Thread: What opera have you been watching lately?

          
   
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  1. #2221
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    I watched Rheingold from this production earlier this year and finally dove in and got the rest. Working my way through.
    Hartmut Haenchen, Amsterdam Opera
    Nadine Secunde (Sieglinde)
    John Keyes (Seigmund)
    John Bröcheler (Wotan)
    Jeannine Altmeyer (Brünnhilde)
    Kurt Rydl (Hunding)
    Reinhild Runkel (Fricka)
    "Ah,non credea mirarti si presto estinto, o fiore." --Bellini, La Sonnambula (also written on his tomb).

  2. #2222
    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    Back from a long, very nice vacation, which has me behind on opera nights (boooo, wrong thing to take a vacation from!). Ranking what I watched over the last month:

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    #1 – Boito – Mefistofele – Blu-ray, San Francisco Opera

    Wow, I was not prepared for how lavish this production is! Or maybe, seems, because there are a few acts where there’s not much on stage; Robert Carsen was very clever in how he used his budget to pull off so many scenes. And he has a great ear for the music and creating a stage picture that feels like it fits the music, even when his interpretation is a little different. I’m sad it took me so long to watch this production. Great choruses, magnificent Ildar, and good singing all around.

    #2 – Moniuszko – Pariah – Operavision, Poznan Opera

    A lesser libretto, with a plot I couldn't distinguish from The Pearl Fishers, with about the same understanding of South Asian culture. Thankfully, Moniuszko resisted writing “orientalisms” into the score, so we can forget all that; there are some nice passages of music, and I love his rich, Romantic orchestration. This is one of Graham Vick’s recent productions where he stages an opera in an arena with standing room only, and the audience is allowed to wander freely through the space. It works really well in drawing attention to the universal themes of the piece.

    #3 – Janacek – Jenůfa – Operavision, National Theatre Brno

    Mixed feelings on this staging. Act 1's setting was superb, very autumnal harvest scene with apples suggestively strewn about. But then, the moment with the knife was not very scary at all. Act 2 was very clever with four versions of the same room appearing next to each other, with each character in their own room. The idea seems to be that they are each in their own room not really listening or aware of the other occupants, but I didn’t really feel like this interpretation worked for this scene. There is a pretty neat little coup-de-theatre at the end of the act. Act 3 was mostly about the traditional Czech wedding garb, which I couldn’t relate to but maybe had more impact to the locals. The singing in this production was simply adequate.

    #4 – Verdi – Il Trovatore – Operavision, Teatro Real Madrid

    This had the best singing I heard all month, especially Ekaterina Semenchuk as Azucena. But I had trouble connecting emotionally to this production. The set design and lighting (and fire) was all very striking and foreboding. The burned up boy who walks around is pretty haunting. But it was a production built strongly on these images and not on a sense of drama. Like it was all a jumble of Azucena’s hallucinations and not a sequence of events. I love this opera, musically, but it must be difficult to stage, and almost impossible to resist its own cliches. Still worth a look, if you need a Verdi fix.

  3. #2223
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    This one still stands like a house that said, the Doming/ Migenes movie is also very good.

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  5. #2224
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nemorino View Post
    Back from a long, very nice vacation, which has me behind on opera nights (boooo, wrong thing to take a vacation from!). Ranking what I watched over the last month:

    Name:  513-fNC9jpL._SX342_.jpg
Views: 74
Size:  25.1 KB

    #1 – Boito – Mefistofele – Blu-ray, San Francisco Opera

    Wow, I was not prepared for how lavish this production is! Or maybe, seems, because there are a few acts where there’s not much on stage; Robert Carsen was very clever in how he used his budget to pull off so many scenes. And he has a great ear for the music and creating a stage picture that feels like it fits the music, even when his interpretation is a little different. I’m sad it took me so long to watch this production. Great choruses, magnificent Ildar, and good singing all around.

    #2 – Moniuszko – Pariah – Operavision, Poznan Opera

    A lesser libretto, with a plot I couldn't distinguish from The Pearl Fishers, with about the same understanding of South Asian culture. Thankfully, Moniuszko resisted writing “orientalisms” into the score, so we can forget all that; there are some nice passages of music, and I love his rich, Romantic orchestration. This is one of Graham Vick’s recent productions where he stages an opera in an arena with standing room only, and the audience is allowed to wander freely through the space. It works really well in drawing attention to the universal themes of the piece.

    #3 – Janacek – Jenůfa – Operavision, National Theatre Brno

    Mixed feelings on this staging. Act 1's setting was superb, very autumnal harvest scene with apples suggestively strewn about. But then, the moment with the knife was not very scary at all. Act 2 was very clever with four versions of the same room appearing next to each other, with each character in their own room. The idea seems to be that they are each in their own room not really listening or aware of the other occupants, but I didn’t really feel like this interpretation worked for this scene. There is a pretty neat little coup-de-theatre at the end of the act. Act 3 was mostly about the traditional Czech wedding garb, which I couldn’t relate to but maybe had more impact to the locals. The singing in this production was simply adequate.

    #4 – Verdi – Il Trovatore – Operavision, Teatro Real Madrid

    This had the best singing I heard all month, especially Ekaterina Semenchuk as Azucena. But I had trouble connecting emotionally to this production. The set design and lighting (and fire) was all very striking and foreboding. The burned up boy who walks around is pretty haunting. But it was a production built strongly on these images and not on a sense of drama. Like it was all a jumble of Azucena’s hallucinations and not a sequence of events. I love this opera, musically, but it must be difficult to stage, and almost impossible to resist its own cliches. Still worth a look, if you need a Verdi fix.
    Thanks for the reviews Nemorino.

    I'll definitely get the Mefistofele as this opera is one of my favourites. I'm watching the Jenufa in stages and need to continue watching. I'll check out the others you've mentioned, too.

    Edit: PS. Where did you go on holiday?
    "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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  7. #2225
    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ann Lander (sospiro) View Post

    Edit: PS. Where did you go on holiday?
    I went hiking and driving through all the National Parks in Southern Utah with my brother for about a week! Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Grand Canyon. It was spectacular scenery, and perfect weather.

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  9. #2226
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ann Lander (sospiro) View Post
    Where did you go on holiday?
    Quote Originally Posted by Nemorino View Post
    I went hiking and driving through all the National Parks in Southern Utah with my brother for about a week! Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Grand Canyon. It was spectacular scenery, and perfect weather.
    Wow. That sounds fabulous!

    Is that Roberto as your namesake in your avatar?
    "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

  10. #2227
    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ann Lander (sospiro) View Post
    Wow. That sounds fabulous!

    Is that Roberto as your namesake in your avatar?
    Yes, it is! Love Roberto. But I like to change my avatar occasionally; I realized after I chose it that it's one of the few opera characters you can always identify based on a single picture, lol.

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  12. #2228
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    "Ah,non credea mirarti si presto estinto, o fiore." --Bellini, La Sonnambula (also written on his tomb).

  13. #2229
    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    Ranking what I watched in October, which was a very strong month:

    #1 - Massenet - Manon - The Metropolitan Opera - Live in HD

    I’m shocked at how much I enjoyed this; it’s not one of my favorite operas, and I almost skipped it. But the reason I couldn’t was the triumphant return of Lisette Oropesa, and she was just as wonderful as I had hoped. The whole cast was close to perfect, with Artur Ruciński a standout. The semi-expressionistic sets seem maddeningly unrealistic and impractical - I think the designs must have looked better on paper – but Laurent Pelly’s production moves the actors around the stage in meaningful ways. The production finally brought this story alive for me, by acknowledging the dour, seedy truth of it; glamorous productions of Manon really feel tone-deaf to me.

    #2 – Verdi – Rigoletto – Houston Grand Opera - Live

    I reviewed this one, which meant a lot to me personally, but neither the singing nor the production was quite as good as the Met’s Manon.

    #3 – Gluck – Merlin’s Island / Ullmann – Der Kaiser von Atlantis – Wolf Trap Opera – Youtube

    This was an exceptionally clever and edifying double-bill. The Gluck was a very funny staging of a comic opera, where the world is turned “topsy-turvy” to gently satirize Parisian life. They very cleverly used the banjo and harmonium in the orchestra here – two instruments from Ullmann’s orchestra – to add some spice to the score. Then, we get Ullmann’s satire of a “world turned upside down” and it is NOT funny at all because it was the world Ullmann lived in until it killed him – the Nazi concentration camps. This incredible, tragic little opera – a bitter cry for the mercy of death – is gut-wrenching. Hard to watch, but essential.

    #4 – Handel – Agrippina – The Grange Festival – Operavision

    A lot of good singing in this one. I particularly liked Stefanie True (Poppea) and Raffaele Pe’s remarkably sweet & agile countertenor voice (Nerone). At first I didn’t like Christopher Ainslie’s gauzier countertenor, but he was a great Ottone and by “Voi che udite” he had won me over. I’m not sure why this production starts out in a replication of The Grange’s auditorium, as if to signal some meta-theatrical story, but otherwise it’s a successful production with a few good laughs along the way.

    #5 – Schreker – Der Ferne Klang – Royal Swedish Opera – Operavision

    Schreker’s late-Romantic chromaticism is very much “my jam”, and there was some really good orchestral music here although the vocal writing was maybe not so memorable. It’s not as good as Die Gezeichneten, but the handsome production by Christof Loy is very convincing. It’s about a composer, Fritz, who leaves his fiancee on an indefinite journey for musical inspiration, unwittingly setting her on the path to becoming a Venetian courtesan. It’s like... Tannhäuser meets Manon, and it would have made Wagner very uncomfortable.

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  15. #2230
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Great reviews.

    Operavision is a wonderful resource, especially as it broadcasts via YouTube.
    "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

  16. #2231
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    I watched this last night, great production, fine vocals, special Leona Mitchell.

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  18. #2232
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian View Post

    I watched this last night, great production, fine vocals, special Leona Mitchell.
    Love this! Especially Milnes and Raimondi!
    "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. #2233
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Cast
    Heinz Kruse (Siegfried)
    Wolfgang Schöne (Gunther)
    Henk Smit (Alberich)
    Kurt Rydl (Hagen)
    Jeannine Altmeyer (Brünnhilde)
    Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra; Harmut Haenchen

    Production
    Company: De Nederlandse Opera
    Stage Director: Pierre Audi

    In this one, after Gutrune's last singing part, Hagen applies a head hold to Gutrune that has the net effect of the Vulcan Nerve Pinch, then lays her to the ground in a motionless heap.
    "Ah,non credea mirarti si presto estinto, o fiore." --Bellini, La Sonnambula (also written on his tomb).

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