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Thread: Modern and Contemporary Opera on DVD, blu-ray, and CD

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  1. #61
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Tan Dun: Tea, A Mirror of Soul - on DVD

    Tea, A Mirror of Soul - Opera in three acts (2002), sung in English
    Music by Tan Dun
    Libretto by Tan Dun and Xu Ying
    Set in the Ninth Century, China in the Tang Dynasty, and Japan ten years later.

    This is a live recording of the 22 October 2002 World Premiere at the Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Japan
    The opera was commissioned by Suntory Hall
    Co-production by The Netherlands Opera, Het Muziektheater Amsterdam, and Shanghai Grand Theater

    Conductor: Tan Dun
    Orchestra: NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo
    Chorus: Bass-baritone Chorus of the The Netherlands Opera

    Stage director: Pierre Audi
    Lighting & Set Designer: Jean Kalman
    Costume Designer: Angelo Figus
    Libretto Editing: Diana Liao
    Dramaturg: Beatrice Terry
    Video Designer: Frank Scheffer

    Japanese Prince / Monk (baritone): Haijing Fu
    Chinese Princess / Puppet Monk (soprano): Nancy Allen Lundy
    Chinese Prince / Puppet Monkey King (tenor): Christopher Gillett
    Shadow / Ritualist / Daughter of Tea Sage Luyu (contralto): Ning Liang
    Emperor / Shadow (bass): Stephen Richardson

    Deutsche Grammophon release, 2004, DVD B0003851-09 GH, NTSC 16:9 (bonus 4:3), region code 0 (worldwide), sound PCM stereo, DTS 5.1, and DD 5.1. Bonus: Tan Dun Video Clips - The Map Showreal - Clips. Running times: opera 120 minutes, bonus 28 minutes. Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese. Menu language, English.

    Plot summary:

    Act I

    The story opens in Japan with Seikyo, now a monk, recalling the tragic story of his love for Princess Lan. Ten years earlier the Japanese Prince Seikyo visits Chang'an, capital of the Tang Dynasty, in order to ask for the hand of Princess Lan in marriage. He arrives and interrupts a shaddow-puppet show that Lan and her brother (the Chinese Prince) are performing for their father. In spite of her brother's opposition by considering that the interruption was rude, her father gives her hand to Seikyo, impressed with his ability to recite a couplet of tea poems.

    A Persian Prince arrives offering a thousand horses in exchange for the legendary "Book of Tea" - a book that contains secrets of the Yin and Yang (lines mapping the inner spaces of the body and mind) which the Chinese Prince reluctantly produces. Seikyo and the Chinese Prince heatedly dispute the book's authenticity. The former says the Tea Sage Luyu, the book's author, showed him the real one, and this one owned by the Prince is a fraud. The Prince offers to end his life if Seikyo can find and produce the real book. Seikyo equally says he will kill himself if he's proven wrong. Lan weeps from seing her beloved brother and her loved one seal their fates.

    Act II

    Seikyo and Lan travel South in search of the real "Book of Tea" which he hopes Luyu will show him. Lan tells Seikyo of a legend about how tea was invented, and they make love.

    Act III

    In the South, Lu, the daughter of the Tea Sage Luyu announces the death of her father. Seikyo and Lan arrive too late. Lu agrees with giving them the book, with the condition that they spread it's knowledge to the world, with love. As they read the book, the Prince breaks in and grabs the book from Lan. A deadly fight ensues between Seikyo and the Prince, but it is Lan who is mortally wounded when she gets in between them, trying to stop the duel. The Prince admits his error and asks Seikyo to kill him. Seikyo refuses to kill him, cuts his own hair, and becomes a monk.

    All three acts contain various ritualistic ceremonies that highlight the symbolic meanings of tea, including elements such as wind, water, fire, and notions like emptiness and rebirth.


    Sets are strikingly beautiful, huge, and made of elevated platforms and a triangular path. The opening scene has monks in white gowns, silent and solemn, standing on the platforms before the orchestra produces any sound. The skilful video direction shows Tan Dun in a semi-transparent image, conducting with solemnity, and the orchestra starts to produce haunting electronic-like humming sounds with natural noises (water dripping in three large bowls - percussionists "play" the water) - regrettably, there is a fair amount of audience noise and coughing.

    A monk in red (Seikyo) "drinks" from an empty bowl of tea. The chorus starts singing, slowly... "Though bowl is empty... scent glows... though shadow is gone, dream... dream grows..."

    The orchestra pit is in between the platforms and paths... and the chorus sits behind the highest platform, in layers, making a sort of wall.

    Folks, this is all enormously beautiful and is used to great effect. What an opening!

    Haijing Fu sings his first ariosi with great technique (clear enunciation, good volume and projection - as far as we can tell on a DVD, of course - and a beautiful voice with pleasant timbre and expressiveness, rending well the difficult melismas. We get more interesting water percussion, and scene II rolls in, where everything becomes more lively, and we meet Lan and the Chinese Prince.

    We get that there is a monkey puppet show thanks to the ape-like movements of the same people dressed in white gowns. The princess carries a round prop, while the prince has a conic one. Nancy Lundy is cute, has a beautiful luminous smile, and her voice cuts well through the very onomatopoetic orchestra.

    Christopher Gillett's voice doesn't fare as well and seems slightly hoarse. Stephen Richardson's bass instrument is good. Princess Lan gets some color in her costume, very enticing. The emperor is also full of colors. Seikyo's feather/straw-laden coat is bizarre, but he gets rid of it rapidly and also downs some colors.

    Of the four protagonists in this scene, Lundy and Richardson are the more natural actors, while the other two appear stiff/forced, one underacts (Fu) and the other one (Gillett) engages in overacting.

    Lighting is interesting. There is a tall column to the left of the stage that changes colors with the lighting.

    Ning Liang starts to sing, and her voice has a rather strident ping in the higher register that I don't particularly like, but when the tessitura doesn't push her, she does relativelly well. She is also not a very expressive actress. With Gillett, she seems to be one of the two weak links in this cast, so far. Gillett however seems to warm up and does vocally better in the next scene (although not great), when he starts protesting the presence of Seikyo, but his acting remains deficient.

    The blocking and stage direction are good, with interesting dynamic use of the spaces delimitated by the platforms, and good composition of the various esthetic elements.

    The sounds from the pit remain interesting. I like this opera a lot so far.

    Dramatic intensity increases in the confrontation about the book being a fraud. Lan trembles. She cries "No" out loud with long ornamentations. Well done, Ms. Lundy.

    Impressive percussion matching Ms. Lundy's coloratura in the next sequence, all very beautiful.

    Percussionists continue to work with the water, and now add paper. Lights dim. End of first act.

    Taking advantage of the break, let me add Tan Dun's description of the various musical elements and characters and their meanings:

    Seikyo symbolizes discovery and philosophy. Lan if for love. The Chinese Prince expresses anger. The Emperor is there for tradition and culture. Lu is the messenger for the spirit. The monks represent religion. The three percussionists playing with water, paper, and ceramic symbolize nature. The orchestra is for drama.

    The lights come back on an empty bluish set. Monks walk silently in, from the left side. The three female percussionists are positioned in a triangular way. They start to manipulate paper. Humming from the orchestra. Sounds and lighting suggest night outdoors with chirps of nocturnal animals, instrumentalists flip their score sheets causing sounds like flapping of wings. The monks lay down and sleep. Seikyo and Lan walk in. She sings with delicacy and acts well. Again, he sings well too but can't match her acting, remains somewhat unengaged, and shows less chemistry to her than she shows to him. On the other hand, she is Love, he is Philosophy so maybe his reserved stance is done in purpose.

    This is the scene you can see on the cover picture. The monks sit up. The lovers embrace. The monks walk away, then circle the lovers. Forest sounds from the orchestra intensify. This scene is very, very beautiful, musically and visually. Great second act.

    Now we get the percussion on ceramics. Beautiful. Lu comes back, in yellow. The lighting now is yellow and blue.

    Interesting. Death is defined as "the place of always returning." Very Buddhist.

    Dramatic tension explodes in the music, both instrumental and vocal, for the last scene. All three protagonists do well in this scene, Lundy, Gillett, and Fu, with dramatic flair, and all three voices engage correctly. Percussion dominates the sounds, it is all very tense. Lan gets wounded, the orchestra silences, Seikyo yells "No", she sings passionately, dying, with very beautiful melody. Her voice is pungent, soars, laments, weakens, dies. Very effective. Even Fu gets some emotions on his face.

    The orchestra turns omiinous. The chorus laments, Greek tragedy-wise. Ms. Liang sings - well this time. It is interesting to see how all singers, even the weakest links, seem to react well to Tan Dun's music and get into character and into voice. The emperor sings a tearful aria with great grief. "Together we play monkey king. Without you life is living death."

    "To live in death, to die for life, how will we choose?" says Lu.

    The scene when Seikyo refuses to decapitate the Prince and cuts his own hair instead is very effective too, with a swift movement. The orchestra turns tonal and melodious. Fu sings impressively. Loud percussion. Darkness. Water dripping.

    We're back to Japan, ten years later. The visual configuration is the same of the opening scene. "What a bitter silence," sings Seikyo.

    The orchestra responds by slow intensification of the sounds, rhythmic and melodious. "Though the bowl is empty, scent grows. Though shadow is gone, dream grows. Growing tea is hard, dream grows. Picking tea is harder. Savoring tea is the hardest." Water, paper sounds. "Tea, a mirror of soul" says Seikyo. Paper, water, wind. Darkness. Silence.

    The end. Phenomenal ovation.

    Fascinating. Highly recommended. A+

    Bonus: we get Tan Dun performing with his instruments. Stone drumming.Two ceramic stones (sounds are very interesting. Very. Worth seeing. Then, water cadenza 1 and 2, performed by a young man. Both very good. Ceramic music is next, performed by several people, including Tan Dun (ferociously hitting three sheets of paper), a compelling piece of contemporary music.

    Then we see part of his multi-media cello concert, The Map, 5th movement, very beautiful. Except that it sells on for - gasp - $999.99!!!

    Well, this Tea goes for $29.31, fortunately. [clicky]

    My admiration for this composer has increased after seeing this DVD.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); May 13th, 2012 at 08:22 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  3. #62
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    Has anybody here viewed this version of Antikrist by Langgaard?

  4. #63
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    I *can* see it since it is part of the Naxos online collection to which I have access, but I haven't yet, and I seem to remember reading bad things about it.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  5. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schigolch View Post

    François - José van Dam
    The Angel - Dawn Upshaw
    The Leper - Chris Merrit
    Brother Léon - Urban Malmberg

    Conductor: Kent Nagano

    Wonderful, meditated and accurate reading of the score from Nagano, with a very inspired orchestra. Van Dam was no longer the singer he was in the 1980s, but he offers a very poetic approach to the character. Instead of presenting a great human being in which saintliness is growing, he chooses to sing a Saint embodied in a doleful man, keeping some distance, almost on the verge of skepticism.

    Listening to Dawn Upshaw, one arrives to the same conclusion than the libretto: "C'était peut-être un Ange" (maybe this was an Angel). Merrit's Leper, instead of neurological problems or leprosy was sung in the manner of a drug abuser missing his daily dose. Great work from the singers playing the Monks.

    Overall: A, recommended for all Opera lovers.
    Was the cast of this CD associated with any staging? The picture on the album sleeve looks like Sellars, but Salonen conducted that. I know Nagano did it at Bavaria State last year staged by Hermann Nitsch, but I did not know there was a recording.

  6. #65
    This was recorded live at Szalburg Festival, in 1998. Sellar's original production in 1992 was revived for the occasion.

    Nagano was the assistant of Ozawa at the times of Saint François's premiere, and he studied the score directly with Messiaen. This was his second recording of the opera, as he also recorded a concert performance in Utrecht for the KRO label. Here below you can hear to the third tableau for this performance, with Philippe Rouillon as Saint Francis:

    Nagano - The Kissing of the Leper - 1986
    Last edited by Schigolch; May 16th, 2012 at 07:15 PM.

  7. #66
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Laurent Petitgirard: Joseph Merrick dit Elephant Man on DVD

    In anticipation of our upcoming in-person interview with contralto Jana Sýkorová scheduled to happen in Prague on July 4, 2012, I'll be reviewing her DVD of Laurent Petitgirard's contemporary opera about the real story of The Elephant Man, born with horrifying deformities, who was also the subject of a 1980 film by David Lynch. Ms. Sýkorová sings the title role.

    The opera supposedly is more faithful to Joseph Merrick's life than David Lynch's movie, since the latter was based on an account by the patient's doctor, who according to Laurent Petitgirard had a propensity for portraying himself (Dr. Treves) in a good light, while in real life he was exposing his patient without his consent as a medical curiosity.

    Laurent Petitgirard is a contemporary composer born in 1950. He is also a pianist and conductor, and here he conducts his own opera. He has had an acclaimed career in film music, and from 1989 to 1996 he was the music director of the Orchestre Symphonique Français. He has conducted other prestigious orchestras, including La Fenice and Paris Opéra where he conducted several operas, and he is a regular guest at the Berliner Philharmoniker. His recording of Mozart's Requiem had more than one million copies sold. This is his first opera. It won the SACD Music Prize in May 2001. He has earned several accolades including being appointed Commander in the French Order of Arts and Letters.

    Jana Sýkorová, born in 1973, is the leading contralto with the Prague State Opera since 1999, and also a permanent guest at the National Theatre in Prague and the National Theatre in Brno. Unlike in America, in Prague opera singers are permanent employees of a company, which explains why the bulk of her activity has been in her home country. With the company, she has performed numerous roles in Carmen, Rigoletto, Nabucco, Madama Butterfly, The Devil and Kate, Orlando Furioso, Un Ballo in Maschera, Béatrice et Bénédict, etc. Internationally, she has had her debut with the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden) in the roles of Maddalena; and Mercedes in Carmen. She appeared in Die Walküre at the Wagner Festival Wels in 2000 and 2001. She created the role of Joseph Merrick the Elephant Man in its premiere in Prague, and took it to Nice for its revival, which is the performance preserved on this DVD.

    Laurent Petitgirard wrote the title role for a contralto because he particularly likes the tonal quality of the contralto voice, and because he wanted to create a sense of strange otherness. His goal was to depict in his opera not only the duality between Merrick's inner self and his physical appearance, but also the theme of exclusion. This man was misunderstood and humiliated by others, both in Tom Norman's freak sideshow, and at the London Hospital. For the composer, Joseph Merrick becomes a mirror in which we perceive our own fear of that which is different, and then a man with whom we can all identify. Eric Nonn the librettist based the plot on the genuine tragic life story of Joseph Merrick who died in 1890 at age 27.

    The work on the opera began in May 1995 and was finished in December 1998. It was first recorded in Monte Carlo in May-June of 1999. The first staging was in Prague in February 2002, and the production transferred to Nice the following November. Director Daniel Mesguich's staging further developed the issue of duality. Jane Sýkorová's acclaimed performance was said to meet the vocal and acting challenges of such an ambiguous role quite superbly.


    Joseph Merrick dit Elephant Man - Opera in 4 acts (20 scenes), sung in French
    Music by Laurent Petitgirard
    Libretto by Eric Nonn

    Available on Naxos / Marco Polo DVD released in 2004, filmed live at Nice Opera on November 29, 2002.
    Co-production with OSF Productions, Investimo, L'Opéra de Nice, and François Roussillon Associates link for the DVD (temporarily out of stock - $29.99 - but available from marketplace vendors for $13.64 new and $11.42 used): [clicky]

    DVD9, NTSC, 16:9, Regions 1 through 6, Dolby Digital 2.0 only, Running time 2:46:53, no extras
    In French; subtitles in French, English, and German.
    Insert: credits, short essay by the composer in English, French, and German; biography of the composer in English only; three production photos in black and white, list of scenes with characters but not with listed durations.

    Nice Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor Laurent Petitgirard
    Nice Opera Chorus under master Giulio Magnanini
    Stage director Daniel Mesguich
    Set and costumes Frédéric Pineau
    Lighting Patrick Méeüs


    Elephant Man, Jana Sýkorová, contralto
    Doctor Treves, Nicolas Rivenq, baritone
    Tom Norman the showman, Robert Breault, tenor
    Mary the nurse, Valérie Condoluci, soprano
    Eva Lükes, a matron, Elsa Maurus, mezzo
    Carr Gomm the hospital manager, Nicolas Courjal, bass
    The Colorature, Magali Léger, coloratura soprano
    Jimmy, the showman's assistant, Mari Laurila-Lili, trebble

    A young girl, Liesel Jürgens, soprano
    First boy, Gilles San Juan, tenor
    Second boy, Bernard Imbert, baritone
    Father, Eric Ferri, baritone
    First lady, Corinee Parenti, soprano
    Second lady, Cristina Greco, mezzo


    First impressions:

    The image on DVD is just correct, with frequent focus problems. The DD 2.0 sound is good and clear, with good balance between orchestra and singers. It's a traditional staging with costumes depicting late 19th century prevailing attire in London. Sets are appropriately dark, bleak, and smoky. Pace is slow, and the opening scenes seem a bit overlong. Singing so far is of very good quality. Tenor Robert Breault is quite dominant in the opening scenes, and his singing is powerful, with flawless top. He is a good and convincing actor too. Supporting roles, orchestra and chorus do well.

    Musically speaking, this opera seems rewarding. The writing for the chorus is quite melodious, and the written-through orchestral music is very atmospheric (likely a reflection of the composer's background in film music). Video direction captures well both the full stage action and facial expressions. Use of the (smallish) Nice Opera stage with the flow of movements is smart, with different levels of platforms, and Tom Norman climbing on top of the Elephant Man's cage. Nice lighting too, mostly in yellow and blue, with efficient use of the Elephant Man's shadow on a canvas.

    This is obviously a good production by Nice Opera, preserved on DVD with very good camera work.

    Mari Laurila-Lili has a very small voice and tends to disappear among the other singers. Baritone Nicolas Rivenq does not have great volume either. The first act is over so we won't be seeing the Tom Norman character any longer, and I'll miss excellent tenor Robert Breault. Yes, the first act is too long, could have used some cuts and a more compact libretto.

    Ms. Sýkorová hasn't started singing yet, I can't wait.

    Act II switches to the interior of the hospital, with very nice stagecraft (the sets pivot 360 degrees to show the interior of the hospital facade from Act I; great period costume for the nurse; very interesting depiction of the patient's room, in smaller scale than everything else. This is good staging!

    The second act starts much stronger than the first one, both in terms of vocal music, and pace. Jana Sýkorová starts singing, and oh yes, she *is* great! Valéry Condoluci is also very convincing as Mary the nurse (and she is a good-looking lady - also depicted on the DVD cover). Their scene together is very touching and well acted and staged. The chorus of hospital patients is impressive.

    This is definitely a contemporary opera that can please opera lovers of all kinds, thanks to its very melodious choral music, which contrasts well with the more modern-sounding vocal lines - a very efficient device to convey the fragmented and tragic nature of the story, plus the pathos and compassion of the observing public (here symbolized by the chorus).

    Another good singer makes his entrance, bass Nicolas Courjal. By the way, Nicolas Rivenq seems to have warmed up his voice, and is singing very well in the second act.

    Second act is over, and it was a very good one.

    The third one opens with a chorus and the obligatory anachronism (why do stage directors think they have to do it?) with a female photographer in modern clothes snapping pictures with a modern camera, together with two other photographers in period clothing - but also with modern cameras). I find act III again a bit overlong and dragging, with a certain monotony in the musical accompaniment. Sýkorová sings beautifully, though.

    Act IV starting, with a beautiful prelude for strings. Then we get the L'air de la colorature which is satirical and over the top in nature, and they surely got a very shrill soprano to sing it which characters on stage gringe and block their ears.

    Reading a bit of the biography of the real Elephant Man, some of these scenes are a bit far-fetched in order to get more dramatic impact. Unlike what the composer says in his essay, from reading other sources it does look like was actually a benefactor and helped the real Mr. Merrick quite a lot. So, certain scenes seem a bit manicheistic (the evil doctors who expose the patient in a continuation of the freak show, just this time inside the hospital - the compassionate nurse, etc. - characters are depicted with strong colors but don't develop much). While the opera character Elephant Man seems dismayed and frightened with the attention, in real life it does look like the patient appreciated being visited by noblemen and royalty. This libretto is a bit lachrimose, always depicting the Elephant Man as depressed and suffering, with the singer's eyes being always sad ones. In real life Mr. Merrick seems to have had several happy moments as well, and the opera would have grown in depth if these were depicted too. The way it is, there isn't much emotional range for the singing actress since only one mood is kept all the time.

    My initial excellent opinion of this opera is sliding down a bit - the theme of exploitation does get old, and the music itself seems to not evolve a lot between the acts. Definitely, instead of almost three hours, this opera would benefit from some 1h 45' of running time, with a more compact libretto. There are pacing problems as well, as noted above. For a first effort by the composer, however, it is good enough, being the music superior to the libretto in my opinion. One thing that is not to be questioned, though, is Ms. Sýkorová's great vocal performance!

    In the last act there is a clever device - a doppleganger - an extra wearing the same make-up comes to the stage and we get two Elephant Men - and while one is laying down, fatigued, and being cared after by the doctor, the other one sings and expresses the emotions.

    Strange: Ms. Sýkorová didn't smile at all during the curtain calls. She seemed actually unwell. I wonder if the layers of make-up and the Elephant Man costume were hot and heavy and in the almost three hours of this opera she was exhausted and dehydrated. It's something to ask her when we interview her.

    Verdict: as an opera, B (in spite of generally good music, it gets down a notch due to pacing problems, longueurs, and a sort of repetitious libretto with meager character development and too much focus on only one mood tone). As a staging and DVD rendition of it, A, and as a vocal performance from the leading lady, A+. Overall, somewhere between A- and B+, therefore a recommended buy.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); June 2nd, 2012 at 08:02 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  9. #67
    Ms. Sykorova's performance was really great, particularly the harrowing way she sings the last lines in this scene:

    Pitié pour moi, Seigneur……………………Have pity, My Lord
    Mes os sont bouleversés……………………My bones are wrecked
    Mon âme est bouleversé……………………My sould is wrecked
    Pitié por moi, Seigneur……………………..Have pity, My Lord
    Je suis sans force…………………………..I don't have any strength left

    really gets deep into you.

    On the musical side, apart from the above DVD there is a very good cd, with Nathalie Stutzmann singing the role of Merrick:

    Also, there is a version for countertenor, instead of a female alto.

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  11. #68
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    The cover picture on the CD is of the real Mr. Merrick. Poor man.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  12. #69
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    Hans Werner Henze (born 1926), L'Upupa und der Triumph der Sohnesliebe (The Hoopoe and the Triumph of Filial Love), (premiered August 2003). Libretto by Henze himself.

    Matthias Goerne, Laura Aikin, John Mark Ainsley, Alfred Muff, Axel Köhler. Wiener Staatsopernchor, Wiener Philharmoniker, Markus Stenz, directed for stage by Dieter Dorn.

    Every now and then I would try out some contemporary opera for a bit of "spice". L'Upupa was Henze's Magic Flute: the protagonist goes to search for a golden bird (a hoopoe) following his father's request to do so, and along the way the devil comes along to help him but he needs to pass some tests, falls in love with a woman, survives an attempt on his live but (unless I have misunderstood the plot), remains unresolved whether he could live with the woman he loves. All this with some magic thrown in here and there.

    Typical of many contemporary operas that I have listened, this opera contained no arias that you would remember after viewing. Its use of 12-tone and orchestral effects were more interesting than the vocal parts. At best I thought the vocal parts were supporting the orchestral lines (like much of 12-tone operas often do to me anyway). As Henze already wrote over a dozen operas by the time L'Upupa was written, he probably already have much experience with operatic material like this. Fine singing from tenor John Mark Ainsley playing the devil looking almost unrecognisable (an early music tenor often singing Handel), and the other singers.

    This DVD production was the original premiere production performed and recorded in Salzburg August 2003. The staging was not extreme avant-garde, but given its plot, it could easily have been done on a more "traditional" staging. It was generally effective.

    One for contemporary opera fans.

  13. #70
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Yes, it's a good one. I own this DVD and I think I've reviewed it somewhere. Schigolch is a fan too.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  14. #71
    I watched this live at Teatro Real, some ten years ago. It was a big success, performed to a full house, and with a lasting, standing ovation at the end of the opera for singers, conductor and even stage director.

  15. #72
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    Anybody here care to comment about operas by Carl Orff (1895-1982), in particular some these DVDs (from the Wergo Carl Orff DVD Series)? I'm thinking of trying out just one or two, not sure which ones.

  16. #73
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    3NaOH + H3PO3 -->Na3PO4+3H2O

  17. #74
    Quote Originally Posted by HarpsichordConcerto View Post
    Anybody here care to comment about operas by Carl Orff (1895-1982), in particular some these DVDs (from the Wergo Carl Orff DVD Series)? I'm thinking of trying out just one or two, not sure which ones.
    I'd go for "Gisei", that is by far the rarest opera of the three, and the only recording available, to the best of my knowledge. Wergo and the Darmstad Staatstheater are doing a fine job about those Orff's operas. Of course "Gisei" is a piece from a very young Orff, and it can be musically a bit disappointing, unless you are keen on Orff. The production is fine, I've watched this DVD just a few days ago.

    About the other two operas, there are others, and I'd say more interesting, alternatives. You can hear some of them, complete in youtube:

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  19. #75
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    Thanks. Gisei it is then. It reads interesting enough. I found some marketing blurb about it, with "lavish costumes" (being a sucker for lavish productions):-

    Gisei is set in the year 902 in a village school in Japan and is about the sacrificial death of a child. Both the subject and Japanese culture greatly inspired the young Carl Orff, and he remained an aficionado of Japan all his life. In the Japanese tragedies, Orff also found numerous references to the ancient Greek tragedies by Sophocles with which he concerned himself decades later.

    This DVD shows the world premiere production by John Dew (who was recently awarded the Carl Orff Prize 2012) at the Darmstadt State Theatre. Lavish costumes as well as carefully rehearsed facial expressions and gestures convey a deep impression of this tragedy. The following 15-minute bonus film includes interesting additional information on Orff's oeuvre and particularly on his work on Gisei.

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