Before I begin, you should know I have never heard of the Austrian composer Hugo Wolf or his music before, that was until I attended last night’s concert at the Barbican Centre to see and hear his Italienisches Liederbuch (1890-1;1896) performed by soprano Diana Damrau, tenor Jonas Kaufmann and pianist Helmut Deutsch. Continue reading
It’s not Carry On
It’s hard to forget an opening night like that. I’m no stranger to the most recent Gilbert and Sullivan (G&S) productions at the English National Opera (ENO). That’s predominantly down to the intoxicating stage and costume designs, which are usually littered with wit and humour. Continue reading
Carmen as you’ve never seen before
Apologises. This one is a long report because there was plenty to cover on Barrie Kosky’s production. Enjoy!
For those of you who are new to Bizet’s opera, you’ve heard the music before. Without knowing it, you’ve heard the music of Carmen in a perfume, insurance or car advert. It is the second most performed opera at the Royal Opera House (ROH), and many would recommend Carmen as an opera for first-timers to see, yet I’m unsure if I’d say the same for the opening night I attended on Monday.
It was only two weeks ago that I saw Jonathan Kent’s ninth revival of Tosca at the Royal Opera House with Joseph Calleja, Gerald Finley and Adrianne Pieczonka (my thoughts here). Now I’m reporting about another production of Tosca based in a different continent. One cannot deny how Puccini’s music enraptures us and that’s one of the major reasons why Tosca has remained a repertoire staple for many international opera houses.
The Met HD live performance of Tosca was like a Super Bowl event. This Saturday, Sonya Yoncheva headlined the lead role in her first ever performance of Puccini’s Tosca. Vittorio Grigolo also made his debut and melted our hearts with a photograph of him as the shepherd boy with Pavarotti, as Cavaradossi, in Mauro Bolognini’s production, taken almost 30 years ago.
The opera broadcast streamed to 900 cinemas and figures, confirmed on Sunday night, claimed it had grossed $2 million at the box office. It’s a proud figure for the Met Opera, but it raises questions about the price of the cinema tickets. Watching it from the capital, Londoners paid between £30-37 for Met HD tickets, which is more than its sister opera house across the pond at London’s Covent Garden, showcasing live ballet and opera performances for £20-23.
Welcome! Here’s a roundup of news, posts, bits and pieces I’ve been sharing on Social Media from the second week of January. That includes Bridge Theatre’s PR email blunders, Devoted and Disgruntled’s 13th event, and lots of interviews and reviews.
TrendFem – My blog posts
I shared some of my thoughts of the opening night of #ROHTosca with Joseph Calleja, Gerald Finley and Adrianne Pieczonka. It’s the ninth revival of Jonathan Kent’s production. (Click here.)
Come and get a history lesson at the @gatetheatre with @NinaB0wers ‘s captivating performance #Twilight1992 (here) focusing on the riots of Los Angeles in 1992.
It was National Popcorn Day on Friday 19th, so I sent out a post I wrote in 2016 discussing the effects that cinema live screen events have had on converting new audiences to opera (here).
It was the opening night of David McVicar’s revival production of Salome with Malin Bystrom and Michael Volle. I wrote about their tremendous performance here.
A first night with mixed reactions
Back in 2013, the Canadian baritone Gerald Finley said in an interview, ‘if there is a Scarpia out there somewhere I’d be happy to do that.’ Come four years later and he is doing exactly that. On Monday night at the Royal Opera House, his Scarpia had long hair, a burnished rich vocal tone and menacing demeanour in Jonathan Kent’s ninth revival of Puccini’s Tosca. For a first-timer, Finley gave a distinctively refreshing portrayal of Scarpia that I shan’t forget.
The production began 12 years ago with set designs based on the Napoleonic era. I’ve seen it twice before and this version is my favourite. This is mainly due to the tremendous cast, which includes Finley, his fellow Canadian Adrianne Pieczonka and Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja. These international artists have a huge following and if it wasn’t for their sensational voices and breadth of experience, I probably wouldn’t have bothered seeing the production at all.
‘Don’t trip. Don’t trip and fall on your face.’ Tonight (January 16th, 2018), the Royal Opera House shall broadcast director David McVicar’s revived production of Rigoletto live to cinemas across the UK and abroad, and its conductor Alexander Joel tells me what he hopes won’t happen on his first Live Cinema event. ‘I’m excited, but the cameras won’t be on me anyway. I don’t like cameras on my face. They’ll probably film me for those first five seconds I come into the pit… and then the orchestra will start.’
Alexander Joel has performed multiple times at the Royal Opera House since his debut in 2013, conducting La bohème. He was invited to conduct again at the Royal Opera House in 2015 and 2016 for their productions of La Traviata and Carmen. He has also performed a wide range of pieces from operas, ballets and symphonies in various countries and worked with many international orchestras including the Vlaamse Opera orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and Düsseldorfer Symphoniker, to name a few.
Looking at Salome through a post-Weinstein veil
Ten years ago I saw David McVicar’s production of Salome. Back then it was brand new not only to the Royal Opera House and also to me. I was 23 years old, developing my knowledge of opera productions in London and working my way through a checklist of operas I wanted to see. Between now and then, I’ve seen Salome performed by Swedish soprano Nina Stemme in a semi-stage production at the BBC Proms and another performance by British soprano Allison Oakes at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. I remember the production well for its strange stage design — a green, modern day tie store. (I didn’t buy it.) I also recall a small yet exceptional physical theatre production by Théâtre Libre at the Space Arts Centre. From these productions alone, I learnt that the character of Salome — based on the biblical text — most certainly symbolises seduction, power and lust.
Given Oscar Wilde‘s emotionally charged portrayal of Salome, his French play became a success de scandal in 1891. This was similarly the case for Richard Strauss‘s opera in 1905 in Dresden. The Lord Chamberlain banned the play and opera in London until 1907, while the Vienna State Opera was far more ruthless and didn’t perform the opera until 1918. In 1903, Strauss composed his novel, groundbreaking opera accommodating a 100-piece orchestra in Berlin, and in the space of two years it was successfully performed over 50 times after its premiere in 1905.
Welcome! Here’s a roundup of news, posts, bits and pieces I’ve been sharing on Social Media since Day 1 of 2018.
The Globe has announced that they will be showing a new production of Othello this summer. Claire van Kampen shall direct the production with Andre Holland and Mark Rylance who take on the role of Othello and Iago. Tickets are on sale from January 29th, 2018, so get your index finger ready as they will definitely sell out fast. (Click here for the Globe website.)
Ever read a great review of a show and wanted to see the show for yourself, but didn’t know where the theatre was? No worries. Blogger and theatre writer Liz Dyer has pre-made a theatre map for your location needs. If you are a theatre that isn’t listed on the map, let Liz know and she will update the map for you. (Check out the map on her blog.)
Happy News from Alice Jones on Twitter, reporting from Soho Theatre:
Well that’s a first. Someone just proposed to their girlfriend on stage at Soho Theatre! (she said yes)
— Alice Jones (@alicevjones) January 5, 2018