Thread: What opera have you been watching lately?

          
   
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  1. #886
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Korngold Das Wunder der Heliane. Sumptuous music but not a top notch cast, unfortunately, the tenor battling gallantly but sometimes reduced to barking or warbling this very difficult role - I'd love a production with KFV, Nina Stemme and Dima (the baritone has to be able to do bad tempered and irrational, needs to be a very dark voice). Come on opera houses, ditch the war horses and try something new for a change.

    Natalie

  2. #887
    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    Korngold Das Wunder der Heliane. Sumptuous music but not a top notch cast, unfortunately, the tenor battling gallantly but sometimes reduced to barking or warbling this very difficult role - I'd love a production with KFV, Nina Stemme and Dima (the baritone has to be able to do bad tempered and irrational, needs to be a very dark voice). Come on opera houses, ditch the war horses and try something new for a change.


    That's quite a cast you've assembled - I'd sign up for that! I think Francesca Zambello could use your advice here in Washington!

  3. #888
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Festat's Avatar
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    Rameau's Dardanus from Bordeaux. Mesmerising.
    Last edited by Soave_Fanciulla; January 4th, 2018 at 10:21 PM.

  4. #889
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Holy mackerel, Aleksandra Kurzak is something else. Worth it for her caro nome, but Ambrogio Maestri is a pretty good Rigoletto too.

    Natalie

  5. #890
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Festat's Avatar
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    I have this week free and it's been raining nonstop since yesterday. This afternoon we had a friend over, she recently discovered Verdi through Rigoletto (I'm recommending that one above to her!) and today she insisted on trying Il trovatore. I tried to persuade her to something more dramatically appealing, but she was curious about it so we watched the McVicar production with Sondra Radvanovsky that's on Met on Demand.

    When the curtain went down at the end she had a quite astonished look on her face, looked at me and said: "Sharknado 2 is an easier plot to follow." For those unfamiliar with this kind of trash, Sharknado is a TV movie in which there is a tornado (!) of sharks (hence, shark-nado) that chop off people's heads from above in the city absolutely out of nowhere.

    I couldn't do anything but agree.
    Last edited by Festat; September 9th, 2015 at 01:40 AM.

  6. #891
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Festat's Avatar
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    The latest Norma from Liceu with Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role, on youtube:

    I have read excellent reviews about this, one of which described the performance as historical. Finally watching it I found myself largely disappointed. Kevin Newbury's production has taurine motifs and the frequent presence of real fire, which I appreciate, but is overall underwhelming. The sets doesn't have much to say, then there is that movable platform where Norma stands on that looks like an oversized library cart and squeaks badly. There is little to none actual direction. Physical interaction between the characters is scarce and often feels forced and mechanic. The chorus is absolutely clueless, just moving to and fro without any apparent intention. The slow pace of conductor Renato Palumbo doesn't help much. I don't have anything against slower tempi, but here sometimes the action seems to be crawling by... I felt like the first act would never end, and I am someone who finds Norma a thrilling piece of drama. It lacks the intensity this opera is so firmly based on, and I think rubato is a bit excessive at times too.

    For the cast... Gregory Kunde starts very shout-y and annoying, I thought. Eventually he eases out, and by the tercet at the end of the first act he's fine. Ekaterina Gubanova is an ok Adalgisa. Raymond Aceto also an ok Oroveso, but the production doesn't pay much attention to him.

    Now Sondra, I think it's complicated... She is good. Her top register is powerful and brilliant and her pianissimi and messa di voce are indeed outstanding. Casta Diva is beautiful. Her coloratura is a bit lacking, though, and even with a slow tempo her Ah, bello a me ritorna sounds kinda stiff. The ensembles are generally unexciting (hard to imagine Mira, o Norma as something unexciting, isn't it?). Her acting has its moments, In mia man alfin tu sei was quite good, but most of the time it isn't fully there.

    I think it is very true what Callas said about having good finales, no matter how bad the whole thing was. The finales, both first and second acts, are by far the strongest parts of this production and have relieved quite a bit of my frustration. When the first act ended I had my hopes in a way restored, expecting a more vibrant conclusion that unfortunately didn't come until the very last scene, when I was again thinking "maybe this is ok?"

    However, I believe this performance suffers immensely from lack of direction and the final feeling I have about it is "meh", which some argue is the worst possible reaction.
    Last edited by Soave_Fanciulla; January 4th, 2018 at 10:21 PM.

  7. #892
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Festat's Avatar
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    So I was zapping through the channels on TV tonight and I saw this 2h45min slot on the guide with "Platée" written on it. I was OMG COULD IT BE?! because I have never ever seen baroque opera on TV here, not even Handel. Early Verdi like Nabucco is already considered pretty risqué. Well, it was the 3AM slot anyway.

    Indeed it was Rameau's — apparently due to his 250th anniversary, which was last year, go figure... — Platée from Opera Comique, directed by Robert Carsen with Marcel Beekman, Simone Kermes, Edwin Crossley-Mercer and João Fernandes. Paul Agnew conducting Les Arts Florissants. I don't know where to start telling you how brilliant it is. It is SO GOOD in SO MANY LEVELS. Thoroughly well sung, clever staging with surgically precise references — I lol'ed when I figured out the guy dressed as Karl Lagerfeld was Crossley-Mercer as Jupiter! There is Chanel, Anna Wintour, a whole lot of vogueing, Lady Gaga, Xtina Aguilera and even a white Persian cat! It is Regietheater at its best.

    It seems it isn't available anywhere, though. I should have taped it out. THIS HAS TO BE RELEASED! There must be a TVrip somehow, somewhere. Come on, youtube people!

  8. #893
    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Festat View Post
    The latest Norma from Liceu with Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role, on youtube.

    I have read excellent reviews about this, one of which described the performance as historical. Finally watching it I found myself largely disappointed. Kevin Newbury's production has taurine motifs and the frequent presence of real fire, which I appreciate, but is overall underwhelming. The sets doesn't have much to say, then there is that movable platform where Norma stands on that looks like an oversized library cart and squeaks badly. There is little to none actual direction. Physical interaction between the characters is scarce and often feels forced and mechanic. The chorus is absolutely clueless, just moving to and fro without any apparent intention. The slow pace of conductor Renato Palumbo doesn't help much. I don't have anything against slower tempi, but here sometimes the action seems to be crawling by... I felt like the first act would never end, and I am someone who finds Norma a thrilling piece of drama. It lacks the intensity this opera is so firmly based on, and I think rubato is a bit excessive at times too.

    For the cast... Gregory Kunde starts very shout-y and annoying, I thought. Eventually he eases out, and by the tercet at the end of the first act he's fine. Ekaterina Gubanova is an ok Adalgisa. Raymond Aceto also an ok Oroveso, but the production doesn't pay much attention to him.

    Now Sondra, I think it's complicated... She is good. Her top register is powerful and brilliant and her pianissimi and messa di voce are indeed outstanding. Casta Diva is beautiful. Her coloratura is a bit lacking, though, and even with a slow tempo her Ah, bello a me ritorna sounds kinda stiff. The ensembles are generally unexciting (hard to imagine Mira, o Norma as something unexciting, isn't it?). Her acting has its moments, In mia man alfin tu sei was quite good, but most of the time it isn't fully there.

    I think it is very true what Callas said about having good finales, no matter how bad the whole thing was. The finales, both first and second acts, are by far the strongest parts of this production and have relieved quite a bit of my frustration. When the first act ended I had my hopes in a way restored, expecting a more vibrant conclusion that unfortunately didn't come until the very last scene, when I was again thinking "maybe this is ok?"

    However, I believe this performance suffers immensely from lack of direction and the final feeling I have about it is "meh", which some argue is the worst possible reaction.

    I've seen Sondra sing a couple of times. She sang here in DC in Anna Bolena at the Washington National Opera several years ago, and I saw her sing Norma at the Met a couple of years ago.

    I agree with your summary that assessing Sondra is complicated. She has an enormous voice that easily fills huge auditoriums like the Met or the Kennedy Center, but that doesn't really fit my perception of the ideal bel canto voice. She blew the doors of Anna Bolena - at times, I thought, bordering on a primal scream. Her coloratura, as you said, is weak - and is more essential in Anna Bolena, I think, than Norma.

    The Norma was, indeed, more complicated. Her big voice was right on target and the pianissimi were exquisite and easily heard in the Dress Circle (balcony). Interestingly, as I write this, I cannot tell you who sang Adalgisa without checking the program. She was practically a nonentity, reinforcing your sense of the unexciting ensembles (it was Kate Aldrich). Oroveso was sung by the once great James Morris, who either has seen better days or was having a bad night. Ultimately, Sondra R. pulled it off - her singing was very good and the opera itself is so wonderful that my quetsching is beside the point.

    However, I don't find Sondra Radvanovsky's voice particularly well-suited to bel canto. While she has pinpoint accuracy, she has a lot of swagger and not a whole lot of subtlety. I'll bet her Aida would be something to see!
    Last edited by Soave_Fanciulla; January 4th, 2018 at 10:23 PM.

  9. #894
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Festat's Avatar
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    Was her Met Norma also slower than usual? I've read it's Sondra's preference to have it slow, but wasn't really able (or willing) to check other performances.

  10. #895
    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    I saw this Norma in October, 2013, and don't recall unusual tempos one way or the other - maybe deliberate is the best way to describe it - it wasn't ponderous, but neither was it exciting. The conductor was Riccardo Frizza.

  11. #896
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    I have just recently started checking out local (by local I mean all operas produced in ex YU countries) productions, and I was amazed how many good singers there were (are)... I watched Carmen with Ruza Baldani, and she was a-mazing.

    Yesterday I have seen Ottelo with Domingo (movie version 1986) and I like it. Actually I was surprised how much I have liked it lol

  12. #897
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    I also have that film version, with Katia Ricciarelli as Desdemona and Justino Diaz as Iago, and it's wonderful.

  13. #898
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Amfortas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
    I also have that film version, with Katia Ricciarelli as Desdemona and Justino Diaz as Iago, and it's wonderful.
    It has many powerful moments, but leaves me singing a mournful "O Salce! Salce!" . . . for the aria that was cut.

  14. #899
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Yes, that's why I also have the audio recording with the same cast -- it's complete.

  15. #900
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    it took me three days to finish Lucia with Scotto (Tokyo recording from late 60's)... anyway I hope it's just because of the production, cuz I really want to love this opera lol Mad scene alone is masterpiece for me, so I am kinda dissapointed that I was really bored with the whole thing... I have to see that production with Anna Netrebko, seems nice

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