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Thread: Our own reviews of operas we've attended

  1. #31
    Senior Member deggial's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bellinilover View Post
    Does anyone know where I can find a libretto for this opera online?
    scroll to about halfway down for the actual English translation of the libretto. It's very witty! I agree with you about the Bacchus/Ariadne duet. I think the Composer and Zerbinetta are the best things about it.

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    Senior Member Bellinilover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deggial View Post
    scroll to about halfway down for the actual English translation of the libretto. It's very witty! I agree with you about the Bacchus/Ariadne duet. I think the Composer and Zerbinetta are the best things about it.
    Thanks a lot! It's really disappointing how so few of these CD reissues now include printed libretto.

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    Senior Member deggial's Avatar
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    it's true. Record companies cutting cost left and right. I don't know if it's also a trend or not as I don't buy many CDs, but I've noticed in a couple of instances that now companies seem to lavish less money on the recording process itself. So where an aria includes the choir the choir is absent! Very annoying.

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    Well, this is not new either.

    Just an anecdote, let's listen to this (splendid) version of "Mein sehnen mein wähnen" by Hermann Prey, in 1957.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVNrgob0L2w

    The wonderful eight sopranos choir written by Korngold is missing. This beautiful, haunting moment, when we can almost hear the city of Bruges in a dialogue with Pierrot... However, in this version (no less splendid, by Karl Hammes) almost thirty years before, they are there, at 2:11:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dadyEYwC3s

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  6. #35
    Senior Member deggial's Avatar
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    hm, I wonder why they do that.

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    Well, to save money, I'd say...

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    Senior Member deggial's Avatar
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    yes, but the thing is they don't always. Why sometimes and not other times? The main star asking for too much dough?

  9. #38
    Senior Member SilenceIsGolden's Avatar
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    Not so much a review but some observations about the production of Der Fliegende Holländer I saw this past weekend. First, it was interesting seeing how Wagner played in front of an audience who is almost entirely cultivated on the Italian repertoire. He seemed to go over quite well, although it was humorous how the audience attempted to applaud every "aria" and ensemble in the opera, even though there wasn't a pause in the action or the music. True, it's much more of a number opera than his later ones, but it strives for a more thorough-composed feeling and doesn't offer much room for pauses in the performance. Also, because I don't get many opportunities to see Wagner live in concert, I was reminded of just how much humor there is in the operas of this composer who is often critiqued for being devoid of humor. There were quite a few chuckles at Daland's announcing that the Dutchman would be a fine son-in-law even if he were less rich, or at the maidens' scolding of Senta, and in other places as well. The fact is, I think all of his operas are touched with subtle humorous gestures...he had the theater in his blood through and through, and knew how to work an audience.
    Last edited by SilenceIsGolden; Mar-12-2014 at 16:29.

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  11. #39
    Senior Member papsrus's Avatar
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    Not sure this is the right spot, as this thread has been dormant for about a year, but here goes:

    Went to the Sarasota Opera performance of Marriage of Figaro last night. Enjoyed it so much I snapped up one of the few remaining tickets to see it a second time in March.

    Although things seemed to start a little slow with lots of accompanied recitative as the stage was set, so to speak, for the follies that were to follow, by Act III we were solidly in soaring arias and enthralling music. I have to admit, I tend to spend a lot of time with my eyes closed just listening.

    The women stole the show here IMO. Soprano Maria Antunez as Countess Almaviva made a particular impression. Strong voice that filled the house, hit all the high notes with confidence, had some lovely arias and duets with Maeve Hoglund (who also sang great in the role of Suzanna, Figaro's girl.) The other standout was Kristen Choi as Cherubino, the court page. She is a studio artist, graduating from apprentice in 2013. Not a lot on her resume, according to the program, but definitely had some strong moments in mezzo soprano. Good stage presence for the sort of slap-stick character she played. Really enjoyable.

    While baritone Sean Anderson, who played the Count, has among the longest list of credits on his resume as anyone in the cast, he came off as less impressive than the two leading women, to me. Likewise Philip Cutlip as Figaro. Solid, certainly, but their voices did not impress as the sopranos did.

    The audience (a packed house) was thoroughly engaged and the performers elicited plenty of laughs.

    A word about the Sarasota Opera Orchestra: They are recruited each season from around the country (and a couple of members from Italy, the conductor from Germany) and come to Sarasota to play at the opera house. Many of the members keep coming back year after year; it's not uncommon to see members with between 6 and 10 years service in the orchestra. They are excellent. When engaged with an inspired singer such as Antunez, they are quite impressive.

    Enjoyed it.
    Wired for hound

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    Senior Member sospiro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by papsrus View Post
    Not sure this is the right spot, as this thread has been dormant for about a year, but here goes:

    Went to the Sarasota Opera performance of Marriage of Figaro last night. Enjoyed it so much I snapped up one of the few remaining tickets to see it a second time in March.

    Although things seemed to start a little slow with lots of accompanied recitative as the stage was set, so to speak, for the follies that were to follow, by Act III we were solidly in soaring arias and enthralling music. I have to admit, I tend to spend a lot of time with my eyes closed just listening.

    The women stole the show here IMO. Soprano Maria Antunez as Countess Almaviva made a particular impression. Strong voice that filled the house, hit all the high notes with confidence, had some lovely arias and duets with Maeve Hoglund (who also sang great in the role of Suzanna, Figaro's girl.) The other standout was Kristen Choi as Cherubino, the court page. She is a studio artist, graduating from apprentice in 2013. Not a lot on her resume, according to the program, but definitely had some strong moments in mezzo soprano. Good stage presence for the sort of slap-stick character she played. Really enjoyable.

    While baritone Sean Anderson, who played the Count, has among the longest list of credits on his resume as anyone in the cast, he came off as less impressive than the two leading women, to me. Likewise Philip Cutlip as Figaro. Solid, certainly, but their voices did not impress as the sopranos did.

    The audience (a packed house) was thoroughly engaged and the performers elicited plenty of laughs.

    A word about the Sarasota Opera Orchestra: They are recruited each season from around the country (and a couple of members from Italy, the conductor from Germany) and come to Sarasota to play at the opera house. Many of the members keep coming back year after year; it's not uncommon to see members with between 6 and 10 years service in the orchestra. They are excellent. When engaged with an inspired singer such as Antunez, they are quite impressive.

    Enjoyed it.
    Excellent review and glad you enjoyed it.
    Ann

  14. #41
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    Last night I saw Opera Parallèle's production of Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking. Overall I liked the piece and the performance. It takes some time to get going; it seems uncommon that the second act is stronger than the first but that's what we have here.

    Catherine Cook (Mrs. De Rocher) and Talise Trevigne (Sister Rose) sounded wonderful; they both had strong parts in that when they were on stage they were intense (wanting or feeling something). Catherine Cook's singing had strong emotion and was well-styled, Talise Trevigne's singing was particularly beautiful and impressive. Jennifer Rivera (Sister Helen) and Michael Mayes (Joe) carried the piece; the really shined in their duets; act 1, scene 9 really had a great build to it.

    The orchestra sounded great under Nicole Paiement; I am not familiar enough with the opera to have felt the reduction in orchestration in the theater (though listening to the original recording the day after it struck me).

    The opera itself is possibly too dependent upon recitative, though unsurprisingly this gets better as it goes on and there's something to work with.

    The setting up of his confession was effective; his mother didn't want to hear it but Sister Helen did. That transition from "the warden will feel bad about killing a man that protests his innocence" to "I'm afraid what my mother and Sister Helen will think of me" is also good, though a little more of that journey could be expressed. And that image/theme of the journey was also compelling. The production played with that journey theme some, but it could have been much more effective. This is what changes Joe; he is stuck but he can hear about Las Vegas and go on a (spiritual) journey even confined in a jail cell. I liked a lot about the set (hanging metal cage pieces that were moved around by the cast to suggest different structures) but Joe never quite felt trapped, even in the first act.

    They had two supers play the murdered teens. This was interesting and effective at times but it really took away from Joe and Sister Helen's scenes together (especially act 2, scene 7); we were supposed to be seeing that Joe was alone except for Sister Helen (and her God). The guards leaving was a strong choice... but having the ghosts ruined it.

    The (vocal-free) prologue is, in my mind, a real problem with the opera. This production left Joe's brother Anthony out of it but that just makes it worse. I'm fine with the seeing the teens attacked and killed, but seeing Joe do it really messes up the drama of the piece.

    Sister Helen comes off as somewhat unreasonable and unobservant for questioning what we have seen to be false. Joe's act 2, scene 1 is a non-event; it isn't a self-confession (he thinks about the girl sometimes) and we already saw it so there's no surprise there. But if we didn't see Joe & Anthony in the prologue (or if we saw something deliberately false like Anthony killing the teens) this would be something significant, dramatically, and it would have provided tension throughout act 2 until he confesses to Sister Helen and then find out that Helen does not care for Joe just because she thinks he could be innocent.

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  16. #42
    Senior Member jflatter's Avatar
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    The Mastersingers of Nuremberg (sung in English) at the English National Opera

    Walther – Gwyn Hughes Jones
    Eva – Rachel Nicholls
    Magdalene – Madeleine Shaw
    David – Nicky Spence
    Hans Sachs – Iain Paterson
    Sixtus Beckmesser – Andrew Shore
    Veit Pogner – James Creswell
    Fritz Kothner – David Stout
    Kunz Vogelgesang – Peter van Hulle
    Konrad Nachtigall – Quentin Hayes
    Ulrich Eisslinger – Timothy Robinson
    Hermann Ortel – Nicholas Folwell
    Balthasar Zorn – Richard Roberts
    Augustin Moser – Stephen Rooke
    Hans Folz – Roderick Earle
    Hans Schwarz – Jonathan Lemalu
    Night Watchman – Nicholas Crawley

    Director-Richard Jones
    Conductor-Edward Gardner


    I should point out from the outset that I am not generally a fan of opera that is translated and thus I am not a particularly frequent visitor to the ENO. So it has not surprised me in many ways that the company has been in serious trouble recently. My thoughts have been that along with the issue of opera in English as well as the ENO's absurd pricing policy (this event was the first time I bought an ENO ticket non discounted in about three years) it was always going to a company that sails close to the wind financially.

    That said, I have to say that this current production of 'Die Meistersigner' is one of the finest things that I have ever seen staged. It really helped that the translation used is excellent and the singers diction was perfect. The production by Richard Jones updates the opera to the mid 1800s and yes there are there are the trademark Richard Jones touches like the shiny wallpaper. What Jones seems to do is to try and make this work a positive contribution to German Culture and tries to present German culture in a positive way. At the start of the overture, the audience are shown a front-cloth of 103 German people who you could argue have been positive to German culture. The ending involves them as well and is inspiring theatre.

    It is also helps that the orchestra of the ENO are in great form and with their soon to be departed Music Director Edward Gardner conducting the finest thing I have heard him do (I should add his Rosenkavalier is the finest conducted I've heard live. Gardner gave the music lightness and lyricism at the right points but always let the music breathe. In my mind, there were comparisons with Kubelik to be had.

    Iain Paterson as Hans Sachs was absolutely outstanding. You feel that Paterson has really got into the skin of this very complex character. I generally prefer a lighter voiced Sachs and this is what we got. Yet he seemed to own the stage whenever he was on it.

    Gwyn Hughes Jones as von Stolzing was a voice I'd not heard before but would be one I would want to hear more of. Not a traditional heldentenor by any sense he was still a powerful and ardent tenor and his rendition of the prize song was superb.

    Rachel Nicholls as Eva sang very well. However if there was one caveat it felt like the role of Eva was never going to be a role she would conquer as she is already singing Isolde's and Brunnhilde's. She did bring superb characterisation to the role. Only to hear Harteros as Eva...

    Nicky Spence was an ardently sung and feisty David. You sense that Spence could one day sing von Stolzing himself and brought great comedy to the role.

    Madelaine Shaw was a joy to hear as Magdalene. I had not heard her knowingly before but would love to hear her again.

    Andrew Shore was Beckmesser and this was the finest Beckmesser that I have ever seen. Shore brought off some brilliant comic touches. The Act 2 riot was a joy to behold. Not even Thomas Allen was as good as this!

    James Cresswell as Pogner I'd heard previously as the ENO Dutchman a couple of years ago but did not have a particularly strong opinion positive or negative about him. However as Pogner he was superb and unusually brought a lot of interest to this rather vain and arguably pompous character.

    So overall this was a superb company achievement for the ENO. It is a crying shame that it will not be filmed and released on DVD.

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  18. #43
    Senior Member papsrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountmccabe View Post

    The (vocal-free) prologue is, in my mind, a real problem with the opera.
    Is this a general preference or something specific to this production?

    Love these reviews!
    Wired for hound

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    Senior Member sospiro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jflatter View Post
    The Mastersingers of Nuremberg (sung in English) at the English National Opera

    Walther – Gwyn Hughes Jones
    Eva – Rachel Nicholls
    Magdalene – Madeleine Shaw
    David – Nicky Spence
    Hans Sachs – Iain Paterson
    Sixtus Beckmesser – Andrew Shore
    Veit Pogner – James Creswell
    Fritz Kothner – David Stout
    Kunz Vogelgesang – Peter van Hulle
    Konrad Nachtigall – Quentin Hayes
    Ulrich Eisslinger – Timothy Robinson
    Hermann Ortel – Nicholas Folwell
    Balthasar Zorn – Richard Roberts
    Augustin Moser – Stephen Rooke
    Hans Folz – Roderick Earle
    Hans Schwarz – Jonathan Lemalu
    Night Watchman – Nicholas Crawley

    Director-Richard Jones
    Conductor-Edward Gardner


    I should point out from the outset that I am not generally a fan of opera that is translated and thus I am not a particularly frequent visitor to the ENO. So it has not surprised me in many ways that the company has been in serious trouble recently. My thoughts have been that along with the issue of opera in English as well as the ENO's absurd pricing policy (this event was the first time I bought an ENO ticket non discounted in about three years) it was always going to a company that sails close to the wind financially.

    That said, I have to say that this current production of 'Die Meistersigner' is one of the finest things that I have ever seen staged. It really helped that the translation used is excellent and the singers diction was perfect. The production by Richard Jones updates the opera to the mid 1800s and yes there are there are the trademark Richard Jones touches like the shiny wallpaper. What Jones seems to do is to try and make this work a positive contribution to German Culture and tries to present German culture in a positive way. At the start of the overture, the audience are shown a front-cloth of 103 German people who you could argue have been positive to German culture. The ending involves them as well and is inspiring theatre.

    It is also helps that the orchestra of the ENO are in great form and with their soon to be departed Music Director Edward Gardner conducting the finest thing I have heard him do (I should add his Rosenkavalier is the finest conducted I've heard live. Gardner gave the music lightness and lyricism at the right points but always let the music breathe. In my mind, there were comparisons with Kubelik to be had.

    Iain Paterson as Hans Sachs was absolutely outstanding. You feel that Paterson has really got into the skin of this very complex character. I generally prefer a lighter voiced Sachs and this is what we got. Yet he seemed to own the stage whenever he was on it.

    Gwyn Hughes Jones as von Stolzing was a voice I'd not heard before but would be one I would want to hear more of. Not a traditional heldentenor by any sense he was still a powerful and ardent tenor and his rendition of the prize song was superb.

    Rachel Nicholls as Eva sang very well. However if there was one caveat it felt like the role of Eva was never going to be a role she would conquer as she is already singing Isolde's and Brunnhilde's. She did bring superb characterisation to the role. Only to hear Harteros as Eva...

    Nicky Spence was an ardently sung and feisty David. You sense that Spence could one day sing von Stolzing himself and brought great comedy to the role.

    Madelaine Shaw was a joy to hear as Magdalene. I had not heard her knowingly before but would love to hear her again.

    Andrew Shore was Beckmesser and this was the finest Beckmesser that I have ever seen. Shore brought off some brilliant comic touches. The Act 2 riot was a joy to behold. Not even Thomas Allen was as good as this!

    James Cresswell as Pogner I'd heard previously as the ENO Dutchman a couple of years ago but did not have a particularly strong opinion positive or negative about him. However as Pogner he was superb and unusually brought a lot of interest to this rather vain and arguably pompous character.

    So overall this was a superb company achievement for the ENO. It is a crying shame that it will not be filmed and released on DVD.
    Great write-up.

    I'm not a fan of either Wagner or translated opera but your review makes me wish I'd seen this!
    Ann

  20. #45
    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    I read that Wagner encouraged translating his operas into other languages.
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

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