Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May 31, 2010: Agnes Baltsa Liederabend in Vienna

2010-05-31 Liederabend Agnes Baltsa, Opernhaus Zurich

Agnes Baltsa, mezzo
Achilleas Wastor, piano

Some people said (1 person, actually) that Agnes Baltsa was not on top form on Monday 31 May, 2010. The rest disagreed. She was splendid in Opernhaus Zürich. She was well worth the travel and any inconvenience. I had thought that hearing and seeing her sing those Greek songs would be like in 2004, the outdoor concerts in Ingolstadt and Regensburg. But in Zürich we got it all: It was an intimate evening where Agnes Baltsa poured every bit of her self in every song. It was only in the Extra number of Garifallo st'afti that she could really relax and just enjoy.

It was like a Verismo abend. Agnes Baltsa is Greek, she is it with her voice, body and soul. And we got a glimpse of that soul. Never have a Liederabend made me feel so alive and transported to Greece, Crete, Levkas, Acropolis. The depth was amazing. And I had listened to most of the songs before, the CD and the concerts in 2004. But this time it was a depth so deep, a passion so raw, a sadness so sad that the sea must weep. Does her voice respond in the same way as in 2004, no, but it has no lost its sweetness. Agnes Baltsa is the Verismo Godess. No fear for giving it all, the emotions are real and raw.

One could think after looking at the program that it is just the easiest repertory. But Agnes Baltsa was not looking for the easy crooning, she wanted to give us Greece. And she did. BRAVA!!!!

Achilleas Wastor, piano. He was great. And they were great together. In 2004 it was Stavros Xarhakos and his group with Agnes Baltsa. With piano the songs get to be more intimate. Lovely!

Liederabend Agnes Baltsa

Achilleas Wastor Klavier

Griechische Lieder

Mános Hadjidákis (*1925 Xanthi - †1994 Athen)
(Klavier solo)

Stavros Xarhákos (*I939 Athen)
Áspri méra ke ja mas (Es werden glücklichere Tage kommen, auch für uns)

Míkis Theodorákis (*1925 Khios)
To tréno févgi stis ochtó (Der Zug fährt um acht ab)

Mános Hadjidákis
Óniro pedión tis gitoniás (Die Träume der Nachbarskinder)

Vassílis Tsitsánis (*1915 Trikala - †1984 London)
Horisam’ ena dilino (Und eines Tages hatten wir uns auseinandergelebt)
Sinefiasmeni kiriaki (An einem regnerischen Sonntag)
(Klavier solo)

Stavros Xarhákos
Stou Óthona ta hrónia [Zur Zeit von König Otto)
Háthike to fegári (Der verlorene Mond)

Vassílis Tsitsánis
Archóntissa (Meine Edelfrau)
Ta kavourákia (Die Krabben)

---- PAUSE ----

Míkis Theodorákis
Hartaetí (Drachensteigen)
(Klavier solo)

Spíros Peristéris (*1900 Smyrna - †1966 Athen)
Mes ston ondá enós Passá (Im Privatgemach eines Paschas)

Mános Hadjidákis
O tachitrómos péthane (Der junge Postbote starb)

Stavros Xarhákos
To praktorío (Die einsame Station]

Mános Hadjidákis
Nihterino (Nocturne)
Megali sousfa
(Klavier solo)

Stavros Xarhákos
Varkaróla (Barkarole)

Mános Hadjidákis
Páme mia wólto sto fegári (Spazieren wir zum Mond)

Stavros Xarhákos
Nin ke aí (Jetzt und für immer)

OD Travel + Photos

Blog post: I can totally recommend Liederabend Agnes Baltsa

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May 31, 2004: L'Italiana in Algeri, Vienna

2004-05-31 L'Italiana in Algeri (Rossini), Wiener Staatsoper

Mustafà = Ferruccio Furlanetto
Elvira = Simina Ivan
Zulma = Stella Grigorian
Haly = Marcus Pelz
Lindoro = Juan Diego Flórez
Isabella = Agnes Baltsa
Taddeo = Alfred Šramek

Frédéric Chaslin, conductor

And at 1930 it started with the overture/Sinfonia of Italiana in
Algeri. It was almost the same production as last time, it was the wonderful Ponnelle production, but it had had some brush-ups. I thought that this was more buffo than before, and certainly I felt that Simina Ivan (Elvira) and Stella Grigorian (Zulma) was being too comic. Certainly Zulma was overdoing things. Ferruccio Furlanetto was an agile and playful Mustafa. Juan Diego Florez was great as Lindoro.
Agnes Baltsa had some really great moments in "O che muso", "Pensa alla patria" and the delightful "Per lui che adoro".

Wonderful opera!!

OD Travel + Photos

May 31, 1998: Le Prophete in Vienna

1998-05-31 Le Prophete (Meyerbeer), Wiener Staatsoper

Fidès = Agnes Baltsa
Jean = Placido Domingo
Berthe = Viktoria Loukianetz
Le Comte d'Oberthal = Davide Damiani
Zacharie = Franz Hawlata
Mathisen = David Cale Johnson
Jonas = Torsten Kerl

Marcello Viotti, conductor

Preparation is everything, especially if an opera that are new for me. First live Meyerbeer opera. The only Meyerbeer I knew was the opera L'Africaine (from the video of the opera with Plácido Domingo and Shirley Verrett in San Francisco Opera. I went to the Theatermuseum, after buying Le Prophete (CBS Masterworks), it was a Meyerbeer expedition. Then it was time to go to Vienna State Opera for Le Prophete with Agnes Baltsa and Plácido Domingo. Having read the CD-libretto made me see what should have been onstage. Hans Neuenfels was the director, and his job was to make this Grand Opera unto a big messy spectacle. It was not too bad, the singers was excellent, and some of his ideas was good. One thing was absolutely not agreeable by me, the dancer who was another Jean, a modern one with heroin abuse and hanging, coming unto the stage, and the monkeys (probably belong to the 3 Anabaptists or even representing them). Too much was happening on the stage. Making you lose moments of the opera, confusing you.

Plácido Domingo was a superb Jean, very charismatic and strong. Agnes Baltsa was Fidès, very charismatic and in splendid voice. Le Prophete needs both a Jean and Fides that are in good voice and have charisma. Viktoria Loukianetz was Berthe, wonderful soprano. Acting was not easy in this overcrowded stage so filled with the directors own ideas of making Le Prophete his, but still Agnes and Plácido was strong enough to give enormous pleasure both in the singing and acting. Even if one loathed the production, one would like to go again to experience both Plácido and Agnes in roles that suited them so well, and Meyerbeer's opera is so wonderful in the melodies. Just focus on Plácido Domingo or Agnes Baltsa and the rest would cease to exist.

Sonntag, 31. Mai 1998 STAATSOPER
4. Aufführung in dieser Inszenierung

Le Prophète
Oper in fünf Akten
von Eugène Scribe
Musik Giacomo Meyerbeer

Musikalische Leitung Marcello Viotti
Inszenierung Hans Neuenfels
Bühnenbild und Kostüme Reinhard von der Thannen
Choreinstudierung Johannes Meister
Einstudierung der Tänze Renato Zanella

Offizier Johann Reinprecht
Bürger Hasik Bayvertian
Anabaptist Peter Tuff
Ballettsolisten Marialuise Jaska
Ludwig Karl
Christian Musil
Gregor Hatala
Bühnenorchester der Österreichischen Bundestheater
Eleven der Ballettschule der Österreichischen Bundestheater
Amadeus Knabenchor Bewegungschor

OD Travel

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

May 30, 2010: Otello in Berlin

2010-05-30 Otello (Verdi), Deutsche Oper Berlin

Otello = José Cura
Desdemona = Anja Harteros
Jago = Zeljko Lucic
Emilia = Liane Keegan
Cassio = Yosep Kang
Rodrigo = Gregory Warren
Lodovico = Hyung-Wook Lee
Montano = Jörn Schümann
Ein Herald = Lucas Harbour

Patrick Summers, conductor

Sonntag, 30.05.2010, 18:00 Uhr
Dauer: ca. 3 Stunden | Eine Pause

D-Preise: 36,- | 62,- | 87,- | 120,- Ticket online kaufen
[zuzüglich EUR 2,- Service-Gebühr]

Giuseppe Verdi
Dramma lirico in vier Akten
Libretto von Arrigo Boito nach Shakespeares Tragödie OTHELLO, THE MOOR OF VENICE
Uraufführung am 5.Februar 1887 in Mailand
Premiere an der Deutschen Oper Berlin am 30. Mai 2010

In italienischer Sprache mit deutschen Übertiteln

Patrick Summers

Andreas Kriegenburg

Harald Thor

Andrea Schraad

Katharina John

Choir Conductor
William Spaulding

Children's Choir
Dagmar Fiebach

Christian Baier

Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin

Kinderchor der Deutschen Oper Berlin

Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin

It is all happening in a refugee camp. For those who loved this Otello, this is genius. For other people it is just a big question mark, why? Because it doesn't make sense. It does not do anything for the story. The refugees are interned in a camp. There is little to do except to watch and hope for some money and something to eat. To care about the African refugees that are in those refugee camps in Europe is a worthy cause, to use them are a mere backdrop for an opera is not.

There are nothing here to give you empathy for the refugees. They are simply the chorus, a mass of people. A heavily pregnant woman, children who are starting drinking alcohol and with drugs. Children who see too much. The children have to eat from the garbage brought in from the outside. The children are there so that Jago has his audience for his Credo. These children are not scared of hell, they are there. They are not scared of emptiness because that is all they have. The children can be played to be hide Otello when needed. They only cost a few coins and then you are a wall to hide behind because in this refugee camp nobody notices the children unless they need them.

But why care? It even starts with de-sensitive us. Before the music starts, the curtain goes up and the chorus just stands there, and then some of them put on black masks on their faces. Oh yes, this means that we should understand, what really? That we are all Otello? Or should it mean that there are Africans in this refugee camp. Or is that when those who loved this Otello understood that it happens in a refugee camp. Because for me it just told me that it is all a fake. Especially the Regie. It does not think or feel but most importantly it does not make the audience feel. Intellectually understanding the idea behind the Regie is one thing (and I found that hard) but Opera is Feelings not an University Degree.

And the there was the dancing in the background. But Otello is an Opera not a Ballet. It was not the worst idea but it was more distracting than giving anything to the audience. The people behind this Otello did not trust the audience to feel the pain of Otello and Desdemona. They even thought we needed children surrounding Desdemona in the scene Nel livido fango to understand how innocent this Desdemona is. No, Verdi and Boito have already made us aware. We are not stupid.

In the end there was a lot of Buh's and some Bravo's for the people behind this production. For the singers it was BRAVO's all the time. So much so that those who wanted to Buh the production team all the time did not do so much when the singers was there.

In the critic I have the read there seem to be a trend if they loved the Regie they did not like the conductor and vice versa. The singers were all wonderful, loved the sound of the chorus, and orchestra. I think Patrick Summers did well. The Children chorus was good.

Yosep Kang was wonderful as Cassio. Anja Harteros was the best Desdemona I have seen. José Cura was superb as Otello. Zeljko Lucic was Jago, good singer and actor. Liane Keegan has a great voice that soars. She not only has a big voice but a big body too but luckily here she was simply Emilia, Jago's wife and Desdemona's friend and not a caricature of a big woman.

BRAVA, Anja Harteros
BRAVA, Liane Keegan

BRAVO, José Cura

Blog post: Premiere of OTELLO in Berlin May 30, 2010

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May 30, 2004: Romeo et Juliette in Munich

2004-05-30 Romeo et Juliette (Gounod), Bayerische Staatsoper

Juliette = Angela-Maria Blasi
Stéphano = Anna Bonitatibus
Gertrude = Anne Pellekoorne
Romèo = Marcelo Alvarez
Tybalt = Manolito Mario Franz
Mercutio = Martin Gantner
Paris = Christian Rieger
Grégorio = Nikolay Borchev
Capulet = Ramaz Chikviladze
Frère Laurent = Maurizio Muraro
Le Duc = Steven Humes

Marcello Viotti, conductor

Inszenierung Andreas Homoki
Scenography Gideon Davey
Light Franck Evin
Chorus Andrés Máspero

1900. Romeo et Juliette (Gounod). Marcelo Alvarez & Angela Maria Blasi, conducted by Marcello Viotti. I don't like this production but I feel that the shouting of Buh's for the production team is unjustified. I dislike the idea in this production but it is working, it is never against the music or action. Sung and acted as it were in full earnest, deadly earnest. Bravo company! The colors was as from a comics book with strong colors. RED, MAGENTA, YELLOW, GREEN. The idea of setting it in a college, it is not the family Capulet and Montague, it is "Houses". It is a very youthful approach. This school-children is really children, and childish. Teenagers. But does it matter that the duel is made with giant pencils and giant-pen. That on the center of the stage is a GIANT school-table and with giant romantic books. Marcelo Alvarez is ROMEO, there is nothing phony about him, he is a person so is JULIETTE (Blasi) and all the other.

BRAVO, Marcelo!!! I love you. A really great night at the opera even though I disagreed with the production.

Unfortunately I did not have the time to wait for the artists to come out the stage door. I had to go to Vienna for L'Italiana in Algeri with Agnes Baltsa, Juan Diego Florez, and Ferruccio Furlanetto as Mustafa.

OD Travel + Photos

May 30, 1998: Jerusalem in Vienna

1998-05-30 Jérusalem (Giuseppe Verdi), Wiener Staatsoper

Gaston, Vicomte von Bearn = Keith Ikaia-Purdy
Comte von Toulouse = Yu Chen
Roger = Kurt Rydl
Hélène = Eliane Coelho
Isaure = Marjorie Vance
Adhemar de Monteil = Peter Köves
Emir de Ramla = Wolfgang Bankl

Bruno Campanella, conductor

Eliane Coelho = Helene
Keith Ikaya-Purdy = Gaston
Kurt Rydl = Roger

Wiener Staatsoper 30.5.98 kl.1900-2230
Verdi : Jerusalem

In place at the opera 1819, heard some magnificent voices warm up,
possibly Keith Ikaya-Purdy.
I bought my program ATS 38,- ( took 40)
Wearing my three-tenors-operaglasses, feeling classy.
Naturally I started by reading in the program.

The commercial for Chopard,with big picture of Jose, almost destroys
my happy mood. --- It Could have been Carreras singing---
I decide not to let any such thought destroy my evening, after all I
have a dark video of Jose as Gaston, and some picture too.

Graf von Toulouse = Yu Chen
Isaure = Marjorie Vanel

The House is full.

Pause after 1 act and after 3 act 1scene

BRAVO Kurt Rydl! Great Roger!!!

Prelude .
Gaston & Helene duet. Beautiful singing.
The person sitting beside me has no consideration of other peoples
wishes to see the stage too. Sitting leant back to the chair, he
would still see the stage with no problem, but he is leaning forward,
so that WE have problem seeing the stage, not only me. He is not

Bruno Camponelli conducts. Sublime music. Next scene. Yu Chen who
sing the Count of Toulouse look so like Carreras. Great bass. The
father is younger than his daughter. It is very natural.

Kurt Rydl is great as Roger, much better than Ramey. His character is
not only evil, he is multi-faceted.

A grand first act!!

OD Travel + Photos

Monday, May 29, 2017

May 29, 2004: Otello in Hamburg

2004-05-29 Otello (Verdi), Hamburgische Staatsoper

Otello = José Cura
Desdemona = Barbara Frittoli
Jago = Lado Ataneli
Emilia = Yvi Jänicke
Cassio = Peter Galliard
Rodrigo = Ho-yoon Chung
Lodovico = Alexander Tsymbalyuk
Montano = Carl Schultz
Herold = Moritz Gogg

Philippe Auguin, conductor

Chorus: Florian Csizmadia

Otello (G. Verdi) 1930. Jose Cura, Barbara Frittoli and Lado Ataneli.

Act 1 The conductor was Philippe Auguin. From the first note of Otello I was disappointed. I blame the conductor. The musical dynamics was missing. All emotions and situations on the stage was conducted alike. The orchestra was loud and quiet, loud and quiet without any musical reason. The chorus suffered and the principals suffered too. Otello's "Esultate!" came to me as a three-parted voice of Cura, it was not together. I missed a greater scene-presence when Lado Ataneli sang, he sang well, but lacked the zeal of Ruggero Raimondi. The love duet was wonderfully sung and acted by Cura & Frittoli. Because of the slow tempi when BF sang Amen in "Amen risponda" she had trouble getting her full voice in specifically in the "A---men". The act ended with the couple on the beach, with the pier and and the red full moon behind them

Act 2. Jago's Credo was wonderfully sung by Lado Ataneli, but the menace that Ruggero Raimondi had was not there, I missed that. The beautiful quartet ended act 2, but it had couple of inaccuracies in timing, or rather almost inaccuracies. (forgot: that after the quartet followed "Tu, indietro!", and narrating the "dream" that he says Cassio had, and of course, "Si pel ciel marmoreo giuro")

First real intermission between act 2 & 3.

Act 3. The action in on the stairs of the castle. It was all truly great. For me the only thing is that I found that Otello was falling down too many times for me. But the singing and acting of Jose Cura was a first class act. BRAVO, CURA!

Act 4. Barbara Frittoli is a great Desdemona. The idea of seeing the wind blow in the curtains (we could actually see that there were hands moving the white curtains) was rather stupid, I find. It was not necessary at the beginning of first act and not even when Emilia sang "E il vento!" (It's the wind) was it necessary, the audience is not stupid. Then Otello, Jose Cura, came. The tension is high, and they are just great, Cura & Frittoli. But when Emilia cries Murder so very few comes, just the key players, and before Cura sings "Niun mi tema" they are gone, only the dead Desdemona and Otello is left on stage. "Niun mi tema" - "Nobody be afraid", but there is nobody there!? And when Otello sing "Un bacio!" and the music reminiscence of the love duet in act 1, the stage darkens, and we see the pier and the full moon of act 1. Cute, but we are not stupid. The Music tells it all much better.
After the opera a lot of JCx is waiting for Cura to come backstage, Lado comes first, then it is finally Cura. And when the crowd is satisfied. Ten JCx ends the day in the restaurant Opera with a drink and some salad.

At 0100 in bed.

OD Travel + Photos

Sunday, May 28, 2017

May 28, 2012: Nabucco in Bilbao

2012-05-28 Nabucco (Verdi), Palacio Euskalduna (Bilbao)

Nabucco = Roberto Frontali
Ismaele = Alejandro Roy
Zaccaria = Carlo Colombara
Abigaille = Maria Guleghina
Fenena = Rosanna Rinaldi
High Priest of Belo = Silverio De la O
Abdallo = Eduardo Ituarte
Anna = Ana Otxoa

Massimo Zanetti, conductor
  Orquesta del Teatro Regio di Parma
Coro de Ópera de Bilbao

Director de escena - Daniele Abbado
Scenography - Luigi Perego
Light  design - Valerio Alfieri

It was the best Nabucco production with the best singers. Only one thing stood out for me as problematic and that was the golden hair of Zaccaria. Golden hair in the Middle East what was that about? Carlo Colombara has dark hair and could have been more authentic as Zaccaria without fake hair. This production of Nabucco was one that seemed to be about authenticity as history goes. Ismaele is clearly marked by his cloths as a Prince of Judea. Zaccaria is also similarly marked an important person. There is no doubt that Nabucco is an Assyrian King. All clearly marked except that one is never shown the chorus in Assyrian cloths. They are always dressed in Jewish cloths. This can be explained by the fact that Jerusalem is taken by Assyrians pretending to be Jews. But that is just true in the first act.

This is a beautiful production, intelligent and wants to be truthful to the libretto. Roberto Frontali, who I have seen as Stankar in the ROH Stiffelio production, was a truly fine Nabucco. Alejandro Joy was wonderful as Ismaele. Strong singing, wonderful acting. Rosanna Rinaldi was also great as Fenena. But the star was Maria Guleghina as Abigaille.

Abigaille can be boring since she is sometime acted as just a one-dimensional villain. Maria Guleghina shows all the different emotions that is Abigaille. She is weak sometimes. In this production one sees Abigaille hesitate in some crucial moment. How ambitious is she? She vacillate between power and love. Most of all she wants to be accepted as Nabucco's daughter and to be loved by Ismaele. Her feelings for her sister Fenena is also torn. Love and envy. So Nabucco changes into a believer of the God of Judea. As Abigaille loses her life she is also going to her redemption and I personally believe more in Abigaille change. Nabucco is just about his daughter Fenena.

I love Abigaille! And Maria Guleghina as Abigaille is just amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

May 27, 2016: Simon Boccanegra in Vienna

2016-05-27 Simon Boccanegra (Verdi), Wiener Staatsoper

Simon Boccanegra = Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Maria Boccanegra (Amelia) = Barbara Frittoli
Jacopo Fiesco = Ferruccio Furlanetto
Gabriele Adorno = Francesco Meli
Paolo Albiani = Adam Plachetka
Pietro = Sorin Coliban
Un Capitano dei Balestrieri = Carlos Osuna
Lydia Rathkolb = Anat Edri

Marco Armiliato, conductor
Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper
Chor der Wiener Staatsoper

Peter Stein | Regie
Stefan Mayer | Bühne
Moidele Bickel | Kostüme

It was Dmitri Hvorostovsky's day, it was Francesco Meli's day.

For many people in the opera this was Hvorostovsky's day as he triumphed in the title role of Simon Boccanegra. For me it was the triumph of Francesco Meli. Ferruccio Furlanetto was also great. Adam Plachetka was an amazing Paolo and I would love to experience him as Simon Boccanegra himself.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Barbara Frittoli was soft and suave. They were perfect together but vocally their voices did not had the strength of Ferruccio Furlanetto or Francesco Meli. Furlanetto was the perfect Fiesco and Francesco Meli was the most wonderful and strong Gabriele Adorno. Adam Plachetka was the luxury of Simon Boccanegra.

I am now a fan of the marvellous tenor Francesco Meli. Bravo, Francesco Meli!

And I adore the magificient bass of Ferruccio Furlanetto. Bravo, Ferrucio Furlanetto!!

This production of Simon Boccanegra in Wiener Staatsoper was just stupendous, perfect.

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Friday, May 26, 2017

May 26, 2016: La Forza del Destino in Wiesbaden

2016-05-26 La Forza del Destino (Verdi), Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden

Der Marchese von Calatrava, Pater Guardiano = Young Doo Park
Donna Leonora = Hui He
Don Carlos di Vargas = Carlos Alvarez
Don Alvaro = Richard Furman
Fra Melitone = Patrick Carfizzi
Curra, Preziosilla = Romina Boscolo
Mastro Trabuco = Benedikt Nawrath

Christoph Stiller, conductor
Chor, Extrachor & Statisterie des Hessischen Staatstheaters Wiesbaden, Hessisches Staatsorchester Wiesbaden

Inszenierung nach Immo Karaman
Spielleitung Magdalena Weingut
Bühne Timo Dentler
Kostüme Okarina Peter
Licht Andreas Frank
Choregrafie nach Fabian Poska
Chor Albert Horne
Dramaturgie Stephan Steinmetz

If only Jose Cura had been Don Alvaro... 

Now, we had second tenor Richard Furman as Don Alvaro. And that meant we had a weak link. Hui He was a strong, vibrant Leonora and with an equally excellent Don Carlo in Carlos Alvarez. The rest of the cast was also strong singers. Richard Furman acted well but his voice was sweeter and softer than the rest so his Don Alvaro was lost in this Forza del Destino.

I enjoyed very much this Fra Melitone, Patrick Carfizzi. Here was a strong singer and great actor and his role in this production was most believable. Unfortunately this production was bad, good and bad ideas were flouting around making little sense. Some scenes had some sense but in the end the whole structure was lacking. So: Production rubbish but Patrick Carfizzi as Fra Melitone was great. Fra Melitone was an idea that worked and often Fra Melitone is just stupid, here he made sense.

I guess that making the singer singing Marchese di Calatrava into Padre Superior was supposed to make an profound effect to the story and that was not really realized in the production. The same was true about making Curra = Preziosilla was a bit better but still in the end made no sense.

Putting La Forza del Destino in our times, or rather World War 2, was also damaging to the whole opera. Without Hui He and Carlos Alvarez or singers in that calible as Alvaro, Leonora and Carlo there is no need to put yourself into this production. The poignant end is no longer poignant!!!

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May 26, 2012: La Chulapona in Madrid

2012-05-26 La Chulapona (Moreno Torroba), Teatro de la Zarzuela (Madrid)

Manuela = Cristina Faus
Rosario = Susana Cordón
José María = Antonio Gandía
Juan de Dios = Carlos Crooke
Señor Antonio =Luis Alvarez
Doña Venustiana = Charo Reina
El Chalina = Jesus Castejón
Don Epifanio = Gerardo Malla
Emilia = Raquel Torres
Organillero = Jesus Alcaide
Lolita = Ana Santamaria
Ascensión = Isabel Gonzalez
Concha = Ada Rodriguez
Ist Guard = Keni Roldan
2nd Guard = Abel Garcia
Manolito = Neric Forcada / Raul Ruiz / Pedro de la Torre
Chico de la taberna = José Varela
Cantaora = Eva Duran
Ganadero = Saturnino Garcia
Maestro Cansino = Juan Rueda
Maravilla = Maria Briones
Guadalupe = Sagrario Mielgo
Engargado de Café = Juan Luis Cobo
Durmiente = Jesus Landin
Plachandoras = Rosa Maria Gutierrez, Carmen Gaviria, Paloma Curros
Zapatero = Carlos Duran
Hojolatero = Pedro Azpiri
Cliente = Gustavo Berliete
Voz Interna = Paloma Suarez
Giutarrista = José Maria Molero
Invitado = Ignacio Del Castillo

Dirección musical: Miquel Ortega

Dirección de escena: Gerardo Malla
Escenografía y figurines: Mario Bernedo
Coreografía: Goyo Montero
Iluminación: Eric Teunis

La Chulapona
Del 4 de Mayo al 3 de Junio de 2012 (excepto lunes y martes)
Miércoles (Día del espectador) y domingos, a las 18:00 horas
Funciones de abono: 24, 25, 26 y 27 de Mayo de 2012
Comedia lírica en tres actos
Música de Federico Moreno Torroba
Libro de Federico Romero y Guillermo Fernández-Shaw
Estrenada en el Teatro Calderón de Madrid,
el 31 de Marzo de 1934
Producción del Teatro de la Zarzuela, 1988
Edición a cargo de Federico Moreno-Torroba Larregla
(Ediciones Iberautor, SRL / Instituto Complutense de Ciencias Musicales, 2005)

Yesterday was veterans showing how to sing and act, today was the young and coming up showing their colors. Another Manuela, Rosario and Jose Maria. But still great singing and acting. I was so used to a blond Rosario than I almost missed Susana Cordons entrance. This was another Rosario, but it was hard to tell in which way she differed from Carmen Gonzalez. The young Rosario was not so ironic and seemed softer. Cristina Faus was todays Manuela. Younger voice, and amazing but still I must say Milagros Martin could still be someone that Cristina Faus should look after in order to be even better. Antonio Gandia as Jose Maria was also wonderful.

The whole experience of what a zarzuela is made me think it more like a musical than simply operetta. It is vocally demanding like an opera, expects dancing skills more like in a musical. How I wish I understood Spanish! The dialogue is demanding and singing superb in a zarzuela. It is stylistic and naturalistic in combination. LOVED IT...

OD Travel
Original blog post

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

Thursday, May 25, 2017

May 25, 2012: La Chulapona in Madrid

2012-05-25 La Chulapona (Moreno Torroba), Teatro de la Zarzuela (Madrid)

Manuela = Milagros Martín
Rosario = Carmen González
José María = Marcelo Puente
Juan de Dios = Carlos Crooke
Señor Antonio =Luis Alvarez
Doña Venustiana = Charo Reina
El Chalina = Jesus Castejón
Don Epifanio = Gerardo Malla
Emilia = Raquel Torres
Organillero = Jesus Alcaide
Lolita = Ana Santamaria
Ascensión = Isabel Gonzalez
Concha = Ada Rodriguez
Ist Guard = Keni Roldan
2nd Guard = Abel Garcia
Manolito = Neric Forcada / Raul Ruiz / Pedro de la Torre
Chico de la taberna = José Varela
Cantaora = Eva Duran
Ganadero = Saturnino Garcia
Maestro Cansino = Juan Rueda
Maravilla = Maria Briones
Guadalupe = Sagrario Mielgo
Engargado de Café = Juan Luis Cobo
Durmiente = Jesus Landin
Plachandoras = Rosa Maria Gutierrez, Carmen Gaviria, Paloma Curros
Zapatero = Carlos Duran
Hojolatero = Pedro Azpiri
Cliente = Gustavo Berliete
Voz Interna = Paloma Suarez
Giutarrista = José Maria Molero
Invitado = Ignacio Del Castillo

Dirección musical: Miquel Ortega

Dirección de escena: Gerardo Malla
Escenografía y figurines: Mario Bernedo
Coreografía: Goyo Montero
Iluminación: Eric Teunis

Finally at 2000 LA CHULAPONA in Teatro de la Zarzuela with Milagros Martin as Manuela and Carmen Gonzalez as Rosario. The production is from 1988 and there exists a DVD from it also with Milagros Martin and Carmen Gonzalez.

Despite I still don't understand all that much Spanish I understood much more than I did in 1989 when I saw this zarzuela during the Edinburgh Festival. I love zarzuela and have recently started a small collection of zarzuelas. Federico Moreno Torroba (the composer) is a genius and the music in Chulapona is just marvellous. Naturally I have the CD with Teresa Berganza as Manuela and the wonderful Pilar Lorengar as Rosario. A wonderful CD with the perfect Manuela and perfect Rosario.

24 years after the premiere are Milagros Martin and Carmen Gonzalez still the perfect Manuela and Rosario. Aged but like fine wine only better and more refined than ever. Marcelo Puente in the role of Jose Maria, loved by these two different women, was also wonderful.

OD Travel
Original blog post

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

May 25, 1990: Die Csardasfurstin in Oslo

1990-05-25 Die Csardasfürstin (Kalman), Den Norske Opera (Oslo)

Fyrst Lippert-Weylesheim = Almar Heggen
Anhilte = Vessa Hanssen
Edwin = Jan Sødal
Stasi = Anne Nyborg
Grev Boni von Kancianu = Tor Fagerland
Sylvia Varescu = Ingjerd Oda Mantor

Tore Dingstad, conductor

9 Years and 3 days after my first visit in an Opera House and then same operetta with some changes in the role list. GREAT!! I loved this production.

OD Travel

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

May 24, 2008: Carmen in Karlsruhe

2008-05-24 Carmen (G. Bizet),
Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe

Carmen = Denyce Graves
Don José = José Cura
Escamillo = Thomas J. Mayer
Micaëla = Barbara Dobrzanska

Jacques Delacôte, conductor

Musikalische Leitung Jacques Delacôte
Inszenierung Achim Thorwald
Bühne Christian Floeren
Kostüme Ute Frühling
Badischer Staatsopernchor
Extrachor, Theaterkinderchor am Helmholtz-Gymnasium
Badische Staatskapelle

"Non, tu ne m'aimes pas" (Carmen, Karlsruhe 24.5.08)

I was looking forward to a tradional CARMEN with the same sensational people that I had enjoyed in 2004 in London as Samson et Dalila (José Cura and Denyce Graves) and conducted by the great Jacques Delacôte. But I must admit that by the time that Cura had sung a wonderful Flower song and Denyce Graves was responding with "Non, tu ne m'aimes pas" that I knew what I was going to called the review of this Carmen. Yes, Carmen or Denyce Graves I do not love your voice anymore. It makes me sad!!! Already at the Habanera I thought, what have happened with the wonderful full mezzo voice, Denyce two voices appeared, one of a grown woman and the voice of a small and whiny child. Then my hopes was for the Seguedilla, but the same thing happened, but the Card Aria in act 3 was wonderful. So SAD... But hopefully this is just temporary problem... Of course, 2nd act of Carmen is a bit like Samson et Dalila, I even fantasized this Carmen being morphed into a SAMSON ET DALILA where Denyce Graves would have no vocal problems at all. And as a Baltsa fan I must admit I wanted Agnes Baltsa to come and rescue this Carmen, even if one at this stage of AB's career can hear that she is over 60.

DENYCE GRAVES was despite her vocal state, a wonderful Carmen, she can act and she can dance. And she was celebrated in Karlsruhe. JOSE CURA was wonderful as Don José. His only problem, and that was the whole ensembles problem; the French dialogue. It was hard to hear, the pronunciation was not all that good by all singers. And the dialogue was cut shorter which really did not help that much. As if one got instead of thought got half thought. The dialogue was such a pain that I wanted the sung recitative (and I normally "hate" that one).

The Escamillo was great as an actor but as a singer so much volume was missing and he was too light in voice. Nice, cute, good-looking, yes.... But I missed a voice, big and with resonance (like Ruggero Raimondi in the opera film by Rosi). Micaela was wonderful in the duet with Don José and OK in her big aria.

Last act. We are in the matador's room, we see Escamillo pray the Prayer all matador pray before the corrida, he was dressed up by his men. Of course he walked into the room with Carmen. The duettino (Si tu m'aimes, Carmen) and the when Escamillo walks out to the corrida, Frasquita and Mercedes come to warn Carmen about Don José. It is all in the room, José and Carmen meets again, he pleads and then he kills. Escamillo has finished his job at the corrida, and does not see Carmen is killed, he is too busy with Frasquita and Mercedes. Fine man, that Escamillo!! Mercedes sees and finally Escamillo... (what? a slight shock) while Don José is all finished and asked to be arrested, he has killed his love, his Carmen.

The Production was OK. Modernized. But the men were all creeps and the women was nothing worth. And the Gypsies smuggled cocaine. Is it modern to be so negative... or is it just CARMEN?

Signierstunde after the opera with José Cura, Denyce Graves and Jacques Delacôte. And I had just a mobile phone. In the end I was the last to get to take a photo of José, he was tired as you can see, and as you can also judge a mobile camera is no competition to a real camera. but still....

OD Travel
Blog post: "Non, tu ne m'aimes pas" (Carmen, Karlsruhe 24.5.08)

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

May 23, 1998: Sly in Zurich

1998-05-23 Sly (Wolff Ferrari), Opernhaus Zürich

Sly = Josep Carreras
Westmoreland = Juan Pons
Dolly = Daniela Dessi
John Plake = Carlos Chausson

Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, conductor

This was the first time for me, Sly. A copy of a recording of a German recording had been my preparation and reading the libretto, but in German Sly is not an opera easily to be liked. Even in Italian it is not easy the first time. To have Jose Carreras in this role, creates all those positive forces that is needed to get an opera like this to be revived. This is an opera that needs a great ensemble of good singers, Zurich have an excellent ensemble. Like Stefania Kaluza as the hostess. She is an excellent mezzo, a Zurich member. Great! With Juan Pons as Westmoreland and Daniella Dessi as Dolly, and Carlos Chausson as John Plake headed by the great Jose Carreras as Sly, it could only be success.

First act is in a tavern, filled with many different characters. Vivid! Dolly has run off from her gilded life with the Count and come to the tavern to the real life. All reacts to her beauty, Dolly is enjoying herself but too soon the Count find out where he is. John Plake tells of Sly, Sly comes. He is a poet (a drunkard,too), he is making poetry of fantasizing. Snare tried to get Sly to prison (since Sly has debts to pay). Dolly protects Sly via the Count. Sly is so drunk that he fantasize of the perfect woman with Dolly standing so close to him, and he notices her not.
All the Counts sees in Sly is somebody/something that can amuse him, Dolly sees a dream and feels compassion to Sly. The Count decide; we will make Sly think he is the Count, what an amusement it will be.

Second act is in the Castle of Count Westmoreland. Sly wakes up and cannot believe it is true, he is an aristocrat and rich. But what makes him want to go with the dream, is the woman. His wife, who is waiting for him. He is seduced by the richesse. Love is at hand for Sly, the incomparable dream for Sly. Dolly is supposed to take part in a comedy, playing her part. But Dolly starts feeling for Sly, LOVE. Big Love Duet! Then the Count pretends to be Snare, Sly understands. They are murdering Love.

Third act is the dungeon of the Castle. Sly wakes up, desperate. When he decide it has all been a LIE, he decide on DEATH. Dolly comes in, but he is already dying.

Carreras is the ultimate SLY!!!!

OD Travel + Photos

Inszenierung HANS HOFMANN
ßühnenbild HANS HOFFER
Lichtgestaltung JÜRGEN HOFFMANN

Französiss('her Edelmann/Musiker PIOTR BECZALA
1. Edelnann/mohr MARTIN ZYSSET
2. Edelnann/Indiauer VOLKER VOGEL
3. Edelmann/ Alter Diener PETER KELLER
4. Edelmam1/Chinese RUDOLF A. HARTMANN
5. Edehnann/Doktor JEE-I-IYUN KIM0
Snare, Polizeibeamter RORY BAIN°
2. Diener RORY BAIN°
3. Diener JEE-I-IYUN KIIVi 0
und junge Höflinge SUSANNE LlCHTENßERGER+, ANTJE MAlRlCH+,
0 Mitgiie,d des lnternationaien Opernstudios,
unterstützt vou der Herbert von Karajan M"sic, Legacy
und von Geert. Bianke,n, Sursee
+ Student/in der Schauspiel Aikademie Zürich

Monday, May 22, 2017

May 22, 1987: Don Giovanni in Oslo

1987-05-22 Don Giovanni (Mozart), Den Norske Opera (Oslo)

Don Juan: Knut Skram
Il Commendatore Oddbjörn Tennfjord
Donna Anna: Eva Johansson
Don Ottavio: Esaias Tewolde
Donna Elvira: Frøydis Klausberger
Leporello: Stein Arild Thorsen
Masetto: Espen Fegran
Zerlina: Ingjerd Oda Mantor

Heinz Fricke, conductor

Friday 1987-05-22 DEN NORSKE OPERA

(Premiere 4/4-87)
DON JUAN = Don Giovanni
Opera in 2 acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Text: Lorenzo da Ponte
19.30 - ca. 22.35.

Conductor: Heinz Fricke
Regie: Goran Järvefelt
Translation: Per Boye Hansen after Pauline Hall
Scenography: Kathrine Hysing

Lysdesign: Torkel Blomquist

Den Norske Operas chorus
Den Norske Operas orchestra
Cembalo: Tore Dingstad

This Don Giovanni production was also televised naturally with Knut Skram, our Great Norwegian baritone but with other singers in the other roles.

OD Travel

As I remember it, I enjoyed this night at the opera.

May 22, 1982: Rosenkavalier in Stockholm

1982-05-22 Der Rosenkavalier (R. Strauss), Operan (Stockholm)

Feldmarschallin Fürstin Werdenberg = Margareta Hallin
Octavian = Edith Thallaug
Herr von Faninal = Erik Saeden
Sophie, his daughter = Dorrit Klejmert
Baron Ochs = Arne Tyrèn
Jungfrau Marianne Leitmetzerin = Leana Peterson
Valzacchi = Sven-Erik Vikström
Annina = Gunilla Söderström
A singer = Hans Johansson

Neemi Järvi, conductor

ROSENKAVALJEREN = Der Rosenkavalier
Composer: Richard Strauss

Saturday 22 may 1982 kl. 16.30

Operan, Stockholm (Kungliga Teatern = The Royal Theatre)

Regie = Folke Albenius
Translation = Herbert Sandberg & Göran Gentele

We were in Stockholm for vacation. My mother had bought the Stockholm-card to get the most out of this trip to Sweden. We got tickets at the Royal Opera and saw our own Edith Thallaug as Octavian. And we enjoyed it. The production seemed to be a classic and the singers were good.

OD Travel

May 22, 1981: Die Csardasfurstin in Oslo

1981-05-22 Die Csardasfürstin (Kalman), Den Norske Opera (Oslo)

Leopold Maria,
Fürst Lippert-Weylersheim = Almar Heggen
Anhilte, his wife = Vessa Hanssen
Edwin, their son = Jan SødaI
Stasi, his cousin = Eva SoIheim
Graf Boni Kancsianu = Tor Fagerland
Sylva Varescu = Else Dehli
Graf Feri von Kerekes = Tor Gilje
Eugen von Rohnsdorff = Terje Stensvold

Zdenko Peharda, conductor

Czardasfyrstinnen = Die Csardasfürstin
Operetta in three acts by EMMERICH KALMAN
Den Norske Opera
Friday 22. may 1981

Text by Leo Stein and Bela Jenbach
Adaption: Folke Abenius
Translation of song text: Einar Sissener
Translation of dialogue: Wilhelm Sandven
Conductor: Zdenko Peharda
Regie: Folke Abenius og Eugene Gabay

Scenography: Wolfgang Vollhard
Costumes: Anna Gisle
Choreograpyi: Eugene Gabay

Den Norske Operas Chorus and Orchestra

Performance starts. 19.30 and ends ca. 22.30
Pause between the acts.

My first time in any opera house, my first operetta. I loved it. This operetta, this production was also later televised although with other singers. Tor Fagerland was great as the cute count Boni.

OD Travel

Sunday, May 21, 2017

May 21, 2011: Samson et Dalila in Berlin

2011-05-21 Samson et Dalila (Saint-Saëns),Deutsche Oper Berlin

Samson = José Cura
Dalila = Vesselina Kasarova
Abimelech = Jörn Schümann
High Priest = Laurent Naouri
Ancient Hebrew = Ante Jerkunica
Messenger = Clemens Bieber
First Philistine = Peter Maus
Second Philistine = Sergio Vitale

Alain Altinoglu, conductor

Director - Patrick Kinmonth
Stage design, Costume design - Patrick Kinmonth, Darko Petrovic
Light design - Manfred Voss
Dramaturgie - Katharina John, Miriam Konert
Chorus master - William Spaulding
Artistic production manager - Christian Baier

I love Saint-Saens' Samson et Dalila and act 2 is the best act. But today in Deutsche Oper Berlin I was bored and I was pained by listening to the mezzo Vesselina Kasarova. It was not helped by the feeling of lacking fresh air in the audience room. But, any way, I am pleased to say that both Jose Cura and Vesselina Kasarova was excellent in the big duet of act 2 beginning with En ces lieux and continued with Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix.

Kasarova's voice is deeper now and sound almost like an alto. Her voice lacks some agility and she was not helped by the young maestro's slowing the music. Jose Cura's voice seemed to have opened of by act 2 and continued its triumph in act 3. In act 1 his voice sounded muffled. Laurent Nouri was an excellent High Priest of Dagon.

This Samson et Dalila was not shocking, or edgy. It was not even interesting. Even having Jose Cura singing his heart out in Vois ma misere did not change the fact that this production failed to make us care. It was the best singing of this aria so this says the production failed. It did not fail because director chose to put the action to another time place, Paris at the time the opera was composed. It fail by having half-cooked ideas, by defying logic, by putting distractions up instead of making the audience think and feel. The young boy and young woman (his mother? and servant to Dalila), the boy was supposed to be the alter-ego of Samson, but what interpretive value did it give the opera? Little value but plenty of distractions to the real story. The offensive part was the end of the opera with cattle wagons and Philistine dressing down as if they were Jews off to Auschwitz. But the real offensive part of this offensiveness was to make Holocaust into kitsch and it did not even make sense.... BAD

Yes it was bad, really bad, I have never applauded so little in my life, except that time when I had almost broken my wrist.

UPDATE: All the reviews I have read about this production gives the highest praise to Vesselina Kasarova.

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

May 21, 1998: L'Elisir d'Amore in Zurich

1998-05-21 L'Elisir d'Amore (Donizetti), Opernhaus Zürich

Adina = Isabel Rey
Nemorino = Vincenzo La Scola
Belcore = Angelo Veccia
Dulcamara = Carlos Chausson
Giannetta = Martina Jankova

Nello Santi, conductor

Ausstattung TULLlO PERICOLl
Mitarbeiler des Ausstatters MAROUAN DIB
Lichtgestaltung JÜRGEN HOFFMANN

0 Mitglied des Internationalcn Opcrnstndios,
unterstützed von der Herbert von Karajan Music Legacy
Musikalische Einstudierung
und Biihnenmusil,THOMAS B1ARTHEL
ftbendspielleitungGUDRUN HARTMANN
Organisation und
Beb'euung der Kincler SUSY SIEGRIST
Iuitische Ausgabe herausgegeben vou
Alberto Zedda, G. Ricordi & C., lVMailand
Donnerstag, 21. Mai 1998 Wiederaufnahme, Kombi-Abo
Pause nach dem 1. Akt
Beginn:20.00 Uhr
Ende: ca. 22.45 Uhr

Should have started at 20.00. The technicians were working hard, the ballet earlier that day, had lasted too long, the management said they were sorry. But they couldn't have known it was like that. So we waited about half an hour. But since we knew the explanation it was all right.

169 SF for a good place in the opera Reihe 2 Platz 7. Fantastic!!!

Vincenzo La Scola is as good as Carreras would have been as Nemorino. (Carreras is better naturally). So natural.

Isabel Rey is great. Actress/singer as were La Scola

All great.

Vincenzo La Scola: is as good as I am sure Carreras would have been if he sang Nemorino. It would have been so interesting to see Carreras in this role, because he would have been supreme. La Scola was also a natural kind of Nemorino. Not Stupid as many portray him, he just haven't learnt to write. "Tu sei buona, modesto sei" You are good, and modest,as Adina says. He has qualities in him, Pavarotti makes him a village fool. And in this version, unlike the Alagna, there no modernization of the arias ( Or should I say Oldifization).

Isabel Rey, is this not-so-modest woman. Wealthy and flirty farm-keeper (quoted from :

She comes at stage and all the other show her their respect. She Takes this in the most natural way, she is friendly to all,and there is just a invisible barrier between her and the others. It is all very natural. The Chorus is overdoing a little, but maybe it's just my seat near the scene that makes it seem so.

Her aria is very natural, sitting there telling them about Tristan and Isolde. Then the duet, such beautiful singing, and acting as it is all happening here and now.

Belcore comes, he is so sure of him self, and vulgar.

Dulcamara comes, and his aides are helping him.

Aria between Nemorino and Dulcamara. The acting and the singing is superb at all stages.

Caro elisir, sei mio -You should have been there. Think about the Philips cd-set with Carreras, and fill it with you own pictures of how you think, it would be on stage, and you might be right. Nothing stupid in this scene either

Adina comes in, and their duet, Incroyable!!

Crowd scene: Adina accepts to marry belcore. "Adina,credimi" Vincenzo La Scola is amazing, Isabel Rey showing Adina's feeling, the stupid, angry Belcore!!

OD Travel

Saturday, May 20, 2017

May 20, 2000: Pagliacci in Vienna

2000-05-20 Pagliacci (R. Leoncavallo), Wiener Staatsoper

Canio (Pagliaccio) = Giuseppe Giacomini
Nedda (Colombina) = OIga Guryakova
Tonio (Taddeo) = Leo Nucci
Beppe (Arlecchino) = Herwig Pecoraro
Silvio = Geert Smits

Jun Märkl, conductor

Wiener Staatsoper
samstag, 20. mai 2000

63. Aufführung in dieser Inszenierung
Drama in zwei Akten
Text und Musik von Ruggero Leoncavallo

Musikalische Leitung Jun Märkl
Inszenierung, Bühnenbild
und Kostüme Jean-Pierre Ponnelle
Chorleitung Ernst Dunshirn

Nedda (Colombina), seine Frau Olga Guriakowa*
(Olga Guriakova, Olga Guryakova, Olga Guryakowa)
Silvio, ein junger Bauer Geert Smits*

Erster Bauer Gerhard Eder
Zweiter Bauer Johann Reinprecht

Ort der Handlung Bei Montalto in Calabrien

Orchester und Chor der Wiener Staatsoper Eleven der Ballettschule der Wiener Staatsoper Gumpoldskirchner Kinderchor Bühnenorchester der Wiener Staatsoper

* Rollendebüt an der Wiener Staatsoper

After Cavalleria Rusticana with Agnes Baltsa, this opera was just not IT. Giuseppe Giacomini as Canio was rather boring. Olga Guryakova as Nedda was good enough. Leo Nucci was a delight as Tonio. Nothing more to say, really...

OD Travel

May 20, 2000: Cavalleria Rusticana in Vienna

2000-05-20 Cavalleria Rusticana (P. Mascagni), Wiener Staatsoper

Santuzza = Agnes Baltsa
Turiddu = Luis Lima
Lucia = Nelly Boschkowa
Alfio = Alberto Mastromarino
Lola = Stella Grigorian

Jun Märkl, conductor

Wiener Staatsoper
samstag, 20. mai 2000
65. Aufführung in dieser Inszenierung

Cavalleria rusticana
Musikdrama in einem Akt
Text von G. 1argioni- T ozzetti und G. Menasci
nach dem gleichnamigen Schauspiel von Giovanni Verga
Musik von Pietro Mascagni

Musikalische Leitung Jun Märkl
Inszenierung, Bühnenbild
und Kostüme Jean-Pierre Ponnelle
Chorleitung Ernst Dunshirn

Lola, seine Frau Stella Grigorian*
Ort der Handlung Ein Dorf in Sizilien

Orchester und Chor der Wiener Staatsoper
Eleven der Ballettschule der Wiener Staatsoper Bühnenorchester der Wiener Staatsoper

* Rollendebüt an der Wiener Staatsoper

May 20th
Guided tour of Wiener Staatsoper 13.00
Earlier in the day I was in Staatsoper for one of its Guided Tours. And in the the of the tour, we saw the workers make the scene ready for Cavalleria Rusticana.

Carreras Club Wien
Hotel Astoria at 16.00

After my first meeting with the ladies of the Carreras Club Wien at Hotel Astoria, I went to the Staatsoper to see Cavalleria Rusticana & Pagliacci.

Wiener Staatsoper 19.30
Cavalleria Rusticana
with Agnes Baltsa

The Austrian Television was there to record Baltsa in her parade role as Santuzza.

She was on stage the whole opera. Even from the prelude. I have never seen any opera where the music was in every happening on stage. (Like a Ballett).

Santuzza = Agnes Baltsa.
She is condamned by the society. Her fault: being woman, and falling in love with Turriddu. A man of no discretion.

Turriddu = Luis Lima
They (society) must have known about Turriddu and Santuzza. But he is a man. Maybe they even know about him and Lola. Unsympatic figure!

Married to Alfio. They are prominent members. Lola who has betrayed her husband, is accepted by society. Even when there can be no doubt what have happened between her and Turriddu. (The duel)

Rich, admired. For what: being rich? This Alfio, was young and no vulgar figure.

OD Travel

Thursday, May 18, 2017

May 18, 2000: Rigoletto in Zurich

2000-05-18 Rigoletto (G. Verdi), Opernhaus Zurich

Der Herzog von Mantua = Piotr Bezcala
Rigoletto = Carlo Guelfi
Gilda = Elena Mosuc
Sparafucile = Pavel Daniluk
Maddalena = Stefania Kaluza
Giovanna = Tuija Knihtilä
Monterone = Valery Murga
Marullo = Peter Kálmán
Borsa = Volker Vogel
Graf von Ceprano = Jozsef Dene

Maurizio Arena, conductor

Choreographische Mitarbeit RUDOLF BUDAVÁRY

Die Gräfin, seine Gemahlin CHRISTINE KNORREN°
Die Herzogin von Mantua CIIARLOTTE ROHRBACH
0 lMitgliedl rIes Inlternationalen Opcrnstndios
Donnerstag, 18. Mai 2000Migros-Volksvorstellung
Pause nach dem 1.. Akt (2. Bild)
Beginn: 1.9.30 Uhr
Ende:22.30 Uhr

May 18th
Opernhaus Zurich 1930-22.30
Rigoletto (Giuseppe Verdi)
A wonderful production of Rigoletto
Rigoletto = a great Carlo Guelfi
Gilda = a fantastic Elena Mosuc
Duca = a wonderful Piotr Beczala
Maddalena = Stefania Kaluza (always good)

May 19th
Train from Zurich to Vienna

OD Travel

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

May 17, 2013: La Gioconda in Paris

2013-05-17 La Gioconda (Ponchielli), Opera National de Paris (Opera Bastille)

La Gioconda = Violeta Urmana
Enzo Grimaldo  = Marcelo Alvarez
Laura Adorno = Luciana d'Intino
Alvise Badoero = Roberto Scandiuzzi
Barnaba = Claudio Sgura
La Cieca = María José Montiel

Daniel Oren, conductor

Stage director, sets and costumes - Pier Luigi Pizzi
Lighting - Sergio Rossi
Choreography - Gheorghe Iancu
Chorus master - Patrick Marie Aubert

Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus

MAÎTRISE DES HAUTS-DE-SEINE⁄ Paris Opera Children's Chorus

Violeta Urmana as La Gioconda and Luciana d'Intino as Laura Adorno. Two singers I have often wanted to really love but found it hard to do. AND so in LA GIOCONDA they were both in the role of the their life. To hear their duet, oh, it was pure magic. Violeta Urmana, I thought I could never love you after you changed fach from mezzo to soprano, you were divine as La Gioconda. Luciana d'Intino, I finally do absolutely love and adore you. Laura, Laura, sei tu!!

Maria José Montiel as La Cieca. Amazing. Wonderful. The singing, the acting. BRAVA! A giant at the stage. Truly with you as La Cieca, La Cieca is one of the major roles in La Gioconda.

Claudio Sgura as Barnaba. My villain, voice and acting!! Grande Claudio! Bravo!

Marcelo Alvarez as Enzo Grimaldo. Another perfect role for Marcelo. BRAVO!!!

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

May 17, 2000: Sly in Zurich

2000-05-17 Sly (Wolff-Ferrari), Opernhaus Zurich

Sly = Boiko Zvetanov
Graf von Westmoreland = Carlo Guelfi
Dolly = Isabelle Kabatu
John Plake = Oliver Widmer

Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, conductor

Französischer Edelmlaun/Musiker MIROSLAV CHRISTOFF
1, Edehmann/Mohr MARTIN ZYSSET
2, Edelmann/Indianer VOLKER VOGEL
3, Edehmann/ Alter Diener PETER KELLER
4, Edelmamn/Chinese RUDOLF A. HARTMANN
5. Edelmann/Doktor PETER KÁLMÁN
Snare, PolizeibeamtweRUNI BRATTABERGo
2. Säufer JÖRG HEPPE
Mitglied des Internationalen Opernstudios
Dubiose Individluen Julia Cheremeteff, Elisabeth Fues,
und junge Höflinge Katharina Gebauer, Yael Herz, Megan Laehn,
Cornelia Meierbans, Simone Spicak,
Marisa Waldburger, Eva Zmekova
Richard Dozsa, Markus Gehrig, Daniele Gullo, Marc Meier, Bernhard Rubin

Inszenierung HANS HOLLMANN
Spielleitung ULRICH SENN
Bühnenbild HANS HOFFER
Lichtgestaltung JÜRGEN HOFFMANN

May 17th
(National Day Norway)
SAS from Oslo to Copenhagen 13:30-14:40
From Copenhagen to Zurich 15:20-17:10

Opernhaus Zurich 19.30-22.45
SLY with Boiko Zvetanov
Luckily I had recently looked up JC's schedule at . So it was no shock to find out that Boiko Zvetanow was singing Sly. Boiko was in great voice, and he is a good actor. Isabelle Kabatu was Dolly. She was a revelation. Touching, marvelous voice. Carlo Guelfi was the Count of Westmoreland. Difficult role. He was good, but Juan Pons was better. Oliver Widmer sang John Plake. He was drowned by the orchestra. (Carlos Chausson was formidable in this role).

OD Travel

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

May 16, 2013: Andrea Chenier in Vienna

2013-05-16 Andrea Chénier (Giordano), Wiener Staatsoper

Andrea Chenier = José Cura
Maddalena di Coigny = Martina Serafin*
Carlo Gérard = Marco Vratogna*
Bersi = Margarita Gritskova*
Gräfin di Coigny = Donna Ellen*
Madelon = Monika Bohinec*
Roucher = Marco Caria
Pietro Fléville = Hans Peter Kammerer
Fouquier Tinville = Alexandru Moisiuc
Mathieu = Alfred Šramek
Abbé = Peter Jelosits
Incroyable = Thomas Ebenstein*
Haushofmeister = Marcus Pelz
Dumas = Il Hong*
Schmidt = Walter Fink*

Marco Armiliato, conductor

Nach einer Inszenierung von Otto Schenk
Bühnenbild - Rolf Glittenberg
Kostüme - Milena Canonero
Choreinstudierung - Ernst Dunshirn

* role debut in Wiener Staatsoper

I did not have to worry about falling asleep. I was wide awake. José Cura was wonderful as Andrea Chenier. Marco Vratogna got better as Carlo Gerard during the performance. Martina Serafin was a bit subdued as Maddalena di Coigny (it was her role debut). Alfred Sramek was a great Mathieu. Marco Armiliato is a great conductor.

OD Travel & Photos
Original blog post

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

Monday, May 15, 2017

May 15, 2005: Il Corsaro in Genova

2005-05-15 Il Corsaro (Verdi), Teatro Carlo Felice, Genova

Medora = Serena Farnocchia
Gulnara = Doina Dimitriu
Corrado = Giuseppe Gipali
Seid = Roberto Servile
Giovanni = Antonio De Gobbi

Bruno Bartoletti, conductor

Il corsaro
Opera in tre atti di Francesco Maria Piave
Musica di Giuseppe Verdi

Teatro Carlo Felice


Bruno Bartoletti

Lamberto Puggelli

Giuseppe Verdi

Marco Capuana

Vera Marzot

Maestro d'armi: Renzo Musumeci Greco


Sunday 15 May, 15.30 (R)


Medora Serena Farnocchia
Gulnara Doina Dimitriu
Corrado Giuseppe Gipali
Seid Roberto Servile
Giovanni Antonio De Gobbi


Nuovo allestimento del Teatro Carlo Felice
in coproduzione con il Teatro Regio di Parma

I wonder if this production would have been exactly like this if Bush had not decided that the Geneva convention did not apply to all. Without Abu Graib and such would one chosen to show torture on the stage. For it is torture to hold someone's head in the opening and try to close it while head held fix is there to get the trap door repeatedly on the head. Not only did Seid do that to his prisoners but the corsairs did that too, don't know what prisoner they had on their ship, but violence was shown. In the setting of Corsairs against the Moslems where the Corsairs is sort of heroes (in real life they were never true heroes, only pirates). Without Bush and Iraq, would this Corrado been staged like this. Good or evil they are all doing it, torture... USA has OK' ed it. Or just the president of USA, and his government and the Republicans.

I don't know it this was a kind of hidden critics to the US, or what, but I think the director should have refrained from showing it onstage. And of course the sword fight was spectacular but why not keep it offstage.

Both Medora's were wonderful. Doina Dimitriu was a much better Gulnara than Paola Romano. But Dimitrius voice sometimes seem to go into too thin air. Giuseppe Cipali was a sympathetic Corrado, wonderful in the duets with Medora and Gulnara. But Rubens Pellizzaro was younger and more agile both in voice and acting and climbing. Marco Di Felice was a better Seid than Roberto Servile. More elegant, refined and better voice.

OD Travel + Photos

May 15, 2002: Carmen in Helsinki

2002-05-15 Carmen (G. Bizet), Finland National Opera (Helsinki)

Carmen = Agnes Baltsa
Don José = Alberto Cupido
Micaëla = Kirsi Tiihonen
Escamillo = Raimo Laukka
Zuniga = Jaakko Hietikko
Moralés = Jarmo Ojala
Frasquita = Merja Wirkkala
Mercédes = Kristina Haartti
Dancaïro = Marko Puustinen
Remendado = Juha Riihimäki
Lillias Pastia = Jari Mäkinen

Jari Hämäläinen, conductor

Wonderful Carmen in Helsinki 15.5.2002

The Finnish National Opera House is a very modern house, and
I was lucky to have a seat the was right in middle of the salon.
The orchestra was playing Carmen wonderfully. Great
production, and the chorus was also very good. It was similar to
Berlin Deutsche Opera the production, but at the same time I
think better.

Agnes Baltsa was a very defiant Carmen. So defiant that she
was almost certain to die a violent death. She was in great form
and was very appreciated by the audience. Some notes were
lacking, but her voice was strong in the long last notes.

Alberto Cupido was a beautiful Don Jose in his voice, but he had
become fat so he didn't look that beautiful. His voice is a
wonderful instrument. His Flower song was a real treat for opera

Kirsi Tiihonen was a splendid Micaela. Not a sissy as she is
often portrayed, but a strong woman, ready to go to the furthest
way to save Don Jose.

And the Matador Escamillo was sung with a strong Finnish

I was so lucky to be there, it was wonderful.

Unfortunately it was not allowed to take pictures, and I waited for
Agnes Baltsa at the personal entrance, but I missed her.

No spoken dialogue, nor recitative.
Conductor Jari Hämäläinen
Director Guy Montavon
Sets and costumes Seppo Nurmimaa

Performed in French, surtitled in Finnish
Duration 3 h 15 min, 1 intermission

OD Travel

May 15, 2001: Agnes Baltsa in Vienna

2001-05-15 Opera Concert. Konzerthaus Wien
Agnes Baltsa, mezzo
Marcello Viotti, conductor

So Agnes Baltsa did three concerts with the same arias. Unfortunately I could not go to Regensburg, but I could see Friedrichshafen and Vienna.

The difference between these two concerts was that both orchestra and singer was better than in Friedrichshafen. The Bodenseefestival 2001 had her concert as one of the great highlight in the program. Unfortunately the orchestra was insecure musically, maybe one wouldn't notice it if one didn't know the pieces. In the Coronation March from Le Prophete, it was clear from the beginning that the orchestra had not been enough rehearsed, missing some cues, instability inside the orchestra. They was much better in the Massenet music, and did Carmen well. But I must say that throughout the concert, the orchestra was just not good enough for this event.

Not only the orchestra was improved, Agnes Baltsa was better too. (She was probably better with the improved orchestra). When Agnes Baltsa came in, naturally the applause was immense, then she was preparing herself for Fides' "Ah, mon fils!", and I could see her going mentally on the opera stage being Fides in that moment of the opera "Le Prophete". Memories from Vienna State Opera from seeing that opera there came vividly in my mind, she was both in Konzerthaus and State Opera, and she was great as Fides. I cherish the actress, not only the singer, and maybe the singing was not perfect, but this was more opera than concert. I loved it.

When she sang Herodiade, she was Herodiade. It gave me fond memories of seeing her in Herodiade at the Vienna State Opera. She was going into Herodiade before starting singing, I sat close enough, to see her face and the expression there. Truth in a concert. Going into Charlotte, "Vas, laisse couler mes larmes", how could anybody not start dreaming about seeing her on an opera stage as Charlotte in Werther. Or at least singing more arias from Werther. Carmen, yes, she is perfect as Carmen, singing the third aria of Carmen, not the Habenera nor the Seguedilla, I think Baltsa wanted to the sing something less familiar or maybe it was the drama in this aria "Air des cartes"

Berlioz. The orchestra was loved by both Friedrichshafen and Vienna audiences when they played the Carnaval de Romains. And who could resist Agnes Baltsa singing Les Troyens, Didons aria. Diving into Didon, giving the audience a high treat. It was the Great Hightlight of the first part of the concert.

Second part of the concert. The Sinfonia from Bellini's I Capuleti ed i Montecchi, and that Romeo aria. She finding having a dress, strange for being Romeo, or so her expression told me. Going into Romeo finding Giulietta lifeless in her tomb, it was not easy taking the audience thunderous applause after almost dying as Romeo. Then after some moments she looked up, embracing the applause. Probably glad to be able to rest a bit when the orchestra was playing the Prelude from Aida. The orchestra played Aida well, and out Agnes Baltsa came to sing the Veil Song from Don Carlos, another great success for Agnes Baltsa. Eboli is really one of Baltsa's signature roles.

Cavalleria Rusticana Intermezzo and "Voi lo sapete, o mamma". The orchestra know the Intermezzo well, and the Baltsa came out, singing her heart out as Santuzza. As in all these arias, she got into the role and singing as it she in the opera. Than came the extra number, because of some cockup in Konzerthaus, we had been handed out a piece of paper, where already the extra numbers was written. So it came as no surprise that it was "O mio babbino caro", she sang it well, but maybe there was other arias she would loved better to sing as encores. Then came "Seguedilla", she was doing it well, but with a big sigh. And when the audience did not want her to go, another encore was necessary. The conductor, Marcello Viotti, decided dictatorially that it was to be another Seguedilla. She was doing this no 2 Seguedilla in a bit different way, more professional way. We will probably never know what aria Agnes Baltsa would have chosen to sing if she could have decided it herself. Personally I think "O don fatale" would have been her choice.

OD Travel + Photos

May 15, 1999: L'Elisir d'Amore in Vienna

1999-05-15 L'Elisir d'amore (G.Donizetti), Wiener Staatsoper

Adina = Ana Maria Martinez
Nemorino = Ramon Vargas
Belcore = Manuel Lanza
Dulcamara = Alfonso Antoniozzi
Giannetta = Uta Schwabe

Anton Guadagno, conductor

Samstag, 15. Mai 1999 STAATSOPER
126. Aufführung in dieser Inszenierung
L 'Elisir d'Amore
Komische Oper in zwei Akten
vonFelice Romani
MusikGaetano Donizetti

Dirigent Anton Guadagno
Nach einer Inszenierung vonOtto Schenk
Bühnenbild und Kostüme
nach Entwürfen
für die Aufführung im
Theater an der Wien 1973 von Jürgen Rose
Chorleitung Ernst Dunshirn

Ein Trompeter Konrad Monsberger
Diener des Dulcamara Michael Burggasser
Landleute und Soldaten
Bühnenorchester der Österreichischen Bundestheater

Why not see one of the most popular operas? It is exciting to see familiar operas, maybe just for enjoyment, for making a comparison against what your mind told you this opera should be or other productions of the same opera. Opera critics: the opera as a whole or just the top notes, never mind the rest. I detest top notes when it is just put there no connection to the drama. When the top notes gives the dramatic key to the opera, telling the truth there and them, then I embrace it.

I remember the cries: "Bravo, Ramon!!" And he was worth those cries. Ana Maria Martinez, she not as great as Isabel Rey was in Opernhaus Zurich. But the production was splendid. Loved the scenography. Ramon Vargas was a sympathetic Nemorino. I remember the chorus. The individuality of the chorus. Making it real.

OD Travel

Sunday, May 14, 2017

May 14, 2005: Il Corsaro in Genova

2005-05-14 Il Corsaro (Verdi), Teatro Carlo Felice, Genova

Medora = Angela Marambio
Gulnara = Paola Romanò
Corrado = Rubens Pelizzari
Seid = Marco Di Felice
Giovanni = Antonio De Gobbi

Bruno Bartoletti, conductor

Il corsaro
Opera in tre atti di Francesco Maria Piave
Musica di Giuseppe Verdi

Teatro Carlo Felice

Gulnara = Paola Romanò
Corrado = Rubens Pelizzari

Bruno Bartoletti

Lamberto Puggelli

Giuseppe Verdi

Marco Capuana

Vera Marzot

Maestro d'armi: Renzo Musumeci Greco


Satuday 14 May, 15.30 (F)


Nuovo allestimento del Teatro Carlo Felice
in coproduzione con il Teatro Regio di Parma


After the concert version of Corsaro in Barcelona in February 3rd & 6th, 2005 with Jose Cura as Corrado & Susan Neves as Gulnara I wanted to see it as a fully staged stage and that led me to Genova, Italy. The production in Teatro Carlo Felice of Genova was of the traditional sort but this of course this is 2005.

During the prelude we see Medora searching for Corrado as it seems. All scene shifts happens before our eyes as it is more usual nowadays. Scene 1 of act 1 as it is staged here happens on th ship. With ropes to climb even as he sings Corrado and later also the chorus. (Act 1 Scene 4). The change to Medora's room is done with dividing the stage in half with a stage curtain, behind is the the ship and in the front is Medora. When Corrado comes he lifts the carpet away slightly.

Act 2. In Seid's harem. Beautiful setting, Gulnara is being dressed as a bath. Chorus singing, and then Gulnara sings too. What a disappointment!! After Susan Neves wonderful singing in Barcelona, the Italian soprano Paola Romano is painful to listen too, her vibrati, her voice sounds old. But Genoa's Seid Marco Di Felice is better than Carlo Guelfi, Salve Allah is wonderfully sung and acted, very realistic. The Dervish, no other than Corrado himself (Rubens Pelizzari), what a duet!! Later he corsairs comes into the stage, and there is many sword duels on stage. Clever us of red colored curtains made the illusion of fire real. Gulnara and her odalisks cries for rescue and Corrado orders his corsairs to save them. Seid, the egocentric man is not happy that his "wife" Gulnara and his odalisks is saved from death, nope, he is just jealous instead. Stupid and violent man thanks the gallant Corsair with terrible death from torture.


Act 3. Seid is just thinking about jealousy and revenge. Feeling like all tyrant pity for himself. Gulnara is trying to be clever asking Seid to think of ransom money instead of death/torture for Corrado. Unfortunately Seid is just about rage. Lucky for us in the audience the vibrato of Paola Romano is not so strong here, the duet is beautifully sung. And the stage changes for the dungeon where Corrado is resting after much torture, trying to sleep as sleep is the only solace for him. This is one of the most beautiful tenor arias, Eccomi prigioniero, naturally act 1 aria is also one of the great Verdi tenor arias (Tutto parea sorridere). And lucky for us Paola Romano's voice is not too disturbing, but still not "good". Usually the Gulnara/Corrado duet is a very beautiful duet. Gulnara saved the not so willing to be saved Corrado.

Meanwhile at home Medora thinks Corrado is already dead so she takes a deadly potion of poison. And guess what ships comes in not long after. "It's him, CORRADO!". Medora dies naturally, and Corrado decides he is to die too. he climbs up and jumps!! The music is unbelievable beautiful in this scene, but unfortunately, the height voice of Gulnara full is vibrato is scorching mine ears when her voice soars over the ensemble.

Seid Marco Di Felice wonderful
Medora Angela Marambio wonderful
Corrado Rubens Pelizzari wonderful (Jose Cura is better)
Gulnara Paola Romanò not quite bottom, but not wonderful

OD Travel + Photos

May 14, 1999: Die Fledermaus in Vienna 1999

1999-05-14 Die Fledermaus (J. Strauss), Theater an der Wien

Gabriel von Eisenstein = Wolfgang Brendel
Rosalinde, his wife = Silvana Dussmann
Prince Orlofsky = Agnes Baltsa
Alfred, voice coach = Herbert Lippert
Dr. Falke, notary = Olaf Bär
Dr. Blind, barrister = Ernst-Dieter Suttheimer
Frank, prison director = Anton Scharinger
Adele, Rosalinde's maid = Isabel Rey
Ida, her sister = Mercedes Echerer
Frosch, court usher = Erwin Steinhauer

Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor

Wiener Festwochen 1999

Die Fledermaus (The Bat)
by Johann Strauss
Libretto and lyrics by C. Haffner and R.
Genée based on the vaudeville "Réveillon"
by Meilhac and Halévy

New production
Joint production of Vienna Festival and Zurich Opera

Musical director: Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Director: Jürgen Flimm
Stage design: Dieter Flimm
Costumes: Birgit Hutter
Choreography: Catharina Lühr

Vienna Symphonic Orchestra
Arnold Schoenberg Choir

Venue: Theater an der Wien
Premiere: 8 May (Televised ORF)
Additional performances: 10, 12, 14, 16 May
19.00 - 22.30

(Interesting that no audience is alike.)

Brava, Agnes Baltsa!
Brava, Isabel Rey!
Brava, Silvana Dussmann!

OD Travel + Photos

Saturday, May 13, 2017

May 13, 2010: Turandot in Berlin

2010-05-13 Turandot (Puccini), Deutsche Oper Berlin

Turandot = Maria Guleghina
Liu = Manuela Uhl
Calaf = José Cura
Timur = Arutjun Kotchinian
Ping = Nathan De’Shon Myers
Pang = Jörg Schörner
Pong = Yosep Kang
Althoum = Peter Maus
Mandarin = Lucas Harbour
1st voice = Heidi Melton
2nd voice = Jana Kurucová

Laurent Campellone, conductor

Thu, 13.05.2010, 18:00 h
duration: approximately 2 hrs 30 mins | 1 interval

C-prices: 26,- | 46,- | 67,- | 84,-

Giacomo Puccini

Dramma lyrico in three acts
Libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni, after the play by Carlo Gozzi
First performed on 25th April 1929 in Milan
Premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 13th September 2008

In Italien with German surtitels

Laurent Campellone

Lorenzo Fioroni

Paul Zoller

Katharina Gault

Choir Conductor
William Spaulding

Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Schöneberger Sängerknaben
Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin

World class singing could not hide that this Regie did not work. It didn't make sense. The big arias, In questa reggia and Nessun dorma, was hidden by the going-on's onstage. How well did Maria Guleghina sing her aria? It was difficult to tell to much was covered by having Turandot's servants and naturally what is an updated opera without somebody acting as journalist/photographer. It was a mess that Maria Guleghina could not save. The directors ideas was against her. Jose Cura's Nessun dorma was wonderful. But as wonderful the aria sung, it was a missed moment for the director. Instead of a film of children unable to sleep in a palace and walking scared about it could have been a moment between Calaf and Turandot. The 3rd act starts with Turandot onstage sleeping/waking and here we have Nessun dorma with Calaf but we got a stupid film.

Where 1st act was nonsense, act 2 had its moments (the Riddle scene was OK), but act 3 was the best because the director could not destroy too much here.

The director's idea was, I think: Violence + Love = Good. But it made bad theatre.

Act 1: We are in a theatre. All the people in Beijing (think: old DDR) is waiting for the spectacle. A Riddle scene is played out complete with the beheading of the Prince. Imagine my surprise when in act 2 I understand that it was really Ping playing the Prince, Pong Turandot and Pang the executioner. This is supposed to be a tyranny but these 3 "ministers" is allowed to act out something so negatively to the imperial princess. In the same act the director does much out of a person rejecting singing a hymn to the Emperor. But a parody of Turandot is accepted. Ping, Pong and Pang are always a misogynist lot, but t\in this production it was a step further. I recognized Calaf with his leather jacket and Cura's height made him easy to see. Liu and Timur was almost impossible to see. The director did not really understand that Timur is supposed to be blind and that Liu has to be near him to help him. Timur was instead a drunkard who was occasional blind too. In the theatre there is an emperor's balcony of course. That is where Turandot appears to give thumb down to the Prince of Persia. Then the director makes the usual mistake: there is no way that Calaf could see Turandot to fall in love. It is not only that she has a black veil in her face. He is not looking at her. (Maybe he did, and I missed those seconds). Liu sings sweetly to her Prince, she has made up a table so that they can eat. The idea must be that we the audience should understand that she is dreaming of domestic happiness with her beloved Calaf. We don't need that. We have the aria already. Calaf answered by throwing the table cloth with all that Liu has put the on the table at the same time as he sings the most sweetly sung "Non piangere, Liu". His father Timur, Liu and the 3 pranksters they all try to dissuade him from hitting the gong-gong. But Calaf wants Turandot.

Act 2: Ping, Pong and Pang is feeling sorry for themselves. They are slightly suicidal when their costumes are brought to them. Usual this is the light moment in Turandot. But in this production it was impossible for me to feel any sympathy for the 3 "ministers". The Emperor's balcony is filled up with officers and diplomats worthy as if any European Royal Family could be proud of. The Emperor is there trying to persuade Calaf to give up his quest. When Calaf refuses for the 3rd time then it is time for the Riddle scene. The aria In questa Reggia is drowned by the going-on's. Especially is the journalist/photographer annoying. Turandot's great aria has no unity in it as Maria Guleghina as Turandot has to accept the presence of the press and so cannot give full attention to the moving story of her ancestor. This aria is showing the whole motivation behind Turandot's actions but the director butchered it. But as the Riddle Scene starts finally we are brought to understand and enjoy the interaction between Calaf and Turandot. For the first time this is not played out as a crowd moment but as an intimate encounter. Reading the director's comments in the program I find out that his idea is that this is really a Love Duet. And that Turandot is in reality falling in love with Calaf as they sit down. This exciting idea is not being realized in the scene. Still Maria Guleghina and Jose Cura is really exciting in this duet. Calaf wins by guessing the right answer to the 3 riddles. The Emperor loves his new son-in-law and Turandot is given her wedding gown. She rejects it, of course. Sadly the director has decided to make Turandot, the Princess, into a whiny girl when she rejects the wedding plans. The Emperor and Calaf ignores Turandot. Calaf is the celebrity du jour and the crowd wants him. Finally he sees Turandot and in a way to save her embarrassment/win her over completely he challenges her with a riddle of his own. "Tell me my name, and by dawn I will die".

Act 3 is the act where nothing can go wrong. But the director decide to put a film about a boy and a girl who can't sleep and walk about fearfully in a palace. That is what is happening when Jose Cura sings Nessun dorma. The film is just a distraction from a wonderful rendition of Nessun dorma. Instead of a film the director could have made something out of having Turandot sleeping in her white dress onstage as Calaf sings Nobody shall sleep. Another opportunity lost for the director and the opera. Then Ping, Pong and Pang again tries to persuade Calaf to give in. It is only natural since Turandot has decreed that nobody shall sleep until the name of the stranger is found, death will be the reward for the people if they don't comply. In wanders Timur and now they are going to pry the name out of his mouth (torture). Turandot sleeps with her dagger, threatens Ping and then assumes her usual composure to order torture of the old man. Liu steps in defending Timur: She is the one with the Name. Of course, Calaf doesn't understand and threatens Liu. Another lost opportunity for the director was to give more insight into Turandot's mind when meeting Liu and her sacrificial love. Liu is tortured while singing Tu che in gel sei cinta. Liu kills herself with the executioner's knife. Incredible that she could just take the knife from him and incredible that she could have the strength to kill herself since a finger has been cut from each hand (that is my intepretation of the torture). One of the ministers, Pong?, hangs her dead body up. Timur cries up when he understands that Liu is dead. As Liu hangs suspended in the air, Timur sits down and take up his bottle and drinks. Traditionally Turandot and Calaf is alone when they sing the final duet. It is hard for me to find what to say about this duet because the singing/acting is simply glorious. Calaf tells Turandot her name and she proclaims she knows his name. The Emperor is there. Ping, Pong and Pang are dressed as Calaf, Turandot and priest making a mock wedding. Emperor gives Calaf a rich crown. Turandot hides her dagger, smiles to her father and stabs him. Calaf takes the dagger, goes over to his father and stabs him. Turandot sees Ping, Pong and Pang doing their mockery and Calaf gallantly walks up the stairs and stabs them. It is happy ending for Turandot and Calaf. They really loves each other.

Actually the father murders made sense.

BRAVO, Jose Cura!
BRAVA, Maria Guleghina!
Director, learn your craft...

Blog posts: Turandot in Berlin on May 13th, 2010 (part 1)
Turandot in Berlin on May 13th, 2010 (part 2)

OD Travel + Photos

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