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Showing posts from June, 2007

Britten - The Rape of Lucretia

Théâtre de l'Athénée, Paris, Tuesday June 26 2007

Conductor: Neil Beardmore. Production: Stephen Taylor. Soloists of the Atelier Lyrique de l'Opéra national de Paris, as follows. Lucretia: Anna Wall. Collatinus: Ugo Rabec. Junius: Wiard Witholt. Tarquinius: Igor Gnidii. Bianca: Cornelia Oncioiu. Lucia: Elisa Cenni. Female Chorus: Marie-Adeline Henry. Male chorus: Vincent Delhoume. Ensemble de Basse-Normandie.

An unexpected invitation brought me to the elaborately Belle-Epoque bonbonnière of the Théâtre de l'Athénéé for this production (brought in from Strasbourg) of Britten's Rape, featuring young singers involved in the Paris Opera's Atelier Lyrique ("opera workshop") programme.

It's hard to write up a show of this sort. We're told you have to be cruel to be kind, but I suspect that's just an excuse for plain cruelty; more convincing kindness would be simply to say "bravo" to everyone ("E for earnest endeavour," a conductor I…

Wagner - Lohengrin

ONP Bastille, Tuesday June 5, 2007

Conductor: Valery Gergiev. Production: Robert Carsen. Sets and costumes: Paul Steinberg. Heinrich der Vogler: Jan-Hendrik Rootering. Lohengrin: Ben Heppner. Elsa von Brabant: Mireille Delunsch. Friedrich von Telramund: Jean-Philippe Lafont. Ortrud: Waltraud Meier. Der Heerrufer des Königs: Evgeny Nikitin. Orchestra and Chorus of the Opéra National de Paris.

From what I read on the web, this run of Lohengrin has gone steadily gone downhill since the mostly positive reviews it got in its early days in the press ("Waltraud Meier is Ortrud, Ben Heppner is Lohengrin...").

It was soon troubled by Valery Gergiev's erratic punctuality, owing to his hectic performance schedule. One Saturday, it started 30 minutes late. The following week, management announced he was in his taxi; then, that he was still on his plane and that the first act would be conducted by someone else; then, after act one, that he had arrived but was "not in a fit state&qu…

Rossini - Tancredi

Salle Pleyel, Paris, Sunday June 3 2007

Concert version

Conductor: René Jacobs. Tancredi: Bernarda Fink. Amenaide: Rosemary Joshua. Argirio: Lawrence Brownlee. Roggiero: Anna Chierichetti. Orbazzano: Federico Sacchi. Isaura: Elena Belfiore. Orchestre des Champs-Elysées. The English Voices.

Back to the Salle Pleyel on Sunday for an interesting and sometimes exciting concert version of Rossini’s Tancredi – but a tough one to write up: René Jacobs’ approach, with a “period” orchestra and a cast of mostly Händelian singers (a deliberate choice of course) results in so different a Rossini that I’d really have liked to hear it several times before commenting.

The programme notes remind us that only 22 years separate Tancredi, which Jacobs calls “the most Mozartian of Rossini’s operas,” from La clemenza di Tito; that Rossini was known as “Il tedeschino”; and that he had assimilated Gluck’s reforms. As you would expect, the “HIP” orchestral sound strips off the varnish of smooth, 20th-century per…