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Showing posts from June, 2008

Verdi - Don Carlos

ONP Bastille, Thursday June 26, 2008

Conductor: Teodor Currentzis. Production: Graham Vick. Sets and costumes: Tobias Hoheisel. Lighting: Matthew Richardson. Filippo II: James Morris. Don Carlo: Stefano Secco. Rodrigo, Marchese di Posa: Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Il Grande Inquisitore: Mikhail Petrenko. Un Frate: Paul Gay. Elisabetta di Valois: Tamar Iveri. La Principessa Eboli: Yvonne Naef. Tebaldo: Elisa Cenni. Il Conte di Lerma: Jason Bridge. Voce dal Cielo: Elena Tsallagova.

After that blazing young Porgy it was back to operatic business as usual with Don Carlos at the Bastille this week. Pep and personality were exactly what was missing from this show, which otherwise had, with one puzzling exception, a fairly strong cast.

The uncontroversial production is familiar to us in Paris, but no-one, apparently, had bothered this time round to direct the singers (presumably Vick wasn't brought back in). There were the same vast, austere walls with cross-shaped openings and a dark smudge of …

Gershwin - Porgy and Bess

Opéra Comique, Monday June 16 2008
Conductor: Wayne Marshall. Production: Robyn Orlin. Sets: Alexandre de Dardel. Videos: Philippe Lainé. Costumes: Olivier Bériot. Porgy: Kevin Short. Bess: Indira Mahajan. Crown: Daniel Washington. Serena: Angela Simpson. Clara: Laquite Mitchell. Maria: Bonita Hyman. Jake: Eric Greene. Sportin' Life: Jermaine Smith. Atlanta Opera Chorus. New World Symphony, America's Orchestral Academy.

For some reason my expectations of this production of Porgy – in fact the first I’ve ever seen – weren’t high. I was disgruntled at Lyon’s having, at the same time, a staging by the team responsible for the marvellous “hip-hop” Les Paladins, and worried that the Paris one was directed by a choreographer: rarely a good thing. So I didn’t pay much attention to who and what I was going to see at the Opéra Comique.

As it turned out, from the first bars of the overture I was intrigued: which (young-looking) orchestra was this, producing so much rich sound with such exc…

Verdi - La Forza del Destino

La Monnaie, Sunday June 8 2008

Conductor: Kazushi Ono. Production: Dirk Tanghe. Sets & Costumes: Richard Hudson. Il marchese di Calatrava: Alessandro Guerzoni. Donna Leonora di Vargas: Eva-Maria Westbroek. Don Carlo di Vargas: Vassily Gerello. Don Alvaro: Zoran Todorovich. Preziosilla: Marianne Cornetti. Padre Guardiano: Carlo Colombara. Fra Melitone: José van Dam.

What the Fach?

"For some time now La Forza has been my partner, my lover, my mistress, my girlfriend, my hope, my consolation, my angel. She is also the sister of my sorrows, of my bottomless solitude, of my blackest and most destructive depressions, of my melancholy (that damned melancholy that exhausts me so), of my millions of existential questions, who was I, who am I, what did I want yesterday, what do I want today..."

There are three pages of this stuff in the programme, leading me to wonder if stage director Dirk Tanghe spent all his energy on writing it and so had none left for his production, which was re…

Bellini - I Capuleti e i Montecchi

ONP Bastille, Thursday June 5 2008

Conductor: Evelino Pidò. Production: Robert Carsen. Sets & Costumes: Michael Levine. Lighting: Davy Cunningham. Capellio: Giovanni Battista Parodi. Giulietta: Anna Netrebko. Romeo: Joyce DiDonato. Tebaldo: Matthew Polenzani. Lorenzo: Mikhail Petrenko. Orchestra & Chorus of the Opéra National de Paris.

What on earth does it take to make anything remotely approaching a silk purse out of this sow's ear of an opera? We had Netrebko, we had DiDonato and we had Polenzani in a Carsen production, and were still so bored (my neighbour had already turned to me and groaned "Je m'ennuie" during a scene change) that after what seemed like hours, all three of us in agreement, we escaped to dinner at the end of act 1.

I doubt very much that Carsen came back to supervise this reprise; if he did (who's to tell? The programme notes said nothing) it didn't show. The neighbour I mentioned above complained, as we crossed the square to find …

Amadeo Vives - La Generala

Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, Thursday May 29 2008

Conductor: José Fabra. Production: Emilio Sagi. Sets: Daniel Bianco. Costumes: Jesús Ruiz. Choreography: Nuria Castejón. La Generala: Carmen Gonzalez. Principe Pio: Enrique Ferrer. Princess Olga: Beatriz Diaz. Reina Eva: Itxaro Menxaka. Cirilo II: Enrique Baquerizo. Clodomiro V: Miguel Lopez Galindo. Duque de Sisa: José Luis Gago. General Tocateca: David Rubiera. Orquesta de la Comunidad de Madrid. Chorus of the Châtelet. Production from the Teatro de la Zarzuela - Madrid.

If it was the Châtelet management's intention to introduce zarzuela to Parisians, La Generala (even in a production from the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid) was an odd choice. It is set in England, not Spain (albeit a fantasy sort of England where Oxford is a stone's throw from Cambridge and hosts a Scottish regiment). Instead of popular Spanish characters it features exiled royalty from fictional kingdoms. And there is little specific "local colour"…