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Jonas Kaufmann

Saturday, January 31, 2015


The Boston Musical Intelligencer

January 13

Heightened Intimacy in BOC’s Lettres de Werther

The Boston Musical Intelligencer Salvatore Atti as Werther (Dan Busler photo) In introducing Saturday evening’s performance, Boston Opera Collective’s General Director, Chelsea Beatty, commented on her experience of Metropolitan Opera’s sprawling production of Jules Massenet’s Werther last year: an ant-sized Jonas Kaufmann projected to her obstructed-view seats in the upper balconies of theater. Intentionally or not, BOC’s Lettres de Werther at Longy School’s Pickman Hall presents a miniature and intimate response to the Met’s grandiosity and constitutes a fine opening for the company’s 2015 season. BOC’s Lettres, a daring read of the Jules Massenet’s original Werther, is not for purists. Massenet’s opera sets Goethe’s Sorrows of Young Werther—an early work that garnered the poet international recognition. Goethe’s novel tells the pseudo-autobiographical story of a young Werther who falls in love with the betrothed Charlotte, is rebuffed, and commits suicide. Whereas Massenet’s librettists Édouard Blau, Paul Milliet and Georges Hartmann place Werther in linear time, BOC’s Patricia-Maria Weinmann and Greg Smucker take an oblique approach to the story: BOC’s Lettres de Werther restores the epistolary nature of Goethe’s novel: an aged Charlotte receives a collection of letters written by Werther during his infatuation with her. Upon re-reading these, she (and we) are transported to the estate at Wetzlar to relive Werther’s tragic suicide in Charlotte’s memory. Arias and interludes from Massenet’s opera arise organically from passages that an older Charlotte (played by Lindsay Conrad) reads aloud—as if these painful memories can only be recollected in the form of music. The re-parsing of Massenet’s work in Saturday’s performance resulted in a streamlined, cohesive compression of the two-plus-hour score to a modest 90 minutes. Stripped of belle epoque trappings except for the handsome costumes, the production offers minimalist set design and scenery. At times these tradeoffs seem needlessly Spartan: digitally projected scenery intending to lend an impressionistic ambiance appeared splotchy and pixelated; an overly-squeaky platform for Werther’s deathbed detracted from the pathos of his suicide; no blood at all would have been preferable to the comic red splotch that appears on Werther’s shirt in the opera’s final scene. However, the conception and intention of BOC’s stark set design is effective: an empty tiered stage, sparsely decorated with a table and a few chairs is the only platform on which the story takes place, save for an aged Charlotte sauntering throughout the stage while the drama unfolds—a living specter among her memories. A lone piano stood in for the late-Romantic orchestra in BOC’s production, and in the hands of pianist and music director Jean Anderson Collier, the affect was expansive and fluent. Replacing the orchestra with piano revealed Massenet’s stylistic palette more clearly—certainly, jazz was not too far away from wending its way into opera—but also stripped the work of the lush romantic swells that support and intensify the emotional moments. In adapting Werther’s grandeur for a smaller space, BOC’s miniature Lettres rewards with a compensatory emotional intimacy well-suited to the opera’s internal scale. Heather Gallagher as Charlotte; figure in the background is Lindsay Conrad as Older Charlotte (Dan Busler photo) The show features two casts. Saturday evening’s performance benefited from a fleet, cohesive ensemble that showed complete dedication to the production’s heightened tone. The production also boasted strong vocal performances. Heather Gallagher, as Charlotte, was a clear highlight of the evening: Gallagher manages a radiant full tone throughout her entire range that is both full and sensitive to the vocal line. This paired well with soprano Evelyn Tsen’s pure, flexible voice—an ideal casting for the innocent Sophie. Salvatore Atti, in the title role, although at times less resonant in the upper reaches of his range, filled Pickman Hall with a rich, well-controlled tenor that reflected fine drama portrayed on stage. Baritone Luke Scott, cast as Albert, maintains a robust, solid sound. Lettres repeats on Thursday, with this cast, and Friday with an alternate cast comprising Omar Najmi (Werther), Sadie Gregg (Charlotte), Patrick McNally (Albert), and Allesandra Cionco (Sophie). Among his professional singing experiences, Sudeep Agarwala has performed with many local choruses. The post Heightened Intimacy in BOC’s Lettres de Werther appeared first on The Boston Musical Intelligencer .

Royal Opera House

January 29

Your reaction: Andrea Chénier in cinemas 2015

Jonas Kaufmann as Andrea Chénier in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 #ROHChenier even better 2nd time around. Act 3 and 4 really splendid with all 3 principals on top form — SEBASTIAN PETIT (@CURZONPRODUCT) January 29, 2015 Kaufmann, Westbroek and Lucic headlined a tremendous cast in tonight's #ROHChenier Great work everyone. — Nigel Smith (@Nigel_P_Smith) January 29, 2015 Emotional Acts 3&4 to #ROHChénier , all three singers rising to the occasion. Željko Lučić's "Nemico della patria" again a highlight. — Mark Pullinger (@larkingrumple) January 29, 2015 Željko Lučić as Carlo Gérard in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 #ROHChenier I got actual goosebumps when @TenorKaufmann & @EvaMariawb sang the final duet! Isn’t that what opera is about? Bravi tutti! — Ivis Bohlen (@ivisbohlen) January 29, 2015 The ending of #ROHchenier was an aural sugar rush. Wonderful. Production almost too slickly lavish, though. Peasants very well dressed etc — Douglas Martin (@doogyjim) January 29, 2015 Thoroughly enjoyed #ROHChénier : leads superb but standouts for me were Zeljko Lucic - utterly commanding - and Orchestra @RoyalOperaHouse . — Adrian (@Adrian_Specs) January 29, 2015 Jonas Kaufmann as Andrea Chénier and Eva-Maria Westbroek as Maddalena Di Coigny in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 Loved #ROHchénier cinema relay and Richard E Grant did a great job hosting, but nothing beats the experience and sound live in the theatre. — Karen McLernon (@BBB_Mrs) January 29, 2015 Extraordinary Pappano and the orchestra ot the #ROHchenier . Congratualtions from Barcelona! — Berta Noy Falcó (@BnoyFa) January 29, 2015 Loved it in house. Fab to see again tonight at the cinema. DVD would be nice... Pretty please! @RoyalOperaHouse #ROHChenier — Annette (@buglet2) January 29, 2015 What did you think of Andrea Chénier in cinemas? The next live relay of the 2014/15 Live Cinema Season will be The Royal Opera's Der fliegende Holländer on 24 February 2015. Find your nearest cinema and sign up to our mailing list .




Royal Opera House

January 29

Watch: Members of the cast and creative team from Andrea Chénier

Jonas Kaufmann as Andrea Chénier and Željko Lučić as Carlo Gérard in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 David McVicar 's Royal Opera production of Umberto Giordano 's Andrea Chénier was relayed live to cinemas around the world on 29 January 2015. The relay featured a series of backstage films, including rehearsal footage and interviews with members of the cast and creative team. If you missed the screening on the night, or just want to find out more about the production, here's another chance to see the films: An Introduction to Andrea Chénier 'It's a story about real people, real locations in late 18th-century France,' says set designer Robert Jones . 'We begin in a chateaux of a very wealthy aristocratic family cocooned from the outside world. They're surrounded by the finest silver, chandeliers, the finest food and furniture - they're not really aware of what's going on outside; they live in an ivory tower and we're about to see this family fall at the hands of the French Revolution.' Watch the cast and creative team introduce the opera, and explain why it's a work that they love: Andrea Chénier Vocal Masterclass with Antonio Pappano 'The qualities of the singer as an actor are exposed [in Andrea Chénier], so I'm constantly working in the rehearsal room to get the singers to fill the silences with their own intensity,' says Antonio Pappano. 'We've been working hard not just to do the music and the melodies, but to make it alive,' says soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek , who sings the role of Maddalena di Coigny. Watch Pappano work with star singers Jonas Kaufmann and Eva-Maria Westbroek on the musical elements of Giordano's opera: Designing Andrea Chénier - Bringing the French Revolution to life 'My brief was really simple - not to produce a concept to design but to make it real,' says production designer Jenny Tiramani . 'People have the right layers of dress and the right articles of clothing. These are not fake theatrical versions of historical dress.' 'We're not allowed to cheat, so that means no automatic poppers to make a quick change easier. All the ribbons and buckles are real. If you have the right costume, you act and interact in the style of the period - it helps enormously when you're slipping into another century,' says tenor Jonas Kaufmann who sings the title role. Watch the cast and creative team offer an insight into what it takes to design costumes for an authentic period production: To see more films like these, subscribe to the Royal Opera House YouTube channel: The Royal Opera House Cinema Season broadcasts performances to more than 1,600 cinemas in 60 countries around the world. Check the website to see if there's an encore of Andrea Chénier near you . The next live relay of 2014/15 will be The Royal Opera's Der fliegende Holländer on 24 February 2015. Find your nearest cinema and sign up to our Cinema mailing list .



Royal Opera House

January 22

Umberto Giordano’s Andrea Chénier to be screened live in cinemas across the world on 29 January 2015

The new Royal Opera production of Umberto Giordano ’s passionate French Revolution drama Andrea Chénier will be screened live in cinemas across the world at 7.15pm GMT on 29 January. Ahead of the screening, download our Andrea Chénier Digital Programme , which contains specially selected features to bring you closer to the production. The Cast Described in the Telegraph as ‘gold-plated’ , the cast includes Jonas Kaufmann in the title role as the idealistic poet Chénier, with Eva-Maria Westbroek as his aristocratic love Maddalena. Jealous servant-turned-official Carlo Gérard is played by Serbian baritone Željko Lučić . Antonio Pappano conducts. Denyce Graves as Bersi in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 Željko Lučić as Carlo Gérard in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 Eva-Maria Westbroek as Maddalena Di Coigny in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 Jonas Kaufmann as Andrea Chénier in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 Jonas Kaufmann as Andrea Chénier and Eva-Maria Westbroek as Maddalena Di Coigny in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 Rosalind Plowright as Contess Di Coigny, Eva-Maria Westbroek as Maddalena Di Coigny and Denyce Graves as Bersi in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 Rosalind Plowright as Contess Di Coigny and Jonas Kaufmann as Andrea Chénier in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 Jonas Kaufmann as Andrea Chénier in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 Denyce Graves as Bersi in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 Eva-Maria Westbroek as Maddalena Di Coigny in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 Jonas Kaufmann as Andrea Chénier and Eva-Maria Westbroek as Maddalena Di Coigny in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 Jonas Kaufmann as Andrea Chénier in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 Elena Zilio as Madelon and Željko Lučić as Carlo Gérard in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 Jonas Kaufmann as Andrea Chénier in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 Jonas Kaufmann as Andrea Chénier and Željko Lučić as Carlo Gérard in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 Jonas Kaufmann as Andrea Chénier and Eva-Maria Westbroek as Maddalena Di Coigny in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 Jonas Kaufmann as Andrea Chénier, Eva-Maria Westbroek as Maddalena Di Coigny and The Chorus of the Royal Opera House in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 Jonas Kaufmann as Andrea Chénier, Eva-Maria Westbroek as Maddalena Di Coigny and The Chorus of the Royal Opera House in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 The Royal Opera House Chorus in Andrea Chénier © ROH. Bill Cooper 2015 The Story Poet Andrea Chénier and former aristocrat Maddalena di Coigny fall in love, much to the envy of Carlo Gérard – a servant in Maddalena’s home. However, when Gérard becomes a Revolutionary official, his jealousy threatens not only their happiness, but their lives. The opera is often referred to as a verismo opera. Read our article about the differences between verismo and operas depicting ‘real life’ , and to what extent Andrea Chénier fits into this operatic sub-genre. The plot is loosely based on the life of French poet André Chénier (1762–94). Find out more about other historical figures behind opera . The Production David McVicar ’s new production is the first staging by The Royal Opera since 1984. Featuring historically-informed sets and costumes by Robert Jones and Jenny Tiramani , the production depicts both the opulence of pre-Revolutionary France and the violence and horrors of the Reign of Terror . Find out more in our Opera Essentials article . The Music Andrea Chénier is Giordano’s most famous work and features a number of musical highlights, including the title character’s revealing Improvviso , and the cinematic Act III trial scene . Reviews The production opened on 20 January. Read audience reactions to the opening night and add your own review . After the relay, we will publish a roundup of audience tweets, so share your thoughts with the hashtag #ROHchenier . Andrea Chénier will be screened live in cinemas on 29 January 2015. Find your nearest cinema and sign up to our mailing list . The production runs until 6 February 2015. A limited number of tickets are still available; there are also 67 day tickets for each performance, and returns may become available. The production is a co-production with the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing , and San Francisco Opera , and is given with generous philanthropic support from Mrs Aline Foriel-Destezet, Mrs Susan A. Olde OBE, Simon and Virginia Robertson, Spindrift Al Swaidi, Mercedes T. Bass and Mrs Trevor Swete.

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