Saturday, 21 July 2012

Otello, Royal Opera

The opening of Elijah Moshinsky's production of Otello packed punches. And it was no different at the recent revival of one of Verdi's great operas. The chorus took a few bars to settle in but otherwise they were great.



Aleksandrs Antonenko carried the title role well. There were the add wooden moments. He did look menacing from Acts 2 onwards. Anja Harteros as Desdemona was ok - a lyrical voice but lacked vulnerability. Both leads were on occasion under-pitch. Lucio Gallo was a nearly credible Iago - though I did feel his voice lacked that evil quality (think Kurt Rydll or Sergei Leiferkus).

And once again it was the super-human-conductor Sir Antonio Pappano at the helm creating a punchy and crisp Verdian sound.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Les Troyens at the Royal Opera

Les Troyens is even rarer than Wagner's Ring Cycle. I have only seen one part of it staged by the ENO many years ago. So a full scale grand opera staging of Berlioz opera was not to be missed.

David McVicar's production and Es Devlin's set designs had strengths and weaknesses. The early part of the opera (in Troy) was atmospheric and gritty, really conveyed the doom and gloom mood of the narrative. The Carthage scene setting was breathtaking - wonderful colours and textures. Somehow, the set (and to a certain extent the production) went out of steam from Act 5 - it got repetitive. And what was that statue about?



Bryan Hymel sang and acted the role Énée well. Eva-Maria Westbroek as Queen of Carthage was fantastic - from dancing along the streets in the city to those love-torn courtship moments. The chorus was also wonderful - commanding an unfamiliar score with complex stage directions. It was Pappano's herculean effort that was most impressive. Not only did he (and the ROH orchestra) created a credible Berlioz sound world, he held the complex production together. Wonderful stuff. Let's hope it stays in repertoire.

Friday, 6 July 2012

La bohème at Glyndebourne

Under a gloomy sky I carried my picnic hamper and rug to Victoria Station - looking slightly out of sorts. But by the time the train pulled into Lewes the sky was blue and Glyndebourne was at its glorious self.

I have not seen La bohème at Glyndebourne before so it's exciting. David Lomeli sang Rudulfo well. Ekaterina Scherbachenko was fabulous too. Act II was believably Christmas in Paris, and Act IV was spring like. The whole cast really gelled. Needless to say the LPO sounded wonderful under the baton of Kirill Karabits.