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Showing posts from April, 2009

Verdi - Un Ballo in Maschera

ONP Bastille, Tuesday April 21 2009

Conductor: Renato Palumbo. Production: Gilbert Deflo. Riccardo: Ramon Vargas. Renato: Ludovic Tézier. Amelia: Deborah Voigt. Ulrica: Elena Manistina. Oscar: Anna Christy. Silvano: Etienne Dupuis. Sam: Michail Schelomianski. Tom: Scott Wilde. Orchestra and chorus of the Opéra National de Paris.

This revival was not in my subscription this season, and as Un Ballo is not one of my favourites (I can do without the whole of act 1, and if Riccardo gets knifed at the end, Oscar should get shot at the outset) and this is not much of a production (described by me here), I wouldn’t normally have bothered to get tickets. But Deborah Voigt is a singer I’ve admired since she sang a gobsmacking Chrysothemis in Paris’s awful former “blue-and-red” production of Elektra and the only one I’ve deliberately travelled far to hear: London for Die Frau, Vienna for Tristan, New York for Aida and Tosca (in memorably ghastly Met productions), not counting her Senta, Lady Macb…

Macbeth revisited

It’s interesting to go back and see a good production a second time and see what else you can pick up. It may even be perplexing to see how little you understood the first time that becomes quite obvious the second. I went back to Macbeth last night and soon wondered why I was so puzzled before. For a start, I had simply forgotten that, before the music starts, we see Macbeth arrive on the deserted town square in battledress with his kit bag. One person spots him, then another, until he is mobbed by the joyful crowd. So I realised last night what I hadn’t last week, that Macbeth is a victorious military hero and what we see is his gradual progress from victory to tyranny, from adulation (by a crowd happy to predict his rise to the throne) to detestation (as people abandon their homes and country to flee). And at the end he is mobbed again, this time in fury, by the same crowd. Symmetry, then. Similarly, I hadn’t picked up, last week, that in Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking scene she is no…

Verdi - Macbeth

ONP Bastille, Friday April 10 2009

Conductor: Teodor Currentzis. Production, sets and costumes: Dmitri Cherniakov. Video: Leonid Zalessky/Ninja Films. Lighting: Gleb Filshtinsky. Macbeth: Dimitris Tiliakos. Banco: Ferruccio Furlanetto. Lady Macbeth: Violeta Urmana. Dama di Lady Macbeth: Letitia Singleton. Macduff: Stefano Secco. Malcolm: Alfredo Nigro. Duncan: Jean-Christophe Bouvet. Medico/Domestico: Yuri Kissin. Un sicario: Jian-hong Zhao. Chorus and orchestra of the Opéra National de Paris.

Reviews of the ONP’s new production of Macbeth have been mixed, though of all those I’ve read only one hated everything: staging and singing and music. On Friday night there were some isolated outbreaks of booing, but at the end the reception was loudly enthusiastic and to me it was just about as good an evening of Verdi as you are likely to get these days (unless of course you’re a Met regular hooked on Zeffirelli).

Violeta Urmana was an unexpected name to find on the season’s schedule as Lady Mac…

Rameau - Zoroastre

Opéra Comique, Paris, Sunday March 29 2009

Conductor: Christophe Rousset. Production: Pierre Audi. Choreography: Amir Hosseinpour. Zoroastre: Anders J. Dahlin. Abramane: Evgueniy Alexiev. Amelite: Sine Bundgaard. Erinice: Anna Maria Panzarella. Chorus and dancers of the Drottningholms Slottsteater. Les Talens Lyriques.

“You put your left leg in, your left leg out, in out in out and shake it all about…” I don’t think Amir Hosseinpour’s quirky modern ballets were meant to be comical and I don’t for a moment imagine he is familiar with that staple of English family weddings, the Hokey Cokey. But the Hokey Cokey (or France’s own party special, the “danse du canard”) is what came to mind during the ballet numbers at last Sunday’s Zoroastre.

The ballets weren’t the only thing wrong with it.

From what I’ve read, this Drottningholm production is on DVD, where it comes across better than on stage. The Drottningholm pedigree had me worried beforehand that it would be all eighteenth-century prettine…