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Showing posts from April, 2011

The Tsar's Bride at the Royal Opera

It was the 3rd performance of the Tsar's Bride at the Royal Opera when I went. So I was not sure what to expect. Rimsky-Korsakov's score was great - lighter than I thought. As one would expect from a largely Russian cast, the basses boomed and the sopranos sang well on top of the orchestra. The diction was good and, as it is a repertory piece for most Russian opera houses, it came across polished.  The production and design was rather good. Even though the opera was set in sixteenth century Russia, the production was definitely 21st century metropolis: it moved from a swanky cafe to the shopping street of Moscow. Act 3 was set in a roof top penthouse with a swimming pool complete with glittering guests and well groomed waiting staff - how it reflected the decadence of the oligarchs. The amazing thing was that it really worked.

Fidelio, Royal Opera

I am indifferent about Fidelio. I have seen it many times. It doesn't do it for me. So why did I see it again on Saturday??? Hmm.
Act One. It's not good to hear a split note from the horns right at the opening of the work. Yes the orchestra played it together, but the brass was rough and the strings were sloppy. It sounded like a rehearsal but in fact it was the last performance of this run. That's bad. Kurt Rydll was a capable and sympathetic goaler. Nina Stemme, who was superb as Isolde a season ago, was a more subdue Leonore. The whole of this act, despite of the masses on stage and a suptuous production from The Metropolitan Opera, was dull, dull and dull.
Act Two. It got off to a better start with Endrik Wottrich as the imprisoned Florestan. He sounded lyrical and pensive. Nina Stemme's subdue tone was replaced by an insistent and eventually vigorous one when she succeeded in rescuing Florestan. The final big sing scene was grand. David Syrus, Head of Music at…

Great tasting Italian at Ovest Pizzoteca on Manhattan

Never turn down a restaurant recommendation from a Italian Manhattanite. Ovest was just round the corner on 10th Avenue an 27th Street. OK it was a business lunch so had to order food that could be eaten easily while talking. The risotto with lemon and prawns were great - very southern. And the granny's lemon tart (torta di limone nonno) was fluffy light and not too tart. Nice.


Renée Fleming was dazzling in Capriccio at the Met

My plane from Chicago was running late, and I thought I might have to drag my suitcase from La Guardia to Lincoln Centre! Luckily the tailwind helped the plane catch up. So I got to the Met in good time for Capriccio.

It was the 9th performance of Strauss's last opera Capriccio at The Met. I was surprised - I thought it would have been performed more often. The opera didn't get off to a good start. The sextet overture was scrappy and the phrasing was not entirely logical - it sounded like those playing in it didn't rehearse enough. And there were some excruciating moments. Never mind. Joseph Kaiser was Flamand the composer who looked and sang wonderfully at the opening. Russell Braun was Olivier the poet whose more mellow tone reflected the role well. Peter Rose sang the role of La Roche with depth and compassion - especially his rant which was superb. The star of the show, Renée Fleming, was superb - she delivered playfulness and class throughout, culminating in the intr…

The new wing at Art Institute of Chicago by Renzo Piano

OK, it was a very dull and grey day, but it was still great to see new wing at the Art Institute of Chicago Renzo Piano's. The new space was devoted to largely modern art - spacious and well lit.