Monday, October 10, 2016

Tristan und Isolde in HD – I love you so much I could die!

Stuart Skelton and Nina Stemme as Tristan und Isolde
This post/review of the Met in HD performance of Tristan und Isolde is a slightly expanded (and better proof-read) version of a comment I posted at The Earworm's review of last Monday night's performance. 

I enjoyed the Met broadcast on Saturday. I have to confess it’s my first time sitting straight through Tristan und Isolde; and I found myself drifting a bit during Act 3. That said, I confirmed my conviction that you really just need to “give in” to Wagner’s pace; let time stand still, as it were; and the piece doesn’t seem quite as long as it really is.

All of the singing was glorious; but I wished for better acting from Tristan and Kurwenal (and less barkiness from K). I find I have a tendency to close my eyes during these broadcasts, not because I don't want to see the scenery or the singer but because it allows me to wallow in the sheer sound of both voice and orchestra! Nina Stemme...well, she's awesome; I do need to open my eyes when she sings, because she also is an engaging actor. Stewart Skelton and Ekaterina Gubanova also sang beautifully; and of course René Pape is in a class of his own as King Marke. Really, everyone sang well. 

I was not bothered by the updated setting, though the set was nothing if not dreary. For me, the cargo ship setting enhanced the feeling of Isolde being kidnapped. The sailors menacing the women was creepy but appropriate. A little part of me wanted Isolde to be a bit dressier; but, her dress and demeanor accentuated the “captive” aspect.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Berlioz from Glyndebourne – Only Two More Days

Will they or won't they? (B&B have a moment.)
I finally got my act together and watched Berlioz' Béatrice et Bénédict from Glyndebourne. Unfortunately, it's only available for a few more days. (I don't know whose "midnight" is the cutoff time, though I'd guess it's GMT.) However, I am sure it will show up somewhere else. 

It’s not performed often, and one can imagine why. It’s a pleasant little piece, and this is a fun production, but not terribly profound or moving. It’s short enough to absorb (unlike Les Troyens) in a single shot. The cast—especially Stephanie D’Oustrac and Paul Appleby as the title couple—act well and sing beautifully. The chorus seems to have fun and does a great job (as does the orchestra!) And no one dies in this one.

The look of Laurent Pelly’s production set vaguely in a 1940s “black and white” film is startling at first, then soothing—makeup and costuming are all in blacks, whites, and greys. During the curtain calls, it’s startling again, when the “life-like” creative staff show up on stage, in an odd contrast to the cast. The set consists of boxes, representing the expected way of life that Béatrice et Bénédict do not wish to follow—they don’t want to be “put in a box.” However, if you know the play on which this is based (Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, which most people do in fact know), you won’t be surprised when they give in to love, and end up in a “happily married” box.

I am trying not to say “fluffy,” but there’s not a lot of substance to this little opéra comique. That said, there is some pretty music—particularly a duet and trio for the principal women, and Béatrice’s aria, in which she realizes she really is in love with Bénédict. The production is fun, well sung, and looks pretty; and it’s pretty amusing. If you can catch it on the Glyndebourne site in the next day or so, do take a watch and listen. (And/or watch for it to show up elsewhere.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Wozzeck aus dem Opernhaus Zürich mit Herr Gerhaher

© Monika Rittershaus
I haven’t had a chance to watch/listen to this new performance of Wozzeck yet—I did do a quick random click-through just to get a taste. But I wanted to call attention to this performance on It looks very interesting—almost a Punch and Judy-like setting. Based on the cast, it should be very well sung.

What is it about Wozzeck that attracts fine Lieder singers?

P.S. Sorry. I couldn't disable the accursed auto-play for this post, so I am settling for posting this link.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Rameau's Les Indes Galantes – This Sunday on

As seen on Facebook:

Live and free of charge from Prinzregententheater: The festival premiere of Jean-Philippe Rameau's Les Indes Galantes!

With Anna Prohaska, Mathias Vidal, Lisette Oropesa, dancers of the Compagnie Eastman a.o. 

Don't miss our online broadcast on!

Note: By my calculation, it should be on at 12:00 PM Eastern time in the U.S. 
I’m sure it will be great, but it’ll be hard to live up to the visuals of Laura Scozzi’s production from Bordeaux (this is one of the safe-for-work images):

P.S: Next Sunday (July 31) is the new Die Meistersinger with none other than Jonas Kaufmann...and some other singers, probably. That will be an earlier start. Looks like I should have gotten a substitute organist.

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