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Showing posts from February, 2009

Gurrelieder Esa-Pekka Salonen with Philharmonia

Gurrelieder needs to be big and punchy. Esa-Pekka Salonen certainly did that with an enlarged Philharmonia at the Royal Festival Hall. The cast was strong, but the star of the performance was the orchestra which responded to each and every nuance of this at times eclectic piece. The sun rise at the end was particularly good.  The "stage direction" of colour lights worked reasonably well. Though the choir could have been at least 50% bigger - it just needed that Mahler 8 choral sound which Philharmonic Voices and the choir of CBSO lacked.

Rigoletto at the Royal Opera

I went to see a revival of Rigoletto at the Royal Opera. Leo Nucci as Rigoletto was sensational - he sang with vermin (in the company of the courtiers) and plea (with Gilda), coupled with years of experience. Francesco Meli's Il Duce was fine with an air of innocence. Ekaterina Siurina (as Gilda) gave a fine portrayal of the role. It was also a delight to see Kurt Rydl as Sparafucile. 

Londinium sings a programme of a cappella pieces

It is a rare event when I go to a chamber choir concert - somehow the slots are taken up by grand operas and other big choral gigs. Anyway, upon a friend's recommendation ("what do you mean 'you don't like Debussy'" as the punch line) I trotted along to listen to Londinium to perform an eclectic programme of a cappella pieces.
The highlight was Holloway's "He-she-together" - a rarely perform work by this living composer. The high voices wailed convincingly and the men seemed subdued by them! The two Howells pieces (Take him, earth, for cherishing) was sung with gusto and precision. Not sure whether the Elgar worked (Go, song of mine). The Debussy (Trois chants de Charles d'Orléans) was well sung - though I still didn't get it. All in all an enjoyable night out listening to fine choral singing in St Mary-le-Bow.

Die tote Stadt

I was not sure what to expect at Royal Opera's production of Die tote Stadt and I liked what I heard. The sound world of Korngold was mostly lush, with shades of Strauss, Mahler and Puccini thrown in. Yet at other times, it's Hollywood. The pit couldn't fit the entire orchestra, so un-tuned percussion was put into Stalls Circle, and extra brass was in one of the Balcony boxes.
The stage set was very clever - with a boxed design portraying a fairly nondescript sitting room. The dream sequence was a replica of the same room just smaller and placed right behind the "real" room with all characters in clown costumes. It definitely worked.

Stephen Gould (as Paul) and Nadja Michael (Marie) were giving their best but you could tell they were at times overwhelmed by the enormous orchestra. Gerald Finley was Frank - though perhaps he shouldn't have sung bare-chested.