I am about 40 minutes in and loving it (except for the weird noises). Rocco has a fantastic voice!
There are no long Wagner operas. Only short attention spans.
Sorochintsy Fair by Mussorgsky on Opera Platform. Some amazing choruses, good production, Night on a Bald Mountain... a little heavy on the comic mezzo and buffo bass front though.
Worth catching on Medici:
Rodelinda with Lucy Crowe and Bejun Mehta in a good clear production by Claus Guth:
Il Ritorno D'Ulisse in Patria, Magdalena Kožená brilliant, would have been better if Kresimir Spicer (Eumee) had sung the title role instead of Villazón, although the latter did give a committed performance.
Love this Robert Carsen
La troupe d'Orphée based around M-A Charpentier's La descente d’Orphée aux enfers - was on Opera Platform but not for long, unfortunately, as it was quite brilliant, so moving at the end!
Conductor: Paolo Carigniani
Director: Robert Carsen
Cast: Emily Magee, Jonas Kaufmann, Thomas Hampson, Valeriy Murga, Giuseppe Scorsin, Peter Straka, Morgan Moody, Daniel Golossov, Claudia Auf der Maur
The DVD of this Zürich Opera production was the first recording to feature Jonas Kaufmann’s Cavaradossi. When I decided to watch it again, I didn’t realize the stage director was Robert Carsen, the subject of some recent comments in the “Opera Small Talk” thread (http://operalively.com/forums/showth...l-Talk/page131). He has updated events to what appears to be the mid-20th century or slightly later, with Emily Magee’s title heroine looking like a Hollywood diva from the 1950s when she makes her first appearance. The action is supposed to take place in a theater, with Thomas Hampson’s Scarpia evidently the house’s Intendant and Kaufmann’s Cavaradossi a scenery painter. While the soloists appear in reasonably modern dress, Scarpia’s attendants and the firing squad members wear Napoleonic-era garb. I’m not sure that Carsen’s concept works all that well, and yet this is an incredibly powerful performance, especially from the second act onward. That’s due in large measure to the vocal and theatrical talents of the three principals (and it also becomes easier at this point to simply view the characters in the roles that the librettist intended). Hampson’s Scarpia is handsome, debonair, elegant, and absolutely chilling – especially when he grins at Tosca with that seemingly pleasant but deeply sadistic smile while he’s forcing her to submit to his will. And when he isn’t smiling, he’s staring at her (during “Vissi d’arte,” for example) with an expression that’s equal parts lust and malice. Magee is equally impressive in using both facial expressions and body language to convey the horror and utter revulsion Tosca feels toward him. Kaufmann has a little less to do in the way of characterization during the first two acts; his Cavaradossi is appropriately romantic and heroic. But in Act III, his looks and demeanor subtly suggest that Cavaradossi doesn’t really believe in Scarpia’s apparent act of clemency. He knows those bullets won’t be blanks, but can’t bring himself to shatter Tosca’s joy by sharing his doubts with her. If at least some portions of these very realistic, compelling characterizations are the results of Carsen’s Personenführung, then hats off to him. That’s what really makes this performance so memorable, and not some rather dubious concept. And, of course, the three stars sing magnificently, Magee and Kaufmann especially. The Zürich Opera orchestra and chorus are capably led by Paolo Carigniani.
Well, last night I broke the bel canto habit and watched the Met's Turandot for the first time (although I have heard recordings of it over the years). I found the cast to be first rate, but was totally gobsmacked by the Zeferrelli sets. In Blu ray, the picture and sound were amazing. To make matters worse, I finally broke down and bought the Met's recent Otello and Les Pecheurs de Perles. The pricing by an Amazon seller were quite nice, so the treasurer here will not be upset (at least not too much). I am not yet a big fan of Verdi's last two operas, and am similarly not a big fan of Placido Domingo, so a well reviewed Otello with a different tenor at a very good price was a temptation to which I gave in (To be honest, giving in to temptations has made life more interesting over the years).
I wonder if all this represents a personality disorder?
On another note, the Tosca referenced above is dandy!