Skip to main content

Les Troyens at the Royal Opera

Les Troyens is even rarer than Wagner's Ring Cycle. I have only seen one part of it staged by the ENO many years ago. So a full scale grand opera staging of Berlioz opera was not to be missed.

David McVicar's production and Es Devlin's set designs had strengths and weaknesses. The early part of the opera (in Troy) was atmospheric and gritty, really conveyed the doom and gloom mood of the narrative. The Carthage scene setting was breathtaking - wonderful colours and textures. Somehow, the set (and to a certain extent the production) went out of steam from Act 5 - it got repetitive. And what was that statue about?



Bryan Hymel sang and acted the role Énée well. Eva-Maria Westbroek as Queen of Carthage was fantastic - from dancing along the streets in the city to those love-torn courtship moments. The chorus was also wonderful - commanding an unfamiliar score with complex stage directions. It was Pappano's herculean effort that was most impressive. Not only did he (and the ROH orchestra) created a credible Berlioz sound world, he held the complex production together. Wonderful stuff. Let's hope it stays in repertoire.

Comments

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.