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Showing posts from June, 2007

Renée Fleming is Thaïs, Royal Opera

It was only a concert performance, but Renée Fleming have 100% singing the title role Thaïs this week at the Royal Opera.

Andrew Davis conducted the ROH Orchestra on stage (rather than in the pit). Thomas Hampson had to pull out so Athanaël was sung by an equally capable Simone Alberghini. Of course, Renée was the star of the show - even though it was only a concert performance, there were gestures, emotions and drama in her voice. The final tableau was particularly memorable - with her voice soaring up on high. A standing ovation at the end barely did justice to the quality of the performance. Will the Royal Opera stage it any time soon?

Erwin Schrott as Don Giovanni, Royal Opera

I've seen Bryn Terfel and Simon Keenleyside as Don Giovanni in this Zambello production, but I have to say Erwin Schrott was marvelous in tonight's performance at the Royal Opera. Back in 2003 he sang Leporello - which showed him as a real performer. As Don Giovanni, he was able to establish that magical rapport with the audience (a flirtatious moment on the edge of the stage) while not losing the singing voice. Of course, having a muscular body (still rare among opera singers) made the whole character believable and he seemed to have enjoyed being on stage scantily clad.

The rest of the cast was great too - particularly the emotionally torn Donna Elvira sung by Ana Maria Martinez. The simplicity yet effective set design by Maria Björnson continued to serve this production well.

La Cenerentola, Glyndebourne

A revival of the 2005 production, La Cenerentola got off to a good start this season at Glyndebourne with Jurowski at the helm of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.  The whole cast worked really well together (including the last minute role change Raquela Sheeran singing Clorinda). Pietro Spagnoli sang a particularly charming Dandini, Ruxandra Donose was a sure-footed Cenerentola a Maxim Mironov sang a decent Prince. The production was fun, with a lot of loving touches such as the coach crashing just outside Don Magnifico's palazzo. A very enjoyable and light hearted  entertainment.

Káta Kabanova, Royal Opera

Janice Watson gave a convincing portrayal of Káta Kabanova at the revival of this fantastic Royal Opera production with the swirling stage hinting at the doomed Káta. Felicity Palmer sang Marfa Ignatevna Kabanova with venom and Kurt Streit a passionate lover. Sir Charles Mackerras conducted with much gusto - while the pace of drama moved along nicely.

Schnittke, Mozart and Prokefiev, LPO, Royal Festival Hall

The first LPO "paying" concert at the Royal Festival Hall. Jurowski conducted a fun and witty performance of Schnittke's (K)ein Sommernahstraum. Imogen Cooper played in Mozart D minor piano concerto. I was not entirely at ease with her somewhat masculine playing of the flowing runs. I wonder what Mitsuko Uchida thought of it (she was also in the audience). The Alfred Brendel cadenza was interesting though. The last piece was Prokofiev Fifth - a humanistic and positive symphony without too much of the cynism one find int his music. The LPO rose to the occasion with tight strings and brass, effective percussion and fantastic woodwinds.

First Night Gala Concert, Royal Festival Hall

The much anticipated re-opening of the Royal Festival Hall was officially upon us. There was neither pomp nor circumstance: even the Duke of Kent was
happy to be amongst the audience rather than in the ceremonial box.
The opening work by Julian Anderson was a lovely collage of choral and orchestral textures - both expansive and intimate. The Byzantium section was marvellous - just hearing a wash of organic and energetic sound. Jurowski conducted the work with much confidence. This was followed by Firebird which really showed off the hall's new found dynamism.
The rest of the programmes was somewhat eclectic including the last movement of Beethoven 9th Symphony (The reviewer from New York Times obviously did not realise there was a cast change - Philip Langridge and Brindley Sherratt were replaced by Simon O'Neill and Neal Davies). Marin Alsop brought the evening to a stylish and climatic end with Bolero.

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Royal Festival Hall

It was billed as a "Warm Up Event". But I think it was to do with contracts signed prior to the discovery of asbestos at the Royal Festival Hall which added six months to the renovation programme.

Gustavo Dudamel conducted the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in Strauss Four Last Songs and Mahler 5th. The band made a good sound tough the upper strings were a bit subdue (or was it the Hall?) The Four Last Songs were a bit fast to my liking - and it was only Beim Schlafengehen where I felt the tempo was right. Measha Brueggergosman sang relatively well, though her BIG HAIR was in the way of the sound projection.

Mahler 5th was thunderous and supple at the same time - the latter much helped by the strong viola and lower string section. It was exciting and forward but could do with a bit more rubati. Otherwise it was an enjoyable evening out at this much loved venue.