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Showing posts from March, 2007

Saint-Saëns - Samson et Dalila

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La Monnaie at Bozar, Brussels, Sunday March 25 2007

Conductor: Kazushi Ono. Chorus Master: Piers Maxim. Dalila: Olga Borodina. Samson: Carl Tanner. Le Grand Prêtre de Dagon: Jean-Philippe Lafont. Abimélech, satrape de Gaza: Federico Sacchi. Un vieil Hébreu: Chester Patton. Un messager: Tie Min Wang. Premier Philistin: André Grégoire. Deuxième philistin: Bernard Giovani. Orchestre symphonique et choeurs de la Monnaie.

[Photo: Shafahi]

This concert peformance of Samson et Dalila took place in the handsomely-restored art deco concert hall - complete with organ - of Horta's otherwise grim Palais des Beaux-Arts, or "Bozar" as it's now called, in Brussels. Though it seems fairly obvious to me that if composers intended their operas for the stage, staged they should be, Samson works quite well as oratorio: strong orchestral support, plenty of good stuff for the chorus, etc., apart from the odd detail explicit only on stage, e.g. the child who guides Samson to the pillars at th…

Händel – Ariodante

Théatre des Champs Elysées, Paris, Friday March 16 2007

Conductor: Christophe Rousset. Production and sets: Lukas Hemleb. Choreography: Andrew George. Ariodante: Angelika Kirchschlager. Polinesso: Vivica Genaux. Ginevra: Danielle De Niese. Dalinda: Jaël Azzaretti. Lurcanio: Topi Lehtipuu. Il Re: Olivier Lallouette. Odoardo: Nicolas Maire. Les Talens Lyriques.

“Indignities for a pittance”. It’s highly unlikely Ivy Compton-Burnett ever danced in an opera, but her terse definition of work must strike a chord in the careworn hearts of those who do. How often, over the years, have we all felt sorry for those poor, cute kids: so much hard work, such beautiful bodies, only to be forced to look ridiculous in front of 1,000 people who wished you weren’t there at all, and smile as you get booed at the end. Presumably for a pittance, too.

Lukas Hemleb’s production of Ariodante has had particularly mixed reviews, ranging from pure panning to sheer ecstasy - though any praise for the ballets has been…

Shostakovich – Katerina Ismailova

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Théâtre du Châtelet, Saturday March 10, 2007

Conductor: Tugan Sokhiev. Boris: Alexeï Tanovitski. Zinovyi: Evgeny Akimov. Katerina: Solveig Kringelborn. Sergeï: Vladimir Grishko. Aksinia: Ludmila Dudinova. Shabby Peasant: Vasily Gorushkov. Priest/Old Convict: Ilya Bannik. Sonyetka: Anna Markarova. Police chief: Nikolai Kamensky. Orchestre National de France. Chorus of Radio France.
[Photo: Shafahi]

This excellent concert provided a perfect illustration, if one were needed, of the anyway obvious point that a singer can’t be judged on the basis of a single performance. Hauled in at the last minute to sing the Marschallin in this season’s jinxed Rosenkavalier, Solveig Kringelborn gave little sign of her acting or vocal capabilities – understandably, under the tense circumstances. She may have given more in the last act, but by then we were already far away having dinner.

In Saturday’s Katerina Ismailova she proved to be an outstanding tragic actress, even in an unstaged performance with onl…