Friday, October 31, 2014
Text and photos by Herbert Yesterday afternoon there was the ECHO Klassik Award 2014 in the Philharmonie in Munich. Anna Netrebko received the award as "Singer of the Year". T he show was hosted by Rolando Villazón and actress Nina Eichinger, and it was Villazón who read the speech in honor of Anna and gave her the prize. Tenor Jonas Kaufmann should be honored by José Carreras, but unfortunately Kaufmann was ill and had to cancel. But Mr. Carreras was there, and he took Kaufmann's award and will hand it over later on. I don't know if the ZDF Mediathek can be received outside Germany, but here is a link to the video of the gala plus many photos: http://echo.zdf.de/
MACBETH Met, NYC, NY, 17 October 2014 Text and Photos by Herbert Last Saturday I was in New York and I attended the final performance of this year's run of Verdi's MACBETH at the MET. My first visit to the famous Metropolitan Opera - quite an experience! The auditorium and the stage are huge, and I can imagine that it may be awesome and almost scary for a singer to have to fill this space with one's voice and presence. Most opera lovers will have seen this production of Macbeth either in the cinema or even live, so I don't have to tell a lot about it. I loved the production! The scenes often looked like painted pictures, and the singers didn't have to fulfil weird maneuvers on stage, but they could act like "normal" people. The cast was amazing! Željko Lucic as Macbeth, René Pape as Banquo, Joseph Calleja as Macduff and maestro Fabio Luisi in the pit - what a luxury! And above all Anna Netrebko as THE star of the evening! Has she ever been better than on that night? I doubt it. Her first appearance on stage was already one of the highlights. She was lying in bed, covered by a satin blanket. Then she woke up, first her arms appeared from under the blanket - and then there she was, standing on the bed, and she began to sing her first aria. She was quite alone on stage, but there wouldn't have been space for anybody else because she filled the stage with her presence completely. The sleepwalking scene in the final act was another moment when she made the audience hold their breath - so when she actually ran on stage at curtain calls, jumping and waving wildly, she was welcomed and acclaimed by an excited and enthusiastic audience. After the show she was relaxed and easygoing at the stage door. There was no rush and she spent a long time with her fans, chatting, laughing and having fun with them. Meanwhile she has left for Munich where she will receive the ECHO Klassik Award as Singer of the Year next Sunday and where she is rehearsing a new production of Manon Lescaut at the Bayerische Staatsoper with fantastic Jonas Kaufmann as her stage partner - what a cast again! All 7 performances in November/December are already sold out... PHOTOS
Gift Membership, available from the ROH Shop © ROH, 2013 This week orders made online through the Royal Opera House Shop may be delayed due to a retail technology refresh. The shop in Covent Garden will continue to run a normal service. Please call the shop directly on +44 (0)20 7212 9331 if you are having any problems with your order. Recent Royal Ballet and Royal Opera productions available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray include Giselle and Don Giovanni . Also see our recommended recordings for this month , including new releases from Joyce DiDonato, Jonas Kaufmann and Franco Fagioli. Browse the online shop now .
Kevin O'Hare and Melisson Hamilton at the 2014/15 cinema launch The Royal Opera House Live Cinema Season 2014/15 opens tonight with Kenneth MacMillan ’s ballet masterpiece Manon . 'Kenneth was an enormous film fan so would have been thrilled this was happening,' said the choreographer's wife, Deborah MacMillan. 'The cinema relays mean such a lot to us and it is amazing to see how they have grown,' said Director of The Royal Ballet Kevin O'Hare. 'It is a particular pleasure opening with Manon as it is the 40th anniversary of Kenneth MacMillan's production, and it is a production that has really shaped The Royal Ballet.' The new Season will feature 11 Royal Opera House productions broadcast to more than 1,400 cinemas in 30 countries worldwide. Kevin O'Hare and Melissa Hamilton at the 2014/15 cinema launch Deborah MacMillan and Jan Parry at the 2014/15 cinema launch Kiandra Howarth, Rachel Kelly, Luis Gomez, Samuel Sakker at the 2014/15 cinema launch Elizabeth Watts at the 2014/15 cinema launch Following Manon, the next live relay of the Season will see Verdi’s early tragic opera I due Foscari , simulcast on 27 October. The Royal Opera production stars Plácido Domingo and is conducted by Music Director of The Royal Opera Antonio Pappano . Three other new productions to The Royal Opera will also feature this Season: Giordano’s French Revolution romance Andrea Chénier starring Jonas Kaufmann and Eva-Maria Westbroek ; Brecht and Weill’s impassioned satire Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny starring Anna Sofie von Otter ; and Rossini’s final opera and greatest masterpiece Guillaume Tell starring Gerald Finley . Royal Opera productions of L’elisir d’amore , Der fliegende Holländer and La bohème will also be relayed live this Season. As well as Manon, The Royal Ballet will present Christopher Wheeldon ’s family-favourite Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland , followed in the New Year by Tchaikovsky’s much-loved classic Swan Lake , and Frederick Ashton’s Company classic La Fille mal gardée starring Natalia Osipova and Steven McRae . ‘The Live Cinema Season is increasingly important as a way of sharing the artists of Covent Garden with the rest of the world,' said Chief Executive of The Royal Opera House Alex Beard. View the full list of productions for the 2014/15 Season, find a cinema near you and sign up to our mailing list.
Joyce DiDonato © Simon Pauly, 2013 Joyce DiDonato - Stella di Napoli (Warner Classics) After the usual slow summer, the recording companies have gone into overdrive and this month’s recommendations are chosen from a wide field, not least the re-issue on Warner Classics of the entire studio recordings of Maria Callas , re-mastered from the original tapes and an astonishing aural experience. Topping the charts now though is Joyce DiDonato ’s new album, Stella di Napoli. DiDonato requires no introduction, and in this recording the mezzo explores some little-known reaches of the bel canto repertoire. Few singers today understand how to build the aural architecture that allows bel canto its natural expression, let alone the technique to deliver it, but DiDonato excels throughout. Each aria is delivered as an individual act of expression, alive to the text and music and this creates a fascinatingly varied recital – no mean achievement in music that in lesser hands can sound too similar. There are rich pickings and many surprises, not least alternative takes on Lammermoor (Carafa's Le nozze di Lammermoor in place of Bellini's better-known Lucia di Lammermoor) and Sonnambula (Valentini's Il sonnambulo instead of Bellini's La sonnambula), and the final prayer from Maria Stuarda in Donizetti’s own reworking. A captivating and must-have disc. Buy Stella di Napoli from the ROH online shop Franco Fagioli - Il maestro: Porpora Arias (Naive Classique) Argentine countertenor Franco Fagioli recently had the Wigmore Hall on its feet as he earned one of the few standing ovations that the Hall has witnessed of late. The countertenor soon debuts at the Royal Opera House in Idomeneo so this new release from him of arias by baroque composer Nicola Porpora is very timely. Accompanied by the excellent Academia Montis Regalis , you can be guaranteed an hour of absolutely sensational singing. Fagioli is a true virtuoso and it seems none of these arias holds any fear for him: the voice is distinctive and dramatic, and his technique allows him to sing astonishingly complex vocal lines with ease and abandon. Buy Il maestro: Porpora Arias from the ROH online shop Jonas Kaufmann - You Mean the World to Me (Sony) Jonas Kaufmann is seemingly never far from the recording studio and has just released his latest album, You Mean the World to Me. A tribute to the great Richard Tauber and his Berlin contemporaries, Kaufmann offers a generous selection of song and operetta by Lehár, Stolz, Kálman and their like, and even includes a tantalizing glimpse of Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt - based on this performance, what a Paul he would be! With Julia Kleiter offering stylish soprano support and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin under the lively baton of Jochen Rieder, it’s clear Kaufmann loves this repertory and he sings it with real affection and style. It’s a charmer of a disc and one you’ll return to often. Buy You Mean the World to Me from the ROH Shop The Royal Opera House Online Shop stocks a full range of classical recordings, as well as DVDs and merchandise.
Readers of this site are typically up to speed on emerging vocal talents, so clearly there is no need for me to write a review of Chilean-German soprano Carolina Ullrich’s riveting recital at the Paris Opera? Oh wait—you haven’t heard of her?! Ullrich has been delighting opera audiences from Dresden to her native Santiago, but she has scarcely made it across the pond to North American stages, save for a concert at the Kennedy Center in 2010. Ullrich, who made a surprise debut at Opera Bastille last year, teamed up with stellar Brazilian pianist Marcelo Amaral—who studied with Helmut Deutsch, Jonas Kaufmann’s loyal lieder accompanist—to present a program of mostly unfamiliar works by Granados, Guridi, and Obradors, as well some Fauré (this is Paris after all). The Fauré—a set called “La Chanson D’Ève”—made for a nice warm-up but the real fun began with Granados’ “La Maja y el ruiseñor.” The rest of the recital featured Spanish pieces that are evidently special to Ullrich, as she projected genuine enthusiasm and appeared delighted to introduce the audience to a new world of repertoire. At the same time, Ullrich strikes me as a highly disciplined performer who never resorts to frivolous antics. She’s a singer who draws you in—and goodness knows that is a rare capacity. While a Spanish-themed recital would likely be well received in New York, the question is whether we will soon see this promising soprano onstage, perhaps even in a zarzuela? I was also incredibly impressed with Amaral’s sensitive accompaniment. Here is a pianist who blends the flare of Latin America with the studiousness of Schubert’s Germany. Not to mention the fact that he appeared tireless. I so look forward to hearing him again. This was my second time attending a concert as part of the Convergences series at Opera Bastille’s sterile yet acoustically pleasing Amphitheatre. These concerts feature distinguished artists and offer the perfect foil to the crowd-pleasing yet unambitious roster (Traviata! Tosca! Barber of Seville!) upstairs in the gigantic opera auditorium. I previously wrote about Christian Gerhaher’s Schubert awesomeness, and I look forward to seeing soprano Angela Denoke in November.
Great opera singers