Showing posts from January, 2015

VPO in Schubert and Tchaikovsky

Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Paris, Tuesday January 20 2015

Conductor: Rafael Payare. Wiener Philharmoniker.

Schubert: Symphony n°8, D. 759, "Unfinished"Tchaikovsky: Symphony n°4(Encore) Eduard Strauss: Mit Chic (polka)
For the 2014-2015 season I decided we'd have a change from quitting second-rate performances of second-rate scores at the interval by dropping one of our usual opera subscriptions and buying a series of visiting (i.e. non-French) orchestras at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées.

On account of work (as anyone who goes to operas and concerts knows, these things have to be paid for), I missed the first of these wholly orchestral concerts: the St Petersburg Philharmonic in Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky (in this case, the 6th), magnificent I was told by the friends who were able to attend. This VPO concert was thus, for me, the first, and it was largely a disappointment: I had hoped to be thoroughly wowed, and wasn't.

Rafael Payare has been Dudamel's assistant bu…

Puccini - Turandot

Hungarian State Opera - Erkel Theatre, Budapest, Saturday January 17 2015 

Conductor: Gergely Kesselyák. Turandot: Szilvia Rálik. Altoum: István Róka. Timur: Kolos Kováts. Calaf: Atilla Kiss B. Liu: Gabriella Létay Kiss. Ping: Zoltán Kelemen. Pang: István Horváth. Pong: NC. Mandarin: Sándor Egri.

Per capita GDP in the US is about $53,000; in France, it's around $44,000; in Hungary, it's $13,000. Yet the Hungarian State Opera somehow manages to maintain two houses – its magnificent, gilded, neo-renaissance main one and the more modern (and larger) Erkel Theatre – offering a season of fully-staged operas with orchestra, chorus and, in many cases, soloists of international standard. The most expensive seats at the Erkel cost the equivalent of 12 euros (at the main house, that is doubled). The productions may be more or less sophisticated, but clearly this is a company that works hard to give its patrons the best it can with the funds available.

A real critic, paid to be impartial…