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Thread: Our own reviews of operas we've attended

  1. #421
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    I saw the final performance of Rusalka last night; it was really exceptional. It was also a very different experience as I saw in the 2nd row (though over to the side). I like that I already saw the production from a place where I could see everything, and where I could pay attention to the subtitles. I could see the subtitles from where I was, but it was well out of the view of the stage.

    But being so close added an intensity, being able to clearly see their faces and reactions. I was concerned that the orchestra would sound weird from so close (I could easily see into the pit), but in part because the low strings were in front of me and the brass and percussion were on the other side the sound was well-balanced.

    This was one of the best runs I've seen at SFO; a strong cast throughout, I really like the conductor, the production is fine.

    They did an open intermission feature during the first interval. A few people came out and talked about stage and musical preparation for the opera while we got to see them take down the first act set and wheel in the kitchen set for the start of Act 2. (There are no scene breaks; the changes are continuous with curtains as walls). Being so close (and since they encourage photos during such features) I took a few pictures. I have had trouble with the photo upload system here, so instead here's a the pics I posted on Twitter during the interval.

    But the time I took the first pic the backstage curtain and many of the trees (and the moon) had already been moved away). And no, from where I was I couldn't see the pond in the middle of the stage. Vodník, Rusalka, and the water sprites seemed to come from nowhere. My reply shows the kitchen set and my subtitle view.

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  3. #422
    Senior Member Don Fatale's Avatar
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    I like that interval feature. Always good to learn more about their concept and their stage craft. I'm not a fan of interval drinks, unless I've not had time to eat or drink for some time before, so this would have been great for me.
    Last edited by Don Fatale; Jun-30-2019 at 17:04.

  4. #423
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Just to say Figaro is being broadcast live from ROH tonight and is on YouTube if you can pick it up.

  5. #424
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Just been looking at the ROH Carmen which has been broadcast and is still available on Youtube for anyone misguided enough to watch the absolute rubbish which Barrie Kosky serves up for us, most of which (to go by the first 45 minutes) bares no resemblance to Bizet's elegant and moving opera but consists of a series of stupid ideas imposed by an imbecilic director on one of the great masterpieces of the theatre. Carmen actually comes in in a Gorilla suit. That is the level of this trash. The production comes from regietheater-steeped Frankfurt and would it had remained there. It is unbelievable that an opera company should import this sort of rubbish. After all, aren't there enough idiot directors in Britain with our importing stupidity like this? I'm certainly glad I didn't pay ROH prices to watch it as at the first interval I'd have been collaring the manager to demand my money back plus train fare and hotel bills compensation.
    Last edited by DavidA; Jul-10-2019 at 20:26.

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  7. #425
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    Attended the dress rehearsal of the Canadian Opera Company's production of Turandot, the same Robert Wilson version that premiered last year in Madrid. I'm a big Wilson fan so this was very exciting, particularly having only seen one other piece of his live (Einstein!). I do think Wilson's adaptations of classic opera aren't as strong as either his own works or adaptations of pieces that are closer to his style (they don't leave enough room for the vaudevillian maximalism that makes his best pieces shine) and, hilariously, he's actually stated that he doesn't like Puccini, but Turandot gives him enough to work with.

    One of the most striking effects his his extensive use of red. The drop curtain is a painting of a cracked red sphere against a red backdrop, and it's lit red so vibrantly that it's almost like a Turrell installation (it's funny walking into the theatre lobby and seeing the blood red light pouring out of the house doors). Turandot herself wears a stiff red dress that's shaped like a pyramid, which is at all times lit with a red spotlight, so she glows aggressively against the whites and blues of the other characters. In fact, as usual, Wilson's use of light is probably the predominant feature, and it's kind of wonderful how he's able to sculpt a story with it.

    The ending, in particular, is a neat coup. At dawn (a blazing red backdrop), after the prince tells her his name, the light fades out on him, plunging him into silhouetted darkness, from which he sings the rest of his role, joining the rest of the crowd, who are also unlit. It transfers the power back to Turandot and highlights her cynical understanding of love as another means of control. When the prince proclaims that "My life is your kiss!", he does so from the darkness, and it makes him merely another supplicant. Another nice trick is that both she and her father are presented in immobilizing outfits, her in her triangle of red and him dangled from the flies in a massive swath of fabric. I wasn't sitting close enough but I believe he actually had small painted wooden hands, which emphasized the sense of the person being lost in the tradition, literally swallowed up by the regal duties.

    I'll be seeing this again during the run, so I'm curious to see if some of the choreography will become a little tighter. There were a handful of missed marks and some uncertainties. The three ministers were a delight, dressed now in tight German suits with slicked back (or no) hair, like menacing Weimar playboys. The surtitles now have them named Jim, Bob, and Bill, which is fair given that Ping, Pang, and Pong is awfully close to fake playground Chinese, though they do still sing the original names.

    Tamara Wilson was obscenely good, and the rest of the cast was no slouch. It's kind of interesting how equally the characters are presented in terms of being featured - Turandot doesn't come on until the very end of the first act and, like Orson Welles in The Third Man, all she has to do is show up and it's exciting. The three ministers seem to get a huge bulk of activity, and even the prince, though he obviously gets to sing one of the most famous arias ever, is borderline secondary to the overall ensemble.

    I'm looking forward to sitting in the orchestra section for this, as from up in the fourth ring some of Wilson's silhouette effects were lost.

  8. #426
    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    To the Royal Opera House. Covent Garden last week for Werther, a favourite opera of mine, but alas a rather muted pleasure.

    I liked the production, a sort of moern take on Biedermeier Germany and particularly liked the last scene which placed Wwerther's room in a sort of box, which appeared at the back of the stage and ever so slowly moved forward durig the interlude.

    HR675926_942long.jpg

    Juan Diego Florez was Werther. He has proved himself to be excellent in bel canto, having had a great success as Tonio here in La Fille du Régiment, but he was a mite underpowered as Werther, and it felt throughout as if he were harbouring his resources, as he sang with more power in the last act, even if his performance still failed to catch fire.

    Charlotte was sung by the American mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard. She looked absolutely perfect and has just the right sort of voice for the role, but there was a distinct lack of passion and no real chemistry between her and Florez. Added to this, Jacques Imbrailo was a somewhat ineffectual Albert. True, it's a pretty ineffectual role, but I expect him to be a little more menacing, especially when you consider he gets Charlotte to give Werther his pistol, knowing full well what Werther is going to use it for.

    The supporting cast were fine, even if Heather Engebretson's Sophie came across a trifle mature. Edward Gardner conducted with a nod to the Wagnerian influences in the score, which possibly encouraged him to let the orchestra have its head a bit too often, meaning the singers could be submerged in the orchestra.

    All in all, I foud it a bit underwhelming. Out of five stars, I'd give it three.
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; Sep-26-2019 at 23:27.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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  10. #427
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post
    To the Royal Opera House. Covent Garden last week for Werther, a favourite opera of mine, but alas a rather muted pleasure.

    I liked the production, a sort of moern take on Biedermeier Germany and particularly liked the last scene which placed Wwerther's room in a sort of box, which appeared at the back of the stage and ever so slowly moved forward durig the interlude.

    HR675926_942long.jpg

    Juan Diego Florez was Werther. He has proved himself to be excellent in bel canto, having had a great success as Tonio here in [B]La Fille du Régiment[/], but he was a mite underpowered as Werther, and it felt throughout as if he were harbouring his resources, as he sang with more power in the last act, even if his performance still failed to catch fire.

    Charlotte was sug by the American mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard. She looked absolutely perfect and has just the right sort of voice for the role, but there was a distinct lack of passion and no real chemistry between her and Florez. Added to this, Jacques Imbrailo was a somewhat ineffectual Albert. True, it's a pretty ineffectual role, but I expect him to be a little more menacing, especially when you consider he gets Charlotte to give Werther his pistol, knowing full well what Werther is going to use it for.

    The supporting cast were fine, even if Heather Engebretson's Sophie came across a trifle mature. Edward Gardner conducted with a nod to the Wagnerian influences in the score, which possibly encouraged him to let the orchestra have its head a bit too often, meaning the singers could be submerged in the orchestra.

    All in all, I foud it a bit underwhelming. Out of five stars, I'd give it three.
    Thanks for sharing - that's all really interesting

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  12. #428
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    I saw 2 performances at the Met this week - Manon and Turandot.

    Manon was all about the singers in my opinion. I had picked it out specifically to see Lisette Oropesa, and she was amazing - not only great singing, but also great acting ability, especially as Manon's character transformed throughout the opera. This was also my first time seeing Michael Fabiano and he was really good as well - beautiful tone and effortless high notes. It was interesting to see Fabiano, the Met veteran, get the louder applause when he first appeared in Act I, but Lisette got the louder applause during curtain calls...!

    The production was pretty run-of-the-mill Met - no real comments there. I read some mixed reviews of Maurizio Benini's conducting and I thought it was fine, but I was also sitting in front row orchestra where I'm pretty sure any conductor can make the Met Orchestra sound pretty decent.

    As for Turandot... This is the 2nd time I've seen Yannick Nezet-Seguin conducting at the Met and he is truly an incredible conductor. To be honest, I wish he had been conducting Manon instead because it would have made that production absolutely perfect.... It was also my first Zeffirelli production and I can see why they revive this (+ La Boheme) so frequently - really a crowd pleaser. The singing on the other hand... I saw that Yusif Eyvazov (Calaf) got a good review from the NY Times, and he definitely got a good ovation from the crowd around me so maybe I'm in the minority here. But I thought he was pretty mediocre at best - struggling anytime he had to sing high notes, and he had trouble projecting loudly at all (albeit I was in the standing room section this time so quite far away from the stage). Anytime he had a scene with Christine Goerke (Turandot) her voice was so much more powerful from my vantage point. Eleonora Buratto as Liu was very solid though, as was James Morris (Timur) making I guess his 1 millionth appearance at the Met or something like that.

    And as a side note... this was probably the worst behaved opera audience I've ever experienced. During the first minute I was subjected to a guy loudly arguing with the ushers about his seat, and almost getting kicked out (the usher threatened to call security). Then, during Signore ascolta, I counted no fewer than 3 phones ringing near me. There was also a guy in the back row who was loudly humming along to various parts of the opera, but his voice was more pleasant than Eyvazov's so I didn't really mind. Right before Nessun dorma someone loudly yelled "Here comes the famous aria!" (I'm pretty sure the entire hall heard). And finally, it seemed as though half of the audience had come down with the flu and was coughing and/or loudly unwrapping cough drops throughout the opera (although to be fair, the temperature did go from like 90 and sunny to 55 and rainy in the span of a day, so I can't really blame them...)
    Last edited by ugen64; Oct-05-2019 at 01:44.

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