Sunday, March 26, 2017

March 26, 2016: Pagliacci in Berlin

2016-03-26 Pagliacci (Leoncavallo), Deutsche Oper Berlin

Canio = José Cura
Nedda = Carmen Giannattasio
Tonio = Mark Delavan
Beppo = Álvaro Zambrano
Silvio = John Chest

John Fiore, conductor
Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Kinderchor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin

Director - David Pountney
Stage design, Costume design - Robert Innes Hopkins
Choreographer - Silke Sense
Chorus Master - William Spaulding

Childrens Chorus - Christian Lindhorst

Just like in 2005 Jose Cura was Canio. In 2016 Jose Cura was even better. The singing was beautiful. Jose Cura may look older but he sings younger. The acting was great. He is truly a great Canio, I do long his Turriddu but this time JC could give everything to Canio because Jorge de Leon was Turriddu, Álvaro Zambrano as Beppe is just marvellous, he got everything the voice, acting and looks. Mark Delavan was Tonio. Great acting, weak voice compared to the others. But Pagliacci is all about acting.

Carmen Giannattasio was Nedda and since I don't care for Nedda I can only say she was good (she probably was amazing, but I don't like Nedda so,..). John Chest was Silvio. In another production I would probably say Bravo but here Silvio is a pathetic nerd, he is probably a Nedda stalker. And so the whole theater in theater gets another theatric layer and that it the whole Bajazzo thing is just a snare so that Canio can kill Silvio and just pretend to kill Nedda. La commedia e finita, but David Poutney ruins it when Canio can go away with Nedda. It nullifies it all.

Why should Pagliacci start with the dummy being cast down from the overhead to the road below and Mamma Lucia running to mourn her son. Hanno mazzato compare Turriddu! and the Prologue with Tonio. Why! The Funeral wagon with Mamma Lucia dragging it cross the stage during the Intermezzo. No! Why connect the opera together and then changes the whole stage into a theater stage. Stupid!

BUT Jose Cura was amazing!!!!!! BRAVO!!!!!

OD Travel & Photos
Original blog post

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March 26, 2016; Cavalleria Rusticana in Berlin

2016-03-26 Cavalleria Rusticana (Mascagni), Deutsche Oper Berlin 

Santuzza = Elena Zhidkova
Turiddu = Jorge de León
Lucia = Ronnita Miller
Alfio = Mark Delavan
Lola = Stephanie Lauricella
Zwei Bauern = Robert Klöpper, Tomasz Rakocz

John Fiore, conductor
Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Kinderchor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin

Director - David Pountney
Stage design, Costume design - Robert Innes Hopkins
Choreographer - Silke Sense
Chorus Master - William Spaulding

Childrens Chorus - Christian Lindhorst

It was almost 11 years ago that I saw this production for the first time (2005-05-01) and I do not like it much. The singing was superb on this occacion. Jorge de Leon (Turriddu) and Elena Zhidkova (Santuzza) have the most amazing voices, strong, vibrant voices and the acting was also superb. Ronnita Miller who looked like a Mama from another show was the definitive Mamma Lucia. I found the whole opera Cavalleria Rusticana much more to my liking with this Mamma Lucia. She was so real, so touching and yes, totally believable. Lola was also very good. Mark Delavan was Alfio. His acting was all there but the voice was not up to the high power of rest of the cast which was a shame.

The production has its wonderful moments like the Mass with all the icons and the Hymn. The Lord is risen. The chorus was amazing and Elena Zhidkova was the high light and supported by the wonderful Mamma Lucia, Ronnita Miller. It was an OK production with an incredible cast. Or I should say the cast was very credible and real.

Worst moment was when Turridu is murdered and a doll was sent flying down and Reality just flew away. It was unbelievable, stupid and a crude moment.

OD Travel & Photos
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March 26, 2006: Stiffelio in Zurich

2006-03-26 Stiffelio (Verdi), Opernhaus Zurich

Lina = Adriana Damato
Stiffelio = José Cura
Stankar = Renato Bruson
Raffaele = Reinaldo Macias
Jorg = Federico Sacchi
Federico = Martin Zysset
Dorotea = Margaret Chalker

Stefano Ranzani, conductor

Stiffelio - Verdi (Wiederaufnahme)
In italienischer Sprache
Dirigent Stefano Ranzani
Inszenierung Cesare Lievi
Bühnenbild Csaba Antal
Kostüme Marina Luxardo
Lichtgestaltung Jürgen Hoffmann
Choreinstudierung Ernst Raffelsberger

Werkbeschreibung In «Stiffelio» gibt es hinreissende Musik. Überraschende musikalische Einfälle, zielsichere Effekte, weit ausschwingende Melodiebögen und harmonisch betörende Ensembles, das ist Verdi vom Besten. Hinzu kommt das exotische Ambiente einer protestantischen Sekte – Anlass zu mancherlei romantischen Gebets- und schauerlichen Friedhofsszenen und zum grossen Theatercoup am Schluss, als Stiffelio von der Kanzel herab eine gesungene Predigt hält.

This was expected to be the perfect performance of Stiffelio. On March 24th there were many missteps but now those fault would not be repeated. And yes, no mistakes. Jose Cura is wonderful as Stiffelio, Adriana Damato is a wonderful Lina. Renato Bruson is a rather coarse Stankar. Reinaldo Macias is perfect as Raffaele. Federico Sacchi is too young to be Stankar (vocally). Martin Zysset is invisible as Federico. Margaret Chalker is beautiful as Dorotea.

Revelations: Stiffelio is Christ-like with "stigmata" in his hands after handling the sword, except the forgiveness. No "forgiveness them, Father, for they do not know what they are doing", rather "la perfida, sia dannata" (Perdon! Giammai! La perfida . . .Sia maledetta!)

OD Travel + Photos

Friday, March 24, 2017

March 24, 2006: Stiffelio in Zurich

2006-03-24 Stiffelio (Verdi), Opernhaus Zurich

Lina = Adriana Damato
Stiffelio = José Cura
Stankar = Renato Bruson
Raffaele = Reinaldo Macias
Jorg = Federico Sacchi
Federico = Martin Zysset
Dorotea = Margaret Chalker

Stefano Ranzani, conductor

Stiffelio - Verdi (Wiederaufnahme)
In italienischer Sprache
Dirigent Stefano Ranzani
Inszenierung Cesare Lievi
Bühnenbild Csaba Antal
Kostüme Marina Luxardo
Lichtgestaltung Jürgen Hoffmann
Choreinstudierung Ernst Raffelsberger

My favorite opera is Stiffelio. My favorite tenor is Jose Cura. The Soprano Adriana Damato who I had seen and heard in Parma in the Verdi Concert 2004 she sang then Giovanna d'Arco, I Masnadieri and Il Corsaro and did a very favorable impression. I know that she have sung Mina in Aroldo, Stiffelio's twin opera, so I was very eager to see this Zurich production of Stiffelio with Cura and Adriana Damato. Her voice seem sometimes not big enough but her charisma was very strong. Unescapable when onstage. Very much what I dreamed.

On March 24th it was very much a live performance. Small missteps here and there. Some ensembles did not start right, when one person stumbles it makes any septet difficult to come right. Stefano Ranzani might be a wonderful conductor but the orchestra sometimes drowned the singers and is not the conductor responsible in saving it when the singers go a bit wrong. So it was an almost perfect performance. Though a bit disconnected at times.

Renato Bruson who has sung Stankar many times and was very much applauded in Zurich seem to me a bit too heavy in voice in this Zurich production. I guess Leo Nucci in 2004 made an impression not to be forgotten. He became the ideal Stankar for me.

Jose Cura was wonderful as Stiffelio and together with Damato, it was simply stunning. Federico Sacchi as Jorg seemed to be a too light a bass. Martin Zysset and Margaret Chalker did well, but was both better in 2004.

But in 2004 there was a premiere of Stiffelio and more performances in the season, now there were only 2. Can one expect miracles when rehearsal time is probably more scarce?

Reinaldo Macias was as always wonderful as Raffaele.

OD Travel + Photos

Thursday, March 23, 2017

March 23, 2006: La Favorite in Zurich

2006-03-23 La Favorite (Donizetti), Opernhaus Zurich

Leonor de Guzman = Vesselina Kasarova
Fernand = Fabio Sartori
Inez = Jaël Azzaretti
Alphonse = Roberto Servile
Balthazar = Carlo Colombara
Don Gaspar = Eric Huchet

Marc Minkowski, conductor

La Favorite - Donizetti
In französischer Sprache

Dirigent Marc Minkowski
Inszenierung Philippe Sireuil
Bühnenbild Vincent Lemaire
Kostüme Jorge Jara
Choreographie Avi Kaiser
Choreinstudierung Jürg Hämmerli
Lichtgestaltung Hans-Rudolf Kunz

First time that I saw Vesselina Kasarova live. And I liked the mezzo voice. Only wish it was La Favorita and not La Favorite. O mio Fernando would have been better than O mon Fernand. But today everybody likes to have the original. Well I think Favorita in Italian is better than Favorite in French. But will the operahouses nowadays dare to take the Italian Version that used to be more popular than the French (times has always been changing that). Nice voice, nice acting, nice woman, Kasarova. Unfortunately I found her voice not always as florid as I wished.

Jaël Azzaretti (Inez) was marvelous. Loved her singing. And Carlo Colombara (Balthazar) was as always wonderful, how I love his voice, deep and sonorous. Fabio Sartori (Fernand) has a good voice, beautiful and had he been slimmer then I would understand why Leonor fell for him. One was not always so aware of physical appearance when one listen to such a voice and he was also act, so he became Fernand. Roberto Servile (Alphonse) was not an ideal Alphonse, so unlike Carlos Alvarez in Vienna who I found very attractive as the King. Roberto Servile still had some great moments with Leonor but his thick and not so florid singing gave some rough moments.

The production: very nice scenography but unfortunately the team who created this Favorite had not believed this bel-canto opera good enough to stand on its own feet. La Favorite and the story here need not any more symbolism, just let it unfold. The director though he had good ideas, Fernand is only dreaming this etc. Just let us believe it, that the people and their feelings are real.

But worst of all the ballet, it was actually booed, not something that I believe happened frequently in Zurich. The King is throwing a party/ an entertainment for his mistress, the Favorite, Leonor. But the ballet is an insult to Leonor and an insult to the audience, do you really believe we are stupid, that we do not see the injustice to the women, the double morale. It was really such a disappointment to have that ballet moment done that way right in the middle of a fine opera evening. IT WAS JUST A VERY stupid IDEA.

It was the ballet alone that made a FIVE of even SIX star production become just a 3 star. Luckily the ballet did not end the opera, but it was life a knife in your heart that one. SENSELESS, stupid. Thank God, Carlo Colombara was singing in the last act, his aria was just really the best thing in the whole evening. What a voice!!!!

OD Travel
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March 22, 2006: La Traviata in Zurich

2006-03-22 La Traviata (Verdi), Opernhaus Zurich

Alfredo Germont = José Cura
Violetta Valèry = Eva Mei
Flora Bervoix = Katharina Peetz
Annina = Kismara Pessatti
Giorgio Germont = Giorgio Zancanaro
Gastone = Miroslav Christoff
Barone Douphal = Gabriel Bermudez
Marquese d Obigny = Pavel Daniluk
Dottor Grenvil = Giuseppe Scorsin
Giuseppe = Noel Vazques
Domestico = Heikki Yrttiaho
Comissionario = Uwe Kosser

Stefano Ranzani, conductor

La Traviata - Verdi
In italienischer Sprache
Zum letzten Mal in dieser Saison
Flimm/Wonder/von Gerkan/Hämmerli/Lühr

Dirigent Stefano Ranzani
Inszenierung Jürgen Flimm
Bühnenbild Erich Wonder
Kostüme Florence von Gerkan
Lichtgestaltung Jakob Schlosstein
Choreinstudierung Jürg Hämmerli
Choreographie Katharina Lühr

This production with its dark walls pretending to be Violetta's party, Flora's house, Violetta and Alfredo country house and Violetta's room was maybe a good idea. Walls could be moved around. But the acting and singing was good. Zancanaro as Giorgio Germont was old and with not so much voice, he crafted his voice well but when his voice was meant to blend well with the others it was often to harsh or too loud, his voice was no longer able to bend and blend in.

Eva Mei as Violetta Valèry was great, very young and beautiful. I thought that sometimes a little more subtleness in acting would have been better. Actually even if Violetta based on Marie Duplessis who died only 25 years old, it would maybe be even better with a more mature Violetta. It is hard to bring depth in this role when one seem always so young, too young as Eva Mei often did. Strange maybe to say that when I found that Eteri Gvazava was a superb Violetta in the La Traviata à Paris 2000. This doesn't mean that I didn't like Eva Mei's Violetta, she was good.

Jose Cura as Alfredo Germont was good in the start and was even better. But it is a hard role to do well, such a well-known opera and not so much to chew on this character. If I found Jose Cura's Alfredo not quite perfect I believe it must have been the director's fault. Or maybe it is just that La Traviata is not my favorite opera, I just love to see Cura in this role. Verona was better, I feel.

Last I will mention the conductor. Stefano Ranzani, not bad. But the orchestra was sometime loud and drowning the singers which was a shame. I believe it was even sometimes too fast. The balance inside the orchestra could be better. Not always should the normal ear hear all the instruments that are playing, sometimes clarity is required but other times not.

The comprimario roles was well done. Dottor Grenvil and Annina was specially good. I missed more personality in Flora.

OD Travel + Photos

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

March 21, 2015: La Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein in Madrid

2015-03-21 The Grand Duchess of Gérolstein (Jacques Offenbach), 
Teatro de la Zarzuela (Madrid)

LA GRAN DUQUESA = Susana Cordón
FRITZ = José Luis Sola
WANDA = Elena Sancho
EL CONDE PUCK = Manuel de Diego
EL GENERAL BUM = Gerardo Bullón
EL PRÍNCIPE POL = Gustavo Peña
EL BARÓN GROG = Francisco Crespo
EL CAPITÁN NEPOMUCENO = Enrique R. del Portal
IZA = Leonor Bonilla
OLGA = Nuria García
AMELIA  = Ana Cadaval
CARLOTA = Hanna Moroz

Estíbaliz Barroso, José Ángel Capel, Araceli Caro, Íñigo Celaya, Estefanía Corral, José Antonio Domínguez, Alberto Escobar, Daniel Ramos, Susana Román, Sara Peña
Ariel Carmona, Javier Crespo, Pablo Garzón, Javier Martínez, Iván Nieto, Joseba Priego, Marcos Rivas, Pedro Ángel Roca, Robson Dos Santos, Israel Trujillo, Gustavo Adrián Villalba, Álvar Zarco

Orquesta de la Comunidad de Madrid
Coro del Teatro de La Zarzuela
Antonio Fauró

Music director:
Cristóbal Soler
Stage director, sets and costumes:

Pier Luigi Pizzi

Zarzuela bufa en tres actos y cuatro cuadros, basada en la ópera cómica de Henri Meilhac y Ludovic Halévy
Traducción de Enrique Mejías García
Worldpremiered at Teatro del Circo in Madrid, November 7, 1868
Producción del Festival de Martina Franca del Valle d'Itria (1996)

The Teatro de la Zarzuela can call it a zarzuela but it still is a Frenche operetta translated to Spanish. A great translation made by Enrique Mejías García. 

Susana Cordón was the Grand Duchess of Gerolstein, a young lady of 20 years who is in love with the military life and the men. Wonderful singing and great acting from Susana Cordón. She falls in love with Fritz, the soldier who by decree of the High Duchess goes all the way up to General and back again to soldier during the performance. Tenor José Luis Sola was a wonderful Fritz. Fritz is in love with the lovely Wanda, a village girl with virtually no education. Soprano Elena Sancho was a lively Wanda, and naturally she too was wonderful almost upstaging the Grand Duchess. General Bum was just as admirably sung and acted by Gerardo Bullón. General Bum never wins Wanda from Fritz but in the end he gets the general plumes back from Fritz. Baron Grog, Francisco Crespo, almost got the plumes from the Grand Duchess but when he outed himself as married then Grand Duchess decided Bum got his plumes and Prince Pol would get a Grand Duchess who would be faithful since married men was not OK even for Grand Duchess. Prince Pol, Gustavo Peña, won the Grand Duchess of Gerolstein.

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Monday, March 20, 2017

March 20, 2010: La Boheme in Zurich

2010-03-20 La Boheme (Puccini), Opernhaus Zurich

Rodolfo = José Cura
Mimì = Adriana Damato
Marcello = Gabriel Bermudez
Musetta = Christiane Kohl
Schaunard = Cheyne Davidson
Colline = Andreas Hörl
Benoit = Davide Fersini
Alcindoro = Valeriy Murga
Parpignol = Christopher Hux
A customs official = Matthew Leigh
Sergeant = Falvio Matthias

Massimo Zanetti, conductor

Lots of JCx friends there. It did not look as it was many of us in the beginning but then I started to see friends all over the house. I was not sure if I would enjoy this production but I really. It was a modern La Boheme but not in a way that would make the story improbable.

Act 1: Jose Cura as Rodolfo was laying on a sofa. He looked larger than life and when Gabriel Bermudez came in, he too looked larger than life. But I was on row 2 so maybe that why all looked so big. Still Jose Cura and Gabriel Bermudez are both muscle men. Andreas Hörl was Colline. He is a tall man with a sweet bass voice. Cheyne Davidson was a solid Schaunard.

Then came the disappointment. Adriana Damato, who I last saw as a perfect Lina in Verdi's Stiffelio, came in as a too solid Mimi. Not only was her Mimi to solid and healthy looking (or even heavy) but her acting was like wood and not the kind Puccini needs. Her singing was good but she really needs to get her acting skills in order. It also should not be obvious to the viewers the strain singing gives. After the very realistic acting from the boys suddenly old-school opera. Jose Cura created the magic with his singing and reacting to his Mimi and of course Adriana Damato rose to her best with him.
Highlights: The duet Questo mar rosso (Cura/Bermudez), Che gelida manina (Jose Cura) and O soave fanciulla (Cura/Damato). Adriana Damato's singing Mimi's aria was great and not so great at the same time.

Act 2: Now, finally Adriana Damato is Mimi as good as anyone. Christine Kohl is Musetta and sings her aria with flair. I liked the staging of the scene, unconventional but it works. This production really works.

Highlight: Quando me'n vo (Christine Kohl)

Act 3: Again the production worked it magic. Adriana Damato, Gabriel Bermudez, Jose Cura, Christine Kohl makes this a musical highlight. Acting and singing is great.

Highlights: duets and quartet

Act 4: Loved it. I was worried that Adriana Damato would not be acting well, but she was superb. Jose Cura was so immersed in his character that he had a hard time trying to smile at the curtain call, he had really experienced Mimi's death as reality.

Highlight: Adriana Damato's and Jose Cura's duet Sono andati. Normally Colline's aria Vecchio zimarra is a highlight but it was not so for me.

It was a great role debut for both Jose Cura and Gabriel Bermudez as Rodolfo and Marcello. It was worth going to Zurich. Jose Cura was fantastic as Rodolfo. In the end I must say I was not too happy with the conductor, Massimo Zanetti. He had a reading of Che gelida manina that was really slow, I think.

After the performance we all went to the backstage and waited. When Jose Cura came he sat down so that we could take photo, talk to him and get autographs. It took a long time for Cura till he finally could get out and have his dinner.

Massimo Zanetti, conductor

La Bohème - Puccini
In italienischer Sprache mit deutscher Übertitelung

Massimo Zanetti

Philippe Sireuil

Vincent Lemaire

Jorge Jara

Hans-Rudolf Kunz

Ernst Raffelsberger

Orchester der Oper Zürich

Chor der Oper Zürich

OD Travel + Photos

Blog:Sweet-sour from Zurich: Jose Cura triumphs as Rododolfo

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March 20, 2004: Samson et Dalila in London

2004-03-20 Samson et Dalila (C. Saint-Saëns), Royal Opera House (London)

Samson = José Cura
Dalila = Denyce Graves
Abimelech = Tigran Martirossian
High Priest = Bruno Caproni
Ancient Hebrew = Julian Rodescu
First Philistine = James Kennedy
Second Philistine = Jared Holt
Messenger = Hubert Francis

Philippe Jordan, conductor

Elijah Moshinsky

Sidney Nolan

Nick Chelton

David Bintley

Second Philistine:
Jared Holt§

Hubert Francis§

§ Vilar Young Artist

Samson et Dalila, ROH 20.3.2004

It was those transparent curtains with rather ugly paintings. It was ugly and disturbing. The first was not too bad, the hand of God (that's my interpretation. But it stayed on too long after the opera had started. That curtain was in a way acceptable. The 2nd curtain a very vulgar interpretation of I guess Dalila the enchantress. That stayed on WAY too lang, and I also found it offending as a woman. Act 2 is a beautiful act, the most beautiful of all operas I know. The 3rd curtain was a painting of the scapegoat, and it was sickening how long it stayed on.

I found the chorus a bit lack in coordination in their singing. José Cura came as the most handsome Samson I have ever seen. He sang admirably and it was the best Samson performance I have seen with this Argentine tenor. Denyce Graves was singing Dalila. No newspapers had prepared me that the American mezzo was 5 months pregnant. That was a shock. Both vocally and in her acting there a sense of her being very careful in conducting herself onstage. I did long sometimes for these blast of powers that Agnes Baltsa brings onstage.

Denyce Graves voice is compared to Agnes Baltsa a more true mezzo/alto voice, but that said I did not feel a strong stage-presence as I always do with Baltsa.

Act 1: Abimelech and Grand-Pretre, good but not really very memorable. The Old Hebrew, great voice, but it is always when José Cura is there that one can say here is an interesting moment going on. I liked the how Samson came a bit later at the gathering round the Old Hebrew, the little boy who is there guiding Samson in the 3rd act, is here guiding Samson in and The old Hebrew out after he (O.H.) has blessed Samson.

Another thing is that this act ends with Samson removing his Jewish prayer-clothing and leaves with Dalila. They kiss. Curtain down for act 1.

Act 2. As always the most fantastic act with wonderful music and singing. This Dalila really longs for revenge, and she is just pretending to love Samson. No doubt. Her coarse laughter when thinking about that weapons is in perfect shape, her tears will be the un-doing of Samson. In the duet with the Grand-Pretre there is very little energy and dark excitement. But when he leaves Dalila put herself in a melancholy state and then Samson arrives "mal-gré lui-mème". And every-thing is just perfectly acted and sung. Just like it was a movie. It is real touching and kissing. It is near real sex onstage and there is no vulgarity and everything is very true. In this moment when they are both laying together one could think that Denyce Graves and Cura would rather inhibited by the fact that this Dalila is really pregnant but they are not. This is very tender love-making, complete trust. Then there is "Mon Coeur s'ouvre à ta voix" and the quarrel "Mais, non, que dis-je helàs". And in the end Samson cannot resist he is going inside her house after her, and the Philistine is creeping nearer like tigers. "À moi, Philistines!"- "Trahison!".

Act 3. I hated the Bacchanale and the ballet, the vulgarities put into the scene. The scapegoats were killed and the blood giving to the Philistine. But it had the great aria of Samson wonderfully sung and acted by José Cura, and of course when he came back onstage for the taunting by the philistines lead by the young boy. And then he got his revenge. But the pillars did not support anything, so how he could kill anyone except those two that were sitting on top of the pillars is a mystery.

And then all the applause. In ROH no applause during the acts only after the curtain was down, and singers did not appear to take the applause until the end of the whole opera.

And after that we waited at the Stage Door for a long time. But then Denyce Graves came out, she left rather quickly, José Cura came after and he stayed on till all had taken their photos and even talked at length to a lady just outside the stage door. Someone had to come and fetch Cura so that he could go to the restaurant just opposite the ROH's Stage Door.

BRAVO, José Cura!!!!!!!

OD Travel + Photos

Sunday, March 19, 2017

March 19, 2005: Josep Carreras in Bergen

2005-03-19 Jose Carreras, Grieghallen (Bergen)

Josep Carreras, tenor
Nuovo Quartetto Italiano
Lorenzo Bavaj, piano

Jose Carreras first time in Bergen, Norway
For the first time in Bergen. Grieghallen March 19th, 2005. With him is string quartet Nuovo Quartetto Italiano and Lorenzo Bavaj on piano.
The End of Carreras Nordic Tour 2005.
Standing ovations and 6 extra numbers!!!!


Jose Carreras: Luna Nova (Mario Pasquale Costa)
Jose Carreras: Elegie (Jules Massenet)

Nuovo Quartetto Italiano: L'Ultima Canzone (Francesco Paolo Tosti)

Jose Carreras: Segreto (Francesco Paolo Tosti)
Jose Carreras: Sogno (Francesco Paolo Tosti)
Jose Carreras: Aprile (Francesco Paolo Tosti)

Nuovo Quartetto Italiano: Intermezzo (Respighi) (played Presto by Donizetti??)

Jose Carreras: T'estimo (Edvard Grieg)
Jose Carreras: O primavera (Pier Adolfo Tirindelli)


Jose Carreras: L'Oreneta (Enric Morera)
Jose Carreras: Andaluza (Enrique Granados)

Nuovo Quartetto Italiano: Scherzo (Giuseppe Verdi)

Jose Carreras: Na sera e maggio (Giuseppe Cioffi)
Jose Carreras: Firenze sogna (Cesar Cesarini)
Jose Carreras: Passione (Vincenzo Valente)

Nuovo Quartetto Italiano: Crisantemi (Giacomo Puccini)

Jose Carreras: Silenzo cantatore (Gaetano Lama)
Jose Carreras: Musica proibita (Stanislao Gastaldon)

Lorenzo Bavaj, piano
Nuovo Quartetto Italiano
Grieghallen, Bergen 19.3.2005

Josep Carreras 9th time in Norway, and first time in Bergen. Almost 15 years after I saw Josep Carreras live for the first time I see him this time too in Norway. 14 years and 11 months on the date since his recital in Oslo Konserthus. This time a much better seat. This time also full house. But this is a great evening with standing ovation and 5 extra numbers. 15 years ago it was more the baroque arias, this time it is the more lighter songs of Tosti, Costa and so on. Of the more major composers Grieg and Massenet.

He started with LUNA NOVA by Costa, not my favorite piece and more of a warming up of voice piece. His voice is perfect for Massenet and his mastering of the French is superb. ELEGIE of Massenet was the first highlight of the concert. What a disappointment that L'ULTIMA CANZONE by Tosti was just played by the string quartet, where it became just a very minor classical piece. Josep Carreras came back to sing 3 more songs of Tosti, not really his best rendition of the song but sung with full passion more suited for opera arias, really. After Tosti the Nuovo Quartetto Italiano was supposed to play INTERMEZZO by Respighi but they played PRESTO by Donizetti (?!).

After the quartet had played Carreras came back and treated us with an exquisite rendition of Griegs JEG ELSKER DIG in Catalan T*ESTIMO. Sorry to say that the string quartet did not enhance the magic of this romance, but Lorenzo Bavaj and Josep Carreras gave it all the magic needed to take the breath away of the enchanted audience. The height of musicality was somewhat lowered in the O PRIMAVERA by Tirindelli but still it sounded almost like a major classical piece.


The second part was really superior to the first. To sing the Catalan songs gave Carreras a boost that maybe already the romance of Grieg had given. L*ORONETA and especially ANDALUZA was magnificently sung. The string quartet was OK with Verdi's SCHERZO, but luckily when Carreras came back to sing Neapolitan songs as NA SERA MAGGIO, FIRENZE SOGNO and PASSIONE, all the passion the Catalan tenor used was justified and a mesmerized audience succumbed completely. At last the string quartet that had bothered us with it good but not great playing had found the piece right for the occasion Puccini's music where the magical music from his greatest opera, MANON LESCAUT was heard. At last there was some opera music. And the official program was ended with some of my favorite music, SILENTIO CANTATORE and MUSICA PROIBITA. And the audience was up on its feet, applauding and shouting BRAVO!!

And the we were treated with a tenor with lots of humor, gratefully to his Bergen audience. 6 extra numbers. This concert was a smash hit in Bergen.


1. Un'Ombra (from PURE PASSION)
2. Coren'grato (CARDILLO)
3. Vurria
4. Un Núvol blanc (LLACH)
5. Neapolitan song about Winter
6. Santa Lucia

OD Travel + Photos

Saturday, March 18, 2017

March 18, 2001: Samson et Dalila in Barcelona

2001-03-18 Samson et Dalila (Saint-Saëns), Gran Teatre de Liceu (Barcelona)

Samson = José Cura
Dalila = Markella Hatziano
El Gran Sacerdote = Simon Estes
Viejo Judío = Stefano Palatchi

Sudden debut of José Cura in Samson et Dalila at Barcelona's Gran Teatre de Liceu
I was in Barcelona just for seeing José Carreras as Samson in "his" Opera House. Then the word came out "Enfermidad", Carreras is sick. Cura replaces Carreras. I thought, it could be interesting to compare, and then I love this opera. (Rumors has it that Cura was not the official replacement for the Liceu Samson). Only Cura or Domingo would be great enough a star to replace Josep Carreras in his hometown.

My parents loved José Cura as Samson, so did most of the Spanish press. "Cura was superior to Carreras".

I disagree to that sentiment. Cura sang Samson in Zurich June 10, 2000, and did a much better show in Zurich than here in Barcelona

Act 1. Cura was playing Samson like the ladies man some say Samson was.
Act 2. the best act in the opera, but it was not a memorable act in Barcelona.
Act 3. The emotional act in this opera. But I didn't feel those sentiments.

The one that deserved applause was Stefano Palatchi, the Old Hebrew. I wish I had recorded this evening. Now I must only use my memory. Was it better than I remember it, or is my criticism justified. Don't know. But I remember standing up in the end, and applauding hard. I remember thinking: Why do I applaud it, I didn't feel that Cura was that good. Hysteria...

OD Travel + Photos

Friday, March 17, 2017

March 17, 2003: Tosca in Vienna

2003-03-17 Tosca (G.Puccini), Wiener Staatsoper

Mario Cavaradossi = José Cura
Floria Tosca = Isabelle Kabatu
Baron Scarpia = Franz Grundheber
Cesare Angelotti = Janusz Monarcha
Der Mesner = Wolfgang Bankl
Spoletta = Benedikt Kobel
Sciarrone = In-Sung Sim
Ein Schließer = Günther Groissböck

Stefano Ranzani, conductor

Wiener Staatsoper
Montag, 17. märz 2003
473. Aufführung in dieser Inszenierung

Melodramma in drei Akten nach Victorien Sardou von Luigi Illica und Giuseppe Giacosa
Musik von Giacomo Puccini

Dirigent Stefano Ranzani
Inszenierung Margarethe Wallmann
Bühnenbild und Kostüme Nicola Benois
Chorleitung Ernst Dunshirn

Ein Hirt Kind der Opernschule
der Wiener Staatsoper

Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper Bühnenorchester der Wiener Staatsoper

Chor der Wiener Staatsoper Kinder der Opernschule der Wiener Staatsoper

Tosca with José Cura as Mario Cavaradossi.

On 16th March 2003, I took a fall in a McDonald's restaurant. After coming to my hotel, I found out that I needed a doctor. He came, I got a kind of bandage on my right wrist, and a sport gel tube and some pill to kill the pain. After a not so pleasant night, it was 17th March 2003, and pain went and came again and again.

But I was not to miss Tosca, I already had a ticket, and I hope that the opera would be so great that I could forget pain and just be in operaland for 3 hours. But no, my loge was on the wrong side for getting to see the action. I blame the director, naturally. It was not a cheap ticket, and since I lost so much of act 2 and 3, like seeing how Jose Cura looked when singing "E lucevan le stelle".

The conductor was, I think really good. This was a good production, except when it was about situating the principals too much one side, making part of the audience suffering, to see nothing that was interesting that is. Isabella Kabatu was a great Tosca, and Grundheber a great Scarpia. I didn't find Cura a great Cavaradossi, but that was after his stupendous performance of Don Carlos.
The overall impression a weak Tosca performance, since it did not take my pain away.

I hardly heard Cura's voice. And how on earth am I to know if Cura sang a fantastic "E lucevan le stelle", I had lean over heavily to see his voice, had pain, and his voice was soooo weak when I compare to Don Carlos in Act 2 Scene 2. Cavaradossi died, and I did not care, Tosca jumped to her death, and I did not care.

I had some hope of seeing Cura backstage, and I did see him through the window, but all the people, and my pain. No, I had to protect myself from further pain, beside I hardly could operate my camera because of the pain. Well, I had promised some photos to my Cura Connexion friends, and I went to her hotel, wrote a not with my left hand, I also told the portier what I wrote so that the meaning would come through, and left some photos there. And then I went back to my hotel. The next day, 18. March was my home-going day.

well, Tosca is not so important for me, Don Carlos is. so Great TRAVEL, anyway

next time, please, I want to be lucky with the combination Cura and Tosca!!!

Lot of people enjoyed this Tosca, and especially José Cura as Cavaradossi. My excuse was my injury that made it harder to enjoy an opera performance. If I were rich I would have gone back to Vienna for another Tosca, tomorrow on 27. March is the last Tosca with Cura in Vienna for 2002/2003.

OD Travel + Photos

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

March 14, 2003: Don Carlo in Zurich

2003-03-14 Don Carlo (G. Verdi), Opernhaus Zurich

Filippo II = Carlo Colombara
Don Carlo = José Cura
Rodrigo = Franco Vassallo
Il Grande Inquisitore = Pavel Daniluk
Un Frate = Giuseppe Scorsin
Elisabeth de Valois = Elena Prokina
La Principessa d'Eboli = Luciana D'Intino
Tebaldo = Judith Schmid
La Contessa d'Aremberg = Susanne Merle
Il Conte di Lerma = Leonardo Silva
Voce dal cielo = Sen Guo

Pier Giorgio Morandi, conductor

Verdi: Don Carlo

Musikalische LeitungPIER GIORGIO MORANDI
SpielleitungULRICH SENN
LichtgestaltungJÜRGEN HOFFMANN

Deputati fiamminghi/PETER KÁLMÁN, VALERIY MURGA,
0 Mitglied des 105
Solo-CelloLuciano Pezzani
Musikalische Assistenz
InspizienzPAUL SUTER
Freitag, 14. März 2003FREITAG-ABO A
ENDE: ca. 23.00 UHR

Voce dal cielo
Sen Guo: In the autodafé-scene, her voice is heard at the end of this scene, when the heretics are burnt, tortured. A lovely voice promises the poor tortured souls that heaven is open for them. Beautifully sung by this Chinese soprano.

Il Conte di Lerma
Leonardo Silva: Good.

La Contessa d'Aremberg
Susanne Merle: She is the one that is expelled from the Spanish court for not being together with the Queen at the meeting of Elisabeth & Don Carlo. The King in this way offend also the Queen. The Queen comforts her compatriot, she is not expelled from the heart of the Queen ("Non pianger, mia compagna"). Silent role. Tall, blond woman, skinny. An actress, or a just a member of the chorus.

Judith Schmid: a trouser role for this Swiss mezzo. Walking and acting very much like a young man, which is her role. In this Zurich version it is Tebaldo who announces people coming in, and not the Count of Lerma like in the Salzburg 1986-version.Very good voice and acting.

La Principessa d'Eboli
Luciana d'Intino: this Italian mezzo is today's great Eboli. Amneris and so on. Her dark voice have an agility for coloratura even though her voice is a big one. And she even acts...All opera singers are supposed to act, but still some really can't do that and sing at the same time, Luciana has no problem with that. Onstage never for a second, is she not Eboli. Her passion, witty and loves clearly portrayed by Luciana d'Intino. Her song of the veil is great, and she is great in duos, trios and quartets, and her O don fatale is stupendous.

Elisabetta di Valois (Elisabeth de Valois, Queen of Spain)
Elena Prokina: great singing and acting by this Russian soprano. She does well her big aria in the end of the opera, Tu che le vanita, even though she doesn't quite have the big voice to really get it right. She is the Queen of this opera, regal in presence, and still gets the human side of Elisabeth to stand out like a real human being. The confrontation with the King, as a King's daughter she has greatness and is not easily intimidated. She shines, she acts very well with all the other members in the ensemble.

Un frate (The imperator Carlo Quinto?, Charles V)
Giuseppe Scorsin: the 3rd bass in Don Carlo. In this production we don't see him, we only hear him and the other monks at the monastery San Juste, in the beginning and the end of the opera. Good.

Il Grande Inquisitore
Pavel Daniluk: the 2nd bass. I have to say he does OK, I wonder if he lacks some of the deepest notes when he sings SiRe, it doesn't seem to go easily down. Good.?

Rodrigo, Marchese di Posa
Franco Vassallo: A really great Rodrigo sung and acted by this Milanese baritone. In flesh and blood real, but still a dreamer. GREAT!!!

Don Carlo (Don Carlos, Infante of Spain)
José Cura: Bravo, Cura! I don't understand how you do that, managing to play so perfectly a Don Carlo closer to the historical truth than we usually see, and still not break against Verdi's Don Carlos. Magic... Hard work.

Filippo II (Philip II of Spain)
Carlo Colombara: the 1rst bass of Don Carlo. An unhappy father and spouse. He has a misfit as son and a wife who never loved him. Great singing an acting by this bass.

Pier Giorgio Morandi and the orchestra....
He did a good job, Morandi, but still something the orchestra drowned the singers.

BRAVI tutti

OD Travel + Photos

Sunday, March 12, 2017

March 12, 2003: Don Carlo in Zurich

2003-03-12 Don Carlo (G. Verdi), Opernhaus Zurich

Filippo II = Carlo Colombara
Don Carlo = José Cura
Rodrigo = Franco Vassallo
Il Grande Inquisitore = Pavel Daniluk
Un Frate = Giuseppe Scorsin
Elisabeth de Valois = Elena Prokina
La Principessa d'Eboli = Luciana D'Intino
Tebaldo = Judith Schmid
La Contessa d'Aremberg = Susanne Merle
Il Conte di Lerma = Leonardo Silva
Voce dal cielo = Sen Guo

Pier Giorgio Morandi, conductor

Verdi: Don Carlo
Regie Werner Düggelin
Musikalische Leituug PIER GIORGIO MORANDI
Inszenierung WERNER DÜGGELlN
Spielleitung ULRICH SENN
Lichtgestaltung JÜRGEN HOFFMANN

Deputati fiamrninghi/PETER KÁLMÁN, VALERIY MURGA,
0 Mitglied des 105
Solo-Cello Luciano Pezzani
Musikalische Assistenz
Inspizienz PAUL SUTER
Mittwoch, 12. März 2003 FREIER VERKAUF
ENDE: ca. 23.00 UHR

Act 1 Scene 1
This is the Italian, 4 act version. Which starts in San Juste, with the monks singing "Carlo, o sommo Imperatore". The stage is black, and we do not see the monks, they are singing ofstage. Don Carlos is
already onstage, Jose Cura is laying down, making a pathetic figure, "Io l´ho perduta", he is mourning the loss of Elisabeth de Valois, his once-fiancee, who had to marry the King, Filip II, his own father for political reasons. Luckily the voice of Cura was improved after the first minutes here. Don Carlos´ friend, Rodrigo sees Don Carlo, the Infante of Spain in quite a mood. But Rodrigo makes Don Carlos think of the Flemish people in need, Jose Cura and Franco Vassallo sings a wonderful "Dio che nell'alma infondere", even though Cura is sometime of of synch, so the conductor Morandi must take special care and point to Cura, when he is on cue. When Filip II
and Elisabeth de Valois comes in to pray, they and the 6 "bodyguards" walks to fast for a royal prosession I think.

Act 1 Scene 2.
It is in bright blue, with some wonderful scenery, the court ladies is making a big picture of Fontainebleu, for the queen. Tebaldo is walking around like a teenager with an important job. Then Pricess Eboli arrives and soon a happy song of the veil, Muhammed and his queen. Eboli, Luciana d'Intino receives the first applause, she
is fantasic. Coloratura-alto. Then the queen arrives, Elena Prokina is Elisabeth de Valois. And the Rodrigo, Grande de Espana, comes with one secret message from Carlos, and one official from the royal Queen
mother in France. And soon a terzett "Che mai si fa nel suol francese", where Rodrigo efficiently and elegantly stops Eboli from casting the eyes at the Queen, finding something suspicious. And then Don Carlos comes to talk with his "mother" (step-mother, naturally), and Jose Cura starts very softly but is soon angered by Elisabeth de Valois "coldness", Elisabeth speaks of honnour and Carlos wants to talk about love. "Io vengo a domandar" ends with Elisabeth telling about murder his father, and marry his mother. "Maledetta io son",
and Carlos runs out. Then the King, Carlo Colombara, come in and see the queen alone, that is against the etiquette of the Spanish court. ONLY, that when the king arrives, the court woman have arrived a
little too soon... The Lady of Honnour who was supposed to be with the Queen, gets the message from the King, go back to France. So the queen looses her compatriot at the court, "Non pianger, mia compagna". Elena Prokina is a little out of synch and conductor and singer tries to get intact. Then all is leaving, but The king want to talk to Rodrigo". Great Duet ("Restate!")

Act 2 Scene 1
In the Queens Garden, Don Carlo (Jose Cura) is waiting for his beloved, Elisabeth de Valois to come for a secret rendez-vous. But it is naturally Princess Eboli (Luciana d'Intino) who comes. She thinks the Infante loves her, Eboli, but then realise that the sweet words was meant for somebody else, ... the Queen. A fantastic Duet that becomes a wonderful Trio, when Rodrigo (Franco Vassallo) comes in to save Don Carlo when the rage of a jilted woman. My favourite scene in this opera. Rodrigo makes Don Carlo give som letters about the revolt they are planning in Flandern, and some love letters.

Act 2 scene 2 Autodafe-scene.
Grand scene with all people gathered to have a feast, when "enjoying" the death of sinners condamned by the Spanish Inquisition. The King, Carlo Colombara, restates his vow to be the protector the Cathotic faith. "Gloria a Filippo, gloria al ciel'!" Then suddenly Don Carlo comes in with the Flemish deputation to ask of clemency for Flandern and Brabant, something the King and the Monks refused, but the people with Elisabeth and Rodrigo asks for clemency also. Don Carlo loses his patience, and ask of to reign Flandern and Brabante (Sire! egli e tempo ch'io viva), when the King refuses this, Don Carlo threaten his father with a sword. Only Rodrigo asks for the sword from the Infante. The crisis is over. And the celebration of death of the heretics can continue. A voice from Heaven, promises the "heretic" salvation.


Act 3 Scene 1
In the chamber of the King Filip II, Carlo Colombara is singing the wonderful aria "Ella giammai m'amo". Elisabeth has never loved the King, and the Infante is rebelling against his father. Filip thinks that his crown makes it possible to read the mind of others, the king has a very suspicious mind. He long for peace, to sleep in Escorial, the royal grave. More misfortunes, the Grand-Inquisitor comes in, and two basses are battling against each-other, why must the crown always bend for the altar. Grand-Inquisitor gives the king permission, to excile or death to the Infante, but he wants the life of Rodrigo of Posa, The king tries to resist... And after this The queen comes asking for justice, someone has robbed her of the box inwhich all her juwellery is in. Filip has it, he opens it a finds the portrait of Don Carlo. He accuses Elisabeth of being an adulteress, she swoons, Rodrigo and Eboli rushes in. Wonderful quartett. It is Eboli who has stolen it, and told Filip about Elisabeth and Carlos. She asks for forgivesness, is almost forgiven but the she has more on her hart, the King has seduced Eboli, this can not be forgiven, Eboli gets the choice of excile or the convent. Then comes the BIG moment, "O don fatale", where Eboli mourns the loss of her queen, never to see her again, a curses her own beauty that have made her so vain. Then she remembers Don Carlo, he is condammed to death, One day I have left, I can save him.
(This is what I call a highlights-only scene)

Act 3 Scene 2
The prison of Don Carlos. Rodrigo comes to visit his friend. He has saved him, the letters have been found in Rodrigos room. "Per me giunto e il di supremo". And then when the bullet come, he tells Carlos that his "mother" knows everything, go to San Juste, she will meet you there, YOU can save Flandern. Rodrigos has just died, when Filip II comes to give his son the sword back. Don Carlos refuses, since The king has killed the best friend, he gave his life for me. The people wants the Infante, the Grand-Inquisitor comes to calm all down, prostrate to your King.

Act 4
San Juste. Elisabeth de Valois, Elena Prokina sing her Great Aria "Tur che la vanita", about Carlo V, Charles V. Then Cura and Prokina have their last duet. "E dessa! - Ma lassù ci vedremo in un mondo migliore". At last Don Carlo is ready to forget Elisabeth and to use all his force to the Flemish cause. But the the King and Grand-Inquisitor appear. They demand both deaths. And then the opera ends with the monk, and they all are afraid since they hear the voice of Carlo V, the grand-father of Don Carlos. In the confussion, Don Carlo and Elisabeth disappair into the monastery San Juste.

First time I know that Elisabeth was saved, too!!

Bravi, tutti!

OD Travel + Photos

Saturday, March 11, 2017

March 11, 2007: Le Villi in Genova

2007-03-11 Le Villi (Puccini), Teatro Carlo Felice, Genova

Roberto = José Cura
Anna = Fiorenza Cedolins
Guglielmo Wulf = Gabriele Viviani

Riccardo Frizza, conductor

Le Villi
Opera-ballo in due atti di Ferdinando Fontana,
musica di Giacomo Puccini.
In forma semiscenica

Teatro Carlo Felice

Spettacoli correlati:

L'opera è preceduta dalla Sinfonia n. 1 in re minore op. 75 di Martucci

Direttore Riccardo Frizza

Prima: mercoledì 7 marzo 2007, 20.30 (A)
Repliche: venerdì 9 marzo, 20.30 (B)
domenica 11 marzo, 15.30 (C)

This was a strange day, check-out from hotel, and having to get a train after the opera. But this was the best performance, I doubt the 2007-03-07 performance was better (I was not there, but Rai Radio was there and it was transmitted on radio).

What was the difference: No glasses for Jose Cura this time. He was FREE and could really ACT out as Roberto which also meant that Fiorenza Cedolins would be able to react as the fine actress she is. Gabriele Viviani was still a bit wooden but as the old Babbo Guglielmo it was easily forgiven, his voice was all that matters, but there is only so much to do when it is a concert and your part is really small.

Teatro Carlo Felice is really a fine theater but all the same I was sitting too close to people who do not understand that chatting is not permitted during an opera or concert. It did not completely destroy my opera evenings, but it did not make me happy. And these was not young people who did not no better... Inexcusable.

Anyway, Fiorenza Cedolins was not lucky when she sang a wonderful "Se come voi" because the orchestra glitched, and that was the only fault in this performance, think, during her big aria. But she had the luck of Jose Cura completely in his role as Roberto. How he touched her face when he said he wanted a smile, touching. The duet was really wonderful. And the prayer in the end of act 1 was also wonderfully executed. The aria of Guglielmo Wolf in act 2 is not easy to get, I guess you really need a stage for that one. Jose Cura was incredible in Roberto's long aria in act 2. And the final duet Cedolins/Cura was great.

Not strange that the applause lasted a bit over 10 minutes.

March 2007: Le Villi in Genova (2007-03-11)

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March 11, 2003: La Favorite in Vienna

2003-03-11 La Favorite (G. Donizetti), Wiener Staatsoper

Léonor de Guzman = Violeta Urmana
Fernand = Giuseppe Sabbatini
Alphonse XI = Carlos Alvarez
Balthazar = Giacomo Prestia
Don Gaspar = John Dickie
Inès = Genia Kühmeier

Fabio Luisi, conductor

Wlener Staatsoper
dienstag, 11. märz 2003
6. Aufführung in dieser Inszenierung

La Favorite
Oper in vier Akten
Text von Alphonse Royer und Gustave Vaëz
in Zusammenarbeit mit Augustin Eugène Scribe
Musik von Gaetano Donizetti

Dirigent Fabio Luisi
Inszenierung John Dew
Bühnenbild Thomas Gruber
Kostüme José-Manuel Vazquez
Choreinstudierung Marco Ozbic

Orchester der Wien er Staatsoper
Chor der Wiener Staatsoper

To start an opera evening by coming to the opera house 10 minutes before the opera starts is not the best way, but I soon calmed down to enjoy this, for me almost unknown opera. Knowing only "Spirto gentil" and "O mio Fernando" of this opera. But here they sang in French.

Having read the critic on beforehand, I was not too disappointed by the tenor singing of the top notes, they hurt my ears. After the tenor first aria, polite applause from the audience, they respects very much Giuseppe Sabattini. First act is in the convent where Fernand is a novice, the abbed wants Fernand to take the vows, but Fernand has met a very beautiful woman and is in love. Baltasar throws Fernand out of the convent, since F. does not want to forget the unknown woman. Next scene. An island where Leonor and her maids is enjoying life, Fernand comes there. He wants to marry Leonor, but she refuses, says she cannot and beseeches Fernand to forget her. He will not. Wonderful duet.

Act 2. The king and Leonor, with Ines and Don Gaspar in the royal garden of the moor king that Fernand have helped King Alphonse to win over. The king understands not that Leonor can be unhappy with being his mistress. The court despise Leonor, but the King sings of his great love, and Leonor tells that he deceived her to think that she was following her husband, when she left her father castle. Bah, I want to make you my queen. Then Don Gaspar, the courtier, has found out that a love letter to Leonor was given Ines, he gives the king the letter, who gets very angry with Leonor, especially since she refuses to give him the name of her lover. Then Baltasar comes with an urgent message from the pope, if the King and his mistress does not depart for ever, by the next day, they are excommunicated. In vain Alphonse tries to threaten Baltasar, King against the Church. The queen is there, thinking she can win over Alphonse to her side, just by evicting Leonor.

Act 3. The kings palace. Aphonse wants revenge. Fernand comes as a hero, and he wants a noble woman as a bride, suddenly A. finds out that F. is his rival. The perfect revenge is clear, marrying of his mistress to the hero, who does not know that this is a clear way to loose his honor, something Leonor knows perfectly. "O mon Fernand", wonderfully sung by Violeta Urmana. She orders Ines to tell Fernand all, but Ines is taken prisoner by Don Gaspar on the command of the king. She thinks Fernand know it all and still wants to marry her. But know this only gets cleared when the contempt of the court, and Baltasar is told about the wedding. Fernand you have lost your honor, marrying the mistress of the King. F. is furious. And they all see Fernand was innocent he REALLY did not know.

Act 4 in the monastery, Fernand is finally convince of making his vows, even though the thought of Leonor still haunts him "Ange si pur". Then Leonor has followed Fernand. She hears him taking to vows, and then she collapses and so they meet. She asks desperately for forgiveness before she dies. When at last Fernand give in, he tells her that he still loves her, and that he is willing to sacrilege to have her. To leave the monastery to marry her, and live in another country. Leonor is forgiven, and happy to have Fernands love again, and that her own death saves Fernand from the sacrilege.

Wonderful and sad end. Even though Sabbattini lacked the top notes to make it really remarkable (bel canto), he still gave Fernand the verve and poignancy that made it a great performance (verismo!)!!

OD Travel

Friday, March 10, 2017

March 10, 2007: Cavalleria Rusticana in Genova

2007-03-10 Cavalleria Rusticana (Mascagni), Teatro Carlo Felice, Genova

Santuzza = Susan Neves
Lola = Paola Gardina
Turiddu = Salvatore Licitra
Alfio = Vitaliy Bilyy
Mamma Lucia = Ambra Vespasiani

Bruno Bartoletti, conductor

THIS TIME Pagliacci was first, CavRust last.

Cavalleria rusticana
Melodramma in un atto di Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti e Guido Menasci, musica di Pietro Mascagni

Teatro Carlo Felice

Spettacoli correlati: Pagliacci

Orchestra director Bruno Bartoletti

Direction Sebastiano Lo Monaco

Settings Gianfranco Padovani

Costumes Avallone Giuseppe

Opening night: friday 23 february, 20.30 (A)
Performances: sunday 25 february, 15.30 (C)
tuesday 27 february, 20.30 (B)
thursday 1 march, 20.30 (L)
sunday 4 march, 15.30 (R)
tuesday 6 march, 20.30 (FA)
thursday 8 march, 15.30 (GI)
saturday 10 march, 15.30 (F)

Why was Cavalleria Rusticana after Pagliacci, maybe because... No, impossible to guess. The only thing that is important is that it worked very well.

This production, unlike the Pagliacci production was not right a way just right for me. Both ideas was all action in the same place. Which naturally meant that the Siciliana was sung backstage when the curtain was down. Then when the opera started all we saw was a desert, and that was Cavalleria Rusticana. Sometimes it was a desert with Jesus on the cross etc, so that was I guess "the Church" and Easter celebration. And a desert with some chairs was Mamma Lucia's tavern. But this desert made it very real when the people came from work with oranges, except, for oranges to grow is not a desert a very natural thing, no. So it sort of worked, but just when you are not thinking :-).

So that was the production ideas. But what really made it work was the film in the back ground. Showing the sky and sea. Dark sky when it was almost night still etc. And of course the thunder that made the whole chorus disappear when it started to rain, and made it possible for Santuzza to have a private dialogue with Mamma Lucia (Voi lo sapete, o mamma). And during the duet Santuzza/Turriddu the Jesus-statures was being carried away.

But all this would not have worked if the singers had just stood there. It worked because of the great acting and singing, so the director had really done his bit. Salvatore Licitra was a wonderful Turriddu and Susan Neves was a wonderful Santuzza.

For me the only thing is that Susan Neves, she is a wonderful soprano with great vocal range, but she is NOT a MEZZO. And for me Santuzza is a mezzo voice like Agnes Baltsa.

And after the opera, we met the singers from Cavalleria Rusticana: Salvatore Licitra was dressed like a racer driver and Susan Neves looked liked she was just any normal woman, instead of the reality, a FANTASTIC soprano (wow, I wish I had managed to take a splashing good photo of her, but my camera did not take my photos when I pressed the button, but waited some seconds too many).

Well, I guess, singers sometimes long for normality after work.

March 2007: Cavalleria Rusticana in Genova (2007-0...

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March 10, 2007: Pagliacci in Genova

2007-03-10 Pagliacci (Leoncavallo), Teatro Carlo Felice, Genova

Canio = Salvatore Licitra
Nedda = Svetla Vassileva
Tonio = Alberto Gazale
Silvio = Roberto De Candia
Beppe = Bruno Ribeiro

Bruno Bartoletti, conductor

THIS TIME Pagliacci was first, CavRust last.

Dramma in un prologo e due atti di Ruggero Leoncavallo, musica di Ruggero Leoncavallo

Teatro Carlo Felice

Spettacoli correlati: Cavalleria rusticana

Orchestra director Bruno Bartoletti

Direction Sebastiano Lo Monaco

Settings Gianfranco Padovani

Costumes Avallone Giuseppe

Opening night: friday 23 february, 20.30 (A)
Performances: sunday 25 february, 15.30 (C)
tuesday 27 february, 20.30 (B)
thursday 1 march, 20.30 (L)
sunday 4 march, 15.30 (R)
tuesday 6 march, 20.30 (FA)
thursday 8 march, 15.30 (GI)
saturday 10 march, 15.30 (F)

In Genoa the very known double-bill CAV/PAG started with PAGLIACCI. That's unusual. But not the first time. I liked this production very much. All action was in the same place in the whole opera. That Canio's troupe also had circus elements was very naturally implemented. Never did it intrude or become a distraction.

Our Silvio (Roberto De Candia) was not the usual most handsome baritone you can find as type. But in saying so, it makes you think, why should it only be believable that Nedda could love only a beautiful man... So in a way, here you are at the heart of the story; who is Nedda, or rather what does love mean for her. Nedda (Svetla Vassileva) made it clear how this is not our usual operatic heroine. She does not love her husband Canio, she does not even let him kiss her, which is humiliating when a wife does so in front a whole village. But Canio seem more good-humored and just go on joking with the children. So during the opera she is uncaring to Canio, and quite cruel to Tonio (Alberto Gazale) but tender to Silvio and good-hearted to her daughter....

Daughter, you say... Yes in this production Canio and Nedda are parents. Which naturally makes Nedda's death truly heart-breaking. In herself is Nedda not a person easy to love. But when a small child comes out, running towards mother's dead body. Then the audience and of course Canio, the father, see what a terrible thing he has just done. And then "La Commedia è finita" he says, his voice is broken, and so is the man and his family. But Tonio got his revenge on the woman he said he loved. But did not love enough to have a happy life.

No, I am not over-looking Canio (Salvatore Licitra). The reason I wanted to see CAV/PAG in the first place. What a singer, what an actor!!! He sang wonderfully, his Vesti La Giubba was the best I ever heard. And when you add to that, he was such a great actor. Totally believable...

BRAVO, Salvatore!! Bravi, tutti! and BRAVA, Bambina!

March 2007: Pagliacci in Genova (2007-03-10)

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

March 9, 2007: Le Villi in Genova

2007-03-09 Le Villi (Puccini), Teatro Carlo Felice, Genova

Roberto = José Cura
Anna = Fiorenza Cedolins
Guglielmo Wulf = Gabriele Viviani

Riccardo Frizza, conductor

Le Villi
Opera-ballo in due atti di Ferdinando Fontana,
musica di Giacomo Puccini.
In forma semiscenica

Teatro Carlo Felice

Spettacoli correlati:

L'opera è preceduta dalla
Sinfonia n. 1 in re minore op. 75 di Martucci

Direttore Riccardo Frizza

Prima: mercoledì 7 marzo 2007, 20.30 (A)
Repliche: venerdì 9 marzo, 20.30 (B)
domenica 11 marzo, 15.30 (C)

Before the opera, there was a concert piece: Sinfonia n. 1 in re minore op. 75 di Martucci. It was not a bad piece. I found it quite operatic. After the interval: LE VILLI. The disappoint was that the opera was just really a concert of a whole opera. So I don't really see this as In forma semiscenica, really. it was just a backdrop showing a film, dark and with showing up some white lines in all its blackness was that Semiscenica.... No, it was simply a concert nothing more. The conductor was energetic with his arms almost in the faces of the artists, specially in the face of soprano Fiorenza Cedolins. Fiorenza Cedolins who was almost the perfect Tosca in Verona 2006 with Salvatore Licitra as her Cavaradossi was not up to the role of Anna, I felt. She was inhibited in her approach.Much better was she on Sunday's Le Villi. Her big voice in Verona seemed to big a little voice in Genova on this Friday. But in the 2nd act she was more like a true Anna.

Jose Cura had his glasses when he sang, on this Friday. His acting was limited, this was more of pure singing than acting out the complete Roberto feeling. But on this Friday it was quite obvious that Cura's main interest lay in the Symphonic structures of the opera. As a conductor LA STREGENDA from Le Villi is sort of his specialty, so he was very much there living the music. Also Fiorenza Cedolins was very there in reading the singers partiture all the time.

Gabriele Viviani as father Guglielmo was too young to be Fiorenza Cedolins father. But in his voice he was Babbo Guglielmo, an imposing man. But his beautiful voice could not really have the bite in it that is needed in act 2.

Even if this had been my only Le Villi in Genova I would not have regretted coming to Italy. But I am really happy that I chose to stay and get the better LE VILLI performance, or should I say the near perfect one.

March 2007: Le Villi in Genova (2007-03-09)

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

March 8, 2014: Stiffelio in Stockholm

2014-03-08 Stiffelio (Verdi), Kungliga Operan (Stockholm)

Stiffelio = Andrea Caré
Lina = Lena Nordin
Stankar = Kosma Ranuer
Raffaele = Jonas Degerfeldt
Jorg = John Erik Eleby
Federico = Klas Hedlund
Dorotea = Sara Olsson

Giampaolo Bisarti, conductor
Stage design and costumes: Magdalena Åberg 
Light design: Ellen Ruge 
Dramaturg: Stefan Johansson 

Producer: Tobias Theorell 

It was the first time that I saw and heard the tenor Andrea Caré. I do think I have found my new favorite tenor. He was just wonderful as Stiffelio.

After 27 years working in Royal Opera House in Stockholm Lena Nordin was singing her last role as permanent engaged as opera singer. Now she is officially retired. But as Birgitta Svenden, the opera chief said she will still work in other opera houses and with her festival and also come as guest to Stockholm opera house.

I almost missed that the opera started 1500 and not 1900 as I thought. It was cold in Stockholm, not as bad as in January. Since I had already seen the production before, and did not love it, but as I had seen it I found it easier to like it this time. Having Andrea Caré as Stiffelio helped a lot. I think the whole ensemble was better, more together. Las time we had two Stankars, one singing and one acting. Now we had the unity that was missing. Lena Nordin was Lina that time, too. I think that Andrea Caré was inspiring them all. And then it was Lena Nordin chance to go out with a bang. Lovely!!!

Andrea Caré is a young tenor and hope he will have a long and exciting career. One could not have a better Stiffelio, not even Carreras, Domingo or Cura could do better!!! As a Cura fan I would love to see him in Stockholm as Stiffelio... Andrea Caré is just simply lovely. His voice has everything, strength and sweetness.

OD Travel & Photos
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Monday, March 6, 2017

March 6, 2000: Herodiade in Vienna

2000-03-06 Herodiade (J. Massenet), Wiener Staatsoper

Herodiade = Agnes Baltsa
Jean = Kostadin Andreev
Herode = Georg Tichy
Salome = Nancy Gustafson
Phanuel = Wojtek Smilek
Vitellius = Istvan Gati
Oberpriester = David Cale Johnson
Eine Stimme = Tomislav Muzek

Reynald Giovaninetto, conductor

At last to see Agnes Baltsa in Herodiade. It was great. The Jean of the evening was Konstadin Andreev a mixture of Carreras & Domingo, very good. I missed Ferruccio Furlanetto's Phanuel and Juan Pons' Herode. And my favourite Salome is Eliane Coelho.

Wiener Staatsoper
montag, 6. märz 2000
26, Aufführung in dieser Inszenierung

Oper in dreizehn Bildern von Paul Milliet,
Henri Grémont und Angelo Zanardini
Musik von Jules Massenet

Musikalische Leitung Reynald Giovaninetti
Szenische Konzeption
und Gestaltung Richard Bletschacher
Hermann Nitsch
Bühnenbild und Kostüme Hermann Nitsch
Chorleitung Ernst Dunshirn

OD Travel

Fedora in Zurich 1994?

Fedora in 1993/1994?

I was in Zurich to see Agnes Baltsa and Jose Carreras in Fedora but Mirella Freni and Sergej Larin sang instead. I am absolutely certain Mirella Freni sang Fedora. I am not so certain that it was 1993/1994 but it was my first travel alone abroad and I lived in Swissôtel or Radisson SAS hotel just outside Zurich so I had to use the train to get to the opera. And it was probably easter where suddenly all the shops and restaurants were closed. But unfortunately I do not have a program from Zurich, strangely I have a program from Wiener Staatsoper Samson et Dalila with Baltsa/Carreras from April 1993, which I really would have liked to see. Is it impossible to find this out?

For more reviews from my travels, see If you want to see more photos from my OperaDuets Travels, go to

March 6, 1994: Samson et Dalila in Vienna (I was not there)

1994-03-06 Samson et Dalila, (Saint-Saëns), Wiener Staatsoper

Dalila = Agnes Baltsa
Samson = Josep Carreras
Le Grand-Prêtre de Dagon = Eduard Tumagian
Abimélech = Istvan Gati
Un vieillard hébreu = Goran Simic
Un messager philistin = Ruben Broitman
Premier philistin = Franz Kasemann
Second philistin = Peter Köves

Jacques Delacôte, conductor

I wish I was there to see this Samson et Dalila in Vienna State Opera instead of Zurich to see Fedora. Strangely I have the program for SD in Vienna but no program of Fedora in Zurich.

In 1996 finally I saw Samson et Dalila with Baltsa/Carreras. In 1998 finally Fedora with Baltsa/Carreras. Both in Zurich.

For more reviews from my travels, see If you want to see more photos from my OperaDuets Travels, go to

Saturday, March 4, 2017

March 4, 2000: Luisa Miller in Zurich

2000-03-04 Luisa Miller (G. Verdi), Opernhaus Zurich

Graf von Walter = Laszlo Polgar
Rodolfo = Neil Shicoff
Federica = Stefania Kaluza
Wurm = Carlos Chausson
Miller = Giorgio Zancanaro
Luisa Miller = Elena Mosuc
Federica = Stefania Kaluza

Frédéric Chaslin, conductor

lnszenierung DANIELE ABBADO
Regiemitarbeit BORIS STETKA
Bühnenbildmilarbeit LEllA FTEITA
Lichtgeslaltung JÜRGEN HOFFMANN
Filmbilder LUCA SCARZEllA

Verdi: Luisa Miller
Opernhaus Zurich, March 4,

After Millers great aria in act 1 on man cried "Bravo, Giorgio!"

Stefania Kaluza was great as Federica, a comprimario role, she always have an imposing presence. Laszlo Polgar was in magnificent voice. Wurm was in good hands and voice, Carlos Chausson. Neil Shicoff was a dream for his fans, but unfortunately not for me. Elena Mosuc was a charming Luisa, but I felt that something was missing.

Wonderful to be able to see Luisa Miller live anyway. Love Verdi! and Opernhaus Zürich!

OD Travel

Better listening, a better Luisa & Rodolfo
from AllegroMusic Opera d'Oro with Katia Ricciarelli and José Carreras.

Or Deutsche Grammophon's Luisa Miller with Katia Ricciarelli and Plácido Domingo.

Friday, March 3, 2017

March 3, 2012: Turandot in Berlin

2012-03-03 Turandot (Puccini), Deutsche Oper Berlin

Turandot = Maria Guleghina
Liu = Manuela Uhl
Calaf = Roy Cornelius Smith
Timur = Stephen Bronk
Ping = Alexey Bogdanchikov
Pang = Jörg Schörner
Pong = Yosep Kang
Althoum = Peter Maus
Mandarin = Hyung-Wook Lee
1st voice  = Kathryn Lewek
2nd voice  = Rachel Hauge

Jesus Lopez Cobos, conductor

Director - Lorenzo Fioroni
Stage-design - Paul Zoller
Costume-design - Katharina Gault
Choir Conductor - William Spaulding

Giacomo Puccini
Online-Karten: € 28,- | 48,- | 69,- | 86,-
[zuzüglich € 2,- Service-Gebühr]

Samstag, 03.03.2012, 19:30 Uhr
Dauer: ca. 2 Stunden 30 Minuten | Eine Pause
Dramma lirico in drei Akten
Libretto von Giuseppe Adami und Renato Simoni, nach dem Schauspiel von Carlo Gozzi
Uraufführung am 25. April 1926 in Mailand
Premiere an der Deutschen Oper Berlin am 13. September 2008

BRAVA, Manuela Uhl!
BRAVO, Roy Cornelius Smith!
BRAVA, Maria Guleghina!!!!!!

I saw this production in 2010 with Maria Guleghina and Jose Cura as Turandot and Calaf. The Regie was the same, offensive nonsense. In 2010 I said not even Maria Guleghina could save it. But she was the saving grace now. She sang the most wonderful IN QUESTA REGGIA and her duets with Roy Cornelius Smith (Calaf) was also pure magic. Manuela Uhl was a fantastic Liu vocally but this was not the best production to showcase her talent. She did well as she acted like the director wanted her too, but that meant she was not able to really be Liu at the same time.

Remembering this Turandot from 2010 made it possible for me just to take in what was right about this Turandot and ignore the nonsense. The singers was in their best form. The chorus sang well. Jesus Lopez Cobos is a wonderful conductor.

It was an amazing operatic evening. Roy Cornelius Smith was just great as Calaf. Maria Guleghina simply was a great Turandot. Biggest surprise for me was Manuela Uhl in her great scene, it was simply unbelievable singing. BRAVA!!!!

OD Travel + Photos
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March 3, 2000: Cosi fan tutte in Zurich

A great Cosi fan tutte. An absolutely magical Despina. Her voice, her acting. Liked Bartoli too, but she is no soprano. Nikiteanu was a great Dorabella. Loved Carlos Chausson. And what a great tenor Roberto Sacca is !

Inszcnierung JÜRGEN FLlMM
Lichtgestaltung JÜRGEN HOFFMANN

Continuo: Cembalo THOMAS GRABOWSKI
Musikalische Assistenz
und Einstudierung THOMAS GRABOWSKI
und Regieassistenz GUDRUN HARTMANN
BühnenbildassistenzA MRA R" MATTHIAS ENGELMANN
Kostümassistenz GABRIELA PIZZO
Souffleur ADRIANO
Freitag, 3. März 2000FREIER VERKAUF
ENDE ca. 22.30 UHR

Opernhaus Zurich
February 20, 23, 27
& March 1, 3, 9, 11, 14, 2000

2000-03-03 Cosi fan tutte (W.A. Mozart), Opernhaus Zurich

Don Alfonso = Carlos Chausson
Fiordiligi = Cecilia Bartoli
Dorabella = Liliana Nikoteanu
Guglielmo = Oliver Widmer
Ferrando = Roberto Sacca
Despina = Agnes Baltsa

Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor

OD Travel

Thursday, March 2, 2017

March 2, 2002: Jenufa in Vienna

2002-03-02 Jenufa (L. Jánácek), Wiener Staatsoper

Die alte Buryja = Anny Schlemm
Laca Kiemen = Jorma Silvasti
Stewa Buryja = Torsten Kerl
Die Küsterin Buryja = Agnes Baltsa
Jenufa = Angela Denoke
Altgesell = Wolfgang Bankl
Dorfrichter = Walter Pink
Seine Frau = Helene Ranada
Karolka = Renate Pitscheider
Schäferin = Stella Grigorian
Barena = Cornelia Salje
Jana = Ileana Tonca
Tante = Waltraud Winsauer

Seiji Ozawa, conductor

And March arrived, at last it was my turn to experience JENUFA. The good reviews made me look even more impatiently towards this day, 2002-03-02. I had read some different synopsis of this opera, and that was what I knew. After a night on the bus, from Kaupanger to Oslo, and then fly to Vienna via Copenhagen. I had some difficulty in finding my hotel, Hotel am Schubertring, but luckily I had my Vienna map with me. It was spring in Vienna, and I was coming from winter in Norway. My feet got hot, but I had with me shoes for the opera night, so I switched shoes in Stadtpark. I had to wait a bit for my hotel room, but when I got my room, it looked more expensive than I had thought. Luckily the price was right.

As always in Vienna, I visited Arcadia Opera Shop and EMI Austria in Kärtnerstrasse. Wonderful photos (Arcadia) of Agnes Baltsa at the Opernball 2002 and in JENUFA. I bought them naturally. Then I bought Manon Lescaut, Samson et Dalila and Traviata with José Cura (EMI Austria) just to be able to critize them in my Jose Cura website.

After some headache pills, a little Coca-cola, a bath, and a change. OPERA-TIME:

An enthusiastic audience applauded the conductor Seiji Osawa just more and more as the evening commenced. From first note it was beautiful music. Another role that Agnes Baltsa could fill in an eminent way. She was fantastic. WUNDERBAR. Angela Denoke who sang JENUFA had a beautiful and full soprano voice. (Her voice was like Sachertorte). She was very free in her movement, she was moving very well onstage. And she danced like was she a dancer, and not opera singer. KERL and SILVASTRI was great as Stewa and Laca. Anny Schlemm as the grandmother was also very good. A really good production. The singing was in German, probably the best solution since no Czech singers was singing.

The stars of the evening was, without doubt, Seiji Osawa & Agnes Baltsa.

A strong cast, a wonderful chorus and orchestra. The scenography, the director and conductor , and naturally the costumes, all to make it a wonderful production.

Without Agnes Baltsa as Kostelnicka, no JENUFA!

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