Friday, September 23, 2011

Anna Bolena at the Met: the dress rehearsal report

This year’s opening night at the Metropolitan Opera will be a new production of Anna Bolena starring Anna Netrebko. I saw the open dress rehearsal today. Like when I saw her sing the role for the first time in Vienna in April, it’s all her show, and it’s a real star turn. But unlike in Vienna, the rest of the cast is solid and David McVicar’s production is a class act. I’m not going to be too critical or specific regarding the singing in a dress rehearsal, but here’s an idea of what we’re getting.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Les Arts Florissants bring Atys to BAM

Happy fall, everyone! The opera season in New York started this weekend with Atys at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and I went and wrote about it at Bachtrack.
In 1676, Louis XIV’s court composer, Jean-Baptiste Lully, wrote Atys, an unusually tragic opera that became a favorite of the king. In 1987, William Christie’s Les Arts Florissants revived it in an acclaimed series of performances in Paris and eventually at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Like Louis XIV centuries before, modern audiences were enchanted by the work’s austere, pure declamation, grand choruses, and graceful dances and its success was again influential.
Click here to read the whole thing. (By the way, I am blogging again. I'll report from the Anna Bolena dress at the Met on Thursday, such as one can report on a dress rehearsal. I can't go to opening night, unfortunately.)

This was a great performance, but I personally preferred LAF's last big BAM project, The Fairy Queen. This is probably because it was so funny and different and as a semi-opera had a lot of novelty value for me. This is the kind of novelty that Atys had when it was first performed in NYC in 1987 1989. Lully opera has become more established but hardly commonplace since, so some of that freshness is still there today, but not to the same radical degree--I've certainly heard a lot more Lully than I have semi-opera. How much of Atys's original success was due to the novelty of French Baroque and how much due to the production's undeniable excellence?

This is part of the reason why I'm a little disappointed that Les Arts Florissants have redone Atys instead of creating another production to expand our limited repertoire of French Baroque opera in New York (LAF has done a lot more in their home base in Europe but only a few of those productions have come to BAM). I know that this new iteration came into existence solely because of the generosity of a philanthropist, and we should be grateful for that! And 22 years is a long time, perhaps too long to begrudge a repeat. But I still am a fan of variety, and if you only know Atys you don't know the full diversity of the French Baroque. I recommended some DVDs in the review, here are some clips. Most of these productions are a lot more daring and modern than Villégier's Atys.

Most similar to Atys is Lully's Armide, which is way better than Rossini's and the LAF's DVD is awesome. The Armide is Stephanie d'Oustrac who was Cybèle in Atys in France (and in the forthcoming DVD) but did not come to New York, unfortunately. Her replacement was talented but a little undersized for the role. D'Oustrac is epic.

I love this goofy, almost all dance production of Rameau's Les Paladins.

Finally, this isn't Les Arts Florissants, but I remind you of the DVD of Cavalli's Ercole amante from De Nederlandse Opera that I wrote about a year ago, which is a fusion of French and Italian styles.

Photo above © Pierre Grosbois

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Holiday reminders

Bayreuth: Parterre Box reports that next summers' broadcast (and subsequent DVD) will be Parsifal. If it ends up actually happening, this will be fantastic. It's a genius production and one that is uniquely inaccessible (my review of it on this blog is here). Also at Parterre, be sure to read Dawn Fatale's brilliant reviews of Lohengrin and Tannhäuser at Bayreuth.

Vienna: The Staatsoper is going again. Could anyone stop it? The place is truly a force greater than Franz Welser-Möst's beat, than the shine from Dominique Meyer's Glatze, than an elderly standee trying to get to the front to see Netrebko. It can be equaled only by a certain aging baritenor. They opened with Placido as the Doge, natch. So it's still going.

New York: Opera Omnia, one of the small non-Met New York opera groups that is inevitably described as "plucky," is currently producing Cavalli's Giasone at Le Poisson Rouge. Remaining performances are this Tuesday and Wednesday; please report here if you've seen it. Giasone is a wonderful opera, one of the masterpieces of seventeenth-century Venice, but I'm not going to be there because a) in English b) amplified and c) I just moved to a newly Manhattan-adjacent location and can't see the floor of my new place yet. (Correction: contrary to the report I heard, apparently it is NOT amplified.)

New York: We would like to take this moment to remind you that Les Arts Florissants will be at the Brooklyn Academy of Music later this month with Lully's Atys. Don't you dare miss it. Do you remember how they did The Fairy Queen a year and a half ago and how it was the best?

New York
: One to possibly mark on your calendar. In November, the Opera Orchestra of New York will be Adriana Lecouvreur-ing with Angela Gheorghiu and Jonas Kaufmann (well, we can hope so, considering his recent health issues). I saw them do this in London already, and it's hard to muster up the enthusiasm for another Adriana (I also saw Guleghina and the baritenor at the Met). But who am I kidding, I'll probably end up there anyway.

Non-Americans FYI, the holiday is "Labor Day" on Monday, our totally socialist-/communist-free alternative to May Day.