Manka Bros. Studios - Home
  Manka Bros. Message Boards
  Opera (Page 7)

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
profile | register | preferences | faq | search

UBBFriend: Email This Page to Someone!
This topic is 7 pages long:   1  2  3  4  5  6  7 
next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   Opera
A-List Writer

Posts: 290
From:Portland, Oregon
Registered: Apr 2000

posted March 31, 2010 10:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for opus_125   Click Here to Email opus_125     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow, Leonard Slatkin has trouble with La Traviata? Stunning...

In Revival of Verdi, a New Note of Drama

Who would have guessed that a routine revival of “La Traviata” at the Metropolitan Opera could cause such a ruckus? The problem was that the conductor Leonard Slatkin, appearing at the Met for the first time in 12 years, showed up for rehearsals not fully knowing the score. You did not have to believe the reports that spread on opera chat lines to know this. Mr. Slatkin conceded as much on his personal Web site,

“I do not perform a lot of opera” and “had never conducted” this Verdi staple, he wrote in a post earlier this month. But he figured that “since everyone else in the house knew it, I would learn a great deal from the masters.”

Hmmm. For a conductor to use the opportunity of a Met production to learn “La Traviata” doesn’t seem the best idea. Those “masters” Mr. Slatkin referred to included the soprano Angela Gheorghiu, an acclaimed Violetta, and the baritone Thomas Hampson, a veteran Germont. Mr. Slatkin reported on his Web site that during rehearsals he seemed to be “the only person who has never performed ‘Traviata,’ ” which, he added, caused “some raised eyebrows.”

I can only imagine, given that the temperamental Ms. Gheorghiu was his star. Whatever the case, the results told all when the revival of Franco Zeffirelli’s extravagant production opened on Monday night. I have seldom heard such faulty coordination between a conductor and a cast at the Met.

By way of background, Mr. Slatkin had originally agreed to conduct John Corigliano’s “Ghosts of Versailles,” last performed at the house in 1995. Mr. Slatkin, the music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and a champion of American music, had conducted Mr. Corigliano’s opera in Chicago.

But in a cost-cutting adjustment to the Met’s 2009-10 season, “The Ghosts of Versailles” was replaced with “La Traviata.” On his Web site Mr. Slatkin wrote that he did “a lot of digging” into the Verdi work and the Verdi style: “What constituted tradition and why?”

The element of the style that Mr. Slatkin had the most trouble with on Monday involved his awkward handling of accompaniment patterns. Page after page of the score is filled with oom-pah-pah orchestra riffs, which accompany Verdi’s long-spun melodic lines. Still, the score should come with a warning to conductors: “This is not as easy as it looks.”

The challenge is to support the singers, allowing them expressive freedom to bend lyrical phrases while maintaining an undulant gait. A singer’s expressive turns cannot all be planned in advance. A Verdi conductor has to be able to react in the moment to interpretive freedom.

In Mr. Slatkin’s defense, Ms. Gheorghiu is not easy to follow. She knows the style intimately but is an impassioned artist prone to boldly expressive singing. On Monday most of her interpretive touches seemed within the bounds of taste. Still, now and then she was all over the place rhythmically, for example, at the wrenching moment during the ensemble scene with chorus when the courtesan, Violetta, having rejected her lover, Alfredo, is insulted by the hotheaded young man before all the guests at a Paris soirée.

Ms. Gheorghiu may be a willful artist, but Mr. Hampson is an admirably straightforward musician. Yet he, too, had trouble staying together with Mr. Slatkin. I have never seen Mr. Hampson glancing so often at a conductor in a performance at the Met.

It is a tribute to the cast members that despite the problems, they managed to sing so well and bring “La Traviata” to life. Ms. Gheorghiu is not as technically solid as she once was, and the earthy richness in her sound sometimes turned a little tremulous. Still, she dispatched the coloratura runs in “Sempre libera” with exciting determination. Her top notes and soaring phrases filled the house, yet she brought affecting intimacy to “Addio, del passato,” before Violetta’s death. Ms. Gheorghiu is as beautiful as ever, though for me, her acting was histrionic at times. The audience loved her.

The young American tenor James Valenti had a solid success in his Met debut as Alfredo. He is tall (over 6 feet 5 inches), handsome and physically agile: qualities reflected in his virile and attractive singing. His voice is not huge, but it carries well. He won a rousing ovation.

The applause for Mr. Slatkin was restrained but respectful. Perhaps the overall performance will gain shape during the run as he continues to learn the piece. Better late than never.

IP: Logged


Posts: 871
From:Toluca Lake, California
Registered: Apr 2000

posted May 11, 2010 04:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidChang   Click Here to Email DavidChang     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Anyone go to the L.A. ring festival?

IP: Logged

A-List Writer

Posts: 8175
From:Redmond, WA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted May 21, 2010 09:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yep. Mmm-hm.

IP: Logged

A-List Writer

Posts: 2754
From:La Canada
Registered: Jun 2000

posted June 04, 2010 02:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for HollywoodProducer   Click Here to Email HollywoodProducer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
H'wood Indifferent to Opera's Lord of the Rings

The movie industry can give 17 Oscars to 10 hours of movies about a magic ring, but they’d rather not pay attention to 19 hours of opera about a magic ring.

That’s one lesson of the Ring Festival L.A., an elaborate, wide-ranging arts festival that’s now taking place in Los Angeles with the participation of the theater, music, art and academic communities -- but scant notice from Hollywood.Die Walkure

The L.A. County Museum of Art is involved, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Getty Trust, the Center Theater Group, the Geffen Playhouse, the Griffith Observatory, the Los Angeles Conservancy, UCLA and USC and many more.

But not Hollywood. Where -- just to name one obvious oversight -- are the screenings of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” with a discussion of the ways in which J.R.R. Tolkien mined the same Teutonic myths that Richard Wagner drew upon for his massive cycle? (The public library in La Verne did a discussion, but not screenings.)

The Ring Festival was designed to supplement the Los Angeles Opera’s presentation of the four operas in Wagner’s "Ring of the Nibelungen," the most monumental undertaking any opera company can mount and the first in the history of L.A.

It’s a significant (if controversial) cultural event that should be reaching a peak as the opera company wraps up the first of three complete cycles of the operas. The L.A. Opera’s general director, crossover icon Placido Domingo, calls it “the largest, most significant cultural festival in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival.”

So what is the movie business doing this month to celebrate the culmination of this massive effort?

Well, the American Cinematheque is showing “Apocalypse Now Redux” on Friday night. Because, after all, Robert Duvall’s Lieutenant Kilgore blares “Ride of the Valkyries,” from ring opera numbe 2 “Die Walkure,” during a four-minute helicopter attack at one point in the movie.

And the Los Angeles Film Festival is showing 1913 silent film “The Life of Richard Wagner” on June 20 at REDCAT.Elmer Fudd

That’s it.

Sure, last month the Academy presented a program called “What’s Opera, Doc?” that dealt with classical music in cartoons, and before that AMPAS collaborated with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to screen Fritz Lang’s two “Der Nieberlungen” films.

And back in April the Sundance Film Festival institute showed a documentary called “Sing Faster: The Stagehands’ Ring Cycle.”

But apart from these programs and a handful of movies shown by the Opera League of Los Angeles and the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs, Hollywood appears to be sitting this one out.

The L.A. Opera is not complaining -- and they’d probably dispute the characterization. When asked about the scarcity of Hollywood-related activities, a spokesperson said the organization “has been very pleased with its Ring Festival L.A. film partnerships and the events have been very well attended,” and singled out the Academy and its director of educational programs and special projects, Randy Haberkamp.

But is it too much to ask that Hollywood organizations apart from its non-profits get involved?

It's not just "Lord of the Rings." Where are the revivals of other German movies of the ‘20s and ‘30s, or even more recent films (say, “Downfall” or “The Lives of Others” or “The White Ribbon”) that deal with or draw upon the time in which the late composer’s music was appropriated and exalted by the Nazis?Christoph Waltz

For that matter, you could make a case that Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” could fit, and could help start a dialogue.

In fact, the movie industry is ideally situated to emphasize a side of the picture that the festival, which drew heated criticism from some in the Jewish community, has tried not to ignore – Wagner’s clear anti-Semitism, and the way in which his work was embraced during the darkest, most hateful era of 20th century European history.

Where are the programs of films made by the many European Jews who fled the Nazis and came to Hollywood, or of the European composers who helped create the vocabulary for film music after leaving a tumultuous continent where the emerging power still extolled the anti-Semitic Wagner as the ultimate in musical expression?

Hell, where’s the screening of Ken Russell’s insane 1975 film “Lisztomania,” in which Roger Daltrey plays Franz Liszt as a 19th Century rock star and Paul Nicolas plays Wagner as a Nazi vampire of sorts?

And while we’re at it, where are the high-profile entertainment industry backers of this entire enterprise? The New York classical community has Alec Baldwin as a prominent, vocal supporter (and occasional disc jockey), while in Los Angeles we’re just reinforcing the stereotype that the town has lots of entertainment but no culture.

(That’s not to say the community has been completely absent: Marisa Tomei, Jacqueline Bisset and Michael York have gone to festival events, while Christoph Waltz, right – the “Jew hunter” in “Inglourious Basterds” – attended a performance of “Die Walkure.”)

The point is, Hollywood could have shown significantly more support of what was designed to be an all-encompassing cultural event, and it could have done so without ignoring the controversy that arises with any event devoted to Wagner. But it didn’t.

In a festival of more than 100 events, including three dozen music, dance and theater productions, another three dozen seminars and symposia, and a variety of exhibitions of all varieties, the movie industry is barely represented.

And that’s a shame.

IP: Logged


Posts: 317
From:Studio City, CA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted June 07, 2010 09:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for EmilySachs   Click Here to Email EmilySachs     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I saw The Ring here in L.A. and thought it was great musically but an absolute misguided mess artistically.

IP: Logged


Posts: 317
From:Studio City, CA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted December 10, 2010 10:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for EmilySachs   Click Here to Email EmilySachs     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very sad. Peter Hoffman died of Parkinson's Disease. I loved him when I was younger.

IP: Logged

A-List Writer

Posts: 565
Registered: Aug 2001

posted February 18, 2011 02:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for a   Click Here to Email a     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Opera Reimagines a Tabloid Sensation

LONDON — An opera about Anna Nicole Smith: the American sex symbol, Playboy Playmate, hapless model, laughable actress and fortune-hunting wife of a billionaire nearly 63 years her senior? Commissioned by, no less, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden? When the plans were announced, it sounded like a dubious idea, a tawdry way for a major opera house to look hip.

“Anna Nicole,” by the British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and the British librettist Richard Thomas, finally had its premiere here at the Royal Opera on Thursday night before a sold-out house with standees everywhere. And it proved a weirdly inspired work, an engrossing, outrageous, entertaining and, ultimately, deeply moving new opera. This was an improbable triumph for Covent Garden.

Ideally, opera is supposed to be the ultimate collaborative art form, and “Anna Nicole” met that ideal. At 50, Mr. Turnage, whose modernist music is brashly accessible and run through with jazz, has written a pulsing, wild and, when called for, yearning score.

Mr. Thomas, a musical theater lyricist and composer, is best known for “Jerry Springer: The Opera.” His clever, literate and perceptive libretto for “Anna Nicole” bops along in rhymed couplets, thick with alliterative, everyday profanities. He and Mr. Turnage sensitively navigate the terrain of Anna Nicole’s chaotic and sadly pathetic life, which ended in 2007 at 39, a result of a fatal mixture of drugs. They lend Ms. Smith vulnerability without covering over her crassness.

The conductor Antonio Pappano, the music director of Covent Garden, who shares a passion for jazz with Mr. Turnage, drew an electric, blazing yet wondrously subtle performance from the orchestra. And the director Richard Jones has devised a dazzling, humorous yet humane production, with sets by Miriam Buether that come alive with Day-Glo colors and neon lights, and playfully realistic costumes by Nicky Gillibrand.

Whether Ms. Smith was a tragic figure is debatable. But Mr. Turnage and Mr. Thomas have given us a tragic operatic heroine, a downtrodden nobody determined to make it, to “rape the American dream,” as she puts it, any way she can. Their Anna Nicole is in the lineage of Bizet’s Carmen, Berg’s Lulu and the Weill-Brecht Jenny.

In an effective framing device, the two-act, swiftly paced opera is presented as a series of interviews with Anna Nicole and her circle by a crowd of reporters, here the chorus, costumed to look like tacky correspondents for local television stations. The men wear light gray three-piece suits; the women, blue, uniformlike skirts and jackets. Crucial events from Ms. Smith’s life are enacted in flashbacks. But when people enter the scene prematurely, like her lawyer and, later, lover Stern (based on Howard K. Stern, here the classy baritone Gerald Finley), they are pushed by the chorus into the wings.

After the opening “Scene Zero,” in which we hear Mr. Turnage’s breathless “three-bar overture,” as the librettist dubs it, the chorus of reporters introduces the story by singing sputtered vocal lines in crunchy block chords. We first see Anna Nicole in a golden chair, and the soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek, with billowing blond hair and a lipstick smile, looks uncannily like the real Ms. Smith.

Ms. Westbroek has essentially a dramatic soprano voice. Indeed, she is scheduled to sing Sieglinde in the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Wagner’s “Walküre” this spring, her company debut. Here her character’s music is filled with come-on melodic lines (starting with her first words, when she croons, “I want to blow you all a kiss”) and decked with frantic coloratura flights when Anna Nicole loses control, as she does often. Rising to the challenge, Ms. Westbroek gives a vocally commanding and emotionally courageous performance.

An early ensemble scene depicts the hokey life of Mexia, Tex., where Anna Nicole was born, and you sympathize with her desire to escape. Her mother, Virgie, a security guard wearing a trim uniform and packing a pistol, is a complex character, especially as played by the mezzo-soprano Susan Bickley. Virgie keeps popping up to voice forebodings about Anna Nicole’s future and issue justifiable grievances. When Anna Nicole escapes to Houston, meets her first husband, Billy (Grant Doyle), at the fried-chicken joint where they work and has a baby boy, it is Virgie who winds up raising the child for years.

Maybe it is my slant on things, but Mr. Turnage’s music is the primary reason that so much seemed so right in “Anna Nicole.” There are flashes of Weill in the clattering cabaretlike scenes in which the reporters, wielding microphones, mutter like a Greek chorus; and jazzy sneering brass writing in the scene with the dancers at the “gentlemen’s club” in Houston. At times Mr. Turnage’s connection to the British modernist school of complex composers like Harrison Birtwistle comes through. The more reflective passages often take the surprising form of beguiling, varied waltzes.

Mr. Turnage and Mr. Thomas have come up with a slew of operatic characters that singers are going to relish, as this cast did. Mr. Finley was riveting as the calculating lawyer Stern, who one moment despairs of trying to control Anna Nicole’s overeating and drug dependencies, and the next moment schemes to hype her for the cameras. In one scene he concocts a plan to turn the birth of Anna Nicole’s daughter, who arrived not long before Anna Nicole’s death, into a live pay-per-view special.

The tenor Alan Oke nailed the role of the oil billionaire J. Howard Marshall II, who was 89 when he married the 26-year-old, divorced Anna Nicole. Here J. Howard literally descends into Anna’s life sitting in an oversize, vaguely institutional chair suspended by wires. Mr. Oke’s insinuating singing captured the flickers of arousal embedded in the fidgety vocal lines of the smitten codger. After marrying Anna Nicole, J. Howard dies suddenly during a raucous party scene, dressed in a ridiculous gold Mylar suit, without having left a will.

Anna Nicole’s son, Daniel, first appears as a boy, a silent role played endearingly by Andrew Gilbert. The teenage Daniel is played by Dominic Rowntree as a sullen, sweet-faced young man clearly hooked on drugs. When he has a seizure and dies in the hospital room where his mother had given birth to his half-sister just days earlier, the scene is made more wrenching by Mr. Turnage’s understated, harmonically piercing music. The only lines that Mr. Rowntree has come after Daniel has died, when, his head peering from a body bag, he sings a litany of drug names.

In another inspired if creepy touch, choreographed by Aletta Collins, black-clad dancers wearing television camera headdresses increasingly follow Anna Nicole around as she becomes the object of media obsession and ridicule.

Covent Garden may have overplayed the opera’s sensational elements of sex and drugs in its marketing campaign, though “Anna Nicole” can probably claim to be breaking new ground in the scene in which Anna Nicole receives breast-implant surgery from the fast-talking Doctor Yes (a vibrant Andrew Rees). The libretto has countless lines that cannot be printed in a family newspaper or Web site. And “Anna Nicole” revels shamelessly in the crass, sleazy side of American culture, which may be too easy a target.

The London audience ate it up. But so did I, because in the end this is a musically rich, audacious and inexplicably poignant work.

The ovations were tumultuous. Who says the Royal Opera takes itself too reverently? Pictures of Ms. Westbroek as the smiling Anna Nicole were everywhere. The house’s elegant stage curtain is usually emblazoned with “ER II,” the emblem of Queen Elizabeth. On this night the emblem on the substitute curtain was “A n R,” for Anna Nicole Regina. Why not? Anna Nicole is now an unlikely operatic queen. Besides, I doubt that Her Majesty will be attending this show.

“Anna Nicole” runs at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, through March 4;

IP: Logged


Posts: 317
From:Studio City, CA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted September 05, 2011 08:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for EmilySachs   Click Here to Email EmilySachs     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Salvatore Licitra Dead: Italian Tenor Dies In Sicily After A Crash
Salvatore Licitra Dead


ROME — Salvatore Licitra, a tenor known in his Italian homeland as the "new Pavarotti" for his potent voice and considerable stamina, died Monday at age 43 after spending nine days in a coma following a motorscooter accident in Sicily.

Catania's Garibaldi Hospital, announcing the death, said Licitra never regained consciousness after suffering severe head and chest injuries in the Aug. 27 accident. Doctors had said Licitra crashed his scooter into a wall near the town of Ragusa, apparently after suffering an interruption of blood to the brain while driving.

The hospital said Licitra's family agreed to make his organs available for transplant.

"So very sad to say goodbye to Salvatore Licitra. I will miss you," soprano Deborah Voigt, a frequent onstage partner, wrote on her Facebook page.

In separate comments emailed to The Associated Press, Voigt wrote: "This is just heartbreaking. Salvatore was a great singer, but he was also just a really lovely guy. Always ready for a laugh, always light in spirit."

The singer recalled that Licitra was her "first Dick Johnson," referring to the tenor role in Puccini's "La Fanciulla del West" at the San Francisco Opera in 2010. Voigt sang the role of Minnie in the opera, and she reminisced how Licitra had "held my hand every moment as I stumbled along slaughtering his language!"

"His passing in the fullness of his career hurts," the La Scala opera house wrote in its own announcement of the tenor's death.

La Scala noted that Licitra debuted in the famed Milan venue in the 1998-1999 season, with maestro Riccardo Muti conducting him in Verdi's "La Forza del Destino."

But it was on the stage of Metropolitan Opera in New York, that Licitra, the Swiss-born son of Sicilian parents, grabbed the world's attention. He subbed for mega-tenor Luciano Pavarotti in a gala performance in 2002 of Puccini's "Tosca," wowing the audience and winning long ovations for his two big arias. The audience's response brought tears to his eyes.

Italian state TV, giving the news of his death, said Licitra was considered "Pavarotti's heir."

Peter Gelb, the Metropolitan Opera's general manager, hailed Licitra as "one of the greatest natural tenor talents of his generation. His premature death is tragic for his family, friends and loved ones, and his legions of admirers around the world, which include his many fans at the Met."

La Scala praised Licitra as a "dramatic tenor, with strength."

"Licitra represented the school and tradition of Italian song, in his natural relationships to words," the Milan opera house said. "A decade of his personal history was interwoven with our theater."

The tenor made his debut in Parma, Italy, in 1998.

He had traveled to the Ragusa area in late summer ahead of a September ceremony to receive a local music prize. Licitra's web site, which carried the news of his death, still listed upcoming engagements, including an appearance later this month in Tokyo.

During his career, Licitra also performed at the Vienna State Opera, Munich's Bayerische Staatsoper, London's Royal Opera, Paris' Opera Bastille, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago and several other prestigious venues.


Blum contributed from New York.

IP: Logged

A-List Writer

Posts: 8175
From:Redmond, WA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted November 06, 2011 01:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Opera is back! Cool again, mother fuckers!

IP: Logged


Posts: 317
From:Studio City, CA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted June 11, 2012 03:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for EmilySachs   Click Here to Email EmilySachs     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Paris is becoming a new hub for exciting opera.

IP: Logged


Posts: 317
From:Studio City, CA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted July 25, 2012 05:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for EmilySachs   Click Here to Email EmilySachs     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
BERLIN (Reuters) - A Russian opera singer has pulled out of the Bayreuth opera festival over Nazi tattoos on his chest days before the start of the celebration of Richard Wagner's works that was once popular with Third Reich leaders.
Evgeny Nikitin was meant to play the Flying Dutchman in Wagner's opera of the same name but German newspaper and TV images have shown him bare chested with tattoos that resemble symbols used by the Nazis.
One looks like a swastika, which appears to be covered by a new tattoo in more recent pictures.
"I had these tattoos done in my youth. It was a big mistake in my life and I wish I had never done it," Nikitin said in a statement on the festival's website.
"I was not aware of the extent of the irritation and pain these signs and symbols would cause especially in Bayreuth and in the context of the history of the festival," he added.
Nikitin resigned after the festival's management confronted him with the media reports showing his tattoos.
"His decision to give back the part of the Dutchman for these reasons is in line with the consistent rejection by the festival's management of any form of National Socialist thinking," the festival's management said on its website.
The Bayreuth Festival, which was conceived by Wagner, dates back to 1876 and is celebrated for its stagings of his operas, including "Tristan and Isolde", "Parsifal" and the four operas of the monumental cycle "The Ring of the Nibelung".
Although Wagner, who penned several anti-Semitic texts, died half a century before Adolf Hitler came to power, the Nazi dictator was an admirer and drew on the composer's writings in his own theories on racial purity and exterminating the Jews.
Winifred Wagner, Wagner's daughter in law, who headed the festival under Nazi rule, was a close personal friend and an admirer of Hitler's until her death in 1980. Hitler frequently attended the festival.
Wagner's work has played to sold out crowds at the festival since the mid-1950s, with eager opera enthusiasts often waiting as long as 10 years for tickets to the Bayreuth Festspielhaus theatre.
The annual opera frenzy is a highlight of German cultural life, providing both scandal and entertainment. Chancellor Angela Merkel visits it regularly and it is one of only few occasions a year where her husband Joachim Sauer accompanies her in public.

IP: Logged


Posts: 317
From:Studio City, CA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted July 26, 2012 11:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for EmilySachs   Click Here to Email EmilySachs     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The South Korean opera singer who stepped in to salvage the Bayreuth Festival's opening night from scandal fell to his knees seized with emotion as the curtain came down late Wednesday.
Bass-baritone Samuel Youn agreed to sing the title role at just four days' notice after the original singer, Russian opera star Yevgeny Nikitin, quit in an embarrassing affair over Nazi tattoos emblazoned across his chest.
Youn, who had previously taken only minor roles at the annual month-long festival dedicated exclusively to the works of Richard Wagner, may not have quite the vocal charisma or stage presence of Nikitin, who would have been the first Russian to take a lead role in Bayreuth.
But the first-night audience, which included Chancellor Angela Merkel and most of her cabinet, gave the ersatz Dutchman a tumultuous reception at the end of the two-and-a-quarter-hour evening.
The "Dutchman" is the only new production of this year's festival, the 101st edition of the summer music festival founded by Wagner himself.
German director Jan Philipp Gloger, making his debut on Bayreuth's fabled "Green Hill", strips everything nautical from his new staging.
Wagner's romantic opera tells of a ship's captain condemned to roam the seas for eternity until he finds redemption in the love of a woman.
But 31-year-old Gloger, who has previously made his name in spoken theatre rather than opera, casts the title figure as a burned-out businessman who travels a loveless world with nothing more than a trolley suitcase and a cup of carry-out coffee.
Possessing more wealth than he will ever need, the unhappy figure throws his cash at prostitutes and even burns it and then mutilates himself by cutting his arm.
Daland, the father of heroine Senta, is also an entrepreneur who manufactures electric desk fans and the famous spinning scene depicts blue-uniformed factory workers packing the products into cardboard boxes, while the sailors are a chorus of dowdy salesmen.
Senta herself appears to have a rebellious streak and artistic tendencies and constructs her fantasy Dutchman and model ship out of cardboard, sticky tape and red paint.
And Erik, the man who wants to marry her, is the factory handyman.
Beneath its modern-day trappings, Gloger's reading is surprisingly conventional. And despite a striking opening scene in which Daland and the Steersman are cast adrift in a small boat in some sort of metaphorical super computer, the staging quickly runs out of steam.
At the end, Senta stabs herself with a pair of scissors and joins the Dutchman atop a pile of cardboard boxes.
And Daland, ever the canny entrepreneur, quickly changes the design of the desk fan in their memory.
Musically, the evening was much more satisfying.
Alongide Youn, Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka seemed to need some time to warm up but was convincingly dramatic as Senta and Franz-Josef Selig as Daland sang with a full, rounded bass.
But it was perhaps German conductor, Christian Thielemann, a long-time favourite in Bayreuth, who proved to be the biggest star of the evening, with a miraculously balanced and refined reading of what is regarded as Richard Wagner's first mature opera.
The Festspielhaus theatre, built to the composer's own designs, reputedly has the best acoustics of any opera house, thanks to its unique covered orchestra pit.
But it is precisely that which makes it so tricky for conductors and only an experienced maestro such as Thielemann, who was conducting his 111th performance in Bayreuth, knows exactly how to create the sound he wants.
Also on the programme is a revival of last year's new production of "Tannhaeuser" by Sebastian Baumgarten, which was vilified by critics and audiences alike for setting Wagner's tale of a minstrel-knight in a biogas plant.
There will also be revivals of a 2010 production of "Lohengrin", a production of "Parsifal" dating back to 2008; and a "Tristan and Isolde" from 2005.

IP: Logged

This topic is 7 pages long:   1  2  3  4  5  6  7 

All times are PT (US)

next newest topic | next oldest topic

Administrative Options: Close Topic | Archive/Move | Delete Topic
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
Hop to:

Contact Us | Manka Bros. Studios - Home

© 2012 Manka Bros. Studios - All Rights Reserved.

Powered by Infopop © 2000
Ultimate Bulletin Board 5.45b