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Showing posts from May, 2016

Wagner - Tristan und Isolde

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Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Paris, Saturday May 21 2016

Conductor: Daniele Gatti. Production: Pierre Audi. Sets and costumes: Christof Hetzer. Lighting: Jean Kalman. Video: Anna Bertsch. Tristan: Torsten Kerl. Isolde: Rachel Nicholls. Brangäne: Michelle Breedt. King Marke: Steven Humes. Kurwenal: Brett Polegato. Melot: Andrew Rees. Shepherd, young sailor: Marc Larcher. Steersman: Francis Dudziak. Orchestre National de France. Chorus of Radio France.

The first thing I wanted to say here, without introduction, is that Tortsen Kerl, as Tristan, was magnificent. In his act three delirium he was phenomenal, acting up a storm in a way I had no idea he had in him. It was a rare privilege to be there. The TCE's reasonable dimensions allowed him to sing and shape the part in a way few tenors can - often they recite or bark or almost shout it out in desperation (sometimes quite effectively, I must admit) - and in a way Kerl himself was unable to bring off as Siegfried in 2011, defeated, as …

Mozart - Mitridate, re di Ponto

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Palais de la Monnaie, Brussels, Sunday May 15 2016

Conductor: Christophe Rousset. Production and costumes: Jean-Philippe Clarac and Olivier Deloeuil - Le Lab. Sets and lighting: Rick Martin. Video: Jean-Baptiste Beïs. Mitridate: Michael Spyres. Aspasia: Lenneke Ruiten. Sifare: Myrtò Papatanasiu. Farnace: David Hansen. Ismene: Simona Šaturová. Marzio: Sergey Romanovsky. Arbate: Yves Saelens. Orchestra of La Monnaie.

Waffle-warning: this account is going to start with a fair amount of waffle not all directly related to yesterday's performance of Mitridate. Feel free to skip the digression. To help, I will mark the start of the write-up proper clearly in CAPITALS. But first, the waffle...

These must be nail-racking, nerve-biting times for the people in charge of La Monnaie. The house was already supposed to be hard up, as they all are these days. Then it announced that its home, the Théâtre Royal, seriously needed renovating, so last season's performances took place in various oth…

Verdi - Rigoletto

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ONP Bastille, Monday May 2 2016

Conductor: Nicola Luisotti. Production: Claus Guth. Sets and costumes: Christian Schmidt. Lighting: Olaf Winter. Il Duca di Mantova: Michael Fabiano. Rigoletto: Quinn Kelsey. Gilda: Olga Peretyatko. Sparafucile: Rafal Siwek. Maddalena: Vesselina Kasarova. Giovanna: Isabelle Druet. Il Conte di Monterone: Mikhail Kolelishvili. Marullo: Michal Partyka. Matteo Borsa: Christophe Berry. Il Conte di Ceprano: Tiago Matos. La Contessa: Andreea Soare. Paggio della Duchessa: Adriana Gonzalez. Usciere di corte: Florent Mbia. Orchestra and Chorus of the Opéra National de Paris.

It's always frustrating when, as sometimes happens, the efforts of an excellent cast are undermined by the distancing effects of an unsuccessful production. So it was this week at the Bastille, with this Rigoletto - or so it seemed to me, at any rate. As also quite often happens, the initial idea was reasonable enough but unconvincingly carried through.

As the opera began, an old tramp in…