Sunday, August 12, 2012

Parsifal from Bayreuth--watch online

This year Stefan Herheim's revelatory Bayreuth production of Parsifal was taped and broadcast on TV. You can now watch it online. Don't miss this one.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Met Opera 2012-13 Preview

Luxury! Opulence! Sarongs!
Single tickets for the Met 2012-13 season go on sale tomorrow, August 12. I can't say it looks like a very exciting season, it is conservative and draws on repeat Met offenders whose past work hardly inspires confidence, but here's the deal as I see it. Meaning, these are the questions I would like to ask the people who scheduled the thing.

New Productions
L'elisir d'amore. Why did you pick a charming but extremely modest opera for the grandeur of opening night? What makes you think Anna Netrebko still has the coloratura facility and endearing but, well, modest Matthew Polenzani has acquired enough star power to carry this thing? Why another production from the twee, superficial Bartlett Sher? WHY? (Opening night September 24, HD October 13)

The Tempest. Why did you let Robert Lepage direct again, after how it turned out last time? Why do you think "recreating the interior of the 18th-century La Scala" is a remotely original idea and what does it have to do with The Tempest? What does living composer Thomas Adès have to say about this, as I see he doesn't actually say anything about his own opera in the publicity despite being the person conducting it and having, um, written it? (Opening October 23, HD November 10)

Un Ballo in Maschera. Wow, who around here found the nerve to hire David Alden to direct? Well done, person. Also a big thanks to the person who already convinced Karita Mattila that this role is not for her and hired Sondra Radvanovsky instead, who despite intonation issues is correct that this role is for her. Will Alden find the elusive key to Marcelo Alvarez's inner actor? (Opening November 8, HD December 8)

Maria Stuarda. Who thought "nothing like a New Year's Eve Gala that ends with a beheading"? You may be my people. Will someone pleaaaase get the old, interesting David McVicar back, who might even inspire Joyce DiDonato to forego the perky, and put the one who directed Anna Bolena and Les Troyens out to pasture? Also will you kindly tell me if Elza van den Heever is good, because I have not heard her? (Opening November 31, HD January 19)

"I could be in Paris right now"
Rigoletto. OK, I realize that this was supposed to be this other production from Vienna, which turned out to be dreadful, but why did you think that the keywords of "debut by a Broadway director," "Las Vegas," "antics," and "tragic sidekick" were necessarily more promising? Meaning that I think this is the best opportunity for pure production filth in the season (except possibly the Faust revival). Also, who is conductor Michele Mariotti? Will Diana Damrau's Babypause interfere with this one? And who will send Piotr Beczala a big bottle of vodka in sympathy? (Opening January 28, HD February 16)

Parsifal. Have you heard that this production by François Girard was outsourced to the arty Europeans for its first run and is rumored to be good? Have you thought about how the Met's "Pick Your Pleasure" ad campaign is going to work with an opera that basically has no plot and when conducted by Daniele Gatti takes about a week? You know that this is the only thing except maybe Ballo that I am buying a ticket for at noon tomorrow on the dot? (Yes, you could have guessed that.) (Opening February 15, HD March 2)

Giulio Cesare. Do you realize that the Met is about the last house in the world to get this Bollywood-inspired all-singing all-dancing production, which hails from the glorious end of David McVicar's Goofy Period? Oh well, I'm not sure what makes you think Natalie Dessay is a good choice for Cleopatra, and David Daniels is aging for Cesare, but Alice Coote and Christophe Dumaux will be lovely, right? (Opening April 4, HD April 27)

On to repertory!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Jonas Kaufmann crashes Anna Netrebko's Bohemian party in Salzburg

I went to a Very Special Performance of La Bohème at the Salzburg Festival and I wrote about it for Bachtrack:
When Salzburg Festival intendant Alexander Pereira stepped onto the stage of the Großes Festspielhaus last night to announce that one of the cast members of La bohème was sick and unable to sing, he faced a chorus of hisses from the audience... Piotr Beczala had decided a mere ten minutes earlier that his vocal cords would not be up to singing Rodolfo that night. We would have to wait forty minutes for a replacement. Further hisses. Fortunately Pereira had an ace up his sleeve: the replacement would be another star, Jonas Kaufmann.
You can read the rest here. This review has everything: Anna Netrebko. Special surprise Rodolfo Jonas Kaufmann. Me saying nice things about the Wiener Philharmoniker. You’re not going to believe it.

A few more thoughts and photos below.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Ariadne auf Naxos: Ur-iadne auf Salzburg

I went to see Ariadne auf Naxos at the Salzburg Festival and wrote about it for Bachtrack:
Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s Ariadne auf Naxos was first performed in 1912, in a production directed by Max Reinhardt. Unlike the version usually seen today, this first Ariadne was a long-winded play-opera-ballet hybrid, incorporating a full production of Molière’s Le bourgeois gentilhomme with dances to incidental music by Strauss followed by the short opera. Less than a decade later these three men would found the Salzburg Festival, so it seems only appropriate that the festival is celebrating the hundredth anniversary of Ariadne. While this convoluted production doesn’t make a good case for the piece, strong performances by Emily Magee and Elena Mosuc in the opera’s main roles and a fantastic deus ex machina by Jonas Kaufmann as Bacchus make it worthwhile.
You can read the whole thing here. You can also watch this production live on the internet tonight (August 5) at 20:15 Austrian time from Medici.

While this production was disappointing in a number of ways I'm still very glad I saw it. As you'd guess from my blog name I've been obsessed with this opera for ages.

Some more thoughts and photos below.