Plague

Oct. 30th, 2013 03:02 pm
chickenfeet: (death)
The cough I mentioned a few days ago turned into a really nasty viral infection. I had to leave the Opera 5 gig on Sunday at the interval; pale, sweating and coughing my guts up. Since then I've been having trouble sleeping as every time I move slightly I start to cough again. All in all it's been a rough few days. I did see the quack yesterday. She's reasonably sure it's only a virus but did, comfortingly, mention an outside chance of whooping cough, TB or cancer. I think I'm on the mend and may even brave the office tomorrow if I get a good night's sleep. Apart from the second half of Sunday's show I've missed Opera Atelier's Abduction from the Seraglio and will miss Talisker's Cities of the Mind gig tonight. I may be able to catch the last performance of the Opera 5 show tomorrow if things go really well. I've been in the workforce for 35 years and this is the largest number of days I've lost to one illness.

Review of tenor Chris Gillett's somewhat irreverent books on life as a jobbing singer.

The Metropolitan Opera's HD broadcast of Shostakovich's The Nose.

Patricia Petitbon shakes her booty in a Blu-ray recording of Berg's Lulu from Salzburg.

Messiah Wars.  The line up for the holiday season in Toronto.

chickenfeet: (spear)
Yesterday's Met HD broadcast of Wagner's Parsifal was one of the best I've seen.  More...
chickenfeet: (Default)
Today's MetHD broadcast of Donizetti's Maria Stuarda was a bit of a mixed bag.  There were strong performances and a decent production concept but just horrible camera work.  More...

Les Troyens

Jan. 6th, 2013 07:37 am
chickenfeet: (death)
Yesterday's live broadcast from the Met was Berlioz' epic, in every sense, Les TroyensMore...
chickenfeet: (death)
David Alden's Met production of Verdi's Un ballo in maschera was butchered by the video director.  More...
chickenfeet: (Default)
Today's MetHD broadcast was Thomas Adès' The TempestRead more...
chickenfeet: (spear)
The Blu-ray/DVD release of the Robert Carsen production of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin is one of the best to have come out of the Live in HD broadcasts. More...
chickenfeet: (spear)
The Metropolitan Opera has announced the schedule for the live HD cinema broadcasts for the 2012/13 season. Read my entirely objective and unbiased guide to what to see and what not to bother with. It also gives dates, times, casts, conductors etc so may actually be useful.
chickenfeet: (spear)
Today was the live HD broadcast of the concluding installment of Robert Lepage's Ring at the Met. I'm still not convinced. More...
chickenfeet: (Default)
The Met's The Enchanted Island just doesn't cut the mustard. More...
chickenfeet: (cute)
Willy Decker's production of Verdi's La Traviata will get an HD screening from the Met in April. The production premiered at Salzburg in 2005 and was released on DVD and Blu-ray. My thoughts.

Faust

Dec. 10th, 2011 06:55 pm
chickenfeet: (srscat)
After all the negative reviews of Des McAnuff's Faust at the Met expectations were low for today's HD broadcast. It wasn't perfect but it was thought provoking. More...
chickenfeet: (srscat)
Will the Metropolitan Opera's Live in HD broadcasts alter live opera? My answer, at great length, is probably not.
chickenfeet: (beowulf)
Review of today's MetHD broadcast of Wagner's Siegfried.
chickenfeet: (Default)
Today's MetHD broadcast was a rather ordinary Don Giovanni. More...
chickenfeet: (death)
Donizetti's Anna Bolena was today's Metropolitan Opera "Live in HD" broadcast. My reaction.
chickenfeet: (srscat)
The Met HD 2011/12 season went on sale to Friends of the Met and, in Canada, for holders of Scene cards; the loyalty card for the chain that does the Met broadcasts up here. I just got my order in. The lemur and I go to the Scotiabank Theatre at Richmond and John for these things. They use two auditoria; the roughly 500 seat Theatre 1 and the roughly 300 seat Theatre 13, for the Met broadcasts. By 1pm today when I was choosing seats roughly 2/3 to 3/4 of the seats in Theatre 1 had already gone and a fair chunk of 13 was sold too.

For the record, we decided to see only six of the eleven shows this season. We'll be seeing Anna Bolena, Don Giovanni, Siegfried, Faust, Enchanted Island and Gotterdammerung. If any of the others get rave reviews we might catch the encore performance.
chickenfeet: (isobel)
Today's MetHD broadcast was Bellini's La Sonnambula. This is a new and rather controversial production by Mary Zimmerman. By and large it's had a mixed reception from critics and audience both. The plot is pretty slim. There is an engaged couple in an alpine village. The female half of which (Armina) sleepwalks herself compromisingly into the bed of a count who is staying at the local inn. It being opera she is then rejected angrily by her betrothed but, since this is a comedy, she doesn't go mad, stab people and die after singing about it at great length. Instead all is cleared up by the kindly count and everyone lives happily ever after. It's pretty slight. In an attempt to make a bit more out of it Zimmerman does the play within a play thing setting the work in a rehearsal space in New York City with the various relationships in the opera proper being parallelled in the cast. It sort of works for the first scene which is just really about flirting and jealousy although what the Count is supposed to be in relation to the rehearsing opera company is a bit weird. It gets weirder in the second scene where the Count is apparently dossing in the rehearsal space. Presumably this is because there are no hotels in New York. Somehow Armina manages to sleepwalk into the rehearsal space. Nobody seems to find it odd that someone would walk barefoot in a nightdress across Manhattan (in winter) without getting molested. It just gets messier from there culminating in a slapstick finale with the cast now in full costume as jolly alpine peasants running through some truly over the top choreography. So no, Pinter could get away with this kind of plot device but he showed a bit more restraint.

Fortunately the performances were really very good indeed. Natalie Dessay as Armina displayed all her very considerable talents as a comedienne and without them it really would have been dismal. Michele Pertusi was a wonderful Count Rodolfo. He sang splendidly and had a gift for comic timing not far short of Dessay. He also looked every inch the aristocrat. Juan Domingo Florez played Juan Domingo Florez with his usual athleticism and amazing vocal range and power. He really is the definitive romantic tenor. I also really liked Jennifer Black's sly Lisa. Other parts, chorus and orchestra were more than acceptable. So, a flawed production but enjoyable if one didn't stop to think too much about the plot flaws.

I'm really not convinced by Mary Zimmerman as an opera director. She's trying too hard. The false cleverness in La Sonnambula didn't work and her Lucia was made even sillier than usual by moving the setting to the late 19th century. Much of what went on this afternoon was about as plausible as the idea that a country house party in the Lothians in the 1870s could feature vendetta, murder, forced marriage and the threat of beheading for treason.
chickenfeet: (isobel)
We'll forget the plot, which has more holes in it than the Italian defence at Twickenham, and get straight on to the singing. It was wonderful. My pick would be the Snidely Whiplash Enrico of Mariusz Kwiecien. He has a marvelous baritone and is a really good actor both vocally and physically. I'd love to see him in something like Don Giovanni where he could be a bit less one dimensional. Piotr Beczala as Edgardo was a late replacement for Juan Villazon. It was his Met debut in the part and he was really good too. Maybe he was tiring just a little towards the end but the last act is really hard on this part. Anna Netrebko was, surprise, surprise, wonderful. Her mad scene was note perfect and managed to stay in the difficult ground between over acting and not making the most of it. All the lesser parts were well done.

The sets were pretty good though so elaborate that the intermissions were very long to accommodate the changes. I'm not convinced about moving the action up to the late Victorian period. The plot is dodgy enough without sticking two hundred years worth of anachronisms on to it. All in all though very entertaining if not one of the best things I've seen in this series.

The works

Jan. 24th, 2009 03:42 pm
chickenfeet: (cleopatra)
When opera works, it really works. Today's performance of Gluck's Orfeo was a case in point. This is a work that was written at a time when ballet was still a big part of opera and there are several bits that really need dance to make them work. I'm not a big dance expert so I guess my judgement is suspect but I thought Mark Morris' choreography was brilliant and the dancers were just superb. It was a blend of modern and more classical styles and very effective. I was particularly struck by the finale, "The Triumph of Love" , where he had multiple couples dancing fairly conventional MF figures but he has MF, FF and MM couples dancing the figures and it's beautiful and affecting (and maybe builds on some of the more general optimism of the last few days). For the rest, the singing was superb. The first few notes from Stepanie Blythe (Orfeo) were electrifying and she didn't let up. All of the big set pieces were superb culminating, of course, with a tear jerking "Che Faro". Danielle de Niese was gorgeous and vocally flawless as Euridice and Heidi Grant Murphy made a pleasantly sly Amor. Add the Met orchestra and chorus doing what they do and maestro Levine in the pit and one really has a a recipe for near perfect opera. Which it was.

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