Showing posts from December, 2017

Strauss - Elektra (in concert)

La Philharmonie de Paris, Friday December 15 2017

Conductor: Mikko Franck. Elektra: Nina Stemme. Klytemnestra: Waltraud Meier. Chrysotemis: Gun-Brit Barkmin. Orest: Matthias Goerne. Ägisth: Norbert Ernst. Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. Choeur de Radio France.

A super strong Elektra at the Philharmonie last Friday night.

First of all, Mikko Franck was painstakingly attentive to the score. There are subtleties and details that don’t always make it over the edge of the opera house pit. But here, in a concert hall, with the Philharmonique on remarkable form, they were magnificently laid out in the open for all to hear. Franck’s approach leaned pointedly towards the late romantic: towards the Alpine Symphony, I thought; “towards Wagner,” said a colleague present the same evening. At any rate, more in the 19th-century symphonic tradition than paroxystic expressionism looking forward to, say Wozzeck (which is perhaps how I like Elektra best: wild and exhausting).

The cast was as g…

Happy New Year!


Humperdinck – Hänsel und Gretel (Jancsi és Juliska)

Hungarian State Opera, Erkel Theatre, Budapest, Saturday December 9 2017

Conductor: János Kovács. Director : Rafael R. Villalobos. Sets: Emanuele Sinisi. Costumes: Rafael R. Villalobos. Choreography: Csaba Sebestyén. Hänsel: Gabriella Balga. Gretel: Nánási Helga. Peter (father): Zsolt Haja. Gertrud (mother): Atala Schöck. Witch: Bernadett Wiedemann. The Sleep Fairy: Eszter Zavaros. The Dew fairy: Ingrid Kertesi. Orchestra and Chorus of the Hungarian State Opera.

One of the many nice things about opera in Budapest is that you can usually get a ticket at the last minute. Realising I would be free on Saturday evening, on Friday I hopped on the web and for about 25 euros bought myself a stalls seat at Hänsel und Gretel, or, as here it was sung in Hungarian, Jancsi és Juliska.

The new production by Rafael R. Villalobos, who won the 7th Opera Europa Camerata Nuova opera directing prize in 2013, updated the staging to the present day. This inevitably caused the usual mismatches between libret…

Rossini - Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Paris, Friday December 8 2017

Conductor: Jérémie Rhorer. Production, sets, costumes: Laurent Pelly, assisted by Cléo Laigret (sets) and Jean-Jacques Delmotte (costumers). Lighting: Joël Adam. Il Conte Almaviva: Michele Angelini. Figaro: Florian Sempey. Rosina: Catherine Trottmann. Bartolo: Peter Kálmán. Basilio: Robert Gleadow. Berta: Annunziata Vestri. Fiorello: Guillaume Andrieux. Le Cercle de l’Harmonie. Unikanti chorus.

According to the TCE’s website, this Barber combined “The verve of Jérémie Rhorer, the poetry of Laurent Pelly and a seasoned cast at ease with this repertoire.”

I’d flown in that morning from a week in Houston, so perhaps I was tired. But I sat there thinking that verve, or better still a touch of Rossinian madness, was exactly what was lacking as Jérémie Rhorer conducted the none-too-accurate Cercle de l’Harmonie. I have yet to understand how and why he has become so well-known (the website mentions his Mozart performances; I don’t know…