Opera 8

Posted by: Rita

Opera 8 - 01/11/14 03:20 PM

"Brotherlein and "Sisterlein"???
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 8 - 01/11/14 06:57 PM

Yup, that's what they sang. Actually, it's not a bad compromise since the literal translation of the German doesn't work.
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 8 - 01/11/14 09:06 PM

I didn't like the Orlofsky.
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Opera 8 - 01/12/14 12:54 PM

It's been a long time since I saw or even listened to Die Fledermaus, but I've always enjoyed it when it comes around. Last night I heard the first two acts from the Met, then had to go over (at 9pm British time) to the TV to keep up with the 3rd and 4th episodes of the second series of The Bridge.

Anyway, I seem to recall that when I've heard Fledermaus in English it's never been "Brotherlein" and "Sisterlein" but "Brother mine" and "Sister mine".

I thought the Orlofsky wasn't too bad (for a counter-tenor). Nice to hear Christopher Maltman, though his English accent sounded rather odd when speaking to Americans. Some of the jokes fell pretty flat, too. I was a bit dubious about the overture (rather heavy), but my ancient Clemens Krauss recording is still my favourite, though it doesn't have any spoken dialogue.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 8 - 01/12/14 02:03 PM

Whoa...a Fledermaus with no spoken dialogue? How can that be? Or, wait, it's that one recording that just left the spoken parts out?
Posted by: Pete

Re: Opera 8 - 01/16/14 11:36 AM

Surely, recordings have been made (of operas with spoken parts) of the music alone? That may have been a standard procedure in the days of 78 rpm recordings, I bet.

Parens added for clarity.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 8 - 01/16/14 12:32 PM

I hope you mean without the spoken parts. Yes, that's what I was asking about.
Posted by: Jon

Re: Opera 8 - 01/17/14 01:54 PM

Sure, there are lots of recordings of operas-with-speaking that omitted the spoken portions. Magic Flute, for sure, but operettas as well. This pretty much stopped happening around the mid-1960s, I think.

Certainly it was the rule in the 78 RPM era, though there were interesting exceptions -- most notably a 1907 Fledermaus, which includes more dialogue than some recent recordings! I find that amazing.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 8 - 02/05/14 07:53 PM

Rusalka this Saturday. Anybody going?
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 8 - 02/06/14 12:49 AM

I am.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 8 - 02/06/14 08:56 PM

I am hoping to go...there is always the possibility of ice or snow, although right now it is not in the forecast...
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 8 - 02/08/14 09:30 PM

So? I took a friend who wanted to leave after the second act, so I ran her home and went back...it is...uh...interesting and has of course become Fleming's signature role, but I don't think it will ever wind up on my list of all time hits.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 8 - 02/08/14 10:28 PM

The opera itself is mostly a bore, IMHO. The unfortunate tenor (whose name escapes me) would have fared better if he had died in the first act instead of the last...I liked the Swamp Witch and the Water Sprite (not familiar with either of the artists before)...and the production was interesting, but frankly, Dvorak should have stuck to symphonic works.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 8 - 02/09/14 05:42 PM

Would it be sacrilege to suggest Renée Fleming is past her prime? And I agree with Kay...the opera was a bore.
Posted by: Jon

Re: Opera 8 - 02/09/14 07:26 PM

I wasn't able to see the opera, and of course the opera has never been a repertory item -- it's mostly Fleming (and before her the Slovak soprano Benackova) who have gained it a little foothold in the last couple of decades.

But the music is continuously beautiful (as generally with Dvorak), the story of the soulless nature spirit who wants to become human is one of the central European myths, and I'm always glad of a chance to see it. (The chance doesn't come along that often.)

Yes, Fleming is probably past the peak. That still leaves her in good shape.
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 8 - 02/09/14 08:29 PM

Continuously beautiful? Well, I'd go along with "continuously pleasant", but that's all. The production was quite appealing visually. Both sets had a fairy tale quality without being cutesy.

Kay, the tenor was Piotr Beczala. If you mean the character, The Prince doesn't have a name. He doesn't deserve one, the pig. The story is pretty hard to take.

Something puzzles me. If Rusalka couldn't walk on dry land until Jezibaba did her witchy thing, then how did she get up in that tree where she made her first appearance?
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 8 - 02/10/14 01:18 AM

Ha! Good point. I've never cared for the Ondine stories myself; they always struck me as somehow unwholesome. Prince Pig didn't help matters any.

Did you notice that Rusalka starts out the same way Das Rheingold does? Three otherworldly females tease and flirt with an ugly otherworldly male, whose grasp they manage to evade. Dvorak must have admired more of Wagner than just his music.

Jezibaba was sung by Dolora Zajick, who virtually stole the show as Azucena a season or two ago.
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 8 - 02/27/14 07:02 PM

Prince Igor this coming Saturday. I'm going.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 8 - 02/27/14 07:26 PM

I'll have to miss that one...out of town company and not the ones who might appreciate Russian opera.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 8 - 02/28/14 07:17 PM

I don't do very well with Russian opera. I know Andrew likes it, and I usually like it for a little while and then I just want to go home. This opera might be different, and I'll probably never get another chance to see it, but I'm still hanging back. My wife tells me she's going, with me or without me.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 8 - 02/28/14 07:56 PM

I'm familiar with the dance music (Isn't EVERYBODY?) Beyond that I am not sure I've heard any of it...and I think Austin pretty well summed up Russian opera...and that includes Onegin...
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 8 - 03/02/14 07:48 PM

Well, it was very...Russian. I hate to sound like Emperor Joseph telling Mozart that his music had too many notes, but it was just too long. I thought the poppy field sequence would never end, and I didn't see the need for the romance between Igor's son and the plump lady in a white nightgown and tacky wig. The music was melodic and accessible, and I liked the last two acts better than the first.

Austin, did you go?
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 8 - 03/03/14 01:39 PM

Would you call that a mixed review? wink

No, I didn't go. My wife mostly liked it. Her only real complaint was not musical but the acting, which she said was old-fashioned and hammy.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 8 - 03/03/14 07:56 PM

The plot certainly didn't need the romance, but musically -- maybe. The son had a big aria early in, which the tenor playing the role sang with passion. For my money, the best voice on that stage belonged to the plump lady in the tacky wig. Her mezzo was mellow and distinctive, more pleasurable to listen to than the leading lady's occasionally screechy soprano. I don't know any of those principal singers; in his intro, Eric Owens said they were all "famous Slavic singers". Probably not too many other singers know those roles. But the multi-race chorus was strictly the Met's own.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 8 - 03/07/14 12:31 PM

Multi ethnic choruses, etc, are not limited to the Met...and while I am in favor of inclusiveness, I still think an occasional nod toward reality might be in order. A while back (a good while, actually) I remember seeing a production of Romeo and Juliet (the play) in which Romeo was white, Juliet black (NO PROBLEM WITH THAT-it works), but the kid was obviously adopted because the Capulets were white and Hispanic, respectively).
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 8 - 03/16/14 08:32 PM

I loved Werther, loved it, loved it, loved it! The music, the singers, the set, everything...loved it!
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 8 - 03/17/14 04:13 PM

But what did you really think, Lorna? grin

I actually didn't care for it much at first, but it grew on me and I ended up liking it. What's the difference between vibrato and tremolo? Whichever it was, I think Sophie Koch had too much of it.

Has anyone ever remarked on Jonas Kaufmann's French pronunciation?
Posted by: Rita

Re: Opera 8 - 04/01/14 11:46 AM

Bumping up to cover the spammer's postscript.

We were talking about Werther. What did you think, Barbara?
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 8 - 04/01/14 07:50 PM

I didn't go, Rita. I'm not a fan of Massenet. I'm going to skip La Bohème this Saturday as well. It's the Zefferelli production from the '70s, without a doubt the best production of that opera I've ever seen. But I've seen it twice, so I'm going to pass this time around. Next time.
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 8 - 04/03/14 08:25 PM

Is the Zefferelli production a traditional one or one of those productions?
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 8 - 04/04/14 03:10 PM

Love it, Lorna...there have been too many of "those" lately. Same with people who are bored with Shakespeare...
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 8 - 04/04/14 03:11 PM

I'm not against innovation, but I think it's being carried to extremes...sometimes the music seems to get lost.
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Opera 8 - 04/05/14 11:45 AM

No, no, it's typical Zefferelli, very traditional, masses of extras, nothing to upset the horses - see Barbara's note above. Kasper Holten is about to retire the traditional ROH Bohème which has been around for about 30 years (and I'll be going to see Opera North's new Bohème next month - they're aiming to put on lots of performances and hoping to make lots of money from them. Times are hard in our conservative+so-called liberal democrat shrinking of the state).
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 8 - 04/06/14 05:37 PM

Oh, I loved it, loved it, LOVED it! I know, I said the same thing about Werther, but that was puppy love and this is rhe Real Thing! That second-act set was fabulous. That familiar music just seemed warm and wonderful to me. I'm going to be hearing La Boheme in my head for the next six months.
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 8 - 04/08/14 05:46 PM

I wonder if anyone ever said that about a Richard Strauss opera.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 8 - 04/10/14 09:28 AM

Actually, I've had an occasional Rosencavalier earworm...
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Opera 8 - 04/11/14 12:57 PM

I've seen ten of Strauss's 15 operas on stage, plus a couple of concert performances. My favourites are:

Ariadne auf Naxos (1912/1916)
Capriccio (1942)
Elektra (1909)
Arabella (1932)
Die Frau ohne Schatten (1918)
Die Schweigsame Frau (1934)

The other four:

Salome (1905) is sort of OK, but I don't want to see it very often
Intermezzo (1924) is rather bizarre
Daphne (1938) has its moments and I'd like to see it again

And then there's Der Rosenkavalier (1911) which has some nice music but is rather soppy. My favourite character is Baron Ochs!

Oh, and there's a lot of good orchestral music - the one I like best is An Alpine Symphony but the others (e.g. Metamorphosen)are good. And then there are a whole lot of songs (particularly the Four Last Songs) plus several concertos....
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 8 - 04/11/14 01:00 PM

Kay, let me guess -- the waltzes?
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 8 - 04/11/14 05:13 PM

of course the waltzes, but some of the arias, duets, trios...I had a mezzo friend in college who sang Octavian in a school production...got fairly familiar with the work at an early age, I guess.
Posted by: Jon

Re: Opera 8 - 04/23/14 04:47 PM

My freshman year at Indiana University School of Music, I got thoroughly obsessed with Der Rosenkavalier. The opera theater was doing it (they prepared for it most of the year), and I attended most of the orchestra rehearsals and all of the performances. I was drunk on it, couldn't get enough of it. And I went on about it at most of the meals in the dorm too; my friends deserve a medal for being patient with me and not avoiding me during that period of infatuation.

I've seen regrettably few of the operas onstage (Rosenkavalier, Ariadne auf Naxos, Frau ohne Schatten, plus Capriccio in concert -- from the BBC box at the Albert Hall!), several more on video, still others on recordings. I also love a great deal of the orchestral music (Don Quixote and Till Eulenspiegel at the head of the list), and many of the songs, especially those with orchestra.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 8 - 04/24/14 03:40 PM

I may have posted this before -- skip it if it sounds familiar. When I was 13 or 14, I read a critical biography of Strauss. The author (name long forgotten) didn't think much of Der Rosenkavalier; he dismissed it as "a glittering, empty shell." I still remember those words. At the time I was shocked. I knew in my bones that that was magic music, and I was stunned by the realization for the first time that books aren't always right. A double whammy. But, alas, my enthusiasm for the opera has waned somewhat over the years, and I don't really know why. Maybe I needed that near-daily exposure to it that Jon had.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 8 - 04/27/14 02:18 PM

A sprightly Così yesterday, with much fun had by all, cast and audiences alike. It left me with an urgent need to hear Susanna Phillips again as soon as possible. The sets (from an earlier production) were just right, and it was good to see James Levine back in the saddle again. Even after conducting hundreds of performances, he hasn't lost one ounce of enthusiasm for what he's doing. The suitors (Matthew Polenzani and Rodion Pogossov) both sounded good together and played together well. All the acting was appropriate to the music, although I felt Danielle de Niese (Despina) needed to tone it down a notch or two. But the opera was a real treat -- graceful music, gracefully sung.

The programs we were handed contained acknowledgements of financial donations that made this production possible. One such came from Dolce & Gabbana. Now I feel much better about spending so much money on a pair of D&G eyeglasses last month.
Posted by: Andrew

Re: Opera 8 - 04/28/14 04:15 AM

I heard the broadcast and enjoyed it a lot. I was very pleased to hear Polenzani sing "Ah lo veggio quell' anima bella" - it's frequently cut. A few years ago I and Jon went to see Così at Glyndebourne and this aria was cut. If I remember correctly, Jon said that it's quite difficult to sing. Polenzani made it sound easy!
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 8 - 04/28/14 03:02 PM

Andrew, a question. At what point does an ensemble become a chorus? Così had the smallest chorus I've ever seen in an opera. I didn't count them, but there couldn't have been more than 10 or 12. It was a delightful performance...I think I enjoyed Così more than anything else this season.

Incidentally, I found this in Wiki:
According to William Mann,[6] Mozart disliked prima donna Adriana Ferrarese del Bene, da Ponte's arrogant mistress for whom the role of Fiordiligi had been created. Knowing her idiosyncratic tendency to drop her chin on low notes and throw back her head on high ones, Mozart filled her showpiece aria "Come scoglio" with constant leaps from low to high and high to low in order to make Ferrarese's head "bob like a chicken" onstage.[7]
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Opera 8 - 04/28/14 08:27 PM

Ha! Did Susanna Phillips's head bob like a chicken?
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 8 - 04/29/14 11:04 AM

Posted by: Andrew

Re: Opera 8 - 04/29/14 05:20 PM

Chris asks:
"Andrew, a question. At what point does an ensemble become a chorus? Così had the smallest chorus I've ever seen in an opera. I didn't count them, but there couldn't have been more than 10 or 12."

In this opera, the chorus is usually (but not always) offstage. All it does is to sing "Bella vita militar!" twice in Act 1 scene 2, and then only once in the dénouement near the end of the opera. I haven't seen this production, so can't really comment on the number of singers, but this really is an opera in which the chorus has very little to do.
Posted by: Jon

Re: Opera 8 - 05/02/14 11:13 PM

Getting caught up on several points -- sorry to be late, it's a crazy semester.

Barbara, I'm not quite the Rosenkavlier addict I once was, either. I still like it, the great scenes still send me, the orchestral writing still delights me. But I must admit that Strauss overwrote it, blew it up with too much (and too grandiose) music for the novelette-ish sort of story it is. Very unusually among the operas that I would call favorites, I do think it's better when shortened with cuts.

In many otherwise uncut productions and recordings of Così fan tutte, "Ah! lo veggio" is the only thing to go. The tenor has between 20 and 30 high B flats in it (the note that tenors like Pavarotti make such a big climax of), and he can't heave his way on and off them -- they happen in the middle of phrases, often as the beginning of a descending scale. It's very unusual to encounter the aria in a live performance: bravo to Polenzani. From being a reliable "house tenor" for the Met, he has developed into a rather special artist of top rank. Both his live CD with the Britten Michelangelo sonnets and his Liszt CD are exceptionally fine.

I don't necessarily trust William Mann's relaying of opera anecdotes, or his writing in general. There are a lot of stories about Ferrarese, and they don't all agree.
Posted by: Pete

Re: Opera 8 - 05/03/14 10:12 AM

I saw a chamber production of Cosi once. A student production, in English, with only keyboard accompaniment. I don't know if I heard the tenor aria (and I would doubt I did, with students singing). What's the Bass's big aria, complaining about women?
Posted by: Jon

Re: Opera 8 - 05/04/14 01:46 PM

Mozart gave the tenor three arias, of which the second is hair-raisingly difficult (as noted above) and the third quite challenging too. Student performances -- even professional ones, a few decades back -- generally omit the latter two, leaving the tenor with only his Act I aria. (Other numbers were sometimes cut or abbreviated as well; the "standard German performing edition" up through the 1970s was brutally abridged. This is close to what student performances are likely to do now, to ease the strain on their inexperienced performers.)

The bass aria (for the character Guilelmo) about women is "Donne mie, le fate a tanti."
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 8 - 05/05/14 12:17 AM

And I was so involved with company for a family wedding that I completely forgot there was an opera broadcast! Oh, well...
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Opera 8 - 05/13/14 01:38 PM

Did anyone go to La Cenerentola?
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 8 - 05/13/14 03:56 PM

I did, and I enjoyed it immensely. We mustn't let the last simulcast of the season pass without a word, especially since La Cenerentola is such a feel-good opera. DiDonato and Florez were fantastic, and rubbery-faced Alessandro Corbelli was a joy every time he was on stage. The production values were so much better than in the first simulcast production of this opera. I thought the two stepsisters were too cartoonish, but that's the only nit I can find to pick. Wonderful way to end a season.

But a little sad, too, since I'm used to hearing Natalie Dessay in the last simulcast of the season. The schedule for this just-completed season was released a full year before she announced her retirement, so I'm wondering what the story there was.
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Opera 8 - 05/14/14 06:49 PM

Oh, I didn't know she had retired! What a pity. I thought she'd made the transition to the lower range successfully. I'll miss hearing her.

But yes, La Cenerentola is indeed a feel-good opera, and I felt very good after seeing and hearing it. It's a piece of fluff, but such an elegant piece of fluff! And with singers like the three Barbara mentioned, how can you go wrong?
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 8 - 06/22/14 10:25 PM

Doing a little time traveling or something and wound up with an ear worm of Quella mi creda from Fanciulla del west...not Puccini's greatest opera but one that has some wonderful moments and unlike so many of the great ones, has a feel good finale...

It's been a while since they've had it in the repertoire. And I don't think I even own a complete recording, although, of course, I have that aria by DeStefano, Del Monaco, even, I think somewhere Caruso...and probably Domingo....
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 8 - 06/22/14 10:27 PM

Should mention that since I moved I haven't a clue where ANY of my disks or tapes might be...
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Opera 8 - 06/25/14 10:47 AM

I once memorized the words to "Ch'ella mi creda" -- when I was working on A Cadenza for Caruso. It's a hard tune to get out of your head.
Posted by: Kay

Re: Opera 8 - 06/27/14 10:24 AM

Enjoy the earworms