Weekly Video #55

This is the first part of a film called Don Giovanni Unmasked, starring Dmitri Hvorostovsky as both Leporello and Don Giovanni. The concept of the film is quite interesting but it doesn’t completely make sense in places.

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Met Announces New Season

The Met have announced the operas which will be performed in their new 2013/14 season. You can see the online brochure by clicking on the penguin.

As I can’t go to the Met itself due to the small inconvenience that is the Atlantic Ocean, the only productions I am allowed to get excited about are the ones being shown Live in HD. These are:

  • Eugene Onegin on October 5th
  • The Nose on October 26th
  • Tosca on November 9th
  • Falstaff on December 14th
  • Rusalka on February 8th
  • Prince Igor on March 1st
  • Werther on March 15th
  • La Bohème on April 5th
  • Così fan tutte on April 26th
  • La Cenerentola on May 10th

My thoughts on this:

Eugene Onegin:  I will definitely go to see unless the world ends or something. Having been totally amazed by the ROH cinema broadcast last week, I don’t think I can miss this. I mean, it’s Tchaikovsky and it’s got Netrebko and Kwiecien in it, how bad can it be? Also, I like the look of this new production. It seems to be mainly focused on snow, which is fine by me, as Snow is essentially a one-word summary of What I Know About Russia.

The Nose: I don’t really know this opera well enough to know if this is worthwhile. I think personally that I’ll pass, but I’d be interested to know what others think.

Tosca: I hate the Met’s production of this. And it has Alagna in it. Enough said.

Falstaff: I don’t know if I’ll go to this or not. I quite like this opera, without being fanatical about it. I’m not sure what to expect from the new production. Just generally – I don’t know. At all.

Rusalka: Probably almost definitely. I love Dvorák but I don’t really know this opera, so I really want to see this. Also I just want need to see Renee.

Prince Igor: I really want to go and see this. It sounds like an interesting and possibly under-performed opera. The production also looks very good and I would like to hear Abdrazakov sing because he is one of the singers I hear about fairly regularly, but have never listened to.

Werther: Kaufmann+Garanca+Massenet= OMG I TOTALLY HAVE TO GO AND SEE THIS!!!

La Bohème: I could go if I have nothing else to do, but I probably shan’t bother. It’s the same (admittedly excellent) Zeffirelli production that seems to be perfectly capable of being brought out for performances every other year until its first appearance is no longer in living memory. This performance features Vittorio Grigolo and Anita Hartig.

Così fan tutte: I personally think I should go to this because I really don’t know this opera at all (I mean, I have a vague understanding of the plot and I can recognise Soave sia il vento, but that’s about it). Isabel Leonard, Danielle de Niese, Matthew Polenzani and Susanna Phillips are all involved, so I think that makes it worthwhile, at the very least.

La Cenerentola: I have something to admit here, which is that I am not exactly a huge fan of Rossini. That is to say, I like much of the music, but some of it I find very dull and if the opera does not have a good cast and an entertaining production, it can become very tedious very quickly. In this case though, it’s Cenerentola – by all accounts one of his better operas – and starring Joyce Didonato, Juan Diego Flórez and Luca Pisaroni, no less, so this should be Rossini at his best.

Looking through the rest of the season, which I won’t be able to see, but at least hear on the radio, there are a few things worth noting:

This is the overall lineup by composer:

  • Tchaikovsky-1,
  • Mozart-2 (including the cut-down-and-sung-in-English version of The Magic Flute), 
  • Shostakovitch-1,
  • Bellini-3,
  • Britten-1,
  • Muhly-1,
  • Puccini-3,
  • R. Strauss-3,
  • Verdi-2,
  • J. Strauss-1,  
  • Donizetti-1,
  • Dvorak-1,
  • Borodin-1,
  • Massenet-1,
  • Berg-1,
  • Giordano-1,
  • Rossini-1,
  • Various Baroque Composers-1 (The (Return of the) Enchanted Island)
  • and, noticeably, Wagner-0. 

Not being personally a Bellini fan, I think that having three of his operas is a bit much, especially since it appears to be pushing out Verdi and Wagner. I think it would be more justifiable if they had a couple of really good Bellini singers (e.g. if we were back in the days of Sutherland and Callas, it would make a lot more sense). Maybe they think they’ve been overloading a bit on the Donizetti and they’re trying to balance it out a bit without taking away the bel canto operas altogether. In which case, partial success. What I don’t understand, though, is if they want to do so much Bellini, why not schedule at least one of them to be shown in HD, rather than repeating the same old Puccini productions? I suppose they want to ensure they make more profit by showing ‘safe’ operas, but for those of us who are interested in hearing some different repertoire, this is irritating. Anyway, if some people want to go to an opera for the first time, Così, Tosca,  Bohème and Cenerentola are all good choices, they don’t need to show all of them. I’m pretty sure that Tosca and Bohème could both be left off and neither operatic newcomers nor more regular viewers would miss them (and this is coming from the mouth keyboard of a lifelong Puccini fanatic who counts both of those operas among her favourites).

The total absence of Wagner is both puzzling and understandable. Yes, they have scheduled a lot of Wagner recently and no doubt spent huge amounts of money and effort on it but there are a lot of very good Wagner singers around at the moment whom we want to hear. Surely they could have just squeezed one little Dutchman in there somewhere?

In the HD shows, it is noticeable that there is a lot of Russian and Czech opera going on. Not that I’m complaining about this at all.

Overall, good season, could be better and I’m definitely looking forward to several of those HDs and radio broadcasts.

Weekly Video #23

Today, I would like to introduce you to Opera Imaginaire. It’s a series of animations based around bits of opera. There’s 11 in total – from: La Traviata

Pagliacci

Carmen

Le Nozze di Figaro

Madama Butterfly

Les Pêcheurs de Perles

Die Zauberflöte

La Cenerentola

Faust

Rigoletto

Lakmé

Tosca

Here’s the one from Traviata, in a playlist with the others (this one is my favourite though, it’s so cute and there are profiteroles dancing to Verdi. LOVE!)

*Ok, whatever, it’s decided to start with Pagliacci. There is probably some techy way to work out how to get it to start from the Traviata video, but I can’t be bothered right now*

The Betrayal of Utube – Weekly Video #1.5

So, irritatingly, the video I posted a few days ago has been TAKEN OFF UTUBE!!! I’ve noticed this happening to quite a few nice complete operas on Utube and I think this probably means that the broadcasters are snapping them up for copyright reasons. Cue the scouting around to try and find another Figaro of the same quality that I enjoyed as much. The best I could find ( and it is good) is from the Met in 1999. It stars Cecilia Bartoli, Bryn Terfel. Once you get over the shock of a relatively young-looking Terfel and Cecilia’s hideous dresses, it is actually very good (although I still preferred the other one).

And because I am so wonderful, here are the links to all parts of it, in order:

Act 1

Part 1     Part 2      Part 3     Part 4

Act 2

Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4     Part 5     Part 6

Act 3

Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4     Part 5

Act 4

Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4     Part 5

Which one do you prefer, this one or the previous one?

UPDATE ~~~ Just going on to Utube again this morning to discover some bad news: it’s not just full operas that are being taken off the internet. The wonderful coloraturafan has uploaded this video asking for help with copyright issues. Apparently someone has snitched on them and so their channel may have to close, taking with it what is definitely one of the best opera collections on Utube. So, if anyone has any idea how to stop this happening, please help (I don’t understand all the copyright rules and so can’t do much more than offer sympathy)!