Monday, 15 February 2010

The Gambler was well paced at the Royal Opera

Having only seen two operas by Prokoviev (Betrothral in a Monastery and War and Peace), I was intrigued to see The Gambler at the Royal Opera. My secret wish was that it wouldn't be like The Queen of Spade which I found difficult.


Roberto Saccà (Alexei) really got across his internal turmoil while Angela Denoke played the hard-to-get Polina. Richard Jones's direction was great - where each act and sequence had an authentic feel with just enough caricature to deliver entertainment value.
Antony McDonald's set and Nicky Gillibrand's costume designs were great - giving the production a contemporary feel. The zoo, the hotel corridor and even the big gambling tables really worked well. My friend also thought perhaps the revolving door was synced to the key changes and rhythm. Speaking of rhythm, Pappano and the orchestra really kept the pace of the work going. The gambling sequence, in particular, had a quicken pulse that really conveyed the excitement of a buzzy casino.


Saturday, 13 February 2010

Yannick Nézet-Séguin condcuts the LPO

Fresh off the plane from conducting a successful run of Bizet Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera, Yannick Nézet-Séguin worked tirelessly with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir for this evening's concert at the Royal Festival Hall. It started with Le tombeau de Couperin. There was a lot of poise in the orchestra's playing - kind of stately yet pensive at the same time. This was followed by Pavane pour une Infante défunte. The players in the orchestra caressed each and every phrase. The sound was lush and intimate - not a single harsh note. And the horns carried their parts well. Debussy's Nocturnes was next. The first of the three movement work Nuages started with the lower string section portraying floating clouds, which got darker as the piece progressed - but not angry ones. The middle movement Fête was a lot of fun with fantastic playing from the brass section. A small section of the sopranos and altos joined in the last movement Sirenes with a seductive sound - reminiscent of Ravel's Daphne and Chloé. The first half of the concert was very involving and the audience was definitely pulled into the French sound world that Nézet-Séguin wanted to invoke.
The second half of the concert included two rarely performed works: Fauré Pavane with Choir and Poulenc Stabat Mater. As a performer in these two pieces it would be inappropriate for me to review them.


Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The iPhone made it to Così fan tutte at the Royal Opera

Conductor Julia Jones kept a good pace going. Sally Matthews (as Fiordiligi) and Nino Surguladze (as Dorabella) portrayed the emotional tension well through out. Troy Cook (Guglielmo) and Charles Castronovo (Ferrando) were convincing in their various disguises and melodramatic entrances. I wondered how they got their tattoos. I was not sure about William Shimell's Don Alfonso - he was fine when in an ensemble, but sounded rather dull when on his own. Helene Schniederman's Despina was ok - though she could have delivered her role with greater dramatic gestures.



Jonathan Miller's production originally included stylish costume by
Giorgio Armani which really worked with his textured walls and
contemporary staging. Subsequent revivals, however, included the Marks and
Spencer's clothing. This run at the Royal Opera included updated costumes (slim fit suits for the men, still rather dull clothing for the women) and Apple
iPhones. The audience seemed to
have liked it.