Sunday, November 15, 2015

Review: Puccini's Manon Lescaut - Deutsche Oper Berlin

Two great evenings on a row is seldom in my life, but it did happen this weekend. My God, let's embrace this divine performance of Manon Lescaut.
The production itself is a revival , done by Gilbert Deflo. The stage and costumes looked like a cheaper simplified version of the more classic productions we see at the Met or Royal Opera House. Nothing impressive. But we're not here for that, instead for the diva: Sondra Radvanovsky.

Sondra Radvanovsky, a regular guest at the Met in NYC (a  new production of Roberto Devereux is planned for her next April), visited Berlin and performed the title role of Puccini's Manon Lescaut in Deutsche Oper Berlin. It was a night to be remembered. The range of her vocal is astonishing, her high register is really stable and strong, that means (according to my laymen vocab): no screaming. Her Sola perduta, abbandonata pierced the hearts, a genuine emotion display combined with the most beautiful voice. BRAVO!!! BRAVO!!! BRAVO!!! The applause for her at the end brought her to tears and it was indeed quite overwhelming for her.

Thank God, Stefano La Colla, our Des Grieux, could balance this amazing performance. Although seemed quite stiff on stage, I wouldn't complain a lot in the vocal department.
The rest of the cast is solid. The chorus displayed a fascinating performance - bravo!

Donald Runnicles conducted the orchestra in a grand manner, they sounded really good on the loud parts, as well as on the more lyrical ones. The music for this opera itself is a pure joy for me, it's a beautiful opera from the very first note until its very last. No wonder, it became Puccini first international breakthrough. After this third Manon, I could safely say that this is definitely one of my Italian opera.
Conclusion: viva Radvanovsky!

Review: Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro - Staatsoper Berlin

 Did you see it live on arte? I was there in Schiller Theatre, the night they recorded the production live in Berlin.

Jürgen Flimm, the director of Staatsoper Berlin directs his third Figaro, his favorite opera of all in a very good manner. The production is set in Cuba (or a place kind of looks like Cuba), precisely in a vacation house near the beach, where the Count Almaviva and his whole companions take vacation. The stage is nothing spectacular, a room with decaying white wooden walls and a huge cabinet that moves left and right as a supporting prop for many scenes in the opera. In the third act, a little green hill to represent the garden comes in as the setting. The direction of the singers and the supernumeraries are very detailed, many actions take time simultaneously and they're executed brilliantly without too much cheeky comedy or gestures. The prodcution offers nothing new, except solid entertaining night for audience of all ages.

Gustavo Dudamel conducted the music in the right tempo with high energy from the beginning until the end. Pauses for the monologue/dialogue were included and blended perfectly in timing with the actions on stage.

Lauri Vasar made a very convincing Figaro especially with his acting, even though the spontaneity and humor were missing in the voice. Anna Prohaska was a very energetic Susanna on stage, portrayed this role with passion and good humor. Her voice is full of expression and its range fits the role.

Ildebrando D'Arcangelo knows the role of the Count inside out, simply a master on stage with a good amount of charisma and charm that became the main attraction of humor and joy the whole night. Dorothea Röschmann is also a Countess par excellence, very mature and deep charismatic voice completed her great stage presence.

Now our Cherubino, Marianne Crebassa. How should I put it...? THE BEST of the whole world. Dressed as a school boy (a la Japanese anime?), she sang her solo Non so più cosa son brilliantly; effortless and strong as a pure out pour of emotions. Ever since Christine Schäfer 10 years ago in Salzburg, the international public has defnitely never seen a Cherubino this solid. BRAVA!!!

The rest of the cast, epecially Katharina Kammerloher as Marcellina, are solid and make a very great ensemble.
Conclusion: Diamond-solid production with great cast. You can't ask for more than this, actually.

Go to this arte site to see the whole production in HD, available until mid February 2015.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Salzburger Festspiele 2016

It's official: The Salzburg Festival will be held from 22 July until 31 August 2016. Once again, the festival has a lot to offer just as any other summer.
The festival will be opened with yet another performance of Haydn's The Creation, this time played  by Chamber Orchestra of Europe. The first opera premiere is a contemporary festival-commissioned work by Thomas Adès, The Exterminating Angel. Two new productions as the highlights of the upcoming summer are Strauss' Die Liebe der Danae and Gounod's Faust. All the recent productions of Mozart-Da Ponte's operas by Sven-Eric Bechtolf will be revived, some with new cast also a venue change. Cecilia Bartoli gives Salzburg a Broadway treat with Bernstein's West Side Story. Anna Netrebko will be singing the title role in Puccini's Manon Lescaut with future husband Yusif Eyvasov in concert format. Joyce Didonato & Juan Diego Flórez will join Wiener Philharmoniker on the journey to rediscover Il Templario, an italian opera written by German composer Otto Nicolai. Plácido Domingo & Sonya Yoncheva will go french with Massenet's Thaïs.
The Wiener Philharmoniker will perform in various concerts conducted by Daniel Harding, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, and Mariss Jansons. Many distinguished guest orchestras will revisit Salzburg, such as Concentus Musicus Wien, Berliner Philharmoniker, West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, and Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam.
The Landestheater Salzburg will host several new theater productions, including Beckett's Endspiel and Shakespeare's The Storm, and just as every single year, Hofmannsthal's Jedermann will be performed in Domplatz with Cornelius Obonya portraying the title role for the fourth year in a row.
Go to for more details.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Review: Eugen Onegin in Wiener Staatsoper

So, this past week I got a chance to visit Vienna. Beside stuffing my stomach with cakes and watching the concert of Wiener Virtuosen with Thomas Hampson & Klaus Florian Vogt in Musikverein, I also went to Wiener Staatsoper. Yes, Vienna State Opera. Netrebko is in town and as usual, all hell breaks loose. All tickets are sold out since day one of ticket sale and the last minute ones are super expensive. So I went for the standing places. In Parterre. The price is 4 Euro. Equally the same experience as the loge seats that cost 200 Euro. You only need more muscles, because of the standing part.

First of all, Falk Richter's 6-year-old production is a catastrophe. It's neither romantic nor innovative. A regietheater-labeled product that actually provided no further insight into the story or its characters. If it wasn't for the singers, who succeeded to sing and pour out their emotions, this production would end in the garbage. Such a shame that they waste a huge amount of fake snow on this production.

The star of the night was Netrebko. Her dark sopran voice may not be the most suitable one for the young & innocent Tatjana in the first two acts, but she really convinced the audience through great acting and stage presence (as usual). The drastic change in Tatjana's figure in the third act was quite astonishing; here comes the independent young woman which perfectly fits Netrebko's voice and huge charisma. It's definitely a perfect role for Netrebko, she has waited for years to sing Tatjana (her Russian Album was released 10 years ago, she started to sing this role since 2 years ago). It's really sad, that the production doesn't give much "accent" to Tatjana, it made Netrebko's huge effort ended visually halfway. Final note: the brief scene was simply gorgeous. Viva Netrebko.

Christopher Maltman gave a solid Onegin, although I think the russian operas are still not his main strength. Perhaps he should only sing this role more often in the future. Also celebrated that night was Dmitry Korchak, who sang the brilliant Lenski's aria "Kuda, kuda". Ferruccio Furlanetto, an austrian chamber singer, made a short, but quite impressive appearance as Furst Gremin. Patrick Lange conducted in the right tempo, although the fireworks and passion were missing.

Because it was a revival and Netrebko has also appeared on this role in the very same boring production with "better ensemble" two years ago, the "festive" mood was a little bit low. But there was still a lot of bravos shouted out loud.
I'm coming back for another Netrebko feast in this house in June. Manon Lescaut for 4 Euro plus 8 hours waiting in line & standing, here I come.