I was lucky to have gotten a ticket to see Bernard Haitink conduct the Vienna Philharmonic in Bruckner 7th Symphony. No doubt it is a work that Haitink knows well - he did it without score. The movements were broad, had shape, and above all nuanced rather than bombastic. His mildmannered gestures were in starck contract to Andris Nelsons's rendition of Bruckner 8 (earlier in the season). It was a real treat to see this maestro still deliveirng the musical umph at 90. A memorable concert that was.
Katya, sung by Amanda Majeski, had the passionate timbre making her role convincing. Boris (Pavel Cernoch) was ok, and his duet with Majeski was a delight. Susan Bickley's Kabanova was steely and overpowering. Antony McDonald's design and Richard Jones's direction worked well together - the faux 70s decor and costumes added a certain softness to the harsh reality of the society Janáček portrayed. Edward Gardner did the score justice, bring out fabulous melodic lines, nature and the edgy textures.
Thomas Mann's novella Death in Venice is packed full of atmoshperic details of the characters surrounding Gustav von Aschenbach. David McVar's production of Britten's last opera brought these characters - leading and incidental alike - into vivid portrays on the Royal Opera stage. Vicki Mortimer's set gave the production a cinematic quality - stark sunshine on the beach, foggy canals and dingy Venetian corners. Mark Padmore's von Aschenbach was weighted without being stodgy. His diction was superb. His singing was nuanced. Gerald Finley amazingly morphed from one character to the next - so unless you knew in advance he played the Traveller, Old Gondolier, Hotel Manager, Elderly Fop, Hotel Barber et al, you wouldn't know that was sung by the same singer. Hats off to that.
Leo Dixon was Tadzio - his movements portrayed vividly both the youthfullness of the character and the allure that was key to his interaction with von Aschenbach. The rest of the dancing cast …