Showing posts from March, 2022

Fresh Portrayals Breathe New Life Into Two 20th Century Warhorses

Eleanora Buratto, photo @ Richard Termine  Giacamo Puccini's Madama Butterfly and Alban Berg's Wozzeck are both 20th century masterpieces that caused a shock when they premiered, but over time have become such a part of the repertoire that they have become warhorses. This week I saw two masterful performances that breathed new life into these works. Goerke and Skovhus The Wozzeck was a concert presentation at Carnegie Hall. Andris Nelsons led the Boston Symphony Orchestra in an exciting, cinematic performance. Nelsons preferred a lush, larger-than-life reading of Berg's score that was in many ways reminiscent of James Levine's interpretation. At times. the orchestra actually seemed to shimmer.  The casting was inspired. Bo Skovhus  was a grim, chilling Wozzeck. Despite the concert presentation he conveyed Wozzeck's desperation and mental illness with expert body language. He hunched and twisted his body as if the Doctor's medical experiments were physically w

French Don Carlos: Same Five Hours of Doom and Gloom

  The unit set -- photo @ Ken Howard Hardcore opera fans know that Verdi's Don Carlo was actually the five-act French opera  Don Carlos.  For a variety of reasons, this opera has usually been presented in an Italian translation. The raison d'etre for David McVicar's new production was that Yannick Nézet-Séguin was presenting the opera in its original French for the first time at the Met. McVicar's set, photo @ Ken Howard I'll be the first to admit that I do not speak either Italian or French, and I have no idea how the French version is better. The thing I noticed was that the French version is more conversational and less declamatory -- even the big duet between Carlos and Rodrigue ("Dieu, tu semas dans nos âmes") or Eboli's aria "O don fatal" were not as barnstorming as I remember it in Italian. The other change I could hear was that after Rodrigue's death there was a duet between Philippe and Carlos that was cut in previous production

Ariadne auf Naxos: Goodbye Anna, Hello Lise?

  Lise Davidsen and Brenda Rae, photo @ Marty Sohl The Met took a month-long hiatus in the dead of winter, and returned last week. During the hiatus, the world sort of went to hell in a handbasket. Worried about omicron? That was so one month ago. The worry is now about things like a possible nuclear war.  One of the musical casualties of Vladimir Putin's cruel, power-grabbing war is that the Met severed relations with superdiva Anna Netrebko. Peter Gelb asked for artists to denounce Putin, and when Netrebko (who had announced her support for Putin in the past) did not satisfy Gelb's demand, she was fired . So ended a remarkably fruitful collaboration between the Met's GM and the Russian diva. Gelb's statement: "It is a great artistic loss for the Met and for opera. Anna is one of the greatest singers in Met history, but with Putin killing innocent victims in Ukraine there was no way forward.” Lise Davidsen Well, one door closes and new windows open. The Met's