Opera 4

Posted by: Barbara

Opera 4 - 10/14/11 02:06 PM

First Met simulcast of the season tomorrow, Anna Bolena. Anyone besides me going?
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 4 - 10/14/11 07:09 PM

Wouldn't miss it for the world! grin
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 10/14/11 08:17 PM

Planning to go, but have conflicts to work around...
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 4 - 10/14/11 11:34 PM

Skipping this one, but going to Don G.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 10/15/11 04:36 PM

I almost skipped it, but I didn't and am I glad! It was stupendous.

A question for those of you who go to movie theatres...(ours are shown in a small auditorium at a local college)...do audience members applaud with the "onscreen audience"?
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 10/15/11 04:37 PM

Another question: How much to the movie theatres charge? The college charges $20 ($18 for students, seniors and season subscribers to the local opera company)...
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 4 - 10/16/11 12:24 AM

Personally, I was less than enthralled by Anna Bolena; I found it slow and dull. Netrebko's voice was as beautiful as ever, but I think she was holding back on her almost-coloratura performance, saving something for the mad scene at the end. Up to now I had considered her a good actor, but today she showed Great Anguish by either staggering across the stage or by grasping her middle and bending over as if she had a bellyache. Old-time hammy operatic acting.

New-ish tenor Stephen Costello has a sweet voice, but he had to struggle with the high notes. Elena Garanca was originally scheduled to sing Jane Seymour but she decided to have a baby instead, so the role went to Ekaterina Gubanova, whose voice has a harsh edge to it that I find unpleasant. The ensembles worked well, especially the pre-Lucia sextet that closes the first act (played as a two-act opera). But for a story as loaded with drama as this one, the opera is curiously flat and even bland.

All in all...I was disappointed.
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 4 - 10/16/11 12:46 PM

Some variety would have helped, some peaks and valleys. I guess that's hard to work in when everyone in the cast spends the entire opera singing about how much they're suffering. All that excess weight Netrebko is carrying now certainly hasn't hurt her voice, but I expected the Henry to dominate every scene he was in. The fact that he didn't...well, I honestly don't know whether that was the singer's fault or the opera's. It seemed right to have three Russian singers in the cast for the Met's first simulcast to Moscow, but I wish it had been a better opera.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 4 - 10/16/11 02:13 PM

So that must be the reason Anna Bolena isn't performed very often. Did you know Rudolph Bing called it "that old bore"? I don't know the opera at all, but I've read it's primarily a showpiece for the soprano.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 11/24/11 09:40 AM

For some reason the Seigfried discussion was also in the older topic ( along with Philip Glass)...not sure how that happened. Anyway there aren't any simulcasts for a while...or I hope there aren't because I don't think I'll be able to get to them until after Christmas.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 4 - 11/28/11 05:36 PM

There are two more BEFORE Christmas -- the next two Saturdays, in fact (Rodelinda and Faust).
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 11/29/11 09:17 AM

December 3 and 10...Renee Fleming is actually SINGING Saturday instead of wandering around with a microphone...
Posted by: Pete

Re: Opera 4 - 11/30/11 08:25 AM

Barbara--what's the little icon on this topic? Seems to have a big black dot in the middle.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 4 - 12/04/11 05:20 PM

Where is that, Pete? On this page or on the list of topics page? I can't seem to find it.

Rodelinda yesterday, which I enjoyed far more than I had expected to. I went primarily because I'd never seen a countertenor in performance, and Rodelinda had two! It was a good production, with sets that were representative instead of symbolic (and quite a few of them). The singing was glorious, with one exception; Shenyang as Garibaldo got a bit slurry at times. But the high point of the opera came near the end of Act II. After nearly two full acts of aria after aria, Handel gave us a duet between Rodelinda and Bertardio that lifted the whole production up another notch. Renée Fleming's soprano and Andreas Scholl's countertenor blended in a sound so beautiful it left me open-mouthed. It was the kind of sound you go to the opera to hear.

Incidentally, I went straight from four and a half hours of Handel in a Sacramento theater to four hours of a bridge tournament in nearby Orangevale, where my partner and I finished third in our session. Yesterday was a good day.
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Opera 4 - 12/04/11 06:12 PM

I think Pete means the face with a wide-open mouth (a diva, perhaps?) that appears to the left of this Opera 4 topic when you choose the following from the menu at the very top of this page:

Barbara Paul Forums » Forums » General Discussion » Music, Music, Music !

Editing to say that it seems to be cry.gif
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 4 - 12/04/11 11:55 PM

Oh, yes, the crying icon. Closest thing to an opera singer we have. It's one of the smilies available when you use "Reply" instead of "Quick Reply".
Posted by: Pete

Re: Opera 4 - 12/05/11 09:16 AM

Aha. I now see it. Sorry for missing it. It does somehow resemble a diva. This post has what I think a baritone looks like singing "Largo al Factotum" ('d I get that right?).
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 4 - 12/05/11 10:47 AM

The duet in Rodelinda (the ONLY duet)...I don't think I've ever heard such a perfect blending of voices before. It was wonderful. But I have to admit that no matter how hard I tried, I could never get used to hearing a woman's voice coming from the mouth of so masculine a singer as Andreas Scholl. I tried and tried.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 12/05/11 09:35 PM

Once again, real life interfered and I had to miss this one....got a com;plete report from a friend yesterday that made me really sorry...pretty much what was said above.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 4 - 12/11/11 08:48 PM

Strange Faust yesterday. The production was updated to sometime between the two world wars. That was a big obstacle for me; I missed the medievalness of the legend. But once I resigned myself to that near-contemporary setting, I have to admit it was one helluva production. Steel scaffolding framed the stage, with spiral staircases on both sides, and an enormous screen for the projections was hung upstage center. The screen was filled with stage-dominating images, frequently pictures of Marina Poplavskaya's face alone, even during intermissions. Very effective. Faust is now a scientist working on an atomic bomb, and his despair is caused by his conscience prodding him about all the people who will die because of what he's doing. The opera ends with the return of old-man Faust, who finally dies himself. So the whole opera was the hallucination of a dying man. That's rather daring.

René Pape was fantastic, an absolutely wonderful and spry Mephistopheles, clearly enjoying his devilish role. His Le veau d'or was a show-stopper, aided by some "possessed" writhing/dancing by the chorus. Jonas Kaufmann...ah, the word "stentorian" comes to mind. Big voice, and he's not afraid to use it. Poplavskaya wasn't quite up to the level of the two men, but she has a sweet voice and made Marguerite quite sympathetic. (Marguerite, IMO, is one of the great ninnies of the opera world.)

So in spite of the updating, I ended up enjoying this Faust . Familiar tunes, great singing...Faust as a nuclear physicist doesn't really matter.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 12/11/11 11:19 PM

Ooops...once again real life interfered...
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 4 - 12/13/11 07:15 PM

Barbara, did they do the ballet?
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 4 - 12/13/11 11:38 PM

Nope. Mephistopheles mentioned Walpurgis Night and said they needed to leave for the Witches' Dance, but instead they went straight into the final trio. It would have been nice to see something Faust was doing other than seducing/betraying Marguerite, but musically the ballet is an interruption. Only that frenzied part at the end is exciting; the rest of it is just tinkle, tinkle, plunk, plunk -- to satisfy the Opéra's insistence on 15 minutes of en pointe stuck in there somewhere.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 12/31/11 01:51 PM

Apparently no matinee at the Met today...broadcast is from January 1951...Fledermaus with Rise Stevens and Patrice Munsel. Good production of Strauss's frothy musical passing itself off as an opera. The scary part is that I heard it LIVE!
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Opera 4 - 12/31/11 04:29 PM

BBC Radio 3 broadcast a recorded Covent Garden Traviata in the Met slot today. I had to turn it off after Act 1 as the audience was desperate to applaud everything. Tomorrow, an (apparently) live Meistersinger matinee from the Royal Opera. I was at the first night of this revival and enjoyed it greatly. The Hans Sachs (Wolfgang Koch) looked a bit young for the role but has a very nice voice. Walther was beefy New Zealander Simon O'Neill - plenty of stamina, but rather nasal in Act 3. The ladies were excellent and the David (Toby Spence) was the best I can remember. (And I was sorry that Robert Lloyd, the 71-year-old Night Watchman, wasn't singing Pogner). The joint stars of the show were ROH Music Director Antonio Pappano (soon to be Sir Antonio) and the orchestra. Some, but not me, thought the tempi were a bit too fast. Well worth listening to if you can get it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b018nr4x.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 4 - 01/02/12 10:23 AM

Available for only six more days, counting today.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 4 - 01/07/12 12:54 PM

I love that haunting little song the Mother sings right after she sends H&G out to gather berries. I think that's the only time in the whole opera one person is on stage alone.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 4 - 01/16/12 06:46 PM

The Enchanted Island coming up this Saturday. It looks gorgeous. I know pastiche operas were common in the 18th century, but this is the first I've heard of in my lifetime. Have there been any other recent ones, does anyone know?
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Opera 4 - 01/16/12 07:28 PM

Depends what you mean by recent, Barbara. In 1991, Paul Griffiths put together a whole lot of Mozart arias, some written for other composers' works, some just concert arias, some substitute arias in his own operas in a (rather boring) commedia dell'arte plot. It was called The Jewel Box:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jewel_Box
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 01/21/12 07:28 PM

I thought Enchanged Isle started off a bit slow, but eventually I was blown away...Placido Domingo AND mermaids together?

Seriously, if you didn't take it seriously, it was great fun.
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 4 - 01/22/12 07:55 AM

I loved it, I absolutely LOVED it! I loved the singing, I loved the production, I loved the fact that Neptune was cranky and forgetful. Most of all I loved Joyce di Donato...what a performance! I felt a little sorry for Caliban at the end. Everyone else was rewarded, but not him. (In this production, he was played like a big dumb teenager, ugly as sin.) Yes, indeed, this opera was fun.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 4 - 01/22/12 05:48 PM

Yes, it's a feel-good opera, isn't it? The celebratory nature of the work is contagious; you can't help but join in the fun. Even the sad parts can't detract from that. Joyce DiDonato is a true wonder; what she can do with her voice is amazing. The decision to take Shakespeare's casual mention of Sycorax and turn her into a leading character was well justified. I was also quite taken with mezzo Elizabeth DeShong as Hermia; I don't remember ever hearing her before.

Two things I would take issue with. One is Danielle deNiese's performance as Ariel. She overacted terribly, even for this kind of make-believe opera. She had a lot of good stage business, though, and that helped. But she had to yell her top notes, and she has a habit of swallowing the last note or two of a musical phrase. I don't know whether she ran out of breath or whether she was lagging a half-beat behind the orchestra or if that's just her singing style -- whichever, it grated on me. Through no fault of her own, DeNiese wore the only jarring costume in the production. Ariel is a sprite, not some overornamented gilded Buddha. Grumble.

The other thing I'd take issue with is the original parts of the libretto. One example: "If it's consoling, it will be rolling over hill and field..." Urg.

Originally Posted By: Andrew
Depends what you mean by recent, Barbara. In 1991, Paul Griffiths put together a whole lot of Mozart arias, some written for other composers' works, some just concert arias, some substitute arias in his own operas in a (rather boring) commedia dell'arte plot. It was called The Jewel Box:
Yes, I'd call that recent. I vaguely remember reading something about a "Mozart Project", but I didn't realize it had resulted in a completed opera. Boring plot, huh? Have you seen a performance?
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Opera 4 - 01/22/12 06:06 PM

Originally Posted By: Barbara
Originally Posted By: Andrew
Depends what you mean by recent, Barbara. In 1991, Paul Griffiths put together a whole lot of Mozart arias, some written for other composers' works, some just concert arias, some substitute arias in his own operas in a (rather boring) commedia dell'arte plot. It was called The Jewel Box:
Yes, I'd call that recent. I vaguely remember reading something about a "Mozart Project", but I didn't realize it had resulted in a completed opera. Boring plot, huh? Have you seen a performance?

Yes, I saw it at the Leeds Grand Theatre. Lots of nice music, but I just gave up trying to follow the uninteresting plot.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 4 - 01/24/12 09:15 AM




Danielle De Niese as Ariel
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 4 - 01/24/12 01:05 PM

Oh my.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 01/26/12 02:22 PM

I've been trying to find a pic of Daniel Evans as Ariel in the Old Vic production with Jacobi I saw in London nearly 10 years ago...can't...but fact is Ariel is NOT a girl...somewhere in the interviews a reference was made to "Tinker Bell" and that is SOOOOOOOOOO wrong.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 4 - 01/27/12 11:59 AM

If Danielle De Niese had two more arms, she'd look like the Hindu goddess Shiva. I didn't see The Enchanted Island, but the role of Ariel must have been written for soprano in keeping with the Baroque style. If the opera had been written in the late 17th or early 18th century, the role probably would have been written for castrato or haute-contre. And since castrato roles were later sung by women, it's in keeping with tradition to make Ariel a breeches role.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 01/27/12 01:56 PM

But there were TWO countertenors in the cast! Both singing male roles. Prospero and Ferdinand.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 01/27/12 02:05 PM

Which reminds me, since the Met now has a good counter tenor, might they think of reviving Britten's Midsummer Night's Dream (in which he wrote the role of Oberon for the great Alfred Deller)
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 4 - 01/27/12 11:59 PM

I think that's the point, Kay. With two countertenors in the cast, making Ariel another when the role can be sung by a woman would be overkill. Besides, can you see David Daniels playing a sprite? Hmm?
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 01/29/12 04:32 PM

Not sure about Oberon either smile
Posted by: Jon

Re: Opera 4 - 01/30/12 09:54 PM

The Met has the services of several countertenors -- the Julius Caesar revival 5 years ago had three, plus a female mezzo en travestri. It certainly hasn't been leaving A Midsummer Night's Dream alone for lack of Oberons. When the opera was on the company's schedule for 13 performances in 1997 and 2002, five countertenors did the role at various performances: Jochen Kowalski (he got the most), Derek Lee Ragin, Leon Varkas, and Mr. Daniels.

I adore the opera myself, but I'll be surprised if it comes back any time soon.
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Opera 4 - 02/11/12 11:47 AM

Anyone keen on Dvorak? A week ago I went to a concert performance of his "Jakobín", an opera which I've really enjoyed on the two occasions when I've seen it staged. It has some young lovers, a village schoolmaster/choirmaster, an old Count who has disinherited his son and - eventually - a happy ending which is quite moving. It can be heard via the BBC iPlayer for the next few days:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01...ak_The_Jacobin/
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 4 - 02/12/12 07:15 PM

Very peppy and tuneful, upbeat and accessible. Why is it not performed more often?

Yesterday I braved nearly six hours of Wagner and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Götterdämmerung was my last chance to see that stage machine everyone talks about so much, and it IS impressive. So was everything else. Voigt and Morris sounded great together (and separately). I did have a problem with Siegfried, though. Everyone kept calling him "hero" and "great warrior"...why? OK, he slayed a dragon, and that earns him a hero medal. But "great warrior"? He's not any kind of warrior, since he never fought in a war. Strictly a one-trick pony.

Gunther is a wuss.
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 4 - 02/13/12 09:25 AM

What I don't understand is why Brünnhilde kept crying out for Siegfried's death even after she'd figured out he was under a spell. She was really out for his blood. But once he was dead, she turned all lovey-dovey again. Don't mess with a Valkyrie, I guess.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 4 - 02/13/12 04:25 PM

None of that story can bear too close an examination. I was expecting rather more spectacle in the Immolation Scene -- bigger flames or more of them or something. But the final scenes did convey a great sense of loss; the whole production was successful in that regard. And once again we got to hear Siegfried turn into a good old boy from Texas for his interview -- ha.

LOVED Grane.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 4 - 02/26/12 12:58 PM

Yesterday's Ernani...what a production! And the melody, just one tune after another, nonstop. Did anyone else go? The first time I saw Angela Meade, I thought: "THREE men are in love with that tub of lard?" (OK, I'm a pig.) But then she opened her mouth and started to sing, and guess what? Now I'm in love with her too. My wife kept giving me the elbow and saying, "See? See? I told you!" I wasn't keen on going to this one, but I am so glad I listened to both women.
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 4 - 02/26/12 05:24 PM

Angela Meade's costume made her look bigger than she already is. Pastel colors, gathered waists, and puff sleeves should be worn only by skinny women. But none of that impeded her singing. She was grand, the whole production was grand. My only criticism is that it ran short, slightly under three and a half hours. When you go to a Verdi opera, you expect four and a half hours, or at least four, right? smirk But what there was, was cherce.
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Opera 4 - 02/26/12 07:07 PM

Originally Posted By: Lorna
My only criticism is that it ran short, slightly under three and a half hours. When you go to a Verdi opera, you expect four and a half hours, or at least four, right? But what there was, was cherce.


Two things here: 1. the number and length of the intervals (nothing to do with Verdi, everything to do with the production), and 2. the presence/absence of a ballet. Here are the approximate timings of actual music - excluding intervals - of each of the Verdi operas (Info from the Viking Opera Guide):

1 hr 30 min: Alzira, Il Corsaro
1 hr 45 min: I due Foscari, Attila, La battaglia di Legnano, Stiffelio
2 hr: Un giorno di regno, Giovanna d'Arco, Rigoletto, La Traviata, Aroldo, Falstaff
2 hr 15 min: Oberto, Nabucco, I Lombardi, Ernani, I Masnadieri, Luisa Miller, Il Trovatore, Un Ballo in Maschera, Aida (yes, really), Simon Boccanegra, Otello
2 hr 30 min: Macbeth, Jérusalem
2 hr 35 min: Les Vêpres Siciliennes [3hr with ballet]
3 hr: Don Carlos (4 act version)
3 hr 15 min: La Forza del Destino
3 hr 30 min: Don Carlos (5 act version)

Back to the Met's Ernani: 2 hr 15 minutes of music, + over an hour of intervals, = ca 3 hr 30 inutes
Posted by: Pete

Re: Opera 4 - 02/27/12 09:45 AM

I believe modern people have been conditioned by the two hour motion picture (including cartoon, short subject, newsreel, and previews) program from the 30s through the 50s. The 5 hour marathon of musical entertainment of the 18th and 18th centuries is no longer really acceptable; I couldn't make it.

Operas no longer are presented with the ballet that once was required (at least in Paris), are they?
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 4 - 02/27/12 10:03 AM

Guys, I was KIDDING!!
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 4 - 02/27/12 02:19 PM

Kinda thought you might be. grin Of course intermissions contribute to the time actually spent in the theater; I was surprised myself to leave in a little less than three and a half hours. So Ernani ties with the 5-act Don Carlos for the longest Verdi opera; I would never have guessed that.

But cherce it was indeed. Every time I hear Angela Meade sing, I'm astonished all over again. Oh yes, there were men in the opera, and they all sang real purdy too; Marcello Giordani was in especially fine fettle. The production was not new, but it was an excellent one; I'm glad they revived it.

Have you all seen The Audition, the documentary about the final rounds of the 2007 Met auditions for new talent? One slim blond soprano said in an interview that the hefty singers had an advantage in that they could get more air into their lungs than slimmer singers could. That let them sing long legato lines without having to take a breath; she couldn't do that. And sure enough, she wasn't one of the winners. But Angela Meade was.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 4 - 03/03/12 12:57 PM

Is anyone else having trouble getting the Aida broadcast? The transmission stopped for 10 or 15 minutes -- nothing, just dead air. Then it came back for a minute and then stopped again. Now Margaret Juntwait is talking...will it last this time? I can't tell whether the problem is local or at the source.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 4 - 03/03/12 04:17 PM

I tuned in late, but there's been no interruption of the broadcast here.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 03/03/12 07:20 PM

Hmmm...I posted a response much earlier, noting that there were apparently tech problems at the Met's end. Our local station filled with a canned interview with the director of our local opera company...later Juntwait and somebody else killed a little more time for them.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 4 - 03/04/12 01:15 AM

So it was the Met. I don't think anyone at the Sacramento station was even listening; otherwise there would have been some sort of announcement at least.

I didn't care much for Giordani today, but that was one heckuva debut for Latonia Moore. A real star-is-born moment.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 03/17/12 08:37 PM

No wonder Barbara hasn't commented on today's opera...her computer is on the fritz...she'll be back when she can,.
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 4 - 04/07/12 08:23 PM

I loved Manon! Anna Netrebko was fantastic, and Piotr Beczala kept up with her every step of the way. What a good pairing! The flexible set was rather drab, but it did make a good background for the elaborate costumes. I knew only three arias from this opera, but the rest of it was melodic and quite satisfying.

Only one thing I did not like, and that was the ballet. Movements that were meant to be in unison quite often weren't...the dancers didn't all start and stop at precisely the same moment, arm positions didn't match, etc. The dancers were clearly underrehearsed. But fortunately the ballet was very brief, only a few minutes, and the rest of the opera was just grand.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 04/08/12 01:52 PM

I missed it! Maybe it will get a "repeat"...
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 4 - 04/09/12 07:17 PM

They all have repeat performances, Kay.

I wasn't as enamoured as Lorna was, but I'll admit I enjoyed it more than I'd expected to. I'm not a big Massenet fan, although in high school I memorized the words of "Profitons bien de la jeunesse" and even tried singing it (when no one else was at home!). Manon must have the most boring opening in opera, and the libretto's clumsy handling of the plot is annoying. But once Netrebko and Beczala started to sing, all was forgiven. They WERE fantastic. Netrebko's voice sometimes seemed rather earthy for this role, but I liked that mature, sumptuous sound. The staging was clever. The sets -- hated the color, but they too were cleverly manipulated. It's just at times the setting seemed a little too modernistic for the faux-Victorian costumes the singers were wearing. And yes, the ballet needed more rehearsal. So how do you grade a flawed opera with an imperfect production and absolutely gorgeous singing? Why, A+, of course.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 4 - 04/10/12 01:02 PM

You're such a tough grader, Barbara.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 04/10/12 08:19 PM

Originally Posted By: Barbara
They all have repeat performances, Kay.



Maybe where you live. My schedule shows Traviata this coming Saturday and then nada until, I guess, next fall. Of course, we do not get them in a movie theatre but in the theatre at the local community college.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 4 - 04/11/12 10:23 PM

Oh, that's unfortunate. The repeat of Manon is scheduled for April 25th. The Met also has what it calls the Summer Encore program, usually repeating a few of the season just concluded plus a few from previous seasons. Does your community college theater get that?
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 04/12/12 08:38 PM

I am just going by the list that we were given at the start of the season. I'll check Saturday at Traviata to see if they are doing any repeats or extending the season.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 4 - 04/13/12 12:02 PM

Last year the Summer Encore tickets were reduced to half-price, which sounds as if the summer repeats aren't drawing big enough audiences to suit the Met's accountants. Let's hope they don't abandon their summer program. It's such a good chance to catch something you had to miss.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 4 - 04/13/12 02:53 PM

Or maybe they got too many complaints about paying "live" ticket prices for recorded performances. The first year of the simulcasts, whoever was doing the intermission features said that less than a fourth of the Met's budget came from ticket sales; all the rest was from donations. Three years later they were saying only a third of their income came from ticket sales. This year -- only half from ticket sales. Despite that recurring "only", the simulcasts are bringing in good money; I don't think they'll do much futzing around with a winning formula.
Posted by: Jon

Re: Opera 4 - 04/14/12 06:50 AM

I go up and down about Massenet -- I admire the craftsmanship of Werther yet it often bores me in performance, Thaïs has its trashy side yet can be wonderfully effective in many stretches, I absolutely love his version of Cinderella start to finish, and so on. Some of Manon I can take or leave, but there are a couple of scenes featuring Manon where Massenet rises to the occasion and then some. Especially the church scene where she wins him back: his aria and then the duet are as good as it gets.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 04/14/12 03:46 PM

Ok, people....aside from the singing, what did you think of the Traviata staging?
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 04/14/12 04:02 PM

I found it distracting....and wish they'd stuck to something more conventional...I've seen it done in modern dress effectively, but the fact is this is still "Camille" and it deserves some respect...
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 04/14/12 04:04 PM

And it turns out the repeat performances in this area are in Lynchburg, about an hour away.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 4 - 04/15/12 03:19 PM

Originally Posted By: Kay
Ok, people....aside from the singing, what did you think of the Traviata staging?

The minimalist Salvatore Dali-esque set was crisp, striking, and a great background for highlighting the movement of the singers. The staging was clever, including turning the mixed chorus into a male chorus by dressing the women as men, all of them in black so that the only spot of color on the stage was the heroine's red dress. But as well done as all that was, it was in no way appropriate to La Traviata. It just didn't fit AT ALL. I too started to long for a conventional staging...rather quickly, in fact.
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 4 - 04/15/12 04:38 PM

I liked the design, but Chris is right...it didn't fit. It seemed sterile and at odds with so passionate an opera as Traviata. What bothered me more was how haggard Natalie Dessay looked. Good for the role, but not so good for the singer.
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 4 - 04/15/12 08:11 PM

It was a stingy kind of set. Impressive at first glance, but not at all satisfying as the opera went on. What was the doctor doing hovering around through all four acts? He sings maybe two lines in the last act and that's all. Was he supposed to be some harbinger of death?
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 04/15/12 08:58 PM

I didn't realize he was the doctor until the last act...I assumed he was death hanging around waiting for the clock to strike. And there seems to be general agreement here that, while the staging was effective, it was not Traviata...
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 04/15/12 09:00 PM

Oh, and while I am not crazy about the ballet, what they did with that was really really weird.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 4 - 04/16/12 12:45 AM

When I first saw him, I thought: "Is that her doctor? He's not in this act!" But when Violetta first approached him, stage left, he was so indifferent to her suffering that I started thinking he was the figure of Death instead. Then he turned out to be the doctor after all. Hmmph.

But what he really was, was the opera's florist. When Alfredo makes his declaration of love to Violetta, she hands him a flower and tells him to return when the flower has withered. (O ciel! Domani!) So where did that flower come from? There were no flowers on that stark set, no vase to hold them if there were, no table to hold the vase. That's why the doctor was onstage; someone had to give Violetta that flower. And it wouldn't do to have him lurking around in the first act and then just disappear, so he continued his lurking ways right to the end and even gave Violetta another flower somewhere along the way. But in the time the two lovers had together in the country, what was the pattern of their sofa throws and robes? Flowers!

I've never seen a performance of Traviata that included "O mio rimorso", and that's a shame; it's not long and wouldn't add much to performance time. It seemed to me part of the gambling scene was cut in Saturday's performance.

Wouldn't you think that Violetta would have more than one party dress? But we now know Alfredo wears boxers and not briefs.
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 4 - 04/16/12 11:38 AM

Originally Posted By: Kay
Oh, and while I am not crazy about the ballet, what they did with that was really really weird.

What ballet?
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 4 - 04/16/12 01:59 PM

I didn't see any ballet.

That set was something of an optical illusion. I thought it was a painted stage curtain at first. Then a door opened and Violetta walked out onto what looked like a steeply curved floor and my jaw dropped. I loved it...for the rest of the first act. But I was thoroughly sick of it by the end of the opera. The only variation was those flowery throws in the second act, and they were just messy on that pristine set. But the opera sounded great even if it didn't look right.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 04/16/12 10:34 PM

{quote}I didn't see any ballet.(/quote)

Precisely... where there is usually a spanish gypsy ballet (demanded of Verdi by the Paris Opera, I believe) they had that androgenous chorus harrassing Alfredo...

And, yes, Barbara, I think they kind of overdid the camellias in the furniture, etc.
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 4 - 04/20/12 05:23 PM

If you haven't yet seen the Met's simulcast schedule for next season, here it is:


Oct. 13: Donizetti’s L'Elisir d'Amore - Netrebko, Polenzani

Oct. 27: Verdi’s Otello - Botha, Fleming

Nov. 10: Adès’s The Tempest - Keenlyside, conducted by the composer

Dec. 1: Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito - Filianoti, Garanca (SHE'S BACK!)

Dec. 8: Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera - Alvarez, Mattila, Hvorostovsky, Blythe

Dec. 15: Verdi’s Aida - Monastyrska, Alagna, Borodina

Jan. 5: Berlioz’s Les Troyens - Voigt, Graham, Giordani, Croft

Jan. 19: Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda - DiDonato

Feb. 15: Verdi’s Rigoletto (AT LAST!) – Beczala, Lucic, Damrau

Mar. 2: Wagner’s Parsifal - Kaufmann, Dalayman, Pape

Mar. 16: Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini - Westbroek, Giordani

Apr. 27: Handel’s Giulio Cesare - Daniels, Dessay


Once again they're opening with Netrebko and closing with Dessay. Two of the scheduled performances are Met premieres (The Tempest, Maria Stuarda). Rigoletto is set in 1960s Las Vegas, yuck.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 04/20/12 07:50 PM

Only one appearance by Hvorostovsky, the Russian who is the best Verdi baritone I've heard since....Warren, maybe....but what a role for him...and based on the "preview" they will be doing it with a Mafia theme...moving it up from Colonial times (and even farther away from Sweden)

And Fleming as Desdemona....I don't think I've heard her to that role before.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 4 - 04/20/12 10:30 PM

I had it in my head that Kovanchina would be shown...don't know where I got that idea. But it's a rather odd assortment. No Puccini and four Verdi, two of them back-to=back.

Andrew, have you seen The Tempest? Wiki says Keenlyside sang Prospero in the Covent Garden premiere.
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Opera 4 - 04/21/12 04:55 AM

Yes,but not at Covent Garden and not with Keenlyside. I saw it in Frankfurt in January 2010 (and Mefistofele next day). It was performed "in englischer Sprache mit deutschen Ubertiteln". It started very well with the storm but thereafter it was rather bitty, and scandalously did not use Shakespeare's text most of the time (the guilty party was someone called Meredith Oakes but I'm sure that Adès could have demanded Shakespeare if he'd wanted to). The Prospero (Adrian Eröd) was also a bit underwhelming. Cyndia Sieden, the stratospheric Ariel, was the only cast-member to have been in the Covent Garden premiere. Probably worth seeing, and I imagine that the Met will provide a good staging.
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 4 - 04/21/12 05:05 PM

"Probably worth seeing"...once? Will you go see it again?
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Opera 4 - 04/21/12 05:41 PM

Well, no, unless they restore Shakespeares's words. It's my favourite Shakespeare play by a long chalk.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 04/21/12 09:27 PM

Should be intresting to com;pare TheTempest to this season's Enchanted Isle...
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 4 - 04/22/12 07:00 AM

I don't see how they can restore Shakespeare's words without rewriting all the music, and that's not going to happen. Wiki has some examples of how the language is "compacted", such as:

Five fathoms deep
Your father lies
Those are pearls
That were his eyes


Can't say I care much for that.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 04/22/12 01:41 PM

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Ding-dong.
Hark! now I hear them — Ding-dong, bell.

NO WAY to improve on the original...


Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 4 - 04/22/12 04:28 PM

It's extremely difficult for me to put a Shakespeare play out of my mind and watch a Shakespeare-based opera as a different work altogether; I'm still in shock from Thomas's Hamlet. Some years back, every time the Met broadcast Otello, someone on one of the intermission programs would announce he preferred the opera version of the story to Shakespeare's. I could weep! YouTube has a few clips from Adès's Tempest. My flaky computer would allow me to watch only one of them, but that one shows Ariel singing an impossibly difficult passage. Soprano Cindia Seydon makes it possible, though; she does a beautiful job with the music. But her words are almost totally incomprehensible. Thank heaven for subtitles.

I'm delighted to see Elena Garanca on the schedule. I'd still love to see her Dalila; I know she's sung it in Germany, perhaps elsewhere. But Tito is looking good. grin
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 04/22/12 06:38 PM

The one thing Otello has that Shakespeare did not contribute is Iago's Credo. And it works in the opera, but somehow I don't think it would work in the drama...Oh, and I'm afraid I find "un baccio, etc" much more moving than "I kissed thee err etc."

Come to think of it, I believe I like Falstaff better than Merry Wives, too....
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 4 - 04/22/12 07:49 PM

You mean the operas have better music than the plays? Imagine that.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 04/22/12 08:44 PM

Not exactly....Credo en un dio crudel somehow makes Iago and his actions more credible. A similar sililoquy in the play might have worked, I don't know.

As for "Wives" (the play) Vs. "Falstaff" the opera...I don't know how to explain it but I have listend to the recording over and over, and watched at least one production on stage more than once including a couple of rehearsals....but I find the play a little tedious. The Hern's Oak scene, for instance, is just so much better in the opera...
Posted by: Pete

Re: Opera 4 - 04/23/12 08:17 AM

I read once that some 17th century Italian came on a Shakespeare work, couldn't imagine it presented any way other than sung, and invented opera thereby.

The real problem is just how much longer it takes to sing words than it does to speak them, even if you except Parsifal. You could probably recite the Shakespeare original twice or thrice while the digested paraphrase is being sung.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 4 - 04/23/12 11:20 AM

Not to mention that opera likes to repeat lines a lot. But you do have to separate yourself from the play, and that's not always easy to do.

Chris... wink
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Opera 4 - 04/23/12 12:06 PM

Originally Posted By: Pete
I read once that some 17th century Italian came on a Shakespeare work, couldn't imagine it presented any way other than sung, and invented opera thereby.


I haven't heard that one. As far as I can see, the only 17th century Shakespearean operas were British: The Tempest (1674) by various composers, and Purcell's The Fairy-Queen (1692). There were several more in the early 18th century, but the first Italian one seems to have been Ambleto (1706) by Francesco Gasparini.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 4 - 10/30/12 01:11 AM

Did no one else go to Saturday's Otello? Nothing earth-shaking about it, but I thoroughy enjoyed both the singing and the production. The audience at my theater applauded twice, at the intermission break and at the end. They were still applauding when I left.
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 4 - 10/30/12 01:37 PM

They applauded at my theater too, at the end. I'd never seen Botha before, and I'm ashamed that my first reaction was "Desdemona fell in love with that tub of lard?" Unkind and childish. His singing won me over, though, but I thought Falk Struckmann's Iago just about stole the show. He was terrific.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 4 - 10/30/12 07:07 PM

My audience applauds every time the Met audience does, just like they were in the theatre. Like Lorna, I was a little put off by Botha's girth. I've seen Domingo do it in a live telecast and seen photos of Venay and Del Monaco, so an overweight Otello is a little off putting at first...but he aced the "Esultate" on his entrance and handled the duet very nicely...I was a tad disappointed in Fleming's Desdemona, I am sorry to say, and any Iago that is not Leonard Warren is just...ok, any BARITONE that is not Leonard Warren is a pale shadow. But I didn't think "Deo en un dio crudel" had the punch it should have. It is, after all, the sililoquy that Shakespeare forgot to write, that makes Iago's actions more credible.
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 4 - 10/30/12 11:23 PM

Lorna, I agree about Struckmann's Iago. I don't think I've ever heard such an aggressive "Credo" before; I liked it! It's quite different from the corresponding soliloquy in the play, which is subtle and sly instead of militant. Different media, different treatments.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 4 - 10/31/12 10:48 PM

I just realized we're in the wrong topic here; we should be in Opera 5. I'm going to close this one.