Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January 31, 2015: Andrea Chenier in London

2015-01-31 Andrea Chenier (Giordano), Royal Opera House (London)

Andrea Chénier - Jonas Kaufmann
Carlo Gérard - Željko Lučić
Maddalena di Coigny - Eva-Maria Westbroek
Bersi, her maid - Denyce Graves
The Countess of Coigny - Rosalind Plowright
Madelon - Elena Zilio
Roucher - Roland Wood
Mathieu, a sans-culotte - Adrian Clarke
The Incredible - Carlo Bosi
The Abbot - Peter Hoare
The novelist Pietro Fléville - Peter Coleman-Wright
Fouquier Tinville, the Public Prosecutor  - 
Eddie Wade
Schmidt - Jeremy White
Dumas - Yuriy Yurchuk
Major Domo - Dominic Barrand
Antonio Pappano, conductor
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera Chorus  
Concert Master - Peter Manning

Director - David McVicar
Set design - Robert Jones
Costume designs - Jenny Tiramani
Lighting design - Adam Silverman
Movement - Andrew George 

This was a very much traditional Andrea Chenier but not done in a lazy way. I found it elegant and profound. It had a reality feel. What a great treat it was to have Rosalind Plowright, herself once a famous Maddalena, as Comtesse Coigny, Maddalena's mother, and the great mezzo Denyce Graves as Bersi, Denyce Graves who is famous for her Carmen and Dalila!!! Sadly I did not see them at the final bow after the opera.

Rosalind Plowright sang Maddalena opposite Jose Carreras' Chenier in 1984 when this opera came back after more than 50 years absence. What I loved here is that one can see in this new ROH production that the Comtesse Coigny is really Mother of Maddalena. Not just a foolish aristocrate but a mother. Denyce Graves as Bersi is here much more a friend of Maddalena, a close friend, not a simple servant. And I love that. I love that there is real dedication between Maddalena and Bersi. It makes me understand Bersi's dedication to Maddalena much better. This Bersi is smart and resilient. Denyce Graves was such a joy to see and hear. I love Bersi!! Brava, Denyce Graves!!! Brava, Rosalind Plowright!

Jonas Kaufmann, I guess you want me to gush over the tenor as they all do. I won't do that but he sang so well this night so I almost ready to call him a tenor, but not Tenor with big T, yet, not for me. Eva-Maria Westbroek, she really filled the role of Maddalena di Coigny. A superb pair, Westbroek and Kaufmann!!

Željko Lučić as Carlo Gerard was more subtle than I would have expected after seeing him as Jago in Otello in Berlin. Still it worked, I could find sympathy for this Gerard.

Another thing I want to mention is that Idia Legray had a small girl who was there during the sentencing with an relative. Mother and child tries to hug but soldiers tears them apart. When Maddalena and Gerard come to prision, Gerard carries the young child. And we see mother and child meet again and go out with Gerard protecting them.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

January 30, 2010: Nabucco in Zurich

2010-01-30 Nabucco (Verdi), Opernhaus Zurich

Nabucco = Juan Pons
Ismaele = Boiko Zvetanov
Zaccaria = Carlo Colombara
Abigaille = Maria Guleghina
Fenena = Stefania Kaluza
High Priest of Belo = Cheyne Davidson
Abdallo = Miroslav Christoff
Anna = Liuba Chuchrova

Nello Santi, conductor

NABUCCO by Giuseppe Verdi. Maria Guleghina was a fantastic Abigaille. Juan Pons was suddenly much thinner but still made a great Nabucco. Boiko Zvetanov was looking like a small Dennis O'Neill. But he was great as Ismaele. One could easily forget his heavy and small look and understand why two women were in love with him. Stefania Kaluza was singing Fenena, she was great in the ensembles, duets, etc. but strangely did not make such a great impression in her aria. Chorus was great. Nello Santi conducted.

Obviously Jonathan Miller had been thinking too much about history. Would really the women and men be separated when they were about to be executed.

Jonathan Miller

Isabella Bywater

Hans-Rudolf Kunz

Jürg Hämmerli

Orchester der Oper Zürich

Chor der Oper Zürich

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OD Travel - January: Nabucco and travel from Zurich

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Monday, January 29, 2018

January 29, 2011: Andrea Chenier in Berlin

2011-01-29 Andrea Chenier (Giordano), Deutsche Oper Berlin

Andrea Chenier = Salvatore Licitra
Carlo Gérard = Seng Hyoun Ko
Maddalena de Coigny = Maria Guleghina
Bersi = Diana Axentii
Comtessa de Coigny = Katarina Bradic
Madelon = Liane Keegan
Roucher = Ben Wager
Pietro Fléville = Krzysztof Szumanski
L'abbé = Peter Maus
Fouquier Tinville = Hyung-Wook Lee
Mathieu = Nathan De’Shon Myers
L'Incroyable = Burkhard Ulrich
Schmidt = Seth Carico
Majordomo = Sergio Vitale
Dumas = Sergio Vitale

James Allen Gähres, conductor

Inszenierung - John Dew
Spielleitung - Anja Nicklich
Bühne - Peter Sykora
Kostüme - Jose-Manuel Vazquez
Chöre - Thomas Richter
Choreographische Mitarbeit - Klaus Beelitz

Maria Guleghina sang a wonderful Maddalena di Coigny. It was brave to do so when suffering from bronchitis. But I really wish she would take better care of herself and not think too much about her fans. We do love her well enough to see her healthy and sound even if we must suffer not see her onstage but another soprano. Get well and sleep well!

I worried about Salvatore Licitra as Chenier and about the baritone who sang Gerard but they only got better and better. The tenor used his lyrical instrument to the fullest. He gave a really beautifully sung Andrea Chenier. The baritone did not seem to have the right powerful voice in act 1 but that soon changed. He gave a really thrilling Nemico della patria. It was a truly believable duet between Gerard and Maddalena.

I loved the Regie. It was traditional and naturalistic at the same time as it was innovating using the space to maximize the history at the same time as it was minimalistic.

After the opera I got the change to give Maria Guleghina my get well wishes. Sleep well, my favorite Diva! Take care!!!!

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January 29, 2010: Elektra in Zurich

2010-01-29 Elektra (R.Strauss), Opernhaus Zurich

Klytämnestra = Agnes Baltsa
Elektra = Eva Johansson
Chrysothemis = Emily Magee
Aegisth = Rudolf Schasching
Orest = Martin Gantner
Pfleger des Orest = Davide Fersini
Vertraute = Camille Butcher
Schleppträgerin = Stefanie C. Braun
junger Diener = Peter Sonn
alter Diener = Thomas Tatzl
Aufseherin = Margaret Chalker
1. Magd = Wiebke Lehmkuhl
2. Magd = Sabrina Kögel
3. Magd = Irène Friedli
4. Magd = Liuba Chuchrova
5. Magd = Sen Guo

Daniele Gatti, conductor

I went to Zurich to see ELEKTRA with Agnes Baltsa as Klytämnestra. This one act opera with 1hr 45 mins music is NOT my favorite opera. But this time it is Daniele Gatti who conducts the orchestra of Opernhaus Zurich and Richard Strauss' music streams out sounding just wonderful. For the first time all the music of Elektra sound like magic. First opera I ever wanted to hear without the singing. This does not mean that the chorus or the soloists were not good.

The production was not too bad but not something that I felt I was missing when my head-ache forced me to close my eyes. Often in closing my eyes I enjoyed the opera more. Eva Johansson was a good but not really in voice before Orest. After Orest came the real Elektra appeared. Emily Magee was a wonderful Chrysathemis, singing and acting was fabulous. But both lacked in German diction. Agnes Baltsa was in great voice and acting Klytämnestra with all her body. To my ears Baltsa's German was close to perfect.

The production put too much on the shocking things (sex....) going on in the house and too little on what happens outside with Elektra. Elektra is really outside the house and closed into her own head. Elektra was yellow (meaning?). Chrysathemis in white (pure virgin). Klytämnestra in red dress (blood, murder) with black cape? (death).

After the opera I congratulated Agnes Baltsa and conductor Daniele Gatti on this wonderful performance of ELEKTRA.

Martin Kusej

Rolf Glittenberg

Heidi Hackl

Jürgen Hoffmann

Ernst Raffelsberger

Orchester der Oper Zürich

Chor der Oper Zürich

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OD Travel - January: Travel to Zurich and Elektra

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

January 28, 1984: Die Lustige Witwe in Drammen

1984-01-28 Die Lustige Witwe (Lehar), Drammens Teater

Baron Mirko Zeta = Bjørn Lie-Hansen
Valencienne = Torhild Staahlen
Count Danilo Danilowitsch = Tor Fagerland
Hanna Glawari = Kjersti Ekeberg
Njegus = Ronald Rørvik
Camille de Rosillion = Caj Ehstedt
Vicomte Cascada = Frode Birkeland
Raol de St. Brioche = Kjell Kipperberg

Terje Boye Hansen, conductor

I was in Drammen's old Theatre before it burnt down and before it was reconstructed. And it was Die Lustige Witwe by Franz Lehar. I really loved it. My mother was worried about our car during the whole performance.

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

January 25, 1990: Rosenkavalier in Oslo

1990-01-25 Der Rosenkavalier (R.Strauss), Den Norske Opera (Oslo)

Fyrstinne Werdenberg = Frøydis Klausberger
Baron Ochs von Lerchernau = Oddbjørn Tennfjord
Octavian = Sylvia Lindenstrand
Herr von Faninal = Jan Sødal
Sophie = Toril Carlsen
En sanger = Kjell Magnus Sandve

Heinz Fricke, conductor

They were great. Especially the women.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

January 23, 1989: La Boheme in Oslo

1989-01-23 La Boheme (Puccini), Den Norske Opera (Oslo)

Mimi = Solveig Kringlebotn
Musetta = Ingjerd Oda Mantor
Rodolfo = José Antonio Sempere
Marcello = Trond Halstein Moe
Schaunard = Per Vollestad
Colline = Svein Carlsen
Benoit/Alcindoro = Bjørn Lie-Hansen
Parpignol = Ola S. Isene

Per Åke Andersson, conductor

Solveig Kringlebotn (or Kringelborn as she is knowm internationally) and José Antonio Sempere was great as Mimi and Rodolfo.

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Monday, January 22, 2018

January 22, 2017: Anna Bolena in Parma

2017-01-22 Anna Bolena (Donizetti), Teatro Regio Parma

Anna Bolena, wife of Enrico VIII = Yolanda Auyanet
Enrico VIII, King of England = Riccardo Zanellato
Giovanna Seymour, bridesmaid of Anna = Sonia Ganassi
Lord Rochefort, brother of Anna = Paolo Battaglia
Lord Riccardo Percy = Giulio Pelligra
Smeton, pageboy and musician of the queen = Martina Belli
Signor Hervey, officer of the king = Alessandro Viola

Scenes and video design MONICA MANGANELLI       
Choreography and Assistant Director
New production

In coproduction with Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova

On January 22nd, 2017 I saw Anna Bolena in Parma and it was a very different production than the one I saw in Sevilla on December 10, 2016. In Sevilla it was a traditional production and the costumes was historical correct and everything was done to make it historical. In Parma it was more modern. The dresses in Parma looked like something from the 1940's The acting was excellent and the singing superb from everybody.

What I did not like was that the actions on the stage under the Sinfonia. Why can't they just have the curtain down under the sinfonias or ouvertures. Worse still, it did not make sense. There was the 5 men who created the throne/stool for Anna Bolena was awakens by 5 women dressed in white who was acting during opera as angels/demons. Men in black and women in white but they did not offer more understanding to the story. Luckily one could ignore them and they did not prevent you from understand why the persons acted the why they did.

What I liked was that every action from the main persons was well thought out and no accidence. Sonia Ganassi was outstanding as Giovanna Seymour. I really loved everything about how she sang and acted, she was Giovanna Seymour. I even noticed her the moment she came on stage even though Giovanna Seymour is dressed so modestly.  One starts wonder how did the king notice her enough to fall madly in love with this woman. Giovanna Seymour in Sonia Ganassi has a magnetism, so...

Yolanda Auyanet was a wonderful Anna Bolena. She looked perfectly regal. The personal regie was stunning and everything made sense, Giulio Pelligra was a joy as Percy. What an amazing tenor voice? Riccardo Zanellato was another perfect choice in the role as the king Enrico. And Paolo Battaglia was another great bass in the role of Rochefort.

Martina Belli was equally perfect as Smeton vocally and acting. BUT she was obviously a woman this page Boy. Did that really matter if Smeton was a woman or a boy? The voice was mermerizing.

In all a wonderful opera matinee (the opera started 1530). A splitting headache in the first part was not ideal but after taking paracet in the cafe in the interval the second part of the opera was more pleasant for me.

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Sunday, January 21, 2018

January 21, 2012: Turandot in Zurich

2012-01-21 Turandot (Puccini), Opernhaus Zurich

Turandot = Martina Serafin
Liu = Isabel Rey
Calaf = Johan Botha
Timur = Pavel Daniluk
Ping = Kresimir Strazanac
Pang = Andreas Winkler
Pong = Boguslaw Bidzinski
Althoum = Miroslav Christoff
Mandarin = Valeriy Murga

Massimo Zanetti, conductor

Producer/production - Giancarlo del Monaco
Set design - Peter Sykora
Costumes - Peter Sykora
Lighting - Hans-Rudolf Kunz

I had come to Zurich to see Jose Cura as Calaf. But he got a serious head cold so he couldn't sing. Johan Botha was to sing instead. It was like Lohengrin singing Calaf, I thought. But his large girth did not prevent him much to be an effective Calaf. He has a big and beautiful, clear voice. He stood and delivered the goods, but his acting consisted mainly of smiling. Those smiles seemed to me to come sometimes at inapprobiate times, but maybe it was another way of telling that Calaf is more of a cad than a romantic hero.

Martina Serafin was Turandot. She was very different from Paoletta Marrocu as Turandot in this production. Unfortunately she had some difficulties in the aria "In questa reggia" where the demands of the role seemed to somewhat beyond her so Botha's voice could easily overwhelm her in the "enigmi sono tre, la morte una". Martina Serafin was an otherwise great Turandot who I am sure will be able to takle all the demands of Turandot in a few years.

I also came to Zurich to see Isabel Rey as Liu. She was great. From a somewhat weak Signore, ascolta in the first act to the most wonderful and greatest rendition of Tu che in gel sei cinta. Wow, that was amazing!!!

Pavel Daniluk was simply an amazing Timur. His voice was grand and demanding.

What can one say abou the production? Partly it is super traditional, and partly modern. The action does happen in China, in legendary times. BUT the unknown prince (Calaf), Timur and Liu is dressed modernly. AND Calaf uses a computer to answer the riddles. The audience laughed when Johan Botha took the computer. In April 2006 (last time I saw this production) they did not laugh when Cura took the computer. But naturally it was silly then and now. But I guess then it was not so strange to see the chorus dressed in modern cloths when Turandot tells that she know the name of the stranger: His name is Love. Then we are in modern Shanghai and Turandot disrobes her traditional dress to the modern one, and Calaf and Turandot can enjoy a champagne, romantic meal served by modern times Ping, Pang and Pong.

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Saturday, January 20, 2018

January 20, 2014: I due Foscari in Vienna

2014-01-20 I due Foscari (Verdi), Theater an der Wien

Francesco Foscari = Plácido Domingo
Jacopo Foscari = Arturo Chacón-Cruz
Lucrezia Contarini = Davinia Rodriguez
Jacopo Loredano = Roberto Tagliavini
Barbarigo = Andrew Owens
Pisana = Gaia Petrone
Fante = Ioan Hotea
Servo del Doge = Marcell Attila Krokovay

James Conlon, conductor'
ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien
Arnold Schoenberg Chor (Ltg. Erwin Ortner)

Inszenierung - Thaddeus Strassberger
Bühne - Kevin Knight
Kostüme - Mattie Ullrich

Licht - Bruno Poet

I DUE FOSCARI by Giuseppe Verdi. Different from La Gioconda in many ways. Verdi's music sings of the waters surrounding Venice, the production tells of a cruel world filled up with torture and the unlucky souls caught up in the power games of the Counci of Ten. The lauded Fairness of Venice is that even a son of the current Doge can be caught in the web. Fairness, they call it, and pity as cruel verdicts is given both father and son Foscari.

La Gioconda is a Venice of later centuries than the story of the two Foscari. Whether or not Jacopo Foscari is guilty his treatment is too cruel to be fair. To our eyes Torture is never acceptable and we should never be willing to trade that truth. In the century of Foscari torture was used often, but was it thought acceptable then? Due Foscari had a lot of torture going on onstage. I hated that, but it was not put there on a whim, it was telling the story. I am just not a fan of cruelty onstage but even more do I object to the cruelty of torture and courts of law where the law is followed in such a way that it is a mockery of human lives and their sanctity. It is an important lesson but are we willing to see it as it happens now somewhere on the planet and work against the ills of our world.

Arturo Chancun-Cruz was able to justice to Jacopo Foscari, singing as a god as Jacopo was tortured on stage. That must have taken a lot of will power. Behind the scenes and onstage people must have really been learning a lot of safety features unssen by the audience as all that torture happened.

Davinia Rodriguez as Jacopo's wife, Lucrezia Contarini, had so many different palettes of sounds. In the end she would win the audience heart. The hardest role was hers and she was amazing.

Placido Domingo as the old Doge Francesco Foscari. Unhappy father and now he was to lose his last son. The implacable enemy wanted all Foscaris gone and dealt with and with the power of the Council of Ten in his hands he had the power, The Doge dies utterly unhappy with no shame spared. Loredano  uses a mock pity is used to knife his victims.

Foscari has not yet drawn fully his last breath before the new Doge in crowned. Loredano' justice has been served.

I DUE FOSCARI is a masterpiece just like La Gioconda. The story of Foscari is part of the history of Venice. La Gioconda is a story that happens to be in Venice.

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