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Showing posts from November, 2012

Verdi - Otello

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Hungarian State Opera, Friday November 16, 2012
Conductor: Domonkos Héja. Production: László Vámos, staged by Sándor Palcsó. Sets: Attila Csikós. Costumes: Nelly Vágó. Otello: Marius Vlad. Desdemona: Andrea Rost. Iago: Anatolij Fokanov. Emilia: Éva Pánczél. Cassio: Zoltán Nyári. Rodrigo: Tivadar Kiss. Montano: Sándor Egri. Lodovico: Tamás Szüle. Un AraldoZoltán Somogyi. Orchestra and Chorus of the Hungarian State Opera.

If or when you get Otello in your season you may, I think, be forgiven for wondering what to expect. But the last time I was in Budapest I was pleased to find a wholly Eastern European cast offering “generous, professional, committed singing of what’s now an old school” (quote from my write-up of Rosenkavalier) not to mention the excellent orchestra, chorus and the “third best acoustics in Europe,” as one punctilious, locally-written guide book put it. So I had high hopes for Otello this time round, and they were fulfilled.

Once again, the cast was admirably consistent…

Händel - Agrippina

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Vlaamse Opera, Ghent, Sunday November 4 2012
Conductor: Paul McCreesh. Production: Mariame Clément. Sets: Julia Hansen. Costumes: Julia Hansen. Lighting: Bernd Purkrabek. Video: fettFilm. Agrippina: Ann Hallenberg. Nerone: José Maria Lo Monaco. Poppea: Elena Tsallagova. Ottone: Kristina Hammarström. Claudio: Umberto Chiummo: Pallante: João Fernandes. Narciso: José Lemos. Lesbo: Gevorg Grigoryan. Giunone: Marija Jokovic. Vlaamse Opera Orchestra.

As I sheltered in a museum café from the cold and rain that made visiting Ghent this weekend more difficult than it should have been, the lady having soup at the next table explained that she no longer went to the opera there because instead of putting on shows people want to see, they force-feed them modern productions. Would she really not have enjoyed this ingenious, effective approach to Agrippina?

It was a bright, colourful, “dinky” staging (“So smart!” someone exclaimed to me, like one of Evelyn Waugh’s Bright Young People, before shootin…