Thursday, 29 September 2011

The Passenger at the ENO

I'd never heard of The Passenger by Mieczysław Weinberg. So it was a bit of a shock to see the Holocaust depicted on the ENO stage. Weinberg set the first act to a slow, drone like pace. It moved very slowly - apparently it was to recreate the atmosphere at Auschwitz. Act 2 had more melodies and drama - but ones that were heart-wrenching. Johan Engels's 3-dimensional set design was provocative and well lit by Fabrice Kebour. The rather large cast was exceptional in the delivery of text and conquering the tricky melodic lines. One came out of the theatre feeling unsettled.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Faust at the Royal Opera

No I didn't see Vittorio Grigolo as Faust, nor Angela Gheorghiu as Marguerite. Instead, it was Malin Byström who sang the latter wonderfully and James Valenti the former who stepped in at the last minute. Considering these changes, David McVicar's Faust is still a wonderful piece of theatre.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Il trittico at the Royal Opera

YES! The new opera season has just started after a dreary British Summer. The last time I saw Il trittico was at the ENO years ago. Don't remember much part from hearing O mio babbino caro in the context of Gianni Schicchi. I was rather excited to see the triptych staged by the Royal Opera House.

Il tabarro: Eva-Maria Westbroek was a very powerful Giorgetta - with all those torn emotions fully expressed. Lucio Gallo sang Michele switching between rage and resignation. Ultz's design was stark yet atmospheric. There were sufficient background movements (the odd sailor, or strolling evening couple) to keep the set real without being too distracting.

Suor angelica: Ermonela Jaho was Angelica - where her voice darted from the cool / calm sister, to a penitent nun, to a distressed mother. All delivered wonderfully. I loved the moment when everyone froze on stage after Angelica's death - like someone pressed the Pause button on a DVD.

Gianni Schicchi: This was the same Royal Opera production that paired with L'heure espagnole a few seasons back. This revival brought the same fun and whimsical elements about. Francesco Demuro who sang the lover of Schicchi's daughter was a voice to watch.

And what an evening with such rich emotional textures, sound worlds and contexts - brought about by Pappano. There was some very good playing in Il tabarro with those very modern harmonies. The ensembles were rock solid all the way through. What a great way to start the new opera season.