Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Interlude – Mitridate: Lungi da te mio bene

The mature Mozart would have taken less time to say the same thing. However I never notice the length* of this gorgeous performance; I am just mesmerized by Miah Persson's voice and the beauty of the melodies.  I just watched the whole opera again on Sunday afternoon; I'll delve further into this strange but beautifully-sung production in a later post (or two).

Miah Persson sings "Lungi da te mio bene" 
From the M22 Mitridate - Salzburg 2006

*Actually, the last minute-plus of this clip is the ovation.                                           

Monday, July 30, 2012

Orphée et Eurydice: The Baroque Stylings of…Robert Wilson? (or Blue Orpheus)

OK, I admit it. On first viewing, I pretty much hated this production. I got the DVD because 1.) I will listen to anything John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir do*; 2.) I really like Magdalena Kožená; and 3.) I absolutely love this opera!

It’s so blue!  And so static!  And Orphée is so strange looking – androgynous. And what’s with the hair, and that robe?  Ironically, the copy on the DVD case says, “…Wilson makes the most of the opera’s balletic possibilities…” But, the word “mesmerizing,” is also used, and I think that is the key to enjoying this performance (that, and patience.) 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Extra – Luca Pisaroni (or: Pretty Little Picture)

Gratuitous Friday Sunday

I posted this clip on YouTube a few days ago to use in an upcoming Gratuitous Friday post; it has already been viewed 37 times. That doesn't count as viral but I was a bit surprised how many people found it already.
This Don Giovanni clip is from Jonathan's Kent's Glyndebourne 2010 production. It also stars Gerald Finley as DG and Kate Royal as DE, among others. It is set in the 1950's, and as you see in this clip, Leporello's "catalog" is a stack of photo albums. (I guess Giovanni gave him a Polaroid camera for Christmas.)

Luca Pisaroni as that lovable scamp Leporello.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Tale of Two Ariadnes: Richard Strauß Preview

I am getting ready to review this DVD:

Emily Magee @ Zurich Opera 2005

In preparation, I decided to re-view this one first:

Jessye Norman @ the Met 1988

I figured it would be a good idea to revisit a "traditional" production (first seen at the Met in 1964) before re-watching, then writing about Claus Guth's version.   

I'll post my Ariadne review sometime in August. Next week I’ll be considering some Gluck and Mozart operas.
Ariadne mit dem Panther
Johann Heinrich von Dannecker (1758-1841)  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Gratuitous Friday – Malin Hartelius – Bach Cantata #78

OK, this isn't opera (and it's not really a real video) but it is marvelous music. Malin Hartelius is joined by countertenor Robin Tyson in this exquisite duet from Bach's cantata number 78, under the direction of Sir John Eliot Gardiner.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Věc Makropulos – Salzburg 2011 (Part 3: Give Me Alchemy or Give Me Death)

In the course of Věc Makropulos, we learn that Emilia is in fact rather bored with living so long, constantly reinventing herself, and finding a new life and lover. She sings in her final aria that the relative brevity of life is what gives human existence its joys and meaning. Never-ending life seems to blur and ultimately render meaningless the differences between good and evil, happiness and sadness, and even life and death.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Věc Makropulos – Salzburg 2011 (Interlude: Der Festspielhaus Maus)

This is clearly a Regieoper production, with a lot of symbolism depicting the aspects of a long life: repetition, waiting, etc. 
One regie bit that seemed pretty clear to me occurs 29 minutes into Act 3. As Emilia sings, "For me, life has stopped. I can go no further...the terrible loneliness,” a dormouse runs across the front of the stage. In German, this is a Siebenschläfer (Seven Sleepers); like our Punxsutawney Phil, he is a weather harbinger. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Věc Makropulos – Salzburg 2011 (Part 2: Everything Old is New Again)

This Salzburg production, staged by Christoph Marthaler, definitely falls into the Regieoper category. There is a lot of sub-textual action on the sidelines, especially in acts 2 & 3.  The action doesn’t literally mirror the plot, but abstractly represents Emilia’s long life.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Věc Makropulos – Salzburg 2011 (Part 1: The 337-year-old Diva)

I worked in a record store (remember record stores?) during the time Charles Mackerras recorded all the Janáček operas for Decca. Frankly, at that time what I heard did not do much for me.
Janáček ’s music has one foot in the 19th and the other in the 20th century; it’s sometimes hard to figure out what he is up to. One characteristic of Janáček ’s vocal music is his focus on replicating Czech speech patterns.  This is a good word-setting policy in general (IMHO as a part-time composer), and if you speak Czech, I am sure it makes the text easier to follow.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cosi Fan Tutte – Salzburg M22 (Part 3: Marry Me A Little)

The ending of Cosi is ambiguous and ripe for interpretation—especially once the men have seduced both sisters. Alfonso says the best revenge is to marry the sisters. But he doesn't say which one each should marry. 

In the original, it’s assumed they should marry their original partners; but many have argued convincingly that the new pairs are better matched.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cosi Fan Tutte – Salzburg M22 (Part 2: Fencing, the Feather, the Apple, and the Egg)

The Fencing:  In the opening scene Don Alfonso (Sir Thomas Allen) is coaching  Ferrando (Shawn Mathey) and Guglielmo (Stéphane Degout) in fencing skills. The swordplay is a clear image to associate with the conflicts in the opera. In the opening of Act 2, the sisters mirror the boys by pretending to fence with their fans.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cosi Fan Tutte – Salzburg M22 (Part 1: Who is what, and which is who?)

I noted the other day the customer reviewer on Amazon.com who complained that this Cosi was confusing because he couldn’t tell which sister was which and which lover was which, and I thought Aha! That’s the point, isn’t it? Maybe it really doesn’t matter who ends up with whom.
In many (if not most) modern productions of Cosi, there seems to be a conscious directorial decision to create this confusion. Mozart and da Ponte have certainly set us up for this. The four young people are in love with love. They like the idea of being with someone. But it’s not clear if they are really meant to be with each other. In some cases, it’s not clear that they actually exist, other than in Alfonso’s imagination. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Third Post: In which the author stops numbering his posts, stops saying, “in which,” and mulls over the reality of Cosi Fan Tutte

(I was going to post about Vec Makropolous by Janacek. But I wrote way too much, and it needs major editing. This is a blog after all, not a book. That post will show up soon though.)
Cosi Fan Tutte, or as someone once noted, Cosi Fan Tuttieveryone is like that!
I have been studying Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte a lot lately. In my very young youth, I borrowed a Metropolitan Opera performance in English on LP (remember LPs?) from the library, and apparently I listened to it—a lot.  I later realized that much of the music (particularly Ah, guarda, sorella, the opening duet for the sisters) became encoded in my brain. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Second Post: In which the author discusses the purpose of his blog

Welcome Back!

I would like to mention a few things about my blog and me. 

1.      I am not here to argue REGIE: Pro or Con. (Well, OK. I may be preaching some tolerance, at least!)  Although, it might be interesting to argue whether a particular production is Regie or just interesting (edit 10/03/12: Or just bad).

2.      I am not here (usually) to bust the divas and divos for messing up.  I am here to chat about opera productions I have enjoyed (or hated.)  And to find out what my readers (if there are any) think about it.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

The First Post: In which the author expounds a bit on Regieoper

Welcome, dear reader(s), to my little opera blog. (As if the world is crying out for more opera blogs -- just like Washington, DC needs more chamber choirs!)
Recently, I have become frustrated by what seems to be almost willful misunderstanding (and therefore, dislike and rejection) of what is known as Regieoper. (There is another term, which will only ever appear ONCE in this blog, but you'll have to wait for the next post to read it.)
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