Thursday, November 30, 2017

November 30, 1989: Faust in Oslo

1989-11-30 Faust (Gounod), Den Norske Opera (Oslo)

Marguerite = Solveig Kringlebotn
Faust = Kåre Bjørkøy
Valentin = Jan Sødal
Mefisto = Oddbjørn Tennfjord
Siebel = Irma Urrila
Marte = Vessa Hanssen
Wagner = Jens Olai Justvik

Dag Nilssen, conductor

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

November 29, 2002: Jose Cura in Vienna

2002-11-29 Opera Arias & Symphonic Concert, Konzerthaus Wien

José Cura, tenor & conductor
Sinfonia Varsovia
Pietro Veneri, conductor

José Cura in Concert, Konzerthaus Wien
Sinfonia Varsovia
José Cura, tenor and conductor
Pietro Veneri, conductor
Composers: Ponchielli, Verdi, Boito, Giordano,
Meyerbeer, Panizza, Rachmaninow

Part 1
Amilcare Ponchielli
Cielo e mar, scena & aria ( Enzo from «La Gioconda») (1876)

Giuseppe Verdi
O figli, o figli mei ... Ah, la paterna mano, scena & aria
(Macduff from «Macbeth») (1847)

Ouverture «Les vêpres siciliennes» (1855) Cura conducts

Ah si. ben dite .... Tutto parea sorridere (Corrado from «Il Corsaro»)

Arrigo Boito
Giunto sul passo estremo (Faust from «Mefistofele») (1868)

Umberto Giordano
Prelude 2. Act from the opera «Siberia» Cura conducts

Giacomo Meyerbeer
Mi batte il cor ... O paradiso (Vasco from «L'Africana») (1865)

La Cancion a la Bandera (Mariano from «Aurora»)

------------------- Pause ------------------- Part 2

Sergei Rachmaninov
Second Symphony in E minor opus 27 (1906-1907) Cura conducts


Ouverture, Guglielmo Tell (Rossini)

Nessun dorma

How can one compare a studio recording to a live concert? It is impossible for me, it was live, it was wonderful to look at José Cura conducting his Sinfonia Varsovia. And in the end, he just started the orchestra to get into a joyous musical moment, unfortunate I don't know which music that played, only that Cura started the orchestra and then he left. But luckily he came back to give us an extra number, Nessun Dorma.

And naturally did the Konzerthaus Wien give us opportunity to buy his Aurora CD and the Rachmaniov CD, and then we could stand in line for his autograph and maybe a photo of the great maestro.
José Cura 29.11.2002
COMPARISON: CD and November 29th, 2002 (Part 1):

Aurora, opera arias

1- Canción a la Bandera / Aurora, (Hector Panizza)
2- Svanir le voci! ... Meco all' altar di Venere... Me protegge, me difende / Norma (Vincenzo Bellini)
3- Ah si, ben dite... Tutto parea sorridere / Il Corsaro (Giuseppe Verdi)
4- Oh! fede negar potessi .... Quando le sere al placido / Luisa Miller (Giuseppe Verdi)
5- Mi batte il cor ... O Paradis / L'Africana (Giacomo Meyerbeer)
6- Giunto sul passo estremo / Mefistofele (Arrigo Boito)
7- Sia gloria ai canti dei naviganti! ... Cielo e mar / La Gioconda (Amilcare Ponchielli)
8- Ed anche Beppe amó / L'amico Fritz (Pietro Mascagni)
9- Preludio. Atto II / Siberia (Umberto Giordano)
10- Orride steppe / Siberia (Umberto Giordano)
11- Intermezzo Epico / Aurora (Hector Panizza)

As one can see from the list of the CD and 1rst part of this concerts, they are very similar, which makes it easier to make a comparison. On the CD Cura conducts it all. In the concert it was Veneri who conducted the arias. And here is the biggest difference, I find José Cura's reading of the score's more romantic, well, I liked his conducting better than Veneri's. Not that I found Veneri lacking in the concert, but when listening to the CD I know what I like best. Naturally I would have liked very much to hear and see Cura in the flesh singing the arias from Norma, Luisa Miller. L'Amico Fritz and the aria from Siberia. But I guess that Cura had to spare himself after all he was to conduct the 2nd symphony of Rachmaniov after the interval. In the aria concert I found Cura singing from Macbeth and Mefistofele as the two most beautiful vocal moments. And I enjoyed Cura conducting the Ouverture from I Vespri Siciliani and the Prelude from Siberia.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

November 28, 1989: Otello in Oslo

1989-11-28 Otello (Verdi), Den Norske Opera (Oslo)

Otello = Osvaldo di Pianduni
Desdemona = Frøydis Klausberger
Iago = Knut Skram
Emilia = Torhild Staahlen
Cassio = Arild Helleland
Rodrigo = Stein Erik Sagbråten
Lodovico = Bjørn Mørch-Olsen
Montano = Jens Olai Justvik

Martin Turnovsky, conductor

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Monday, November 27, 2017

November 27, 2010: Manon Lescaut in Vienna

2010-11-27 Manon Lescaut (Puccini),Wiener Staatsoper

Manon Lescaut = Olga Guryakova
Des Grieux = José Cura
Lescaut = Eijiro Kai
Geronte de Ravoir = Sorin Coliban
Edmondo = Ho-yoon Chung
Host = Marcus Pelz
Sergeant = Dan Paul Dumitrescu
Madrigale SIngers = Gabriella Bessenyei, Krisztina Exner, Maria Gusenleiter, Barbara Reiter

Philippe Auguin, conductor

Regie - Robert Carsen
Ausstattung - Antony McDonald
Dramaturgie - Ian Burton
Choreographie - Philippe Giraudeau

This Manon Lescaut was updated to our times. The director, Robert Carson is a clever man that respects opera, but the production is too clever for its own good. This was the 29th performance of this production but the first with José Cura as Des Grieux, Olga Guryakova as Manon, Sorin Coliban as Geronte de Ravoir and Ho-yoon Chung as Edmondo. So it was the night of 4 role debuts at the opera.

José Cura was the real event here. He was the one that made sense of it all. And he was in glorious voice, too. Olga Guryakova was a good Manon Lescaut but then it was the production. The production seemed be more about the society that is vain and cruel than about the love story between Manon and Des Grieux. Edmondo's role has been expanded. I am sure every Edmondo would love to be more onstage and sing more, and that opera houses are happy to employ one person and not 3.

Act 1. In Amiens. A *****Hotel, an avenue with glass windows of model dolls wearing expensive women's dress. Students with beer bottles. Both men and women. Edmondo is photographing the students. Then they all dance the typical MTV type dance. (gosh, that is so stupid, I am getting embarrassed as I sit and see). JOSE CURA, good-looking in black. Finally a human being. This Des Grieux is a bit naive, but can bite back, in good humor, with "Tra voi, belle, brune, bionde". Edmondo acts almost like he is Des Grieux' friend but during the performance we see that this Edmondo is no one's friend.

Then the stage coach arrives in Amiens. In this updated version it must be a train and what else people dressed up and with mobile phones. It is getting old this theme of using mobile phones to say it is our century. Old, not edgy. Manon is dressed as a young girl. Too young to be "Donna non vidi mai". Lescaut her brother (Ejiro Kai) dressed as a soldier, obviously much older than Manon. Then it was Geronte de Ravoir and his handlers. So here he is the "old man" but he does not look old. That does not make good sense. Actually we see no old people in this production. It is a new world, of course, only young people may apply. Naturally the horses in the opera has become cars. A Lexus drives the young couple to Paris. Edmondo, naturally, informs Geronte of this. In a traditional production he does it because he is a clever students who loves pranks but here Edmondo is a more sinister person. The opera is updated but the action of people is not. Would it really be possible that Geronte, the very rich man would have no other car or no other means to get a car? No.

Act 2. Paris. Geronte's penthouse apartment. Manon has many dresses and many people to help her get dressed. She is drinking champagne. Lescaut is still drinking from beer cans. Then Madrigal singers appears with naturally the videographer, sound mixer etc. Manon is making a MTV video of "Sulla vetta tu del monte". Naturally in this world of today any rich man would not only want Manon as his mistress but also to become a star. Manon is the lead singer here with the madrigalists and her back choir. It works in this production. Then Edmondo appears (the traditional Manon Lescaut's dance master is replaced with Edmondo, the photographer). Geronte has decided Manon is to be a star. So he and his friends is there to see Manon having her publicity photos shot. Good! Then they all leave and Des Grieux arrives. Wonderful duet!!! Then Geronte arrives (Edmondo took photos in secret of Manon & Des Grieux). He exists after promising to come back soon. Then Lescaut alerts them of Geronte's plan. Naturally Manon cannot leave without all her stuff. Her servant rush out with several suitcases and try to fill them with all the jewelery and dresses. Then Geronte and the "police" sergeant come. Des Grieux is detained by some of Geronte's men and Geronte sardonic with Manon. And what new opera production does not have a little rape or sexualt assault. The female servants of Manon is assaulted by "the police". O crudel mondo = showing not really necessary violence (especially towards women). No like for that!

Act 3 Le Havre. Geronte's apartment is suddenly a prison, or is it. Des Grieux and Lescaut is plotting Manon's release. Edmondo, the photographer, is singing the night watch song ("O, Kate ripose al re"). He is with Geronte. Manon and Des Grieux cannot hide from Edmondo who photographs them and so the attempt of getting Manon free is foiled. Geronte talks to the man that Lescaut has bribed and then shoots him in the back. This happens just behind the back of Des Grieux and Lescaut so it makes no sense that they have no idea what happens. Stupid production. At the role call for women exiled to America a crowd is gathering, it is Geronte's friends and some photographers. Then they come Rosetta, etc. The exiled women is dressed as models, walk like models but are handcuffed. Geronte's friends who are there for the entertainment and the photographer are taking photos of the model/prisoners. Then Manon is there, and are we really to believe that Geronte's friends does not know her and could have pity for her and believe that Des Grieux is her husband. NO. There is no sign of a harbour in this production and no ship. And the sergeant is now is captain, or. Geronte is in this production singing some of the captains lines, or so it seemed to me. Naturally Des Grieux and Manon is threatened with death by Geronte's gun. Then Manon's handcuff is off and Des Grieux can follow Manon to America....

Act 4. Near New Orleans. But in this production we are back to another avenues. They are alone except the window with model dolls is expensive dresses. Manon dies after great singing of José Cura and Olga Guryakova.

Olga Guryakova sang and acted well. "In quelle trine morbide" and "Sola, perduta, abbandonata" were very good. But the gold goes to José Cura who made it all worth while.

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

November 25, 2006: Don Carlo in Zurich

2006-11-25 Don Carlo (G. Verdi), Opernhaus Zurich

Elisabeth de Valois = Joanna Kozlowska
Eboli = Luciana d Intino
Tebaldo = Martina Welschenbach
Stimme von Oben = Eva Liebau
Don Carlo = José Cura
Posa = Leo Nucci
Filippo II = Matti Salminen
Grossinquisitor = Pavel Daniluk
Frate = Tomasz Slawinski
Lerma = Miroslav Christoff

Carlo Rizzi, conductor

Carlo Rizzi

Werner Düggelin

Raimund Bauer

Sue Willmington

Jürgen Hoffmann

Ernst Raffelsberger

Same production as in 2003. First I am a little bit thinking, why this opera again, or this production. Carlo Rizzi's fault I think or the orchestra, the Prelude doesn't sound quite right, I am not happy. The chorus and the Frate (Tomasz Slawinski) is too weak to make any impact. Jose Cura as Don Carlo is already there prostrate at the monastery. This time he is not twitching as much as Don Carlo, he is almost a normal man. "I'ho perduta" is sung but not with his beautiful voice, he is too throaty, at least in the beginning. Leo Nucci comes in as Rodrigo di Posa. They are usually wonderful together, but I still finds flaws. So things are not starting as well as I wish, but maybe it is not Jose's or Leo Nucci's fault, it is the weak bass of the the Frate and the other monks. They are not setting the mood right. Yeah, that's it.

Next scene. The Queen's Garden. Finally the women is singing wonderful setting the right mood. And then she comes, Luciana d'Intino as Eboli. And finally perfect singing. Much better than in 2003. I still find her voice a bit too low or dark. I miss the lightness of Baltsa. BRAVA, Luciana! Joanna Kozlowska comes in next as the queen, Elisabeth de Valois. She is wonderful as the demure queen. The Grande of Spagna, Rodrigo di Posa, Leo Nucci is announced, he carries a letter from the queen mother, but also a note from Carlo. The trio is wonderful, at least Leo Nucci and Luciana d'Intino can sing and act at the same time. Nucci is very playful. Then Elisabeth and Carlo will meet alone, not the thing done in the Spanish court: Jose Cura and Joanna Kozlowska. Beautiful to it staged in a strange way. The King Matti Salminen come and sees his queen all alone... But her wonderful aria "Non pianger, mia compagna" is however beautiful sung not really sung or acted with any understanding of the moment, her best / only friend is being banished from the court, when the king finds the queen alone, humiliating his queen in public. First the aria starts with a quick walked to the other side of the stage with the Countess of Aremburg, but this is nonsensical, and while her friend is crying, this queen looks at the ceiling, it is very awkward. After having insulted his wife, this King Filip II Matti Salminen wants to talk to his Grande de Spagna, Rodrigo de Posa, Leo Nucci. Great duet, but this Posa is really crazy talking like that to his king, difficult to understand why Filip is so understanding. But the singing and acting was superb.

Act 2. Scene 1. A perfect wonderful scene, with Don Carlo Jose Cura believing Eboli Luciana d Intino is Elisabeth. Then Eboli find out, rages, and Rodrigo Leo Nucci tries to save Don Carlo. Absolutely gorgeous singing and acting.

Act 2 Scene 2 Auto-da-fe scene. Wonderful singing acting but really already worn out since 2003, no real shock here for the audience, so somebody is going to be burnt alive, nope, no feeling there. Don Carlo is threatening his father, no nothing there either. They even forgets to arrest Don Carlo, who almost killed his father. No, no, maybe it is our war of terror that are making an auto-da-fe just the everyday thing.


Act 3. The great Matti Salminen as Filip II, what could be better. Unfortunately he is getting old and his voice is not really heavy enough any more. Not saying he sang "Ella giammai m'amo" perfectly and acted very well. The when the Grand Inquisitor Pavel Daniluk came, it really never was a doubt who would win this duel / duet. Daniluk had the bigger voice, and Salminen had no chance. Then when Elisabeth Joanna Kozlowska came in and there was another duet. Good, but not great as in 2003 with Colombara and Prokina. Then Elisabeth faints and in burst Posa and Eboli. The duet between Elisabeth and Eboli is wonderful singing. But there is too little acting from Kozkowska and too much from d'Intino. But when Luciana d Intino is left solo, there is another triumph for her, "O don fatale" is a smash hit.

Act 3 Scene 2. Don Carlo is in prison and Rodrigo comes to visit. Rodrigo's death. Filip II come to let Carlo out of prison, and finds out that the wrong man has been executed. The people rebels, want the Infante, Don Carlo free from prison. Inquisitor and Filip quells the rebellion and all is prostrate. Don Carlo Jose Cura, Posa Leo Nucci, Filippo II Matti Salminen, Grossinquisitor Pavel Daniluk are all doing great in this scene.

Act 4. Finally Joanna Kozlowska is redeeming herself and making some wonderful singing and acting. The duet with Jose Cura is wonderful. And they both somehow "survive" (monastery) when Filip and Gran Inquisitore want's a double sacrifice.

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Friday, November 24, 2017

November 24, 2007: Elektra in Budapest

2007-11-24 Elektra (R.Strauss), Magyar Állami Operaház

Klytämnestra = Agnes Baltsa
Elektra = Nadine Secunde
Chrysothemis = Bátori Éva
Aegisthos = Gulyás Dénes
Orestes = Perencz Béla
Orestes nevelője - Cser Krisztián
Klytemneistra bizalmasa - Balogh Tímea
Uszályhordozónő - Polyák Valéria
Fiatal szolga - Megyesi Zoltán
Öreg szolga - Szegedi Csaba
A felügyelőnő - Kukely Júlia
1. szolgáló - Balatoni Éva
2. szolgáló - Érsek Dóra
3. szolgáló - Mester Viktória
4. szolgáló - Fodor Beatrix
5. szolgáló - Wierdl Eszter

Kovács János, conductor

Magyar nyelvű feliratok / Hungarian textMesterházi Máté
Rendező / DirectorKovalik Balázs
Díszlettervező / stage designer Antal Csaba
Jelmeztervező / costume designerBenedek Mari
Karigazgató / Chorus MasterSzabó Sipos Máté

It is Premiere of Elektra and the opera house is wrapped in red on this occasion. Only two things bothered me: that my seat got very uncomfortable after 70 min's plus of Opera, real pain in my ..., and the end where Orest kills both his sisters with a machine gun, so totally unnecessary.

Nadine Secunde was great as Elektra (no surprise there), Eva Batori was wonderful as Chrysothemis. Agnes Baltsa was magnetic as Klytämnestra.

The production: Modern and set in a bath. It started startlingly with the opera house completely dark and then suddenly some light and the thunder of Straussian music. And unlike the Vienna production we could see the people and different types and real human being. The very self-assured über-type of woman, from the more submissive one. But to be onstage without shoes, naked but for some bathrobe or just a towel wrap round the bodies, I would guess they look forward to get dressed again. Some nakedness occurred, only male, and for a short time. Elektra had a black dress (dressed as widow), Chrysothemis in white (dressed as a bride). Klytämnestra also had black dress and a white fur robe. Orest dressed very formally but with sunglasses. Aigist had only a white bathrobe which made him very self-conscious when taking the bow at the end.

The changing of color lighting the stage was very well done. So naturally it got to be very red during some parts of the Elektra/Klytämnestra scene. The symbolism when Klytämnestra was killed was perfectly. No such symbolism for Aigist.

In the end after the murders:Chrysothemis was first greeted by Orestes people as Princess and goes out to dress herself as a new Klytämnestra. Elektra also changes out with the old puff, and a white robe is over the old black. But Elektra is not ready for the happiness, she struggles with the Agamemnon tree to Klytämnestra's bed, the power lies in the bed. She is clearly exhausted. But instead of having her die in the bed of mental exhaustion Orest has her killed with a machine gun. Two shots is heard, so when Orest is supposed to kill Chrysothemis with his second bullet, all Eva Batori can do is to drop dead with no sound.

The end ruined it, when Orest kills his sisters that does not make it a Real Greek Tragedy, but if his two sisters died just of exhausted minds when Orest should celebrate his triumph. THAT WOULD BE Greek Tragedy.

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

November 23, 2007: Tosca in Vienna

2007-11-23 Tosca (G.Puccini), Wiener Staatsoper

Mario Cavaradossi = José Cura
Floria Tosca = Amarilli Nizza
Baron Scarpia = Marco Vratogna
Cesare Angelotti = Boaz Daniel
Der Mesner = Lars Woldt
Spoletta = Benedikt Kobel
Sciarrone = Clemens Unterreiner
Ein Schließer = Goran Simic

Paolo Carignani, conductor

Tosca with José Cura as Mario Cavaradossi.

Tosca no 517:
Inszenierung Margarethe Wallmann
Bühnenbild und Kostüme: Nicola Benois

I missed a great Scarpia, Ruggero Raimondi is always great as Scarpia. Amarilli Nizza was Ok as Tosca. Liked her Vissi d'arte. José Cura and the conductor was not always in agreement. Cura wanted to be faster. He was also acting in a way inconsistent with the times, Neapolitan time. This was a very traditional Tosca with beautiful settings. It was a beautiful E lucevan le stelle. The end duet Tosca/Cavaradossi was great (good). But Nizza could not help herself when she leaped from the castle one might have thought this was one of the first Tosca's in this production, very old fashioned (at least from the -50s). One arm raised....

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

November 22, 2011: Otello in Zurich

2011-11-22 Otello (Verdi), Opernhaus Zurich

Otello = José Cura
Desdemona = Fiorenza Cedolins
Jago = Thomas Hampson
Cassio = Stefan Pop
Emilia = Stefania Kaluza
Roderigo = Benjamin Bernheim
Lodovico = Pavel Daniluk
Montano = Tomasz Slawinski
Un arraldo = Evgeny Sevastyanov

Daniele Gatti, conductor

Producer/production - Graham Vick
Set design - Paul Brown
Costumes - Paul Brown
Lighting - Jürgen Hoffmann
Choir rehearsal - Jürg Hämmerli

I am thoroughly offended by Graham Vick's Otello

It is not just the most heavyhanded regie of all heavyhanded regie. It is not Giuseppe Verdi's Otello anymore, even as the singing and music was beautiful, it was just too racist. If Vick wanted to say that racism was bad, why all the racist imaginery and no outrage.

From the moment I saw the desk on stage and understood that Otello would be onstage during the chorus singing during the "storm" that they see the sail of Otello's ship I knew it would be bad. But I still did not think it that bad. Then as Otello was seated at his desk, he blackened his face in a military vein, but the chorus found themselves suddenly blackened from the palm of their hands too so they went mad. All this happened while singing Verdi's music and Boito's text that certainly was about something else, stupid and offensive in so many ways... "Esultate! L'orgoglio musulmano" when Otello walking from the desk and to the microphone and of course a text window the words "Esultate l'orgoglio musulmano sepolto in mar" repeated over and over again. Then it is Jago and Rodrigo talking. Of course offensive posters come and go during the whole opera... "Fuoco di gioia" the people sing it naturally with video of fire destroying oil fields, houses etc, planes with deadly cargo and white people singing about the joys of fire (destruction). And we are still just a few minutes into the opera... I wanted off this madness, but it had just begun.

So "Roderigo, beviam" starts with a tanks coming onstage. New idea, not. The tanks has Cassio and Monna Bianca making out. And naturally almost all the other people onstage is engaged in something slightly sexual. Old idea, yes. Rodrigo makes Cassio drunk with a drinking competion. OK. Then of course Montano comes and Cassio is goaded into fighting. Then Otello comes out and stops it. One thing that was good in this production and with Thomas Hampson as Jago was that one could see why Otello trusts Jago. Hampson makes Jago a man who on the surface is a friendly man, and of course Otello can see only skin deep. Except one thing that hampers this production is that no matter how great an Otello Jose Cura is in this production he is a white man so why do people call him a moor?

Desdemona comes out still in her white wedding dress. But everybody is dressed in white except Cassio, Rodrigo and other military men, Otello wears white too. Finally it is time for the love duet. Fiorenza Cedolins is Desdemona, but although she is Italian and the opera is in Italian it is very hard to understand what she is singing. All the others poses no such problem. Cedolins is a fine actress but I don't feel she is a Desdemona yet.

Would the second act be better? No. Instead of a tank on stage now it is an burnt-out car and a few palm trees for the garden of Desdemona. Jago talks to Cassio, and then Jago's Credo. Naturally with children, 6 boys, possibly muslem boys. Why? Modern directors distrusts monologues. Stupid and offensive use of children, and it does not even make sense why they are so obedient and how do they know what to do. Then naturally everything goes as Jago plans, even Otello comes in the right moment. Desdemona with children and adults singing her praise, while Emilia takes photos of Desdemona with various muslem people, they are behind barbed wire. Are we in Iraq or in Cyprus? Vick seems to be in Iraq, Verdi in Cyprus. I choose Verdi and declare that Vick does not make sense. Luckily the interaction between Jago and Otello is believable and the quartet between Otello, Desdemona, Jago, Emilia is also great interaction and singing. Jago manages to make Otello believe in Desdemona's guilt.

After the interval back to Vick's Otello. Act 3 a video camera, different big flags, and a tribune for the people to sit on. A table with wine and glasses, a white sofa, a white chair. Otello in white military suit. Jago in a very formal and black militar suit, he almost looks like a general. The camera man is dismissed when Desdemona comes in, Desdemona and Otello each gets their playing with the camera. Desdemona playful in the beginning of the duet, Otello sinister later on. I think this was good acting.

Then "that awful word". The stage hands brought in a big poster of two white hands clasping, peace. The poster of peace was there to hide Otello so that he could see and listen to Jago and Cassio without Cassio noticing. Then the back was turned to Otello, in this production a White Man, on that space it said "nigger". Not only was it there, but it was only reacted on by Otello and for such a short time. Nobody on stage reacted. Jago did not blink, the stage hands. Had Graham Vick taken all the other offensive ideas and posters and left that word, still that word sinks the whole work. Why such an offense without at least some outrage about the racism? Why? If Vick wanted to make a statement and making Otello anti-racist he managed just the opposite.

Then the stage is set for videotaping of Lodovico giving Otello the letter from the Venetian Doge. So Otello's nasty asides to Desdemona while he on microphone, it makes sense? And then "A terra e piangi" where Desdemona instead of walking nobly and firmly to the indicated spot Cedolins chooses to almost faint. Otello sits on the sofa and eats the letter from the Doge, yes he is now mad. Then he shouts " all out" and Jago can gloat who will prevent me from killing him. Ecco il leone, indeed.

4 act is really mostly like all Otello's except there is no bed.

Offensive and stupid I am glad I never have to see this again. To all who was offended by this production I say I AM SO SORRY. This
 was racist shit but it was not Shakespeare, Verdi or Boito's fault. You know who I blame. 

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November 22, 2008: Juanjo Cura in Berlin

2008-11-22 Juanjo Cura, Kammermusiksaal Philharmonie (Berlin)

Juanjo Cura, tenor
Javier Tucat Moreno, piano
Malys Im, double bass
Guillermo Destaillats, bandoneon
??, percussion

First impressions of Juanjo Cura in Berlin

It was cold in Berlin. And it was even a bit cold in Kammermusiksaal Philharmonie Berlin. It is a special concert room with a small plattform in the middle, just the right size for a small group of people with instruments. For 5 people, it was perfect.

Juanjo Cura seems to have more than just Argentinians on his side as fans of him and of tango, it was quite a lot of Germans there too. The concert hall was not full but it seemed to be more more than half full. I sat in the front row, in the best seat of the room. I bought my 3rd Juanjo Cura CD there, Pasional. He talked in German during the concert and we had no program, all our information was from Juanjo himself in his German. Since I am not German myself but understand German and speak a little myself I still had a little problem since his German was good but it was an Argentinian speaking German... But it was still very impressive to do that.

My other disadvantage is my not knowing too much about Argentinian Tango. For so many there they knew the music already and loved it already. I am more of the classical person. Juanjo Cura is more approaching the music like a Jazz singer would, being very free with the notes. But Juanjo Cura's voice is a true tenor voice. Personally I will always regret that he did not choose the more classical path but Juanjo seem to enjoy more the explosive passion of the tango. And he really acts it out. Nobody can say that he just sings because he doesn't just sing he is every tango and song he sings. But sadly it reminds me of why I "hate" Jazz and LOVE Classical music. I will always love more the correct attack to the notes that are the Classical way and dislike most of the loose attack that is Jazz. But I don't regret using my money to go to Berlin just for this concert. I don't regret that at all. I loved his singing "Dein ist mein ganzes Herz" from Lehar's Das Land des Lächelns. His singing My Way in German. And some of the tangos/boleros/songs that he sang as nicely as he does on his CD's.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

November 21, 1988: Madama Butterfly in Oslo

1988-11-21 Madama Butterfly (Puccini), Den Norske Opera (Oslo)

Cio-Cio-San = Keiko Kamegawa
Suzuki = Marit Osnes Aambø
Kate Pinkerton = Gro Hundvin
B.F. Pinkerton = Caj Ehrstedt
Sharpless = Jan Sødal
Goro = Rorald Rørvik
Prince Yamadori = Knut Gullerud
Uncle Bonzo = Svein Carlsen

Per Åke Andersson, conductor

How irritating it is to hear/see this heart-wrenching opera and to have people sitting there finding it ludicrous the marriage contract for 999 years. But poor Butterfly she is going to die because she takes it seriously love, marriage but Pinkerton see every thing Japanese as a joke as this custom of leasing houses for 999 years. The clash West/East.

That bloody Pinkerton. Even the American consul who is normally quite cold-blooded tries to warn Pinkerton.

This is a great opera!

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Monday, November 20, 2017

November 20, 2004: Jose Cura interview in Vienna

Many members of JCx (José Cura Connexion) were in Vienna for Stiffelio already and so when Marlene told us about the public interview in Theater Akzent we got our tickets.

First the technical problems. And José had to take a photo of that:

And then on the left we see the translator, José Cura, and on the right the interviewer.
In the end it needed a technichian.

It was interesting to hear Cura explain his views about this and that in opera. And a point in the interview he got visibly red after too many compliments.

That was cute.

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November 20, 2010: La Fanciulla del West in Zurich

2010-11-20 La Fanciulla del West (G. Puccini), Opernhaus Zurich

Dick Johnson (Ramirez) = José Cura
Minnie = Emily Magee
Jack Rance = Ruggero Raimondi
Harry = Shinya Kitajma
Jake Wallace = Davide Fersini
Nick = Martin Zysset
Ashby = Daniel Henriks
Sonora = Cheyne Davidson
Sid = Tomasz Slawinsky
Trin = Pablo Ricardo Bemsch
Bello = Kresimir Strazanac
Joe = Boguslaw Bidzinski
Happy = Thomas Tatzl
José Castro = Valeriy Murga
Larkens = Aaron Agulay
Billy Jackrabbit = Thomas Forde
Wowkle = Bettina Schneebeli
Un Postilione = Simon Wallfisch

Massimo Zanetti, conductor

Inszeniering - David Poutney
Spielleitung - Aglaja Nicolet
Bühnenbild - Stefanos Lazaridis
Kostüme - Sue Wilmington
Lichtgestaltung - Jürgen Hoffmann

This David Pountney production of La Fanciulla del West by Giacomo Puccini is growing old and is no longer inspiring. Once upon a time the use of movie was innovating like in 2004 when I first saw this production I found it pure genius. But the times has changed and it is after all my 10th Fanciulla.

It is nothing new here. The Girl of the Golden West (LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST) is the Spaghetti Western as opera. Was it necessary to make the stage so steep and did the screen really have to be hung in a slope. It just seemed so sloppy. Every time the movie was playing or the backdrop was changed to another photo reminding us about the time of gold digging in California it was like the director took the audience as utter fools. It is the usual story of opera directors not daring to let the opera speak for it self.

When I compare to the other Fanciulla productions that I have seen at Royal Opera House (London), Deutsche Oper Berlin, Den Norske Opera (Oslo) then Opernhaus Zürich production seem to be the oldest and dullest one.

The cast was incredible. Still I was bored and not really tuned into the action. I just know that Emily Magee was the perfect Minnie and José Cura was perfect as Dick Johnson. Ruggero Raimondi was also great. But the production let this opera down.

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November 20, 2011: La Forza del Destino in Paris

2011-11-20 La Forza del Destino (Verdi), Opera National de Paris (Opera Bastille)

Il Marchese di Calatrava = Mario Luperi
Donna Leonora = Violeta Urmana
Don Carlo di Vargas = Vladimir Stoyanov
Don Alvaro  = Marcelo Alvarez
Preziosilla = Nadia Krasteva
Padre Guardiano = Kwangchul Youn
Fra Melitone = Nicola Alaimo
Curra = Nona Javakhidze
Mastro Trabuco = Rodolphe Briand

Philippe Jordan, conductor

Stage director - Jean-Claude Auvray
Sets - Alain Chambon
Costumes - Maria Chiara Donato
Lighting - Laurent Castaingt
Choreography - Terry John Bates
Chorus master - Patrick Marie Aubert
Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus

If only La forza del destino at Opera Bastille started in the evening then I could have time to play the tourist in Paris. But the opera started 1430. I had read a review of it so I was prepared for a minimalistic version. I was surprised it was very colourful and vivid. I was also prepared for perhaps Marcelo Alvarez would not be singing. But he sang. And he was great as Don Alvaro. I was prepared to be underwhelmed by Violeta Urmana as Leonora, but she was amazing. Vladimir Stoyanov was also much better as Don Carlo di Vargas than the review said.

The production had a lot that was good. The biggest surprise was that it did not start with the ouverture this time the opera started in the Calatrava castle. After this scene came the ouverture, one of the best performances of the iconic piece. The only thing I would critize Urmana is her use of her arm to show despair, 3 times the same gesture and it gets old. Nadia Krasteva was a wondeful Preziosilla but unfortunately her role was vulgarized by the director. That Preziosilla would walk off with "Pereda" after the scene in the taberna, was not to my liking and not how I understood Preziosilla. Nicola Alaimo was Fra Melitone, too comic and extreme, maybe. Kwangchul Youn was simply wonderful as Padre Guardiano. Mario Luperi was a fine Marchese di Calatrava.

I loved it, even if it had some weakness. After the opera I waited at the stage door, and I saw Kwangchul Youn, Violeta Urmana, Marcelo Alvarez and Nadia Krasteva.

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

November 19, 2011: Oberto in Paris, France

2011-11-19 Oberto (Verdi), Theatre des Champs-Elysees (Paris)

Riccardo = Valter Borin
Cuniza = Ekaterina Gubanova
Leonora = Maria Guleghina
Oberto = Michele Pertusi
Imelda = Sophie Podjiclis

Carlo Rizzi, conductor

Orchestre National de France
Chœur de Radio France
direction Kalman Strausz

Oberto by Verdi in Theatre des Champs-Elysee. Concert version. From the first notes of the ouverture it was definitely Verdi. The first opera by Giuseppe Verdi, so of course it was young Verdi that some times sounded a bit like the older opera composers. Valter Borin sang Riccardo as Fabio Sartori was unwell. He sang Riccardo's two arias beautifully. In Oberto the tenor (Riccardo) is the villain and the bass (Oberto) is the hero.

Maria Guleghina with blond hair and glasses, she looked wonderful. Unfortately she was not well so sometimes the planned execution of notes did succed, but she was still able to make this Leonora a special treat. For those that simply does not like Maria Guleghina even tried to pin the the cutting of caballettas to the soprano, but it was more Radio France etc.

Ekaterina Gubanova sang the role of Princess Cuniza. The mezzo-soprano was in great shape and showed the noble Cuniza in all her glory.

Michele Pertusi was Oberto, father of Leonora and the enemy of Riccardo. Oberto is obsessed with honour. For modern eyes Oberto is too into himself and his own feelings to think what actions would mean for his daughter. Riccardo on the other hand only realize how wrong he has acted after he kills Oberto. Michele Pertusi was wonderful as Oberto, naturally.

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November 19, 2004: Stiffelio in Vienna

2004-11-19 Stiffelio (Verdi), Wiener Staatsoper

Stiffelio = José Cura
Lina = Hui He
Stankar = Renato Bruson
Raffaele = Cosmin Ifrim
Jorg = Johannes Wiedecke
Federico = Peter Jelosits
Dorotea = Ǻsa Elmgren

Marco Armiliato, conductor

Breakfast. Free time in Berlin. Afternoon-flight to Vienna. Just an hour before the opera started was I in the Staatsoper, naturally I had skipped visiting my hotel first. So all my luggage in Staatsoper. Relaxing and meeting friends before the opera started. I had bought the Viennese newspapers on the airport Schwechat and
looked through it on the train to Vienna City. I usually am quite drowsy when I get into the opera houses after my traveling, not this time. Unfortunately it didn't get that much interesting on the stage.

The ouverture was well played with the orchestra conducted by Marco Armiliato. And the young bass as Jorg was quite good. But he was a young man playing an older man, not utterly convincing. I was ready to admire the soprano Hui He as Lina first I was a bit put off by the painting of her face as too white, reminded me of Chinese opera, it was a visual disturbance that I would have learned to live with. But this very beautiful large voice was simply too weak in the piano. You need the hear the voice even it should sound piano.

Cosmin Ifrim as Raffaele was charming. And Hui He and Cosmin Ifrim was a nice couple of singers. Renato Bruson (Stankar) was not, in my opinion, in great form. Even though Jose Cura acted the role very well, I felt that even he was not in such a great form. The Moshinsky production is wonderful but without a great Stiffelio,
Lina & Stankar it could not stand on it own. How I longed for Leo Nucci as Stankar and Emily Magee as Lina, they sang so well in Zurich I wished they came to Vienna too. Really, the test for this opera is the ending of it. "Allor Gesu..." and PERDONATA!!, the adulteress is forgiven in the Bible and in Opera, and I felt
nothing. Big applause to Hui He and Renato Bruson from the house but not from me. I really wished that I could feel that Jose Cura did another great performance. ´Maybe it was the weather?

Anyway, after the performance, applause and backstage, I found my hotel pension Haydn and had another good nights sleep.

PS. I feel like I disagree with myself now 4 years later. That Jose Cura sang well, and that Hui He was a great Lina. But I still let it say this. It was what I felt that time.DS

(32. Aufführung in dieser Inszenierung)

Dirigent: Marco Armiliato
Inszenierung: Elijah Moshinsky
Bühnenbild: Michael Yeargan
Kostüme: Peter J. Hall
Lichtregie: Paul Pyant
Choreinstudierung: Ernst Dunshirn

Stiffelio: José Cura
Lina: Hui He

Beginn: 20.00

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November 19, 2001: Italiana in Algeri, Vienna

2001-11-19 L'Italiana in Algeri (G. Rossini), Wiener Staatsoper

Mustafà = Simone Alaimo
Elvira = Milagros Poblador
Zulma = Stella Grigoriau
Haly = István Gáti
Lindoro = Robert Nagy
Isabella = Agnes Baltsa
Taddeo = Alfred Sramek

Frédéric Chaslin, conductor

On November 19th, I saw Agnes Baltsa when she came to the Vienna State Opera, and when she went from the State Opera. And naturally I was there when she sang Isabella in Italiana in Algeri.

To wait for Agnes Baltsa just inside the Operahouse in the room before the Portier at the stage entrance. It was freezing outside. Meeting people who are equally admirers of Agnes Baltsa and talking to them while waiting. Other people was outside with flowers and waiting and freezing. At last she came. Her arms became soon full with flowers and goodwishes, I tried to give her the Gift for the fanclub (the list of good wishes for her birthday), she had to take the flowers inside, but she promised to come out after the performance in the same room.

Italiana in Algeri. Nobody does Isabella better than her. I think she was not completely recovered form the bronchitis that prevented her from singing at the Aidsgala in Berlin earlier this month. But still she communicated enjoyment and it was wonderful. Maybe the others get a more vocally competent Agnes Baltsa, but to be there when She is singing her favorite role on her Birthday was soo special that I wont regret it no matter what.

AND in the end of the performance the Chorus sang HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Agnes Baltsa, and the house almost fell down.

Then I waited for her after the event, and she was sitting in the portiers signing and I could at last give her the GIFT. And I must say Agnes Baltsa looked wonderful. I wish I could have stayed to see the rest of her Italianas.


Wiener Staatsoper
montag, 19. november 2001
49. Aufführung in dieser Inszenierung

L' I taliana in AIgeri
Drama giocoso per musica in zwei Akten von Angelo Anelli
Musik von Gioachino Rossini

Musikalische Leitung Frédéric Chaslin
Nach einer Inszenierung
und in der Ausstattung von Jean-Pierre Ponnelle
Chorleitung Ernst Dunshirn

Lindoro, ein junger Italiener,
Lieblingssklave des Mustafà Robert Nagy*

Ort der Handlung Algerien
Orchester und Chor der Wiener Staatsoper

Die Aufführung basiert auf Azio Corghis kritischer Ausgabe
der Fondazione Rossini Pesaro in Zusammenarbeit mit G Ricordi, SPA Milano

* Rollendebüt i1n der Wiener Staatsoper

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

November 18, 2001: Gianni Schicchi in Vienna

2001-11-18 Gianni Schicchi (G. Puccini), Wiener Staatsoper

Gianni Schicchi = Alberto Rinaldi
Lauretta = Tatiana Lisnic
Zita = Nelly Boschkowa
Rinuccio = John Nuzzo
Gherardo = Cosmin Ifrim
Nella = Ingrid Kaiserfeid
Betto = Janusz Monarcha
Simone = Walter Fink
Marco = István Gáti
La Ciesca = Stella Grigorian
Gherardino = Wiener Sängerknabe
Spinelloccio = Alfred Sramek
Amantio = Wolfgang Bankl
Pinellino = Hiroyuki ljichi
Guccio = Michael Kuchar

Michael Boder, conductor

Double-bill: Boring, depressing opera (Jakobsleiter) before a Comic Opera (Gianni Schicchi)

New in the Staatsoper, now they have VILAR subtitling system, unfortunately it is still better to be prepared and not use the subtitles. Opera is more enjoyable that way.

But Schönbergs Jakobsleiter is not possible to enjoy. We all needed the fun from the Comic opera by Puccini in order to go happily home. The staircase on the stage for Jakobsleiter was used in Gianni Schicchi. It was really a comic relief. Wonderful production.

15. Aufführung in dieser Inszenierung
Gianni Schicchi
Oper in einem Akt von Giovacchino Forzano Musik von Giacomo Puccini

Musikalische Leitung Michael Boder
Inszenierung u Bühnenbild Marco Arturo Marelli
Kostüme Dagmar Niefind-Marelli

Lauretta, seine TochterTatiana Lisnic*

Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper
Bühnenrechte Universal Edition AG, Wien, für BMG Ricordi Milano
* Rollendebüt an der Wiener Staatsoper

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November 18, 2001: Jakobsleiter in Vienna

2001-11-18 Der Jakobsleiter (Schönberg), Wiener Staatsoper

Gabriel = Franz Hawlata
Ein Berufener = Torsten Kerl
Ein Aufrührerischer = Michael Roider
Ein Ringender = Wolfgang Bankl
Der Auserwählte = Peter Weber
Der Mönch = Heinz Zednik
Der Sterbende = Kirsten Dene
Die Seelen = Milagros Poblador, Ileana Tonca

Michael Boder, conductor

Double-bill: Boring, depressing opera (Jakobsleiter) before a Comic Opera (Gianni Schicchi)

New in the Staatsoper, now they have VILAR subtitling system, unfortunately it is still better to be prepared and not use the subtitles. Opera is more enjoyable that way.

But Schönbergs Jakobsleiter is not possible to enjoy. We all needed the fun from the Comic opera by Puccini in order to go happily home. The staircase on the stage for Jakobsleiter was used in Gianni Schicchi. It was really a comic relief. Wonderful production.

Wiener Staatsoper
sonntag, 18. november 2001
12. Aufführung in dieser Inszenierung

Die Jakobsleiter
Oratorienfragment von
Arnold Schönberg
Fassung von Wilfried Zillig

Musikalische Leitung Michael Boder
Inszenierung u. Bühnenbild MarcoArturo Marelli
Kostüme Dagmar Niefind-Marelli
Choreinstudierung Ernst Dunshirn

Eleve der Ballettschule der Wiener Staatsoper
Orchester und Chor der Wiener Staatsoper Bühnenorchester der Wiener Staatsoper
Bühnenrechte Universal Edition AG, Wien

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November 18, 1983: Animalen i Oslo

1983-11-18 Animalen (Werle), Den Norske Opera (Oslo)

Benson Sisters = Gro Hundvin Eliassen, Elisabeth Mangen Narvesen,
Anne Felberg
General Nelson = Caj Ehrstedt
Herold = Bernhard Skjeldal
Giraff = Holstad og
Bjørn Mørch-Olsen
Anette = Gro Hundvin Eliassen
Roulette = Elisabeth Mangen Narvesen
Pipette = Anne Felberg
Kontratenor = Knut Gullerud
Pingvin = Anne Nyborg
Løve = Oddbjørn Tennfjord
Ape = Stein Arild Thorsen
Tiger = Torhild Staahlen
Påfugl = Vessa Hanssen
Bjørn = Svein Carlsen
Fru Bjørn = Eva Solheim
Ugle = Frøydis Klausberger
Oter = Arild Erlksen
Gordon = Tor Fagerland
Smirnoff = Paul Berner Kjønnø
Smith = Knut Jørgen Moe
Wesson = Yngvar Krogh
Olga = Irma Urrila
Tamara = Vesla Tveten
Billy Benson = Jan Sødal
Ludmilla = Torill Eriksen

Zdenko Peharda, conductor

Oslo, Norway 1983-11-18
Friday 18. november 1983

Fabel-opera in 2 acys
Music: Lars Johan Werle .
Libretto: Tage Danielsson .
Translation: Axel Emil Helgeland
Conductor: Zdenko Peharda
Regie: Runar Borge
Scenography: Christian Tom-Petersen

this fable-opera or musical, ANIMALEN was something for the children or child-like. But at least a lot of Norwegian operasingers were onstage.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

November 17, 2013: I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata in Hamburg

2013-11-17 I Lombardi alla prima Crociata (Verdi), Hamburgische Staatsoper

Arvino = Massimiliano Pisapia
Papano = John Relyea
Viclinda = Cristina Damian
Giselda = Elza van den Heever
Pirro = Szymon Kobylinski
Un Priore = Dovlet Nurgeldiyev
Acciano = Wilhelm Schwinghammer
Oronte = Dimitri Pittas
Sofia = Solen Mainguené

Simone Young, conductor
Philharmoniker Hamburg
Chor der Hamburgischen Staatsoper

Inszenierung - David Alden
Bühnenbild - Charles Edwards
Kostüme - Brigitte Reiffenstuel
Licht - Adam Silverman

Chor - Eberhard Friedrich

Third time did not have the charm. First I saw La Battaglia in Legnano (see photo) that was a good enough production. Then I Due Foscari also OK, but. And now I LOMBARDI ALLA PRIMA CROCIATA. Where to begin?

I can start with the positive. Two great tenors, Massiliano Pisipia and Dimitri Pittas, as Arvino and Oronte. Loved also Vicinda, Gisenda and Sofia: Cristina Damian, Elza van den Heever and Sofia Mainguené. I was sorry not to see Viclinda and Sofia take their place at the end of the opera to get their very much deserved applause. John Relya was Papano and as the opera progressed he became more imposing by the minute.

The problem with I LOMBARDI lies with the words ALLA PRIMA CROCIATA. Was it any reason to update it in this way. It did not give anything to the story if it did anything it would be taking away. Then there is the opera itself, the text. It is no way to avoid the racist way Muslems are portrayed. I felt this production made it worse which is totally avoidable. To be a Christian and white means it is too easy just two say it was only 2 scenes so who cares. People who want to malign Muslims will find justifiing causes here. A Muslem wanting to be radicalezed will also find just cause here. Then there is the portraits of Christians, whether one choose to play them as nicer than the reality of the crusades, that would be wrong and as this production as a rather murderous horde, sadly more historically true, still not a good idea.

I LOMBARDI is a musical gem from Giuseppe Verdi, but it is not something that one should put onstage without any cultural awareness. Can we afford to create a wider gap between Christians and Muslems? NO. Should I LOMBARDI ALLA PRIMA CROCIATA be staged, at all?

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

November 16, 2013: I Due Foscari in Hamburg

2013-11-16 I due Foscari (Verdi), Hamburgische Staatsoper

Francesco Foscari = Andrzej Dobber
Jacopo Foscari = Giuseppe Filianoti
Lucrezia Contarini = Amarilli Nizza
Jacopo Loredano = Ziyan Atfeh
Barbarigo = Dovlet Nurgeldiyev
Pisana = Maria Markina
Fante del Consiglio = Sergiu Saplacan

Simone Young, conductor
Philharmoniker Hamburg
Chor der Hamburgischen Staatsoper

Inszenierung: David Alden
Bühnenbild: Charles Edwards
Kostüme: Brigitte Reiffenstuel
Licht: Adam Silverman
Choreografie: Maxine Braham

Chor: Eberhard Friedrich

This Due Foscari did not impress me immediately as La Battaglia di Legnano did. I did not warm up at once Giuseppe Filianoti and Amarilli Nizza. Andrzej Dobber was from the first moment on worth the whole trip himself. He is impressive as Doge Francesco Foscari. Amarilli Nizza may be a small woman off stage but she was a gigant onstage. Impressive singing that won me over from Amarilli Nizza. Was it my ear that deceived me or was she a bit hesitant in the beginning, who knows? Pyrotechnics she has. False notes seemed to come off Giuseppe Filianoti in his first scene but from those small misteps he climbed up to the top places.

The production was much like La Battaglia di Legnano. But. Yes, I know, BUT is not a full sentence and barely conceive any meaning still I must leave it like that.

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November 16, 1984: Aida in Oslo

1984-11-16 Aida (Verdi), Den Norske Opera (Oslo)

Re d'Egitto = Carsten Harboe Stabell
Amneris = Mirjana Dancuo
Aida = Hilde Nora Veidahl
Radames = Maurice Stern
Ramfis = Svein Carlsen
Amonasro = Knut Skram

Per Åke Andersson, conductor

My mother didn't like this production, I did. I guess she found it too dark and not Egyptian enough. But I really believed in it all. I loved it...

Friday 1984-11-16

Opera in 4 acts by Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto: Antonio Ghislanzoni
Conductor: Per Ake Andersson
Regie: Giancarlo del Monaco
Decor: Dominik Hartmann
Costumes: Bernd-Dieter Muller
Choreography: Lise Eger

19.00 - ca. k1. 22.15

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Monday, November 13, 2017

November 13, 1999: Le Prophete in Vienna

1999-11-13 Le Prophète (G. Meyerbeer), Wiener Staatsoper

Fidès = Agnes Baltsa
Jean de Leyde = Janez Lotric
Berthe = Simina lvan
Le Comte d'Oberthal = lstvan Gati
Zacharie = Peter Köves
Mathisen = David Cale Johnson
Jonas = Torsten Kerl

Marcello Viotti, conductor

Le Prophete. The Anabaptist revolt, because of the unfair conditions that the country people live under. Their Overlord is harsh and unfriendly. The sect of the Anabaptist, is against the Church. Unfortunately the violence remains. In this situation we find Berthe, an orphan, and Count of Oberthal decides instead of accepting that Berthe can marry Jean, he wants her himself. The mother of Jean, Fides, who has come to fetch Berthe, is also seized. Jean finds out about Berthe, in his hatred he becomes the Prophet...
This was the second time I saw Le Prophete, and Hans Neuenfels ideas about this opera, irritated me even more. Agnes Baltsa was great. Janez Lotric was brave to sing this role after Plácido Domingo. Simina Ivan was a good Berthe. The three Anabaptist were weaker than before.
But Giacomo Meyerbeer's music is still GREAT no matter what the director does.
Only one thing I want to tell the opera directors, let opera unfold to tell the story. Just open it up, new and fresh. (like one did with La Juive)

Wiener Staatsoper
samstag, 13. november 1999
15. Aufführung in dieser Inszenierung

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

Musikalische LeitungMarcello Viotti
InszenierungHans Neuenfels
Bühnenbild und
Kostüme Reinhard
von der Thannen
ChoreinstudierungErnst Dunshirn
Einstudierung der TänzeRenato Zanella
., .

OffizierAlexander Pinderak
Bürger Johannes Gisser
Anabaptist Martin Thyringer
BallerinaPatricia Sollak
., .
Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper
Bühnenorchester der Wiener Staatsoper Wiener Staatsopernballett Eleven der Ballettschule der Wiener Staatsoper Amadeus Knabenchor Bewegungschor

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

November 12, 1999: La Juive in Vienna

1999-11-12 La Juive (L. Halèvy), Wiener Staatsoper

Eléazar = Neil Shicoff
Rachel = Soile Isokoski
Prinzessin Eudoxie = Regina Schörg
Kardinal Brogni = Alastair Miles
Léopold = Zoran Todorovich
Ruggiero = István Gáti
Albert = Janusz Monarcha

Simone Young, conductor

Neil Shicoff in the role of his life as Eleazar.
La Juive, Christians and Juive separated in one city. The production shows the segregation with colors, White for Christians, Black for Jews. The colors are not saying that the Christians are innocent in the hatred and violence. The stage is also segregated. It is beautiful music and a production that make you think.

Only one thing I want to tell the opera directors, let opera unfold to tell the story. Just open it up, new and fresh. (like one did with La Juive)

Wiener Staatsoper
freitag, 12. november 1999
6. Aufführung in dieser Inszenierung

La Juive
Oper in fünf Akten Textbuch von Eugène S'cribe
In französischer Sprache mit deutschen Übertiteln
Musik von Promental Halévy

Musikalische Leitung, Simone Young
Inszenierung Günter Krämer
Bühnenbild und
Kostüme Gottfried Pilz und
Isabel Ines Glathar
Choreinstudierung Ernst Dunshirn

1 Bürger Hacik Bayvertian
2 Bürger Martin Thyringer
OffizierMartin Müller
Orchester und Chor der Wiener Staatsoper Bühnenorchester der Wiener Staatsoper Eleven der Ballettschule der Wiener Staatsoper

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

November 9, 2013: Otello in Berlin

2013-11-09 Otello (Verdi), Deutsche Oper Berlin

Otello = José Cura
Desdemona = Barbara Frittoli
Jago = Marco Vratogna
Emilia = Katarina Bradic
Cassio = Matthew Newlin
Rodrigo = Clemens Bieber
Lodovico = Seth Carico
Ein Herald = Andrew Harris

Donald Runnicles, conductor

Director - Andreas Kriegenburg
Stage-design - Harald Thor
Costume-design - Andrea Schraad
Dramaturgie - Katharina John
Choir Conductor - William Spaulding
Children's Choir - Christian Lindhorst
Choreography - Zenta Haerter

I had forgotten how much I disliked this production when I saw it at the premiere, 30.05.2010. I felt no outrage this time just boredom. It was the female ballet dancer in the back of the stage that annoyed me. The dancing was as a comment to Jago's narration of the Cassio's dream. In one way a good idea. But the placement of the dancer in the stage room meant that I could either watch the dancer or the singers, and that made it a bad execution of an idea that could have been good. I wanted to see and understand the dynamics between Jago and Cassio but the movement of the dancer forced my eyes away from my goal. Putting distractions onstage is not good theatre. And do untimately this is the failing of the director Andreas Kriegenburg, the production itself works as a distraction against Verdi's Otello.

In midst of it all, here comes Otello, Jose Cura. Placido Domingo used to be the ultimate Otello, now we have Cura. From the moment Jose Cura comes in it becomes a better show, finally it is possible to throw oneself into the work. I have seem him several times as Otello before and in different productions but this was the best performance with the most beautiful and sublime phrased singing and a overwhelming acting. He was good before too but here is the matured Otello, the excellence that comes from being Otello in so many different productions.

In one way we could say Cura singlehandedly a dull production to an exciting experience. To be fair I must say that Donald Runnicles conducting was a great part of the success. Marco Vratogna was singing and acting as if the role of Jago was tailormade for him. Barbara Frittoli was excellent as Desdemona, so warm. The vibrato was heavy in the first minutes but then the nervousness left and the lush, warm tones shone from Barbara Frittoli. Katarina Bradic sang and acted Emilia wonderfully. She made fine portrait of her role. Matthew Newlin made an excellent debut as Cassio. He was a joy to see and listen to.

After such a fine opera evening what can be better than to meet afterwards "backstage" with fans from  the Nordic Countries, Germany, Austria, Hungary, France, USA to name a few places. I guess Marco Vratogna was the MC-guy, Barbara Frittoli was also soon off. Jose Cura talked to his fans while the photos was flashing.

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November 9, 2002: Jose Cura in Aalborg

2002-11-09 Opera Concert, Aalborg Kongress & Kultur Center

José Cura, tenor & conductor
Giuseppina Trotta, mezzo
Aalborg Symphony Orchestra
Fernando Alvarez, conductor

with AALBORG SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA under the baton of Fernando Alvarez. Guest soloist: mezzosoprano GUISEPPINA TROTTA in Aalborghallen, Aalborg Kongres & Kultur Center, at 20hrs.

Giuseppe Verdi
LA FORZA DEL DESTINO - Ouverture, Cura conducts
He still thinks conducting is about the exact notes. So this ouverture is not alive, his excact movements, makes it fuzzy.
Il CORSARO - Ah si, ben dite - Tutto parea sorridere Cura sings
He sings wonderfully, but he does have a cold. He moves too much, what was cute in the DVD Passion for Verdi is not cute in Aalborg.
IL TROVATORE - Madre, non dormi Duett: Cura/Trotta
The mezzo is to young to give Azucena the drive she needs, but she tries to be real even if this is a concert. Cura is his usual Manrico

Pietro Mascagni
CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA- Voi lo sapete, o Mamma Trotta
This aria is like exam for the mezzo, does Trotta pass the Santuzza test. Well, there is a great promise in her rendition.

Amilcare Ponchielli
LA GIOCONDA Cielo e mar Cura sings
A wonderful rendition of Cielo e mar.

Giacomo Puccini
MANON LESCAUT Intermezzo Cura conducts
He starts the intermezzo by nodding to the cellist, and slowly he builds up this intermezzo, and what a wonderful building it is. BRAVO Cura and Aalbirg Symphony Orchestra

Giacomo Meyerbeer
L'AFRICAINE O, paradiso Cura sings
This time Cura sings it better, but still the prononciation could and must be improved
Cura speaks.Oh new world you belong to me Cura (Vasco da Gama) sang in L'Africaine, and in Aurora, the new world have got it freedom.
Hector Panizza
AURORA Cancion de la Bandera Cura sings
Spendid rendition of this Argentine aria


Camille Saint-Saëns
SAMSON ET DALILA Bacchanale Cura conducts
Cura conducts a wonderful bacchanele
Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix Trotta / Cura
When Cura comes and sings the Samson lines, it is perfect

LE CID O souverain, o juge, o père Cura sings
Wonderful aria sung perfectly

Georges Bizet
CARMEN Prelude Cura conducts
Wonderful prelude by Cura and Aalborg, going directly to the Habanera. Trotta is going onto the stage during the predude
Habanera Trotta, Cura conducts
Cura conducts Trotta, and Trotta sings Carmen. She is not a full-borne Carmen, yet.
La fleur que tu m'avais jetée Cura sings
A magical Flower-song by Jose Cura
Entr'acte, act 4
Alvarez conducts the Entr'acte, wonderful
C'est toi, c'est moi Trotta / Cura
Wonderful and dramatic Carmen Duet.

Addio, fiorito asil (MADAMA BUTTERFLY) Cura
Seguedilla (CARMEN) Trotta / Cura
Nessun dorma (TURANDOT) Cura

When Cura errs in Nessun dorma it only makes
this opera night more magical.

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

November 7, 1992: Carmen in Bergen

1992-11-07 Carmen (Bizet), Opera Bergen

Carmen = Petra Malakova
Micaela = Lynda Russell
Don Jose = Mario Carrara
Escamillo = Anooshah Golesorkhi
Zuniga = Knut Jørgen Moe
Frasquita = Kirsten Landmark Mæland
Mercedes = Tone Kvam Thorsen
Remendado = Svein Erik Sagbråten
Dancaire = Oddbjørn Hanto
Morales = John Magnusson

Vladimir Giaurov, conductor

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Monday, November 6, 2017

November 6, 2005: Le Villi in Vienna

2005-11-06 Le Villi (Puccini), Wiener Staatsoper

Roberto = José Cura
Anna = Krassimira Stoyanova
Guglielmo Wulf = Franz Grundheber

Simone Young, conductor

Le villi
(6. Aufführung in dieser Inszenierung)

Dirigentin: Simone Young
Inszenierung: Karoline Gruber
Ausstattung: Johan Engels
Licht: Patrick Woodroffe
Bewegungsregie: Beate Vollack
Choreinstudierung: Ernst Dunshirn

Karoline Gruber makes this opera into a kitchy Tirolean story. Very much about women doing the housework and men drinking beer. Luckily it is not totally ruined thanks to Cura, Stoyanova and Grundheber. One good idea the use of the Villis is very effective. Puccini's music is much better than this so-called inszenierung makes it.

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November 6, 2004: La Forza del Destino in London

2004-11-06 La Forza del Destino (Verdi), Royal Opera House London

Don Alvaro = Salvatore Licitra
Leonora = Violeta Urmana
Don Carlo di Vargas = Ambrogio Maestri
Padre Guardiano = Ferruccio Furlanetto
Preziosilla = Marie-Ange Todorovitch
Fra Melitone = Roberto de Candia
Marchese di Calatrava = Brindley Sherratt
Mastro Trabuco = Peter Bronder
Curra = Liora Grodnikaite
Alcalde = Jonathan May

Antonio Pappano, conductor

The Royal Opera 2004 - 2005
La forza del destino
Giuseppe Verdi


16 October at 6pm
18 | 26 | 29 October at 6.30pm
1 | 3 November at 6.30pm
6 November at 6pm

Sung in Italian with English surtitles
Running time: 3 hours 45 minutes

Supported (2004) by The Jean Sainsbury Royal Opera House

La forza del destino reappears in the Royal Opera repertory after nearly 30 years. When Leonora's elopement with her lover Don Alvaro is interrupted by her father, the result is death and a curse: and so begins a fate-driven story of unknown identities, accidental reunions and dark confrontations.

This grand and traditional production is presented at Covent Garden with an exciting cast of singers both familiar with and new to this staging. Salvatore Licitra makes his House debut as the ill-fated Alvaro, the most difficult of tenor roles, opposite Violetta Urmana as the tragically cursed Leonora. Ambrogio Maestri makes his House debut as Don Carlo di Vargas, Leonora's brother who unwittingly rescues Don Alvaro, the man he has sworn to kill. With the returns of Ferruccio Furlanetto (Padre Guardiano), Marie-Ange Todorovitch (Preziosilla) and the Company debut of Roberto de Candia (Fra Melitone), Verdi's high melodrama is once more set to thrill.

Antonio Pappano

Patrizia Frini

John B Read

Based on a production from
La Scala, Milan

WOW, the ouverture of Forza was extremely well played and conducted by the ROH Orchestra and Antonio Pappano. Unfortunately the high quality was not continuing the whole opera. Just simply to operatic, this opening of the curtain and the Marquis of Calatrava in freeze position until the opera singing started. Wrong, this opera starts
with us seeing what in a middle of a scene of a father and daughter together talking. The opera starts when the father is going from his daughters room. (not a BIG fault, you know, but irritating). Violeta Urmana is singing and at time also acting Leonora wonderfully, but she look too solid and not young enough as I see Leonora. The father
looked younger than his daughter. Luckily Salvatore Licitra as Don Alvaro saves act 1 from being a complete bore. Heavy-built Licitra with his energy and this man can also run so you can believe that he can be a brave soldier and handsome seducer. Wonderful tenor voice, sometimes it seems strained. Salvatore Licitra seem to be a very good-natured man, as Don Alvaro a man destiny hates, it seems strange mix.

I think it was totally wrong to use ballet dancers into Forza. All those posing, making the dancing and musicality of the chorus moments into strange things put into the opera and they did not seem to belong there. With less obvious choreography and more real people like chorus members etc singing and dancing and not those skinny
ballet dancers and it would have been more a natural integrated part of the opera, the dancing in the tavern, in the open... This Preziosilla, Marie-Ange Todorovich, acted and sang wonderfully, but the voice looses against the orchestra and I don't hear a true mezzo/alto voice as I longed for. Knowing that Ambrogio Maestri is singing Don Carlo means that you know that the student is Don Carlo, he is just so big and tall. He is not a bad Don Carlo but he is not a great Don Carlo, you can easily forget him, only a big man, the physical shape of Maestri remains.

But Ferruccio Furlanetto as Padre Guardiano was wonderful. Wonderful sonorous voice, commanding presence. Fra Melitone was too much, to much bass, too little humor.

This production from La Scala, or based on it, yes it was a traditional production but as it seem to be asking for realism, it forgot to be truthful to realism, that need real people doing thing thing to real reasons. It was too operatic, stupid even. Why was Fra Melitone so heavy-handed in humor, if Melitone had been considered as a
real human being and not a caricature, the humor would have come through much more efficiently, I think.

I think the radio viewers was much more lucky than us, even though Roberto Alagna and his wife Angela Gheorghiu was there. BBC radio 3 was lucky they could he a wonderfully sung Forza and see the perfect performance in their imagination. In stead of La Scala production with its promises never to be met.

Loved Salvatore & Ferruccio, not La Scala's Forza....

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November 6, 2005: Osud in Vienna

2005-11-06 Osud (Janacek), Wiener Staatsoper

Zivný = Jorma Silvasti
Míla Válková = Cornelia Salje
Mílas Mutter = Anja Silja
Poet/Dr. Suda/Ingenieur = John Dickie
Lhotský/Verva = Adrian Eröd
Konecný = Georg Tichy
Fräulein Stuhlá = Ǻsa Elmgren
Frau Major = Regina Knauer
Ein Student = Robert Maszl
Eine alte Slowakin =
Waltraud Winsauer
Frau Rat = Janina Baechle
Eine junge Witwe = Eliza Zurmann
Erster junger Mann = Jeong-Ho Kim
Zweiter junger Mann = Ion Tibrea
Doubek als Student = Terry Wey
1. Dame/Pacovská/
Fanca/Soucková =
Ileana Tonca
2. Dame/Kosinská = Simina Ivan
1. Gast = Dritan Luca
2. Gast = Michael Wilder
Ein Ober = Wolfram Derntl
Hrazda = Cosmin Ifrim
Zán = David Prochazka
Nána = Michaela Marhold
Pianistin = Raluca Stirbat

Simone Young, conductor

6. November 2005

(6. Aufführung in dieser Inszenierung)

Dirigentin: Simone Young
Inszenierung: David Pountney
Bühne: Stefanos Lazaridis
Kostüme: Johan Engels
Licht: Rudolf Fischer
Regieassistenz: Nicola Raab
Chorleitung: Ernst Dunshirn

AN OPERA about a composer writing a opera. A sort of opera in a opera. Or is this ... Without Jorma Silvasti as the composer this opera would no doubt fail.

Pountney has some point in his regie, it took some time grabbing it, but then I understood the opera better.

Thanks to Agnes Baltsa I have heard Jánácek music before in the opera Jenufa (Wiener Staatsoper 2002). That naturally meant that I had an easier time dealing with the music than I would have had without. But where Jenufa is a more straight forward kind of opera, it is more linear story and you get to know the persons more in a straight way. Osud, Destiny, is a peculiar opera, more operatic than most operas, starts with a chorus containing more of just feelings of sunniness than of sun.

Anja Silja as the mother of Mila. Die Silja is of course famous for her many roles, and is especially known for her Jánácek roles. So here was an expectation that she would as important as Emily Marty in the Macropolous Case or as the Küsterin in Jenufa, two roles that are really her own. But there is not such a big role for her. Of course Anja Silja did it well but I couldn't help to think that Agnes Baltsa would in this role spring much more excitement and be more of a "can't take one's eye of her". Some magnetism was lost. But this was not Anja Silja's opera.

The role of Mila was much more as long as it lasted. And Cornelia Salje was great in this opera. From the moment she appeared it was her show. All other singers faded except Jorma Silvasti as her lover Dr Zisny. Cornelia Salje sang and acted her role as no other could have created this dysfunctional woman, was it the experience with Zisny that have made her such or was it her mother's fault , or...

OSUD is an opera that stands or fails with the tenor singing Dr Zisny. Jorma Silvasti was certainly the chief motor in holding it all together. Where as the role of Laca Klemen in Jenufa never allowed him to show the full extent of his voice and acting ability. The longer one get into the opera one realizes that it is not being realistic is Dr Zisny's opera in the making that we see. Everything is maybe in the composers head. The opera is about the torment of a composer making an opera out of his own experiences. David Poutney makes it possible to see this opera for what is probably is, the working process of an opera seen from the composers view.

One important person in the opera is Doubek, the son of Mila & Zisny. He is in many ways the reason why it all happened. Zisny wants his small son and finds his old love of Mila being as it was new. They live together unhappily with Mila's mother who is demented. When an unfortunate accident kills both Mila and her mother, Zisny is finally able to write an new act. Then Doubek grows up. Zisny decides that the opera is going to be on a stage finished except that 3rd act is missing. When he tells the students about the opera/his life is is almost finished up thinking to hear Mila's voice and a sort of forgiveness/cleaning up the mess happens, and when Doubek helps his father up, Zisny take a bow to the audience, and is like that before our eyes we have seen the 3rd act take shape. It is an opera inside this opera.

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