Skip to main content


Showing posts from September, 2006

La finta giardiniera at the Royal Opera

This will be my third "early" opera in a month. Having seen Janáček's Osud and Puccini's Le villi a couple of weeks ago, I went to the first performance of Mozart's La finta giardiniera at the Royal Opera last night. It was definitely the best of the three.

The set (see above) was suitably simple and clean - with a real fountain and a stream of water towards the pit area. Robert Murray's Count Belfiore and Patrizia Biccirè's Serpetta were both strong in voice as well as acting. Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the English Baroque Soloists were on good form - projecting a forward and eager sound. The music itself is interesting - in that you are listening to ideas and themes that will manifest into the mature operas such as Idomeneo, Figaro and Don Diovanni. Though don't expect to be wowed by the music - this is still early Mozart (K 196) along the lines of the very early piano concerti and sonatas.

L'atelier de Joel Robuchon, London

The restaurant is one week old, but Joel Robuchon's latest venture L'atelier in Covent Garden already feels like an institution. My fellow diners felt at home and lively conversations could be heard around us. Effectively combining the eating styles of Japanese Sushi bar, Spanish tapas and French haute cuisine could be a tall order. Yet L'atelier has risen to the challenge. The Menu Découverture turned out to be an exciting and balanced menu - and one has to give them credit for serving this 7 course meal in 90 minutes without feeling rushed.

What was enjoyable? Everything was lovely, but particularly the Scottish scallops - just lightly cooked and dressed in seaweed scented butter.
What was not enjoyable? Worry about the rest of London descending to West Street.

Landtmann, Vienna

One can find Wiener Schnitzel everywhere in Vienna, but Landtmann's was not bad at all: the veal chop was evidently laboured and flattened to an enormous size, then deep fried to give that golder colour. It's simple yet very enjoyable. My dining companions had what looked like classic bolito misto which was light and flavourful accompanied by the classic sausa verde.

What was enjoyable? The casual dining environment especially when the sun was shining.
What was not enjoyable? Nothing really.

Liechtenstein Museum, Vienna

One can certainly Over Do art in Vienna. The beauty of the Liechtenstein Museum is its fine collection of paintings and architectural features within a manageable space. The building had been lovingly refurbished while the art works and exhibits were beautifully presented. Like Galleria Borghese in Rome, one can spend a leisurely morning strolling through the library and rooms without feeling pressured (unlike Musée du Louvre). If you have time, enjoy a cup of cafe melange in the court yard.

Le villi at Wien Staatsoper

Le villi - think Giselle. It's a quaint opera about lost love and revenge from the underworld. Jose Cura as Roberto was powerful, emotional and hot-blooded. The opera provided a glimpse of the great works to come.
What was enjoyable? Jose Cura showing off his voice and acting skills
What was not enjoyable? A collage of lumber jacks in the style of Pierre et Gilles as the back drop Why?

Osud at the Staatsoper

A seldom heard Janacek opera, Osud is about lost love and art was presented at the beginning of the new opera season in Vienna. While the story line offers interesting interpretation opportunities, the production failed to rise up to the challenge: transparent polystyrene hung from the ceiling rotating around a piano with monotonous costume. Very dull. While Janacek scores often present tonal and rhythm challenges, the orchestra was definitely under-rehearsed - scrappy string, wrong woodwind entries, and general untidiness.

What was enjoyable? The soloists gave their best in the lyrical moments with conviction.
What was not enjoyable? Everything else really - poor production, bad orchestral playing, etc.