fact the previous Met production was probably one of the few at the time that did, as a sort of piquant extra.

[This message has been edited by Jon (edited 12-13-2010).]
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 3 - 12/13/10 01:16 PM


Ana de la Cerda, Princess of Eboli
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 12/14/10 02:23 AM

Did we lose some posts here?
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 3 - 12/14/10 01:44 PM

Yes, we did. I asked you why Tatiana Troyanos, but I don't see the question here.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 12/15/10 11:49 AM

Oh dear. You know, this forum has always been twitchy. I recall numerous problems with Musical Jeopardy, and the software here won't let me change a topic header. Only here, no other forum.

As to Troyanos, I have no idea why. I can't have heard her in the role since the '80s. I don't think she's ever recorded Don Carlo. The "Veil Song" link above is to a PBS taping of a Met production that was never released, to my knowledge; I don't know where that YouTube segment came from. But that's the voice I heard in my head.
Posted by: Jon

Re: Opera 3 - 12/15/10 05:33 PM

Actually (but coincidentally), the Don Carlo with Troyanos has just been released on DVD in a Big Giant Box of opera DVDs to mark James Levine's 40 years with the company. None of them has appeared on homevideo before, and a couple (an Ariadne with Voigt and Dessay, a Wozzeck) were known to have been taped but never were telecast at all. I'm also happy about the Rosenkavalier with Troyanos, Te Kanawa, and Blegen. For a Troyanos-lover like me, it's a feast.

(I'm actually happy about the whole thing. I bought it. And the matching CD set too, of selected Levine-led radio broadcasts over the years.)
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 12/17/10 07:17 PM

Jon, this is not the time to dangle such a temptation in front of me, as I am currently embarked on a new parsimonious streak. (Not much choice; I just forked over $7,400 for a new A/C & Heating unit.) But the collection should stay available for some time yet, I imagine.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 12/18/10 03:10 PM

I don't get it. On Dec. 11, the Met matinee performance was Don Carlo, simulcast in HD. Today, one week later, the Met matinee broadcast is Don Carlo. Two Saturdays in a row? Why???
Posted by: Jon

Re: Opera 3 - 12/22/10 07:46 AM

During the Saturday-afternoon radio broadcast season they avoid duplication, and Don Carlo was the first for this season. But before and after that timeframe, they don't seem to worry about it.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 01/02/11 05:20 PM

Next Saturday I hope to see Fanciulla in simulcast at Virginia Western Community College (unless it snows again!)
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 01/02/11 08:07 PM

At a college? Huh. I thought only movie theaters were wired to receive the operas. Me, I'll be going to the Century 16 theater at ten o'clock Saturday morning.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 01/07/11 07:05 PM

And I won't be going until the "encore" performance in two weeks....from their website: The college has begun extensive renovations to Whitman Theater. Unfortunately these renovations will not be completed in time to show the January 8th live performance of Puccini’s La Fancuilla Del West. The January 8th performance will be shown as an encore performance on January 22nd at 1:00pm. Tickets currently purchased for the January 8th performance will be honored on January 22nd

I was out of town when they did Don Carlo, which I heard was sensational. I knew there was a lot of construction going on over there, but did not realize it had affected the theatre. Glad I decided to double check on the time....
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 01/08/11 07:11 PM

With snow on my car and the simulcast of Fanciulla postponed two weeks, I decided to stay in, listen to the broadcast and do some much needed straigtening up in the office. Turned on the TV to check the weather and ended up glued to the newscasts from Arizona...deja vu to the Tech shootings a few years ago...and even to Dallas in 1963...
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 01/09/11 05:50 PM

Fanciulla is a special interest of mine, of course, because of A Cadenza for Caruso. How fitting that this current production should first be performed on Dec. 10, 2010, one hundred years to the day after the world premiere at the Met with Caruso, Destinn, and Amato, with Toscanini in the pit.

There's been some comment about how Deborah Voigt's voice has taken on a harder edge following her weight-loss surgery, but I swear I couldn't hear it. Her voice was bright and warm, even on those "high Cs that come out of nowhere," as she put it. I can't imagine the difficulty in singing a through-composed work like this in which you're onstage most of the time. I thought Voigt was absolutely great. Giordani, it seemed to me, had to strain a lot, but he generally got his notes out okay. Baritone Lucio Gallo was new to me; he made a properly menacing Jack Rance.

I've frequently complained about the Met's love affair with brown sets. Act I of Fanciulla was without doubt the brownest I've ever seen -- brown furniture, brown props, brown costumes, and dim lighting that made everything else look brown. But this time, I have to admit it seemed appropriate. I don't imagine Old West saloons thrown together in mining camps went in much for candy colors. The other two acts had more color variety, and all three sets are the old-fashioned, realistic style of stage setting. I liked it. This is not a brand new production but a slightly revamped version of an earlier one designed by Mario del Monaco's son, Giancarlo. You'd think for a centennial production they'd come up with one that was all new, but this one works very well. VERY well.

One thing I did not like about the production was that Minnie and Johnson/Ramirez do not ride away together at the end. They simply join hands and walk away. "Addio, California!" sounds so much better when sung on horseback.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 3 - 01/10/11 11:52 AM

No horses?
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 01/10/11 03:16 PM

Yes, there were horses in the production; both Minnie and J/R rode briefly in the second act. There just weren't any in the final scene.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 01/15/11 03:07 PM

Anyone listening to Traviata? I don't think I've ever heard baritone Andrzej Dobber before; I'm sure I'd remember his expressive singing of "Di provenza il mar". That's the closest I've ever come to liking the aria.
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 3 - 01/15/11 09:11 PM

I liked all three of the singers. Wish we could have seen this one. Next week...Rigoletto. Finally.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 01/15/11 09:11 PM

I heard Act 1, but then it was dinner-time. I saw Dobber as a very good Macbeth in Richard Jones's Glyndebourne production a couple of years ago.
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 3 - 01/22/11 04:11 PM

What did you think of Nina's "Cara nome"? She sang it so carefully, as if she was just learning it. Lovely sound, though.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 01/22/11 09:33 PM

Saw our "delayed" big screen telecast of Fanciulla today and loved it, although I do agree that they should have ridden off into the sunset.

So, of course, I had to miss "Rigoletto."

I hope there are no more problems with Virginia Western getting the telecasts in the future...really looking forward to Nixon in China.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 01/23/11 06:11 AM

I missed Rigoletto too - I went to see Opera North's Carmen yesterday evening. Instead of being set in Seville, Spain, it was set in Seville, Ohio. It was nevertheless sung in French (but then, so is Carmen when set in Spain) but a number of other things had been changed, too: Escamillo was the owner of a pit-bull-terrier (we didn't see any fighting, thank goodness), Lillas Pastia's tavern was an open-air establishment, José was a policeman, not a soldier, Micaela was rather tarty with big hair. And some of the music was cut - sacrilege! No chorus of small boys in Act 1, no quintet in Act 2, no smugglers' chorus in Act 3 (hardly any smugglers, either), no local-colour chorus or parade of (pit-) bull-fighters at the start of Act 4. The principals were all good, though, particularly Peter Auty as Don José, and the final scene packed as big a punch as ever. And we did get (some) spoken dialogue rather than the non-Bizet recitatives.

During some of the goings-on, I wondered why they didn't make Escamillo a boxer and use the libretto for Carmen Jones.

[This message has been edited by Andrew (edited 01-23-2011).]
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 01/27/11 11:11 AM

Ever since I saw the weird interpretation of Aida in Salzburg several years ago (sort of modern dress, with soldiers pedaling kiddy car sized tanks and jeeps during the "triumphal" scene) I've wonder why they can't just leave well enough alone and do the operas as the composer/librettist intended.
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 3 - 01/29/11 03:08 PM

Makes them feel creative.

What about today's Scarpia? He sounds harsh to me.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 01/29/11 04:19 PM

To me, too.

Carmen with no boys' chorus, no quintet, no smugglers' chorus, no processional -- it sounds like a concert version.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 02/12/11 09:43 PM

Saw the live telecast of Nixon in China this afternoon...what a powerful piece of theater that is!

I don't think this is an opera you'd want to "listen" to....you HAVE to see it...an incredibe ballet sequence...the final act with multiple things going on all the time...(ok, probably not worse that some of the ensemble pieces in Verdi and Mozart)

I am so glad we finally got the simulcasts in Roanoke. The theater at the college is small, and was probably 3/4 full today...I was afraid I'd be by myself!

We get Domingo next time...that ought to bring them out!

But I LOVED Nixon.

Great to see Thomas Hampson doing the between act interviews, too....
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 02/13/11 07:14 AM

I saw it yesterday too. I've seen it once on stage (ENO in London) and, of course, this was the same production but with completely different singers except (I think) for Janis Kelly as Pat Nixon. She's done various roles for Opera North and was the Prima Donna in Rufus Wainright's much-panned Prima Donna. Good to see her at the Met.

I know a fair bit of the music, and it was just as riveting as last time. The best singing (IMO) was from Russell Braun as Chou Enlai. James Maddalena IS Nixon, but he got a bit croaky as the opera wore on. Robert Brubaker as Mao and Richard Paul Fink (Kissinger) were good, too, and it was nice to see Adams himself conducting.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 02/13/11 10:26 PM

Just got notified via Facebook that I have won two tickets (from local NPR station) to a filmed version of a live telecast of Cav and Pag from Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy on Wednesday, February 16 at 7:30 p.m. Sung in Italian with English subtitles. Starring Jose Cura as Canio.

Just emailed all my opera loving friends and said the extra ticket goes to the first responder...I was surprised at how few of the local people on my email list are folks that I KNOW for sure like opera...only a handful were at Nixon yesterday...

I like CAV and parts of PAG (as long as the tenor doesn't blubber too much)...but probably would not have gone if they hadn't given me the tickets.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 02/16/11 11:39 PM

Just back from Cav and Pag....in a movie theater (smallest in the complex) with an audience of about 8...all there on comps I think.

Production from La Scala made me appreciate the Met live telecasts even more. The singers were fine (none I was familiar with) and the the music was well sung, but the sound quality was poor and the staging was both odd and erratic.

Daniel Harding was the conductor (suspect Andrew is familiar with him!) He did well by the music, but the staging was awful.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 02/26/11 04:44 PM

Domingo must have been the draw, because the auditorium at Virginia Western for Iphigenie en Tauride was almost full. Both Domingo and Graham were singing with bad colds (so the pre curtain announcer said) and carried on. Paul Groves is new to me, but I liked him a lot.

I wish I could say I liked Gluck...
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 02/26/11 05:51 PM

Well, I can say I do. Domingo looked sick, really sick. It must have taken a tremendous effort of will to perform as well as he did. The man is 70, after all; he shouldn't push himself like that. Graham was a marvel, with high notes that seemed to float...and she was sick too! Like Kay, I was much taken with Paul Groves.

Hated the staging, even while admitting Iphigénie must be extremely difficult to stage. The choices made to fill in the static parts were questionable at best, ludicrous at worst. Costumes were drab. Not enough was made of the deus ex machina. Acting was old-style hammy.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 02/26/11 09:42 PM

Leaving Agamemnon and Clytemnestra on stage like pieces of scenery didn't seem quite right to me.

And yes, Domingo looked very tired. All the references in the text to his youth (and hers,but that wasn't quite as bad) were ludicrous!
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 02/26/11 09:46 PM

> Not enough was made of the deus ex machina

Yeah,they kind of acted like they were used to have goddesses drop in from nowhere...
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 02/27/11 06:40 AM

I like Gluck a lot, and this Iphigénie is my #2 after Orfeo & Euridice (the other Iphigénie is good, too - most of its arias are quite short but it has a very nice overture). This one is, or ought to be, very dramatic.

I saw Susan Graham in the title-role at Covent Garden a couple of years ago, with Paul Groves excellent as Pylade and Simon Keenlyside chewing the scenery as Oreste. Good production, with quite a lot of dancers. I listened to Act 1 on the radio last night, and thought that Domingo sounded rather frayed.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 3 - 02/27/11 12:51 PM

Domingo sang the tenor version, didn't he? I thought the French version was baritone and the German was tenor. I don't know this music at all, but in that beautiful duet toward the end that Oreste and Pylade sang (arguing about which one of them should die), every time they harmonized, Domingo took the lower vocal line. Was the tenor version written that way? Or was a little switch made to accommodate Domingo's illness?

I agree about the staging; it was terrible. And I am so tired of the Met's monochrome sets. The acting could be called "failed stylized"...someone would strike a pose and hold it forever. So many times Susan Graham would stagger across the stage and collapse against a wall, where she'd stand heaving heavily until her next cue. Well, she had to do something during those long stretches when she had nothing to do. But surely the director could have come up with something better than "Go over there and heave, girl!" Still, even sick, she sounded better than I've ever heard her before. And, even sick, Domingo came through, but he did let a healthy Paul Groves steal a couple of scenes from him.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 02/28/11 04:48 PM

I was wondering about Domingo taking the lower part in that duet too. Since the role was originally written for baritone in French and Gluck tweaked it into tenor for the German version, maybe he just left as much of the baritone version untouched that fell within the tenor range. That's just a guess, though.

Just learned that this Saturday a Covent Garden version of Carmen is being shown at my usual opera movie theater...in 3D! At 3D prices, not opera prices.

It's being shown at other dates in other local theaters, so it's not scheduled like the Met's performances (because it's not live). Tony Hall, the Royal Opera CEO, said he got the idea to do Carmen in 3D when he took his daughter to see Avatar.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 3 - 03/01/11 05:40 PM

So something good came out of Avatar after all? But why Carmen instead of one of the spectacle operas like The Tales of Hoffmann?
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 03/01/11 07:58 PM

Possibly because they had two good-looking singers for the leads (Christine Rice and Bryan Hymel).

More likely because this production was a roaring success in London. "Aggressively sexual" was one critic's phrase.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 03/08/11 01:59 PM

Angela Gheorghiu has canceled her Faust performances at the Met next season.
"Ms. Gheorghiu’s manager, Jack Mastroianni, said she could not abide the production, which is being directed by Des McAnuff. Mr. McAnuff has moved the action from its more typical 19th-century setting to the World War I era."
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 03/10/11 09:28 PM

Last night I went to see Carmen in 3-D, and I absolutely loved it. Garanca remains my favorite Carmen, but I did like Christine Rice...oh, I liked everyone in the cast! Covent Garden pulled out all the stops; this production was much better than the Met's last year, and that one wasn't exactly shabby. "The Gypsy Song" was a real show-stopper, better than any Big Number spectacle I've ever seen on Broadway. It was EXCITING!! The woman sitting next to me kept going "Wow. Wow. Wow." I loved it.

Incidentally, there was more spoken dialogue in this production than I've ever heard before; it was quite extensive, actually. One of the many early versions? Anyway, this was the best ten bucks I've spent in years.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 3 - 03/12/11 03:10 PM

Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 3 - 03/18/11 08:56 PM

Natalie/Lucia tomorrow.
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 3 - 03/20/11 04:53 PM

That's the first Lucia I've seen where the tenor almost stole the show.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 3 - 03/20/11 07:21 PM

I thought he did steal the show. Calleja has come a long way. That was a star performance. Loved Dessay, as always, but Lucia is no longer just the woman's opera. It was grand, from start to finish...except for the brown set. Enough with the brown!
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 03/20/11 08:29 PM

He has indeed come a long way. I first saw him in 1998 in a smallish role at the Wexford Festival. Two years later, he was the big star at Wexford (in Adam's Si jétais roi), but I found his quick vibrato rather bothersome. More recently, his Alfredo (Traviata) at Covent Garden wasn't too bad, but his acting wasn't all that convincing, IMO - basically, he's a bit of a stick. Still, kudos to him for being the Verdi tenor de nos jours.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 03/20/11 11:33 PM

He didn't seem sticklike to me. But maybe I'm too easily impressed, and I WAS impressed. But I would have liked the production better if I could have just seen the stage better. Why was everything so dark? That was worse than the brown. The sets were realistic except for the stylized graveyard in the last scene. Why the switch?
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 03/21/11 01:03 AM

Well, you have to expect things like that in a Mary Zimmerman production. And the inadequate lighting. And the brown. I hated the way the Sextet was staged, with a photographer moving around and arranging five of them for a group portrait. It was exceptionally distracting at a moment I wanted no distraction at all.

I, too, was impressed by Calleja. He's only in his early 30s, so the best is yet to come. Dessay had trouble with her highest notes; she had to yell them. But lower down, she sounded better than the last time I heard/saw her (Sonambula), almost as if she was caressing the notes with her voice. (That's a bit twee, but I can't think of another way to describe it.) I liked everybody in this production.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 03/26/11 04:42 PM

Let me make a guess here...La Pique Dame is one of Andrew's favorite operas. Yes/No?
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 03/27/11 11:10 PM

I had to miss Lucia, mostly because of the weather. Maybe I'm not sorry, although I once saw a production where the tenor stole the show...and, of course, he has, shall we say, the last word. The soprano is gone after the mad scene and the third act belongs to Edgardo.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 03/27/11 11:11 PM

Oh, I guess you got Lucia live. We had to wait for a delayed telecast for reasons unclear.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 03/28/11 04:21 AM

Originally posted by Barbara:
Let me make a guess here...La Pique Dame is one of Andrew's favorite operas. Yes/No?

Actually, not really. I'm always happy to see it (and Opera North are putting it on next season), but it's a rather chilly work. I don't really feel for any of the characters - Herman is mad, Lisa is a cipher ... Lots of good music, of course (I particularly like the genre stuff. And Yeletsky's aria.). I heard about half of it on Saturday and it sounded quite good.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 04/08/11 08:11 PM

Le Comte Ory tomorrow, with a mildly controversial production.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 3 - 04/10/11 11:38 AM

I fell asleep during the first act, laughed out loud all during the second.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 04/10/11 12:23 PM

I heard almost all of it on the radio (it's one of my top 5 Rossini operas). Stellar cast! All the singers were in good voice, though because this is late Rossini, Flórez isn't able to indulge in the usual pyrotechnics and sometimes sounds a bit too fluttery in the legato stuff.
Posted by: Jon

Re: Opera 3 - 04/12/11 03:55 AM

I saw it at the movie theater. Zoned out a couple times during Act I when Rossini kept making the same moves for minutes on end, but otherwise -- well, this is the sort of cast that will be spoken of with awe in years to come. Florez and DiDonato are as good as it gets, and Damrau turns out to be a witty comedienne as well as a star vocalist. With her pale blondeness and her arched-eyebrow comedy timing, she was at times uncannily reminiscent of Meryl Streep in relaxed lightweight mode.
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 3 - 04/12/11 08:07 AM

The bedroom scene was hilarious...as ludicrous as the rest of the plot, but that was part of the fun, not a distraction from it. All three leads sounded great. And hurray for Juan Diego Florez's show-must-go-on attitude. It couldn't have been easy to concentrate after becoming a first-time father 35 minutes before the opera started.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 04/12/11 07:13 PM

I loved the way Damrau played Adele, as a woman trying her best to be a typical romantic heroine (innocent, delicate, swooning on cue), but constantly being tripped up when reality got in the way. Good comedy. There was some beautiful love music in there, too. Rather unexpected.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 04/22/11 02:24 PM

In Roanoke we are not getting Comte D'ory until May 1 for some reason....but I am really looking forward to Capriccio tomorrow afternoon...expect there will be a slim crowd because of Easter/spring break.

[This message has been edited by Kay (edited 04-22-2011).]
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 04/24/11 06:16 PM

Hm, not a word about Capriccio. I've never felt on top of this opera, and the simulcast didn't change that. Seeing the opera for the first time made me even more aware of the long stretches of orchestral music when the singers have nothing to do. How long can you sit there watching Renée Fleming stroking her hair and caressing her face? I thought the singing was good, but I don't know that it was. I'm out of my league here.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 04/24/11 07:09 PM

It has a few longueurs, but the thing about Capriccio is that it's not really about the characters, it's about Opera itself, and (like all opera), it's artificial.

The whole thing is full of in-jokes (including a not-so-subtle swipe at Italian opera singers). The Count regards opera as ridiculous (and some of Strauss's own opera subjects are quoted, discussed and rejected), but it's finally agreed that an opera about the events of the day is the one that ought to be written - and so it is, it's the one that we're watching - wheels within wheels. La Roche insists that he must have a grand exit - but his exit is, in fact, neither here nor there. The Countess asks whether it's possible to have an ending that isn't trivial - no, it isn't - the Major-Domo announces that it's time for supper!

My favourite character is Monsieur Taupe, the mole.

[This message has been edited by Andrew (edited 04-24-2011).]
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 04/24/11 07:29 PM

Pretty much what Barbara said. I missed Baron Ochs!
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 04/24/11 11:12 PM

We didn't go, because my wife feels the same way about the opera as Barbara does. I listened to it, and some of the gaps between the singing seemed to go on forever.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 3 - 04/25/11 12:47 PM

Wagner's even worse. What is it with German romantics? Yes, Capriccio is an "in" opera about opera, and all the characters are types, not individuals. Taupe was onstage only a few minutes...is that why he's your favorite, Andrew? Unfortunately, the Taupe in the simulcast was the one weak spot in the cast. The guy just didn't have the voice to match the other singers. Frankly, I have to say I like the idea of this opera better than I like the opera itself. And am I the only one who found the words-vs.-music debate somewhat simplistic?
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 04/25/11 08:13 PM

Yes, it was a bit simplistic, but give Strauss credit for practicing what he preached as far as the inseparableness of words and music is concerned. He was writing after a long tradition of ridiculous plots like Le comte Ory and Trovatore; a little reform in that area should always be welcome. The 19th century was not a great period for theater, not until the later years when Ibsen and Chekhov began writing their realistic drama. But can you imagine Hedda Gabler set to a romantic score by Strauss? Foolish notion. If Shakespeare had written one-acts, there might have been a fit there.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 04/30/11 10:40 AM

Who said it? "All you need for a good performance of Trovatore is the four greatest singers in the world."
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 04/30/11 12:39 PM

Caruso, wasn't it? He was one of them, of course.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 3 - 04/30/11 04:55 PM

Hahahahaha! Renée Fleming must have heard you, Barbara.
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 3 - 04/30/11 05:47 PM

There's a good object lesson for people who say they don't believe in coincidence!
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 04/30/11 06:52 PM

Even with the four greatest (and I've heard better, but it was a long time ago...a team that included Tucker, Warren, Milanov and I forget who the Azucena was...Elias, maybe) I find a lot of Trovatore boring...and, of course, half the audience is just sitting there waiting to see if the tenor is going to go for the big one (which Verdi did not write)... Opera is so much a blend of the words and the music. The last act of Traviata never failes to reduce me to tears. For some reason I want to giggle during the last act of Trovatore.

[This message has been edited by Kay (edited 04-30-2011).]
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 04/30/11 06:56 PM

And did anybody else notice Hvorotovsky was bleeding for no apparent reason at one point...like maybe he'd cut his hand on his own sword?

But I liked him a lot...he's new to me.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 04/30/11 06:58 PM

Oh, and out of curiosity...what's the age range at the "live" performances you attend? Many people there younger than 70?
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 04/30/11 08:19 PM

I heard most of it on the radio. Radvanovsky sounded rather strange - good high notes, good low notes, but otherwise a very fluttery sound. Alvarez was fine, Hvorostovsky quite good but not very Italianate (however, he was a great deal better than when I last saw him, as a phoned-in Rigoletto at Covent Garden). Dolora Zajick was the star of the show, IMO. (Does anyone know that, in reality, her surname is pronounced "ZIGHTS"?)

It's Verdi's most tuneful opera, IMO, and I think that the convoluted plot is no worse than many others (e.g. Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tsar's Bride at Covent Garden, which I saw last week: full of holes but nice music).

Italian opera at the Met: the audience is just desperate to applaud everything, whenever there's the slightest pause.

And in answer to Kay's question: the average age of opera-goers of some operas that I've seen recently was, relatively speaking, quite young. Examples: Peter Maxwell Davies's Kommilitonen! (to be seen at the Juilliard in November) and Mark-Anthony Turnage's Anna Nicole.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 04/30/11 10:29 PM

I was thinking more of the telecasts...we draw probably more young people to the live Opera than the Symphony does...boy, is that a decrepit bunch.

Of course Opera Roanoke makes a certain number of unsold tickets available FREE to students...that helps.

The audience at the Met when they were on camera seemed to cover a wider age range.

If by "tuneful", Andrew, you mean stuff like the Anvil thing that will run in your head forever if you let it, yes, I guess it is, but if I have to have an Verdian operatic ear worm, I'd much prefer, say, Parigi o cara or Va, piensero

Whatever it is, it will only last until tomorrow when I go to the symphony...which will feature "The Planets"...
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 05/01/11 01:40 PM

Originally posted by Andrew:
Italian opera at the Met: the audience is just desperate to applaud everything, whenever there's the slightest pause.
Ah, but you must have noticed the lack of applause following "Stride la vampa". The orchestra even paused a moment to allow it; but where I was expecting thunderous applause, there was only silence. Ha, maybe the Met audience was too stunned to respond quickly. But I agree completely it was Dolora's opera, and we're not the only ones who think so. At intermission I passed two guys in their 20s and one of them was saying, "For my money, it's the old chick's show." Maybe Verdi should have stuck with his original title.

I'd say roughly a third of "my" audience was under 70, and they were enjoying it. We fell into a conversation with a young woman walking out of the theater, and she was riding an adrenalin high. She was laughing at the over-the-top plot and loving it, saying this opera had everything, right up through the punch-in-the-gut ending that Kay finds laughable. I'd say that was the right way to approach Trovatore -- not only accepting the artificiality but reveling in it.

Verdi was certainly going for popular appeal -- melody after melody, it never stops. I read somewhere that Verdi had written to his music publisher that he wanted every organ grinder in Italy to be playing a tune from Trovatore. Well, I hope he got his wish. I love this old turkey.

[This message has been edited by Barbara (edited 05-01-2011).]
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 3 - 05/01/11 09:38 PM

Did Alvarez sing only half of "Di quella pira"? Or am I remembering incorrectly?
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 05/02/11 12:49 AM

I thought it seemed a little truncated, too...

And there really wasn't a pause for the clack to explode with cheers.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 05/02/11 06:53 AM

It's fairly common for tenors to skip the reprise of "di quella pira", and I'm pretty certain that that's what Alvarez did. On the other hand, the high C (or whatever it is) that wasn't written by Verdi seems to be compulsory these days.
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 3 - 05/02/11 01:22 PM

Originally posted by Kay:
And there really wasn't a pause for the clack to explode with cheers.
Claque. There was a pause after Azucena's aria, but no applause.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 05/02/11 05:52 PM

although she deserved one. And thanks for catching the spelling goof....I do know better!
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 05/15/11 08:55 PM

Yesterday's Die Walküure was glorious, in spite of the 40-minute delay in starting. Absolutely the only thing I can find to carp about is that Jonas Kaufmann sounded a bit flat on his high notes a couple of times. He sounded great the rest of the time, as did all the others. And Bryn Tyrfel is the only singer who has ever made me feel sorry for a god. A fitting finale for the simulcast season.

Summer Encore performances: Madama Butterfly, Don Pasquale, Simon Boccanegra, La Fille du Régiment, Tosca, Don Carlo. If you missed the Simon Boccanegra, here's another chance.

Next simulcast season, eleven operas:

Oct. 15: Anna Bolena -- Anna Netrebko

Oct. 29: Don Giovanni -- Mariusz Kwiecien

Nov. 5: Siegfried -- Gary Lehman

Nov. 19: Satyagraha -- Richard Croft

Dec. 3: Rodelinda -- Renée Fleming

Dec. 10: Faust -- Jonas Kaufmann

Jan. 21: The Enchanted Island -- "an original baroque fantasy" with music by Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau, and others.

Feb. 11: Götterdämmerung -- Lehman, Voigt

Feb. 25: Ernani -- Angela Meade, Salvatore Licitra

Apr. 7: Manon -- Anna Netrebko

Apr. 14: La Traviata -- Natalie Dessay
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 3 - 05/16/11 07:50 AM

Why the long delay in starting Saturday? 40 minutes late added to five and a half hours performance...you were in the theater six hours and ten minutes?

The Enchanted Island...a pastiche?
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 3 - 05/16/11 09:58 AM

No Orys or Pasquales on that list, nothing light and funny. Unless it's Rodelinda, but the plot summary reads like a tragedy with a happy ending.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 05/16/11 11:10 AM

Originally posted by Rita:
The Enchanted Island...a pastiche?[/B]

The Met's website says "Inspired by the musical pastiches and masques of the 18th century, the Met presents an original Baroque fantasy, featuring a who's who of Baroque stars led by eminent conductor William Christie. With music by Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau, and others, the new libretto by Jeremy Sams combines elements of The Tempest and A Midsummer Night¹s Dream. David Daniels is Prospero, Joyce DiDonato is Sycorax, and Plácido Domingo sings Neptune. Danielle de Niese and Luca Pisaroni co-star, along with Lisette Oropesa and Anthony Roth Costanzo. This dazzling production is directed and designed by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch (Satyagraha and the Met¹s 125th Anniversary Gala)."

The Tempest plus A Midsummer Night's Dream? Sounds like Ariadne auf Naxos ("Gleichzeitig").

Actually, it sounds like a load of old rubbish. Sycorax - she doesn't even appear in The Tempest. Neptune - what's he doing there? (Perhaps he wandered in from Idomeneo or Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria.) On the other hand, William Christie knows what he's doing, Jeremy Sams is an intelligent chap and then there's Joyce di Donato et al. I saw the rubber-faced Luca Pisarone as Leporello at Glyndebourne last year and he is well worth hearing and watching.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 05/16/11 08:25 PM

The character names are from The Tempest, even to the point of giving Caliban's mother a role instead of just a mention. Where are the "elements" of MND?
Since Neptune appears in neither play, maybe he's the god who shows up at the end to make everything right again. But Neptune usually causes trouble, doesn't he? More likely he appears at the beginning to create the storm at sea. Or both. Or neither. Actually, this could be fun.
Originally posted by Christopher:
No Orys or Pasquales on that list, nothing light and funny. Unless it's Rodelinda, but the plot summary reads like a tragedy with a happy ending.
I'm not familiar with Rodelinda either, but it is opera seria, not buffa. No laughs.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 05/16/11 08:39 PM

Originally posted by Rita:
Why the long delay in starting Saturday? 40 minutes late added to five and a half hours performance...you were in the theater six hours and ten minutes?
Oops, missed this. Not quite that long. The performance itself ran a little under five hours instead of the estimated five and a half.

As to the delay, there was a technical hitch. I don't know if you saw Das Rheingold or not, but the entire set for all four Ring operas is one gigantic machine made up of maneuverable planks that also act as a screen for projections. It's incredibly versatile. But Saturday a "decoder" on one of the planks wasn't talking to the computer that controlled it. That was the explanation given during one of the intermissions.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 06/19/11 12:55 PM

Wednesday I went to the Met's "Encore" showing of Minghella's super-stylized production of Butterfly. I'd skipped the original showing because it had looked too gimmicky for my taste, especially the use of a puppet instead of a child to play Butterfly's son (called both Worry and Sorrow in the subtitles). But that puppet was incredibly effective; its final scenes were heartbreaking. Butterfly is a four-hankie opera anyway, but it got a lot of emotional help from the design. The sliding doors and uncluttered spaces on the stage under a reflecting ceiling concentrated attention on the people on the stage, even when one of them was made of plastic. With Patricia Racette (who was wonderful):


And Pinkerton (Marcello Giordani) was booed.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 06/19/11 04:43 PM

Yep, our Pinkerton in the live production in Roanoke got booed to. Weird tradition...of course he's a heel, but the singer doesn't deserve that.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 06/19/11 06:47 PM

Well, I was wondering whether Beckmesser in Meistersinger, which I saw last Tuesday at Glyndebourne (eat your heart out, Jon - we were only allowed two tickets per member), would be booed, but no.

Some people tried to start a standing ovation at the end of the opera (I thought "Americans!" - saving your presence, people here), but the rest of us sat in our seats to applaud - not just Beckmesser, but the whole thing, daringly set in the Biedermeier period rather than the time of the real Hans Sachs.
Posted by: Pete

Re: Opera 3 - 06/20/11 09:46 AM

I allus thought standing ovations were reserved for performances far over the average, but in the last few years I seem to be the only person still sitting.

Are the boos for Pinkerson delivered during his performance, or during the curtain calls?
Posted by: Jon

Re: Opera 3 - 06/20/11 10:45 AM

standing ovation at the end of the opera (I thought "Americans!" - saving your presence, people here)

Quite accurate. Alas. I've given up being annoyed by it, just to keep my own sanity. But I still resist it.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 06/20/11 02:09 PM

I can remember one or two genuine standing ovations, when the entire audience was on their feet applauding before the last note died down...

In Roanoke (and apparently elsewhere judging from the comments) there is no sponteneity...in fact I sometimes suspect it's people wanting to beat the rush to the parking lot.
Posted by: Jon

Re: Opera 3 - 06/29/11 08:32 AM

Did anybody see the Meistersinger performance streamed live from Glyndebourne last Sunday? It's also available on demand all this week on the Guardian website.

This is one of my favorite operas -- possibly my #1 favorite, in fact. And seeing this excellent production (I have a couple of quibbles but they're minor in proportion to the whole) made me fall in love all over again. In particular, the baritone Gerald Finley proved successful as Hans Sachs beyond anything I could have expected. Days later, I'm still reeling.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 06/29/11 11:45 AM

As noted above, I saw it on stage, from Row 4 of the stalls, and enjoyed it greatly. The Eva wasn't quite the thing, and the Walther was rather monochrome (he did have the necessary stamina, however), but the production was generally very well done, in particular the characterisation of the individual Mastersingers. I wasn't so keen on the unchanging bit of the set (a sort of Gothic ceiling on legs), which, on a smallish stage, made everything look too cluttered at the end of Act 2 and in the final scene.

As for Finley, he sounded good from where we were sitting, but he just seemed a bit young for the role (and why was he wearing a Raglan mackintosh in Act 1?). Someone I know was sitting at the back of the circle and said that he was difficult to hear, especially in the final scene. People are suggesting that the sound might have been adjusted for the Guardian relay (and, no doubt, the forthcoming DVD).
Posted by: Jon

Re: Opera 3 - 06/29/11 03:54 PM

Finley made a splendid impression over the airwaves; of course being able to hear from the rear is no problem under those circumstances, but he really didn't have that too-familiar "baritone blustering his way through because he's in trouble" sound, it all seemed easy for him and full of sonority and variety. I agree about the Eva (surely, even if youth and physical suitability mattered to them, there were more solid choices in their casting pool?), but for me the Walter was the biggest vocal demerit. He has to do a lot of within-the-story "singing" to the others, and at all such moments he seemed just threadbare and weak. I can see why they cast him -- he looked right and is a terrific actor (his scene with Sachs was almost unbearably moving for me), and his voice sounds pleasant in the delicate bits. I can imagine him impressing in an audition so that they decided to take the risk, but (unlike Finley) this risk didn't pay off.

I agree that the permanent set was least suitable in Act II, but on the whole I loved the designs and the direction. The choreography needs a rethink: I know frolicking apprentices must be a nightmare to make plausible onstage, but the effect was more like music-hall routines. And it was odd that the camera wanted to give us closeups of the Masters reading Walther's song text attentively and passing it around for approval, where it's a basic plot point that Walther is recomposing the Prize Song as he goes, with new music and words (Wagner specifies that the page should get dropped and ignored immediately).

But that's nitpicking. It was an exceptional production. I do love Glyndebourne!
Posted by: Pete

Re: Opera 3 - 08/30/11 10:07 AM

It's really hard to see an opera after it starts, and not know which one it is. I tuned inthe middle of something, there was a britone in 18th century dress singing an aria I thought I recognized but couldn't place, he turned out (of course) to be the villain, the soprano was a bit pregnant, the tenor was grubby and for a while he and the men of the chorus held the baritone at sword's point (and a rather large pistol pointed directly behind his ear).

I thought the soprano was "Leonora". They were definitely singing in Italian.

What did I see?
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 08/30/11 12:13 PM

Il Trovatore?
Posted by: Pete

Re: Opera 3 - 08/31/11 08:56 AM

Yeah, I guess that was it. Who was the pregnamt soprano> The barigone?
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 08/31/11 11:59 AM

Were there no credits at the end, Pete?

I'm just guessing that it might have been David McVicar's production, recently-ish seen in San Francisco and more recently at the Met.

There's a report on the Met's staging here. Click the picture to enlarge it - did the set and costumes look like what you saw?

There's also a whole lot of stuff (concetrating on Hvorostovsky, the baritone) on youtube:

[This message has been edited by Andrew (edited 08-31-2011).]
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 08/31/11 08:42 PM

That's the production the Met simulcast in May.

(Simulcasted? Verbing weirds...)
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 08/31/11 09:56 PM

I saw that simulcast. I remember the Azucena was very good. I don't remember Leonora being preggers.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 09/01/11 12:02 PM

She was on the hefty side. But you're right about the Azucena (Dolora Zajick); she stole the show.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 09/01/11 12:43 PM

I'm quite a fan of hers, though I've never seen her on stage. Her originally Czech surname was Zajic, which apparently rhymes with "Lights"! She added the k to turn it into two syllables. I think of her as ZAYjick but apparently it's ZAHjick.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 09/01/11 03:45 PM

When I was working at the Arkansas Gazette I had to deal with news from time to time concerning a family from the community of Slovak whose name was Zajac...which they all pronounced Zionce.
Posted by: Jon

Re: Opera 3 - 09/27/11 02:18 PM

I always hear it rhymed with "magic." She's from Oregon, and on her first couple of recordings (Forza del Destino, Verdi Requiem) one can still see the name spelled without the final K. No doubt she got tired of well-meaning people twisting their mouths to say "Zah-yees?" "Zay-jich?" and wanted to give them a hint.
Posted by: Pete

Re: Opera 3 - 09/28/11 10:46 AM

Thinking about the pronunciation of some letters in European languages, I can see wheree Zajic might come through as Tsayeetch. Zajick certainly sounds like spelling was changed to match American pronunciationZ
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 09/28/11 07:42 PM

Here's a nifty article about Anna Netrebko and Anna Bolena:

Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 09/28/11 09:56 PM

Ok, Anonymous, come clean...we know you are one of us who hasn't reregiostered yet.
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Opera 3 - 09/29/11 06:15 AM

Kay, Barbara has already pointed out elsewhere that Anonymous was me and that she'd removed me by accident. I reregistered once I discovered that the Board didn't recognise me.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 10/28/11 09:52 PM

Don Giovanni tomorrow, with Mariusz Kwiecien singing the role at the Met for the first time. He was Dr. Malatesta in last year's Don Pasquale. Anyone besides Chris going?
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 3 - 10/28/11 11:16 PM

I'm going.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 10/29/11 11:16 AM

This is a maiden voyage for me...I've never been to a Mozart opera before.
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 3 - 10/29/11 05:19 PM

Really, Austin? How did that happen?
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 10/29/11 06:45 PM

I hope you liked it....although I much prefer Zauberflote and Figaro and I think I've seen Cosi more than any of the others...but Giovanni has some very fine moments....and the occasional "inside joke" like the musical quote from Figaro that I had forgotten all about.

We see the simulcasts in a small theatre at the local community college, under ths sponsorship of Opera Roanoke, which treated the audience to a marvelous catered spread in honor of National Opera Week.

I liked the Leperello a lot...a bit disappointed in Donna Anna. As for the Don...ok, but not Siepi.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 10/30/11 01:29 PM

Wow! That is one hell of an opera, and I'm not talking about just the ending. I didn't like the drab set, but I liked everything else. Kwiecien was impressive, bouncing around like an athlete only two weeks after back surgery. Two weeks! So many different kinds of music...lyrical, intense, charming, menacing, and sometimes amusing. I was especially taken with the serenade G sang to the maid. Smooth as silk.

Lorna, I don't know why I've missed out on Mozart. I haven't been going to opera as long as the rest of you, but long enough to have seen something of Mozart's. I've listened to our recording of Figaro a number of times, and I've enjoyed it a lot right up to the last act. Then it becomes too much for me and I start thinking "Stop, already!" I never once thought that during Don Giovanni, and I want to hear it all again, right now. But there are so many CDs and videos and DVDs, so many Dons, I'm kind of overwhelmed. Any suggestions, anyone?
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 10/30/11 03:16 PM

Glad you finally discovered the Don. Funny thing...I thought about digging out some VERY OLD (and probably no longer playable) things I had like Tito Schipa singing 'dalla sua pace'...found it on YouTube but it sounds horrible! But what I really found myself wishing for was an old recording I had of Charles Boyer and Agnes Moorehead doing Shaw's "Don Juan in Hell"...the real "final act" of the story, you might say.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 3 - 10/30/11 05:42 PM

Well, Austin, you can't go wrong with the Furtwängler DVD. That's the one with Siepi and it has Kiri Te Kanawa singing Elvira.

It truly is a great opera, isn't it? I wasn't crazy about the acting Saturday, which verged on hamminess at times. But there's no faulting the singing, and I've never known four hours to go by so quickly. This was one of the most satisfying simulcasts I've been to.

But I do think Peter Gelb should inform his set designers that there are colors in the spectrum other than brown and gray.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 10/30/11 09:19 PM

Had a discussion this morning with others who saw it...agreed that the set, while versatile, was pretty boring. I think it's a stock set they use for a lot of things. I think I remember it from Trovatore. As for the acting, well, there is only one statue in the cast...everybody else gets to chew scenery.

And one of the people I was talking too did note that there seems to be a lot more facial expression with those enormous closeups. I thought the Zerlina handled herself very well, Masetto not so well.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 10/30/11 09:20 PM

And the little taste of Siegfried has made me reconsider skipping it (because I have something else that day that overlaps).
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 3 - 10/31/11 08:04 AM

Ramon Vinay said something in his intermission interview that I had forgotten (if I ever really knew), that all the action takes place in a single day. Amazing. The Commendatore died in the morning, and during the day a statue was carved of him and that warning engraved on the base. Fast work. And who had that done? Anna and Ottavio spent all their time chasing Giovanni.

Kay, you couldn't have seen that drab set before. It's a new production. But I suppose all brown walls with acting cubicles look pretty much alike.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 10/31/11 11:25 AM

I don't remember an intermission interview with Vinay (and isn't he dead?????????????)

It sure looked like a variation of the set they used for Trovatore...and something else...basically just a stone wall with a lot of doors.
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 3 - 10/31/11 06:05 PM

Oh, right, I meant Ramon Vargas. Renée Fleming interviewed him and the Donna Anna together.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 10/31/11 08:18 PM

I actually groaned when I saw that mud-colored set; this entire new production was nothing special, IMO. I did wonder why Giovanni and Leporello kept wrestling each other. A sexual connotation? But it made them look like a team of equals instead of aristocrat and servant. Perhaps that was the point -- but why? (The most physical contact Ezio Pinza and Salvatore Baccaloni ever had came in one performance when Pinza got fed up with Baccaloni's scene-stealing antics and hit him over the head with an umbrella.) In the long run, however, it didn't really matter; the music was enough. The finale is always chilling, and this one nailed it.

Austin, you might like the Joseph Losey version of the opera. It's a movie, not a filmed stage performance, and it's absolutely beautiful to look at. Ruggero Raimondi sings the title role, and his Giovanni is not a carefree, romantic figure but a man obsessed. The film gradually builds up this atmosphere of...well, not evil, exactly, but more one of unwholesomeness. There's something terribly wrong with a man who is unable to veer from the path that's leading him straight to Hell in spite of all the warnings he receives. The inevitability of the coming ending is so strong that when it does come, it's a relief.
Posted by: Jon

Re: Opera 3 - 10/31/11 09:28 PM

Well, Austin, you can't go wrong with the Furtwängler DVD. That's the one with Siepi and it has Kiri Te Kanawa singing Elvira.

Te Kanawa's career is several decades after Siepi's! The Furtwangler film has another lovely 3-named lady as Elvira, Lisa Della Casa. And Te Kanawa is on the Losey film that Barbara just mentioned.

My favorite video Don Giovanni is a Glyndebourne stage production -- not the one just issued this year, but one from the 1970s, directed by Sir Peter Hall and conducted by Bernard Haitink. It doesn't have any superstar names in the cast, but they really act it and play it and sing it, and I think it works wonderfully well.

Other Mozart operas may be more tautly constructed, but there's something special about Don Giovanni; it takes on one of the central myths of European culture, and actually does justice to it.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 3 - 11/01/11 10:25 AM

Oops, Della Casa, yes. Te Kanawa is in the movie version.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 11/04/11 08:05 PM

Looking forward to tomorrow's Siegfried, and I am not a huge Wagner fan...Gary Lehman was our Floristan in Opera Roanoke's Fidelio a few years ago....and the little clip they showed last week looked like he is indeed ein heldentenor. And I adore Bryn Terfel in anything. I guess somebody is singing Brunhilde smile

But it's gonna be a LONGGG afternoon.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 3 - 11/05/11 10:12 AM

Deborah Voigt is the Brünhilde in this Ring production, but she doesn't appear until the last act of Siegfried . However, six hours of Wagner is more than I can take. Anyone else going?
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 3 - 11/05/11 10:32 AM

Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 11/05/11 11:17 AM

Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 11/05/11 06:27 PM

Ja. It ran just under five and a half hours instead of the estimated six, and it seemed shorter than that. Jay Hunter Morris is one helluva singer. His voice cracked slightly on a high note toward the end of the first act, but he came back to sing even higher notes with no trouble at all, and he finished strong. (It was amusing to learn that offstage Siegfried speaks with a Texas drawl. grin ) The scene with the bird was charming, a word not ordinarily applied to Wagner. The projected bird was voice-activated, so when the soprano sang, the bird's beak opened and closed. That machine set (mechanical planks) continues to amaze me with its versatility. But Aunt Brünnhilde and nephew Siegfried eventually got together, the stage is set for Twilight Time, and I've got a nice Wagner buzz going right now.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 11/05/11 06:46 PM

Ja! And I am still not wild about Wagner, and it was awfully long, BUT Jay Hunter Morris,the Texas-born tenor who replaced Gary Lehman made it worthwhile!

Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 11/05/11 06:49 PM

I see Barbara got her review posted while I was trying to get the photo to work.
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 3 - 11/06/11 11:11 AM

Oh my. Brünnhilde and Siegfried ARE aunt and nephew, aren't they? And she's been in stasis longer than he's been alive. What dating service would match them up?
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Opera 3 - 11/06/11 12:15 PM

If anyone wants to hear Anna Russell saying (among other things) "She's his aunt, by the way" and "I'm not making this up, you know", here's the playlist:

Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 11/07/11 10:27 AM

The Ring makes the Medici family look positively chaste. Go back a generation...Siegmund and Sieglinde are half brother and sister...Wotan seems to have had a thing about keeping it "all in the family."
Posted by: Pete

Re: Opera 3 - 11/08/11 09:40 AM

Wasn't every woman Siegfried knew his aunt?
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Opera 3 - 11/08/11 01:23 PM

No, there's Gutrune. To quote Anna Russell again (approximately): "She's the only woman he's met who isn't his aunt".
Posted by: Jon

Re: Opera 3 - 11/09/11 05:43 PM

Actually, Kay, Siegfried's parents are full brother and sister. (It's Brünnhilde who is their half-sister.) One might be tempted to blame it on ancient mythology, but actually in the Siegfried myths with which I'm familiar, Sieglinde (or however the character is named in a particular version) is rescued from her marriage by her brother, but has a baby with someone else (a king she eventually marries, I think). Wagner, as ever, tightened the situation and eliminated/combined characters.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 11/09/11 09:11 PM

That doesn't make it any less incestuous...not that it matters a whole lot...
Posted by: Jon

Re: Opera 3 - 11/09/11 10:29 PM

Well, no. I thought my addendum established it as MORE incestuous than you'd said.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 11/10/11 07:41 PM

Those mythological people really liked to keep it all in the family.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 11/19/11 07:50 PM

Anybody make it to the Philip Glass today?
I had planned to go but real life interfered.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 11/21/11 04:30 PM

I did, and, frankly, I wish I'd given it a miss. I know I'm supposed to be mesmerized by the repetition and led to an elevated emotional state, but I just couldn't get into it. I found Satyagraha pretentious and tedious. The libretto is made up of lines from the Bhagavad-Gita, sung in Sanskrit with no subtitles on the screen (someone at the Met decided the words would be a distraction). Occasionally a line of text would be projected onto the stage, in English; those lines did have subtitles...also in English. We were treated to such profundities as "Working is more excellent than doing nothing."

There was more going on visually in this production than anything else -- giant puppets, newspapers that served many purposes, people on stilts. Some of it reminded me of the "experimental theatre" staging back in the 60s, but it was all necessary as there was virtually no action for the singers to perform. What action was done, was done in slow motion. Take a slow step, pause, pause some more, now a little more, take another step, etc.; you can eat up ten minutes just crossing the stage that way. The opera is made up of a series of tableaux rather than following a linear plot, which would be fine if you knew what the tableaux represented. For instance, Ghandi makes his first appearance crumpled on the floor next to a suitcase. The audience is supposed to know he has just been tossed off a train for refusing to ride in the back with the rest of the Indians because he'd bought a first-class ticket. You really have to do your homework for this one. I didn't, and so I missed a lot.

Richard Croft has a beautiful voice, and I think all the singing was good; it was a little hard for me to tell. I marveled at the singers' ability to keep track of exactly how many times to repeat a phrase. Ghandi sings the last notes in the opera, a five-note ascending phrase that he sings thirty times in succession. My apologies to any Glass enthusiasts here, but I just couldn't take this opera seriously.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 3 - 11/21/11 08:44 PM

Thanks...I don't feel so bad about having to missed it! The only Glass I can recall is Koyaanisqatsi, which I saw years ago on TV...and I think the wild images made the music somehow coherent.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 3 - 11/21/11 08:49 PM

Hate to reveal myself as a nudnik, but everything by Glass I've heard sounds alike.
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 3 - 11/22/11 10:25 PM

I think I saw that Koyaanisqatsi telecast too, or part of it. That's the one with time-lapse photography of night traffic...streaks of light, constantly repeating, with fast music, also constantly repeating?
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 3 - 11/22/11 11:31 PM

Yes, that was part of it. The film started with slow-motion natural images that gave way to speeded-up industrial images, including traffic.

You know what? We're in the wrong topic. Kay asked about Glass here, and we responded here -- but all this should be in the Opera 4 topic.

I'm going to lock this topic.