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#30092 - 01/17/15 09:20 PM Opera 10
Barbara Offline
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Anyone go to today's frou-frou? I almost didn't but let myself be talked into it. The reviews haven't been very enthusiastic, but that's all right; The Merry Widow was nice, lighthearted fun. Jon, I hope you were able to watch Kelli O'Hara steal the show! Strange to see Renée Fleming outshone by the second lady of the piece. Age is finally catching up with Fleming (she's 56 and looks it). She can still hit her high notes with ease, but all too frequently I wouldn't have known what she was singing about if it hadn't been for the captioning across the bottom of the screen. I loved Nathan Gunn's Danilo; he sounded good and looked good and seemed perfectly at home in his role. I even liked the sets, each one of them perfectly symmetrical in interesting ways. The Merry Widow is all just tuneful fluff, but I did enjoy it.

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#30094 - 01/19/15 12:13 AM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Kay Offline


Registered: 04/25/99
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Loc: Roanoke, VA , USA
As you said...not "grand opera" but fun and nicely done. And given that Fleming was portraying a "mature" heroine she was acceptable.
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#30101 - 01/21/15 06:07 AM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Kay]
Lorna Offline
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But is Hanna a "mature" heroine? All the cast listing says is that she's a wealthy widow. She was a poor farmer's daughter before she married up, and her elderly, wealthy husband obligingly died on their wedding night. So after his death she takes his money with her to live it up in Paris, thereby creating the crisis that starts the plot. But all that indicates only a fairly short period of time has passed. Hanna could even still be in her teens.

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#30103 - 01/21/15 03:17 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Kay Offline


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Not when Renee Fleming is singing the role wink
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#30105 - 01/22/15 01:56 AM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Kay]
Barbara Offline
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Hm, that's not really the question, is it? We're accustomed to seeing middle-aged singers playing teenagers (R & J, Butterfly, Lucia) -- but that doesn't alter the age of the character. What Lorna was doing was attempting to pin down Hanna's age, and I'd say she got it right. Otherwise Hanna would have to bury her husband of a few hours and then wait around for years until she was "mature" before taking off for Paris. That doesn't seem likely, does it? If she's no longer in her teens, she couldn't be more than in her early twenties.

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#30163 - 02/14/15 06:49 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Barbara Offline
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Weirdness. As I was driving home from Iolanta and Bluebeard's Castle, I turned on the radio to the local fine music station and heard...Bluebeard's Castle! Just the tail end of it; it was over before I reached home. But it was the "live" performance, with Margaret Juntwait telling who was taking a bow, etc. How can this be?

The friend I went with thought of two possibilities:
  • The radio broadcast was a recording, sent out just minutes after the live performance, to allow some engineer to bleep out any naughty word that might be uttered during an interview but was not permissible over the radio.
  • The Met doesn't have the technology to handle radio and simulcast transmissions simultaneously.

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#30164 - 02/15/15 01:15 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Pete Offline


Registered: 01/10/02
Posts: 5177
Loc: Newport News, Virginia, USA
I would think your first possibility is the correct one, but probably the delay was due to the radio station wishing to broadcast later than the Met's simulcast, for its own scheduling reasons.
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#30165 - 02/15/15 05:48 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Pete]
Christopher Offline
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Yes, the first explanation has to be the right one, and for the reason stated. No scheduling reason could call for a delay of only minutes. Live transmissions are always risky, and the Met people have created a small window to allow editing when needed...a safety net.

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#30166 - 02/16/15 01:52 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Christopher]
Lorna Offline
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Wow. All those "live" Saturday broadcasts are really recordings? Almost live, but not quite. I'm wondering if they always did that or whether it just started with the simulcasts.

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#30167 - 02/16/15 08:15 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Lorna]
Austin
Unregistered


And I'm wondering if this is maybe a widespread practice. I'm thinking of sporting events, where there's a greater chance of drawing a six-figure FCC fine for obscene language than there is in an opera house.

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#30173 - 02/18/15 09:20 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: ]
Rita Offline


Registered: 09/22/04
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Loc: St. Paul, MN
Other than all that, how was the opera, Barbara? grin

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#30177 - 02/19/15 09:13 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Rita]
Barbara Offline
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Ha, oh yes...that. Unfortunately, I didn't respond well to Iolanta. There was one love duet that packed some punch, but the rest of it wasn't very engaging -- just IMO, of course. Netrebko and Beczala did their best and sounded great, as usual. Visually, the production was stunning, simply stunning. No quarrel there.

Bluebeard's Castle must be the ultimate statement about how so many women are attracted to Bad Boys. It's Judith's own obsession that leads to her doom; Bluebeard doesn't lure her -- he even tries to warn her off. I don't know if it was Nadja Michael's performance that made this opera about Judith instead of Bluebeard or whether I just don't remember it right (I've seen only one other performance, eons ago). The Kafka-esque set fit the music perfectly. I liked this one; I liked it a lot.

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#30185 - 02/25/15 02:13 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Jon Offline


Registered: 04/25/99
Posts: 6422
Loc: Newark, Delaware, USA
Sorry to be late. Start of spring semester got to me.

Yes, Barbara, I too decided to go to The Merry Widow despite all the reviews -- in my case I talked myself into it, "C'mon, you know you're curious and were determined to go, before the critics weighed in."

And in fact I could pick lots of nits -- I had certainly expected more zip and know-how from the direction of Delaware's own Susan Stroman -- but I'm glad I went. I agree that Kelli O'Hara did very well for herself. She clearly could, if she chose, do other roles of similar type and weight: Adele, Papagena (especially in their English-language version), maybe Despina.

Renée Fleming is entitled to show her age vocally by this point (it's been a career of estimable duration and quality), and she rather did, to my ears. The B that ended "Vilia" was one of those "whew, I made it" moments, and I'm surprised they decided to allow her an extra high note at the end of Act II, which I've never heard anywhere before. Interpolating a Lehar aria from Paganini just before the grand finale also seemed a misguided idea (it's not at all traditional or standard) -- once we feel that we're about to wind it all up, it's wise to do so and not give us an excuse to feel that things are dragging.

The designs were gorgeous; no complaints there!

Next month I'm seeing Kelli O'Hara in the imminent revival of The King and I.

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#30186 - 02/25/15 02:21 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Jon Offline


Registered: 04/25/99
Posts: 6422
Loc: Newark, Delaware, USA
Oh, and on the subject of Hanna's "maturity": I agree with Barbara. The show has become rather a refuge for sopranos winding down their careers, and I don't object to that, but if we're going by the libretto, her marriage to a wealthy husband must have happened when they were both relatively young. And even allowing for a decent mourning period... she surely hasn't been sitting around on their estate for 30 years before taking herself to Paris!

Another gloss which was added to the dialogue was Valencienne's bit about being curious about Maxim's and what it would be like to be a "painted woman." This gives her some excuse for taking the stage with the grisettes (she's an ambassador's wife, not a nightclub headliner). In the operetta as written, this last act takes place in Hanna's house, which she has decorated as Maxim's; Valencienne would more plausibly have her fun in those surroundings, but it's an awfully convoluted setup, and this isn't the first version to decide to just have the last act take place in the real Maxim's.

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#30213 - 03/06/15 07:36 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Jon]
Barbara Offline
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Hm. I learned more about The Merry Widow from Jon's two posts than I did from anything else I'd read about it. Up a week from tomorrow is La Donna del Lago, a "new" opera for me.

A rather strange schedule for next season.

Oct. 3 -- Verdi's Il Trovatore, Netrebko and Dolora Zajick

Oct.17 -- Verdi's Otello, Zeljko Lucic as Iago

Oct.31 -- Wagner's Tannhäuser, Botha and Westbroek

Nov. 21 -- Berg's Lulu, Marlis Petersen

Jan. 16 -- Bizet's Les Pêcheurs de Perles, Damrau and Polenzani

Jan. 30 -- Puccini's Turandot, Nina Stemme

Mar. 5 -- Puccini's Manon Lescaut, Opolais and Kaufmann

Apr. 2 -- Puccini's Madama Butterfly, Opolais and Alagna

Apr. 16 -- Donizetti's Roberto Devereux, Radvanovsky, Polenzani, and (she's baaack!) Elina Garanca

Apr. 30 -- Strauss's Elektra, Nina Stemme

Opening with back-to-back Verdi operas, nothing in December, and later three Puccini operas in a row. Ending the season with a Strauss one-act is a bold move.

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#30214 - 03/06/15 11:43 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Christopher Offline
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Registered: 07/02/02
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Nothing in February either. Elektra is an odd choice for a final performance. Strauss and von Hofmannsthal pack more corpses into one act than other operas manage in four.

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#30317 - 04/25/15 01:32 AM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Christopher]
Barbara Offline
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Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
Alas, tomorrow is the last simulcast of the season -- or today, I guess, for every place east of here. I'm a little bit dubious about the "update" of Pag, but I haven't seen a production of these two operas for so long that I'll take 'em in any form. Especially since I was able to see only a small part of La Donna del Lago, which I was sooooo looking forward to. I had a coughing spell that was so disruptive I had to leave. I went to the Ladies' and coughed myself silly, and when everything had calmed down I went back to the auditorium, but it started all over again. So I had to leave for good. I was still at the mercy of my cough the following Wednesday, when the repeat was shown. The opera isn't on the summer "Encore" schedule, but they'll probably get around to showing it again eventually.

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#30318 - 04/25/15 10:02 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Lorna Offline
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Loc: Dayton, Ohio
I went to La Donna del Lago and, frankly, didn't think too much of it. The opera seemed awfully static to me, and the sets, costumes, etc. were OK, I guess, but nothing special. I'm glad I went, though, for two reasons...Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Flórez. I'm amazed such things can be done with the human voice.

Today, I loved the operas and hated the productions. Good singing again. Misguided productions can't hurt Cav and Pag.

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#30323 - 04/28/15 01:55 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Lorna]
Barbara Offline
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Well, I knew there had to be a reason La Donna del Lago was so rarely performed, but I still didn't want to miss the chance to see it -- my only chance, no doubt.

The set of Cav was hugely disappointing: primarily a platform that rotated every once in a while just to show that it could. A lot of fussing with chairs. And darkness. This is supposed to be a village square at dawn? Why so dark? This story should be acted out under the blistering Sicilian sun, where blood runs hot and self-restraint is a notion neither observed nor even understood. Pag fared a little better; there was enough color in the props and costumes to brighten things up a bit...and it was all helped along by the revelation that Patricia Racette is a good comic actor.

But Lorna is right: a bad production can't hurt Cav and Pag. I loved every glorious note of both of them.

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#30345 - 05/14/15 10:59 AM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Jon Offline


Registered: 04/25/99
Posts: 6422
Loc: Newark, Delaware, USA
The schedule is partly explained by the fact that half of the shows are new productions -- in fact, I think this is the first time they've sent all of a season's new productions out to the movie theaters: Lulu, Pearl Fishers, Manon Lescaut, Roberto Devereaux, Elektra.

I remain a little disappointed that their previous Lulu was never given this treatment (though it did get a PBS telecast, long long ago, now out on DVD). It was a really distinguished visualization of the work, with designs by Jocelyn Herbert in sumptuous art nouveau style very suited to the ripeness of the score. Whatever the new production is like, we can be sure it won't be like that.

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#30348 - 05/15/15 06:36 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Jon]
Barbara Offline
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The previous Lulu -- was that the one Teresa Stratas was scheduled to sing but she fell ill and was replaced by Julia Migenes-Johnson (as she was still calling herself then)? Or maybe I'm remembering wrong and they just shared the role.

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#30526 - 08/13/15 07:52 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Jon Offline


Registered: 04/25/99
Posts: 6422
Loc: Newark, Delaware, USA
You're quite right, Barbara. That was when "Live from the Met" on PBS was really live, and we didn't know till we tuned in that evening that we weren't going to see Stratas after all.

Migenes wasn't quite jumping in on TV without notice. She had been scheduled for a performance late in the run, and had not only rehearsed, but actually done the previous performance. All the intermission features (good ones) had of course been pretaped and featured Stratas. (Which I suppose is one reason they aren't included as extras on the DVD that was issued a few years back.)

That run was the first time the Met did the complete 3-act Lulu. Berg's widow had suppressed Act III for several decades, and the production had premiered a few years before in the then-inevitable 2-act format, but had been designed so that it could eventually be revived in complete form, whenever that became possible. And so it turned out.

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#30642 - 10/06/15 06:56 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Jon]
Lorna Offline
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Registered: 04/22/05
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Loc: Dayton, Ohio
Did no one go to hear Netrebko in Il Trovatore?

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#30643 - 10/06/15 11:26 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Lorna]
Barbara Offline
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Hm, I didn't. I'm going to the next one, Otello.

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#30656 - 10/18/15 08:24 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Barbara Offline
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Registered: 04/24/99
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Did anyone see Otello? I had to miss it (and bridge as well) because my retinal surgeon gave me a shiner you wouldn't believe. Swollen, bruised, lower lid drooping down on my cheek, no white showing in that eye -- just a reddish black. I can't go anywhere without dark glasses or I'd frighten the children. So, back to the question: did anyone go? How was it?

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#30658 - 10/19/15 11:58 AM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Christopher Offline
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Registered: 07/02/02
Posts: 3558
Ye gods, Barbara, what did he do to you?

(Missed Otello.)

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#30660 - 10/19/15 07:18 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Christopher]
Barbara Offline
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Registered: 04/24/99
Posts: 13033
Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
A simple procedure, really...a steroid shot into the eyeball, to counteract swelling caused by my diabetes. I've had these steroid shots before; they were unpleasant but not disabling. But this last one was an increased dosage and it wiped me out.

No Otello, huh? Too bad.

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#30662 - 10/20/15 03:17 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Lorna Offline
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Registered: 04/22/05
Posts: 2676
Loc: Dayton, Ohio
Oh my, Barbara! That sounds absolutely dreadful. Anything to do with the eyes is scary, but steroid shots in the eyeball? Is it better now or are you still frightening children?

I went to Otello, and I absolutely loved it. Three great voices, and sets that were almost surreal. It was a very intense production, much stronger than their last Otello.

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#30691 - 11/02/15 01:32 AM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Lorna]
Barbara Offline
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I went to Tannhäuser by myself; I couldn't talk anyone into going. It turned out I was one of an audience of fourteen people -- five men and nine women. Not a young person in sight.

There's a lot of Wagner I just plain don't get, but no matter how many times I hear that Overture, it still gives me gooseflesh. A long wait to Abendstern, the opera's one sure hit tune. (When I was in high school I memorized the words of that aria, which took some doing since I hadn't started studying German yet.) The Venusberg looked like scrubland, but the Hall of the Wartburg was magnificent. James Levine conducted from his wheelchair, so obviously happy to be there but not looking well at all. Johan Botha has a beautiful voice, so flexible and distinctive. He sounds even better when you close your eyes. The three leads collectively could stand to lose 400 pounds.

Yes and no.

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#30699 - 11/04/15 05:50 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Austin
Unregistered


Fourteen people in the audience...total? Gawd. I hope that's just because it was Wagner and not because interest in the simulcasts is waning.

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#30734 - 12/05/15 11:59 AM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Pete Offline


Registered: 01/10/02
Posts: 5177
Loc: Newport News, Virginia, USA
I just happened to listen to a recording of "Va pensiero". Dammit, it brought tears to my eyes. And I am not even Italian.
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Regerds, Pete

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#30736 - 12/06/15 08:03 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Pete]
Christopher Offline
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Registered: 07/02/02
Posts: 3558
Did it make you think of Kay? I remember that was one of her favorites.

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#30738 - 12/06/15 11:44 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Pete Offline


Registered: 01/10/02
Posts: 5177
Loc: Newport News, Virginia, USA
Actually, I thought of Kay when discussing coming here out of GEnie. Kay had known me in the Classical Music Forum there, and told me about this BBS when GEnie announced it was going to end. We had both been playing the "Classical Jeopardy" on GEnie. Va, pensiero is just beautiful music. They sing the first stanza quietly, and suddenly they go to fortissimo. It gets me every time.

There was a movement at one point to make the song the national anthem of Italy.
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Regerds, Pete

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#30760 - 12/16/15 12:53 AM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Pete]
Barbara Offline
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Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
I went to see The Magic Flute Saturday; this was a recording of the abridged version for children first performed ten years ago, and I loved every minute of it. Erika Miklosa nailed the big aria, really nailed it, and it was nice seeing Matthew Polenzani sixty pounds ago. The stage spectacle was, well, spectacular. But I wonder what it was like singing Mozart while wearing a fat suit. The guy singing Monostatos had to do that; his name was left out of the cast listing for some reason.

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#30770 - 12/20/15 08:00 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Jon Offline


Registered: 04/25/99
Posts: 6422
Loc: Newark, Delaware, USA
I have that performance on DVD. It is a lot of fun, isn't it? The Monostatos was Greg Fedderly, according to the credits on the box.

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#30817 - 01/17/16 08:50 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Jon]
Lorna Offline
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Registered: 04/22/05
Posts: 2676
Loc: Dayton, Ohio
We went to The Pearl Fishers yesterday, mostly because we'd probably never get another chance to see it. It's been 100 years exactly since the last time the Met performed it. I can't give this one either a thumbs up or thumbs down. It has that hauntingly beautiful tenor-baritone duet in the first act, the theme repeated now and then through the rest of the opera. And that's all I can remember! One day later.

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#30821 - 01/19/16 11:12 AM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Lorna]
Rita Offline


Registered: 09/22/04
Posts: 3264
Loc: St. Paul, MN
The music was enjoyable, but for me that silly story kept getting in the way. In particular, the way the characters kept making 180-degree emotional turns in an instant, even the chorus! When Leila and Nadir were discovered, the crowd was screaming for blood...put them to death, they must die, etc. Then Zurga walks in and sings a few lines about showing some mercy, and the crowd immediately changes its tune to...oh yes, we must be merciful, forgive them! Ludicrous.

But it was nice seeing a baritone turn out to be a good guy for a change.

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#30822 - 01/19/16 01:13 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Rita]
Barbara Offline
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Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
For my money, Mariusz Kwiecien as Zurga stole the show. He, Damrau, and Polenzani all sang beautifully, but Kwiecien is the only one of the three who can act. I've seen The Pearl Fishers only once before, in a Pittsburgh Opera production. Same thing both times -- the duet stays with you but not much else.

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#30842 - 01/31/16 06:39 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Barbara Offline
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Yesterday's Turandot was another revival of a 198X production, and it was sooooo Zefferelli! I liked it a lot. One thing puzzled me, though. In the midst of the glittery Oriental sets and the splendiferous Chinese costumes, Calaf wore garb more suggestive of an Italian Renaissance soldier than anything else. Yes, Calaf is a stranger in a strange land -- but not THAT strange.

This was the first time I'd heard Nina Stemme, and she is one powerful singer.

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#30859 - 02/11/16 10:23 AM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Jon Offline


Registered: 04/25/99
Posts: 6422
Loc: Newark, Delaware, USA
Turandot was my first opera. I had been asking my parents about this opera thing, and my mother decided that in 7th grade I was old enough to experience one. So, after research and consultation, she took me to Turandot at Chicago Lyric Opera in 1959. Birgit Nilsson and Leontyne Price were the sopranos (both pretty new on the international scene at that date), and I just wish I'd been experienced enough to appreciate and remember what I was hearing.

I see that the Glyndebourne 2016 season is announced, and they're bringing back their wonderful Meistersinger. I had vowed that I might consider attending again when that happened, so now I have to consider it. The other title on the schedule that I would most want to see is Britten's Midsummer Night's Dream, but unfortunately there's no overlap -- there's a month between the end of one run and the start of the next. The ones that do overlap with the Wagner are Barber of Seville and Janacek's Vixen, both quite all right but not enticing to me. Meanwhile, concurrent with the Britten they're doing a new production of Berlioz's Beatrice and Benedick, which I do find intriguing. So I'll have to think it over....

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#30861 - 02/11/16 08:27 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Jon]
Barbara Offline
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Oh, Jon, you do have problems, don't you? Deepest sympathies. (I'm willing to bet a whole dollar that Britten and B&B win.)

Birgit Nilsson was my first Turandot too (but that wasn't my first opera). Turandot seems a curious choice for introducing a 7th-grader to opera. Jon, do you know what your mother's reasoning was for selecting that one?

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#30863 - 02/11/16 09:48 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Jon Offline


Registered: 04/25/99
Posts: 6422
Loc: Newark, Delaware, USA
Well, we sort of discussed it together (she also consulted a music teacher she knew -- our choir director), going from the season's schedule. I had a book of "stories from the operas" which had started my interest; as it happens, none of the ones from the book was on the schedule. (At that time -- maybe still -- Chicago did a fall-only season of about 10 operas.) These days, it's easy for me to look up what the choices were:
Carmen
La Cenerentola
Simon Boccanegra
Turandot
Jenufa
Un Ballo in maschera
Così fan tutte
Flying Dutchman
La Gioconda
Thaïs

The idea was to figure out which I would enjoy most, something fast-moving and understandable (and, I suspect, avoiding those that might be too "adult" for me). As I remember, the final 3 that Mom and I discussed were Carmen, Così fan tutti, and Turandot.

Given those alternatives, I think we chose right. Turandot, like other Puccini, moves along, at movie speed; I didn't have to learn to deal with all the word-repetition and standard forms that later puzzled me (temporarily) with Mozart and Verdi. It has a simple fairy-tale sort of story (I knew about stern princesses asking riddles), and lots of color and splendor. I loved it.


Edited by Jon (02/11/16 09:49 PM)

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#30869 - 02/14/16 08:33 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Jon]
Barbara Offline
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Oh my, what a list to choose from! One Puccini, one Verdi, one Mozart, one Wagner...a little something for everybody. It can't have been easy to pick just one. I'm glad it turned out to be the right one. One more word about Turandot. Did you read this comment in the NYTimes review?

"Speaking of those 'three prattlers who have escaped from a perverted dream of Gilbert and Sullivan,' as one critic put it in 1926, it was impossible to watch this Turandot without thinking about the continuing debate about race in The Mikado, or indeed the Met’s correct decision to cease using blackface in Verdi’s Otello. Turandot, and Mr. Zeffirelli’s Turandot in particular, is as forthright in its Orientalism as it is discomforting in its representation of rape. Unlike The Mikado, it cannot plausibly be seen as satire. Is it right, today, to show Turandot so unquestioningly, and so unashamedly? And in a genre in which so many insist on focusing so strongly on works from a distant past, where do we draw the line of taste and tolerance?"

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#30871 - 02/14/16 11:07 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Jon Offline


Registered: 04/25/99
Posts: 6422
Loc: Newark, Delaware, USA
I didn't, but it's a conversation about certain operas that's happening in many quarters lately. It doesn't have easy answers, and the answers inevitably change over time as perspectives change. The nonwhite opera singers I know are interestingly diverse in their opinions on the matter.

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#30958 - 04/06/16 12:00 AM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Jon]
Barbara Offline
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Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
Well, Butterfly is still knocking 'em dead; Saturday my theater was packed, and the audience kept applauding through the whole thing. This was the first time I'd heard Kristine Opolais, and I'm hearing Butterfly's entrance in my head right now. The first act was rather erotic. Alagna seems to keep getting stronger the older he grows. A little too strong, perhaps; he completely drowned out the soprano at the end of their first-act love duet. But he made Pinkerton's remorse at the end more convincing than I've ever seen/heard, although this hero can never really be sympathetic.

I thought it was a terrific show. The puppet-son was just as effective in this production as in the last one that used it. I liked the décor and the costumes -- although the outfit designed for Yamadori was a bit de trop. I realize he was meant to look ridiculous, a vain and selfish man not worthy of Butterfly. But during his one brief appearance, I halfway expected to hear him burst out with "My object all sublime, I shall achieve in time..."

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#30970 - 04/19/16 03:24 AM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Barbara Offline
Administrator

Registered: 04/24/99
Posts: 13033
Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
Well, now I've seen all three of Donizetti's "queen" operas, thanks to the Met's very first production of Roberto Devereaux, a mere 179 years after its debut in Naples. I enjoyed the first two queens, Anna Bolena and Maria Stuarda, in a passive sort of way. But this opera about Elizabeth I (in spite of its title) rang the bell loud and clear.

Having a dream cast didn't hurt. Much has been made of the fact that Sondra Radvanovsky is the first soprano since Beverly Sills to sing all three queens in the same season. She gave a heroic performance as Elizabeth; that's the best way to describe her handling of what is obviously a demanding role. As Devereaux, Matthew Polenzani never sounded more lush and sensuous. The other two featured roles were sung by two of my favorite singers. Elina Garanca, she of the smoky and unmistakable voice, sang the Duchess of Nottingham. Mariusz Kwiecien gave a virile and compelling performance as her husband, the Duke of Nottingham. Those four people were simply amazing, singing together or alone.

The set was sumptuous and traditional, but there were a couple of costume oddities in the first act. Elizabeth's fancy dress was so elaborate and so BIG that Radvanovsky looked as if she was wearing a chandelier. And for some reason Devereaux was wearing armor...at court. Oooh, that is a HUGE no-no. Opera is notorious for playing fast and loose with historical fact, and Roberto Devereaux is no exception. Still, I wish Donizetti and his librettist could have come up with some ending other than having Elizabeth abdicate!

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#30971 - 04/19/16 02:47 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Lorna Offline
Member

Registered: 04/22/05
Posts: 2676
Loc: Dayton, Ohio
She abdicates? Oh dear.

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#30972 - 04/20/16 04:45 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Lorna]
Austin
Unregistered


Wait a minute...how could this be the Met's first production of Roberto Devereaux if Beverly Sills sang all three queens?

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#30974 - 04/21/16 03:56 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: ]
Christopher Offline
Member

Registered: 07/02/02
Posts: 3558
Hmm...I think Sills did her queens hat trick at the City Opera, not the Met.

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#30975 - 04/23/16 01:20 AM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Christopher]
Barbara Offline
Administrator

Registered: 04/24/99
Posts: 13033
Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
Yes, that's right, New York City Opera -- which reopened this year after a few years of bankruptcy.

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#31045 - 06/01/16 10:20 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Jon Offline


Registered: 04/25/99
Posts: 6422
Loc: Newark, Delaware, USA
It's a tentative reopening so far -- 3 widely separated events in different venues (nothing in the State Theater), the third coming up in June. One wishes them well, of course.

Sills did indeed do her Donizetti queens at NY City Opera. I took the bus up from DC (in my army days) to see a Roberto Devereaux, and that without having a ticket for that sold-out production. (I was able to get a resold one in the plaza beforehand, as I planned to.) Her tenor was a young Placido Domingo, returning to the company that had established his name in New York.

Domingo was a rarity in those days in moving from NYCO to the Met; most of the former company's singers were given a cold shoulder by Rudolf Bing, as less than "international" artists. Sills eventually did make the move, but rather late, and it was treated as an "event" when she did, with a special revival of an obscure Rossini opera that she had done at La Scala. After that, she did only four more roles with the company: Lucia, Violetta, Thais, and Norina in Don Pasquale. 68 performances (some on tour) in 1978 and 1979.

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#31046 - 06/02/16 09:27 AM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Jon]
Christopher Offline
Member

Registered: 07/02/02
Posts: 3558
Yeah, I remember when the City Opera was looked upon as the "poor sister" at Lincoln Center, the place to find singers who weren't good enough to get into the Met. Obviously not true, as subsequent events proved. City Opera's admission prices were only a fraction of what the Met charged, and more than once I heard it called "the cheap opera place" -- not exactly what you'd call a recommendation.

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#31112 - 07/22/16 10:55 AM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Christopher]
Jon Offline


Registered: 04/25/99
Posts: 6422
Loc: Newark, Delaware, USA
Others who did make the move from NYCO to the Met in those pre-1980 years included Phyllis Curtin, Dominic Cossa, Spiro Malas, Michael Devlin, Maralin Niska. But no Norman Treigle or Patricia Brooks, for instance.

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