Saturday, October 31, 2015

Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro from Staatsoper Berlin

On the 7th of November 2015 Staatsoper Berlin will celebrate another big premiere of the current season: W. A. Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel and a new production by Jürgen Flimm. The cast is superb: Lauri Vasar as Figaro, Anna Prohaska as Susanna, Ildebrando D'Arcangelo as Graf Almaviva, Dorothea Röschmann as Graefin, and Marianne Crebassa as Cherubino among others.
On November 13 the performance will be live transmissioned (with delay) on ARTE and at 8.15 p.m. (Germany time).

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Kiril Petrenko: dual chief positions in Berlin & Munich starts 2019 until 2021

From Berliner Philharmoniker's official statement:

Kirill Petrenko will take up office as chief conductor and artistic director of the Berliner Philharmoniker in the 2019/2020 season. In the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 seasons, Kirill Petrenko will appear as a guest conductor with the Berliner Philharmoniker, and in 2018/2019 he will conduct several concert programmes both in Berlin and on tour. With respect to his obligations with Bavarian State Opera in Munich, Kirill Petrenko will initially take on only a limited number of concerts during his first season as chief conductor in Berlin.
Ulrich Knörzer, member of the orchestra board: “The response in the music world to the election of Kirill Petrenko as successor to Sir Simon Rattle was overwhelming, so we are delighted that we now have a timetable for his taking office, and that we can present our future chief conductor to the Berlin public in all future seasons.” Martin Hoffmann, general manager of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation: “All of us at the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation are looking forward to Kirill Petrenko. Special thanks go to the management of Bavarian State Opera, with whom we were able to reach an amicable agreement on all scheduling issues.”

This means the 2018/2019 will be the one official season for the Berliner Philharmoniker without principal conductor, since Simon Rattle will leave at the end of 2017/2018 season.
Until the end of August 2021 Petrenko will keep his position in Munich. In his last Munich season he will serve as guest conductor.
So much future plan, please let us not forget now is still 2015. Well, it's gonna be 2016 soon.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Live from New Yorker Met: Verdi's OTELLO


The second Live in HD transmission from New York Metropolitan Opera is on this weekend. Bartlett Sher directs the new Otello production, that opened the Met's new 2015/2016 season. Aleksandrs Antonenko portrays the title role, Sonya Yoncheva is Desdemona and Željko Lučić is Iago. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts.  Visit for more information.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Review: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - Staatsoper Berlin


So, Wagner. Barenboim. Berlin. Always a successful combination. At least commercially. The fact that Andrea Moses directed this Meistersinger production just adds up the excitement. In the past years the director has accomplished exciting new and solid ways approaching Wagner operas in Oper Stuttgart. And what a production this time.
This Meistersinger doesn't offer something new. No, it's neither radical serious like Katharina Wagner's in Bayreuth nor classic colorful- quite cheery Stephan Herheim's Salzburg production 2 years ago. It's simply a solid modern production.

The first act is set in a room, a church turn into the Meistersinger hall to be precise - which perfectly fits the original story. The master singers, who originally are ordinary craftsmen, are portrayed as modern-day businessmen. because all the old handwork traditional industry in Germany, well, they're big companies now. Hans Sachs is quite a different master, ressembling Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski, looks a bit like a drunkard. Julia Kleiter's Eva is a modern woman in a black revealing dress, instead a traditional Bavarian dirndl. The Lehrbuben resemble waiters, serving their masters. Not much fantasy in the visual. It's good and fit.

The second act is set on the rooftop of Sachs' house (or office? Factory?) next to Pogner's with huge light signs displaying their names on the background. Markus Werba and Wolfgang Koch are really brilliant in thier dialogue scene. The outburst that closes the act is wonderfully staged: the hipster, the football fans, the LGBT supporters waving the rainbow flags, the punk kids - mainly everyone you meet during a long walk through Berlin-Mitte disctrict are on the stage.

The third act begins in Sachs' library and ends in front of the (future) Schloss Berlin. Klaus Florian Vogt is brilliant in singing the Stolzing's song. Entering the second part, the doors of the hall are opened to let a parade come in and march into the stage. During the Sachs' (sadly after WWII rather infamous) closing monologue, a few Pegida flags rise up during the line "...Uns draeuen ueble Streich...(Evil threatens us)". Hans Sachs immediately hush them away. The whole cast turns their backs on the audience and stare the blue sky upon the green prairies. May there be a good future for Germany.

It's quite funny that I like a production that actually offers nothing new like this. An explanation for that is, maybe because Moses is able to keep this opera as a a comedy opera (as Wagner intended to) without being too cheeky or embarrassing.  Every element is in place and in the right proportion.

The premiere in the euphoria of the 25th anniversary of Germany reunification was a huge success.Klaus Florian Vogt and Wolfgang Koch received the biggest applause. Daniel Barenboim, who has conducted several "Meistersinger" in the past, has once again proved himself to be one of the leading Wagnerian conductors of our time.

It's a triumph for all Wagnerians, also for all opera fans. Yes, including those who usually can't stand the long duration of Wagner operas - they may also enjoy this one.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Opernwelt Critics' Survey 2015: The result is out!

Some may care and some may call it a bullshit: The magazine Opernwelt announced the result of their critics' survey to sum up the season 2014/2015. The awards are considered quite important, especially in Germany, where most of the opera productions are "judged". The survey sums up the results gathered from around 50 professional critics in Germany and Europe. With the results sometimes considered as bias and unfair by some, I personally find the award quite representing the good and the best of the past season.
Drum rolls, please.

Opera House(s) of The Year:  Nationaltheater Mannheim und an der Oper Frankfurt

 World Premiere of The Year: Lucia Ronchetti's Esame di mezzanotte (Nationaltheater Mannheim)

 Rediscovery of The Year: Niccolò Jommelli's Berenike, Königin von Armenien/Il Vologeso (Staatsoper Stuttgart)

Production of The Year: Wolfgang Rihm's Jakob Lenz (Director: Andrea Breth / Staatsoper Stuttgart)

Director of The Year: Hans Neuenfels (Manon Lescaut / Bayerische Staasoper Munich and Ariadne auf Naxos / Staatsoper Berlin)

Stage of The Year: Philipp Stölzl (Cavalleria rusticana & Pagliacci / Salzburg Easter Festival 2015) 

 Male Singer of The Year: Georg Nigl (Title role in Jakob Lenz / Staatsoper Stuttgart)

 Female Singer of The Year: Marlis Petersen (Title role in Lulu / Bayerische Staatsoper)

Newcomer of The Year:  Elena Sancho Pereg (as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos / Rheinoper Düsseldorf/ Duisburg)

 Conductor of The Year: Kirill Petrenko (2 years in a row)

Orchestra of The Year: Bayerisches Staatsorchester (2 years in a row)

Chorus of The Year: Chorus of Komische Oper Berlin (on Schoenberg's Aaron & Moses)

CD of The Year: W. A. Mozart's Cosi fan tutte (Conductor: Theodor Currentzis / Label: Sony Classical)

Book of The Year: Christian Gerhaher / Vera Baue "Halb Worte sind’s, halb Melodie" (Henschel/Bärenreiter)

Nuisance of The Year: the chain of intrigues in Bayreuth this past summer.

Opernwelt official site offers a short essay and past reviews to the winners of each category.