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Showing posts from May, 2008

A dark Theseus / Oberon at the Globe's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'

It's always a joy to see the fruit of a creative company such as Shakespeare's Globe. This production of A Midsummer Night's Dream was full of wonderful character portraits and playful direction. The fairies' costumes were off-landish in contrast with the more classical fineries that the rest of the actors wore. It was also a pleasant surprise to see Siobhan Redmond as Hippolyta / Titania who was such a great trolley-dolly as "Shona" in the sitcom The High Life.

Beautifully played Monteverdi Poppea at Glyndebourne

Not being a big early opera fan, I was not entirely sure what to expect at this new production of L'incoronazione di Poppea at Glyndebourne.

While I found the drama difficult (a somewhat benign plot), the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Emmauelle Haim provided the much needed fluidity from scene to scene. Danielle De Niese sang Poppea wonderfully, though the opera / production does not played to her flamboyant style (unlike Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare a couple of seasons ago). Nero was well portrayed by Alice Coote. May be I should listen to more Monteverdi in order to get more out of this work.

Fabulously well sung Rosenkavalier at the English National Opera

With a cast like Janice Watson (Marchallin), Sarah Connolly (Octavian), Sarah Tynan (Sophie) and John Tomlinson (Ochs), one would naturally expect a great performance.

My expectations were met when I sent to see the new production of Der Rosenkavalier at the English National Opera last Saturday. The set was plain with enough props to indicate where the action was taking place. The stage production / direction was great - as one would expect when David McVicar is in charge. Edward Gardner maintained the momentum of the drama well. The duet in the opening of the second act and the trio at the end were brilliantly sung and well balanced. Tomlinson added the right amount of loutishness. All in all a great performance.

Simon Boccanegra lost his voice at the Royal Opera

Verdi's Simon Boccanegra got a new set by John Gunter  with slanted columns, doors and floor depicting a wonky period of Genoan history.  John Eliot Gardiner's tempi were  brisk and incisive  in the crowd scenes, but somewhat lacking in lyricism in the solo and duets.

Ferruccio Furlanetto stepped in as a replacement for Fiesco which gave the show much needed presence. The Royal Opera chorus was great - which gave the show the grand opera feel.  Natalie Ushakova's Amelia was neither here nor there - the voice seemed too unsteady in quiet moments and strained in the big arias. Lucio Gallo had a good start as Simone, but his voice sounded pushed and strained - only to lose it in the final scene when Marco Vratogna (who gave a fantastic performance of Paolo and had just been beheaded off stage) stepped in to sing the most moving scene at the end.

It was altogether an unsatisfying experience of Verdi.

A surround experience of Luigi Nono's Prometeo at the Royal Festival Hall

The composer Luigi Nono took great care in specifying how his Prometeo should be performed by musicians placed in different parts of the performing space. The end result, as those who went to these first UK performances at the Royal Festival Hall discovered , was a spatial experience that defies conventions (that being performers on stage and the  audience on the other side) - with various soundscapes swirling above our heads. Diego Masson and Patrick Bailey conducted the various chamber orchestra, singers and actors with much precision.