Thursday, February 11, 2016

Opéra National de Paris announced 2016/2017 season

While currently still showing the cashcow, new production of Il Trovatore with Netrebko, the Paris opera house announced the program for their next season earlier today. A few highlights include Jonas Kaufmann's appearances as the title roles in the revival of Les Contes D'Hoffmann and the new Claus Guth's production of Lohengrin, the one premiered 4 years ago in La Scala. Anja Harteros is Tosca alongside Bryn Terfel as Scarpia in the production revival, Anna Netrebko will portray Tatjana in the revival of Willy Decker's gorgeous Eugene Onegin near the season's end in June 2017. 

New productions are Eliogabalo, Samson et Dalila, Cavalleria Rusticana(innovatively coupled not with Pagliacci but...)/Sancta Susanna, Lohengrin (as seen in the photo above from La Scala), Cosi fan tutte, Carmen (with Roberto Alagna, Elīna Garanča, Maria Agresta, Ildar Abdrazakov etc.), The Snow Maiden (directed by Dmitri Tcherniakov) & La Cenerentola. GMD Philippe Jordan will conduct various concerts and accompany the recital of Joyce DiDonato, he will also conduct Samson, Hoffmann, Lohengrin & Cosi fan tutte. With other exciting revivals just as this running season, the house is on its way of becoming a solid opera company again after quite a few years of setbacks. Explore more here.

The press for the next season also came with a sad, devastating news regarding the planned live stream of the Trovatore production: Netrebko currently suffers acute bronchitis and will not be performing on the live stream event on February 11. I suppose Hui He will replace her, because she is also planned to sing Leonora on the rest of the shows until March. The international fans of Netrebko should then be content with the live stream of Trovatore from the Met last October - that one revival of a boring production, instead of being able to see a new fresh production from Paris, which received a positive resonance from both the critics and audience. What a cruel world.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Internet Stream: South Pole from Bayerische Staatsoper

On January 31, the Bayerische Staatsoper premiered their much-anticipated commisioned work by Miroslav Srnka and librettist Tom Holloway: South Pole tells the story of Robert Scott & Roald Amundsen's race to South Pole. Similar to real life, the stage was split into left and right section where the stories of both teams were being staged simultaneously. The superb cast included Rolando Villazón (Robert Scott), Thomas Hampson (Roald Amundsen), Mojca Erdmann (Landlady), and Tara Erraught (Kathleen Scott) among others. Hans Neuenfels directed the production, while the house GMD Kirill Petrenko conducted his first-ever world premiere. Check out the live stream on arte site right here

Monday, February 8, 2016

Review: Richard Strauss' Salome at Deutsche Oper Berlin

Claus Guth is omnipotent in Berlin. Beside this new production of Salome, next June he will direct Juliette at Staatsoper, while the mentioned house is also currently reviving his Turn of The Screw production, premiered last season.
This Salome production is quite interesting and if you wonder, no, you won't see the beheaded head of Jochanaan. Guth offered a sensitive approach toward the subject of this piece, instead of the more classic production, which usually approach the Salome figure as a myth; mysterious woman whose reasoning and lust of love & sex is strange and unapproachable back at the time of the release of the Oscar Wilde's play, even up until now. Just as his Der fliegende Hollaender in Bayreuth (premiered in 2003), the production revolves around a young Salome, a sexually-traumatized daughter of a textile tycoon, and was set in a tailor store where the workers and background figures of the opera, including Naraboth, acted as speaking dummys. Being sexually molested by Herodes, Salome's act of "rebellion" towards his father, by asking the head of Jochanaan, is a revelation of her sexual oppression. Tanz der sieben Schleier (Dance of the Seven Veils) was an interpretive dance in form of an reenactment of her past, growing in the house of her molesting step-father. The head of Jochanaan is the head of a dummy Salome took apart from its body, which made a quite confusing and anti-climatic ending, honestly. Salome walked away from the stage. Fin. It's basically a visually flat production, whose power lays in the idea and the message. Typical Guth.

Catherine Naglestad sang the title role on the premiere, but later got sick, so Allison Oakes replaced her on the show I saw. She did a great job learning all the stage directions in less than two days. Sounded quite youthful, she portrayed this Salome as an innocent, victimized young girl, instead as a blood thirsty princess of Judea. All around great performance. Michael Volle as Jochanaan succeded in the vocal and acting department, even though the production really put his character in the background. Quite a shame.  Naraboth was also pushed to the background, Herodes and Herodias were there to play the dysfunctional parents' part - the production didn't regard highly of their presence. The rest of the ensemble sounded very good. Bravo to Alain Altinoglu, he successfully made a name of himself as one of the hottest newcomer conductor right now. His conducting of Salome was another proof of his great range of expertise, the melancholic and dramatic parts were always on point, he's quite that type that sometimes overpower the singers with the loud sound of the orchestra. A little polish here and there, then we'll get a junior Thielemann.

Go see it if you're interested in "alternative" productions or if you're a Strauss fan. People with high expectation for bloody beheading or exotic images would come home empty handed. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Wagner's Das Rheingold & Die Walküre in Leipzig

Oper Leipzig will finally reach the conclusion for their Ring des Nibelungen with the premiere of Götterdämmerung later this season. On a snowy weekend in January, I visited the opera house and saw the first two nights of the cycle. Rosamund Gilmore tried to retell the story of the Ring in mediocre but good-looking stage while staying true to the libretto. It's a production neither filled with revelations nor innovations, but with the help of an ensemble of dancers, the action on stage was a bit merrier. 

 Most of the singers came from the house's own ensemble. Guests Andreas Schager (debuting as Siegmund) and Thomas J. Mayer (as Wotan in Die Walküre) made the best impression, considering their level of "Wagner-fame" right now. The rest of the cast was good, with possible improvements - of course. Ulf Schirmer got the tempo most of the time, but lack of enthusiasm and the weird percussion during the ride to Nibelheim really put me off. He's not a Wagnerianer and he doesn't have to be one. Basta. In the end, the Leipzig's Ring production is a possible alternative for Wagner experts (like me, who constantly yearn to see more Wagner every single week) and definitely a worthy production for many beginners. Don't expect anything radical and let's hope the quality of the cast can be better with the growing interest to re-establish this house to its former glory days.