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Opera Suggestions

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by agalisgv, Oct 3, 2009.

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  1. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

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    Not opera, but there's a newly found work by Igor Stravinsky, "Funeral Song," that is being streamed for free on medici.tv as part of a concert conducted by Valeri Gergiev from the Mariinsky.

    www.medici.tv

    At the moment, they're still playing the opening work by Rimsky-Korsakov. It's likely to be archived and available for 3-6 months. It takes up to a day for things to be archived.
     
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  2. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

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    Through December 31 (11:59 PST) you can stream the Metropolitan Opera council Western Region auditions on KDFC from the Bay Area:
    http://www.kdfc.com/pages/17262965.php

    The names of the singers are listed on this page (scroll):
    http://www.metopera.org/About/Auditions/nationalcouncil/CurrentWinners/

    The winners of the participation awards and prizes are announced at the end of Part 2. The two 1st Prize winners go to the semi-finals in NYC in March 2017.

    As usual, the judges and I disagreed :)

    ETA: The new Stravinsky is available until the end of February (85 days from now, I'm assuming CET) on medici.tv. If it moves off the home page, it will be moved to the "LIVE" tab, available in delayed streaming section. You can go directly to it on the time slider as the third section or section "tick."

    There are intros and commentary in Russian later translated into English in the first section.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2016
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  3. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

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    I went to the Met today for L'Amour de Loin. Did anyone go to the HD broadcast? I'm curious what others thought and how the production came across on the silver screen.

    I'll give my opinion after I've heard from others.
     
  4. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

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    I saw the HD after listening to two of the Sirius broadcasts and loving the music. I assume that watching this production in particular in a movie theater was a very different experience than in the house, which I experienced when deciding to see Damnation of Faust at the Met after seeing the Live in HD.

    Robert Lepage sure loves his machines as much as he loves using lights on geometric sets. (Part of the Cultural Olympiad in 2010 was a production of his play, "The Blue Dragon," in which the sets created a more conventional home space, but with interesting use of lights and patterns.) In the movie theater, Michael Curry's set designs and Kevin Adams' lighting designs worked brilliantly, with a deceptively simple base, aside from the dream sequence. At first, I thought the woman in white was a fish, and that in the middle of the contemporary set they were using Drottningholm technique, but then when it was clear that she was supposed to depict his dream, I found it dorky. I had two reservations with the costume design: that Clemence's dress was long, when she had to navigate the set and the machine -- I was afraid it would get caught in the steps that became a floor when they closed up to create a floor -- and Rudel's sweater, which looked off-the-rack with the cables covered in gold fabric paint, and which distracted me, because I was trying to figure out how to knit it.

    I loved what Lepage did with the chorus staging.

    Owens sounded stronger than he had in the Sirius broadcasts, where he was quite wobbly and took a while to settle. Phillips and Mumford sounded wonderful, as did the orchestra. Again, that was through the microphones, and I rarely know what the singers sound like in the house.

    Having loved the way it sounded, but only having the outline of the plot, my reservation was the subject, because I don't have much patience with the idea of a man who has an ideal love and is afraid that reality will disappoint -- wah, freaking wah -- and I think that purity is, at best, highly overrated, but it was the librettist, Amin Maalouf who made the opera for me; I wanted about three more intermissions so that I could think more about the words, which not only spoke about love, but about communication and expectations: How do we use go-betweens? What does the go-between describe, leave out, emphasize? How do we filter and interpret what that person says or what someone says directly? How do we behave to present or preserve an image of what we want? How do we bargain? How do different needs and wants converge to bring people to the same place? How does a description of what the other person sees influence and change the original reaction and bring another person around?

    Then there was the aspect of control: Rudel, as a wealthy man, had the privilege of living vicariously through the descriptions of others and parasitically use that material for his art, without having to experience the reality himself, until he decided to get on the boat and actually see for himself, even if, in the end, he didn't have to go through with anything. Clemence, as a woman, did not have that option: having been taken from her home, she could only wait and be objectified.

    I loved that the Pilgrim had his/her Brangaene moment, after being somewhat elusive until the end.

    I wasn't expecting the libretto to be as explicit about how expectations about G-d were filtered as self-consciously and selfishly as those about love, but Maalouf went there.

    I really liked the intermission feature with Saariaho and Maalouf. Voigt noted that there were a lot of musical events in New York with Saariaho's music, and the composer sounded moved that her music was embraced.
     
  5. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

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    Nice write-up. Thanks.

    My experience in the house was quite different. Of course, there was no intermission feature for those of us there live. Also, I hate the Met's back-of-the-seat-in-front-of-you subtitling system. I had to abandon trying to read the subtitles so that I could concentrate on the stage; I totally missed 95% of the translation and really only got the superficial gist of what anyone was singing about.

    My major like was the music, which I really loved. My big, big, big dislike was the three principals; I simply did not like the sound of any of those voices. I'm not running out to hear any of them in anything else anytime soon.

    I thought the LED lights were used very effectively at times, but the overall effect of them was soporific; they nearly put me to sleep.

    There was a moment at the end when Rudel died, the LED lights went black, and the Pilgrim came halfway down the steps - at that moment I saw the Pilgrim as Death. I'm convinced he was Death all along.

    This goes into that category of what I call hazardous duty pay operas. You know, extra pay for singing Romeo on a hanging, swinging bed, extra pay for climbing a million steep steps into the stratosphere (pick half the operas at the Met for that category), extra pay for dealing with the height and steps of the machine in this production.

    Not sorry I went at all, but have no desire to see it again or hear those singers in anything else. Really couldn't stand those voices. Sorry, fans.
     
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  6. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

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    When I was growing up, my father always played Wagner. I would complain about the singing, and he would tell me that when he didn't like the singing, he'd block it out and listen to the always-beautiful orchestra. (My father was the master of selective listening.) I've changed my mind about Wagner vocals over time, but if I were in your shoes @emason, I would have been in agony not to be able to follow the libretto and not to be able to block out the voices.

    There are plenty of singers who sound fine over the broadcasts, but I've been told not-so-great in person, and vice versa: some I've heard live that sounded great, especially in the Family Circle, but sound awful with the mikes so close. Their voices need to bloom over a distance to sound rich.

    Based on the libretto, I don't think the Pilgrim is meant to be Death. The Pilgrim is ambiguous until the end, when he -- I'm assuming "he" unless it's a woman disguised as a man, because only a man would have the mobility -- talks about his intentions in being the go-between and, like Brangaene, finds himself culpable. What isn't clear is whether he consciously had a plan like Brangaene did, or got caught up in the power of being the go-between and how he could affect others' lives, the road to Hell being paved with good intentions.

    The opera was written in the late 1990's, premiering in 2000, before everyone had a cell phone and was on social media, which is why I found its questions of how much control people have and should have over their message resonant. The questions of what control people have over their art and the ethics of appropriating the muse are much more predictable in the context of this story.
     
  7. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

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    I only thought the Pilgrim represented Death because of the dramatic staging at that particular moment. Yes, definitely missed not having the words. When your high school French is only good enough to recognize rossignol when you hear it, you are in trouble.

    A friend and I agreed on one thing: how much this opera reminded us of Debussy and Pelleas and Mellisande.

    Thanks for all your comments. I came to opera late and I have a lot to learn. It would help if I ever actually listened to more at home, but music has always been a destination event for me. Buy a ticket, go to the performance. I haven't turned my radio on in at least five years.
     
  8. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

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    Someone on Opera-L shared a link to the libretto:
    http://www.tripoli-city.org/amour/

    The Met Titles were attributed to Cory Ellison, and this site says "Chester Music," but it's similar enough.

    It's funny that "rossignol" was the word that most popped out to me, too :)
     
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  9. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    Didn't make the HD but listened on the radio. I'm torn about whether to go to the encore. Unlike @emason, I loved the voices but not the music! :)
     
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  10. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

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    If you like up-close visuals, and don't mind spatse, but effective, sets, it might be worth going to the Encore, especially if you liked the voices. They'll sound the same on HD, if your theater has a decent around system.
     
  11. Spun Silver

    Spun Silver Well-Known Member

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    I dont know if this would help you, but my sister gave me a Bose Soundtouch. I didnt even know what it was, but it's a countertop-size machine that I put in my kitchen that lets me listen to CDs, radio and internet radio. I mainly listen to Operavore, which is a nice, commercial-free, announcer-free offering of WQXR. It is all highlights -- they do play full operas sometimes but I never manage to tune in at the right time -- but their range is a lot wider than their parent station's and they play a lot of the great singers of the past, who are my favorites. I enjoy guessing who and what is playing since they're not identified and when stuck and I just have to know, I can look it up on their playlist online (when it's working :/). It sure puts me in a better mood when I'm cooking and cleaning the kitchen!
     
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  12. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the suggestion. I'll check it out.
     
  13. oleada

    oleada Well-Known Member

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    Is there a recommendation for getting well priced tickets for the Met Opera? Just their website? I was hoping to get some for my dad for Christmas. I've gotten discounted tickets through work before (good orchestra seats) but they have nothing available right now, and I'm not much of an opera fan so I don't have the scoop.

    If not, I'll buy them full price but I thought I'd ask.
     
  14. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    I always just buy a cheap seat in the balcony or at the back, and bring my opera glasses (if I remember them :) ). The sound is said to be even better up in the balcony, anyway.
     
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  15. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

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    The sound at the Met is better the higher up you go. I've taken to always sitting in the Balcony in the last few years.

    Whatever you do, do not buy tickets for the Orchestra. Because of a substantial dip at a certain point in the Orchestra floor, you can be close to the stage and not hear a thing. The sound goes over your head and floats upward. I once heard big, booming Ute Vinzing as Electra from the Orchestra, and her sound was anything but big and booming; meanwhile, a friend in the upper reaches of the House was thrilled with how loud Vinzing was.
     
  16. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

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    So, I trundled out in the despicable cold and wind last night to go hear Joyce DiDonato at Carnegie Hall. She's touring around with a program of Songs of War and Peace, tied in I gather to her latest CD. Her singing was sublime, as always. Her final encore was Morgen by Richard Strauss. Gorgeous, just gorgeous. Every note in every piece was thrilling, fabulous, gorgeous, you name it. (Disclaimer: DiDonato uber here.)

    What didn't work was the performance art aspect of the evening. Carnegie Hall is too big a venue for that sort of thing, and the back wall of the stage is slightly curved and adorned with columns and plaster garlands and you name it. Projecting video on that wall is a waste of time and effort; you can't tell what you are looking at as video and wall decorations overlap and barge into each other. Part of the performance used a dancer; I felt that didn't add anything to the evening either. It was just a distraction. A smaller, more suitable venue would have made a big difference.
     
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  17. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

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    I saw it in Vancouver and agree that she sounded sublime.

    I wasn't so upset about the distraction of the bare-chested dancer in the skirt: he had :grope: shoulders. I was much more distracted that she was in bare feet, at least for the second half, and she was moving on and offstage. I could only think of Stephanie Blythe's story about her debut as Madame Quickly in "Falstaff": she stepped on a nail during her entrance, and to keep it from piercing her skin, she did the entire "Reverenza" scene with Falstaff standing on the side of her foot.

    When she spoke before "Morgen," she joked about having maybe been one of the people who googled "Canadian citizenship" the night of the election. (The CIC site crashed from all of the traffic.) She was not shy about discussing politics in the context of her show in this CBC interview aired the day of her recital:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQYGHFK_8nA
     
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  18. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

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    I saw a Parsifal at the Met with Jonas Kaufmann several seasons back. Modern production concept included a river of blood that was actually a shallow pool painted red and filled with water. Barefoot Kaufmann splashed around in that 'river' I don't know how many times, and he was not the only one. All I could think of was the pan of disinfectant I had to step into every time I visited my local swimming pool as a child. I was fervently hoping the Met had something like that backstage or half the cast was going to have nasty foot fungus for weeks.
     
  19. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

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    And it looked like raspberry jello to me (on video), not blood.

    I heard a couple of interviews in which they described that it was, at least, warm water.

    But, speaking of that Parsifal, Hvorostovsky has withdrawn from opera performances (but not recitals, guesting with orchestras), and :swoon: Amfortas Peter Mattei and Mariusz Kwieczen are singing Eugene Onegin in his place at the Met, with Mattei scheduled for the Live in HD broadcast.
     
  20. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

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    I may consider adding this to my schedule, thanks. I did see/hear Hvorostovsky's Onegin at Chicago Lyric about 8 1/2 years ago. It's truly a shame about his medical issues.

    Also saw Joyce DiDonato in Barber of Seville on that trip. What a joy that was; one of the funniest opera productions I've ever seen. As they say, my sides hurt I was laughing so hard.
     
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  21. Spun Silver

    Spun Silver Well-Known Member

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    Hmm, you sound like a potential participant in a demonstration I have long wanted to hold in front of the Met: "BRING BACK THE OLD [Everding] PARSIFAL!"

    Re Hvorostovsky--ugh ugh ugh. His continued singing made me think he was winning the battle. Let us hope he still may. I am glad he is being public about it at least. Tatiana Troyanos died of cancer at 54 and almost no one (in the general public) knew she was ill. But that was how she wanted it.
     
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  22. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

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    This was my only Parsifal, so don't know the old production, but thought this production was a hot mess. I'll be happy to picket.
     
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  23. Spun Silver

    Spun Silver Well-Known Member

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    The Everding production was magical and profound, and used light wonderfully. They replaced it with something stupid and plasticky. Now the conceptual one you've seen (that I've not). I (usually) hate it when the Met goes trendy. Especially when to do it they ditch something truly beautiful.

    It would be so much fun to do that demo, maybe one Easter when they are doing Parsifal. All we need are a few opera fans, signs, and a good press release. Wot larx!
     
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  24. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

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    Somewhere along the line the productions grew to be more important than the music or the singers. Um, no, it should be the music and the singers that should rank first.
     
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  25. Spun Silver

    Spun Silver Well-Known Member

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    Couldnt agree more!

    TryIng to picture Jon Vickers doing Parsifal while walking in raspberry jello. I think not. Troyanos was a magnificent Kundry and she was adventurous... but I dont think she would have gone for it either.
     
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  26. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I <3 Kozuka

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  27. SaSherka

    SaSherka Well-Known Member

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    OMG I think I need to check my FSU settings as I just saw all these messages! Yeah, I am still super bummed about that abrupt Guillaume Tell ending. Really wanted to see and hear Act IV live. My friends and I were too busy reporting on the happenings and I finally gave up after speaking with AP. I was at the GT with mom and she and my dad were due to go see L'Italiana that night and were understandably mad at the whole situation once pieces of information were being revealed over the course of the evening. We ended up at the restaurant with most of the L'Italiana cast for the evening and really felt for them :(

    Tucker Gala was fabulous and I am 100% with you on your highlights! And this post reminded me to finally sit down and watch the new JDD masterclasses before they expire. (I had a ticket for the 2nd day, just before the Tucker Gala, and ended up skipping it in favor of Verdi's Requiem with the London Symphony @ Lincoln Center)

    I heard the opening broadcast and was intrigued by the music, so went to the HD as an opera buddy had an extra ticket. I almost fell asleep. I thought I was missing something as I heard rave reviews about the production from a few friends, so went to the actual performance on Dec 17. Got our subscription tickets upgraded for free at the last moment to Orchestra H on the aisle, which felt too close to appreciate the LED lights effects. Apart from the big Pilgrim's aria in the first half and the very end of the opera, I did not care for the plot, the singing or the staging. I did not fall asleep, but the woman in front of me was nodding quite often. Owens was struggling, so his cover, Michael Todd Simpson, was on standby (and MTS sang 12/24 matinee after all). Now I can say I gave this opera three tries and have no need to see/hear it again.

    Also, @emason, so sorry I missed you at the JDD concert! Being a Joyce uber, I spoiled myself by gathering all the photo/video/audio reviews of the tour and that must've diminished my overall impression. She sang as best as she can, she wowed me and my friend more than once during the concert, but I didn't leave CH thinking this was the best concert experience ever. Maybe it was due to the fact that it was a long travel day from Boston, not enough sleep and waiting almost an hour in the meet & greet line at the end.

    Someone also asked about Nabucco earlier? Yes, make an effort to go to the HD. Loved the production, still collecting my jaw off the floor hearing the monstrous music of Abigaille!!! And what a luxury casting in the smaller roles of Ismaele (Russell Thomas) and Fenena (Jamie Barton)!

    I should probably start tallying up my Best of 2016 opera list :cool:
     
  28. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

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    @SaSherka,

    Nice to see you back in the opera thread. I was wondering where you had been and what you had heard.

    Opera stupidity of the year definitely goes to that idiot who sprinkled those ashes at intermission.
     
  29. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

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    Saw Nabucco today--what a treat! I thought the performances got stronger as the opera progressed. I'm very glad I went--thanks all for the recommendation :)
     
  30. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

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    Pretty Yende being interviewed on Met Radio broadcast: :swoon:
     
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