Händel - Agrippina

Teatro de la Maestranza, Seville, Thursday February 13 2020

Conductor: Enrico Onofri. Production: Mariame Clément with Marcos Darbyshire. Sets and costumes: Julia Hansen. Lighting: Bernd Purkrabek. Videos: fettFim. Claudio: Matthew Brook. Agrippina: Ann Hallenberg. Nerone: Renata Pokupic. Poppea: Alicia Amo. Ottone: Xavier Sabata. Pallante: Joao Fernandes. Narciso: Antonio Giovannini. Lesbo: Valeriano Lanchas. Giunone: Serena Perez. Orquesta Barroca de Sevilla.

I already saw Mariame Clément's production of Agrippina, revived in Seville by Marcos Darbyshire, in Ghent in 2012, so I don't need to describe it in detail again here. It seemed to me somehow fresher-looking in Seville and I wondered if the sets had been rebuilt or repainted since, but apparently not. Maybe, someone close to the production suggested, it just looked better on the more spacious stage.

I also found I'd forgotten how full it was, from beginning to end, of well-timed comic detail - useful, as a young sta…

Rubinstein - Demon

Grand Théâtre, Bordeaux, Sunday February 9 2020

Conductor: Paul Daniel. Production: Dmitry Bertman. Sets: Hartmut Schörghofer. Lighting: Thomas C. Hase. Demon: Nicolas Cavallier. Tamara: Evegniya Muraveva. Prince Sinodal: Alexey Dolgov. Angel: Ray Chenez. Prince Gudal: Alexandros Stavrakakis. Nurse: Svetlana Lifar. Prince Sinodal’s Servant: Luc Bertin-Hugault. Messenger: Paul Gaugler. Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine. Choruses of the Opéra National de Bordeaux and Opéra de Limoges.

The recent strikes over pension reform meant I missed three operas I was supposed to see over the Christmas and New Year period: two because the Paris Opera was shut (with losses of over 16 million euros, leading to cuts in the 2020-2021 season) and a third - Warlikowski's production of Les Contes d'Hoffmann in Brussels - because no trains were running. I didn't expect to see anything else until Agrippina in Seville - where I'm now sitting writing this post - but a sick friend kindly gav…

Reza Shafahi at New York Outsider Art Fair 2020

'Most of the fair’s exhibitors are showing multiple artists, but Barron stands out for the self-contained strength of its presentations, most of which could have stood alone: loopy, brilliant acrylics of naked centaurs and coffee cups with breasts by the Tehran-based former professional wrestler Reza Shafahi.'

Link to The New York Times.



Rameau - Platée (in concert)

Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Paris, Monday December 2 2019.

Conductor: Alexis Kossenko. Platée: Anders J. Dahlin. Amour, La Folie: Chantal Santon-Jeffery. Jupiter: Thomas Dolié. Thalie, Clarine, Junon: Hasnaa Bennani. Un satyre, Cithéron: Arnaud Richard. Thespis, Mercure: Nicholas Scott. Momus: Victor Sicard. Les Ambassadeurs orchestra and chorus.

With its lively and rather cruel comedy, Platée seems a daring, even rash sort of choice for a concert performance, even with some comical stage business. Monday night's performance wasn't wholly successful, for various reasons, though the absence of sets and costumes did make it possible to focus on the many marvels and musical jokes of Rameau's astonishing score - one of his very best.

Rameau calls for a special and often elusive kind of declamatory oomph and éclat that only some of the cast could deliver in full. Best-cast, to me, was Thomas Dolié, a perfect Rameau baritone, mordant, supple and eloquent. Chantal Santon-Jeffery m…

Verdi - Don Carlo

ONP Bastille, Thursday November 14 2019

Conductor: Fabio Luisi. Production: Krzysztof Warlikowski. Sets and costumes: Małgorzata Szczęśniak. Lighting: Felice Ross. Video: Denis Guéguin. Choreography: Claude Bardouil. Filippo II: René Pape. Don Carlo: Michael Fabiano. Rodrigo: Étienne Dupuis. Il Grande Inquisitore: Vitalij Kowaljow. Un frate: Sava Vemić. Elisabetta di Valois: Nicole Car. La Principessa Eboli: Anita Rachvelishvili. Tebaldo: Eve-Maud Hubeaux. Una Voce dal cielo: Tamara Banjesevic. Il Conte di Lerma: Julien Dran. Deputati fiamminghi: Pietro Di Bianco, Daniel Giulianini, Mateusz Hoedt, Tomasz Kumiega, Tiago Matos, Alexander York. Un Araldo: Vincent Morell. Inquisitori: Vadim Artamonov, Fabio Bellenghi, Marc Chapron, Enzo Coro, Julien Joguet, Kim Ta. Corifeo: Bernard Arrieta. Orchestra and Chorus of the Opéra National de Paris.

Having premiered this production two years ago in French, the Paris Opera is now giving it again in Italian, with a different conductor and mostly di…

Weber - Der Freischütz

Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Paris, Monday October 21 2019

Conductor: Laurence Equilbey. Production: Clément Debailleul, Raphaël Navarro and Valentine Losseau (from Cie 14:20). Artistic coordination, sets and videos: Clément Debailleul. Choreography: Aragorn Boulanger. Costumes: Siegrid Petit-Imbert. Lighting: Elsa Revol. Max: Stanislas de Barbeyrac. Agathe: Johanni Van Oostrum. Ännchen: Chiara Skerath. Kaspar: Vladimir Baykov. Hermit: Christian Immler. Kuno: Thorsten Grümbel. Ottokar: Daniel Schmutzhard. Kilian: Anas Séguin. Samiel: Clément Dazin. Insula Orchestra. Accentus Chorus.

It isn't often you get a chance, in Paris, to see Der Freischütz, so it's a real shame, when it comes round again at last, if it fails to live up to your hopes.

In this case, the cast was excellent and the creative team's ideas had definite potential, but these weren't enough. I left the theatre thinking that with proper directing, a better orchestra and a different conductor it might have be…