Thread: Opera Small Talk

          
   
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    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Interesting interview with Stuart Skelton. He doesn't hold back with his criticism of Opera Australia.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoffmann View Post
    I think I've learned my lesson paying big $$ to see Jonas Kaufmann! I paid $200 or so to see him sing Walther (Die Meistersinger) in Munich, but he was a no-show. Then, his cover called in sick. We ended up seeing the third string tenor - who was ok. However, the out of the way trip to Munich (during Oktoberfest), on top of the tickets was, shall we say, pricey - so the whole thing was kind of a bust.
    How disappointing! This was Oct 2016? I watched that via livestream and liked the David, but didn't feel too strongly about anyone else. In Munich, I'm (if all requested tickets come through) seeing JK 3 times and Anja Harteros 4 times. I predict I will see one of them twice, and the other not at all, haha.

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    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ann Lander (sospiro) View Post
    Interesting interview with Stuart Skelton. He doesn't hold back with his criticism of Opera Australia.
    Fantastic. And yes, Opera Australia deserves all the criticism it can get.
    Natalie

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ann Lander (sospiro) View Post
    Interesting interview with Stuart Skelton. He doesn't hold back with his criticism of Opera Australia.
    He's also quite rude about the ENO's choice of repertoire, I love it.

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    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dichteurehalle View Post
    He's also quite rude about the ENO's choice of repertoire, I love it.
    I know many people love ENO and I do too when they stage English language operas. I saw Stuart Skelton's Peter Grimes and it was heart-wrenching but the Rigoletto was awful. With everything you need to know about an opera available on line i.e. history, synopsis, libretto and YouTube, and with surtitles in the theatre, there's no reason at all why operas should be staged in translation. It's a sacrilege to do a classic like Rigoletto in English.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ann Lander (sospiro) View Post
    I know many people love ENO and I do too when they stage English language operas. I saw Stuart Skelton's Peter Grimes and it was heart-wrenching but the Rigoletto was awful. With everything you need to know about an opera available on line i.e. history, synopsis, libretto and YouTube, and with surtitles in the theatre, there's no reason at all why operas should be staged in translation. It's a sacrilege to do a classic like Rigoletto in English.
    I absolutely agree! I can see that translating librettos into English was of huge value 50 years ago, before all these things were available to us. But they're here, and it doesn't seem like the ENO has made the transition well. I agree with Skelton, it would be so interesting if the ENO could perform more of the English-language repertoire: Barber, Purcell, late Handel, Glass, Adams, Purcell, Vaughan Williams, Heggie, etc. This sort of stuff is performed so infrequently elsewhere, and it would be enriching to for it to be championed by someone, sort of like Mark Elder and the Halle champion Elgar. But you know, just a stranger on the internet with opinions, what do I know?

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    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dichteurehalle View Post
    How disappointing! This was Oct 2016? I watched that via livestream and liked the David, but didn't feel too strongly about anyone else. In Munich, I'm (if all requested tickets come through) seeing JK 3 times and Anja Harteros 4 times. I predict I will see one of them twice, and the other not at all, haha.
    Yes, October or the very end of September. It's a big lavish production that, interestingly, didn't work very well, perhaps because most of the cast didn't act very well. I've seen Wolfgang Koch sing an amazing Alberich, so I was looking forward to seeing him in the role, but he really brought no humanity to Hans Sachs at all.

    We had just seen an awesome Die Meistersinger at the Komische Oper Berlin several days previously with Tomas Tomasson as a world-weary, empathetic and beloved Hans Sachs. Sort of clever staging that was a couple steps above semi-staged along with a mostly unknown cast - and sheer brilliance that highlighted the opera as the work of genius that it is.

    Lucky you to see those singers! I hope you get your tickets. I tried for Meistersinger tickets for last summer - instead of the fall performance, but Munich had so many requests they distributed tickets by lottery. I've never won a lottery in my life, and my record is unbroken.

  12. #1853
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoffmann View Post
    Yes, October or the very end of September. It's a big lavish production that, interestingly, didn't work very well, perhaps because most of the cast didn't act very well. I've seen Wolfgang Koch sing an amazing Alberich, so I was looking forward to seeing him in the role, but he really brought no humanity to Hans Sachs at all.

    We had just seen an awesome Die Meistersinger at the Komische Oper Berlin several days previously with Tomas Tomasson as a world-weary, empathetic and beloved Hans Sachs. Sort of clever staging that was a couple steps above semi-staged along with a mostly unknown cast - and sheer brilliance that highlighted the opera as the work of genius that it is.

    Lucky you to see those singers! I hope you get your tickets. I tried for Meistersinger tickets for last summer - instead of the fall performance, but Munich had so many requests they distributed tickets by lottery. I've never won a lottery in my life, and my record is unbroken.
    Nice! Looks like Tomas Tomasson in the ROH Trovatore I own, as well as the Berlin Parsifal I'm about to buy, so I'll give him a listen. And yeah, I honestly don't recall a thing about Koch's Hans Sachs other than potentially his wild hair?

    I'm quite nervous about those tickets! I'm mentally trying to prepare myself for getting none of what I was most excited about, and potentially canceling the trip/selling what tickets I do get in favor of turning my n trips to Paris next season into n+1.

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  14. #1854
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Secrets of the Royal Opera House in London.

    http://londonist.com/london/theatre-...al-opera-house

    This photo is misleading as the orchestra pit and stalls are definitely not curved.



    I took this

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    Last edited by Ann Lander (sospiro); February 16th, 2017 at 07:31 PM.

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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Very nice read, Annie! Thanks for posting it!
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ann Lander (sospiro) View Post
    I know many people love ENO and I do too when they stage English language operas. I saw Stuart Skelton's Peter Grimes and it was heart-wrenching but the Rigoletto was awful. With everything you need to know about an opera available on line i.e. history, synopsis, libretto and YouTube, and with surtitles in the theatre, there's no reason at all why operas should be staged in translation. It's a sacrilege to do a classic like Rigoletto in English.
    This is a long time ago, and pre surtitles, but ENO was a wonderful conduit into opera for me in the eighties, when the idea of going to the opera was still something other, much richer and posher people did. It wasn't so much that it was in English (although that helped) but it also seemed less snobby and more approachable than the ROH, and was way more affordable. I subscribed for a couple of years before transferring to ROH. And that Rigoletto, when I was starting out, was my favourite production and I still cherish it.
    Natalie

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    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    This is a long time ago, and pre surtitles, but ENO was a wonderful conduit into opera for me in the eighties, when the idea of going to the opera was still something other, much richer and posher people did. It wasn't so much that it was in English (although that helped) but it also seemed less snobby and more approachable than the ROH, and was way more affordable. I subscribed for a couple of years before transferring to ROH. And that Rigoletto, when I was starting out, was my favourite production and I still cherish it.
    The one time I was in London, I looked at the schedules for ENO and the ROH and, ultimately, turned up my nose at the thought of opera in English. I can't recall now what they were offering but opted (as I believe I've mentioned in the past) for I Capuleti e i Montecchi with Katia Ricciarrelli and Tatiana Troyanos at ROH. Of course that was in 1985, when going to the opera that one time was ok - I didn't give any thought to doing more performances at ENO and saw plenty other live theater and music while in London.


    And yeah, I honestly don't recall a thing about Koch's Hans Sachs other than potentially his wild hair?
    Yes! I'm not sure it's not his own... (unless he was also wearing the Alberich wig while singing Hans Sachs).

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    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Anyne ever hear of Reyer's opera, Sigurd. It is almost like Siegfired in Gotterdammerung. Wikipedia synopsis:

    Hilda, the younger sister of Gunther, king of the Burgundians, loves the hero Sigurd, despite the fact that she was expected to be given to Attila himself as a bride. At the instigation of her nurse (Uta) she gives Sigurd a magic potion which brings him to her feet. Sigurd, Gunther and Hagen then swear fealty to each other and set off to Iceland, where Brunehild lies asleep upon a lofty rock, surrounded by a circle of fire and some supernatural beings. There, Sigurd, to earn the hand of Hilda, must overcome those monsters. He achieves this and passes through the flames to win Brunehild for Gunther. His face is closely hidden by his visor, and Brunehild in all innocence accepts Gunther as her saviour, and gives herself to him. The secret is afterwards disclosed by Hilda in a fit of jealous rage, whereupon Brunehild releases Sigurd from the enchantment of the potion. He recognises her as the bride ordained for him by the gods, and they sing a passionate love duet, but before he can taste his new-found happiness he is treacherously slain by Gunther while hunting. His body is brought back to the palace and Brunehild mounts the funeral pyre. A powerful apotheosis ends the opera when spirits of Sigurd and Brunehild ascend to paradise, and soldiers of Attila are seen walking over corpses of Burgundians.[4]
    It seems to be totally unavailable commercially, but here is a full recording on You Tube.
    Necessities of life: food, water, air, shelter, and opera.

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    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    I remembered that a German opera house had staged a production of Sigurd a few years ago. Here's the excerpt from the summary of the March, 2015, issue of Das Opernglas:

    - Ernest Reyer: Sigurd – Erfurt Theater
    Conductor: Joana Mallwitz
    Director: Guy Montavon
    Cast: Marc Heller, Ilia Papandreou, Kartal Karagedik, Marisca Mulder, Katja Bildt, Vazgen Ghazaryan, Yuri Batukov, Máté Solyom-Nagy
    Background: The libretto for Reyer’s opera by Camille du Locle and Alfred Blau draws on the Nibelungenlied and the older Norse sagas, as did Wagner in composing his Ring des Nibelungen, but with some differences. Hilda (a.k.a. Gudrun or Kriemhilde) is the sister of Gunther, King of the Burgundians, and has fallen in love with the hero Sigurd, even though she’s supposed to marry Attila (yup, that Attila). Here she’s encouraged by her nurse Uta to give the magic potion to Sigurd (a.k.a. Siegfried). He subsequently sets of for Iceland with Gunther and Hagen, who here is a warrior companion of the King and not his half-brother, in search of Brunehild, asleep on the rock surrounded by fire and a few assorted monsters. To gain Gunther’s consent to his marriage with Hilda, Sigurd agrees to win Brunehild for him. In this instance, Sigurd doesn’t take on the appearance of Gunther, but instead, his face is concealed by his visor, so that Brunehild unknowingly accepts Gunther as her rescuer and husband. The truth is subsequently revealed by Hilda in a fit of jealousy, and Brunehild, who evidently retains some supernatural powers from her previous existence as a Valkyrie, releases Sigurd from the potion’s spell. He now recognizes her as the bride destined for him by the gods, and they sing a rapturous duet. Afterward, he goes out hunting with Gunther, and in this case, gets stabbed in the back by his brother-in-law/rival. When his body is returned to the palace and the funeral pyre prepared, Brunehild immolates herself (evidently sans her horse Grani). However, everything doesn’t go up in smoke and flames here; instead, the spirits of Sigurd and Brunehild are seen entering paradise, or the Norse equivalent thereof, while Attila’s soldiers overrun the Burgundians.
    Reviewer’s evaluation
    Musical performance: The performance in Erfurt was actually the German premiere of Reyer’s opera, which the reviewer considers as less of a sensation and more of a long overdue encounter with a work that once was very successful. Sigurd had a “triumphant” world premiere in Brussels in 1884, an event originally planned for Paris until the Franco-Prussian War in 1870-71 put a stop to things. The opera finally appeared in the French capital in 1885, after which it was performed there more than 250 times. The Nibelungenlied and the Norse sagas on which it was based enjoyed considerable popularity in the mid-19th century among European “creatives,” with a new French translation of the Nibelungenlied printed in 1861. Reyer began work on Sigurd unaware that over in Germany, Wagner was composing his own tetralogy that drew on the same source materials. This monumental work cast such a shadow after its 1876 world premiere – especially in Germany – that no other opera dealing with the same story really had a chance. From a musical standpoint, Sigurd is written very much in the Grand Opéra style, with opulent, colorful orchestration underpinning the wide, sweeping melodic lines. The sound is reminiscent of Berlioz, with some touches of other French Romanticists such as Gounod and Saint-Saëns. The “rapturous” score includes magnificent roles full of vocal challenges. In Erfurt, Sigurd was sung by guest soloist Marc Heller who, after a hesitant start, gave an absolutely spectacular account of this hochdramatische part that’s loaded with stratospheric high notes. His tenor sounded comfortable in this high-lying music, full of triumphant power and endurance, and an attractive baritonal midrange. His Brunehild, Ilia Papandreou, was scarcely less impressive, singing with a powerfully radiant soprano that had blazing, rounded, excellently focused high notes, and making Odin’s disgraced daughter a truly majestic figure. Kartal Karagedik made an outstanding King Gunther with his marvelously robust yet supple baritone, and Vazgen Ghazaryan brought plenty of stage presence to Hagen, even if his bass sounded somewhat throaty. Soprano Marisca Mulder was a strongly expressive, emphatic Hilda, while Katja Bildt lent a wonderfully characterful mezzo to Uta. Baritone Yuri Batukov appeared as the priest of Odin, with Máté Solyom-Nagy singing the bard who relates the plot’s background story. The decision had been made to cut the smallest roles in this production for the sake of tighter dramatic form, but unfortunately, some beautiful choruses and ballets, as well as individual passages in some arias and ensembles were also excised. The Erfurt Philharmonic Orchestra, reinforced by the Thuringian Orchestra of Gotha, played with great engagement and discipline under the baton of General Music Director Joana Mallwitz, who emphasized the partitur’s wonderful lyricism in her reading. Reyer demands much of the chorus, and the combined forces of the Erfurt Theater Opera Chorus and Erfurt Philharmonic Chorus had been perfectly prepared by Andreas Ketelhut. They made a very favorable impression with their plush, homogenous sound and strong presence.
    Staging: Erfurt’s Intendant Guy Montavon directed this production, and chose to approach the story through parallel plots. In the framework narrative, Hilda became a young woman hospitalized after the 1945 bombing of Worms (the site of the confrontation between Kriemhilde and Brünnhilde in the Nibelungenlied), with Uta as a Red Cross nurse. Hilda immersed herself in reading the Sigurd saga, and at the end, rose from her hospital bed in an exultant emotional state, only to finally commit suicide. As she read, the events of the legend were played out on the opposite side of the stage. The break from the Hilda narrative to the tale of Sigurd and Brunehild worked amazingly well, even in those scenes in which both of the principal female characters were involved. The double plot strands enabled Montavon to tell the opera’s story in a comprehensible manner that for the most part stayed very close to the libretto, and provided the audience with plenty of eye candy in the form of shimmering armor, waving banners, swords, lances, and winged helmets. But they also posed a problem in the constant visual contrast between the brightly illuminated, (relatively) modern hospital setting at the right side of the stage, and the occasionally annoying parade of historical costumes for the saga on the other side. However oppressive the psychological treatment of the Hilda character may have been, it also made the actual story seem unemotional, almost neutral, and at times even comical by comparison, and even challenged the power of Reyer’s emotionally-charged music to sustain the drama. Maurizio Balň’s sets were quite impressive, especially for the world of the saga. Real flames blazed up from the stage floor to surround Brunehild’s rock, and in the final apotheosis, the spirits of Sigurd and Brunehild were seen ascending toward the heavens in front of a supersized replica of the Hermann Memorial, a monument in the Teutoburg Forest that commemorates the 9 A.D. battle in which the Germanic Cherusci tribe led by Armin (or Arminius) achieved a decisive victory over three Roman legions commanded by Varus. At the end of the opera, Montavon had the Burgundians overrun not by Attila, but by the Cherusci and the aforementioned Armin, who some theater historians believe was the model for the Sigurd/Siegfried figure.

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    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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