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Showing posts from January, 2010

Massenet - Werther

Opéra National de Paris Bastille, Tuesday January 26 2010

Conductor: Michel Plasson. Production: Benoît Jacquot. Sets: Charles Edwards. Costumes: Christian Gasc. Werther: Jonas Kaufmann. Albert: Ludovic Tézier. Le Bailli: Alain Vernhes. Charlotte: Sophie Koch. Sophie: Anne-Catherine Gillet. Orchestre de l’Opéra national de Paris. Maîtrise des hauts-de-seine ⁄ chœur d’enfants de l’Opéra national de Paris.

Is Jonas Kaufmann the greatest living tenor? It certainly sounded that way the other evening. The first two acts of Werther may be a waste of time* (those drunkards! You might as well stay at the bar yourself), but things pick up considerably after the break and not for nothing is "Pourquoi me réveiller" a famous aria. His rendering (the word is appropriate in its painterliness) was magnificent. To be honest, as I don't listen much to recordings and though of course I'd heard of him many times, I'd never actually heard him before at all** (which is why I bought ti…

Purcell - The Fairy Queen

Opéra Comique, Paris, Thursday January 21 2010

Conductor: William Christie. Production: Jonathan Kent. Sets & costumes: Paul Brown. Lighting: Mark Henderson. Choreography: Kim Brandstrup. Soprano, Juno: Lucy Crowe. Bass, Coridon, Winter, Hymen, Sleep: Andrew Foster-Williams. Mystery, 1st Fairy, Nymph, Spring: Claire Debono. Fairies: Miriam Allan, Anna Devin, Maud Gnidzaz. Tenor, Adam, Secrecy: Ed Lyon. Tenor, Summer: Sean Clayton. Bass: Callum Thorpe. Soprano, Night, the Plaint: Emmanuelle de Negri. Mopsa: Robert Burt. Phoebus: Andrew Davies. Autumn: David Webb. Eve: Helen Jane Howells. Theseus: William Gaunt. Egeus: Robert East. Hermia: Alice Haig. Lysander: Nicholas Shaw. Demetrius: Gwilym Lee. Helena: Jo Herbert. Starveling: Roger Sloman. Flute: Robert Burt. Bottom: Desmond Barrit. Quince: Paul McCleary. Snug: Brian Pettifer. Snout: Jack Chissick. Titania: Sally Dexter. Puck: Jotham Annan. Oberon: Finbar Lynch. Les Arts Florissants.

It's all very well, I've said it befor…

Rodgers & Hammerstein - South Pacific

Lincoln Center Theater at the Vivian Beaumont, Friday January 8 2010

Conductor: Fred Lassen. Director: Bartlett Sher. Sets: Michael Yeargan. Costumes: Catherine Zuber. Lighting: Donald Holder. Ensign Nellie Forbush: Laura Osnes. Emile de Becque: Paulo Szot. Luther Billis: Danny Burstein. Bloody Mary: Loretta Ables Sayre. Lt. Joseph Cable: Andrew Samonsky. Capt. George Brackett: Murphy Guyer. Cmdr. William Harbison: Sean Cullen.

It’s always interesting for me, as a regular operagoer, to see a musical. "Opera, when everything comes together […] (which, as we all know, is rare) becomes the greatest invention on earth." So writes a friend of an acquaintance on Facebook. It’s rare for it all to come together and as the lights go down we can’t even be sure the principals will be able to sing the notes. Yet on Broadway (yes, of course, it’s another business and there are other factors) not only can you be sure they’ll be able to sing their parts (I was once told they are fined if eve…

Puccini - Turandot

Metropolitan Opera, New York, Monday January 4 2010

Conductor: Andris Nelsons. Production, sets: Franco Zeffirelli. Turandot: Maria Guleghina. Liu: Maija Kovalevska. Calaf: Salvatore Licitra. Timur: Hao Jiang Tian. Ping: Joshua Hopkins. Pang: Tony Stevenson. Pong: Eduardo Valdes. Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus.

If it had ever reached the stage with such a cast (unlikely), this performance of Turandot, applauded, albeit not rapturously, in New York would have been booed in Europe. It seems to me that this is the only major house where an evening of this kind is possible and I believe there's a Met "system" that makes it so. But I know how risky it is for us trashy Europeans to criticise the Met and for that reason, before daring to do so, went to parterre.com, where they seem to know their stuff, to check what was being said there.

Here's a much abbreviated sample: "I was in the house Monday, and this was, bar none, some of the worst singing I’ve ever hea…