Author Topic: General Opera News  (Read 186343 times)

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Offline SurprisedByBeauty

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #780 on: December 18, 2018, 11:55:13 AM »
Meanwhile, a world premiere at the opera museum Staatsoper in Vienna


How political should opera be? And, at a minimum, how good?



http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2018/12/johannes-maria-stauds-opera-die-weiden.html

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World-Premiere of Johannes Maria Staud’s Die Weiden: Opera from the Echo Chamber (ClassicsToday)

Offline Cato

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Re: General Opera News:Operas "prism" and "4.48 Psychosis"
« Reply #781 on: January 14, 2019, 11:33:33 AM »
From the Wall Street Journal's Heidi Waleson: reviews of the operas prism (sic) by   Ellen Reid and 4.48 Psychosis byPhillip Venables


Quote


The opera-theater pieces of the Prototype Festival tackle unconventional subjects, often in uncomfortable ways, and two big shows of its seventh season are no exception. At La MaMa, Ellen Reid’s gripping “prism” (it had its world premiere in November at the LA Opera) starts out mysteriously. Who are these two women, Bibi (Anna Schubert) and Lumee (Rebecca Jo Loeb), snuggled in bed together in a cozy white room whose door has multiple locks? Bibi can barely stand. Lumee tries to get her to take medicine; she spits it out. They recite a sequence of nonsense words and enact rituals. There’s talk of memory and forgetting; that yellow is safe, but blue, which is outside the door, is not; that Bibi is getting worse, and her bones will soon turn to dust. Is Lumee Bibi’s protector, or something more sinister?

The strangeness of Roxie Perkins’s libretto turns out to be deliberate. This is an internal struggle, a depiction of PTSD following a sexual assault, and the things ricocheting around inside the sufferer’s head probably don’t make sense to anyone else. However, Ms. Reid’s urgent, kaleidoscopic music clearly supplies the turbulent emotional soundtrack of Bibi’s world: the sweet, Copland-like melodies with strings, harp and flute that evoke the safety of forgetting; the horn and percussion that accompany her will to remember and heal; the alluring offstage chorus that tempts her to stand up and open the door. The music gets wilder, with infusions of rock and electronics, in the flashback Act II, which depicts the precipitating event—a sexual assault in a club. Act III is a swifter, grittier replay of Act I, ending with Bibi’s escape.

Ms. Schubert’s pure, naked soprano gave a piercing intensity to Bibi’s pain, and her acting of physical impairment was persuasive; Ms. Loeb’s mezzo, alternately soothing and threatening, made her an intriguing foil. (It’s not clear if Lumee is really Bibi’s mother, who left her child alone to be assaulted and is now overcompensating, or simply a voice in Bibi’s head, but the ambiguity is interesting.) The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and the instrumental ensemble Novus NY, conducted by Julian Wachner, were splendid.

James Darrah’s elaborate production provided this mental world with a vivid, concrete shape. Designer Adam Rigg’s creepy all-white room gave way to 24 hanging disco balls to represent the club, and then to the messy squat of Act III; Pablo Santiago drenched the sets with colored light; Molly Irelan did the costumes, which included a childish baby-doll nightgown for Bibi in Act II. Four dancers, in writhing choreography by assistant director Chris Emile, represented the danger and excitement of the world outside the room of forgetting.

As an experience of psychological disturbance, Philip Venables’s “4.48 Psychosis,” at the Baruch Performing Arts Center, makes “prism” look like a walk in the park. Based on the final play of Sarah Kane, who suffered from mental illness and killed herself at age 28 in 1999, “4.48 Psychosis” is 90 relentless minutes of raw pain and mental chaos.

Six women, headed by soprano Gweneth-Ann Rand, speak and sing as the voices of the protagonist; they are often drowned out by the heavily amplified 14-member orchestra (Contemporaneous, conducted by William Cole), which includes saxophones and an accordion. Mr. Venables varies his techniques, but even the musically calmer moments are full of agony. A Baroque-like lament is overwhelmed by strings that wail like sirens; texts of conversations between the patient and her doctor, projected on the wall of the set, are violently pounded out by two percussionists (at one point, the doctor is represented by a snare drum, at another, a saw). A long list of drugs, with their terrible side effects and ultimate failure to make any difference, becomes a litany, accompanied by a rollicking orchestra, that is almost comic in its grotesqueness. A blast from an organ ushers in a moment of religious contemplation and clarity, soon exploded into a vocal and instrument cacophony so extreme that the only recourse is electroshock therapy. Yet through the noise you hear the patient’s longing, however hopeless, for some connection that will allow her to stay alive.


This Royal Opera House, Covent Garden production, originally staged at the Lyric, Hammersmith in London in 2016, was directed by Ted Huffman.Hannah Clark’s simple set is a shallow white box with three doors, a few chairs and a table (the orchestra is positioned above); D.M. Wood’s stark lighting alternately floods and shadows this bleak world. The six women, all in the same gray sweater, jeans and sneakers, convincingly portray the protagonist’s fragmented mind, whether they are challenging and throttling each other or singing in ensemble. It’s a place where no one could want to live. If 90 minutes is too long, it’s excruciating to imagine what it would be like for years.

—Ms. Waleson writes on opera for the Journal and is the author of “Mad Scenes and Exit Arias: The Death of the New York City Opera and the Future of Opera in America” (Metropolitan).


See:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/portraits-of-pain-at-the-prototype-festival-11547070607


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Offline king ubu

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #782 on: January 29, 2019, 01:55:03 AM »
Wilma Lipp died last Saturday, aged 93 - arguably the best queen of the night ever ...

https://www.nzz.ch/feuilleton/kammersaengerin-und-koenigin-die-sopranistin-wilma-lipp-ist-tot-ld.1455471
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Offline SurprisedByBeauty

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #783 on: January 29, 2019, 03:20:04 AM »
Wilma Lipp died last Saturday, aged 93 - arguably the best queen of the night ever ...

https://www.nzz.ch/feuilleton/kammersaengerin-und-koenigin-die-sopranistin-wilma-lipp-ist-tot-ld.1455471


#morninglistening to #WilmaLipp who died two days ago. RIP. ♡ her in Böhm’s #Zauberflöte w/@Vienna_Phil but also #Klemperer’s Vienna #LvB 9th @philharmonia

MF: http://a-fwd.to/2I7KDKr
B9: http://a-fwd.to/1PHDd2p

#soprano #QueenOfTheNight


And she died in a village just a short bike ride away from where my parents live. Had I known, I'd have made a pilgrimage, said Hello and maybe asked her to sign my well-worn Magic Flute -- one of the first classical CDs I ever got.

Offline André

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #784 on: January 29, 2019, 06:36:23 AM »
This Böhm Zauberflöte is my favourite overall and Lipp is excellent in it. The Queen of the Night was her signature role throughout the fifties, singing it in just about every german/austrian opera house.

TBH I thought she had died a long time ago... :-[

Offline TheGSMoeller

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #785 on: January 29, 2019, 07:14:11 AM »
Lyric Opera of Chicago has announced their 2019/2020 season, including Götterdämmerung and 3 performances of the Ring Cycle in April. I was able to see their Die Walküre last year, but would really love to see the cycle together.


https://www.lyricopera.org/concertstickets/1920-lyric-opera-season

Offline Papy Oli

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #786 on: April 15, 2019, 01:20:26 AM »
BBC Four broadcast a documentary/interview with Janet Baker last night. For those who can access it, it is available on Iplayer :

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m00048q7/janet-baker-in-her-own-words
Olivier

Offline ritter

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #787 on: April 22, 2019, 09:15:45 AM »
Esteemed British soprano Heather Harper has died, aged 88: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/apr/22/heather-harper-obituary

Here she is in a wonderful recording of Asie, the first section of Ravel’s Shéhérazade, conducted by Pierre Boulez:

<a href="https://youtu.be/n8GPPGsLBpo" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://youtu.be/n8GPPGsLBpo</a>

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Offline knight66

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #788 on: April 22, 2019, 10:05:15 AM »
Esteemed British soprano Heather Harper has died, aged 88: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/apr/22/heather-harper-obituary

Here she is in a wonderful recording of Asie, the first section of Ravel’s Shéhérazade, conducted by Pierre Boulez:

<a href="https://youtu.be/n8GPPGsLBpo" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://youtu.be/n8GPPGsLBpo</a>

R.I.P.

Oddly, I have just been looking for the Boulez Harper version of this Ravel piece. I can only find it as part of a complete Ravel set of Boulez recordings on five cds. The good news is that it is available very cheaply.

The first time I heard Harper was in a Mahler 8. I joined the choir about three weeks before the performance. So that was too late to sing in it, but I was at rehearsals and got in early for the concert to the promming area of the hall in Glasgow. I had been so amazed by the way her voice soared over the orchestra that I chose a position about 20 feet from her chair. The soloists were on the floor of the hall. I had her voice right in my ear, which was ringing by the end of the performance. After that I heard her regularily and she partnered such as Janet Baker and Alfreda Hodgson in a number of our choral concerts. I recall a great Verdi Requiem with her and Yvonne Minton and many years later with Mackerras, the Delius Mass of Life.

That Mahler also had Felicity Palmer singing as soprano some time before taking on mezzo roles, she is still going very strong 47 years later.

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Offline André

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #789 on: April 22, 2019, 12:00:31 PM »
Great memories, Mike. Thanks for sharing them !

Offline Ken B

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #790 on: April 22, 2019, 01:16:53 PM »
Wilma Lipp died last Saturday, aged 93 - arguably the best queen of the night ever ...

https://www.nzz.ch/feuilleton/kammersaengerin-und-koenigin-die-sopranistin-wilma-lipp-ist-tot-ld.1455471
I did not know she was still alive. I had the Bohm Zauberflote with her on vinyl and wore it out.
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Offline Cato

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Review of The Met's Ring Cycle
« Reply #791 on: May 15, 2019, 01:09:57 PM »
By Heidi Waleson of the Wall Street Journal:

Quote


The Metropolitan Opera’s Robert Lepage production of Richard Wagner’s “Ring” returned this spring for three complete cycles, concluding with Saturday’s “Götterdämmerung.” Launched with “Das Rheingold” on the opening night of the 2010-11 season, and last mounted in spring 2013, the production has been lambasted for its seemingly idea-free monumentality. Built around the enormous multi-ton “Machine,” with its 24 rotating planks, the production is an odd mix of abstraction and extreme literalness, like the tacky breastplates and wigs worn by the gods in “Rheingold.” (Carl Fillion designed the set; François St-Aubin the costumes; Etienne Boucher the lighting; Boris Firquet, Pedro Pires and Lionel Arnould the video.) This time out, the Machine suffered none of the malfunctions that plagued its debut, and only clanked a little bit. At its best, the show allows for spectacular moments, but for the most part, it leaves the singers to fend for themselves against an overwhelming, and sometimes precarious, backdrop. The three cycles did a brisk box-office business anyway; such is the rarity value of a full “Ring” with a top-flight cast.

For my third time through this production (and having seen other “Ring” cycles in Toronto and Chicago since the last one), I thought I pretty much knew what to expect. “Rheingold” was as remembered: a handful of eye-catching special effects, some of which rely on stunt doubles for the singers walking up and down walls, and others done with video, as when the mermaid tails of the Rhinemaidens seem to create cascades of river pebbles. But for most of the opera, the Machine looked bare and, well, mechanical, with the singers wedged uncomfortably onto the stage apron, or gingerly climbing around the planks, appearing none too safe, and the production lacked any point of view. This was in marked contrast to the David Pountney version at Lyric Opera of Chicago, which skillfully interpreted “Rheingold” as a black comedy.

The savior of the evening was Michael Volle, whose lyrical baritone and extraordinary articulation of text created a wonderfully pompous, arrogant Wotan. Other pluses were the Alberich of Tomasz Konieczny, with his powerful, penetrating bass-baritone and thoroughly nasty demeanor, and the playful, mellifluous trio of Rhinemaidens, Amanda Woodbury, Samantha Hankey and Tamara Mumford. None of the other singers stood out, and the Met Orchestra, led by Philippe Jordan, sounded muscular if occasionally unfocused, with some worrying bleats in the brass section. Overall, the auguries seemed unpromising.

But as the rest of the cycle unfolded, the performances in general got stronger, and I even found myself making my peace with the Machine. “Die Walküre” is the most emotionally immediate of the four operas, and thus the hardest to kill. The tipped planks made sense as the roof of Hunding’s gloomy, oppressive hut, while Günther Groissböck (Hunding), Eva-Maria Westbroek (Sieglinde), and especially the anguished Stuart Skelton (Siegmund) created high tension together. The acid tone of Jamie Barton’s Fricka worked better here than it had in “Rheingold,” and Christine Goerke’s impulsive, radiantly sung Brünnhilde was exhilarating.

Again, Mr. Volle was riveting. He started Wotan’s lengthy Act II monologue practically in a whisper, as though he were talking to himself, and built it up into a howl of despair. In Act III, you believed both his towering rage and his grief over his punishment of Brünnhilde. No longer serenely certain of his power, as he was in “Rheingold,” this “Walküre” Wotan visibly struggled in the trap he had made for himself. The set issues were still there—watching Wotan and Brünnhilde scramble over the planks in Act II was frightening, and the eyeball that displays shadowy figures during the monologue was weird—but Fricka’s ram-headed chair had a certain elegant witchiness, and the stark mountain against which father and daughter play out their final confrontation looked properly implacable.

The “Siegfried” production has more representational video, some of it cool (the critters and snakes slithering through the roots of the forest), some of it lame (the insubstantial Woodbird, especially pale when compared to Erin Morley’s silvery offstage voice). The Machine’s major drawback here was the tiny, cramped space allotted for Mime’s cave, and Mime (the effective Gerhard Siegel) kept crossing behind Siegfried (Stefan Vinke), distractingly close to him, during the Forging Song. This was annoying because Mr. Vinke’s tenor was at its clarion finest in this moment, and while you need to notice the scheming Mime, he shouldn’t upstage the star. Mr. Volle developed the Wanderer (Wotan) still further in “Siegfried”: He had a sense of humor (he enjoyed baiting Mime and Alberich), and was resigned to watching his own destruction play out. And as Wotan leaves the cycle, Brünnhilde’s development begins. Ms. Goerke brought a whole kaleidoscope of feelings to the Act III awakening scene, changing from frightened virgin goddess to rambunctious, ready-for-anything teenager, when confronted with the hot young hero.

Ms. Goerke was even more exciting in “Götterdämmerung,” delivering the newly adult Brünnhilde’s confidence, fury and finally understanding with absolute vocal and dramatic authority. This last opera of the cycle was all about her. Eric Owens turned in a deep-voiced, complex Hagen, his malevolence hard-wired, Mr. Vinke, though tiring a bit, powered through Siegfried’s undoing, and Michaela Schuster was touching as the desperate Waltraute.

The orchestra’s brass bleats had gone away by the end of “Die Walküre,” and Mr. Jordan and the musicians provided a cushion for the singers, and powerfully sustained the narrative thread. Then in those final, transcendent orchestral moments of “Götterdämmerung,” when the world is washed away, I started to see the point of the Machine. Mr. Lepage has said that his inspiration came from the treeless, rocky landscape of Iceland. Now, the set’s craggy, abstract blankness suggested geological time, with the video images and even the people—the struggles of gods and men, with the stupid, greedy Gibichungs as the last straw—being evanescent blips in its eternal existence. “What use was my wisdom?” sings Brünnhilde. What use, indeed? It’s not a comfortable conclusion, and there are still silly bits (that horse! those costumes!) and too many dull, undirected moments in the long hours of this “Ring.” But maybe it did have an idea, after all.

—Ms. Waleson writes on opera for the Journal and is the author of “Mad Scenes and Exit Arias: The Death of the New York City Opera and the Future of Opera in America” (Metropolitan).


 
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Offline betterthanfine

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #792 on: May 22, 2019, 01:51:44 PM »
BBC Four broadcast a documentary/interview with Janet Baker last night. For those who can access it, it is available on Iplayer :

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m00048q7/janet-baker-in-her-own-words

I wish there were a way to watch this outside of the UK. It was on Youtube for a very brief moment, it seems. I've looked for downloads, but alas.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: General Opera News
« Reply #793 on: May 22, 2019, 10:17:17 PM »
I wish there were a way to watch this outside of the UK. It was on Youtube for a very brief moment, it seems. I've looked for downloads, but alas.

It should be given the widest currency. There may be plans to release it on DVD or as a download of course. I've noticed BBC documentaries eventually becoming available on Prime or Netflix.
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