Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January 31, 2015: Andrea Chenier in London

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

January 30, 2010: Nabucco in Zurich

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

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

Nello Santi, conductor

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

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

Jonathan Miller

Isabella Bywater

Hans-Rudolf Kunz

Jürg Hämmerli

Orchester der Oper Zürich

Chor der Oper Zürich

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OD Travel - January: Nabucco and travel from Zurich

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Monday, January 29, 2018

January 29, 2011: Andrea Chenier in Berlin

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

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

James Allen Gähres, conductor

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

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

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

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

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

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January 29, 2010: Elektra in Zurich

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

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

Daniele Gatti, conductor

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

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

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

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

Martin Kusej

Rolf Glittenberg

Heidi Hackl

Jürgen Hoffmann

Ernst Raffelsberger

Orchester der Oper Zürich

Chor der Oper Zürich

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OD Travel - January: Travel to Zurich and Elektra

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

January 28, 1984: Die Lustige Witwe in Drammen

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

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

Terje Boye Hansen, conductor

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

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

January 25, 1990: Rosenkavalier in Oslo

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

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

Heinz Fricke, conductor

They were great. Especially the women.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

January 23, 1989: La Boheme in Oslo

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

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

Per Åke Andersson, conductor

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

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Monday, January 22, 2018

January 22, 2017: Anna Bolena in Parma

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

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

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

In coproduction with Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, January 21, 2018

January 21, 2012: Turandot in Zurich

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

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

Massimo Zanetti, conductor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday, January 20, 2018

January 20, 2014: I due Foscari in Vienna

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

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

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

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

Licht - Bruno Poet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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January 20, 2013: Andrea Chenier in Torino

2013-01-20 Andrea Chenier (Giordano),Teatro Regio di Torino

Andrea Chénier - Marcelo Álvarez
Carlo Gérard - Alberto Mastromarino
Maddalena di Coigny - María José Siri
Bersi, her maid - Giovanna Lanza
The Countess of Coigny - Anna Malavasi
Madelon - Chiara Fracasso
Roucher  - Gabriele Sagona
Mathieu, a sans-culotte - Federico Longhi
The Incredible - Gianluca Floris
The novelist Pietro Fléville - Matteo Peirone
Fouquier Tinville, the Public Prosecutor  - 
Scott Johnson
The Abbot, poet  - Luca Casalin
Schmidt - Fabrizio Beggi
Dumas - Franco Rizzo
Master of the Household - Gheorghe Valentin Nestor 
Renato Palumbo, conductor

Director - Lamberto Puggelli
Director cooperator - Salvo Piro
Sets - Paolo Bregni
Costumes - Luisa Spinatelli
Choreographic movements - Tiziana Tosco
Lighting - Bruno Ciulli
Assistant to costumes - Monia Torchia
Chorus Master - Claudio Fenoglio

Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro Regio
Staging by Teatro Regio

After the dark Macbeth in Genova I was happy to see this colorful Andrea Chenier in Torino.  This opera was double expensive for me since I originally had thought to see Macbeth again in Genova with other singers as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. So that ticket was never used. The newsletter from Teatro Regio Torino made me choose Andrea Chenier, a wonderful opera, and MARCELO ALVAREZ was singing the main role. It was the perfect plan.

With all the buzz about the movie of the musical Les Miserables I think going to see the opera Andrea Chenier is doubly enjoyable. Chenier was a real during who lied and died during the revolution. Of course the romantic story is not as historic as the persons. The real Chenier was not a romantic but he was a revolution man, a poet. But politically he was not on the winning side so Robespierre wanted him dead. 

I loved the production, so true and so real it was. The singing was suberb. Marcelo Alvarez was worth the trip to Torino. BRAVO!!!

Friday, January 19, 2018

January 19, 2014: La Gioconda in Berlin

2014-01-19 La Gioconda (Ponchielli), Deutsche Oper Berlin

La Gioconda = Hui He
La Cieca = Dana Beth Miller
Alvise Badoero = Ante Jerkunica
Laura = Marianne Cornetti
Enzo Grimaldo = Marcelo Álvarez
Barnaba = Lado Ataneli
Zuàne = Ben Wager
Ein Steuermann = Noel Bouley
Ein Sänger = Simon Pauly
Isèpo = Gideon Poppe
1. Gondoliere = Paul Kaufmann
2. Gondoliere = Ben Wager
Kirchendiener = Simon Pauly

Jesús López Cobos, conductor
Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Opernballett der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin

Director - Boleslaw Barlog
Stage-design, Costume-design  - Filippo Sanjust
ChöreWilliam Spaulding
ChoreografieGudrun Leben

Originaldekorationen aus der Entstehungszeit des Werkes [Scenografia Camillo Parravicini, Rom]

The music in both La Gioconda and I Due Foscari is just wonderful. The productions could not be more different. In Deustche Oper Berlin's La Gioconda the scenography and costumes was just breathtakingly beautiful. The beauty of the original scenography from the very first premiere of La Gioconda was so beautiful it was difficult to get inside opera the opera. Theater an der Wien's I Due Foscari had another problem, the ugliness of torture was all too much to handle as it was right in your face.

The solution was in both cases to have the best singers that sung and acted superbly. What ever the beauty or cruelty that was to be seen we had in both cases directors who knew what they were doing. The director managed to create with these excellent singers the web of relations between individuals that create the feeling of truth.

Hui He was La Gioconda, she was truely La Gioconda, and a great La Gioconda, too. Very unlike Violeta Urmana's La Gioconda from Paris Bastille, but the was a completely different production. Hui He was the right choice in this production. As her mother, La Cieca, we had Dana Beth Miller and she owned her role. Like in Paris Marcelo Alvarez was Enzo Grimaldi. I found him even better in Berlin. He was marvellous in Paris, but in Berlin better. Lado Ataneli was a great Barnaba. Ante Jerkunica was a young and splendid Alvise. Marianne Cornetti was Laura, wife of Alvise and rivale to Gioconda for the love of Enzo.

La Gioconda is a street singer who profoundly loves two persons, her mother and Enzo. La Cieca is Gioconda's blind mother, a devoute woman who loves her child, La Gioconda. Enzo Grimaldi is a Prince that Alvise has outlawed. He loved Laura but Laura was then married to Alvise, against her will. Now he is the lover of La Gioconda. But he stills loves Laura and La Gioconda believes him just to be a young sea captain. Barnaba and Alvise are the villains. Barnaba is the spy for the inquisition and works for Alvise but mostly for himself. He fancies himself in love with La Gioconda. This "love" does not care that La Gioconda loaths him and he is willing to kill La Cieca because she is in his way, or so he thinks. An obsession to possess La Gioconda is driving him. There are no layers in him. He is simply evil. Alvise is one of the leaders of the Inquisition in Venice. He thinks that killing his wife when it is believed and almost proven that she has been adulterous will cleanse the stain to his honor. Alvise is in many ways just like Barnaba just richer and more powerful. Laura Adorno is married to Alvise, she does not love him. Finding out Enzo is there, in Venice, makes her reckless when she should know how dangerous Alvise can be.

Enzo Grimaldi is no hero. He is faithless to La Gioconda. He creates dangers for Laura Adorno. There are no reason here, only feelings. He almost kills La Gioconda in a rage that is all about Laura, and then when Laura is heard and then seen and he understands La Gioconda has saved Laura, then it is "fanciulla santa". The change seem to take just seconds.

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January 19, 2013: Macbeth in Genova

2013-01-19 Macbeth (Verdi), Teatro Carlo Felice, Genova

Macbeth = George Gagnidze
Lady Macbeth = Maria Guleghina
Macduff = Rubens Pelizzari 
Banco = Roberto Scandiuzzi
Malcolm = Vincenzo Costanzo
Dama di Lady Macbeth = Sara Cappellini Maggiore
Medico = Francesco Verna
Domestico di Macbeth = Francesco Sorichetti
Un Sicario = Alessandro Pastorino
Un Araldo = Alessio Bianchini

Andrea Battistoni, conductor

Regia - Henning Brockhaus
Scene - Josef Svoboda
Ricostruzione allestimento scenico - Benito Leonori
Costumi - Nanà Cecchi
Allestimento in coproduzione con:
Fondazione Teatro Lirico G. Verdi di Trieste
Fondazione Pergolesi Spontini di Jesi

Maria Guleghina was the reason I had come to Genova to see Verdi's Macbeth. She was wonderful. This was a dark vision of Macbeth and his lady. Not much reason to like this two persons. In the scene of the prophecies Macbeth almost beheads Banco before he returns to reason. Lady Macbeth is one of the witches. This production is the only one that I have seen that is really successfull with the witches. This production is thoroughly thought out. Video projection is used but one never think "ah, video" it is integrated in the theatrical forms. Video is used as partt of the scenography and part of the regie. Rubens Pellizario was wonderful as Macduff. As part of this dark vision Macduff almost crowns himself but then cries of VITTORIA and Malcolm is crowned. 
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Thursday, January 18, 2018

January 18, 2004: Tosca in Berlin

2014-01-18 Tosca (Puccini), Deutsche Oper Berlin

Floria Tosca = Tatjana Serjan
Mario Cavaradossi = Marcello Giordani
Baron Scarpia = Sergey Murzaev
Cesare Angelotti = Ben Wager
Der Mesner = Seth Carico
Spoletta = Jörg Schörner
Sciarrone = Andrew Harris
Ein Schließer = Noel Bouley

Matthias Foremny, conductor
Kinderchor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin

Director - Boleslaw Barlog
Stage-design, Costume-design  - Filippo Sanjust
ChöreThomas Richter

KinderchorChristian Lindhorst

There is this idea that one can see too many performance of one opera. Then there is perfection like on Saturday January 18, 2014 in Deutsche Oper Berlin. This is on of the classic productions that will never be tired, especially when it has been rehearsed so well that it seem to be real here and now. Marcello Giordani was a wonderful Mario Cavaradossi, perfectly sung and acted. Tatjana Serjan was just so right in this role, Tosca was in her bones and airs. Sergey Murzaev was just the perfect Scarpia.

Sergey Murzaev was the perfect Scarpia. Only hardened Thomas Hampson fans would be disappointed by Murzaev. This was a smooth, good-looking Scarpia who just occationally let the inner demon out. His minions looked more intimidating than Scarpia himself. But Roma knew of his reputation. Marcello Giordani made his Mario Cavaradossi a much more noble, politically savvy and screwd mind than most tenors give the role. Tatjana Serjan's Floria Tosca had also a wider pallette to paint than most sopranos. Then add upp a production and regie that takes everything in and draws the right picture all the way. Best Tosca ever!!

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

January 17, 2016: Otello in Wiesbaden

Otello = José Cura
Desdemona = Cristina Pasaroiu
Iago = Matias Tosi
Cassio = Aaron Cawley
Roderigo = Benedikt Nawrath
Lodovico = Young Doo Park
Emilia = Celeste Haworth
Montano = Nathaniel Webster
A Herald = Christian Balzer
Bianca = Rosa Alt

Leo McFall, conductor
Chor, Extrachor, Jugendchor & Statisterie des Hessischen Staatstheaters Wiesbaden, Hessisches Staatsorchester Wiesbaden

Director - Uwe Eric Laufenberg
Stage Designer - Gisbert Jäkel
Costume Designer - Jessica Karge
Lighting Designer - Andreas Frank
Chorus Master - Albert Horne
Dramaturgy - Regine Palma
Once again and it is Jose Cura as Otello. This time in Wiesbaden.

He was great and this time one could understand why Otello behave as he does because this time we have a Jago who you can see how other people could trust hime. He is a villain, no doubt about that and nothing good is in him.

A great cast. Amazing Otello, Desdemona and Jago. All the other roles was also well. And we have Bianca.

The person-regie was amazing, all the details was there. I really did not like all the sexing and alll that, men are are brutes, women are whores. So cheap to go that way.

So some love and some meh!

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January 17, 2009: Turandot in London

2009-01-17 Turandot (Puccini), Royal Opera House, London
Turandot = Iréne Theorin
Liu = Svetla Vassileva
Calaf = José Cura
Timur = Paata Burchuladze
Ping = Giorgio Caoduro
Pang = Ji-Min Park
Pong = Alasdair Elliott
Althoum = Robert Tear
Mandarin = Kostas Smoriginas

Nicola Luisotti, conductor

Saturday, January 17 7:30 PM

Giacomo Puccini

Revival Director
Jeremy Sutcliffe

Sally Jacobs

F. Mitchell Dana

Kate Flatt

Original Production
Andrei Serban

Nicola Luisotti

This production was from 1985. I must say that some of it really looked cheap, like the costumes of Ping, Pong and Pang. But it was really some wonderful ideas there. In a way it was a lot like a musical with all that dancing. Really this was China on the cheap. 1985 really is a long time ago. I missed the Verona Production I saw in 2003 and 2005. Jose Cura really was Calaf and I loved his portrayal here. Irene Theorin was wonderful as Turandot. Svetla Vassileva also great as Liu. Paata Burchuladze as Timur was wonderful when was warmed up (it took some minutes). Great Mandarin. Ping, Pong and Pang did their job well, I just didn't like how they were portrayed, but that was the director's fault. The Orchestra was often a bit too loud. But it was really good, the performance. The production, I am torn on this one. Good, or not too bad, almost Great.

Jose Cura, who was not well to sing on January 12/14, sang a wonderful Calaf. He showed very little of still being a bit sick. Unless this performance harmed him he will only be better. Naturally he left the opera house before we, his fans had the chance to say hallo to him. It was the only sensible thing to do. He sang, that is the most important fact. How well the other singers and chorus and orchestra did it, without Jose Cura it would have been little to applaud. The opera was on his shoulders.

OD Travel + Photos
2009: My first OperaDuets Travel, London's Turando...

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

January 16, 2016: Don Carlo in Frankfurt

2016-01-16 Don Carlo (Giuseppe Verdi), Oper Frankfurt

Don Carlo = Sergio Escobar
Elisabeth von Valois = Tamara Wilson
Philipp II. = Andreas Bauer
Prinzessin Eboli = Tanja Ariane Baumgartner
Rodrigo, Marquis von Posa = Daniel Schmutzhard
Graf von Lerma, Herold = Simon Bode
Tebaldo = Julia Dawson
Der Großinquisitor = Magnús Baldvinsson
Ein Mönch = Vuyani Mlinde
Stimme von oben = Danae Kontora

Renato Balsadonna, conductor
Chor und Extrachor der Oper Frankfurt
Frankfurter Opern- und Museumsorchester

Director - David McVicar
Revival rehearsed by Caterina Panti Liberovici
Stage Designer - Robert Jones
Costume Designer - Brigitte Reiffenstuel
Choreography - Andrew George
Lighting Designer - Joachim Klein
Chorus Master (Chorus and Male Extra Chorus) -
Tilman Michael
Dramaturge -Malte Krasting

Sergio Escobar and Tamara Wilson, two amazing artists with great voice and acting skills. BRAVI, Sergio & Tamara!!

In fact everybody was amazing, the singing and acting likewise. Only the Grande Inquisitore sounded old and tired but that fitted the role.

Tamara Wilson was divine. Her acting was totally believable. She sang Elisabeth de Valois in a way that I realized that  never before had it been sung to such perfection with all the passion we would wish for. She reminded me of Montserrat Caballe except that Caballe is often Caballe onstage too where Tamara Wilson was always Elisabeth de Valois. The booklet showed a paiting of the thin, almost too skinny, Elisabeth de Valois. It is not possible for a soprano in the age group of Elisabeth de Valois to sing this hefty Verdi role. Tamara Wilson had everything except the look of Elisabeth de Valois. But this is opera so we are invited to see love not in the Hollywood perfect size way but the every-kind-of-body-size that opera singers have. Should we not postpone old ideas of how love looks and accept what the stage gives us.

Both our Elisabeth and our Carlos had a different body that what we saw in the booklet (programme). But who cares about that when the singing and acting is absolute perfection. This perfection was not cold it was passionate as Verdi should be. Sergio Escobar was wonderful. And the singing and acting made you forget all sizeist bias and you are thanking Oper Frankfurt that they decided to allow us opera-goers to experience such bliss.

I loved it all so much. I wish I had it on DVD. Thank you, director and production theme!

I enjoyed the Eboli of Tanja Ariane Baumgartner so much. Her voice, everything!

Tamara Wilson, my new Soprano Diva!! Brava, Tamara Wilson! and the best for your career!!!

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Monday, January 15, 2018

January 15, 1993: La Traviata in Bergen

1993-01-15 La Traviata (Verdi), Den Norske Opera in Bergen

Violetta Valéry = Ingjerd Oda Mantor
Flora Bervoix = Torill Eriksen
Alfredo Germont = Kjell Magnus Sandve
Annina = Eva Solheim
Georgio Germont = Trond Halstein Moe
Gaston, Viscomte de Utorires = Mikael Fagerholm
Barone Duphol = Jens Olai Justvik
Marchese d'Obigny = Bjørn Mørch Olsen
Dottore Grenvil = Bjørn Lie-Mansen
Giuseppe, servo di Violetta = Giuseppe Chiarello

Terje Boye Hansen, conductor

I lived in Bergen at this time. I guess it was an OK opera night
First I do not remember if it was January 13, 14, 15.

I was having my second job or was between jobs. Living close to the concert hall (Grieghallen) it was easy to get tickets.

I remember enjoying seeing this opera production again with other singers.

Den Norske Opera, Bergen Grieghallen
Conductor: Terje Boye Hansen
Regie: Jens Christian Ek
Scenography: Madla Bruza
Coreography: Frederic Konrad
Violetta Valéry: Elena Brilova 14/1,16/1
Ingjerd Oda Mantor 15/1
Flora Bervoix: Torill Eriksen
Alfredo Germont: Kjell Magnus Sandve
Annina: Eva Solheim
Georgio Germont: Jan SødaI14/1, 16/1
Trond Halstein Moe 15/1
Gaston, Viscomte de Utorires: Mikael Fagerholm
Barone Duphol: Jens Olai Justvik
Marchese d'Obigny: Bjørn Mørch Olsen
Dottore Grenvil: Bjørn Lie-Mansen
Giuseppe, servo di Violetta: Giuseppe Chiarello
Domestico di Flora: Birger Barring
Commissionario: Roald Nygard

Den Norske Operas Chorus
Bergen Filharmoniske Orkester

OD Travel

Saturday, January 13, 2018

January 13, 2007: Tosca in Zurich

2007-01-13 Tosca (G. Puccini), Opernhaus Zurich

Floria Tosca = Norma Fantini
Mario Cavaradossi = Marcelo Alvarez
Baron Scarpia = Ruggero Raimondi
Angelotti = Tomasz Slawinski
Mesner = Giuseppe Scorsin
Spoletta = Andreas Winkler
Sciarrone = Rolf Haunstein

Nello Santi, conductor

Tosca - Puccini
In italienischer Sprache


Nello Santi

Gilbert Deflo

Ezio Frigerio

Franca Squarciapino

Jürgen Hoffmann

Jürg Hämmerli

ENDE:22.15 UHR

It was a wonderful opera evening. Ruggero Raimondi was a great Scarpia, Marcelo Alvarez was wonderful as Cavaradossi and so was Norma Fantini as Tosca.

The disappointment was the conductor Nello Santi who was almost killing the beautiful music, Tosca was mostly played painfully slow with sudden unreasoned faster parts. The Regie by Gilbert Deflo was not helping, as awkward moments in act 1. And deciding that Tosca would shoot herself rather that leaping from the Castello was really bad. Especially since both the shooting of Cavaradossi and later by Tosca was really too quiet. Not that one could not hear it but it didn't even hit our nerves. The scenography by Ezio Frigerio was probably one reason it was sometimes hard to hear the singers. The glass walls was just not reflecting the sound but it was giving reflects of the singers and the monitors which was a bit disturbing. And then there so not a huge or even big painting of Maria Magdalen, just some painters papers which really make the acting much more harder to do realistically.

After the opera, no Ruggero Raimondi in sight but delightful Marcelo Alvarez and the nicest soprano of all, Norma Fantini made the evening perfect. Marcelo Alvarez was most generous tenor meeting his fans and making everybody enjoy it deeply. And Norma Fantini was the warmest and nicest person you could meet. At the stage door a huge success for the fans. And I could go to the hotel with a big smile in my face. NORMA FANTINI, the power of nice!!!!

January 2007: Tosca in Zurich (2007-01-13)

OD Travel + Photos

January 13, 2002: Parsifal in Vienna

2002-01-13 Parsifal (R. Wagner), Wiener Staatsoper

Amfortas = Bernd Weikl
Titurel = Peter Wimberger
Gurnemanz = Kurt Rydl
Parsifal = Placido Domingo
Klingsor = Wolfgang Bankl
Kundry = Violeta Urmana

Peter Schneider, conductor

Peter Schneider was the right conductor for Parsifal.
Kurt Rydl was great as Gurnemanz, but not as tall as Matti Salminen, and that was a pity. Because in Madrid where M. Salminen sang Gurnemanz, he was always the tallest onstage, and that is almost a requirement in this role. Bernd Weikl too was great, as Amfortas, but I think Madrid's Grundheber was better. As in Madrid: Wolfgang Bankl was Klingsor, and he was great, too.

And this Parsifal was great, but now we come to the center of the question, Parsifal and Kundry. Plácido Domingo and Violeta Urmana. It was the Placido Domingo who sang the best German, without a false word, the Spaniard was better than the German-speaking singers in the language test of Parsifal. Violeta Urmana, in her attempt to sing correct German, seem to loose out meaning in the search of pronounciation.

The Kundry of Violeta Urmana was unexciting, boring in both act1 and 3. Only in Act 2 did she manage to be any thing called exciting because of the beautiful dress she was wearing. Where Agnes Baltsa gave heart and soul into Kundry, only belcanto from Urmana.

Plácido Domingo, the final judgment: he is a great Parsifal. still young. Forever young.

13.JANUARY 2002 17:00

Ein Bühnenweihfestspiel von Richard Wagner

DirigentPeter Schneider
Inszenierung August Everding
Ausstattung Jürgen Rose
Choreographie Ray Barra
Chorleitung Ernst Dunshirn
" ..

Kundry - Violeta Urmana*
Erster Knappe - Cornelia Salje*
Zweiter Knappe - Michelle Breedt
Dritter Knappe - Walter Pauritsch
Vierter Knappe  - Michael Roider
Erster Gralsritter - Benedikt Kobel
Zweiter Gralsritter - Peter Köves
Blumenmädchen 1 Gruppe - lngrid Kaiserfeld
Judith Halász*
Stella Grigorian
2 Gruppe - Simina Ivan
Renate Pitscheider
Michelle Breedt
Stimme von oben - Michelle Breedt
* Rollendebüt an der Wiener Staatsoper


Friday, January 12, 2018

January 12, 2015: Luisa Fernanda in Valencia

2015-01-12 Luisa Fernanda (Moreno Torroba), Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia (Valencia)

Luisa Fernanda = Davinia Rodríguez
Vidal Hernando = Plácido Domingo
Javier = José Bros
Carolina = Isabel Rey
Mariana = María José Suárez
Saboyano = Emilio Sánchez
Rosita = Sandra Ferrández
Nogales = Miguel Sola
Aníbal / Vareador = Vicenç Esteve
Don Florito = Juansa Lloret
Bizco Porras = David Rubiera
Don Lucas = David Fruci *
Capitán = Germán Olvera*

Jordi Bernàcer, conductor
Cor de la Generalitat Valenciana
Francesc Perales, director
Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana

Director - Emilio Sagi
Vestuario - Pepa Ojanguren
Iluminación - Eduardo Bravo
Producción - Teatro Real de Madrid

* Centre de Perfeccionament Plácido Domingo

Placido Domingo sounded fresher in this second performance of Luisa Fernanda. I have seen again the  DVD of the same production from Teatro Real in Madrid in 2006. Naturally with 9 more years Placido sound different now. Placido Domingo, the great tenor, is now singing baritone roles in full force. He is obviously dreaming of conquering all Verdi Baritone roles just like he did Verdi Tenor roles. Verdi baritone roles is very far from the lighter zarzuela even if he is singing Vidal Hernando, a baritone role. Still, Placido can still win people over. Is it the Magic of the Legend or does he still have It.

Jose Bros as Javier Moreno just as in 2006 (DVD), but in Valencia he was even better. I am a big fan of Nancy Fabiola Herrera so I assumed I would prefer her in the 2006 DVD, but I found that Davinia Rodriguez gave the role more personality. In the DVD recording Mariola Cantarero was the Duchess Carolina, but also there did I find more personality and depth in Isabel Rey's intepretation.

It is strange that or maybe it isn't, that the dvd feels more stuffed than the live performances in Valencia. Maybe it is that Valencia had the more superb cast also in the small parts and even chorus and dancers was more alive and real than in Teatro Real. I never saw this zarzuela in Teatro Real so I can only say what I see, feel and hear from the recording.

Torroba: Luisa Fernanda 

Plácido Domingo (Vidal Hernando); Nancy Herrera (Luisa Fernanda); José Bros (Javier Moreno); Mariola Cantarero (Duchess Carolina); 

"The production at the Teatro Real in Madrid was a top-of-the-range version...Vidal is a peach of a role for Domingo: his voice easily commands its baritone range and he dominates the action, convincingly heroic in voice and figure and still able to project a greying virility in the style of Sean Connery. Nancy Herrara as Luisa and Jose Bros as Javier gave fine support." (The Independent)

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January 12, 2013: L'Italiana in Algeri, Vienna

2013-01-12 L'Italiana in Algeri (Rossini),Wiener Staatsoper 

Mustafà = Ferruccio Furlanetto
Elvira = Ileana Tonca 
Zulma = Juliette Mars
Haly = Alessio Arduini
Lindoro = Antonino Siragusa
Isabella = Agnes Baltsa
Taddeo = Alfred Šramek

Jesús López-Cobos, conductor

Inszenierung/Bühnenbild - Jean-Pierre Ponelle

Agnes Baltsa as Isabella. What can one say? The lady is magic but she was born on November 19, 1944 says the books. She seems much younger on stage. I have heard her sing better better because she was younger then but she was the main event. Young Antonino Siragusa could not outshine Agnes Baltsa. He was an admirable Lindoro. I almost did not miss Juan Diego Florez. But it was fun to experience a new Lindoro. Ileana Tonca and Juliette Mars as Elvira and Zulma was OK, but I have heard better before. Ferruccio Furlanetto was Mustafa and he was great. But just like Agnes Baltsa even Ferrucio Furlanetto was older and not so shining as they were in 2004.  Most of all I felt that it was time for a new production. The sets and costumes are beautiful but... Maybe it only needs some updating in regie. Mustafa is in brown-face and it no longer feels comfortable. I think that maybe I no longer like the story in this opera.

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