Phantom of the Opera REALLY needs to stop showing up in the Opera tag. All the other non-opera stuff needs to stop too. SERIOUSLY PEOPLE?!? SERIOUSLY?!?
I think we should all start a new tag. #opertag instead of just #opera?
Or, alternatively, #realopera.
So I’m going to be on the WQXR radio show, Operavore this weekend and they posted a feature about me talking about my first opera on their website. I talked a lot about singer, Ildiko Komlosi and how her performance made me an opera fan. As a way to say thank you, I emailed her agent and attached the link. Said agent passed the note on to her and this morning I got en email FROM HER ON HER PERSONAL EMAIL ACCOUNT. She was SO nice. Total highlight of my day. :-)
START YOUR DVRS, OPERA FANS!
PBS has released the schedule for each of this season’s Great Performances at the Met HD television rebroadcasts. Complete schedule is below:
GREAT PERFORMANCES at The Met – Season Seven
Friday, January 18 at 9 PM
Sunday, January 22, 12 PM
Sunday, February 24 at 12 PM
Sunday, March 17 at 12 PM
Sunday, April 14 at 12 PM
LA CLEMENZA DI TITO
Sunday, May 5 at 12 PM
UN BALLO IN MASCHERA
Friday, May 17 at 9 PM
Sunday, May 20 at 12 PM
Sunday, June 9 at 12 PM
Sunday, June 30 at 12 PM
Sunday, July 14 at 12 PM
Sunday, July 28 at 12 PM
Sunday, August 18 at 12 PM
FRANCESCA DA RIMINI
Sunday, September 1 at 12 PM
Let me just start with saying, I think this is one of my better titles. Do you agree?
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of this post. I was fortunate enough to see The Enchanted Island in the open dress rehearsal on Wednesday. And just a quick thank you for Maryann Ford, (@fordo) who shared the experience with me and made it 100 times better. I was even able to convert a Broadway buff to opera! Success!
This production is amazing, to start with. Any memories of that nauseating Decker Traviata or the icky Bondy Tosca (Two cases where theatrical genius Zeffirelli was shafted) are gone. This production is elegant, but fantastical. Charming but wrought with symbolism. Overall, it is gorgeous. Philip McDermott and Julian Crouch have seamlessly bound the charming baroque scenery, such as waves cut out of wood that wove back and forth, to a huge animation of a globe appearing as the opera begins, to sprinkles of animated glitter when Ariel, the brilliant Danielle de Niese, moves her hand in her first aria. These awe inspiring special effects are created by 59 Productions.
Now, to the music!
I found almost this entire opera amazing. For me, the one low point of the production was the ballet during Caliban’s dream. During his dream, he dreams he is bring made king, then a load of poorly choreographed dancers come out and dance around him. The choreography looked very tired and uninspired. The dancers appeared out of sync and their dancing told no story. In fact, it made the plot of the opera, difficult to understand enough on it’s own, even more confusing. I know this was a dress rehearsal, and I hope the ballet is more put together by Opening Night tomorrow.
Now, to the fun stuff!
For me, there were a few highlights of this show. One was Danielle de Niese as Ariel, Prospero’s “fairy”. De Niese delivered beautiful coloratura in her first aria “I Can Conjure You Fire” and delicate phrasing with such rapid fire words, coupled with good diction, this was my favorite aria in the opera. The true piece is “Un Pensiero Nemico di Pace”, which you can hear Nathalie Dessay perform here .
I quite like this aria in it’s original form also. After the show, I got to meed de Niese at the stage door. She was SO warm and accommodating. A good singer and a good person!
Another highlight for me was Joyse di Donato as Sycorax, who is only mentioned in the Tempest. During her first appearance, she is scheming with her son. She is an evil sorceress and she is plotting to reclaim her powers, taken away by Prospero, so she can rule the island once more. This piece is showing her “evil” nature, but then comes these BEAUTIFUL, perfectly performed, immaculate and clear notes. Not high notes, not low notes. Just these beautiful notes in an aria that were held for a few seconds. It was so beautiful. Then, we have a woman at the end, who storms out in the costume featured on the poster:
Now this is the “What they Wore” portion of the post. These costumes were so relevant to the story. As Sycorax gains her powers back over the course of the opera, we see this “hag”, for lack of a better word, become a queen or person af authority, after having been usurped and banished. Except for the costume of Miranda, which I didn’t really get, everything was spot on.
I was also lucky enough to meet Ms. Di Donato at the stage door. She was also as warm as could be and signed the nicest message in my Opera News. She was great!
The countertenor voice is hotly debated today. Its’ one of those things that you either enjoy, or you despise with every fiber of your being. I happen to like the countertenor voice, and while it is truly quite odd on stage, and dramatically perplexing, I don’t mind it, though. I have heard countertenors described as sounding like “nails on a chalkboard” which I find wrong. That’s screeching. If you want screeching, listen to one of today’s “pop sensations”. That should cure you.
A countertenor is something that has to be experienced in the theater. You can’t listen to one on the radio as easily. I made that mistake in Rodelinda and thought Scholl was Blythe the majority of the opera.
David Daniels was a musically appealing Prospero, but while almost every other singer went through a character ark, he didn’t seen to. At the end, he pleads “forgive me” to the others, but the acting felt the same as when he had Ariel all locked up. I do like his voice though, and I feel it in my bones that this performance will be released onto CD in the next 10 years, with roughly the same cast. I would buy it in a heartbeat.
As Caliban, Luca Pisaroni, delivered a strong and endearing portrait of a son, but also a beast, whose position as king was usurped when Prospero arrived. Pisaroni has a thick Italian accent, and I heard all the singers had an English Language Coach, and I think that was a triumph for him. While the language was good and the diction was alright, there were stretches of time where instead of sounding like a monster, he sounded like a Swedish man. The message was the same though. He also made a very nice couple with Layla Claire’s Helena.
Layla Claire is, pardon the opera cliche, “The Little Girl With The Big Voice”. She was definitely the standout in the group of the four lovers, along with her dramatically convincing “husband”, Demetrius, played by Paul Appelby. These two played off each other in the funniest way, as Helena was a victim of Ariel’s spell! That girl is going places. She was in the Bartered Bride at Julliard recently, and was featured in the American Masters documentary on James Levine.
As Hermia, I found Elizabeth DeShong somewhat disappointing. Her strong moment though, was the “Men are Fickle” duet with Helena. Hermia had an aria at the start of Act II, that was dramatically wrong. She sang it alright, but her acting wasn’t as good. She is though, an accomplished singer. I look forward to hearing of her in the future.
It was such a privilege to be able to hear Domingo sing. For a 70 year old man, his voice is in beautiful shape. He delivered an authoritative but sensitive Neptune. The one caveat was that his Spanish accent was very thick and quite audible. While that isn’t really a problem, it did make it a little harder to understand this brand new libretto. I also met him at the door, and he was very kind, and willingly signed my program, as well as the thousand DVDs and CDs that were thrust at him. There weren’t many people at the door though, which was nice. Just a lot of stuff people wanted him to sign.
Finally, Lisette Oropesa was wonderful as the daughter of Prospero. She has such a lyrical voice, but it’s very “floaty” at the same time. Her costue cofused me though. While most characters were dressed as upper class 17th century English gentry, she was dressed more like a Greek god. I was a little confused, but that was soon overlooked as soon as she opened her mouth. She shined during the sextet and I applaud her for that. While I didn’t get to meet her, I left her flowers at the front desk. If you’re reading this, Ms. Oropesa, I hope you liked your flowers!
William Christie lead a superb Braoque orchestra and the chorus was wonderful. While they only appeared three of four times (One time they were under the stage, so is that technically an appearance?), they made a large impact.
Alright… That’s about it for this review. This production was truly amazing and it’s happy ending and upbeat, comic message are going to triumph on New Year’s Eve. Bravi to all the singers and I hope every opera lover get’s a chance to see the Met’s new opera, The Enchanted Island.
I know I’m not alone when I say I anticipate this day all year. It’s opening night at the Met!! Even more exciting, we are hearing the premiere of Anna Bolena! With Anna Netrebko! I know that Anna Bolena is not standard repetoire, but seriously, the Met shows random production all the time but they are just now premiering Bolena? Bolena has premiered all over the world, so it surprises me that they are just showing it now. And I couldn’t be happier.
You cant recreate a diva. You can’t just snap your fingers and watch one appear. As much as we wish we could, we can’t remake Maria Callas.A diva is not just one person. A diva is/was Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi, Karita Mattila, Joan Sutherland, and finally, Anna Netrebko. I LOVE Anna Netrebko. You may hear a lot of bias about her here but in my opinion, she is the greatest modern, living diva in the world. (Yes Maria, you were the definition of diva…) Let’s make one ore thing clear, I don’t like Angela Gheorghiu. She seems to think she is the reincarnation of Callas. Canceling performances doesn’t make you “cooler”. (Except Maria Callas is exempt from this list.) We’ll go into all of the issues I have with her at another, less “happy” occasion.
Tonight is a gift from the operatic Gods. Even thought my favorite mezzo, Elina Garanca won’t be able to perform since she is having a baby, I was happy to hear she was being replaced with Ekaterina Gubanova, and not Gheorghiu. (Since the Carmen at the Met incident, apparently she thinks she is a mezzo also…) But I heard Gubanova as Giulietta in Contes D’Hoffman and I really liked her. She seems like the right choice. Ildar Abdrazakov could play Mimi and it would be the right choice. Is he my favorite? No. Do I like him? No. I think he is incredible. I’m happy to hear he is playing that scumbag Henry VIII. Truth be told, I have never heard of Stephen Costello… so no comment there. But I am excited to hear him.
Now you may be asking, will I be attending Opening Night? The answer is no. I don’t have that kind of money! But, I am at home, cloistered in my room next to my Sirius Radio, looking like I have no power and there is a hurricane going on. I’m like a storm chaser, but with less involvement… I may be a tad lazy sometimes… But yeah, I’ll be holding vigil next to my radio tonight, hanging on to every word/note that I can hear. I will be keeping you all updated as the night transpires. Happy listening!!!
P.S. I posted a website with the libretto and translation for Anna Bolena. If you didn’t know, the translations are impossible to find.
P.P.S. Here is the link to the Metropolitan Opera’s website portion about Anna Bolena.
I know it’s kind of early in my blogging “life” to sidetrack from opera, but this is classical music, so it counts.
I have spent the entire day listening to the Dynasty Season 3 theme song. Am I interested in Dynasty? Not in the least. Do I love their theme song? Yes and I will until the day I die. So put that in your pipe and smoke it. (I’m sorry, that was unnecessarily aggressive, but I’m too lazy to delete it.)
When I used to visit my aunt, when she lived in her really cool loft in a place I will not mention, she used to watch Dynasty and she would play the theme song over and over again for me to listen to. Then, I forgot about it…until today! I remember cheering for the characters she liked, and then booing at the characters we didn’t like. (Cough, cough, Alexis, cough, cough.) But those were very fond memories. I don’t know if she still watches it… if she does…then I will force her to explain it all to me next time I see her.
But seriously, this is a really good piece of classical music. I really like the way the trumpet kind of leads the melody of the piece, kind of like a soap-operatic fanfare. In fact, it is a soap-operatic fanfare… (Side note: I actually play trumpet! You’ve just been enriched!) Unfortunately, I have only been able to find one track of this song on Itunes. I guess they switched to a new song mid way…but I’m not yet open to searching for it yet. It’s only been one day since I rediscovered my obsession with this piece of music. Do yourself a favor, and listen to it.
This morning, I finally had enough time to watch PBS’s new documentary on Placido Domingo’s operatic triumphs. It is an in depth look Placido Domingo’s favorite roles…you probably guessed that though. I found it very interesting and informative.
I like Placido Domingo. He is a considerably better actor than Pavarotti (there, I said it!), I mean Pavarotti’s voice is in a totally different class, but Domingo is an extremely close second. The documentary is a short recap of his life, followed by about twelve descriptions of his favorite operas, and a select aria from each. This was the only thing that bugged me. I wanted to hear more of his commentary than the entire “Cielo e Mar” from one of his performances. Don’t get me wrong, It’s a beautiful piece, but did we need to hear all of it?
It was interesting to hear about how many roles he has sang though. 131 to be exact. That’s pretty impressive. I know people who don’t even know 131 words. I try not to associate with said people… Anyway, normally these documentaries are put up for viewing on the Great Performances website but if not, they are sometimes aired again since it only premiered on Friday…
Talk to you later… whoever you are…
And seriously, please give me feedback…but positive feedback because if you don’t, I will be sad and we don’t want that, now do we?