Thread: What opera have you been watching lately?

          
   
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  1. #2416
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nemorino View Post
    Gluck – Iphigenie en Tauride – Opernhaus Zurich (2001) – DVD
    I haven’t really acquired a taste for Gluck yet – other than the short version of Orphee – but this one I enjoyed. The score seems more hot-blooded than Alceste, and it helps that the libretto was more action-driven. This production has doubles for all the characters acting out memories or premonitions, but they’re wearing these giant papier-mache heads which are kinda ridiculous. In general, it’s the right approach to this opera – exploring the psychology of the characters to add depth – but in execution, forgettable. Rod Gilfry gives a fantastic performance; the rest of the cast is good but not great. ***
    I can't say I have watched or heard any Gluck but Orphee/Orfeo (three on DVD). I binged on Baroque a couple years ago, then burned out. It may be time to get back into some Baroque as I have a few more Baroque DVDs in the unwatched pile.
    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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  3. #2417
    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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    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    Verdi - Attila - Teatro Comunale di Bologna - Blu-Ray
    This production is modern enough to be dark and ugly, but old-fashioned enough to be park-and-bark. Truly forgettable staging. Amazing cast though. Of the "galley years" Verdi I've seen, I'd say this is slightly above average in both music & libretto. Most of the highlights are in the "Prologue" which is longer than any of the subsequent acts, which get shorter and less memorable until someone finally just kills the title character to get it over with. Before that they talk a lot about killing him, but people chicken out for no clear reason. Maybe because he's a hunky bass. It's clear this opera gets revived because it's a rare title role for a bass superstar. But I do think a good staging could do something interesting with all of the conflicted character motivations. ****1/2 for the singing. Overall: ***1/2

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  7. #2419
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    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

  8. #2420
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Corny story but then it is a comedy. Still not fond of counter tenors.
    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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  10. #2421
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    I do like Serse, but only in the "historically uninformed" style with a tenor in the title role. (I still think JK would be a wonderful Serse!)

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  12. #2422
    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    Over the holidays, the streams I watched had an unintentional theme of all being productions affected by COVID restrictions. Rather than find them sobering reminders of 2020, I like to find hope for 2021 in the resiliency of the artists behind them:

    Mozart – “Covid fan tutte” – Finnish National Opera – Streaming on Operavision
    Restrictions: Limited audience; reduced running time. Reduced orchestra. Limited pre-recorded chorus.
    Presented instead of a scheduled Die Walkure, the FNO decided not to butcher Wagner, but to find another piece to fit the same cast. Remarkably, they went with Mozart, but rather than present a shortened version of Cosi fan tutte, they decided to repurpose the music for a new pastiche with a COVID-inspired libretto in Finnish. They also included an aria each from Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute which the librettist exploited for pure comedy gold. Top marks for all of the singing in this very funny show. As a quickly improvised show, it doesn’t have much in the way of plot or characters. But that’s okay, this show wasn’t designed to “have legs”, it’s a delight of its moment. ****

    Bizet – Carmen – Staatsoper Hannover – Streaming on Operavision
    Restrictions: No audience. Reduced orchestra. No chorus.
    With Carmen, cutting the choral numbers causes issues, so Hannover decided to approach Carmen from a new point-of-view, and had composer Marius Felix Lange reorchestrate, rearrange, and even add new elements to the music. It added surprise to a piece that is ultra familiar. I have to admit, I have not found traditional productions of Carmen to be anywhere near as thrilling as this one (I have always assumed the recitatives to be to blame, which have been jettisoned for narrations from Merimee’s novel). This is one of the most “alive” productions of an opera I’ve seen all year. I also liked the production design, especially the costumes for Carmen – of which there were many – evoking perfectly all of the contradictions of her character without being unrealistic or over-sexualized. Evgenia Asenova was terrific. Not ideal for a first-timer, but an enlightening fresh take for an opera one sees a million times. ****1/2

    Wagner – Lohengrin – Staatsoper Unter den Linden – Streaming on Arte.tv
    Restrictions: No audience. Reduced orchestra & social-distanced chorus.
    In the case of Lohengrin, a reduced orchestra has precedent; Liszt premiered the opera with a similar reduction. The result is transparent and mostly enjoyable – I liked hearing woodwinds in more detail - but when the brass are playing they tended to overwhelm the rest. Given the lesser restrictions, and compared to the productions that *had* to do more, Calixto Bieito’s production is a disappointment. He has a good core idea -
    Ortrud and Telramund are like today’s social media “fake news”, any suggestion from them shouted loudly enough ripples through the chorus as a reason to doubt the factual truth - however he also throws in too many symbols of dubious quality, like a video of a woman giving birth to a swan, which regardless of his reasoning can not be expected to produce anything better than confused laughter in a sane audience. Alagna’s role debut was great but needs a little polishing. The solid, fiery Ortrud of Gubanova was the highlight. ***

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  14. #2423
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
    I do like Serse, but only in the "historically uninformed" style with a tenor in the title role. (I still think JK would be a wonderful Serse!)

    That would be nice, but I don't think there is any such available on DVD. Meanwhile, I got rid of the counter tenor. This one is very good. but I much prefer the brighter scenery of the one I posted earlier.
    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    No, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your viewpoint), the only recordings of Serse with a tenor in the title role are on CD.

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  18. #2425
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
    No, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your viewpoint), the only recordings of Serse with a tenor in the title role are on CD.
    And this is one of those operas that IMO is better on DVD than CD. In other words, not so good that I would care to get that familiar and listen on cd.
    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

  19. #2426
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    I watched the Solti set a few years back, so started this one. Am 32 minutes in. Weird story.
    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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  21. #2427
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Wonderful production and great cast.

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    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    Handel – Trionfo – Staatsoper Hannover – Streaming on Operavision
    Restrictions: No chorus, singers distanced
    I don’t know which of the many versions of this oratorio Hannover used, but I was really impressed by the expressiveness of Handel’s music for this. And I say this as a fan of Handel; this feels like a rediscovered gem. There are a wide range of styles on display, and an aria or two that have strikingly chromatic passages. It could be a combination of music from the different versions, because the choruses and recitatives have been cut, and arias rearranged to suit the director’s purpose. The 4 “characters” – Beauty, Pleasure, Time, Disillusionment – are each given a new story with monologues, a contemporary person facing a major crisis in their life, and the themes of the original oratorio are thus explored in a more relatable way. A gorgeous, intimate, powerful show. ****

    Mascagni – Iris – Bard Summerscape – Streaming on Upstreaming
    I didn’t have high expectations for this opera, and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I assumed that a problematic depiction of Japanese culture accounted for its current rarity, but – unlike Butterfly – it’s possible to divorce the story from a specific place, and set it in a dystopia. This doesn’t fix the fact that Iris doesn’t have any agency, is treated terribly by everyone including her own father, is sold into sexual slavery, and takes her own life to protect her purity. James Darrah’s production adds insightful character beats to the unrelentingly sad tale, and creates really appealing stage pictures. If there’s a reason to revive this opera it’s the music: full of beautiful moments, especially the striking and arresting prelude. ***1/2

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  25. #2429
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florestan View Post
    I watched the Solti set a few years back, so started this one. Am 32 minutes in. Weird story.
    Back when I watched the Solti DVD i gave it a 6 out of 10 rating. I just finished Gergiev and wow, it is worthy of a 9 or 10 out of 10.
    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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  27. #2430
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Shirley Verrett is AWESOME!
    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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