Showing posts from December, 2015

Humperdinck - Hänsel und Gretel

La Monnaie at Bozar, Brussels, Sunday December 20 2015

Conductor: Lothar Koenigs. Live projections: Manual Cinema. Conductor of children’s chorus: Denis Menier. Peter: Dietrich Henschel. Gertrud: Natascha Petrinsky. Hänsel: Gaëlle Arquez. Gretel: Talia Or. Die Knusperhexe: Georg Nigl. Sandmännchen and Taumännchen: Ilse Eerens. La Monnaie Symphony Orchestra. La Monnaie Children’s Choir, La Maîtrise. 

As I’ve already said since this season started, the main Brussels house is undergoing renovation, so La Monnaie is peripatetic. I should imagine management realised that Hänsel und Gretel is hardly “oratorio” fare and therefore offered it to us “semi-staged”, or so they put it, at Bozar, an art-déco arts complex up the hill.

Bozar’s concert hall has a warm, enveloping, “sherry commercial” kind of acoustics, so La Monnaie’s orchestra sounded impressively lush and loud there. Anything but post-modern and/or transparently analytical, Lothar Koenigs’ conducting seemed to me Stokovskian “old sch…



Berlioz - La Damnation de Faust

ONP Bastille, Friday December 11 2015

Conductor: Philippe Jordan. Director and sets: Alvis Hermanis. Costumes: Christine Neumeister. Lighting: Gleb Filshtinsky. Video: Katrina Neiburga. Marguerite: Sophie Koch. Faust: Jonas Kaufmann. Méphistophélès: Bryn Terfel. Brander: Edwin Crossley-Mercer. Voix céleste: Sophie Claisse. Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Maîtrise des Hauts-de-Seine and Paris Opera Children's Chorus.

One of the reasons I started writing about everything I saw - productions and singers - was just to recall it, as I often found I couldn't. Alvis Hermanis's production (great name, Alvis: conjures up memories of stylish, sporty cars, many years ago) should, however, be easy to remember, as it features Stephen Hawking in his electrically-driven chair. It has also led to memorable, near-historic levels of booing, heckling and exchanged insults, even during the show, forcing Philippe Jordan to intervene from time to time to quieten people down. Someone who has be…

Bartok - Bluebeard's Castle / Poulenc - La Voix Humaine

ONP Garnier, Thursday December 10 2015

Conductor: Esa-Pekka Salonen. Production: Krzysztof Warlikowski. Sets and Costumes: Malgorzata Szczesniak. Lighting: Felice Ross. Video: Denis Guéguin. Duke Bluebeard: John Relyea. Judith: Ekaterina Gubanova. Elle: Barbara Hannigan. Lui: Claude Bardouil. Paris Opera Orchestra.

Two preliminary thoughts:
In the 80s, every opera house needed a flimsy silk curtain that could be whisked away in a flash as the music struck up, sometimes getting caught in the scenery and pulling it down. Later, they all had to stock a bombed-out concrete bunker, plenty of combat gear and a dozen black leather greatcoats. Last week (I've been away on business, which is why I'm writing this so late) it occurred to me that they can now probably chuck out their silk curtains and bunkers to make room for a set of large glass cases on wheels: every self-respecting new production uses some.There has been a great deal of heated hoo-ha over the past few weeks about the Par…

Sumi Jo in Nixon in China

Glad to see this back on YT:

Maestro Wenarto also sings "I am the wife of Mao Tse Tung".