Thread: What opera have you been watching lately?

          
   
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  1. #1261
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Conductor: Asher Fisch
    Director: Martin Kušej
    Cast: Anja Harteros (Leonora), Jonas Kaufmann (Alvaro), Ludovic TÚzier (Carlo), Nadia Krasteva (Preziosilla), Vitalij Kowaljow (Marchese di Calatrava, Padre Guardiano), Renato Girolami (Fra Melitone)

    When I purchased this DVD, it was primarily for the musical performance – if not exclusively. And things here pretty much lived up (or down) to my expectations. The cast is fabulous; no weak links at all. Anja Harteros delivers some of the most beautiful, floated, high pianissimi I’ve ever heard, and her singing of “Pace, mio Dio” is first-rate. Der Jonas is in peak form as Alvaro and sounds fantastic. Ludovic TÚzier is a fine Don Carlo, and I’m quite impressed by Vitalij Kowaljow and Nadia Krasteva, both of whom I heard for the first time with this recording. The former has a warm, rich bass, and in this production, has been assigned the roles of both the Marchese and Padre Guardiano. In fact, he also sings Melitone’s sermon in Act III, which makes no sense at all in terms of Melitone’s and the Padre’s contrasting characters, but does at least offer an additional opportunity to listen to Kowaljow. (Not that Renato Girolami has an unattractive voice – far from it.) Krasteva’s big, lustrous mezzo is quite different from Agnes Baltsa’s more lyrical timbre on the Sinopoli CD, yet both ladies do full justice to Preziosilla in their own ways. The Bavarian State Opera Orchestra and Chorus are in capable hands with conductor Asher Fisch. So at least in terms of the musical performance, I can definitely recommend this recording. As far as the staging is concerned, I knew up front what I’d be in for with Martin Kušej. The inconsistencies, the illogical and sometimes downright silly aspects of his production are too numerous to list here. Putting the words of the narrow-minded, parsimonious bigot Melitone in the mouth of the generous, kind-hearted Guardiano was among the more egregious examples. I was rather curious, though, to see whether or not Kušej’s underwear fixation – having some of the soloists, choristers, or both end up in nothing but their skivvies – would be in evidence here, as well. Yup; Act III, scene 3 has one of the choristers in nothing but his tighty-whities, and another prancing around in her bra and panties. While I certainly wasn’t expecting sets on the order of a Zeffirelli production, Martin Zehetgruber’s scenery, with the omnipresent long table at center stage, is unimpressive. I can’t help feeling that this wonderful cast really deserved a better production team.

  2. #1262
    Senior Member Veteran Member Povero Buoso's Avatar
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    After possessing the DVD for Edgar for almost 3 months (much thanks to Ann for the copy!) I finally got the chance to watch Edgar. I was neither disappointed nor surprised by the opera. It possessed some good melodic fragments several of which were reminiscent of Puccini's later masterpieces including one fragment that was blatantly copied later on in Tosca during act 4 (researched it after and found I was correct). However, its libretto and story seemed weak and unusually for Puccini the timing of the piece seemed a tad to long and drawn out (I think it might be his longest work in its four act version (157 minutes) will have to double check). I agree with Luiz that is is a weaker opera and definitely doesn't have the sparkle I associate with even Le Villi with no particularly memorable tunes (bar the ripped off Tosca bit). Nevertheless the performance and staging didn't seem bad but I am not going to be an apologist and say it is a vastly underrated work when it left me mostly a bit meh. Its only surprise was that it wasn't atrociously bad just a tad mediocre.

    Edgar 6/10 (Not particularly boring but not particularly exciting either. The staging and singing seemed good though which earns it a point more than the mediocre five I would have given it otherwise (an opera must be atrociously bad to get below 5 for me. It is definitely Puccini's weakest work but taught him an important lesson about libretto and timing which he improved infinitely on in Manon Lescaut and excelled at in all his following operas.)
    "Non sono in vena" Rodolfo summing up P.B's feelings on his dissertation.

  3. #1263
    Junior Member Recent member Bertie Wooster's Avatar
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    I watched Evgeniy Onegin a few nights ago and enjoyed it. It was the film by Petr Weigl with Solti conducting and Weikl, Kubiak, Burrows, and Hamari as Onegin, Tatyana, Lensky, and Olga respectively. I loved the production.

    A few of my favourite parts were the opening chorus, Olga and Lensky's love duet, Lensky's aria "Kuda, Kuda Vy Udilis'/Куда, Куда Вы Удились?" and subsequent duet with Onegin (actually, the entire duel scene), and the final confrontation with Tatyana.

    I thought the opera itself did an excellent job of preserving the novel's dramatic tension (I haven't read it, but I have read the Wikipedia article). Unfortunately I already knew what would happen in the duel, but I had no idea what would happen in the last act. I was terrified that she would commit adultery with him.

    https://youtu.be/OHctLqsFhdU?list=PL...n49DeEAWV5IyOW

  4. #1264
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bertie Wooster View Post
    A few of my favourite parts were the opening chorus, Olga and Lensky's love duet, Lensky's aria "Kuda, Kuda Vy Udilis'/Куда, Куда Вы Удились?" and subsequent duet with Onegin
    I adore that aria - it always makes me cry, and I always think the last person I heard sing it is the best Lensky ever. The following duet is heart breaking, especially the Nyet ... Nyet...Nyet ending putting paid to any chance of reconciliation.

    I thought the opera itself did an excellent job of preserving the novel's dramatic tension (I haven't read it, but I have read the Wikipedia article).
    The novel/poem has a lot of digressions and wry observations on society that actually distract from the dramatic tension. The opera is a lot tighter and pacier
    Natalie

  5. #1265
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post


    Conductor: Asher Fisch
    Director: Martin Kušej
    Cast: Anja Harteros (Leonora), Jonas Kaufmann (Alvaro), Ludovic TÚzier (Carlo), Nadia Krasteva (Preziosilla), Vitalij Kowaljow (Marchese di Calatrava, Padre Guardiano), Renato Girolami (Fra Melitone)
    I agree with Mary's write up. Honestly though, with that level of singing I hardly noticed the production. As well as the out-of-this-world singing, the acting was very convincing.
    Natalie

  6. #1266
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    I agree with Mary's write up. Honestly though, with that level of singing I hardly noticed the production. As well as the out-of-this-world singing, the acting was very convincing.
    The production was something far different than Forza, and while the singing was fantastic, it would have been better released as a CD album (although I would have missed it). Admittedly, Forza has a "convoluted" plot, but whatever its faults, it was totally lost in whatever this version was supposed to tell the audience.

  7. #1267
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnGerald View Post
    The production was something far different than Forza, and while the singing was fantastic, it would have been better released as a CD album (although I would have missed it). Admittedly, Forza has a "convoluted" plot, but whatever its faults, it was totally lost in whatever this version was supposed to tell the audience.
    The heart of the opera is the dogged and unrelenting pursuit of revenge in the name of "family honour" by Carlo against his sister and her "impure blood" lover, against a background of true religious devotion, religious hypocrisy and war-torn society (a story which is played over in many parts of the world still today). Despite some confusing moments as described above by Mary, the story is strongly told, and the source of Carlos's motivation is put firmly into place by his presence as a child at the time of the manslaughter of Carlo and Leonora's father. I've watched it three times, (twice on YT and once with the subtitles on DVD) and I think it is fundamentally a revealing production.
    Natalie

  8. #1268
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Natalie

  9. #1269
    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).

  10. #1270
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    La Fanciulla del West from La Scala, conducted by Riccardo Chailly, directed by Robert Carsen, with Barbara Haveman einspringing at the last minute for Eva Maria Westbroek, Claudio Sgura and a rather dull Roberto Aronica. Probably would have been better in the house as close-ups made it obvious that the heroine was frequently fixated on the conductor, not surprising given the circumstances.

    http://iopera.es/la-fanciulla-del-west-en-la-scala/
    Natalie

  11. #1271
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    We received, played and were appalled by the tasteless and bizarre staging of C Major's new Faust. Well sung, though.

  12. #1272
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnGerald View Post
    We received, played and were appalled by the tasteless and bizarre staging of C Major's new Faust. Well sung, though.
    Was this the one with Charles Castronovo?
    Natalie

  13. #1273
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    Was this the one with Charles Castronovo?
    Yes, mum. He did a dimuendo on the high C at the end of his cavatina that was a beaut.

  14. #1274
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnGerald View Post
    Yes, mum. He did a dimuendo on the high C at the end of his cavatina that was a beaut.
    I was briefly tempted because of him, but it sounds as though it's not really worth it. what was up with the production?
    Natalie

  15. #1275
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    I've just seen the perfect Orfeo with Christian Gerhaher and Anita Bonitatibus, from Munich 2014, in an amazing production by David B÷sch. And it's disappeared from YT. I am heartbroken not to be able to share it. So I am sending bad vibes to the previous intendant of the Bayerische Staatsoper for his stupid dog-in-the-manger attitude to releasing productions on DVDS. I hope his toenails drop off.

    Natalie

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