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Showing posts from September, 2010

A deeply engaging Tristan und Isolde

Having seen the Glyndebourne and Royal Opera productions of Tristan und Isolde not so long ago, I was quite looking forward to a concert performance of this epic Wagner opera - one without cumbersome staging and weird stage directions. It turned out to be one of the best performances I have ever heard of this work. Gary Lehman sang Tristan with thoughtfulness and directness. His voice remained strong and composed throughout the three acts. It would be very exciting to see him as Siegfried in the near future. Violeta Urmana was absolutely fabulous - the Isolde role enabled her to show off her entire range of vocal colours and emotions. Could she be a future Brünhilde? And there was a really good rapport between them. Anne Sophie von Otter's Brangäne was also very good - especially in Act II where she sang from a Level 6 Box high above everyone else - very effective. Bill Viola's video projections were good in places, distracting in others - luckily this being a concert performa…

Time to retire Così at the Royal Opera

It didn't help that I had to miss the first act of Così at the Royal Opera last night. Then I bumped into a friend who saw the first act and decided the second act was not worth staying for. So when I sat down I saw the same old Jonathan Miller production, I thought it really was getting tired - the freshness of the production has gone. Thomas Allen was ill and William Shimell stepped in as Don Alfonso who did a fine job (of what I saw anyway). The singing was fine, but it needed more. The playing in the orchestra was ok, but lacked fizz.  Time to move on.

Zemlinsky and Mahler 3 London Philharmonic

I was slightly (just slightly?) shocked by the volume of reviews on the day after the LPO's season opening concert - eight! I thought Petra Lang was superb singing Zemlinsky's Six Maeterlinck Songs - she really got across the moodiness and darkness of these songs. And it was a delight to hear works by a contemporary of  Mahler.
Then onto one of the longest symphonies in the repertoire - Mahler 3. The opening fanfare was bold but restrained. Jurowski took quite an episodic reading of this massive movement - and refrained from pulling about too much. The recapitulation of the fanfare with the four cymbals was gigantic. The 2nd and 3rd movements brought about a different sound world - as intended by Maher's naturalistic score. Petra Lang returned in the 4th movement  "O Mensch!" with her rich and dark tone. Then there was the contrasting 5th movement - when the Trinity Boys Choir and sopranos/altos of the London Philharmonic Choir came charging in with their angelic…

Don Pasquale at the Royal Opera

Don Pasquale was the first thing I saw in the new season at the Royal Opera. Don't know what it was - a Sunday evening performance? The Royal Opera was on tour in East Asia? The not-so-fresh doll house design? Or the Donizetti score? But it really didn't do it for me. I found myself getting bored. Hmm ... not a good start to the season.