Skip to main content

Anna Nicole

The Royal Opera House's PR machinery was in full throttle weeks before the premier of Anna Nicole. So I wasn't surprised to see all the little touches on the night - the Warhol-esque portraits of Anna Nicole plastered everywhere, the vivid pink stage curtain with AR at the bottom (read Anna Regina, but you have to read it quickly in English Latin ...) and the American accent PA to remind patrons to switch off their "cell phones".

Eva-Maria Westbroek was great - singing her way from her trailer-trash look through to the Hollywood glitzy blings, then to her fattened end. Her voice rang all the way with clear diction. Gerald Finley who sang The Lawyer Stern was equally good - with sufficient sleazy acting to make the role convincing. And the chorus was great - especially in Act I where the harmonies were thick and complex. It also played a significant role as the spectators of the story.
And the music? Antonio Pappano seemed to have spent sufficient time getting to know Mark Anthony-Turnage's score. The main orchestra played and responded well. And the rock band seemed to have given the whole work that "American" feel. The music sounded (to me at least) like an updated mesh of Berstein and Shostakovich - lots of patiches, lots of complex rhythms and harmonies, but somehow not losing touch with the audience. So in that respect I thought it was well crafted. Will I go back? I think so.
Yes, the audience. Well the PR machinery must have done its job well. There were lots of young faces and on the night that I went many trendy fashion types (from London Fashion Week?) and they seemed to have enjoyed the performance throughout. Let's hope they will return to see other operas.


Popular posts from this blog

Porgy and Bess, English National Opera

I quite forgot the first number in Porgy and Bess is Summertime! Beautifully sung by Nicole Cabell as Bess. On a whole, the chorus number was better sung than the solo numbers - where the diction was generally inadequate. The set (Michael Yeargan) was three-dimensional and worked really well with the many scenes in this work. John Wilson was in his elements in the pit and the orchestra responded with a rhythmic boisterous sound - the best part of the evening.

Les Huguenots, Opéra Bastille

I don't know why so few Meyerbeer operas are staged in London. In order to see his grandest grand opera, I traveled to Paris to see Les Huguenots staged at Opéra Bastille.

The star of the show was Lisette Oropesa who sang Marguerite de Valois - she got the warm yet regal tone for the role, her delivery of the emotions was fantastic. Yosep Kang, a late replacement for Bryan Hymel, was passable. His rendition of Raoul de Nangis could do with a few more rehearsals. And his voice strained a little at the higher register (there was one gasp in the audience when we all thought he was going to crack!) His love interest Valentine, sung by Ermonela Jaho, was good - a more youthful if pensive voice.

The male chorus was a little agricultural in act 1 - untidy and lacking in focus. Luckily, the men were saved by the women (again) when the ladies of the court sang lusciously while frolicking along a real stream.

Where was the BALLET???

The set design had modern lines and shades - a Parisien c…

Hagen Quartet, Wigmore Hall

Yes, the legendary Hagen Quartet playing at the Wigmore Hall.

The Schubert String Quartet in G minor sounded rough, with problematic intonation from the first violin. The whole piece sounded like a play through. Not a good start. The playing of the Webern pieces (Five Movements / Six Bagatelles) could not be more different. They got through the grittiness and bleakness of these concise pieces with precision and poise.

The second half of the concert was Haydn String Quartet in Bb (Op 55 N 3). The playing was warm, coherent with the kind of interplay between the quartet members that one would expect. Good tempi choice. This warmth was naturally conveyed through brilliant acoustic of the hall.