Don Carlo at the Royal Opera House

Quite a while ago now, I went with my dad to see my first ever performance at the Royal Opera House in London. Up until now, I had only been to performances by WNO and other travelling companies in Bristol, so this was very exciting. My parents and I arrived a bit early, so I got to look around in the shop and I bought this CD (although I was also very tempted to buy a giant poster of Simon Keenlyside to put up in my room).

Then my mum took this picture of me and my dad outside the Royal Opera House and went off to go and see ENO’s production of Wozzeck.

So we went inside and found our seats. We were sitting a little bit around to the left and towards the front of the Amphitheatre level.

The arrow shows roughly where I was sitting

The arrow shows roughly where I was sitting

There are two main things I need to talk about here: the performance and the opera itself.

This was my first experience of this opera and I really loved it because it really is one of Verdi’s best (in my opinion as someone who hasn’t heard several of his operas yet). The music is great and very moving. The thing that really struck me about this opera was how well the plot works and how closely the music fits with it. I think that this is one of the few operas where the plot really makes sense (not including the bit at the very end which makes literally no sense at all). It has lots of levels to it – you get to see the situations from the points of view of every main character and both the political and emotional drama that’s going on. This comes through especially clearly in the famous aria “Ella giammai m’amo”. I love this song because, apart from the fact that it’s beautiful music, you see Filippo as not just the bad guy but as an old man with too many decisions to make. Throughout the opera, I always felt sympathy towards each of the characters at different points and that made the performance as a whole much more emotional and involving. The other moment that really interested me was when Posa was asking Philip to help the Dutch people and Philip refused but you could tell that he really admired Posa for trying to change the world and being brave enough to challenge what those with power did. It’s much more interesting if the bad guy isn’t just a one-sided character.

Mariusz Kwiecien as Posa and Ferruccio Furlanetto as King Philip

The performance was beyond amazing. The best performers, I think, were Ferruccio Furlanetto as King Philip, Mariusz Kwiecien as Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa and Béatrice Uria-Monzon as Princess Eboli. I don’t think I will ever see a better performance of King Philip than Furlanetto’s, especially his ‘Ella giammai m’amo’ His weariness and frustration comes acr oss beautifully in the music. Kwiecien and Uria-Morzon both acted well and made their characters very developed using the music as well. Roberto Aronica (who sang Carlos) and Lianna Haroutounian (who sang Elisabetta) both did well but neither did anything particularly outstanding until Haroutounian’s Tu che le vanita, which she sang very beautifully and elegantly.

The sets were fine but didn’t really add anything to the performance and in some scenes just looked strange (what is the red Lego wall thing in Act 2 for?). But the singing and acting was magnificent and I don’t think I’ve ever wanted an opera to end less. Hoping to go back to the ROH as soon as possible!

This are the tweets I posted on the night:

5 Worst Operatic Fathers

Happy Father’s Day, everyone! I thought it would be nice to celebrate it by making a list of the worst fathers in opera. I have decided to do a list of the worst one because it’s so much easier and anyway the best fathers in opera are normally the ones who just do nothing and let their children mess up their own lives by themselves.

5. Giorgio Germont (from La traviata by Verdi) 

This guy isn’t such an awful dad because, admittedly, the only reason he makes Violetta break his son’s heart (not to mention her own) in order to let his daughter get married. So it all sounds theoretically okay until Violetta gives up the will to live and dies and he ends up looking like the bad guy (although the bad guy should have been the Baron or just society generally).

Renee Fleming as Violetta with Thomas Hampson as Germont

4. Rigoletto (from Rigoletto by Verdi)

Rigoletto’s problem is that he is simply the most overprotective father of all time. Yes, it is sweet that he loves his daughter and wants her to have a happy, innocent childhood but when it gets to the point where she is desperate to get outside but has no idea what outside is like, it’s fairly obvious that something’s going to go wrong.

Placido Domingo as Rigoletto

3.Marquis of Calatrava (from La forza del destino by Verdi)

Yes, he died but maybe if he hadn’t been so controlling over his daughter (not to mention racist) then maybe it wouldn’t have happened. Still not a valid excuse to curse her.

2. Philip II (from Don Carlo by Verdi)

Philip is difficult to put in this list at all because he’s a lot easier to sympathise with than any of the others. He’s kinda got a difficult life, what with being king etc. etc. but he’s still a horrible dad. He cancels his son’s marriage (sure, it was an arranged marriage so it shouldn’t really matter, but they were in love), tries to get permission to kill him and then kills his best friend instead, thereby ruining opera’s greatest bromance (teen speak for ‘ultimate friendship’). And then he changes his mind and decides to try and kill his son after all. It’s fairly self-explanatory as to why this guy is not a good dad. N.B. ‘God did it’ is not a valid excuse for killing your children.

Ferruccio Furlanetto as Philip II

1. Wotan (from the Ring Cycle by Wagner)

Wotan’s main mistake was basically just having children in the first place. Not only does it make his wife seriously annoyed with him, these children would probably also come first in a list of Opera’s Worst Children. Anyhow, Wotan ends up spending the rest of eternity chasing around the universe trying to make them kill or fall in love with each other. And then one of them blows up the universe. He’s such a bad parent that even his own grandson doesn’t like him. Nice parenting skills.

Bryn Terfel as Wotan and a random bird thing

Obviously, there are other examples of operatic fathers such as Timur (from Turandot), Il Commendatore (from Don Giovanni) and Simon Boccanegra (from Surely You Can Work This One Out Yourself) but I have limited it to the first 5 examples of awful parenting that sprang to mind.

UPDATE~~~ I received an insightful comment on this post that I thought would be nice to share with you all:

Do any of you will cause a reflexive strike for a game fish.
My friend and our editorial director Josh Fruhlinger will be taking 12 individuals through a week of leverage also known
as Survival Gear? survival gear is stimulating, providing enough
energy to do tedious tasks in longer period.
Dec 14, 2010, 7:52am ESTSassy *bacon makes me happy* Cat Dec 14,
2010, 4:10am EST Matthew, Remember the December 15 date I
had mentioned previously?

 

Weekly Video #38

Today I am posting a video of Ferruccio Furlanetto singing Ella giammai m’amo from Verdi’s Don Carlo because I saw him singing this last night and I think everyone deserves to see this. He is, in my opinion, one of the best King Philips of all time. I will write a blog post about last night soon but I have my summer exams coming up and so I need to revise a lot of the time.

2012/13 Season at the Met

Plenty of highlights to look forward to in the Met’s new season. My picks are:

  • L’Elisir D’Amore – In a relatively Netrebko-free season, this is her main appearance, alongside a cast including Matthew Polenzani, Mariusz Kwiecien and her husband Erwin Schrott. Good line up for what will hopefully be an entertaining show.
  • Un Ballo in Maschera – Part of the Verdi/Wagner bicentenary celebrations, this stars Marcelo Alvarez, Sondra Radvanovsky and one of my personal favourites, Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Radvanovsky and Hvorostovsky are known to sing well together and I look forward to discovering a Verdi opera I know very little about.
  • Roberto Alagna returns to Aida as Radames. Let’s see if he can keep his blood sugar levels low this time.
  • Dialogues des Carmelites, famous for its haunting end, does not often come round so this is something to look forward to.
  • Ildar Abdrazakov as Don Giovanni, accompanied by Mr. Netrebko as Leporello.
  •  
  • An interesting Traviata, with Damrau as Violetta and Placido Domingo sings Papa Germont for the first time.
  • What the Met claims is “a rare opportunity to witness Berlioz’s vast epic Les Troyens”, completely ignoring the very recent performance at Covent Garden
  • JDF returns in Le Comte Ory and Elina Garanca in La Clemenza di Tito
  • And of course the return of the vast Ring Cycle which has completely divided opinions. Personally, I love it, which is saying something given that I am not normally very patient at all with Wagner.
  • Also, a Don Carlo with Ramon Vargas although personally I would be more interested in Covent Garden’s upcoming production, starring Jonas Kaufmann.

Most of these performances will be broadcast in cinemas. For the full brochure, go here.