Sunday, April 30, 2017

April 30, 2015: Don Carlo in Berlin

2015-04-30 Don Carlo (Giuseppe Verdi), Deutsche Oper Berlin

Philipp II. = Giacomo Prestia
Don Carlo = Rolando Villazón
Rodrigo, Marquis von Posa = Etienne Dupuis
Graf von Lerma / Herold = Gideon Poppe
Der Großinquisitor = Albert Pesendorfer
Ein Mönch = Andrew Harris
Elisabeth von Valois = Kristin Lewis
Prinzessin Eboli = Anna Smirnova
Tebaldo = Alexandra Hutton
Stimme von oben = Siobhan Stagg
1. Flandrischer Deputierter = Michael Rapke
2. Flandrischer Deputierter = Thomas Lehman
3. Flandrischer Deputierter = Seth Carico
4. Flandrischer Deputierter = Carlton Ford
5. Flandrischer Deputierter = Noel Bouley
6. Flandrischer Deputierter = Andrew Harris

Donald Runnicles, conductor
Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin

Inszenierung, Bühne, Licht - Marco Arturo Marelli
Kostüme - Dagmar Niefind

Chöre - William Spaulding

A great performance of Don Carlo by Giuseppe Verdi

Giacomo Prestia as Felipe II, Rolando Villazon as Don Carlos, Kristin Lewis as Elisabeth de Valois were all great in their roles and singing. Etienne Depuis as Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa was a marvel to hear and see. Gideon Poppe as the Count of Lerma was equally an enjoyment to hear and see. The high and mighty Albert Pesendorfer was the high and mighty Grand'Inquisitor.  Anna Smirnova was impressing as Principessa Eboli. As lovely Tebaldo we had the lovely Alexandra Hutton. Siobhan Stagg sang divinely as the Celestial Voice. Andrew Harris was hard pressed to impress as the monk (Carlo Quinto) but he hold his way.

Donald Runnicles was running the show as the conductor making it a Don Carlo to rememmber fondly. Marco Arturo Marelli made the opera work as the director, scenographer and light designer with Dagmar Niefind creating the costumes. William Spaulding as chorus master. Orchestra and Chorus of Deutche Oper Berlin.

A total win on all fronts: musically, theatrically and the choice of Edition was perfect. It was the Italian 4 act version with one interval after 105 minutes of music. No Fontainebleau scene here and no addition of the extra French fuzzies translated into Italian.  This was the work as I believe it should always be played.

Kristin Lewis was amazing. AND Rolando Villazon is back!!!!
Etienne Depuis was the best of the best. Remember his name: ETIENNE DEPUIS.

OD Travel & Photos
Original blog post

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April 30, 2006: Turandot in Zurich

2006-04-30 Turandot (Puccini), Opernhaus Zurich

Turandot = Paoletta Marrocu
Liu = Elena Mosuc
Calaf = José Cura
Timur = Pavel Daniluk
Ping = Gabriel Bermudez
Pang = Andreas Winkler
Pong = Boguslaw Bidzinski
Althoum = Miroslav Christoff
Mandarin = Valeriy Murga

Alan Gilbert, conductor

Turandot - Puccini
Ein Kultursponsoring der Julius Bär Gruppe

Dirigent Alan Gilbert
Inszenierung Giancarlo del Monaco
Bühnenbild Peter Sykora
Kostüme Peter Sykora
Lichtgestaltung Hans-Rudolf Kunz
Choreinstudierung Jürg Hämmerli

Matinee opera. A new production of TURANDOT with Jose Cura as Calaf. Wonderful music. Played very well by the orchestra and sung wonderfully by the chorus. Well, I am a traditionist so this production was not quite my taste. It did not seem too bad in the beginning. But in the end I must say that this 2nd Alfano ending of Turandot did include some un-necessary notes that almost ruined the great duet Calaf/Turandot.

Paoletta Marrocu as Turandot had not the kind of big voice that I believe this role needs. Elena Mosuc was a wonderful Liu and seemed to have a bigger voice than Marrocu. Pavel Daniluk was grand as Timur. JOSÉ CURA was wonderful as Calaf. I am sure that Cura enjoyed this new approach to Calaf. Making him a modern man in ancient China. Calaf solves the riddles with his computer.

I never knew how important it was to me that Calaf solved the riddles with his own brain, no cheating before seeing the PC onstage. I found the ending when Turandot changes to a Miss Saigon beautiful but not well funded in the production. That a modern China with chorus and all clothed modern for the end of the opera. WHY? But I would have loved to have a photo of Cura and Marrocu sitting at the table with Champagne and Pang, Ping, Pong changed to cook, waiter and restaurant manager, especially with Jose waiting to the audience....

I waited and saw Jose Cura & Elena Mosuc at the stage door. And talked to other members of JC Connexion. And then it was time to go the the airport for my flight home.

OD Travel + Photos

April 30, 2005: Un Ballo in Maschera, London

2005-04-30 Un Ballo in Maschera (Verdi), Royal Opera House, London

Riccardo = Marcelo Alvarez
Amelia = Karita Mattila
Renato = Thomas Hampson
Ulrica = Elisabetta Fiorillo
Oscar = Camilla Tilling
Sam = Giovan Battista Parodi
Tom = Matthew Rose
Silvano = Jared Holt
Minister of Justice = Andrew Kennedy

Antonio Pappano, conductor

The Royal Opera 2004 - 2005
Un ballo in maschera

Giuseppe Verdi


30 April at 6.30pm

Sung in Italian with English surtitles
Running time: 3 hours

Conductor: Antonio Pappano
Director: Mario Martone
Set Designs: Sergio Tramonti
Costume Designs: Bruno Schwengi
Lighting: ...

At the Royal Opera House Covent Garden I found my friends Danuta and Ann, and we chatted a bit before the opera started. We all agreed that the original Swedish version is the best and most sensible version. At Verdi's time it was to daring to have a monarch (King Gustavus III of Sweden) assassinated on stage, a true historic event. The love story is a invention of course. But in London it was the Boston version, Gustav III had become Riccardo, Governor of Boston. The director even "updated" it to the era of the Civil War which really was not an improvement. Luckily that was not too oblivious. Although the singing was good in act 1 it was not very exciting. It was rather dull. The Ulrica scene, always a difficult scene to get right, was severely hampered by the fact that Elisabetta Fiorillo (Ulrica)'s voice was not a truly big voice, not deep enough, and the Legato line was missing. The staging was not too bad here, but without the a deep-voiced with incredible breath-control (which I feel Ulrica HAS to have) she was not believable in having connection with Satan (Re d'Abisso). Marcelo Alvarez as the governor pretending to be a sea-man was good, maybe even great. But I felt that in Scherzo ed Follia, he didn't react like I believe he should, either more defiant or more good-humored.

I do like Karita Mattila's voice but there are something about this always beautiful voice she got, very beautiful lines, soft and gentle although somewhat big voice. Or I always thought her voice was big, maybe it never was big, or maybe it isn't anymore. Such beauty in a voice, so unbreakable, can be less than dramatic. No edge in he voice, which is needed when she distraught meets Ulrica, desperate to no longer feel such love/passion for Riccardo, Governor and best friend of her husband. In act 2 where is in the terrible place where criminals are put to death, she is very good, very dramatic. I hated the scenography in this scene. All that rubble on the scene (where could plants exist. It was a bad idea. But when great singer like Mattila and Alvarez sings, acts, nothing can destroy it. The director had directed them to a very strange choreography but this was an idea that was working. It was so much passion there so this strange dance seem right for someone on the edge of being totally crazed by passion.

I will not say much about Thomas Hampson as Renato, husband of Amelia (Karita Mattila), secretary and best friend of Riccardo (Marcelo Alvarez), he was filling the role very well, his voice, acting was good but not excellent. Mattila & Alvarez had their moments of excellence. But never the less, his big aria was well received by audience, and maybe I am too critical when I say that he only touched excellence her (Eri tu), but his acting was really good at this point. But Karita Mattila was truly amazing, excellent in her arias, but in act 2 & 3. It was highlight of the evening.

Marcelo Alvarez was at his most excellent in the aria in the last act. Another feature in this production that actually worked was the big mirror. The backdrop was a huge mirror, and suddenly we could see the masked ball was in a opera house. suddenly the whole audience was inside the stage. Then the mirror tilted, the masked ball had started and we could see the people in the floor benith the stage, there was a little string orchestra there. Some people we was upside down. Karita Mattila pleads M Alvarez to leave, she know of the attempt to his life. But in vain, Riccardo is killed by Amelia's husband Renato. And of course this really big scene, full chorus, Riccardo telling Renato that Amelia is innocent, remorse, and Riccardo dying. THE END

OD Travel + Photos

Saturday, April 29, 2017

April 29, 2006: Jenufa in Vienna

2006-04-29 Jenufa (Jánácek), Wiener Staatsoper

die alte Buryja = Janina Baechle
Laca Klemen = Jorma Silvasti
Stewa Buryja = John Dickie
Küsterin = Agnes Baltsa
Jenufa = Sinéad Mulhern
Altgesell = Alfred Šramek
Dorfrichter = Johannes Wiedecke
seine Frau = Margareta Hintermeier
Karolka = Bori Keszei
Schäferin = Stella Grigorian
Barena = Cornelia Salje
Jana = Olesya Golovneva
Tante = Maria Gusenleitner

Graeme Jenkins, conductor

29. April 2006

(18. Aufführung in dieser Inszenierung)

Dirigent: Graeme Jenkins
Inszenierung: David Pountney
Bühnenbild: Robert Israel
Kostüme: Marie-Jeanne Lecca
Licht: Mimi Jordan Sherin
Choreinstudierung: Ernst Dunshirn
Choreographie: Renato Zanella

(* Rollendebüt an der Wiener Staatsoper)

Beginn: 19.30

die alte Buryja: Janina Baechle*
Stewa Buryja: John Dickie*
Jenufa: Sinéad Mulhern*
Dorfrichter: Johannes Wiedecke*
Karolka: Bori Keszei*
Jana: Olesya Golovneva*

No cancellation nor sickness from Die Baltsa, but another Jenufa than Ricarda Merbeth the Irish soprano Sinéad Mulhern was singing. So it was not only her role debut in Vienna but her first time in Wiener Staatsoper. Not her first time singing Jenufa, naturally.

What a debut it was!! The Vienna audience loved her Jenufa. A wonderful voice and excellent actress. For me it was confusing in the beginning a new Alte Buryja (Janina Baechle) and John Dickie as Stewa Buryja. Torsten Kerl and Angela Denoke was singing Stewa and Jenufa last time I saw JENUFA. Both very blond and Torsten Kerl is a big man. JOHN DICKIE and SINEAD MULHERN were much darker. So in the beginning I did not even recognize the main players. Jorma Silvasti was singing Laca as before but he seemed to be bigger and more threatening this time. Janina Baechle was a more sympatic widow Buryja. This was the first JENUFA in this season.

I waited at the stage door to see Agnes Baltsa but I had also a train to catch. So I went home earlier than I would normally do.

OD Travel + Photos

Friday, April 28, 2017

April 28, 2013: Viva Verdi concert in Barcelona

2013-04-28 Viva Verdi, Teatre Tivoli (Barcelona)

Michelle-Marie Francis Cook, soprano
Sergi Giménez Carreras, tenor
Alberto Cazes Spinoglio, baritone

Miguel Ángel Martínez Montés, conductor
Coral Càrmina & Orquesta Sinfónica del Vallés

Wonderful Barcelona! Were I not Facebook friend of Sergi Gimenez Carreras then I would have stayed in Nice/Monte-Carlo because I would not have known about this wonderful Verdi concert. Sergi is a tenor just like his uncle, Josep Carreras. He has his own sound and just like Carreras when Sergi sings there is an emotional impact. Tears was in my eyes when he sang La mia letizia infondere from I Lombardi. Rolando Villazon had sung it well in Frankfurt (25/4) but Sergi won my heart and ears. It was the dramatic Verdi that was in the programme where I felt that my tenor was more lyric. Sergi was totally involved in all his arias, duets and tersetts.
Sergi Gimenez Carreras was flanked with the supreme soprano Michelle-Marie Cook and baritone Alberto Cazes Spignolo. The soprano was powerful in all appearances. She sang so wonderful that I have difficult to find words. Here we heard a soprano of world class, powerful voice, deep dramatic insight, simply a joy to hear and see. How I want to see her in full opera production of Ernani, La Forza del Destino, Un Ballo in Maschera, or in short any opera by Verdi that have a soprano part.

The baritone sang the famous Verdi baritone arias and did it well. Perhaps I am not a baritone person.

Bravi, tutti!! And come to Norway, please!

The concert had no pause and I sat in the front seat. The best seat. But although it had the shortest distance to the singers, voices are often heard better further back in the theater. So my dear Sergi when I listen to the videos from this concert you sound much stronger, much better. BRAVO, Sergi!!

Miguel Ángel Martínez Montés, conductor
Coral Càrmina & Orquesta Sinfónica del Vallés

Obertura (La forza del Destino)

“La mia letizia infondere” (I Lombardi) - Sergi Giménez Carreras

“Ernani involami” (Ernani) – Michelle-Marie Francis Cook

“O Carlo, ascolta” (Don Carlo) – Alberto Cazes Spinoglio

“Patria opressa”(Macbeth) - Coro

“O fede negar potessi - Quando le sere al placido” (Luisa Miller) - Sergi Giménez Carreras

"Tu se Ernani" (Ernani) - Michelle-Marie Francis Cook, Sergi Giménez Carreras y Alberto Cazes Spinoglio

“Va pensiero” (Nabucco) – Coro

“Dio, che nell’alma infondere” (Don Carlo) - Sergi Giménez Carreras & Alberto Cazes Spinoglio

Coro de Gitanas y toreros (La traviata) – Coro

“Pace, pace mio Dio” (La forza del Destino) - Michelle-Marie Francis Cook

“Eri tu” (Un ballo in maschera) - Alberto Cazes Spinoglio

“Vedi! le fosche notturne” (Il trovatore) – Coro

“Tace la notte!” (Il trovatore) - Michelle-Marie Francis Cook, Sergi Giménez Carreras y Alberto Cazes Spinoglio

Brindisi LA TRAVIATA Cook, Gimenez, Cazes
Va, pensiero NABUCCO Cook, Gimenz, Cazes

Dirección Mtro. Miguel Ángel Martínez Montés | Producción Barmont Productions SC | Solistas Michelle-Marie Francis Cook (soprano), Sergi Giménez Carreras (tenor), Alberto Cazes Spinoglio (barítono)

OD Travel & Photos
Original blog post 1 & 2

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

April 27, 1989: Der Fliegende Hollender in Oslo

Den Norske Opera
General Rehearsal of
by Wagner

Senta = Frøydis Klausberger

I used to be a Opera Friend of Den Norske Opera in my study years. Lots of opera possibilities as General Rehearsal. All I remember is that Frøydis Klausberger, our Norwegian soprano was a great Senta. And that I only enjoyed her aria at the spinning wheel. And then I had the program but no list of cast...

OD Travel

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April 26, 2013: Stiffelio in Monte-Carlo

2013-04-26 Stiffelio (Verdi), Opera de Monte-Carlo

Stiffelio = José Cura
Lina = Virginia Tola
Stankar = Nicola Alaimo
Raffaele = Bruno Ribeiro
Jorg = Jose Antonio Garcia
Federico = Maurizio Pace
Dorotea = Diana Axentii

Maurizio Benini, conductor
Producer: Guy Montavon
Sets, Costumes - Francesco Calcagnini
Lighting - Guy Montavon
Chorus master - Stefano Visconti

New coproduction with Teatro Regio, Parma

The regie was ok except that it ignored sometimes what the libretto said. That makes it less authentic. And poor Raffaele all dressed in colors in this black/white world. Why was he there still with all that rejection. That showed in my opinion an amateurish regie consept. No doubt others will tell me that that was pure genious. Sorry, I disagree. Friends?

The singing was wonderful. Jose Cura did one of his best Stiffelios. Virginia Tola sang Lina. Nicola Alaimo was Stankar. Bruno Ribeiro was Raffaele. Jose Antonio Garcia was Jorg. Maurizio Pace was Federico and Diana Axentii was Dorotea. Conductor was Maurizio Benini.

OD Travel & Photos
Original blog post

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

April 25, 2013: Verdi Concert with Rolando Villazon in Frankfurt

2013-04-25 Verdi concert, Alte Oper Frankfurt

Rolando Villazon, tenor

Guerassim Voronkov, conductor
Czech National Symphony Orchestra

Rolando Villazon was his usual animated self. Acting every ounce of the arias.


Nabucco - Ouverture

I Lombardi - La mia letizia infondere (I would have loved it even more if he had sung Don Carlo - Io l'ho perduta as previously announce)

I Masnadieri - Preludio

Il Corsaro - Eccomi prigioniero

The romance Il Mistero orchestrated by Luciano Berio (I would have liked it more if he had sung the original even though Berio can be fun)

Luisa Miller - Ouverture

Luisa Miller - Quando le sere al placido


Otello - Preludio ( interesting piece but Verdi did not write a prelude to Otello, did he?)

Oberto - Ciel che feci! .... Ciel pietoso

Macbeth - Balletti

Macbeth - O figli .... Ah, la paterna mano

I vespri Siciliano - Ouverture

Romance (Berio) Deh pietoso, oh addolorata


3 extras: romance Non t´accostare all´urna, Il poveretto, Brindisi

OD Travel & Photos
Original blog post

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April 25, 2009: Tosca in Vienna

2009-04-25 Tosca (G.Puccini), Wiener Staatsoper

Mario Cavaradossi = José Cura
Floria Tosca = Maria Guleghina
Baron Scarpia = Carlos Almaguer
Cesare Angelotti = Marcus Pelz
Der Mesner = Alfred Sramek
Spoletta = Benedikt Kobel
Sciarrone = Zoltan Nagy
Ein Schließer = Alexandru Moisiuc

Pier Giorgio Morandi, conductor

Maria Guleghina and José Cura had great rapport towards each other. Maria Guleghina was amazing as Floria Tosca. They both acted and sang extremely well, alone and were magic when both was together. And then one can add the third, Carlos Almaguer as Scarpia, this was his deservedly triumphant debut at the Wiener Staatsoper. A menacing and deep voice and he did just everything right to be a super Scarpia.

There were some minor fault. But they were really minor. In the 2nd act and had mostly with windows and doors. In the beginning one opens the window to hear the music outside the palace. But the music was already there when one opens the window. And again when closing the window the music stopped before the windows was closed. Thus shattering the illusion of a window. And again when when Scarpia asks Spoletta to shut the door so that his secret orders will not be heard by others, the orders of shooting Cavaradossi, just like with Palmiere... a simulated shooting. But the door opens by itself, but this being an opera one can't stop the action, the music, to shut the door. Luckily this audience was willing let minor fault be.

Not everybody applauded Maria Guleghina's Vissi d'arte, I did. Although she was not singing it all correctly, for me the most important thing was that she was in character and I thought it also was very beautifully sung. To hear a fault here you really needed to know your TOSCA.

But if I start with the 1st act. Pier Giorgio Morandi was a wonderful conductor in this opera. We had an uncommonly short and thin Angelotti, but he had an imposing voice. I though they had really made Angelotti (Marcus Pelz) look that he had been in jail and suffers so much, getting skinny, so that it was not strange that Cavaradossi did not recognize him. The Sagrestano was Alfred Sramek who would have been perfect had he not so often "talked" to the audience. It was like very old school opera. But otherwise this was a more real Sagrestano and no comic figure. José Cura's Cavaradossi was much improved since last I saw him. He acted Cavaradossi who was a serious painter. Cavalier Cavaradossi is an aristocrat and Sagrestano is not, so in the time of the opera, Cavaradossi is not arrogant just aristocrat when he commands the Sagrestano "Dammi colori". A wonderful Recondita armonia followed. Then Cavaradossi and Angelotti met. It is so real that one understands Cavaradossi's reaction. Then finally, Maria Guleghina as Floria Tosca. Grand Duet, and it is truly magic In the end also Scarpia appears. Carlos Almaguer, imposing although not tall like Maria Guleghina or José Cura. This Scarpia is a power-house. Then when Tosca appears again, there is so much tension and wonderful acted (soft) confrontation between Scarpia and Tosca. Maria Guleghina is not only a great singer but a wonderful actress. A great Tosca. It was so lucky to finally have a Scarpia that was so right for the role.Carlos Almaguer, I have seen him before as Alfio in Arena di Verona, but this was really HIS role. BRAVISSIMI!!!!

Act 2: He is the perfect Scarpia still in this act. And that Maria Guleghina and José Cura would be wonderful also in this act was no surprise. The surprise was Sciarrone, Zoltan Nagy. Not so usual that one remembers him. But he really acted this person, a sinister police agent. When he stood in the door to the torture chamber he was like a statue, never reacting to Maria Guleghina's desperate Tosca, but only listening to Scarpia. So in this acting by Zoltan Nagy the story in act 2 was even more sinister and menacing. Tosca's predicament became even more desperate when turned to a human who had no soft spot like Zoltan Nagy's Sciarrone. I found Maria Guleghina's portrait as Floria Tosca to be the most real and her singing and acting was the closest to perfect I have ever seen. Of course, she was helped by having the perfect Scarpia, Mario Cavaradossi and Sciarrone. It always helps when one have the best colleagues.

Act 3: Alexandru Moisiuc, was the prison guard. He did well. José Cura sang E Luceven Le Stelle, wonderfully. Then Maria Guleghina came and it was a Grandissimo Duet. This TOSCA performance was so perfect that really moved me to tears many times.

BRAVA, Maria Guleghina!!!
BRAVO, José Cura!!!!
And to Carlos Almaguer, BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!

The Verdict: The closest to perfection that I have ever seen.

Of course I waited by the stage door and I was lucky, I saw José Cura and Maria Guleghina and could take a photo of them, not together, alone.

OD Travel + Photos
Original blog post: Best Tosca ever (April 25th, 2009)

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April 25, 2003: Opera Gala in Sogndal

2003-04-25 Operagalla, Sogndal Kulturhus

Cecilia Lindwall, soprano
Trine Øien, mezzo
Jørgen Talle, tenor

Michael Pavelich, conductor

Opera Nordfjord in Sogndal, Norway
OPERA NORDFJORD ON TOUR (Sogn og Fjordane, Norway)
Sogndal Kulturhus (25.04)
Flora Samfunnshus (26.04)
Hotell Alexandra in Loen (27.04)
Opera Nordfjord tour-ensemble, orchestra & three soloists.

Cecilia Lindwall, soprano, was Adina in Elskovsdrikken (L'Elsir d'amore) in 2001, she now lives in Berlin.

Trine Øien, is one of our (Norway) best new mezzo-sopranoes, lives in Oslo. Freelance

Jørgen Talle, tenor, at the opera in Hannover since 2000.

Orkestra ca. 35 musicians: mainly District musicians, music teachers and music students from Sogn og Fjordane, with some few hired freelance musicians. Conductor: Michael Pavelich.


M.Glinka: Ruslan et Ludmila -Ouverture
G.Bizet: Carmen -Habanera (Øien)
G.Puccini: Tosca -Vissi d'arte (Lindwall)
G.Verdi: Macbeth -Ah, la paterna mano (Talle)
C.Saint-Saëns: Samson et Dalila -Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix (Øien)
G.Puccini: La Bohème -Quando me'n vo (Øien)
C.Gounod: Faust -Salut! demeure chaste et pure (Talle)
E.Humpeldinck: Hänsel und Gretel -Evening prayer (Lindwall & Øien) & Dream-ballett

Pause (20 mins.)

G.Rossini: La Gazza Ladra -Ouverture
R.Leoncavallo: I Pagliacci -Vesti la giubba (Talle)
G.Puccini: Gianni Schicchi -O mio babbino caro (Lindwall)
G.Verdi: Il trovatore -Stride la vampa (Øien)
G.Puccini: Madama Butterfly -Bimba dagli occhi (Talle, Lindwall)

J.Strauss II: Fledermaus -Champagner (Øien, Talle, Lindwall)

If this were a contest I would have pronounced the soprano as the absolute winner, the mezzo as a smashing good second place, and the tenor as a dubious third. Since this my review I have to tell why.

And I begin with the orchestra which was very good with the inspirational conductor Michael Pavelich, who also introduced the music and the soloist in a humorous way, yet informative way. The both overtures was brilliantly done. First soloist was the mezzo Trine Øien. A great mezzo voice who sang Carmen, Dalila, Azucena and little Hänsel wonderfully. Yet only in Azucena's aria did she make use of her hands. Which made her Carmen and Dalila a little less seductive than the full use of body language. The singing was excellent. A competitor to Agnes Baltsa

The second soloist was Cecilie Lindwall, the Swedish soprano. Two years ago I heard her as Adina, now she was even better. Her Tosca, Musetta, Gretel, Lauretta and Cio-cio-san, was a marvel to see and hear. The wonderful voice, now matured to more dramatic, but still essential lyric soprano voice, and with her acting skills, and a great sense of humor and dramatic poignancy. A miracle of a soprano.

Then the tenor, Jørgen Talle, when he sang Macduff's aria from Macbeth, I was deeply disappointed, I seemed to be the only one to feel that way. As the evening progressed, he was being better and better, also in my ears. Maybe my ears was wrong. Or maybe he was nervous, or simply not yet a Verdi tenor, he IS young, and he did use to be a baritone. But when I say he was a baritone, it does not mean that his tenor voice had a baritonal sound, not at all. His very bright, light tenor voice was ideally suited to Faust by Gounod, and he sang Pinkerton very well. In Pinkerton he showed that he not only can sing, he can act. He did the Pagliacci aria very well, but I don't think that Canio Is a role that he should sing, not yet, he is still young.

OD Travel

Sunday, April 23, 2017

April 23, 2011: La Boheme in Zurich

2011-04-23 La Boheme (Puccini),Opernhaus Zurich

Rodolfo = José Cura
Mimì = Barbara Frittoli
Marcello = Massimo Cavalletti
Musetta = Eva Liebau
Schaunard = Cheyne Davidson
Colline = Andreas Hörl
Benoit = Davide Fersini
Alcindoro = Morgan Moody
Parpignol = Christopher Hux
A customs official = Arjen Veenhuizen
Sergeant = Flavio Mathias

Carlo Rizzi, conductor

Producer/production Philippe Sireuil
Set design Vincent Lemaire
Costumes Jorge Jara
Lighting Hans-Rudolf Kunz
Choir rehearsal Ernst Raffelsberger

La Bohème Puccini
In Italian with German and English surtitles

Opera in four scenes
by Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924)
Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica
after “Scènes de la vie de Bohème” (1845–49)
by Henri Murger and the drama “La Vie de Bohème” (1849) by Murger and Théodore Barrière
Première: 1 February 1896, Teatro Regio, Turin

April 23, 2011 at 20hrs LA BOHEME in Opernhaus Zurich. It was a wonderful performance with Jose Cura and Barbara Frittoli as Rodolfo and Mimi. All singers were excellent. And tears when Mimi dies, the hallmark of a great La Boheme performance. Loved it. And I meet severals JCx members after the performance. Some of us got together for a drink at the restaurant to Hotel Europe. At midnight it was time to retire to bed. Happy to bed I went.

Conclusion of Easter - La Boheme in Zurich (original blog post)
OD Travel + Photos

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

April 19, 2008: Jose Cura in Dusseldorf

"Grosse OpernGala mit José Cura" -
Deutsche Oper am Rhein (

Opernhaus Düsseldorf
Samstag, 19. April 2008, 19.00 Uhr
Der Freundeskreis der Deutschen Oper am Rhein e.V.
Präsentiert die
José Cura (Tenor)
Therese Waldner (Sopran)
Laura Nykänen (Alt)
Boris Statsenko (bariton)

Chor der Deutschen Oper am Rhein

Leitung: gerhard Michalski

Es spielen die Düsseldorfer Symphoniker

Musikalische Leitung: Alexander Joel

When I first read the program I just saw a fault. Nabucco's aria "Ah torna Israello" would just be too short (1,5 minutes is not an aria).

One of the overtures to constantly pop up in concerts, gala is Verdi's Nabucco, the overture from La Forza del Destino is even more used. I love NABUCCO and it was an OK overture from Orchestra and conductor.

And then came NABUCCO's aria with Boris Statsenko as Nabucco. Statsenko looked really not like his 2002 self. But he did well in this killer aria. It was the full scene and aria with Nabucco, Abdallo and chorus.

Parte quarta
L'idolo infranto
Bel è confuso: i suoi idoli sono rotti in pezzi
Geremia XLVIII [sic] Note 1
Appartamento nella reggia, come nella Parte seconda
12. Scena ed Aria Nabucco
Scena Prima
Son pur queste mie membra
Dio di Giuda!
O prodi miei, seguitemi,

Then it was José Cura singing from Il CORSARO Chorus, Scene and aria from act 1. So we heard a wonderful "Tutto parea sorridere" and José really enjoyed himself with the orchestra and chorus. We LOVED it.

Therese Waldner, the Polish soprano sang a wonderful "Ecco l'orrido campo" from UN BALLO IN MASCHERA. She was Amelia in the horrible place where so many criminals had been executed. Love for the King, best friend of the husband, and here she was to pick an herb that could cure her from this unwanted love.

The Chorus was wonderful in OTELLO's Fuoco di gioia (act 1)

And then part 1 ends from the love duet from OTELLO with Therese Waldner and José Cura both singing and acting their hearts out.

In part 2 Giacomo Puccini (TOSCA), Umberto Giordano (ANDREA CHENIER) and again Giuseppe Verdi (LA FORZA DEL DESTINO, DON CARLO)

Normally there would be applause after E lucevan le stelle but not in Dusseldorf here the aria continued directly in the duet (Franchigia a Floria Tosca). And this time we were treated with the full orchestra introduction to E lucevan le stelle. A treat both Act 3 scene 2 and 3 together. Magic from José Cura and Therese Waldner.

Umberto Giordano's ANDREA CHENIER, Boris Statsenko with "Nemico della patria" and Therese Waldner with "La mamma morta". WONDERFUL.

Laura Nykänen and Chorus sang Rataplan from Verdi's LA FORZA DEL DESTINO. Why? I would have loved to hear Don Alvaro's aria sung by Cura or one of the tenors great arias from ANDREA CHENIER.

But at last the duet from DON CARLO the whole scene naturally "E lui, desso, L'Infante - Dio, che nell'alma infondere" sung by José Cura and Boris Statsenko. Wonderful!!!

AND Extra numbers: 2 times Nessun dorma with José Cura and chorus.

Giuseppe Verdi (1831-1901)

NABUCCO - ouverture

NABUCCO - Dio di Giuda (Boris Statsenko, chorus)

IL CORSARO - Ah! Si ben dite… Si: de’ corsari il fulmine (José Cura, chorus)

UN BALLO IN MASCHERA - Ecco l’orrido campo (Therese Waldner)

OTELLO - Fuoco di gioia (chorus)

OTELLO - Gia della notte densa (Therese Waldner, José Cura)


Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)

TOSCA - E lucevan le stelle - Franchigia a Floria Tosca (José Cura, Therese Waldner)

Umberto Giordano (1867-1948)

ANDREA CHENIER - Nemico della patria (Boris Statsenko)

ANDREA CHENIER - La mamma morta (Therese Waldner)

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)

LA FORZA DEL DESTINO - Rataplan, della gloria (Laura Nykänen, chorus)

DON CARLO - E lui! Desso! L’infante! … Dio, che nell’alma infondere… (José Cura, Boris Statsenko)

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April 19, 1990: Josep Carreras in Oslo

1990-04-19 Recital Jose Carreras, Oslo Konserthus

Josep Carreras, tenor
Lorenzo Bavaj, piano

I sat in the last row of the Concert hall with the wall at my back. Jose Carreras was as small as a thumb to my eyes. He sang songs by Domenico Scarlatti, Alessandro Stradella, Giuseppe Verdi, Alberto Ginastera and Giacomo Puccini. 2 extra numbers Granada and something else. (Photo from the poster of this concert). A baroque aria recital.

Dato: 1990-01-25 Utgave: Morgen
"Carreras til Oslo i april"

Dato: 1990-02-15 Utgave: Morgen
"Friskmeldt romatiker"

Dato: 1990-04-09 Utgave: Morgen
"Carreras i Norden"

Dato: 1990-04-20 Utgave: Morgen
"Stjernemøte med Carreras"

Dato: 1990-04-20 Utgave: Aften
"Sky superstjerne i bifallsbrus"

Dato: 1990-04-21 Utgave: Morgen
"Carreras ga seg selv"

OD Travel

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

April 18, 2007: Die Lustige Witwe in Oslo

2007-04-18 Die Lustige Witwe (F. Lehàr), Den Norske Opera
Hanna Glawari = Solveig Kringlebotn
Grev Danilo Danilovitsch = Kjell Magnus Sandve
Valencienne = Ina Kringlebotn
Camille de Rosillon = Marius Roth Christensen
Baron Zeta = Thor Inge Falch
Njegus = Torill Eriksen

Alfred Eschwé, conductor

Operetta in 3 acts by Franz Lehár
Libretto by Victor & Leon Stein

Premiere: 18/4
Days of performance: 19/4, 21/4, 22/4, 23/4, 24/4, 25/4, 26/4, 30/4, 2/5, 3/5, 5/5
Duration: app. 2 h 45 min
Sung in Norwegian

Conductor: Alfred Eschwé
Directors: Ronald Rørvik/Stuart Hopps/ Toralv Maurstad
Choreography : Stuart Hopps
Set design/ Costumes: John-Kristian Alsaker
Lightning design: Hans-Åke Sjöquist
Choir: Steffen Kammler

The Norwegian National Opera's Choir and Orchestra

Sung in Norwegian, OK, I am Norwegian, so it's OK. Dialogue in Norwegian, that's OK too, of course. And subtitles, great. But no subtitles when the dialogue is on. WHY ? And when the director decide that opera singers are going to speak naturally, not with opera voices and great diction, that's idiocy. Could not hear the dialogue well at all, and with no subtitles that mean a lot of information is lost. And Operetta usually have a lot more dialogue than your average opera. Stupid decision, annoying...

If the singing and the rest had been great then I would have forgiven it. Aunt and niece Kringlebotn in an operetta. I expected Aunt Solveig to be better than niece Ina. But Valencienne was better than Hanna Glawari. Kjell Magnus Sandve used to have a beautiful tenor voice but in the operetta his voice was not really there... Best acting and singing was Torill Eriksen as Njegus. The veteran mezzo as Hanna would have been wonderful. I think that maybe Hanna Glawari should be sung by a mezzo soprano...

The singers took a long time to warm up. Especially Solveig Kringlebotn and Kjell Magnus Sandve.

It is difficult to make an operetta work, especially in our modern time.

Weak.. Sad, really.

OD Travel

Original blog post: April 2007: Die Lustige Witwe in Oslo (2007-04-18)

Monday, April 17, 2017

April 17, 2011: Pagliacci in Barcelona

2011-04-17 Pagliacci (Leoncavallo),Gran Teatre de Liceu (Barcelona)

Canio (Pagliaccio) = José Cura
Nedda (Colombina) = Inva Mula
Tonio (Taddeo) = George Gagnidze
Beppe (Arlecchino) = David Alegret
Silvio = Jean Luc Ballestra
Erster Bauer = Xavier Comorera
Zweiter Bauer = Joan Prados

Daniele Callegari, conductor

Stage director - Liliana Cavani
Set designer - Dante Ferretti
Costume designer - Gabriella Pescucci
Light designer - Gianni Mantovanini
Coproduction -Teatro Comunale di Bologna / Teatro Vincenzo Bellini di Catania

Pagliacci - perfect production. I loved how the audience as the play grew more violent would take their children away protect them from the violence. I loved that. Inva Mula was Nedda and José Cura was Canio. Canio seemed less violent and more loving to his wife, Nedda was almost sympathetic. José Cura was a wonderful Canio and sang a marvellous Vesti la giubba. I loved it all.

Barcelona, the better experience (original blog post)
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April 17, 2011: Cavalleria Rusticana in Barcelona

2011-04-17 Cavalleria Rusticana (Mascagni),Gran Teatre de Liceu (Barcelona)

Santuzza = Luciana d'Intino
Turiddu = José Cura
Alfio = George Gagnidze
Mamma Lucia = Josephine Barstow
Lola = Ginger Costa-Jackson

Daniele Callegari, conductor

Stage director - Liliana Cavani
Set designer - Dante Ferretti
Costume designer - Gabriella Pescucci
Light designer - Gianni Mantovanini
Coproduction -Teatro Comunale di Bologna / Teatro Vincenzo Bellini di Catania

Luciana D'Intino did not overplay the role of Santuzza. The only thing I did not like was her "A te, un mala Pasqua", but that is minor. She was perfect as Santuzza. Josephine Barstow gave e refine portrayal of Mamma Lucia. José Cura was a wonderful Turriddu, no drunkenn lout this time but certainly not a intirely sympathetic man. Alfio and Lola was also good. In this production of Cavalleria Rusticana there was an emphasis on that this is a village where nothing is secret for a long time. The villagers sees everything, hears everything behind their curtains. Somebody is always listening. Lola was dressed in white as she went to church. She did not go alone, another woman was with her all dressed in black. The duet between Turriddu and Santuzza showed that Turriddu still have some love for Santuzza. He was not so violent as in most productions. In the end of Cavalleria Rusticana was the ugliest cry of "Hanno mazzato compare Turriddu" which was a shame and a blemish on an otherwise wonderful and sweet production of Cavalleria Rusticana.

Barcelona, the better experience (original blog post)
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Sunday, April 16, 2017

April 16, 2011: Stiffelio in Stockholm

2011-04-16 Stiffelio (Verdi),Kungliga Operan (Stockholm)

Stiffelio = Lars Cleveman
Lina = Lena Nordin
Stankar = Marcus Jupither
(Karl-Magnus Fredriksson)
Raffaele = Jonas Degerfeldt
Jorg = Michael Schmidberger
Federico = Karl Rombo
Dorotea = Sara Olsson

Pier Giorgio Morandi, conductor
Stage design and costumes:Magdalena Åberg
Light design: Ellen Ruge
Dramaturg: Stefan Johansson
Producer: Tobias Theorell

Kungliga Operans Kör
Kungliga Hovkapellet

Music: Giuseppe Verdi
Lyrics: Francesco Maria Piave

April 16, 2011 premiere of Stiffelio. Before the opera started Birgitta Svendén, the opera intendant, came to announce we would have 2 Stankars, Marcus Jupither acting the role and Karl-Magnus Fredriksson to sing from the side of the stage. Both baritones was obviously immensely popular in Stockholm. The conductor Pier Giorgio Morandi with orchestra, choir and soloists made all a strong and good impression already from the ouverture. In this production we are introduced to 2 addittional characters, a boy and a girl, the children of Stiffelio and Lina. The regissör chose them to accentuate the dilemma of Lina. Unfortunately I felt they only made the story stranger. This was wonderful children actors acting how it is to child in a sect that care not of protecting children from realities children should be protected from. For me the children did not change Lina as much as it made Stiffelio to an even more manipulative person. Stiffelio was in this production a charismatic leader who uses the children for his own profit. They must see and hear and be the light of the sect. Lina does not protect the children much but she is like the whole congregation under the heavy thumb of Stiffelio. The divorce scene starts with "Fritz? ... S'avverta Mamma, che qui l'attendo". So the boy comes in with mamma Lina. And they are present there until finally Lina takes them out. Poor children. Would not a divorce make 2 innocent children into social outcast. So little does Stiffelio care. Just like Stankar is Stiffelio only consumed with his own feelings of betrayal. The scenography is mimalistic and shows with simple means how the ceiling loweres and certain points in the opera. The regie is always telling that this is a rather fanatic sect with very little open space for the individual.

Stockholm, well, I found the Opera House (original blog post)
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Saturday, April 15, 2017

April 15, 2012: Strauss and Wagner in Sogndal, Norway

2012-04-15 Strauss/Wagner, Sogndal Kulturhus

Elena Nebera, soprano
Jørgen Halstein Moe, baritone

Michael Pavelich, conductor
Opera Nordfjord


Richard Wagner (1813-1883)

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - Vorspiel

Tannhäuser - O, du mein holder Abendstern
Trond Halstein Moe  

Tannhäuser - Dich, teure Halle
Elena Nebera

Der Fliegende Holländer - Wie aus der Ferne
Trond Halstein Moe, Elena Nebera

Götterdämmerung - Siegrieds Trauermarch

Die Walküre - Wotan Abschied
Trond Halstein Moe


Richard Strauss (1864-1949)

Rosenkavalier suite, op. 59

Vier letzte Lieder (Frühling, September, Beim Schlafengehen, Im Abendrot)
Elena Nebera

In stead of Norwegian Soprano Turid Karlsen we got Elena Nebera, a wonderful Russian Soprano.

Elena Nebera was just a wonderful revelation. Passionate and always involved with the words and the drama. Her voice rides easilly above the orchestra. She has a very dark timbre in her voice. Her voice seemed to be to big for our little sale especially in the Last 4 songs by Richard Strauss. Dich teure Halle from Tannhäuser was just amazing, wonderful. It was worth going just for that. And then the love duet from The Flying Dutchman, wonderful.

Trond Halstein Moe disappointed me in Wolframs aria from Tannhäuser. Then came Elena Nebera and saved it. But appart from the first aria Trond Halstein Moe was wonderful. He read the Norwegian translation of Wotans farewell from Die Walküre before he sang it so that we should understand the text and he did the same for Strauss' Vier letzte Lieder.

Michael Pavelich and the orchestra of Opera Nordfjord was just wonderful. No extra numbers because several members needed to travel to other places like Sweden. The life of a musician is hard.


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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

April 12, 2002: Opera Gala in Sogndal

2002-04-12 Operagalla, Sogndal Kulturhus

Kari Postma, soprano
Richard Fracker, tenor
Thorbjørn Gulbrandsøy, baritone

Michael Pavelich, conductor
Opera Nordfjord in Sogndal, Norway

Maestro Michael Pavelich is conducting the chorus and orchestra of Opera Nordfjord.


Fledermaus (J. Strauss jr.)
Opera Orchestra

Largo al Factotum
Barbiere di Siviglia (G.Rossini)
Soloist: Thorbjørn Gulbrandsøy

Ebben? Ne andro lontana
La Wally (A. Catalani)
Soloist: Kari Postma

Oh fede negar potessi/ Quando le sera al placido
Luisa Miller (G. Verdi)
Soloist: Richard Fracker

Opening chorus
The sold bride (Smetana)
Opera Chorus

Carmen (G. Bizet)
Soloist: Thorbjørn Gulbrandsøy

Brindisi: Libiamo
La Traviata (G. Verdi)
Soloists: Kari Postma & Richard Fracker


La Forza del Destino (G. Verdi)
Opera Orchestra

Au Fond du Temple Saint
Les Pecheurs de Perles (G. Bizet)
Soloists: Richard Fracker & Thorbjørn Gulbrandsøy

Ah! Je veux vivre
Romeo et Juliette (C. Gounod)
Soloist: Kari Postma

Intermezzo Sinfonico
Cavalleria Rusticana (P. Mascagni)
Opera Orchestra

La Ci Darem La Mano
Don Giovanni (W. A. Mozart)
Soloists: Kari Postma &
Thorbjørn Gulbrandsøy

Va Pensiero (Slave chorus)
Nebucco (G. Verdi)
Opera Chorus

Nessun Dorma
Turandot (G. Puccini)
Soloist: Richard Fracker

The opera comes to Sogndal, Norway

Opera Nordfjord is based on much voluntary work. The orchestra is assembled of the best musical forces in the county (Sogn og Fjordane). The Chorus is strengthened with young singers from Firda VGS, the Music line chorus.

The soloist were excellent, as were the chorus and orchestra.

The program started with the overture from Fledermaus. A piece so well-known that one could start thinking is easy to play it so excellent as this orchestra did. But one needs a good conductor and excellent musicians do it justice.

The young Norwegian baritone (Thorbjørn Gulbrandsøy) sang very well the Factotum-aria from Barbiere, even if did make a slight mistake in the beginning. It is not easy to sing at the right moment when the conductor is right behind you (not in music, but physically). He didn't let that hinder him from singing the rest gloriously.

Kari Postma (Norwegian Soprano) is definitely a soprano with a great and bright future. She sang the aria from La Wally (ebben ne andro lontano). Perfect and with feeling.

Richard Fracker, an American tenor sang the aria from Luisa Miller. With tears in his voice, strong voice, sang very well, but I didn't like his voice that much. I found it painful for my ear. Another pair of ears could have loved it.

Then the chorus sang the opening chorus from Smetana's The Sold Bride, in Nynorsk (Neo-Norwegian). Wonderful chorus.

Toreador-song by the baritone and Brindisi with soprano and tenor, accompanied by the chorus. Marvelous!

Then a pause of 20 minutes to rest, have refreshments, talk to others. It was filled with people, one could miss other people one knew would be there, and find others instead, coworkers, neighbors.

Then FORZA DEL DESTINO with the orchestra under the baton of Michael Pavelich, how can I express the wonderful musical experience this was.

The wonderful duet from the Pearl Fishers, and it was naturally wonderfully sung.

Then Kari Postma sang the aria from Romeo et Juliette, also a highlight.

An intermezzo was needed, it came from Cavalleria Rusticana. And a fun relief was needed it came from Don Giovanni. Laci darem la mano, it was both sung and acted. Great Fun.

The Chorus sang the slave chorus, in Italian naturally. All was sung in the original language, except Sold Bride.

Richard Fracker sang Nessun dorma. He sang it well, my ear liked it better than the Luisa Miller aria.

Finale: Flowers from Sogndal Kommune and the municipality of Sogndal, all with wishes of more opera in Sogndal.

Then extra numbers from Fledermaus, Duidu Brüderlein, all soloists, chorus and orchestra. It was sung in Norwegian. Also by the American tenor.

BRAVO ! Bravi tutti!

OD Travel

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

April 11, 2015: Lohengrin in Oslo

2015-04-11 Lohengrin (Wagner), Den Norske Opera & Ballett (Oslo)

Heinrich der Vogler = Magne Fremmerlid
Lohengrin = Paul Groves
Elsa von Brabant = Nina Gravrok
Friedrich von Telramund =
Ole Jørgen Kristiansen
Ortrud = Elena Zhidkova
Heerrufer = Yngve Søberg

John Helmer Fiore, conductor

Regie- Johannes Erath
Scenography - Kaspar Glarner

Costumes - Christian Lacroix

A wonderful Lohengrin in Oslo, or was it?

The production was in black and white mostly except that Ortrud was dressed in green. Even as the prelude started we were shown that Ortrud was most probably the villain and also at other times we were shown flashbacks to the past were Telramund tried to kiss Elsa and Ortrud took the brother of Elsa. Directors of to today do not think the audience are too bright so they have to show it all.

The problem for me was Elsa. All that running around, being crazy, and fainting and then suddenly she was able to show some dignity as a noble woman. Only men think women faint that easily. It was true at one time when women's dresses and so on was so tight that taking a deep breath was impossible. With more loose dresses women do no longer faint at all kind of moments. Nina Gravrok was Elsa von Brabant. First act aria "Einsam in trueben Tagen" was sung very staccato and with no legato line that it never seemed to become the first class aria it is. Even as it is years since I listened to Jessye Norman on CD and almost a decade since I saw it in Vienna with Soile Isokoski I remember the celestial feeling this arias gives you when sung by these too first class opera singers. Luckily as the opera progressed and Elsa did not have to act so absurdly Nina Gravrok singing improved. Unfortunately I expected more of a professional singer: to be able to sing legato and give every line their right form even if the directors demands you to run around onstage as a madwoman.

Elena Zhidkova was Ortrud. What more to say about this great singer? She acted and sang just as you would dream a Ortrud being able to do. She was helped by the director allowing her to play the role straight up without inventing stupid moves. If one wanted more and/or different from Ortrud one would have to falk to Richard Wagner, the composer who also wrote the text to his operas.

Ole Kristian Jørgensen was Friedrich von Telramund. Again a great singer / actor who was allowed to bring the best of himself without the director inserting himself. In short Ortrud and Friedrich von Telramund was utterly believable as a couple and in themselves.

Magne Fremmerlid was King Heinrich der Vogler. He did it well but I missed hearing the full sound of his large voice. Was it deliberate or was something not right? Most importantly it was nothing that diminished him, he was perfectly put in the right spot and did not waiver.

Paul Groves was Lohengrin. What should I say about Paul Groves as Lohengrin? That he was great enough? Or... Was he perfect or was he lacking as Lohengrin. In many ways that is the whole question of Lohengrin himself. The perfect knight of the Grail or the imperfect human being.

Lohengrin could be the story of a purity society. I never noticed Telramund admitted to force himself on Elsa just after realizing the boy, the duke of Brabant disappearing. Telramund has a claim of Brabant especially when the boy, the heir, is gone missing. And if Elsa accepts him as husband then voila Telramund becomes Brabant. Elsa rejects Telramund and that "tells" him that she must have killed her brother. Thus disgusted with Elsa, the young woman and heiress of Brabant, he married a woman much more to his liking. No he is still pure-thinking when the other woman is Otrud, the last offspring of those who ruled Brabant before it was Christened.

Telramund tells this directly to the king with everybody hearing and Telramund is still considered brave etc man. His purity is intact but Elsa's purity is in doubt. Should I even have to call the witness who is said saw the deed. Of course not. To doubt a man on his word. What an horror! Of course it was Ortrud behind him all the times. Elsa is not allowed to be anything except crazed after her unknown knight. Wagner makes her such, and the director drinks it up and does not allow much dignity to poor Elsa. Lohengrin appears an otherworldly creature for the people of the times of Lohengrin. As a modern woman he appears as an arrogant idiot. The adieu to the swan, the looking into Elsa's eyes to see she is innocence. Wow. Well the singing was great enough and the director did not destroy the moments so one can enjoy it. To care for Elsa or Lohengrin that is not so easy.

Lohengrin has won the fight. Of course the men had to fight and they had to call the fighting God's courtroom. What could possibly go wrong? Telramund as so many men of  opera is incapable of understanding the fault was their own, so he accuses his wife. As a Christian he believes that God must have fought hard on Lohengrin side since he seemed to be such a wimp. When Ortrud who hated this new God and religion, tells him that Lohengrin used sorcery to win Telramund jumps up, yeah! He was not wrong, he was wronged. Then she has her man back and can get him to do what she wants.

After being weak and foolish Elsa, who is getting married, now has her dignity in place and can act like the nobility she is. Ortrud worms her in with her woe is me, you getting married, but my poor, poor husband. Elsa being noble allows Ortrud to come in become part of the bride parade. Being meek is not something Ortrud does well so she shows her real colors when Elsa is going to church or from church and accuses Elsa of all kinds of things while giving the girl doubt about her man, why not know his name and family and whether he is a noble at all. Telramund works on the men, this Lohengrin is he really..

Wedded bliss, no bed. They are alone for the first time EVER. And now married. Both now nothing except that GOD is important. The love duet is filled with God and purity. They love each-other, but always remember, it is pure love. Love is not sex, beds are not needed, what two people need is to have a talk, not THE TALK, but to talk about we love God and trust God. Then Elsa topples down and goes completely Eve to her Adam. I love you so much as I would rather die than tell anyone your name and station, but please tell me who are you. The forbidden fruit, the forbidden question. Alas, now all our happiness is gone!!! (Did I miss something, when did all that happiness happen? Oh, I must have blinked)

The king had come to Brabant to make it whole by deciding who will be the duke there just sow that Brabant would also be part of the German war against Hungary. Now that Lohengrin is married to Elsa and Telramund is banished, they can all happily go to war. Lohengrin killed Telramund after he jumped to kill Lohengrin when Elsa popped the wrong question. Now he asks was he right to kill the banished man that tried to kill him. Yes. But the Defender of Brabant as asked the brabantian to call him, ask also did they all hear Elsa swear to never ask. Since she has now asked he must go away but he ask them to deem if he was noble enough. Of course, he is. Knight of the Grail, and his father Parsifal who is crowned there. Is Elsa totally defeated as Lohengrin, who we all now know as Lohengrin, goes away with his swan. Lohengrin also tells now if only she had waited a year her brother would have come home. Defender, because the brother is still the Duke. Tell your brother all about me, Lohengrin says. Ortrud tells all that the brother was the swan. Lohengrin frees him.  Elsa dies.

No happy ending for you!!!

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

April 6, 1996: Samson et Dalila in Zurich

1996-04-06 Samson et Dalila, (Saint-Saëns), Opernhaus Zurich

Dalila = Agnes Baltsa
Samson = Josep Carreras
Le Grand-Prêtre de Dagon = Giorgio Zancanaro
Abimélech = Guido Götzen
Un vieillard hébreu = Giuseppe Scorsin
Un messager philistin = David Corman
Premier philistin = Ruben Amoretti
Second philistin = Rolf Haunstein
Un enfant = Raphael Spiegel

Serge Baudo, conductor

A great Carreras, a fantastic Baltsa and a weak Zancanaro

The conductor was not good enough, he single-handedly ruined some good operatic moments. Too much stage management ruined some moments and too little made other moments indifferent.The chorus sang beautifully, but their acting was not good enough. Not much feeling in their singing. I don't think it was their fault at all.

Act 1

An unusual setting, the chorus was building something. The conductor's use of forte too early made this poignant moment something like a chorus practice. (Listen to Philips track 1 to understand how it should have been) [Wrong dynamics] Then the moment came - Samson arrived (Carreras); the conductor made this much more vocally demanding than it should have been, too slow and too fast. Carreras was almost suffocated by following the conductor. The response of the chorus was just simply following the conducting. They did not show any understanding for the moment (the fault of the stage manager.

Abimelech arrived, the effectiveness of his aria was drowned by the going-on acting. Too much happened outside. (I think Carreras had to go out to drink a little water, because he came on stage at the ending of the aria.)

The spiritual farce became a physical farce, because the Israelites were fighting the guards of Abimelech. Carreras acted well, but it became a scene of the chorus. Giorgio Zancanaro as the grand prêtre was too weak, especially in the aria of revenge against Samson - Weak. The old Hebrew - a beautiful moment At last came Baltsa (= Dalila) with the Philistine girls, singing, dancing _ (for the first time Samson & Dalila as it should be staged).Dalila was so beautiful, so sexy, Samson was so attracted to her. At last Carreras could use his beautiful voice, with no brutal interference from the conductor

Act 2 the dream act of Samson & Dalila.

Giorgio Zancanaro was still weak, but showed some signs of good acting. Agnes Baltsa was the great singing actress as always. José Carreras sang gloriously and acted his heart out as Samson. The sweetness of "Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix" was overwhelming. But after the arias, when Dalila was doubting Samson, the conducting was suddenly in a frenzy. Baltsa and Carreras had to sing so fast, running so fast. To my amazement they managed to act even at this frenzied tempo. How I admired them, also felt sorry for them, knowing that opera-stars can be so totally at the mercy of the conductor. They survived and relieved we could have over a twenty- minute break.

Act 3

Carreras was in everything the suffering Samson. Only one regret, the chorus was just singing (off stage) without showing any emotions. The Philistines sang the 'L'aube blanchet' in a very civilized way, the Bacchanal was just a ballet, not interesting or sexy. The Grand prêtre showed some strength, the true strength was Dalila. To see Carreras walk onto the stage was very emotional, the suffering of Samson got through to the audience. Every emotion was evident in his voice, beautiful and heartbreaking. When Samson received his strength from God, I felt something was happening in myself. So emotional was it. The actual falling of the curtain was an anti-climax. Nothing dramatic happened. The chorus was not frightened, and neither were we.

It was a fantastic evening!!!

Intendanz Alexander Pereira

ln.französischer Sprache
Oper in drei Aiktn und vier Bildern von Ferdinand Lemaire
Mlusik von
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)

2. Dezember 1877, Hoftheater, VVeimar 2. Fassung: 23. November 1892, Opera, Salle Garnier, Paris
Musikalischc Leitung SERGE BAUDO
Bühnenbild MAROUAN DIB
Lichtgestaltung ROBERTUS CREMER
ChoreographieBERND R. BIENERT

1. BildBérénice Faure, Catherine Marston,
Monika Möckli, Helena Sanz, Cristiana
Sciabordi, Nadine Walker, .Josie Walsh
4. BildHelena Sanz -Giorgio Madia
Bérénice Faure, Monika Möckli, Cristiana Sciabordi, Nadine Walker, Josie Walsh
Sergio Bustinduy Soriano, Carles Carreras,
Andres Heras Frutos, Adrian Kajo, Asier Orbelzu
Samstag, . April 1995Freier Verkauf
Pausen nach dem 1. und 2. Akt
Beginn: 19.00 Uhr Ende: ca. 22.00 Uhr


OD Travel

April 6, 1989: Tosca in Oslo

1989-04-06 Tosca (Puccini), Den Norske Opera (Oslo)

Floria Tosca = Helena Döse
Mario Cavaradossi = Gardar Cortes
Baron Scarpia = Stein Arild Thorsen

Antonio Pappano, conductor

I did not get to see Plácido Domingo as Mario Cavaradossi in Oslo with Helena Döse as Tosca. But I got the Icelandic tenor Gardar Cortes. And strangely enough I got to see his son as the Duke of Mantua in Nordfjordeid in 2005.

OD Travel

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

April 4, 2009: Jenufa in Vienna

2009-04-04 Jenufa (Jánácek), Wiener Staatsoper

die alte Buryja = Janina Baechle
Laca Klemen = Jorma Silvasti
Stewa Buryja = Marian Talaba
Küsterin = Agnes Baltsa
Jenufa = Ricarda Merbeth
Altgesell = Marcus Pelz
Dorfrichter = Alexandru Moisiuc
seine Frau = Waltraud Winsauer
Karolka = Caroline Wenborne
Schäferin = Roxana Constantinescu
Barena = Juliette Mars
Jana = Ileana Tonca
Tante =

Graeme Jenkins, conductor

Her stepdaughter: Ricarda Merbeth as Jenufa
Agnes Baltsa as Die Küsterin, Jenufa's stepmother.

Wonderful, wonderful!! I like Ricarda Merbeth as Jenufa, Marian Talaba was Ok as Stewa, Jorma Silvasti WAS Laca Klemen, Agnes Baltsa was sensational as Die Küsterin Buryja.

Agnes BALTSA even came out backstage and greeted her fans, and I got to talk to her.

The production is from 2002. Agnes Baltsa was also then Die Küsterin and Jorma Silvasti was Laca Klemen. That time Angela Denoke and Torsten Kerl were Jenufa and Stewa. Both singers have blond hair. Ricarda Merbeth and Marian Talaba have darker hair. Why mention this? Well, not only is Marian Talaba underwhelming as Stewa Buryja but his dark hair undermines the mention in the text about Stewa's supposedly golden hair. Another thing is that all the other people except Küsterin and Laca have dark hair so how do one as audience understand who to look at. Lucky me, having seen this production before I knew where Jenufa would be. Others would not have a clue. And STEWA the big man in this village he looked just like anyone else. With Torsten Kerl, big and blond, he would always catch your eyes. And the maybe Torsten Kerl even has charisma that in my view was lacking from Marian Talaba. Talaba as Stewa was just a plumb, dark-haired man. With Stewa and Jenufa as both blonde-haired and fairer than all the rest, not only would the story be even more believable but also easier to follow.

Other than the lack of right color of the hair of the protagonists there was the orchestra that played wonderfully under conductor Graeme Jenkins but often too LOUD. I was in parkette. Did it sound better in other parts of the opera house? I don't know. But I know that there was exquisite singing drowned by the orchestra. Not all the time but still.. I think this was the best performance of Agnes Baltsa as Die Küsterin. I adored Ricarda Merbeth as Jenufa. Where Angela Denoke had been harder to swallow was Ricarda Merbeth pure vocal joy and wonderful acted too. Jorma Silvasti was Laca Klemen and he could dominate the scene, a man with brute force and with a Vulnerable soul was his Laca Klemen, the sound of his voice was wonderful to listen to, so delicate and pure and still strong, Janina Baechle who was like in 2006 Grandma Buryja was even better acting and sounding than in 2006. Marian Talaba was, unfortunately, a bland Stewa. He has the voice, but something else was missing. He was not helped by having become somewhat heavier in body. But Jorma Silvasti (Laca Klemen) is also a heavy-built man, but he has charisma and an instant-recognizable voice. But Marian Talaba is young, he might still become a wonderful Stewa... AGNES BALTSA was Wonderful as Die Küsterin. What an actress!! To see Agnes Baltsa as die Küsterin to be the strong and strict stepmother of Jenufa and then to see her being so totally broken by the heinous act of her murdering Jenufa's child with Stewa was great theatre. Her singing and acting was marvelous. But the orchestra played wonderful music often too LOUD.


04. April 2009
Beginn: 19.30 Uhr
Spieldauer: 3 Stunden , Pausen: 2
Premiere am
24. Februar 2002,
Wiener Staatsoper

OD Travel + Photos
Original blog post: Her stepdaughter: Ricarda Merbeth as Jenufa 4.4.2009

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