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#30173 - 02/18/15 08:20 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: ]
Rita Offline


Registered: 09/22/04
Posts: 3264
Loc: St. Paul, MN
Other than all that, how was the opera, Barbara? grin

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#30177 - 02/19/15 08:13 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Rita]
Barbara Offline
Administrator

Registered: 04/24/99
Posts: 13033
Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
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 01:13 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 01:21 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 06:36 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Jon]
Barbara Offline
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Registered: 04/24/99
Posts: 13033
Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
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 10:43 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Christopher Offline
Member

Registered: 07/02/02
Posts: 3558
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 12:32 AM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Christopher]
Barbara Offline
Administrator

Registered: 04/24/99
Posts: 13033
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 09:02 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Barbara]
Lorna Offline
Member

Registered: 04/22/05
Posts: 2676
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 12:55 PM Re: Opera 10 [Re: Lorna]
Barbara Offline
Administrator

Registered: 04/24/99
Posts: 13033
Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
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 09:59 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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