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.

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