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Showing posts from March, 2008

Roussel - Padmâvatî

Châtelet, Paris, Monday March 24 2008
Conductor: Lawrence Foster. Production: Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Padmâvatî: Sylvie Brunet. Ratan-Sen: Finnur Bjarnason. Alaouddin: Alain Fondary. Le Brahmane: Yann Beuron. Badal: François Piolino. Nakamti: Blandine Folio Peres. Gora: Laurent Alvaro. La Sentinelle: Alain Gabriel. Sets: Omung Kumar Bhandula. Choreography: Tanusree Shankar. Costumes: Rajesh Pratap Singh. Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. Châtelet Chorus.

La Juive, L'Etoile, Véronique, Zampa, now Padmâvatî: the Paris houses suddenly seem determined to give us more of the rare French repertoire than we were used to, and there's more to come in next season's schedules.

Handing over opera productions to novices from the cinema is (as the FT critic pointed out) always a risky business. Sanjay Leela Bhansali is the director of the famous Bollywood blockbuster-tearjerker Devdas, which we all have the DVD of, of course, and admits quite candidly that he knows nothing about op…

Wagner - Parsifal

ONP Bastille, Thursday March 20 2008

Conductor: Hartmut Haenchen. Production: Krzysztof Warlikowski. Sets and costumes: Malgorzata Szczesniak. Lighting: Felice Ross. Amfortas: Alexander Marco-Buhrmester. Titurel: Victor von Halem. Gurnemanz: Franz Josef Selig. Klingsor: Evgeny Nikitin. Kundry: Waltraud Meier. Parsifal: Stig Andersen. Zwei Gralsritter: Gunnar Gudbjörnsson, Scott Wilde. Vier Knappen: Hye-Youn Lee, Louise Callinan, Jason Bridges, Bartlomiej Misiuda. Klingsors Zaubermädchen: Adriana Kucerova, Valérie Condoluci, Cornelia Oncioiu, Yun-Jung Choi, Marie-Adeline Henry, Louise Callinan. Eine Altstimme aus der Höhe: Cornelia Oncioiu.

As I've mentioned before, probably several times, it's much harder to do justice to a great opera production than to slate a stinker. Krzysztof Warlikowski's Parsifal is a magnificent achievement, better still than his (already fascinating) Makropoulos Affair last season, intellectually challenging and visually stunning, enigmatic and genu…

Hérold - Zampa

Opéra Comique, Paris, Wednesday March 12 2008

Conductor: William Christie. Production: Jérôme Deschamps and Macha Makeïeff. Sets and costumes: Macha Makeïeff. Zampa: Richard Troxell. Alphonse: Bernard Richter. Camille: Patricia Petibon. Daniel: Léonard Pezzino. Ritta: Doris Lamprecht. Dandolo: Vincent Ordonneau. Les Arts Florissants.

Presumably the chance to see a staged production of Zampa is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Has it ever been recorded in full? The presence of William Christie and Les Arts Florissants on the cast list implied this would be an attempt at a respectful reconstruction of the work. That wasn’t exactly what we got…

The production team was the same as for the baleful staging of Chabrier’s L’Etoile earlier this season, which was so stupidly slapstick that we left at half time. Here they chose to camp the whole thing up, presenting Zampa as a parody of romantic opera, rather than a real one. The result was the same as when directors choose (as they often do) to overp…

Bizet – Carmen

Opera Australia – Sydney, Thursday March 6 2008

Conductor: Stephen Mould. Director: Francesca Zambello. Moralès: Andrew Moran. Micaëla: Tiffany Speight. Don José: Rosario La Spina. Zuniga: Shane Lowrencov. Carmen: Catherine Carby. Frasquita: Amy Wilkinson. Mercédès: Sian Pendry. Lillas Pastia: Danielle Antaki. Escamillo: Joshua Bloom.

Being in Sydney for the first time, I thought I’d better go, even if the only choice was between Carmen and La Bohème. I plumped for Carmen, preferring Bizet to Puccini, and, knowing that Zambello’s productions can be very good or very bad, hoping it might be one of the former.

It was a grand, audacious gesture to build the Sydney Opera House as and where it is. As I remember, at the time it led to a great deal of blood, sweat and tears, but the result must be one of the most interesting opera houses in the world – and probably the most spectacularly-located of all. The building is certainly more interesting close up than in photos: less bland in colour and…