Opera Suggestions, II

SaSherka

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"Norma" sounded fantastic over Sirius. JDD was sublime.
Norma is on Sirius tonight and in the movies this Saturday. I went to the final dress rehearsal and must've gushed so much about JDD that my grandpa asked if we should go to the HD, so I am taking him (while parents are going to be in house on Saturday)

Are there any opera fans in Chicago? I may have a Fri, Nov. 3 Rigoletto ticket going to waste as I can no longer make it. I plan to be there for Die Walkure on Nov 5!
 

kwanfan1818

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Chicago people: I don't know the soprano, but Rigoletto has Rigoletto=Kelsey, Duke of Mantua=Polenzani, and Sparafucile=Tsymbalyuk, so, someone, please take @SaSherza up on her offer and write about it, please, please, please... (And may CLO please, please, please broadcast this one.)

Jovanovich is a wonderful Siegmund -- he's reprising it in San Francisco in next Spring's Ring after doing the stand-alone lead-up to the 2011 Ring and the Ring performances -- and please report on how Eric ":grope:" Owens does with Wotan, please, please, please!
 

kwanfan1818

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Sondra Radvanovsky :kickass: it over the fence and out of the stadium, to mix metaphors, in the Met Live in HD "Norma."

Props to David McVicar for keeping Adalgisa out of the final scene until the walk to the pyre and for not having Clothilde bring out the kids when Norma asks Oroveso to take care of them. The only misstep for me was her Salome moment with one of the dancers after the cry to war. But that through the end shows she could act up an amazing Salome, Elektra, or Lulu. JDD was feistier than your average Adalgisa -- at the intermission, she spoke of Adalgisa's devotion, and she'd make a great Joan of Arc -- but this show belonged to Radvanovsky.

And if they haven't already, if the Canadian government can grant citizenship to Iliushechkina and ballerina Svetlana Lunkina long before they met the residency requirements, they should give it to Radvanovsky, whose base has been Toronto for many years and who said in past interviews that she wouldn't qualify because she's out of the country performing so much. Her shout-out was to Canada (and her mother, who couldn't be there); Calleja's was to his family and to Malta.

The Druids have been hitting the gym :grope:

While I can understand the strains of a secret relationship that involves a family, isn't it grand that because Pollione can't take the essence of Norma out of her, he decides to take a young thing to Rome so that she's separated from her culture and religion, and it would be, by definition, all about Him Him Him. I don't even believe he has an epiphany towards Norma at the end: I think he just doesn't want her to get Adalgisa killed, and he knows it's up for him, so why not pretend to be noble. Ugh, what a wanker. Loved the look on his friend's face when he blows off Norma before telling his friend that he's got another one lined up.

Marian Smith wrote a book called "Ballet and Opera in the Age of Giselle," in which she explored the musical connections focusing on the 1830's-40's, and listening to "Norma," all of those connections were so clear, from "Norma" to "Lucia di Lammermoor" to "Giselle." Almost all of "Giselle" takes place outdoors, over half of "Norma" does, and much of "Lucia," and Lucia references some of that music in the indoor mad scene. Bellini, Donizetti, and Adam wrote wonderfully atmospheric music for outdoors, especially the woods and moonlight.

Susanna Phillips was host, and she's glowingly pregnant. Leave it to Peter Gelb to thank her for timing it so that she can do the La Boheme Live in HD. Because, Peter Gelb.

ETA: I wonder whether Norma's opening scene had any impact on Wagner's portrayals of Erda and the Norns. Wagner knew his Bellini.
 
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SaSherka

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Chicago's Rigoletto opened last night and it was broadcast on WQXR, so the audio should be somewhere on the interwebs already.

Loved the Norma HD yesterday. Everyone sounded much better than the other 3 times I heard this cast.
 

kwanfan1818

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I think Radvanovsky must have woken up at 3am to get warmed up.

Matinees must be like being jetlagged. It's probably easier to sing them if you can fly in and be in another time zone. Or be up all night while your wife is in labor ;)

Off to try to find that Rigoletto...
 

kwanfan1818

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Thanks to the Met in HD camera people and director for shots of Principal Oboe Nathan Hughes. I thought he looked very familiar: he had been Principal Oboe for Seattle Symphony.
 

kwanfan1818

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All you hear about the Met Opera's "Magic Flute" is Taymor, Taymor, Taymor, but Tsypin's set and use of the carousel was pretty spectacular, too.

I <3. <3, <3 Markus Werba's Papageno. So did the little boy about three rows ahead of me who gave him a standing ovation in the movie theater.

Rene Pape :kickass: Sarastro. No surprises there.

Golda Schultz was a knockout Tamina. Charles Castronova sounded like a heldentenor, although his website describes him as a lyric tenor and his rep is full of Mozart, Donizetti, etc. I kept hearing Siegmund, Siegfried, Lohengrin, etc. in his singing, and I hope he gets there eventually.

The Met on Sirius is now playing (and will repeat this week) Kiri te Kanawa's Met debut as Desdemona. She made it a month early as a last-minute replacement for Stratas (according to Wikipedia) and on a Saturday broadcast. With Vickers. No pressure or anything.

ETA: Seattle Opera just emailed to let them know what I thought about their new "Barber of Seville," that I saw some of Saturday night.

Um, no, they really don't. Although John Moore (Figaro) was superb, and his performance almost made me stay after intermission, after the coherent and beautifully sung and acted performance I saw earlier that morning, my feet (and a ReachNow car) took me home early.
 
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kwanfan1818

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Barbara Hannigan is giving recitals, and, sadly, I'm nowhere near any of them. Three are:
  • Nov 14 in DC (Kennedy Center): Berg, Schönberg, Wolf, Zemlinsky, Alma Mahler, Webern
  • Nov 16 in NYC (Park Avenue Armory): Berg, Schönberg, Wolf, Zemlinsky, Alma Mahler, Webern
  • Nov 18 in NYC (Park Avenue Armory): Satie's "Socrate"
  • Nov 21 in Philadelphia (Kimmel Center): Berg, Schönberg, Wolf, Zemlinsky, Alma Mahler, Webern
 

Spun Silver

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A friend invited me to Ade’s Exterminating Angel at the Met tonght. Pretentious crap. We agreed to leave at the intermission, as did many others. I may check out the Buñuel film some day though.

I rarely go to the Met any more, but my friend subscribes and said that the house is usually not even half-full. What sad news. The last time I was there it was less than full and I noticed that the velvet-covered walls were getting threadbare. But half-empty houses - that is a crushing state of affairs. My friend said it was actually much fuller tonight for some reason - the power of a rave review in the Times still holds, I guess.
 

emason

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I was there also. I feel about it the way I feel about almost every modern opera I’ve seen: not sorry I went and saw it, but don’t ever need to see it again. Friend I went with really liked it, as did a lot of the audience. There were a lot of bravos during the curtain calls.
 

kwanfan1818

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I've heard it twice now over Sirius, and I'm looking forward to the HD. I'm a fan of Ades' music.

The camera should make this more interesting; the directing challenge on stage is great, since none of the many upper class characters -- 15? -- could leave the stage.
 

emason

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I agree; I think the HD performance will be a completely different experience. I hope you will report on it; I’m interested to hear what you think.
 

kwanfan1818

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Right now, someone is Live Tweeting Minnesota Opera's production of "The Marriage of Figaro," the posts are intermingled among posts about Ronald Moore and Louis CK and curling and figure skating in my Twitter feed :lol:.
 

BlueRidge

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I saw Washington Opera's Alcina Wednesday night.

As far as I'm concerned Handel is nirvana so I was very happy.

I had mixed feelings about the production but since I'm a glass half full person :40beers: in the end I decided I liked it. It was rather spare and vague but that turned out okay as the cast was very solid.

I wasn't as impressed with Angela Meade as Alcina as I thought I would be. But Elizabeth DeShong in the trouser role was fabulous. (It was disconcerting that due to her size and shape in the masculine costume she reminded me of Melissa McCarthy doing Sean Spicer--and it wasn't just me, I just read Anne Midgette's review in the Post and she said the same thing :lol: )

I particularly loved Ying Fang as Morgana, well in this role she managed to be right in the kind of character and singing that makes me :swoon: but I thought she was fabulous.
 

kwanfan1818

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I agree; I think the HD performance will be a completely different experience. I hope you will report on it; I’m interested to hear what you think.
I can't imagine what it would have been like from the theater, especially from the Family Circle, where I usually like to sit at the Met.

I suspect the camera helped a lot to focus what was important/who was singing, although I'm sure we missed a lot of the staging. What I didn't like were the choreographed tics/arm movements that many of the characters had. Aside from that, the characterizations were superb in such a difficult, complicated piece. I know over half of the main characters also sang their roles in Salzburg and London, but, still, an amazing accomplishment.

Luna's last solo was a tour de force, and she moves so well, that it was a great synthesis of singing and gesture. I still love most of the music, aside, perhaps, from Sra Nobile's, which was at a hysterical pitch in general.
 

Wyliefan

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Oh, no. :( I know he'd been fighting cancer a long time, but everyone was so hoping he might be able to beat it. R.I.P.
 

Spun Silver

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Oh no! Sad news - somehow I had the impression he was beating his cancer.

But what a full life and career he had. It was always a joy to see him at the Met. I never knew about his alcoholism. What a grace that he was able to overcome it and renew his career. Rest in peace, glorious lion of music!
 

emason

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Yesterday, courtesy of a friend too ill to use her theater ticket, I got to go see Farinelli and the King with Mark Rylance as the king of Spain and Sam Crane as Farinelli. Why am I bringing this up? Because Sam Crane only does the acting; the counter-tenor, Iestyn Davies, does the singing. I was in Handel heaven, 9 different arias. Best moment: very end of Act 1, when Farinelli descends from the ceiling of the stage all Deus ex Machina singing his heart out.

(Actually, I am taking it on faith that it was Davies. I understand he is not doing all performances, and this was a matinee, but there was no announcement that the cover, James Hall, was doing it yesterday. In any case, the singing was great.)

Edited to add: I checked Davies’ website and it says he’s not doing any matinees, so I think it was the cover after all. Thumbs up for James Hall then, because he was terrific.
 
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emason

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I really shouldn’t refer to James Hall as the cover. He’s the alternate, who does two shows a week. Friend and I were in the front row on banquette seating on the side. We are thinking of trying to go again later in the run and sitting farther back so we can really appreciate that Deus ex Machina moment.

What we didn’t expect is just how funny the play is. I laughed a lot yesterday. The greatest play ever? No, but a really enjoyable afternoon.

Signing off,

Your friend the counter-tenor groupie. (You can have the Bari-hunks.)
 

alexikeguchi

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Has anyone seen the Zambello/San Francisco Opera Ring Cycle live? My younger son has recently become a Wagner devotee (19 years old, how about that?) and would thoroughly love to get the whole experience. San Francisco was the only upcoming fully staged production I could find that has some availability and is remotely accessible, but it's a big investment since it still entails travel for both of us; I don't want to spend the time or money and then be underwhelmed. Cast includes Herlitzius, Brenna, Struckmann, Grimsley, Mattila, Jovanovich. Thanks in advance.
 

kwanfan1818

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Yes, and it was wonderful. I saw Die Walkure which they unveiled before the full Ring and then the Ring itself. I didn't agree with all of Zambello's choices, but hers is thoughtful and vibrant direction, and she's always rethinking things and adjusting and clarifying.

The cast members who are returning are three wonderful tenors: Jovanovich, who sang a superb Siegmund in the preview Die Walkure and in the 2011 Ring, Margita as Loge, and Cangelosi as Mime (The latter two just about stole the show in Das Rheingold and Siegfried), the fine Citro and Miller. (Citro was Freia and Gutrune in 2011; the 2018 website doesn't list anyone for Freia). Also Andrea Silvestrelli (Hagen and Fasolt), whom I don't like, but he was in the young artists' program in San Francisco, and you can't have everything.

Seattle was lucky to have witnessed Grimsley's first Wotan/Wanderer in 2005; he also sang in the 2009 and 2013 cycles and his portray got better and better as he fine-tuned the role. I saw the first and third Seattle cycles in 2009, and he and Stephanie Blythe (Fricka) didn't simply repeat their first cycle performances in the third: they were more in the moment. Jamie Barton sounded wonderful as Fricka in some excerpts I heard from Houston. I'll miss Gordon Hawkins as Alberich, but am interested in seeing what Struckmann will do with it. Herlitzius I've only heard over the radio, but I'm really looking forward to her Brunnhilde. I don't know Brenna at all, but I've read some excellent reviews of him, and I'm guessing he'll be stronger than Storey was.

In my opinion, this is about as good an all-around cast as it gets now. The orchestra sounded great under Runnicles; I saw the second cycle, IIRC; any issues with the orchestra raised in first cycle reviews must have been ironed out.

In addition to the Ring, there are a series of Wagner-related presentations:
https://sfopera.com/ring/planyourring/ring-festival/

The Symposium on Thursday and the Forum on Saturday (followed by the movie) add to the full immersive experience: in these presented at the Toronto Ring that opened the Four Seasons Centre, I learned what a Ring Head is from the horses' mouths. Your son might be amused as people who recognize each other from any number of Rings they've seen around the world brag about who's seen more, the best, the rare substitution, etc. The speakers for each Saturday forum are currently listed; the Symposium guests are not yet listed, but they tend to be a range of performers/designers/directors, producers, and Ring scholars.

When I went in 2011, I splurged on Dress Circle tickets. Not this time, because they are running Operavision for all three Rings in the Balcony. For me, this is the best of all possible worlds: you get to hear it live, but if you look to the side, you get the "Live in HD" close-ups projected on screens, with subtitles. (The titles in the main house are projected at the sides of the proscenium.)

San Francisco is also fantastic in the summer, and there are two opportunities mid-cycle for overnight trips to Napa or day trips.
 

Spun Silver

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Has anyone seen the Zambello/San Francisco Opera Ring Cycle live? My younger son has recently become a Wagner devotee (19 years old, how about that?) and would thoroughly love to get the whole experience. San Francisco was the only upcoming fully staged production I could find that has some availability and is remotely accessible, but it's a big investment since it still entails travel for both of us; I don't want to spend the time or money and then be underwhelmed. Cast includes Herlitzius, Brenna, Struckmann, Grimsley, Mattila, Jovanovich. Thanks in advance.
I love it that you have a teenage Wagnerian son!!

I know nothing about the production but if he is going to be a Wagnerian he will be listening to and attending Ring productions all his life. There is something to gripe about in all of them as well as to appreciate and with Wagner the orchestra is so fabulous and sweeping that you can even enjoy it with bad voices. I say go for it, just don't expect perfection. It is a lot to take in the first time anyway. (I remember walking out on my first Parsifal, ostensibly because I thought the flower maiden scene was like a toilet paper commercial -- they are very "soft" and pretty -- but in reality because I was just overwhelmed by the huge opera. Now it's one of my all time favorites.)

Karita Mattila, the Sieglinde, used to be one of the great sopranos of our time. I think the last time I heard her she was sadly declined. (?) Perhaps it was a vocal problem that she's fixed. She has a lot of dramatic power in any case -- sometimes that can be an exciting substitute for great singing in Wagner (cf. the aging Leonie Rysanek).

Let us know how it works out! Cheers to your son. :)
 
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