I said I wanted to hear more from Stéphanie d'Oustrac; and this
clip is one of the first I came across. Of course she's sung a lot of real French
music, and a lot her performances can be found on YouTube. But here is
something that couldn't bemuch more
different than her recent appearances as Orphée.
Duetting with her is the (unknown to me) tenor Philippe Do, who sounds like
he's worth searching out, too.
Singing the Merry Widow
outdoors seems to be a very European thing to do. Right on the same page as the
above video (thank you, YouTube, for being one of the biggest time sinks in my
life) is this performance from Hanna-Elisabeth Müller (seen recently in Munich with very big hair as
Servillia) and Martin Mitterrutzner (noted previously in this blog.) Could they be any more charming?
I really want to write a
full-on review of this performance. But, as so often is the case, I am not 100%
sure how I feel about it. I feel manipulated; but I'm not sure I mind.
Overlaying a new story over an established plot is not a new idea. That's what great directors (sometimes) do. While Romeo Castellucci is no Stefan Herheim, I believe he has an interesting and effective new way to approach Orphée et Eurydice. Castellucci equates Eurydice's plight to the story of Els, a young Belgian woman suffering from Locked-in Syndrome, or a pseudocoma. She is completely paralyzed, and seems comatose, but is fully aware of here surroundings; and with accommodation, she can communicate. The story of her condition and how her family has responded is quite moving; so moving that it actually threatens to overtake the opera completely at some points.
I just took a 90-minute break from my total-Orfeo-immersion
week to watch Schubert's Die Winterreise live from the
Aix-en-Provence Festival on medici.tv. The cycle is performed by Matthias
Goerne and Markus Hinterhäuser, and directed for stage by William Kentridge.
Herr Goerne is always worth hearing (and watching). He proves once again that he is a consummate vocal artist; and with the addition of the video
animation backdrop and moody lighting, his performance is particularly
moving. Some of the images struck me as a little naive, but overall I thought the production was quite effective.
As I type this, Medici is regrouping for the
on-demand replays, which you can probably access in the next few hours. It’ll
only be available in the U.S. until July 23; they say it’ll be back November
11, but I am guessing that it’ll be for pay-for-play at that point. If you’re in Europe, I
think you can continue to watch it throughout the summer. Wherever you are, do take the time to give this performance a watch/listen.
While looking up the DVD of anOrfeoperformance in order to comment on one
of my own recent posts, I read a reviewer complaint about the ornaments that
countertenor Jochen Kowalski added to "Che faro..." So of course I had to track it down and listen to it (the aria starts at about 3 minutes in):
I didn't find it too bad. But I understood the reviewer's concern. I had a similar initial reaction while listening to
Franco Fagioli in a gorgeous concert performance broadcast not long ago.
Just as the (in)famous aria (variously known as "Amour, viens rendre," "L'Espoir Renaît Dans Mon Âme," and "Addio, miei sospiri") seems out of place, Mr Fagioli's ornamentation sounded a little anti-Gluck. I found it somewhat jarring. (On rehearing, I find I'm not as bothered by it any more.) However, I do feel that Che faro really doesn't need any embellishment; it's perfect as is. (Although other singers have added a trill or a few appoggiaturas here and there, which never seemed out of place.) So this made me wonder what Gluck, opera "reformists," and other opera lovers would think about these additions.
Are these ornaments out of character?
Are they anti-Reform?
Are they fine as long as they're tastefully done (a subjective call, at best)?
Should singers (and conductors) refrain from ornamenting Gluck – ever?
Should we just relax and enjoy the lovely singing?
Please feel free to discuss. Use other side of paper if necessary.
After a prompt from Lydia
I decided to look up some additional information (in English) on this new, moving production
of Gluck's Orphée et Eurydice. The official videos at theLa Monnaiesite
are apparently quite informative; but only if you understand French and/or
Dutch better than I do. Thus my Anglo-centric search for more info.
So, here is notice that
appeared in early June in theKULTURKOMPASSET blog that previews the concept of the
This is a co-production with the Weiner Festwochen, and it was seen in Vienna in May, sung in Italian. Over at The Opera Critic, you can find links to reviews (in German) of those performances, plus a few reviews (in French) of the current La Monnaie incarnation.
On June 19th, Anja Harteros
joined Phillippe Jordan and the Orchestre de l'Opéra National de Paris in Vienna to sing
a bit of Richard Strauss. On July 6th, Ö1 Radio broadcast a
recording of that performance.
Here is the first half of that concert, which
contains the Mondscheinmusik and the
final scene from Capriccio (starting at about 33 minutes in.) Before
welcoming Frau Harteros to the stage, the orchestra presented a sprightly performance
of Bizet’s youthful symphony. While orchestral music usually is outside the realm of
this blog, I do recommend listening to the Bizet and to the two Ravel Daphnis et ChloéSuitesthat follow the break.