Weekly Video #54

Carrying on with the Don Carlo theme, this is Elina Garanca (again) singing Eboli’s aria Nel giardin del bello. She sings a lot of Spanish music and she makes this sound more like a genuinely Spanish song.

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Weekly Video #42

On Wednesday, this concert with Anna Netrebko and Dmitri Hvorostovsky happened in Moscow and because most of us tragically couldn’t make it to Moscow that evening, some kind person has put it on YouTube and I would recommend you watch it.

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.

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*

Met HD Broadcast – Aïda

Way, way back in December, I went with Little Brother No.1 to see the Met HD Broadcast of Aïda. This was his first time ever seeing an opera, live or in the cinema. So far as I can tell, he enjoyed it (although he wriggled around a lot and was quite noisy during the performance). Personally, I loved the performance from both Olga Borodina as Amneris and Lyudmila Monastyrska in the title role but Roberto Alagna (as Radames) was, quite honestly, disappointing. His voice sounded very thin and a weedy and girly. His high note at the end of Celeste Aïda sounded completely as though it was sung by a countertenor, rather than a tenor. I’m not exactly fond of the character (he is, like Manrico, one of the great Verdi idiotic tenor roles. I mean, surely it would be obvious to anyone that attempting to conquer Ethiopia might not be the best way to please your Ethiopian girlfriend. But then again, this is opera. Maybe I’m just setting my expectations to high) but he still shouldn’t sound like a woman.

Lyudmila Monastyrska, on the other hand, was a revelation. I don’t really know what it is about her voice that makes it good, but it just is good. Very, very much so. Olga Borodina is an established singer and her Amneris was very well sung and well acted (with some deliciously bitchy moments). The production was very good, without being particularly outstanding. Overall, very good everything, let down somewhat by Alagna.

Weekly Video #19

This is the film of Rigoletto that stars Pavarotti, Gruberova and Ingvar Wixell. I know I have recently featured another Rigoletto film on this blog, but I still think this deserves a mention because it is really very good. The other reason that I have chosen this film is because of a certain scene, namely the bit that starts around 1:36:20, with Sparafucile and Maddalena. I love this scene, it’s very dramatic and the music is very striking and, in this case, so is the acting. However, having watched this part several times, I have only just found out that Sparafucile in this film is played by Ferruccio Furlanetto. I am shocked. Like literally, actually SHOCKED. Shocked as in ” How did I not notice that before?” and “OMG, he looks like a totally different person!”

This cat appears to have the same emotions as my brain at this particular moment.

In case the reader does not know, this is what Furlanetto normally looks like nowadays:

Photo from Die Oper Kocht Facebook page.

And here is the video: