Thread: What opera have you been watching lately?

          
   
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  1. #2356
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Love this. The soloists not only have wonderful voices, but are terrific actors as well. Eric Tappy's facial expressions -- especially the look in his eyes -- really capture Nerone's unbalanced mental/emotional state.

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  3. #2357
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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  5. #2358
    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    What I’ve been watching in May, ranked:

    #1 - Wagner – Tristan und Isolde – La Monnaie, Streaming on Operavision
    In the spirit of gesamtkunstwerk, this production has a strong design element by a visual artist. When the curtain first opens on each act, it looks totally bizarre and inscrutable, it doesn’t depict anything literally from the libretto. But since this is a psychological opera of interior conflicts, each visual concept ends up working. Coupled with spectacular lighting effects and movement artists, each Act has at least one truly awesome visual climax. I didn’t know Ann Peterson and Bryan Register before streaming this performance, but they are incredible in the title roles. The singers and orchestra were brilliant, making this an overwhelming experience even on video.

    #2 - Britten – Gloriana – Royal Opera House, Streamed on Youtube
    It’s hard to understand why Britten and his librettist thought it would be a good idea to portray royalty as flawed, at a coronation, but it’s clear from the music that Britten wanted to portray Queen Elizabeth I with human complexity. Because of this, the opera has real drama, and is one of the few coronation operas that could be a real staple outside of momentous occasions. The extensive entry in Kobbe’s Opera Book identifies 7 important musical themes and tracks their usage throughout the opera. Although not on par with Britten’s best work, for his fans it’s a treasure trove of his melodic style.

    #3 - Rubinstein – Demon – Bard Summerscape, Streamed on ASO Online
    Although there are no iconic moments that match the highlights of Gounod or Boito, I’d argue that Rubinstein’s Faustian opera is superior in terms of drama. The seduction of Tamara by the Devil plays out like Senta and the Dutchman. This is a fairly early Russian opera, and while several of the arias are in the style of Russian folk songs, the dramatic sections sound more like Schumann or Brahms. Act 3 is particularly strong, a long final combative duet. This performance could have been given a little more fire; I don’t think the conductor ever reaches allegro. But Strassberger’s production is brilliant, a masterclass on how to use projections, not just for backdrops but for altering the color and texture of sets and costumes, and for spectacular rain and shadow effects. A traditional Georgian dance troupe was brought in for the ballet, and their acrobatic style is so much fun to watch, and culturally relevant, that for once what could have been an omittable section was a highlight.

    #4 - Puccini – Madama Butterfly – Royal Swedish Opera, Streaming on Operavision
    I admit, my prejudice against this opera is mostly due to its ubiquity, and that the story is just not for me. I don’t doubt Puccini’s artistry. The more I see it, the more I see how masterful the character development of Cio-Cio is. Even though it’s not my favorite, I’ve always loved 'Un bel di' and I’m open-minded for a production that will one day make me a fan of the whole thing. The draw here was Asmik Grigorian. She’s terrific, and the production – updated to post-WWII - had some interesting choices. Some worked, some didn’t. Act 2 really got me. But I don’t think I would recommend it overall.

    #5 - Gluck – Alceste – Teatro La Fenice, Streaming on Operavision
    I'm still learning to appreciate Gluck’s music, but this wasn’t the production to inspire me. Static and colorless, both figuratively and literally: even the actors are made pale with hideous cake makeup, not flattering in HD. The opera itself seems dour enough, it didn’t need extra help.

  6. #2359
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    A complete five-act version of this opera that makes the plot narrative comprehensible. And what a cast, along with Sir Tony on the podium!

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  8. #2360
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Just finished this one. Really enjoyed it. The singing and acting are very good.

    EDIT: I forgot to mention. I thought Adina is marvelous! Dr. Dulcamara is fantastic! Belcore was awesome! I had some reservations with Nemorino, but I think mainly the sound of his voice was not my favorite (it is hard for a tenor to please my ear), but his acting was great. I would rather he did not actually get drunk (he was staggering) but just tipsy and emboldened as he is portrayed in most other productions of this opera. However, that said, he did a remarkable job of it. So hopefully I have enticed you all to watch this.

    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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  10. #2361
    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florestan View Post
    I had some reservations with Nemorino, but
    Uhhhhhhh, I'm right *here*....

  11. #2362
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Awesome production. Only part that bothered me was when Lenski shoved Olga to the ground. I just never felt that was part of Lenski's character.
    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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  13. #2363
    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    A Survey of Russian Opera:
    I needed a vacation, but it wouldn’t be a good idea to travel right now... so this is what I did instead. It would have been impossible to “rank” these performances like I usually do, they are all very strong representations of the works.

    Mussorgsky – Boris Godunov – Original 1869 Version
    Sofia National Opera, Streaming on Operavision
    This production (also on DVD) is pretty nifty. Performed in front of a cathedral in the Bulgarian capital, it is not the ideal recording audio-wise – due to the open-air space – but it’s undeniably powerful to hear actual cathedral bells during the Coronation, or see real horses gallop around the stage chasing Grigory.

    Tchaikovsky – The Queen of Spades – Premiered 1890
    Moscow State Stanislavsky Music Theatre, Streaming on Operavision
    Alexander Titel’s production is somewhat minimalistic, probably but it really gets the job done. Musically, this has similar qualities to the more popular Eugene Onegin, except that some of the folk songs and dances which provide “color” don’t seem to have as much to say about the opera’s themes and seem kind of omittable. I could be wrong though; this is just a surface impression of the work.

    Taneyev – Oresteia – Premiered 1895
    Bard Summerscape, Streaming on ASO Online through 6/28
    Taneyev doesn’t write melodies that are earworms like his teacher Tchaikovsky, but apparently his symphonic construction and development of themes is unparalleled in Russian opera of this period. It’s a little long-winded (there’s a 20-minute Overture that was mercifully cut from the 3 hour performance), but the climaxes to each Act are very effective. This production mixes some Greek elements into primarily 1890s Russian costuming, which is very effective for getting across how Russian audiences would have processed the message of these violent stories.

    Name:  51AkgZ25oCL._SX342_.jpg
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    Rimsky-Korsakov – The Tale of Tsar Saltan – Premiered 1900
    Dramatically, this is a cheery, mostly strife-free fairy tale, but with Rimsky-Korsakov’s music at its finest, it’s impossible to not be delighted by it. Act 2 sounds very “Das Rheingold”, with Wagnerian horns and arpeggios on open strings. I’d also like to point out that Prince Guidon’s theme (click here) is practically the same as Mighty Mouse's. This production is old-fashioned, with painted backdrops that can quickly be flown into place: perfect for this pop-up book of a story.

    Prokofiev – War and Peace – Premiered 1946
    Moscow State Stanislavsky Music Theatre, Streaming on Operavision
    I love this opera so much. Prokofiev is my favorite composer. To me this is three-and-a-half hours that just zips by; there’s so much going on in every scene! If there’s one weakness, it’s that you really need to read up on the characters first – you can’t just watch blind – or you’ll lose track of who everyone is. This production, by Alexander Titel again, does a lot with very little. The stage is a very deep plain white room, the story is very effectively told with only props and costumes. When the curtain opens on Part 2 (The War), it’s so impressive – there must be at least 300 people on stage!

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  15. #2364
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Hadn't watched this in a while.

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  17. #2365
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nemorino View Post
    A Survey of Russian Opera:
    I needed a vacation, but it wouldn’t be a good idea to travel right now... so this is what I did instead. It would have been impossible to “rank” these performances like I usually do, they are all very strong representations of the works.

    Mussorgsky – Boris Godunov – Original 1869 Version
    Sofia National Opera, Streaming on Operavision
    This production (also on DVD) is pretty nifty. Performed in front of a cathedral in the Bulgarian capital, it is not the ideal recording audio-wise – due to the open-air space – but it’s undeniably powerful to hear actual cathedral bells during the Coronation, or see real horses gallop around the stage chasing Grigory.

    Tchaikovsky – The Queen of Spades – Premiered 1890
    Moscow State Stanislavsky Music Theatre, Streaming on Operavision
    Alexander Titel’s production is somewhat minimalistic, probably but it really gets the job done. Musically, this has similar qualities to the more popular Eugene Onegin, except that some of the folk songs and dances which provide “color” don’t seem to have as much to say about the opera’s themes and seem kind of omittable. I could be wrong though; this is just a surface impression of the work.

    Taneyev – Oresteia – Premiered 1895
    Bard Summerscape, Streaming on ASO Online through 6/28
    Taneyev doesn’t write melodies that are earworms like his teacher Tchaikovsky, but apparently his symphonic construction and development of themes is unparalleled in Russian opera of this period. It’s a little long-winded (there’s a 20-minute Overture that was mercifully cut from the 3 hour performance), but the climaxes to each Act are very effective. This production mixes some Greek elements into primarily 1890s Russian costuming, which is very effective for getting across how Russian audiences would have processed the message of these violent stories.

    Name:  51AkgZ25oCL._SX342_.jpg
Views: 84
Size:  27.5 KB

    Rimsky-Korsakov – The Tale of Tsar Saltan – Premiered 1900
    Dramatically, this is a cheery, mostly strife-free fairy tale, but with Rimsky-Korsakov’s music at its finest, it’s impossible to not be delighted by it. Act 2 sounds very “Das Rheingold”, with Wagnerian horns and arpeggios on open strings. I’d also like to point out that Prince Guidon’s theme (click here) is practically the same as Mighty Mouse's. This production is old-fashioned, with painted backdrops that can quickly be flown into place: perfect for this pop-up book of a story.

    Prokofiev – War and Peace – Premiered 1946
    Moscow State Stanislavsky Music Theatre, Streaming on Operavision
    I love this opera so much. Prokofiev is my favorite composer. To me this is three-and-a-half hours that just zips by; there’s so much going on in every scene! If there’s one weakness, it’s that you really need to read up on the characters first – you can’t just watch blind – or you’ll lose track of who everyone is. This production, by Alexander Titel again, does a lot with very little. The stage is a very deep plain white room, the story is very effectively told with only props and costumes. When the curtain opens on Part 2 (The War), it’s so impressive – there must be at least 300 people on stage!
    It sounds like you had a wonderful 'trip' to Russia!!

    I will bookmark these to buy/watch at a later date.
    "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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  19. #2366
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    My first Carmelites on DVD and it is a good one! Now, what one to get next?
    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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  21. #2367
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Wonderful cast, great production.

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  23. #2368
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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  25. #2369
    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    What I’ve been watching in June, ranked:

    #1 - Glass – Satyagraha – The Met (2011), Streamed on The Met’s nightly streaming program
    I honestly can’t decide which Glass opera I enjoyed more between Akhnaten and this one, because they somehow are so different. On the one hand, there’s something really pure and unique to Akhnaten being immersive and theatrical and not requiring any foreknowledge. On the other hand, Satyagraha is layered with historical events which you need context for, but your investment pays off with an opera that is truly inspirational. Great production. *****

    #2- Korngold – Das Wunder der Heliane – Bard Summerscape, Streamed on ASO Online
    Love Korngold’s lush ultra-romantic music and orchestration. Maybe it was just the production, but this feels just as rich and vibrant as Die Tote Stadt and I hope it continues to find its place in the repertoire. ****1/2

    #3 - Strauss – Die Liebe der Danae – Bard Summerscape, Streamed on ASO Online
    This was delightful, and I see no reason why the opera shouldn’t be performed more regularly; it has more reasonable casting demands than other Strauss favorites like Die Frau or Capriccio. Midas’ golden touch creates opportunities for nifty stagecraft. The biggest weakness is that the climax of the story is in Act 2, and the long Act 3 is all denouement. The final scene is really touching, at least if it’s acted as well as it is here by soprano Meagan Miller, who has a beautiful voice for Strauss. ****1/2

    #4 - Rossini – William Tell – Rossini Opera Festival, Streaming on Operavision
    I really love Juan Diego Florez, he has such a bright voice and presence, I could almost forget Arnold isn’t the title character of this opera. I also really liked Marina Rebeka as Mathilde and Amanda Forsythe as Jemmy in this very fine performance. I didn’t really know what the production design was trying to say with its embrace of artifice - Swiss landscapes are seen through a window in the back of the stage, which I read is supposed to be like a museum diorama. Question mark. Other than that, Graham Vick’s production is traditional and fine. The cruel way the Austrians treat the locals during the Act III ballet was hard to watch, and got me properly mad before the rousing finale. ****

  26. #2370
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Musical performance is wonderful, production not so much.

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