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Showing posts from October, 2014

Mozart - Die Entführung aus dem Serail

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ONP Garnier, Monday October 27 2014

Conductor: Philippe Jordan. Production: Zabou Breitman. Sets: Jean-Marc Stehlé. Costumes: Arielle Chanty. Choreography: Sophie Tellier. Lighting: André Diot. Selim: Jürgen Maurer. Konstanze: Erin Morley. Blonde: Anna Prohaska. Belmonte: Bernard Richter. Pedrillo: Paul Schweinester. Osmin: Lars Woldt. Orchestra and Chorus of the Opéra National de Paris.

Believe it or not, I was actually in Istanbul, having lunch in the grounds of Topkapi Palace* (in Turkish, "Topkapı Sarayı" hence "Serail" in Mozart's title), when I got a text message from Paris: "Entführung is dismal! Opéra de Limoges style." As it happens (this will seem far-fetched, but truth is supposed to be stranger than fiction) the person opposite me during lunch was from Limoges, and took umbrage at the implied slur on her home town. She was with me at last night's performance of the Entführung in question, at the Palais Garnier (in Turkish, "Garnier…

Nicholas Lens - Shell Shock

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La Monnaie, Brussels, Sunday October 26 2014

Conductor: Koen Kessels. Choreography and production: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Sets and videos: Eugenio Szwarcer. Costumes: Khanh Le Thanh. Lighting: Willy Cessa. Soprano: Claron McFadden. Mezzo-soprano: Sara Fulgoni. Counter-tenor: Gerald Thompson. Tenor: Ed Lyon. Bass: Mark S. Doss. Dance: Eastman - Aimilios Arapoglou, Damien Jalet, Jason Kittelberger, Kazutomi Kozuki, Elias Lazaridis, Johnny Lloyd, Nemo Oeghoede, Shintaro Oue, Guro Nagelhus Schia, Ira Mandela Siobhan. Child sopranos: Gabriel Kuti, Theo Lally, Gabriel Crozier. Orchestra and Chorus of La Monnaie.

“Whether you call it shell shock or post-traumatic stress disorder, war creates serious psychological wounds. A hundred years after the outbreak of the Great War, Belgian composer Nicholas Lens and Australian author and musician Nick Cave have written a new opera on this theme. In twelve poems or canti he evokes the anonymous protagonists of the war in a highly personal and fluent sty…

Puccini - Tosca

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ONP Bastille, Thursday October 16 2014

Conductor: Daniel Oren. Production: Pierre Audi. Sets: Christof Hetzer. Costumes: Robby Duiveman. Lighting: Jean Kalman. Floria Tosca: Martina Serafin. Mario Cavaradossi: Marcelo Alvarez. Scarpia: Ludovic Tézier. Cesare Angelotti: Wojtek Smilek. Spoletta: Carlo Bosi. Sciarrone: André Heyboer. Il Sagrestano: Francis Dudziak. Un carceriere: Andrea Nelli. Orchestra and Chorus of the Opéra National de Paris. Hauts-de-Seine and ONP children’s choruses.

The last time I saw Tosca was in New York, in the Met’s tired old Zeffirelli production. I hadn’t seen it in Paris for a long time, the reason being the awfulness of the previous staging: once was enough. But for the 2014-2015 season, the ONP at last announced a new one, by Pierre Audi, so we decided which of the three casts looked most promising, and booked.

In the event, it was a let-down. There was little passion in this production (“on s’ennuie” said a friend at the first interval) , though as the ev…

Rameau - Castor et Pollux

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Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Paris, Monday October 13 2014

Conductor: Hervé Niquet. Production: Christian Schiaretti. Choreography: Andonis Foniadakis. Sets: Rudy Sabounghi. Costumes: Thibaut Welchlin. Lighting: Laurent Castaingt. Castor: John Tessier. Pollux: Edwin Crossley-Mercer. Télaïre: Omo Bello. Phœbé: Michèle Losier. Jupiter: Jean Teitgen. Mercure, un spartiate, un athlète: Reinoud van Mechelen. Cléone, une ombre heureuse: Hasnaa Bennani. Un grand prêtre: Marc Labonnette. Le Concert Spirituel.

Nothing new, of course, but it’s still funny how widely opinions on opera differ, making you wonder if there’s any value in reading or hearing anyone else’s. As I left the Théâtre des Champs Elysées last night, one friend I ran into exclaimed “I hated every minute!” But another simply said “On ne va pas bouder son plaisir” – literally “We aren’t going to pout (or pull faces) at our pleasure”, meaning even if the evening hadn’t been perfect, it would be fastidious deliberately to pick hole…