Dmitri Hovrostovsky was really loved at the Royal Opera House. That was clear from the memorial concert organized by his friends. But not only from the singers and artist that took part on the stage or on the pit. It was also loved by technicians and workers from the Covent Garden that devoted their time to make this nice homage. As a show it was great, combining moments of emotion, remembrances, fine singing and even humor.
Everyone told me that this Frankfurt production by Barrie Kosky was badly sung in its staging at the Royal Opera House. But then all the twitter gang got excited about the second cast so I gave it a try. BIG MISTAKE. Even if Gaëlle Arquez has a very powerful and beautiful voice and she acts perfectly, portraying a Carmen full of sensuality, that does not make it a good performance. It need to be sung well, and Mr Arquez is still far from there: technical issues, singing behind the beat, horrible phrasing… No… she is not yet there.
I had seen several Warlikowski productions across Europe and it was a bit of a surprise that this From the House of the Dead was his house debut at the Royal Opera House. Too modern for UK conservative taste in opera? Anyway this was a safe bet as the production is not radical in any way. It was, however, intense and very demanding. As Leoš Janáček music is not easy listening, Krzysztof Warlikowski staging is not easy to see, as many things are happening on the stage and require a lot of focus to get all the details.
I went to this Tosca performance for my diva and that’s exactly what I got. In the good and the bad sense. In the good side she still has a beautifully toned voice, very expressive. She is great on the stage and makes you believe totally on what she is singing. On the bad side she is a diva that arrives in town and does her thing without much rehearsal or consideration with her partners.
Doing an opera in the Roundhouse is stupid. Very stupid. Mostly because you cannot have a unamplified spectacle done in a round stage/auditorium with the singers facing different directions. Sound is a directional thing, you know, with waves propagating towards a specific direction. And the voice is projected on a single direction. This is the most basic thing in acoustics. And voice is the most basic thing in opera. So this does not work.
Are all the ROH productions done by David McVicar? This is one has its problems from the theatrical point of view. All the initial scene is confusing and in general, the open space subtracts some desirable oppression. Other than that, it mostly work without being brilliant nor exciting. The big surprise was Malin Byström in the title role. After not enjoying her at recent Vêpres siciliennes and not having the ideal voice for Salome she was quite well suited for singing it.
Wow. For the first time I saw the same opera production in two different cities/opera houses. Does that make me an opera-pro? It was interesting seeing how a production that somehow worked in a different place didn’t quite work here. Of course having better casts (3!) in Madrid two years ago (Nucci, Rodríguez, Peretyatko, Oropesa…) made a difference but probably the biggest one was the conductor. In Madrid Luisotti conducted it remarking the dark side of the score.
Believe it or not this was my first Cavalleria and my first Pagliacci on theatre in my life. And it couldn’t be better. Cavalleria Rusticana Let start with the obvious: Elina Garança was perfect. After her Eboli in Paris Don Carlos I was waiting for this Cavalleria as one of the top highlights of the opera season. And yes, confirmed: she is the best mezzo these days. Her voice, her singing line, her acting… is just perfect.
What a great Rossini we had at the Royal Opera House! Event if a priori it had all the ingredients for a good opera night (infrequent wonderful score, superb cast, brand new production, good conductor…) you still need to get this magic of the opera working. David Alden production is colorful and visually appealing. The action flows perfectly though it although it lacks a little bit of coherence (mixing North Korean with Soviet and western icons) and a main idea gluing everything together.
Opening night for Lucia di Lammermoor at the Royal Opera House. Role debut for Lissette Oropesa in the second staging of Katie Mitchell production. Michele Mariotti is the conductor for this run of Donizetti masterpiece. He does a very energetic conducting although sometimes he tries to bring up some random details of the score. Anyway it was quite fine. I liked Katie Mitchell production. It presents two simultaneous views: the main action and what is supposed to be happening off scene.
The staging of this production of Verdi Les Vêpres siciliennes is full of lights and shadows. The night was saved by a very good musical direction and supreme singing by Bryan Hymel. The Stefan Herheim production is based on the already seen so many times theatre within the theatre concept. That is fine. Question is if the Alexander Meier-Dörzenbach dramaturg is explicitly dumb and clumsy to remark this idea. If not, well, it’s a dumb and clumsy production.
New Bohème at the ROH. I heard everyone ranting “I liked more the old production”. Same old thing about conservatives complaining about any change. Like when facebook or twitter change something in their interfaces: people complain during two weeks about how the old UI was better and the new one is crap but after some time they love it and cannot go back to the old one and of course, are going to complain again with any future change to it.
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