Thread: What opera have you been watching lately?

          
   
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  1. #2446
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Villazón is the director as well as the Nemorino in that L'Elisir, which probably explains things. Considering some of the tenor’s other stagings, I’m a little surprised he didn’t find some way to insert clowns in the action.

  2. #2447
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
    Villazón is the director as well as the Nemorino in that L'Elisir, which probably explains things. Considering some of the tenor’s other stagings, I’m a little surprised he didn’t find some way to insert clowns in the action.
    I have not seen his other stagings. There was someone in a gorilla suit appeared a few times, and Adina at one point fires a pistol into the air followed by a vulture dropping to the stage. No clowns though. Just a fair amount of clowning around.
    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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  4. #2448
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Just finished this awesome production of
    Puccini's La Fanciulla del West performed at the 2013 Castleton Festival.
    Artistic Director & Conductor: Maestro Lorin Maazel
    With English subtitles
    https://vimeo.com/416490928

    Check out this awesome Minnie (Ekaterina Metlova):
    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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  6. #2449
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    This is an awesome production. I highly recommend it.
    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

  7. #2450
    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    Three good productions streaming on Operavision from Opera Zuid based in Maastricht, The Netherlands; they were all produced for video with no live audience:

    Poulenc’s La voix humaine
    This short, one-diva show has been produced approximately 957 times during the pandemic. This particular recording is nice because it’s the orchestral version, and I love Poulenc’s orchestral writing. The opera translates surprisingly well to the cell phone era. Other than that... This is a well-crafted work, and is important in the history of chamber operas... but it doesn’t really offer a whole lot to an audience, does it? Probably this only works in an intimate live setting; maybe only with the most mesmerizing of method-acting sopranos. At the least, it needs to be part of a well-conceived double bill. ***1/2

    Ravel’s L’heure espagnole
    This was Opera Zuid’s double bill pairing; tenuously they are both tales of a woman seeking love... I don’t think they added anything to each other. Ravel’s music is a joy, and the performers are perfectly cast. I would really like to see mezzo Romie Esteves again. ****

    Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore
    This video was shot on a sound stage, and although this production could work on a stage, the camera here is much closer and more intimate, making it one of the best straight-to-video operas I’ve seen. It features a reduced orchestra, and a reduced running time to 90 minutes; the overture and most of the recitatives are discarded, the choruses are taken as best they can by the 5 soloists. The reduced orchestration and chorus makes it sound a little thin, so musically it’s not ideal, but the video production makes up for it with a fresh, modern approach. Also, this is the only L’Elisir I’ve ever seen that takes liberties with the plot. The action is moved to a house party of grade school kids getting into their parents’ liquor cabinet. Since the recitatives are skipped, it actually kinda works! Nemorino’s shyness and Adina reading Tristan (for homework) makes more sense than ever. The cast of young performers are all good actors, with voices still developing, but tenor Jose Romero already has a big, Italianate voice that sounds ready for the big theatres. ****1/2

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  9. #2451
    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    Holst - Savitri - Against the Grain Theatre - Free online until 7/11
    This is fascinating. A short chamber opera that you're unlikely to ever see performed live. Anyone who has ever heard Holst's The Planets and looked for more of his works knows that he often based his works on Eastern literature, and this opera sets a story from the Mahabharata. Savitri marries Satyavan knowing that he will die in one year, but when Death arrives she outsmarts him and convinces him to let Satyavan live. The work does not, fortunately, try to adapt Indian music to Western instruments, so it doesn't have the kitschy, problematic exoticism that I expected. Instead, Holst uses a wordless women's chorus as in "Neptune, The Mystic" - which he wrote a few years later - not to create mystery, as he does in the later work, but as a sort of halo around Savitri, who is portrayed as an ideal of femininity. Against the Grain Theatre does a great job of diffusing the potential pitfalls of staging a work that has roots in British colonialism, by hiring singers and directors of South Asian descent. The only thing that was less than ideal was they should have added a little bit of ambient outdoor sound. The opera takes place outdoors, and is lip-synced to a very indoor-sounding recording, and I found it a little jarring. Still, the video itself is beautiful. ****

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  11. #2452
    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    Rudi Stephan – Die Ersten Menschen – Dutch National Opera – Streaming on arte.tv
    I had never heard of this composer, and the reason is he was killed in WWI in his twenties. This was his only opera, and I kinda loved it. It’s in the vein of Strauss and Schreker which is one of my favorite styles of opera: extravagant orchestration, tonal but turbulent with chromaticism, bursting with expressiveness and decadent sensuality. It’s obviously indebted to Salome – a blasphemously Freudian take on a bible story: Cain & Abel – but I was also reminded of Lohengrin by Abel’s high tenor tessitura and self-righteous mysticism. The opera suffers from too many long soliloquys, but the music is beautiful and imaginative. The DNO threw an A+ cast, conductor and director at it, and it shows. ****1/2

    Rameau – Hippolyte et Aricie – Nationaltheater Mannheim – Streaming on Operavision
    This was filmed without an audience, and the chorus – in 18th-century garb – is watching the show spread out around the floor seats and balcony boxes. The stage is in disarray with sets and costumes looking like they are just being stored haphazardly. Rameau’s Prologue is cut, replaced by a scene giving the effect of an opera company emerging from a long hibernation. It’s cute, but goes on too long: at one point a song by “The Doors” plays, and a bunch of ‘60s flower children rush on stage to dance, and the 18th-century people boo them off. This is a lively and irreverent show, and slightly shortened: some recitatives have been cut for a straight-to-the-point narration by Amour. I usually love “everything but the kitchen sink” productions but in this case, it was a little too much (and perhaps the video couldn't capture it properly). There were moments that made me smile, but others where I was perplexed. ***1/2

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  13. #2453
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    My first time with this opera. It was a bit long and this production had some weird parts, but overall a great production and cast.
    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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  15. #2454
    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    Gounod – Faust – The Met 2011 – Streamed on The Met On Demand
    This production doesn’t have a great reputation, but I wanted to see it for myself. The idea of Faust being a scientist involved with the Manhattan Project seemed like a strong idea. However this production doesn't do much with it, as Acts 2-5 flash back to Faust’s youth in World War I. Gounod’s opera barely treats Faust as a main character, so I was ready to forgive it; many Met productions are visually appealing but shallow, and serve their purpose. The real problem here is that this production is also one of the ugliest of all time; four acts set in “the Great War” now take place in Faust’s severe Los Alamos laboratory (looking like the lair of Dr. Evil). The period costumes only serve to remind us what we’re missing. There are even projected backdrops! But no spark of inspiration to them. Just stock images of clouds, and a few other things that I've already forgotten. The musicianship is 5-stars. I love Rene Pape’s charming, sleazy Mephisto. But the production is tailored to please no one. For music alone I give this: ***1/2

    Chausson – King Arthur – Bard Summerscape – Streamed Live on Upstreaming
    Chausson’s only opera is very Wagnerian; I was regularly reminded of Tristan and Das Rheingold. I think this opera is good, and could have had a place in the repertoire, if it had just one or two instantly memorable arias; but Chausson seemed more concerned with the drama, so there are only motifs to hang onto. Chausson’s other weakness is the climaxes of his Acts; he just doesn’t have Wagner’s ability to build to a staggering conclusion. But with a lavish production, this could still be a hit because as a take on Arthurian legend it’s a success. Bard Summerscape’s production did not have the budget to be lavish, but it was close. It was a very smart take, and delivered the goods for this forgotten gem. ****

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  17. #2455
    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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  19. #2456
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Just finished this. What an awesome production!
    "Music is enought for a whole lifetime--but a lifetime is not enough for music." --Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff

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