Thread: What opera have you been watching lately?

          
   
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  1. #2191
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Just finished. Really like Chris Merritt's Loge. Henk Smit (Alberich), John Bröcheler (Wotan), and Carola Höhn (Freia) were among my favorites in this video. Strange staging but it did not distract for me.
    "Ah,non credea mirarti si presto estinto, o fiore." --Bellini, La Sonnambula (also written on his tomb).

  2. #2192
    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    Ranking what I watched in July:

    #1 - Strauss - Salome - staatsoper.tv, Bayerische Staatsoper

    Musically, this was superb as is the Staatsoper's wont. Some reviewers, at least those who saw it live, found Marlis Peterson lightweight as a Salome. On livestream, I had no problem hearing her, but did feel that it was a lighter, more lyric approach to the character. I thought it was the perfect approach for this production, and welcomed the unique take. Warlikowski's production sets the action in a Polish ghetto during WWII - several Jewish families holed up in a lavish apartment, with not much to do but wait to be taken away to be killed. They are trying to keep themselves entertained, and cope with their inescapable doom, and a few dozen of their number watch as they enact the play 'Salome'. They are examining Jewish stereotypes in the entertainment of their era, trying to figure out how society reached the point at which they could be exterminated. I don't think Warlikowski comes up with any satisfying answers, but what he does best is absolutely nail the personenregie, and let you come up with your own conclusions.

    #2 - Mussorgsky - Khovanshchina - Operavision, Moscow State Stanislavsky Music Theatre

    This was a thrilling, and visually exciting, straightforward take on this opera. The singing is not perfect, but seems always very idiomatically Russian, and the chorus and orchestra are fantastic. Most of the visual interest comes from some really great costuming choices, with nobility wearing muted blues, and the the Streltsy dissidents in a vibrant red. I have also seen the DVD from the Gran Teatre del Liceu, and think this is a better production. I'm not sure why, but the Prince Andrey scenes seemed like more of an integral part of the plot and not a tacked-on distraction. It could just be my growing understanding of the opera, but I suspect Russian direction = understanding Russian opera.

    #3 - Verdi - Ernani - The Met On Demand

    This was my first Ernani, and I love early Verdi so it was a slam dunk. Good cast. The old-school Met production is kinda meh to me. I'm sure it looks more impressive in the hall, but really, three different grand staircases?? It's fine, but would be improved with the costumes from Khovanshchina.

    #4 - Massenet - Cendrillon - Glyndebourne.tv

    There was a lot to like about this production. I think it's a brilliant score with an inescapably trite libretto. The direction by Fiona's Shaw and Dunn almost makes it work by throwing a thousand interesting ideas at it. But rather than choose between fairytale magic, or contemporary-psychological, they do both and that's when it starts to get muddied and confusing. I still would recommend this recording, and watch it again myself, except for one thing: the singing is questionable... I really like Danielle de Niese, and she is the very image of Cinderella, but I am concerned for her voice.

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  4. #2193
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Conductor/orchestra: Sir Simon Rattle, London Philharmonic Orchestra
    Glyndebourne Chorus
    Director: Trevor Nunn
    Cast: Willard White (Porgy), Cynthia Haymon (Bess), Gregg Baker (Crown), Harolyn Blackwell (Clara), Cynthia Clarey (Serena), Marietta Simpson (Maria), Damon Evans (Sportin' Life), Bruce Hubbard (Jake), Johnny Worthy (Robbins), Barrington Coleman (Mingo), Curtis Watson (Jim), et. al.

    Getting ready for tomorrow evening's Cincinnati Opera performance of Porgy and Bess by watching this video again. The cast is top-notch, and I really like Gregg Baker's Crown. His rich baritone reminds me of Sherrill Milnes at times, and his portrayal is completely believable. He not only conveys Crown's domineering, violent character, but exudes sexuality (the costume doesn't hurt), making Bess' attraction to such an individual plausible.

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  6. #2194
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    My first Tannhauser DVD. Nice production. I could do without the opening scenes of Venusburg during the overture, and in fact replaced the overture from video to MP3 for that very purpose. Very religious opera as is Parsifal.
    "Ah,non credea mirarti si presto estinto, o fiore." --Bellini, La Sonnambula (also written on his tomb).

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  8. #2195
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    My second Tannhauser on DVD and I like it better than the Levine set above, though both are very good.
    "Ah,non credea mirarti si presto estinto, o fiore." --Bellini, La Sonnambula (also written on his tomb).

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  10. #2196
    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    Ranking the operas I watched in August. (I know it's not over yet, but next week I'm throwing myself a mini bel canto festival.) With the late summer shortage of live opera, I caught up on Operavision offerings. If I didn't link, it's because the show expired already.

    #1 - Halevy - La Juive - Opera Vlaanderen

    This opera has some good music and dramatic potential, and this excellent production makes a strong case for it. The maybe well-intentioned libretto about religious intolerance still relies on some unfortunate Jewish stereotypes, but this show makes the most of its melodrama by eschewing realism, throwing in some self-awareness to the characters and unsubtle but visually-appealing metaphors. The singing is great, especially from the two sopranos Nicole Chevalier and Corinne Winters. I think Opera Vlaanderen is secretly one of the best opera companies on the planet.

    #2 - Britten - Billy Budd - Norwegian Opera

    I love this opera, and I was excited to see Billy Budd On a Submarine. No good reason! Just a boyish love of submarines! The very specific time period of the libretto does not lend itself to anachronisms, so this could have been disappointing. Well, the submarine did not add anything to the show, but it managed to not detract/distract, and was very impressive visually, especially when it "surfaced" halfway into the first act. The cast and chorus were perfect. The personenregie was great. As long as you don't get hung-up on Submarines Just Because Why Not, it's a great show.

    #3 - Gluck - Orfeo ed Eurydice - Irish National Opera

    This is a lovely, intimate production with a small chorus of four singers who also join in the choreography of the dance troupe for the whole show. It's spectacular what they do. This was almost a tie with my #1 and #2 picks, but the staging of the 2nd half dragged a little bit to me. But well worth watching just to applaud the chorus, and for Sharon Carty's Orfeo.

    #4 - Handel - Xerxes - Deutsche Oper am Rhein

    A fun, comic take on an opera seria. I had a sensible chuckle. This has to be Stefan Herheim's least challenging production. Some good singing, but the counter-tenors both had very quiet voices (I think this may be the case for all but a few exceptional singers, but usually I don't notice it so much on recorded performances.)

    #5 - Stuart MacRae - Anthropocene - Scottish Opera

    A decent new opera given a small but clever production; it's set on a scientific expedition on an icebreaker ship in the Arctic Circle that gets trapped in suddenly icy conditions. I love the colors in MacRae's orchestra, but feel he doesn't give the signers enough opportunity for lyrical musicality. Also the libretto is overly complicated, and raises questions that distract from what could have been a chilling ending. The crew is given the opportunity to end climate change by sacrificing themselves, but ultimately they don't because they're too busy squabbling. The ending would have had a lot more weight if I had realized that at the time, but I was too busy trying to reconcile other plot holes. With a few tweaks this could be a haunting work with a vital message.

  11. #2197
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    ^ I have two unwatched Xerxes DVDs and have never seen the opera before. Hope I like it because at least one of them has a countertenor and I am not fond of that.
    "Ah,non credea mirarti si presto estinto, o fiore." --Bellini, La Sonnambula (also written on his tomb).

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  13. #2198
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Just finished. Jessica Pratt is great. Leonardo Cortellazzi is an excellent tenor, but gets just one aria. If it is Jessica Pratt you are after, she is absolutely wonderful in La Sonnambula on DVD. That would be a much better choice IMO.

    Daria – Jessica Pratt
    Procolo – Simon Bailey
    Biscroma Strappaviscere – Christian Senn
    Agata – Vincenzo Taormina
    Luigia – Aurora Tirotta
    Guglielmo – Leonardo Cortellazzi
    Pippetto – Asude Karayavuz
    Cesare Salzapariglia – Chae Jun Lim
    Impresario – Jong Min Park
    Direttore del palcoscenico – Eugeniy Stanimirov
    Ispettore – Riccardo Massi
    Orchestra, Solisti e Coro dell’Accademia del Teatro alla Scala
    Conductor – Marco Guidarini
    Stage director – Antonio Albanese
    "Ah,non credea mirarti si presto estinto, o fiore." --Bellini, La Sonnambula (also written on his tomb).

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  15. #2199
    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    My 2019 has had very little bel canto so far, and I hadn't seen ANY Rossini yet! I also didn't have room in my summer vacation plans for the Santa Fe festival. So I threw a festival at home to make up for all this.

    Rossini - La Gazza Ladra (1817) - La Scala 2017 - Streaming on Youtube

    Up until recently, I was under the common misconception that this was a comedy. But no, it’s full-on Italian melodrama; the coincidences are absurd, but that’s a trait of the genre which always asks “what is the worst possible scenario for these characters?” This is a pretty good, traditional production, although the acrobatics and puppetry mostly seemed superfluous. And the unit set is pretty drab and boring for Act I, but in Act II is transformed with lighting into something strikingly ominous. Great cast! I especially loved Rosa Feola and Alex Esposito.

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    Rossini - Il Viaggio a Reims (1825) - Gran Teatre del Liceu 2003 - DVD

    I bought this one used a couple years ago, and finally found time to pull it off the shelf. A special occasion opera, with 14 characters it is not easy to cast, and doesn't have much drama. But some of Rossini’s finest music makes up for it, and I had a good time with it. The production here is pretty traditional, other than a montage of 20th-century European history at the end to drive the director's pro-EU message home. The poet character is dressed in the EU flag, and the British character spends the whole opera lusting for her, but is too cowardly to talk to her. Soooo... wow, that joke is somehow topical again...

    Mercadante - Il Bravo (1839) - Wexford 2018 - Streaming on arte.tv

    I recently listened to some Mercadante for the first time, and was excited to see this. While there aren’t many memorable tunes in this opera, it has the energy of early Verdi but with richer orchestration. The story is ludicrous and convoluted - melodrama, again - but the drama is propulsive and never boring. Mercadante was already doing some of the things we give Verdi all the credit for, adding variety to his arias so that you can hear drama unfolding rather than just having static repeats. The staging here is beautifully designed - Venice remixed by M.C. Escher. The staging is mostly traditional but with some contemporary tourists occasionally wandering by - oblivious to the bloody history that once occurred where they are now taking selfies. A clever touch, at first, but as the show went on these invasions were repetitive and didn't amount to much.

  16. #2200
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Just finished Rheingold and will be working my way thought the Boulez Ring. This one was quite good. This will be my second Ring on DVD after Levine a year or so ago. I have two more sets in the unwatched pile: Barenboim and de Billy.

    "Ah,non credea mirarti si presto estinto, o fiore." --Bellini, La Sonnambula (also written on his tomb).

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  18. #2201
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nemorino View Post

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    Rossini - Il Viaggio a Reims (1825) - Gran Teatre del Liceu 2003 - DVD

    I bought this one used a couple years ago, and finally found time to pull it off the shelf. A special occasion opera, with 14 characters it is not easy to cast, and doesn't have much drama. But some of Rossini’s finest music makes up for it, and I had a good time with it. The production here is pretty traditional, other than a montage of 20th-century European history at the end to drive the director's pro-EU message home. The poet character is dressed in the EU flag, and the British character spends the whole opera lusting for her, but is too cowardly to talk to her. Soooo... wow, that joke is somehow topical again...
    The less said about that, the better. If I made my feelings known, I'd be banned!

    Pleased you enjoyed it though.
    "Every theatre is an insane asylum, but an opera theatre is the ward for the incurables."

    FRANZ SCHALK, attributed, Losing the Plot in Opera: Myths and Secrets of the World's Great Operas

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  20. #2202
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    I bought myself a 55"new TV set, re-watching started with this one.

    I love that production , one off the few I've seen in the cinema, the ladies are great but Joseph Calleja is even better.

    ( Alas no Souliotis DVD's ) enough on you tube though.

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  22. #2203
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian View Post


    I bought myself a 55"new TV set, re-watching started with this one.

    I love that production , one off the few I've seen in the cinema, the ladies are great but Joseph Calleja is even better.

    ( Alas no Souliotis DVD's ) enough on you tube though.
    Wow, this seems to be a good buy. I don't have a satisfactory Norma on DVD. The one I have is not that good.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  23. #2204
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Awesome production. Enjoyed it immensely!
    "Ah,non credea mirarti si presto estinto, o fiore." --Bellini, La Sonnambula (also written on his tomb).

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  25. #2205
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    Did one of you seen this production?
    I think it's terrific, very convincing cast.

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