Saturday, January 29, 2011

Simon Boccanegra (encore)

The second night in a row at the Met; the second night in a row of Verdi -- last night I saw Simon Boccanegra! These were orchestra tickets which I won for $25 in their weekly drawing.

Meridita and I saw Simon Boccanegra last year with Placido, and loved it. This evening featured Dmitri Hvorostovksy in the title role and he was amazing.

However, I had two glasses of sparkling rose before the performance, and it was a Friday night, which is tough for me because I am so wiped out at the end of the week. All this to say I was horribly tired, and actually slept through the powerful 4th act.

In spite of that, I deeply appreciated the awesome singing, and this remains a favorite opera of mine.

The conductor was the great James Levine. Richard Berstein sang Pietro; Ferruccia Furlanetto sang Fiesco; Ramon Vargas was amazing as Adorno; and Barbara Frittoli sang Amelia/Maria.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Rigoletto at the Met!

What an incredible evening! Last night Meridita and I saw Rigoletto at the Met!

It was a powerful, rich, full-bodied, muscular opera and I loved every minute of it.

The performance included a wildly charismatic Piotr Beczala who was replacing Joseph Calleja as the Duke of Mantua. Beczala lit up the stage with his charming and arrogant persona, and he had an incredibly beautiful voice.

I was also utterly captivated by Nino Machaidze's singing in the role of Gilda, Rigoletto's daughter. Her voice was incredible and the duets she sang with Giovanni Meoni (Rigoletto) were stunning. She was also adorable and charming during her curtain calls.

The evening was conducted by Paolo Arrivabeni. Stefan Kocan sang Sparafucile.

Il Travatore at the MET

Jenn and I stumbled upon am unexpected and beautiful Fireworks display at Central Park on our way to see Il Travatore at the Metropolitan Opera.

Giuseppe Verdi 's Il Travatore has one of those confusing opera plots with gypsies and soldiers, love triangles and mysterious family trees.  But all in all it was really fantastic.  The music and singing was alluring and engaging.

Only the sets were a lack luster in my opinion.

But as Diana mentioned while we were grumbling about the sets for Rigoletto (yes, these are a reverse order catching up of Opera Chronicles.  I got in trouble tonight for not being up to date) perhaps everything just pales when we compare it to the Franco Zeffirelli sets for Turandot

Oh and while I am catching up I might as well put in a plug for the film Tea with Mussolini  semi-autobiographical tale from the early life of director Franco Zeffirelli.   Very enjoyable, humorous, heartfelt, well acted (other than Cher who is dreadful) and sweet. 

I Musici Venezia

After over a day of commuting, mostly via plan B at every turn, I made it to Venice.

The ticket area for Alilaguan airport (bus)boat has an air of the Boardwalk to it.  Making me feel instantly at home.

Catherine secured oh-so-hard-to-get tickets for La Traviata the night of my arrival.  It was wonderful, if a bit chilly to see an opera in a cavernous palazzo.  The sets were not much of anything, but with a room that grand not much was needed.  The musicians and most of the singers were superb.  Although I Musici Venezia could use the help of the Rush Kids when it comes to costuming.

A magical Venetian midnight walk is the perfect antidote to the exhaustion of 24 hours of travel.

New Year's Eve in Venice

The party was fanstastico!  With a 7-decade age spanning, multi-lingual, cross-cultural crowd which included renown countertenor Russell Oberlin, along with a diplomat, a retired soccer player, someone who swaps language lessons in a tattoo parlor and a host of other fascinating people.  If I had my Hoop, I think I could have started a Venetian Hoop craze.

For hours before and after the sparklers we ripped up the dance floor. 

But back to Russell Oberlin...  He is a dear dear friend of my new friend Deborah King Melina.

On New Years Morning Catherine and I went to Deborah and Berto's beautiful apartmento for Panatone and cafe.  The view is superb and the whole experience was made more magical when Deborah put on a CD of Russell singing.

Meridith McNeal, Venetian Windows, 2011, ink and watercolor on paper, 55x111

It seems strange that the proper and charming man I met the night before could sound so utterly angelic and feminine.  But I suppose that is what a countertenor does!

There are some interesting performance clips and interviews where he talks about his work on youtube.

Wellies and sequins: Rigoletto at the MET

Wellies and sequins were in abundance tonight for Rigoletto.

Diana and I agree with Plotkin that Rigoletto would make for an excellent first opera.

In tonight's performance at the Metropolitan Opera the cast was fantastic. Including the understudy for the Duke of Mantua who was a terrific singer and actor, handsome and amazingly tall for a tenor. I can't tell you his name as I tore that bit of the understudy notice off to throw away my gum.

Gilda (Nino Machaidze) , Rigoletto (Giovanni Meoni) & Sparafucile (Stefan Kocán) were all superb. Maddalena (Kirsten Chávez) while bodacious was not a strong singer.

Many times through out the night I thought the orchestra was not in sync with the singing. That was an odd first for the MET. But my biggest complaint were the dark and grim sets. To give you an idea the picture above was of the brightest of all the sets. At times it was really hard to see the performers. And we were in the fourth row!

I think "La donna è mobile" is so catchy a song must have been the precursor to a solid gold single. Everyone was humming on my walk to the subway.

And because it's the subway after the opera, my ride home was not uneventful. I ended up sitting next to a guy with a ventriloquists dummy who was doing a full routine with multiple voices.

Addio... vivrà immutabile
L'affetto mio per te.