Tuesday, March 19, 2013

BARENBOIM-ZYKLUS mit JONAS KAUFMANN (Philharmonie Berlin, 30.09.2012)

On a windy Sunday morning during fall 2012, Jonas Kaufmann visited Berlin for an unusual event: a song matinee. It opens the Barenboim-Cycle at Staatsoper Berlin. The programm of the day is the most-beloved German song-cycle (said-to-be), Schubert's Die schoene Muellerin. 
It's a "tried-and-true" concert. Kaufmann has made himself an album of this very-famous-song cycle with Helmut Deutsch. The piece accompanied by Barenboim on solo piano was very smooth; it's in their blood anyway. Or it seems to be. 
No questions. No doubt. It's a great afternoon.

Rating: 8/10

JOYCE DIDONATO: DRAMA QUEENS (Konzerthau Berlin, 07.11.2012)

It's raining DIVAS on Berlin. On a special concert in Konzerthaus, the Berliner were stoned by the beauty, elegance and the voice of the goddess Joyce DiDonato. Despite her very few appearances in West Europe every year, her concerts still meet good response, so that night.  

DiDonato was there to promote her new, amazing album: Drama Queens. From Monteverdi to Handel, BAROQUE would be the new word in any non-classical-music lovers' dictionary after hearing this album. Identical to the album, the concert is unbelievably amazing. Pure, fiery vocal on arias such "Da torbida procella" and "Col versar, barbaro, il sangue" meet her wonderful and passionate interpretation on Porta's "Madre diletta, abbracciami" or Monteverdi's classic "Disprezzata regina" from POPPEA.  

Led by Dmitry Sinkovsky, Il Compleso Barocco - one of the world's leading baroque-ensemble by Alan Curtis -  serves as an ensemble able to put fire and passion to classic baroque arias, as well as seldom-interpreted works. 

On the fashion side, the red multi-looks gown from Vivienne Westwood fits DiDonato very well. Another feast for the eyes. 
On the meet & greet session I got my album signed and was able to greet her and wished her all the best for the Echo this year. Or any other awards there are. Because DRAMA QUEENS stands as one of the two strongest baroque vocal album of 2012.
(The other one is Simone Kermes' DRAMMA in case you ask.)

Grab your own now and enjoy the 12-songs-long trip to heaven!
Rating: 10/10 

PUCCINI: TURANDOT (Deutsche Oper Berlin, 27.10.2012)

It's too bad - despite a good ensemble, this production didn't able to elevate me. Alfred Kim definitely did her role as Calaf very well and his "Nessun dorma" succeeded. Our Turandot, Catherine Foster, is a good singer on her role, as we expected and at the same time demanded by this role, although she is still far from extraordinary.
This production falls on the concept. Seems a little cheap and tried too hard to present the modern full-force-tyrant-version English-royalty-like version of Turandot, the setting is simply dull. For me, the classic Chinese-galore-and-glamour, such as the Met production with Andris Nelsons, still fits the opera way better than any stupid so-called "innovations" on the interpretation of such operas like Turandot with specific backgrounds and strong visual settings.  

Very decent production that was only saved by the greatness of Maestro Puccini himself. Viva Puccini and may his legacy lives forever and more.
Rating: 5/10

CECILIA BARTOLI: MISSION (Philharmonie Berlin, 29.10.2012)

My first time encounter with Bartoli isn't as pleasant as I thought: blame the stupid b**** on the box office for giving me bad seat on the last class, behind the stage - while many seats on the first class are still empty (not that much, but quite) - so I can't be able to hear Bartoli's voice clearly. The instruments are far far too loud... Shame on me with my box office ticket trick.
Even so, one thing is clear: BARTOLI is GOD-DESS! Her voice may be not as good as many years ago, as many believe and think so, she still stands as one of the best interpreters of our time. You deal with that. Whether it's on the striking opening "Schiere invitte", glorious "Mie fide schierre, all'armi", or even the classic and everlasting - Bartoli's own- "Laschia la spina", she's over the top. Heavenly voice, may Thou come bless these poor people... 
Diego Fasolis, a very intuitive leader of the night, is definitely a perfect companion for this MISSION project. With his creation, I Barocchisti, not only he was able to present the music in all of its sensitivity and authentic sound (important for such premiere project as MISSION), creativity gets in the way for the right moments, the right arias. Definitely based on Cecilia's idea, the "fight" between the vocal part and the trumpet post-aria "A facile vittoria" couldn't get any better. It's entertaining, musically challenging, in one pack.

Beside my depressing reality, sitting on the worst seat ever imagined - the concert is absolutely superb.
Rating: 9/10
Seat rating: To hell, you lady on the box office.

Concert photo from Wien (from Cecilia's official FB page)

Monday, March 11, 2013

PUCCINI: Madama Butterfly (26.10.2012, Staatsoper Berlin)

We all know the story and we all know it's a very "romantic" opera. And how come you resist "Un Bel Di"? 
The praise went to Elizabeth Caballero, our Cio-Cio-San, who was able to fit the character. Her wittiness, her tragic life, her passion, and finally her death. Her performance is an ecstasy of vocal brilliance. 
The chorus ensemble of house also serves as a proud partner all along. 
the set itself is pretty simple, focuses on the house of Cio-Cio-San with a bit of changes here and there, matching the story line. 
A great ending where the whole stage closed upfront with black, and it's only Madama Butterfly and her son, just a few moments before her suicide. It's definitely the peak of the feelings.

Rating: 8/10

Berliner Philarmoniker & Andris Nelsons (24.10.2012, Philharmonie Berlin)

Andris Nelsons is one of the most celebrated young conductors of our time. His post in Birmingham doesn't stop him from pursuing an international (currently-mega) carrer in all music capitals of the world. Berliner Philharmoniker is also one of the 'regulars' in his conducting list. Tonight he opened the concert with his very wonderful interpretation of "Passacaglia" from Britten's Peter Grimes. simply astonishing. Passionate and grand.

The first part of the concert was used to premiere the Violin Concert from Jörg Widmann. A relatively-new piece in one movement, the piece sounded quite complex. The solo parts and the orchestra worked together creating a piece that (seems to) never end, and yet offers new sounds by every step. Tetzlaff seems to bond so well with this piece that he premiered in Essen himself.
The second part of the concert is Debussy's La Mer and La Valse. Quite considered as a regular repertoire in our concerts, Nelsons' La Mer is very huge and passionate. He was able to catch the sense of the piece and present its glory to the audience. Thanks to the percussion section too for that...

Indeed, a night of Nelsons.
Rating: 8/10

Berliner Philharmoniker, Kristjan Jävri (20.10.2012, Philharmonie Berlin)

Don't you hate it when the conductor's sick and someone should be the replacement. It should've been Myung-Whun Chung who stood there as the conductor that night. But he's got a family issue. So here we are, with Kristjan Järvi. Thank God they still can get a good replacement, but considering this as Philharmoniker, it's a must anyway.

Th night opened with a Rhapsodisk-Ouverture by Carl Nielsen. Decent on the composition, and please don't judge me. I simply think this one as a filler.
The first main content of the night is Messiaen's L'Ascension. The orchestra went aesthetic, a bit meditative, and sounded very big. Such a grand pleasure.
Tschaikowsky's Fourth Symphony closed the night. without any of my comments, you know it was good. Such romanticism blended with passion. Thanks to Järvi who was able to get all the strenght of the orchestra out, the night definitely didn't waste.

Rating: 8/10

Anne-Sophie Mutter & Trondheim Soloists (14.10.12, Philharmonie Berlin)

Anne-Sophie Mutter, Anne-Sophie Mutter mit Mendelssohns Violinkonzert bei Arte Maestro

It's Anne Sophie time!!!
The highlight of the evening is definitely the classic Anne-Sophie's fans' favorite  Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Can't believe I was able to finally hear her live playing this piece. Such concentration  Such power. What makes the evening even more special is the presence of The Trondheim Soloists, an ensemble group who's known long as Mutter's chamber music proud partner and of course has a world-renowned fame on their own. It fits. The Trondheim Soloists are also Mutter's partner in the making of her now iconic album of Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

Anne-Sophie Mutter Vivaldi: Le Quattro Stagioni (Shm-CD) Album Cover

It's not all Vivaldi. The first part of the concert is dedicated to the music of Previn, Mutter long-time musical and ex-love partner. A renowned composer on his own, his Concert No. 2 for Violin and String Orchestra was premiered that night. Already a dedicate to Mutter, the piece serves as a usual subtle, humble composition of Previn as we know. It's light, yet technically should be played at virtuoso level. Very interesting. Opened with Britten's Simple Symphony No. 4, the concert worked perfectly, regardless of the difference in music style and time of both parts of the concert. 

Rating: 7.5/10

DONIZETTI: L'ELISIR D' AMORE (13.10.2012, The Metropolitan Opera)

It's the season opening of The Met in NY. Anna Netrebko stands for the second time as the 'Diva' to open a whole new season packed with goodies. Everyone's excited... but:
The first problem that I recognized after the production had ended is, the opera doesn't suit as a season opening AT ALL. Not only it's a repertoire from the previous season, it seems the Met management had fallen into the the evening or not. Oh well well well...

Netrebko as Adina shines as usual and proved that she's not only a diva for tragic, sad roles but also a lively one, capable of doing a dazzling spectacle and uplift the mood on stage.
Surprise of the night comes from our Dulcamara, Maurizio Benini, who shake the stage with his outstanding comical act and brilliant vocal technique. It seems the night belongs to him. 
Both gentlemen, lovers of Adina, have also tried so hard, indeed, but I can't help myself to score their performance as only "good - decent" and Met standard meets.
Anyway, it was a good night. Not so satisfying but anyway... A little comment about the live stream event: I thought watching an opera at the movies would be boring/weird, but it turns out to be "ok" - if it wasn't because of the "Windows warning" that popped up during a scene. Shame on you, projector man or whoever responsible for this. Those people at multimedia section of the operas should start to discipline themselves, because this 'live-stream' thing is probably the next best thing in the history of opera EVER.

Rating: 7/10
Netrebko and Benini were definitely the stars of the night, so you must give them an extra applause for selling this production. 

BERG / Olga Neuwirth: American Lulu (06.10.12, Komische Oper Berlin)

Simply a fresh re-interpretation from one of the most beloved new music operas. With the 60's-70's American background and Lulu as African-American woman, this production offers the 'jazzy' yet darker edgier Lulu as ever before. Bravo to Marisol Montalvo for portraying Lulu with such care-free, yet dark and cold elegance that takes us deep into her world of intrigue and game of power. 

The real hero of the opera is definitely our Eleanor (Della Miles), who, with her husky voice and strong stage presence, becomes a true character of 'truth' and 'what's right' in Lulu's world. 

The opera got an extension  a prologue and additional third act, with music and content homemade by Neuwirth in 5 years time by Neuwirth herself. It is indeed very interesting to see Olga Neuwirth able to take the story of Lulu into a new, fresh level of story-telling, furthermore a deeper philosophy towards the inside mind of Lulu herself. There is no 'black or white', there are only longings and loneliness. 

Rating: 8/10