Tuesday, July 28, 2015
As your alte Jungfer is scurrying about packing her trunks and hatboxes in preparation for her annual pilgrimage to the Festspielhaus, this week we offer you a visit to the “Faustspielhaus” (a term coined by a critic of the Met in the 1890s.) Piotr Beczala, Soile Isokoski and Kwangchul Youn star in this 2009 performance from the Wiener Staatsoper, idiomatically conducted by Bertrand de Billy. Faust fell from grace after World War II and was long considered too, too twee. But with an abundance of contemporary tenors suited to the title role—Beczala, Roberto Alagna, Joseph Calleja and Jonas Kaufmann among them—could it be staging a comeback? Charles Gounod: Faust Wiener Staatsoper Bertrand de Billy, conductor 16 June 2009 Faust – Piotr Beczala Maurguerite – Soile Isokoski Méphistophélès – Kwangchul Youn Valentin – Boaz Daniel Siébel – Roana Constantinescu Marthe – Zoryana Kushpler Wagner – Hans Peter Kammerer
Carmen at Chorégie d’Orange was TV live broadcast less than two weeks ago. Contrary to the Puccini operas or the dreaded Verismo repertoire, Carmen is always enjoyable to listen to, so even when the visuals are less appealing you may always take pleasure in music and good singing — especially with the cast like the one chosen for this year’s Carmen in Orange. Carmen is really a gem on its own. It was composed during the Wagner era but, unlike most of his contemporaries, Bizet avoided the trap of trying to be “more dramatic than Wagner” or to be sweet and sugary. Nietzsche actually, after his obsession with Wagner, suggested that “Carmen is the best opera there is”, that it provided the Mediterraneanization of music and that it brought back cheerfulness, youth. More significantly Nietzsche suggested that the music [of Carmen] liberates spirit. At the time of its creation that last sentence is definitely a key. In Paris, the ultra-conservative pious bourgeoisie of the late 19th century was outraged by immorality in Carmen. They found the action crude and vulgar. Nationalistic critics thought the music was too dark and heavy, and even complained of too much “Wagnerism” in it (sic!). Of course there were many who loved Carmen and today it is probably the most loved opera in the world. Carmen on DVD: No good production is available unfortunately, except for the one directed by Calixto Bieito in Barcelona. HOWEVER, if you ever get a chance to see the production staged by Sebastian Baumgarten at the Komische Oper in Berlin you will definitely see something special. Another good example is the production directed by Emma Dante at La Scala — excellent show, viciously booed for the reasons similar to those for which the similar crowd booed the premiere at the Opera Comique in 1875… Now back to the production presented at Choregie this month. You should know that the old Roman amphitheater at Orange is enormous and the show is not mounted to please only the TV viewers, but also the people in the crowd, so the chances were the action would look naive, vieux théâtre, big gestures… While the direction by Louis Désiré in the first two acts was quite good, in the second part the show took a dive for the worse and soon it all started to look as expected — as one of the Eyre productions at The Met: old by construction, unimaginative, filled with clichés and with poor direction of extras. Better part are the singers: Anna Caterina Antonacci is dethroned and the best Carmen around is Kate Aldrich.* I saw her several years ago in the same role but I guess her Carmen was work in progress back then and now she’s absolutely wonderful in the role. Nothing to add, nor subtract — simply impeccable: her stage charisma, her vocal dominance, her incarnation… 10/10. I am not an unconditional Jonas Kaufmann fan. Two things I love about him are his Lieder-Abend’s, and his singing of the French opera roles for which he arguably defined the standards that will be super-hard to beat in the decades to come. So his Don José was as expected: superbly sung and brilliantly acted. Jonas is really one of a kind. Bravissimo! It wouldn’t be fair to end this note without mentioning always excellent Kyle Ketelsen whose Escamillo was a great match in quality to Kate and Jonas. I have to admit that this opera, when well sung and well conducted, is already 70% success. For that reason you might wish to spend a few quality hours listening to (or even watching) the show that is now available on YouTube: Act I-II and Act III-IV. * NB: Kate Aldrich will be singing Marguerite in La Damnation de Faust at Opéra de Lyon next October! A few excerpts: Kate rulz! (Seguedilla) Jonas at his best (La fleur que tu m’avais jetée): Kyle Ketelsen Jonas and Kate responded to Natalie Dessay in French:
Satisfying the needs of the opera-starved public over the summer doldrums, Boston Midsummer Opera (BMO) is staging Martha, a charming and musically gorgeous romcom of surprising depth, at BU’s Tsai Performance Center, July 29, 31, and August 2. The opera contains two of the more famous arias in the repertoire, sparkling ensembles, not to mention the luminously tender “Goodnight” Quartet. The Wikipedia entry informs us that Friedrich von Flotow’s Martha or The Market at Richmond is in four acts and set to a German libretto by Riese, based on a story by Vernoy de Saint-Georges. Flotow had composed the first act of a ballet, performed by the Paris Opera Ballet in 1844; the time available for further composition was short, so the second and third acts were assigned to Burgmüller and Deldevez. The opera Martha is an adaptation of this ballet; despite its German and Austrian origins, it is “French in character and elegance”. Along with the Boston Midsummer Ensemble, the English-singing cast features acclaimed soprano Joanna Mongiardo (Lady Harriet/Martha); Spanish-American tenor Eric Barry (Lionel); contralto Stephanie Kacoyanis (Nancy); bass Jason Budd (Plunkett); and bass-baritone David Cushing (Sir Tristan). Noted director James O’Leary stages the production, and nationally acclaimed conductor Susan Davenny Wyner will lead the BMO orchestra. The design team includes Stephen Dobay, (sets), John Cuff, (lighting), and Elisabetta Polito (costumes). BMInt interviewed director James O’Leary and tenor Eric Barry: FLE: Martha has a least a couple of the most famous arias we forgot we knew, or knew but not whence. “Ach so fromm,” “The Last rose of Summer”. It sounds weird to hear Thomas Moore’s words in German, so there’s one more reason to enjoy the opera in English, as you’re providing. But why does “Ach so fromm” sound so familiar—do we know it from something else? James O’Leary: “Ach! so fromm” has been a staple of tenor concert repertoire since the 19th century, but as far as I know it has not been used in anything else that could explain its enduring familiarity (theme songs, movies, and so forth). One possible reason is that was included as part of the standard Schirmer anthology of tenor arias as far back as the 1904 (reissued 1954). This collection has since been updated, but “Ach! so fromm” still appears in it (usually in Italian: “M’appari”). Generations of tenors have cut their teeth on this anthology, so it seems a natural choice for singers when they prepare concerts and recitals. And indeed, many of the great tenors have included this piece on their compilations: Caruso, Pavarotti, Gedda, Kaufmann, and so on. But there is another reason that “Ach! so fromm” is so famous—put bluntly, it’s damn good. Starting in F major, it quickly veers to D-flat major as the lyrics become more intense, a chromatic key relation that composers such as Schubert, Chopin, and Schumann had used to great effect for highly emotional or “otherworldly” moments. When the piece returns to the opening key, D-flat major slams up against a G7 chord, the applied dominant in the key of F. In other words, the return to F major is a rabbit-out-of-the-hat moment that still surprises me every time I hear it. I find it extremely effective. Critics in the past (following Schumannian logic) have considered such effects to be merely blunt. But I’ve never understood why writing good effects is a detriment. It’s simply a different aesthetic operating under a different set of rules—Flotow is Flotow, not Verdi, Wagner, or Mozart. Writing a show like Martha indeed takes a great deal of skill: deploying sudden changes of mode, sudden changes of key, and sudden jumps to soaring high notes, Flotow expertly gauges the energy of his audience and exploits it. He uses such effects in order to wring the maximum comedy and the pathos out of each scene. This quality also makes Martha a joy to perform. Perhaps one way to put it would be that it’s not just that the musicians play the music, but rather that the music plays the musicians—and plays them with great skill, using economical means to achieve maximum drama. It may not have that introspective or transcendental quality of other opera composers, but it is certainly well-crafted, highly skilled work that is a joy to listen to, and that lends itself perfectly to the stage. Martha’s gown by Elisabetta Polito Please remind us what else in the opera is familiar. You’ve already noted “Ach! so fromm” and “The Last Rose of Summer.” Two more may be familiar. “The Spinning Wheel” quartet is a wonderful little recording from 1911 (in English!), and the famous part starts [here ] at 2’25”. It is a far cry from “Gretchen am Spinnrade”, isn’t it? A version in German from 1944 is here . “The Goodnight Quartet” occurs in the opera shortly after “Spinning Wheel”, in Act II, when the lovers bid each other goodnight. [Link here ] Is this ‘refindable’ familiarity one of the reasons for the revival? Initially we were drawn by the arias, and were curious to know the context in which these fantastic songs appeared. But our interest in the opera goes deeper. When we looked at the score we noticed how it drew upon a wide range of traditions: stretches of the buffa writing of French comic opera (if Martha had been written 15 years later we may call parts of it operetta), hints of bel canto, French Grand Opera (with its tableaux and large choral scenes), and a strong sense of German Romantic opera (complete with folksongs). Flotow himself called it a “Romantic comic” opera, and for my part, before I encountered Martha, I would have considered broad comedy and German Romantic opera more or less opposed. As we started to work though Martha, however, we realized that it was no mere curiosity. It was composed not only with a strong musical sense but with a strong theatrical sense. Martha was written by a man with a knack for drama, with an astoundingly broad range of theatrical experience, and with an uncanny ability to make all these seemingly disparate elements cohere. In my opinion, there’s really nothing else like it. Because the opera has such an unusual character, we wanted to see how we might bring it to life onstage. It became our task to see how we could draw upon all of these traditions without stifling any of them. Some pretty important singers have performed the complete opera and continue to record the arias. If it gives so much pleasure, why is it so rarely produced? Martha is something of an unusual hybrid. While on the one hand the opera certainly revels in lush bel canto influences, it does not give into the sheer vocal extravagances of Rossini. And while the plot has the moments of zaniness that one might expect from opera buffa or even operetta, it also contains elements of folkish simplicity and Romantic earnestness. Although the opera may seem all but absent from major houses today, this piece has not been out of the repertoire for all that long. Before the poorly received 1961 Metropolitan Opera production, it was often programmed in many opera houses around the country (including the New York City Opera’s first season, in 1944, and another, earlier Met production, in 1928). In the 19th century it was one of the most popular pieces on the stage in the United States and in Europe. And even if the largest opera houses no longer perform it, it is still performed around the fringes: by colleges, smaller houses, and there was even a revival of it at the New York City Opera in 1990. So while I cannot say for certain why it is no longer produced, I think it is not an opera that fits neatly into any particular category that we typically see programmed in this country today. Depending how one approaches the score, it would be easy to expect Martha to be something it is not: seeing the hints of bel canto, one could fault it for being poor Rossini; noticing swathes of German Romantic opera writing, one could be disappointed that it is not Weber. In short, one could potentially see it as a watered-down version of many genres. But I think this would be a misunderstanding of what Flotow set out to do, and such expectations would make one blind his remarkable achievement in blending so many idioms. (And if contemporary reception can be any indicator, he was certainly successful.) Our goal has been to plumb Flotow’s musical language in all its variegated styles and figure out how best to mount it onstage in a way that allows each particular component to shine vividly. Is the plot important? Mistaken identity, flouted love—the usual complications. Please give us the shortest possible summary. The plot, I think, is important—and would have especially been important to audiences in the 1840s. Sure, it’s simple enough: two rich women disguise themselves as peasants, and when they are mistaken for maidservants, hilarity ensues, romance flares between classes, and in the end all is resolved. On the surface, then, it looks typical. But there is a twist to the typical Cinderella story: when the main characters are given a chance to return to court and restore their fortunes, they refuse, and instead decide to give up their courtly life in favor of a simple, bucolic life. It’s Cinderella in reverse. Rather than become a princess, Cinderella here moves into a farmhouse with her prince. This may seem typical to us today, but one can see why this plot would have appealed audiences of the 1840s—then full swing in the headiest years of the radical Romantic movement. In the generation following Rousseau, Schleiermacher, Schlegel, Schilling, and the rest, this would certainly have resonated as an endorsement of Romantic values. And it is no accident that the emotional center of this opera is not a religious song (as in Meyerbeer, for example), but a folksong. The plot endorses a bucolic, close-to-nature lifestyle, with values that privilege heart over head and joy over reason. The folksong (with only a strummed, harp accompaniment) represents the most potent distillation of Romantic values. The Tsai Theater has a rather shallow stage and not much in the way of wings. What will the production look like? Will interiors and exteriors be well-delineated? Our set designer has come up with a structure that is amazingly fluid: it can suggest both interiors and exteriors with lighting, furniture and props; it can feel both intimate and grand. His design is not only beautiful but clever, and it has been a joy to work with it. Lighting and costuming have helped with the suspension of disbelief in some of BMO’s previous summer refreshers. Can you describe what we can look forward to and give some sketches? Lisa Polito is our expert costume designer, and she has built an entire wardrobe for our production from scratch. The costumes are of the period (English Baroque), and she has made them as colorful and full of texture as possible. Lisa is amazing because she is so sensitive to character. The subtle differences between Nancy and Harriet, and even the subtle differences between Harriet when playing at peasant and when she gives up her aristocratic pretensions are wonderfully evocative. * * * Is this your first Lyonel? Eric Barry: Yes, this is certainly my first time to sing the entire role, although I’ve sung the famous aria in both German and Italian hundreds of times. For some reason Martha isn’t produced very often in the United States, and I’m not sure it’s even been programmed professionally in the US during my lifetime. Are you channeling Kaufmann or Caruso? That’s a fun question to think about. Between those two choices I’d have to say Caruso. Kaufmann is a glorious musician, and I’ve heard him live many times, but I think for this music his sound is too dark for my ear. Also, I hear the tessitura being a little high (not that he couldn’t do it with his incredible technique!) I bring an Italianate approach to my singing that’s closer to Caruso. Outside of those two choices, if I had to name a tenor to emulate in this role it’d be Wunderlich [here] and Kaufmann here ]. How deeply do you have to dig to get into this flimsy(?) character? Lyonel isn’t a profoundly deep character. He is a genuine, hardworking man who is trying to live up to his father’s dying wish to live a simple life. The hardships he was dealt during his childhood certainly add layers to his character in Act III, when he realizes that his true identity is the Earl of Derby. Coming into wealth and higher class during this period was especially fortunate, but I don’t think it changes his views or moral standing. The most difficult character decision he has is whether to marry Lady Harriett after the way she’s treated him before knowing his rank, and we’ve spent a lot of time on that scene to make sure the audience knows that his character runs much deeper than his pockets ever could. Model of Stephen Dobay’s set. Is this kind of comedy hard to bring off without camp? Campy humor requires a sense of artificiality: it’s the over-the-top aspect that makes camp what it is, and I find that our actors strive to keep artificial movement and emotions out of this production. Operetta is made up of very stylized movement and dances, and comedy often requires exaggeration in order to be funny, but we actually agreed as a cast of principals that we wanted our characters and their stories to be as real and authentic as possible, to make them relatable to our patrons, not just entertaining for two hours. We’ve been careful to make sure that the humor feels organic, that it springs from the situation and the music at hand. Will there be any unintentionally funny moments? There is always a chance for unintentional funny moments in live theater! While the show is certainly comedic, there is a greater love story that takes focus and it comes through very clearly with our cast. Our chorus is fantastic and full of character, so I’m sure there will be some creative expressions and little Easter eggs of humor to discover if the patrons watch closely enough. Do you love working with your Harriet? With the rest of the singers and the conductor? Meeting new colleagues and reuniting with old friends is one of the great benefits of being a performer. Lady Harriett is being sung by Joanna Mongiardo, and though we’ve never met in the past, it’s been very easy to share the stage with her and “fall in love.” She has a beautiful voice brimmed with musicality. Stephanie Kacoyanis plays Nancy and brings a vivacious, sexy flavor to the role that makes her character terribly entertaining, a perfect match for Jason Budd’s Plunkett, who needs a proper lady to whip him into shape every now and again. David Cushing brings a rich range of vocal dexterity and well thought out physical mannerisms to his character, Sir Tristan. He’s perfect for the role. The chorus is glorious, and it’s always nice to see familiar faces when revisiting an opera company. Susan Davenny Wyner is a pleasure to work with. She comes prepared with a lot of musical ideas and suggestions, which is a huge help when setting a new role solidly on its feet. Performances Wednesday July 29 and Friday July 31 at 7:30pm and Sunday August 2 at 3pm at the Tsai Performance Center Boston University, 685 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. A pre-opera talk with O’Leary and the writer Richard Dyer will take place one hour before performance time. Tickets, $40-$60 for all performances, are available online here . * * * Director James O’Leary specializes in popular music and opera, and currently focuses his research on Broadway musicals of the 1940s. He investigates the ways in which composers have strategically and selfconsciously projected aesthetic hierarchies (high art versus popular, highbrow versus lowbrow) to intervene in political debates during World War II and the early Cold War. He has presented his work at a number of conferences including annual meetings of the American Musicological Society, at the Society for American Music, and at the Sorbonne. In addition to his written work, O’Leary has lectured for the Metropolitan Opera and has worked as a pianist, music director, and arranger for the Yale School of Drama, the American Repertory Theater Oberon Stage, and the Williamstown Theater Festival. At Oberlin, O’Leary teaches music history surveys in 19th-century European music and American music, as well as more specialized courses on topics including popular music; Fin-de-Siècle music in Germany, France, and Austria; music philosophy; and organology. Conductor Susan Davenny Wyner has received international acclaim for her conducting. The Library of Congress featured her in its 2003 “Women Who Dare” Engagement Calendar, and the MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour and WGBH Television have presented special documentary features on her life and work. Her conducting credits include the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, Danish Odense Symphony, Boston Lyric Opera, concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, and recordings for Albany and Bridge Records. André Previn, Lynn Harrell, Claude Frank, Peter Serkin, and Emanuel Ax, have been among her guest soloists. Prior to her conducting, she had an international career as a lyric soprano, singing with the Metropolitan Opera and major conductors and orchestras in the US and abroad. Versatile soprano Joanna Mongiardo (Lady Harriet/Martha) is recognized for her effortless coloratura and spellbinding charisma on stage, and is in high demand for both operatic and symphonic repertoire internationally. The 2014-2015 season included a role debut as Rossini’s Semiramide with Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur, her Dallas Opera debut as Brigitta in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, and a return to the Back Bay Chorale for Mozart’s Mass in C minor. In recent seasons, Joanna has been engaged for more than 30 performances of Blonde in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, including productions at Grande Théâtre de Genève, Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur, and Deutsche Oper am Rhein. A gifted comedienne, her Rosalina in Il Re with Teatro Grattacielo was named “Best Individual Performance of 2011″ by Das Opernwelt Jahrbuch. Joanna was a member of the ensemble of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Düsseldorf, where she performed lead roles including Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, Oscar in Un ballo in maschera, Nannetta in Falstaff, and Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro. . Ms Mongiardo last appeared with BMO in 2007 in The Tales of Offenbach. Spanish-American tenor Eric Barry returns to BMO in the role of Lionel. His recent performances of Tom Rakewell in The Rake’s Progress at Wolf Trap Opera brought him remarkable critical and public acclaim. Mr. Barry’s 2014-15 season included two Mozart’s masterpieces: Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with Opera Memphis and the title role in La clemenza di Tito with Opera in the Heights, Houston. He also sang Alfredo in Shreveport Opera’s production of La Traviata and debuted with BMO in the role of Jenik in The Bartered Bride. On the concert stage, Mr. Barry sang a gala performance of opera arias with the Johnstown Symphony, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, Handel’s Messiah with the Winston Salem Symphony, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the New Choral Society, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Indianapolis Symphony. Last season, Mr. Barry returned to Amarillo Opera as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, as well as made his debut with Shreveport Opera as Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore. He also debuted as Rodolfo in La bohème with Opera Pittsburgh and North Carolina Opera. On the orchestra stage, Mr. Barry made debuts with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra singing Verdi’s Requiem, and at Avery Fisher Hall with the National Chorale in performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Contralto Stephanie Kacoyanis (Nancy) has received critical acclaim for her “velvet voice,” “vocal agility,” and “spiritually rich performances” (Boston Musical Intelligencer) and is gaining recognition as an accomplished interpreter of opera, oratorio, and musical theater repertoire. Recent opera and musical theater roles include Meg Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor (Boston Midsummer Opera), Saint Cecilia in Four Saints in Three Acts (Boston Modern Orchestra Project), Aunt March in Little Women (Opera del West), Lucy Steele in the world premiere of Sense and Sensibility: The Musical (Wellesley Summer Theatre), and Juno in Semele (Harvard Early Music Society). She is also pleased to be in her third season as an ensemble member with Boston Lyric Opera, and to make her debut with the Boston Midsummer Opera in this role. Bass Jason Budd returns to Boston Midsummer Opera in the role of Plunkett. Last season he made his South American debut as the title character in Verdi’s Falstaff with Theatro São Pedro in São Paulo, Brazil. Most recent engagements include Bartolo in IlBarbiere di Siviglia with the Michigan Opera Theatre, Boston Midsummer Opera’s Kecal in The Bartered Bride and Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Opera Western Reserve where he shared the stage with his college friend Lawrence Brownlee in their hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, Benoit/Alcindoro in La Bohème with Toledo Opera, Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figarowith Michigan Opera Theatre, Bartolo in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with The Bar Harbor Music Festival, and Major General in Pirates of Penzance at Fresno Grand Opera. Previously he has performed with Orlando Opera, Augusta Opera, Opera Birmingham, Piedmont Opera, Lyric Opera Cleveland and Opera Carolina. Bass-baritone David Cushing (Sir Tristan)’s recent appearances include the title role in Don Pasquale, Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, Frère Laurence in Roméo et Juliette and Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This season, Mr. Cushing performed Sarastro in The Magic Flute and Monterone in Rigoletto with Boston Lyric Opera, as well as the Speaker in The Magic Flute with Opera Tampa. In recent seasons, he has performed in John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby with Emmanuel Music at Jordan Hall and the Tanglewood Festival; Tom in Un Ballo in Maschera with Opera Tampa; Masetto in Don Giovanni, Nourabad in Les Pêcheurs des Perles, Bonze in Madama Butterfly, Count Horn/Tom in Un Ballo in Maschera and Dr. Grenvil in La traviata with Opera Colorado; Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte with Florentine Opera of Milwaukee; Leporello in Don Giovanni at the Syracuse Opera; Masetto in Don Giovanni with Florentine Opera of Milwaukee, Nashville Opera and Opera New Jersey; the Bonze in Madama Butterfly with Opera Theatre of St. Louis; Fifth Jew and Capadoccian in Salome with Michigan Opera Theatre; Colline in La bohème with Opera Columbus; Alidoro in La Cenerentola with Lake George Opera; Dr. Dulcamara in L’Elisir d’Amore, Masetto in Don Giovanni, and Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro with Opera North; Mephistopheles in Faust with Baltimore Concert Opera; and the leading role of Maometto in Rossini’s rarely performed opera L’Assedio di Corinto alongside renowned soprano Elizabeth Futral with the former Baltimore Opera. The post Flotow’s Finest Inked for BMO’s 10th Season appeared first on The Boston Musical Intelligencer .
Bohuslav Martinu’s The Greek Passion has had a rough life. Written between 1954 and 1957 to his own English libretto based on the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis (who also wrote Zorba the Greek and The Last Temptation of Christ), the opera was first approved—then rejected for being too radical—by Covent Garden. Martinu then produced a second, more conservative version of the opera, fundamentally a totally different work which retained only about thirty percent of the original score, which didn’t reach the stage till 1961, two years after the composer’s death. This “Zürich Version” was produced by various major opera companies over the next decades. Ales Brezina, the head of the Bohuslav Martinu Institute in Prague, undertook a complete reconstruction of the original “English Version,” which premiered at the 1999 Bregenzer Festspiele, where it starred Christopher Ventris (as Manolios), Nina Stemme (as Katerina), and Jonas Kaufmann (as Nikolios). For its premiere at Prague’s Národní divadlo, the libretto was translated into Czech, the version which I am pleased to offer today in a live performance from 2006 cast with stars from the company’s ensemble. Bohuslav Martinu: The Greek Passion First Version (1954-1957) Reconstructed by Ales Brezina Národní divadlo Praha Jirí Belohlávek, conductor 13 April 2006 Manolios – Tomás Cerny Katerina – Maida Hundeling Panait – Jaroslav Brezina Father Grigoris – Ludek Vele Father Fotis – Roman Janál Yannakos – Jan Vacík Kostandis – Frantisek Zahradnicek Lenio – Petra Nótová Ladas – Václav Knop Patriacheas – Ales Hendrych Michelis – Pavel Cernoch Nikolios – Ales Briscein Andonis – Jan Markvart An old woman – Lenka Smidová Despinio – Hana Jonásová An old man – Miroslav Podskalsky
On this day in 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee, the so-called “Monkey Trial” began with John T. Scopes, a young high school science teacher, accused of teaching evolution in violation of the Butler Act. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5Kdc0LLSW8 Born on this day in 1895 composer Carl Orff http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gv7gKPbEtFI Born on this day in 1903 mezzo-soprano Ebe Stignani http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Q4hB_DOM6w Born on this day in 1913 soprano Ljuba Welitsch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BReBIkkExM Born on this day in 1919 bass Ian Wallace http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhK2CiFHWLQ Happy 85th birthday mezzo-soprano Josephine Veasey http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZdu7KwAVoE Born on this day in 1932 bass-baritone Gerd Nienstedt http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWypxrZ30bk Happy 75th birthday soprano Helen Donath http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccRqa31wakI Happy 46th birthday tenor Jonas Kaufmann http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLoeWZAHjAE
A friend said something on Facebook the other day about his upcoming Troyens ticket: So I am playing tenor roulette, then? And two of us replied, with opera, you're always playing roulette. Yes, that's right. You just never know who will cancel or why. The last SFO Jenufa lost its Jenufa and Kostelnicka less than two months before the run. Janice Watson had just learned Eva for the SFO Meistersinger, and she had a new baby, and Jenufa was too much for her. Patricia Racette stepped in. Elizabeth Connell, scheduled for Kostelnicka, had to head for England, where her house had been burglarized. Kathryn Harries took that role. See also: that Otello that Ben Heppner was supposed to sing here, where I think four tenors subbed for him, and the Tristan in NYC that was billed as "Heppner & Voigt, together at last!" Except that they were both in and out for most of the run. We're now 4 performances into Troyens, and so far it's Bryan Hymel 2, Corey Bix 2. Everyone is hoping Hymel will be back on stage for performances 5 and 6; if not, Bix will be singing. I was idly thinking of who, among living tenors, even knows the role, which is set on the high and heroic side. It's not like trying to find someone to sing Rodolfo, which is in the repertory of every lyric tenor. Here are the lucky few, several of whom are no longer capable of singing the part, for reasons of voice, age, or health. Jon Vickers (in his late 80s, rumored to be in poor health)Giorgio Lamberti (retired)Placido Domingo (there is no way)Gregory KundeBen Heppner (retired)Bryan Hymel (felled by the SF fog?)Corey Bix (covering Hymel)Marcello Giordani (more or less fired from the part in favor of Hymel at the Met in 2013)Brandon Jovanovich (Rumored to be learning the part and said in an interview that he planned to sing Enée)Roberto Alagna (sang it in Europe in 2013 and 2014)Jonas Kaufmann? An article on Hymel indicates that Kaufmann was to sing the ROH production.Undoubtedly somebody else in Europe. Who sang Enee at...was it Deutsch Opera, Karlsruhe, or both, a few years back?Surely I'm missing someone.
Great opera singers