Showing posts from June, 2017

Bizet - Carmen

ONP Bastille, Tuesday June 13 2017

Conductor: Mark Elder. Production: Calixto Bieito. Sets: Alfons Flores. Costumes: Mercè Paloma. Lighting: Alberto Rodríguez Vega. Don José: Bryan Hymel. Escamillo: Ildar Abdrazakov. Le Dancaïre: Boris Grappe. Le Remendado: François Rougier. Zuniga: François Lis. Carmen: Anita Rachvelishvili. Micaëla: Marina Costa-Jackson. Frasquita: Vannina Santoni. Mercédès: Antoinette Dennefeld. Moralès: Jean-Luc Ballestra. Orchestra and Chorus of the Opéra National de Paris. Maîtrise des Hauts-de-Seine/Paris Opera Children's Choir.

In March I wrote: “As far as I remember, this was the best Carmen production I've seen, however upset the noisy old biddies behind were at the absence of fans and mantillas and castanets and donkeys and all the rest. I may well go back and see it with Anita Rachvelishvili and Hymel in June...” I did and crikey am I glad. The best production of Carmen I’ve ever seen (still, ridiculously, booed a bit), this time with the best ever …

Saint-Saëns - Le Timbre d'argent

Opéra Comique, Paris, Sunday June 11 2017

Conductor: François-Xavier Roth. Production: Guillaume Vincent. Sets: James Brandily. Video: Baptiste Klein. Costumes: Fanny Brouste. Lighting: Kelig Le Bars. Choreography: Herman Diephuis. Magic: Benoît Dattez. Circé/ Fiammetta, danseuse: Raphaëlle Delaunay. Conrad: Edgaras Montvidas. Hélène: Hélène Guilmette. Spiridion: Tassis Christoyannis. Bénédict:Yu Shao. Rosa: Jodie Devos. Accentus choir. Les Siècles orchestra.

The Opéra Comique has opened again and seems set to pursue its policy of scheduling welcome rarities. To me, Saint-Saëns is a very sound composer, so I've long wished we could get to know more of his operas. I was pleased get a shot at Le Timbre d'argent. As it's a very rare piece, here's the plot, as summarised (drastically) on Wikipedia:

Conrad, an artist, has an unhealthy obsession for gold, and is further engrossed by his own painting of Circe, embodied in the living world by Fiametta, a ballerina. Conrad is giv…

Verdi - Aida

Palais de la Monnaie, Brussels, Sunday June 4 2017

Conductor: Alain Altinoglu. Director: Stathis Livathinos. Sets: Alexander Polzin. Costumes: Andrea Schmidt-Futterer. Lighting: Alekos Anastasiou. Choreography: Otto Pichler. Aida: Monica Zanettin. Radamès: Gaston Rivero. Amneris: Ksenia Dudnikova. Amonasro: Giovanni Meoni. Ramfis: Mika Kares. Il Re: Enrico Iori. Una Sacerdotessa: Tamara Banjesevic. Un Messaggero: Julian Hubbard. Orchestra and Chorus of La Monnaie.

On Saturday night, watching The Voice on TV with friends for the fun of finding fault with it, we saw a pair of teenage hopefuls take on a Bee Gees number and another tackle Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now." The result highlighted how good the Gibb brothers and Freddie Mercury actually were and how hard it is, in fact, to sing their songs. The kids were catastrophic. The cast in Brussels the next day far from it: they were pretty good, but just far enough short of premier league to remind us that Verdi isn't …