Showing posts from November, 2008

Verdi - Requiem

Bozar, Brussels, Sunday October 31 2008

Conductor: Mark Wigglesworth. Marina Poplavskaya, soprano; Anna Larsson, alto; Fabio Sartori, tenor; Carlo Colombara, bass. Orchestra and chorus of La Monnaie, chorus of the Vlaamse Opera.

Remember you must die

I don't think I have ever been quite so shaken by a concert as the Sunday before last in Brussels. Since then I've spent over a week thinking about it on and off (I was also busy in India), trying to pin down what it was that had some people literally in tears at the end.

Verdi's Requiem is often associated with deluxe performances: great conductors, great soloists (with the soprano and alto in sumptuous evening gowns, big hair and big jewellery), great orchestras. The result is a glittering musical event, but the glamour and gloss perhaps put a comforting distance between ourselves and the work. Mark Wigglesworth is not Karajan or Abbado, his young soloists, in plain black, are not yet Flemings and Domingos and the orchestra of L…

Janacek - Cunning Little Vixen

ONP Bastille, Wednesday October 29 2008
Conductor: Dennis Russell Davies. Production: André Engel. Sets: Nicky Rieti. Costumes: Elizabeth Neumuller. Gamekeeper: Jukka Rasilainen. His wife: Michèle Lagrange. Schoolmaster: David Kuebler. Priest: Roland Bracht. Harašta: Paul Gay. Vixen: Elena Tsallagova. Fox: Hannah Esther Minutillo.

Many people familiar with images of this production (e.g. the massed sunflowers along the disused railway line) must have been surprised to find it billed as "nouvelle," but Gerard Mortier has a habit of claiming that anything revamped for its first outing at the Bastille is new. In this case, it was something of a pint-sized production (orinigally staged in Lyon) in the Bastille's quart (or gallon) pot: André Engel's directing may have been finely detailed and charming in a more intimate setting, and may come across perfectly on DVD should one come out (there were cameras everywhere), but here it was swamped.

So, too, were the voices. The chi…