Saturday, January 18, 2014

L'Elisir d'Amore

What a treat! Last night Meridita and I saw the charming Donizetti opera L'Elisir d'Amore at the Met. With a fun and silly plot, it featured beautiful arias and duets.

Anna Netrebko has such a beautiful, strong, clear voice. She sang Adina and practically carried the whole show.

The tenor Ramon Vargas sang beautifully and sweetly, and his solos were phenomenal. When he was singing with the cast, however, his voice tended to get drowned out.

The real scene stealer was Erwin Schrott as the Doctor Dulcamara. He had very funny lyrics and sang deep and fast.

The whole evening was fully entertaining.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Der Rosenkavalier Live at the Met

Last night we saw Der Rosenkavalier at the Met! I won the tickets through the drawing.

We had seen this in HD at BAM a few years ago and loved it. Seeing it live was a real treat, but our seats were so far back it was hard to see. This was unfortunate because in the filmed version I really appreciated the acting. Live, without seeing their faces, it was hard to get as much of a sense of it.

My favorite part of this Strauss opera is the character of the Marschallin, sung last night by Martina Serafin. I just love the depth and nuance of her mind, and her gracious actions. Serafin sang the role beautifully.

The buffoon Ochs was sung by Peter Rose and he was great. The most lovely singing was by last night's stand-in Erin Morley, playing Sophie. Her voice was just incredible.

The weakest link was Alice Coote as Octavian. She sang beautifully, particularly in the duets. But she just didn't communicate much.

Der Rosenkavalier is in three acts and the narrative is somewhat odd. It is part a deep love story, and part a farce. These elements didn't totally sync. At least not for me and not last night.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

La Traviata at Lincoln Center

Last night Meridita and I saw La Traviata screened in HD outside Lincoln Center.

Verdi's music and the singing were fantastic. Really beautiful. I even considered getting an album. The story was simple and very dramatic. What really made it work was the intense acting of the three leads, particularly Natalie Dessay as Violetta. I really felt the intensity of her love and desire. Her lover Alfredo was sung by Matthew Polanzani, and his father was Dmitri Hvorostovsky; both wonderful.

Less wonderful however was the avant-garde minimalist set. The stage was a grey dome featuring a clock to symbolize how little time Violetta has left. During one scene they used what looked like a bunch of Ikea couches. The stark and bleak contrasted with the lush music and powerful emotions. It looked hokey and was really a disappointment. I would have preferred more color and pomp.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

La Perichole

Last night I saw a New York City Opera performance of Jacques Offenbach's La Perichole at City Center.

While I found the music to be really fun and delightful, I was put off by the production, which included many drawn out gags and pratfalls, long stretches of unsung dialogue that did not move the plot forward, and an unpleasant visual mishmash of costumes and sets. I first found the colors and sets charming, but after a while it became kind of annoying to look at (ongepatschket, as my people say).

All of this took away from what I found to be a wonderful musical performance. I loved Marie Lenormand as Perichole as well as the trio of sopranos.

I had previously seen Offenbach's Tales of Hoffman in rehearsal at the Met, and adored the music. So I think I'm an Offenbach fan. Not a fan of the NYCO artistic director, however.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Die Walkure

I saw Die Walkure at the Met this afternoon. And guess what? I loved it. The music was romantic and stirring and exciting. The plot involved a lot of pride and defiance and over-the-top emotions. The production featured moving planks with projections on them that I found to be very effective. They created an austere and dark atmosphere. The most beautiful was the wintery forest.

I had been intimidated by the prospect of this five hour German opera, but I found it incredibly enjoyable. And in spite of the grim emotional content, I felt uplifted by the experience.

The performer singing Siegmund was replaced by an understudy. Martina Serafin had her Met debut as Sieglinde, and did a beautiful job. Brunhilde was sung by Deborah Voigt. Stephanie Blythe was a stupendous Fricka, and Mark Delavan sang Wotan. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Turn of the Screw

Last night I saw New York City Opera's production of Benjamin Britten's The Turn of Screw at BAM. Written in 1954, it represents both the first 20th Century opera I've seen, and the first sung in English.

I was very aware of how different the music was from other operas I've seen, and I enjoyed it very much musically. The singing was wonderful and I found the score intriguing and engaging. However, I found it odd listening to opera sung in English; I prefer the romantic mystery of it sung in another language, particularly Italian.

Most unenjoyable to me, however, was the story. I had read the Henry James novella in my twenties and was perplexed and nonplussed by it. I just didn't get it. The story has a level of abstraction to it that I might be too dense for. In any case, I thought the plot was a poor choice for an opera, and I felt put off by it. Also, the production staged it as taking place in the 1950s, losing the more romantic and gothic quality of the isolated Victorian setting.

I'm really glad I saw The Turn of the Screw, though. The lighting was beautiful and I'm glad to have been exposed to 20th Century classical music.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Les Troyens

I saw Les Troyens at the Met last night! I had been rather intimidated by this five hour (and fifteen minutes) opera by Berlioz, but it turned out to be amazing.

The epic drama is basically two operas in one. The first two acts concern the end of the Trojan War and focus on Cassandra and her prophecies. The last three acts concern Aeneas and Dido in Carthage. The grand production included long segments of ballet that were gorgeous and interestingly choreographed (more like contemporary dance). And a very large chorus. The sets and lighting were beautiful and evocative.

I had tried to read the plot synopsis on Wikipedia, but found it impossible to follow, however, I had no trouble during the actual opera, with the help of course of the Met titles. It was thoroughly engrossing. The music was lush, and the singing, particularly Susan Graham as Dido, was amazing. Other performers included the mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill as Dido's sister, who had a lovely, deep voice, Deborah Voigt as Cassandra, who carried the whole first and second acts, Dwayne Croft who sang Coroebus, beautifully in the first and second acts, and Marcello Giordani (who I've now seen in a number of roles) as Aeneas. Most of his performance was pretty good but not really charismatic, but he had one aria that was incredible. As I said, the stand out performance was Susan Graham. Stunning.

This was a real treat. Thank you Met Varis Weekend Ticket Lottery!