Monday, 12 March 2007

March 2007: Le Villi in Genova (2007-03-11)

Day 4: Sunday 2007-03-11 Genova
Matinée. And then train through the night to Munich

My breakfast was later than I had planned. Hotel Helvetia have such a little breakfast room and it was full of people 1-2-3- time I checked. Finally I too could have my breakfast. And I ate well. 1030 check-out, but I could leave my luggage at the hotel. This day was the first time I used the internet-PC at the hotel, mostly to check out the times for train to Munich. Because my first plan was 20 Euro at least more expensive than the one they recommended and my plan was not really that much better, both had two stops. So I did buy the one where I took the 1935 train to Milan, then 2215 from Milan to Verona, 1 hour wait in Verona, at 1 from Verona to Munich (Munich 0630)

Le Villi
Opera-ballo in due atti di Ferdinando Fontana, musica di Giacomo Puccini. In forma semiscenica

Teatro Carlo Felice
domenica 11 marzo, 15.30 (C)

Anna = Fiorenza Cedolins
Roberto = José Cura, tenor
Guglielmo Wolf = Gabriele Viviani

This was a strange day, check-out from hotel, and having to get a train after the opera. But this was the best performance, I doubt the 2007-03-07 performance was better (I was not there, but Rai Radio was there and it was transmitted on radio).

What was the difference: No glasses for Jose Cura this time. He was FREE and could really ACT out as Roberto which also meant that Fiorenza Cedolins would be able to react as the fine actress she is. Gabriele Viviani was still a bit wooden but as the old Babbo Guglielmo it was easily forgiven, his voice was all that matters, but there is only so much to do when it is a concert and your part is really small.

Teatro Carlo Felice is really a fine theater but all the same I was sitting too close to people who do not understand that chatting is not permitted during an opera or concert. It did not completely destroy my opera evenings, but it did not make me happy. And these was not young people who did not no better... Inexcusable.

Anyway, Fiorenza Cedolins was not lucky when she sang a wonderful "Se come voi" because the orchestra glitched, and that was the only fault in this performance, think, during her big aria. But she had the luck of Jose Cura completely in his role as Roberto. How he touched her face when he said he wanted a smile, touching. The duet was really wonderful. And the prayer in the end of act 1 was also wonderfully executed. The aria of Guglielmo Wolf in act 2 is not easy to get, I guess you really need a stage for that one. Jose Cura was incredible in Roberto's long aria in act 2. And the final duet Cedolins/Cura was great.

Not strange that the applause lasted a bit over 10 minutes.

Day 5: Monday 2007-03-12 Munich - Oslo
Flight to Oslo.

First I had a plane from Milan to Oslo. But then I checked out how to get home and with the arrival of the plane 2110 in Oslo it would not be easy to come home in time for work on Tuesday. So I decided Munich was a better departure airport since my arrival in Oslo would be 1530.

But then I had to get to Munich from Genoa. I had come in time for the 1935 to Milan, and in time for 2215 for Verona. And then in Verona there was an one hour stop. Well, having been in Verona train station before I thought I knew what to expect. But the train station was closed except that one could get out of the train station. But no inside seating, and no WC facility open (at least not what I could see). And I needed to go to the WC. Luckily the need was not desperate so I could wait. My train to Munich was already in Verona. Unfortunately my carriage was connected to the wrong train (a train to Nice). In reality the wait for a new train to walk into was not to be almost an hour but just half the time. Sleep well and long I did not. But I was not too sleepy so it was in a way OK.

Brrrrr. Cold in Munich. I had been used to fair weather, 16-18 degrees. And in Munich at 0630 it was cold. 5 layers.... Well naturally in the end it got hotter and when I was at airport suddenly I had to get out to more normal number layers. 20 minutes delayed because the incoming plane was delayed. Later I found out it had a lot of fog in Norway. 1530 in Oslo, Norway. Had to wait a long time for my luggage. And now I was getting to feel it. I was tired. I wanted to be home. Did not want a 7 hours bus ride and be home at 5 Tuesday morning, no that was if I missed one bus, but still did not want to take a 7 hours ride and be home at midnight. So I took a plane back home. It was not cheap. But it was faster. I was home at 21 something.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

March 2007: Cavalleria Rusticana in Genova (2007-03-10)

Cavalleria rusticana
Melodramma in un atto di Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti e Guido Menasci, musica di Pietro Mascagni

Orchestra director Bruno Bartoletti

Santuzza = Susan Neves
Lola = Paola Gardina
Turiddu = Salvatore Licitra
Alfio = Vittorio Vitelli
Mamma Lucia = Ambra Vespasiani

Why was Cavalleria Rusticana after Pagliacci, maybe because... No, impossible to guess. The only thing that is important is that it worked very well.

This production, unlike the Pagliacci production was not right a way just right for me. Both ideas was all action in the same place. Which naturally meant that the Siciliana was sung backstage when the curtain was down. Then when the opera started all we saw was a desert, and that was Cavalleria Rusticana. Sometimes it was a desert with Jesus on the cross etc, so that was I guess "the Church" and Easter celebration. And a desert with some chairs was Mamma Lucia's tavern. But this desert made it very real when the people came from work with oranges, except, for oranges to grow is not a desert a very natural thing, no. So it sort of worked, but just when you are not thinking :-).

So that was the production ideas. But what really made it work was the film in the back ground. Showing the sky and sea. Dark sky when it was almost night still etc. And of course the thunder that made the whole chorus disappear when it started to rain, and made it possible for Santuzza to have a private dialogue with Mamma Lucia (Voi lo sapete, o mamma). And during the duet Santuzza/Turriddu the Jesus-statures was being carried away.

But all this would not have worked if the singers had just stood there. It worked because of the great acting and singing, so the director had really done his bit. Salvatore Licitra was a wonderful Turriddu and Susan Neves was a wonderful Santuzza.

For me the only thing is that Susan Neves, she is a wonderful soprano with great vocal range, but she is NOT a MEZZO. And for me Santuzza is a mezzo voice like Agnes Baltsa.

And after the opera, we met the singers from Cavalleria Rusticana: Salvatore Licitra was dressed like a racer driver and Susan Neves looked liked she was just any normal woman, instead of the reality, a FANTASTIC soprano (wow, I wish I had managed to take a splashing good photo of her, but my camera did not take my photos when I pressed the button, but waited some seconds too many).

Well, I guess, singers sometimes long for normality after work.

March 2007: Pagliacci in Genova (2007-03-10)

Day 3: Saturday 2007-03-10 Genova
Matinée with Salvatore Licitra as Turriddu/Canio.

0900 Breakfast at the hotel. 1140-1330 Up and down the streets in Genoa to find a place where I can have lunch. 2030-2130 Pizza at the Pizzeria Amadeus. How I long for the "real thing" real Norwegian Pizza instead of the original Italian Pizza. Our Pizza do not get cold this quickly and have more food in it (especially Cheese)

(Strange how everything is about food).
Until the point when it is all about OPERA

Teatro Carlo Felice
saturday 10 march, 15.30 (F)
Dramma in un prologo e due atti di Ruggero Leoncavallo,
musica di Ruggero Leoncavallo

Orchestra director Bruno Bartoletti

Canio = Salvatore Licitra
Nedda = Svetla Vassileva
Tonio = Alberto Gazale
Silvio = Roberto De Candia
Beppe = Bruno Ribeiro

In Genoa the very known double-bill CAV/PAG started with PAGLIACCI. That's unusual. But not the first time. I liked this production very much. All action was in the same place in the whole opera. That Canio's troupe also had circus elements was very naturally implemented. Never did it intrude or become a distraction.

Our Silvio (Roberto De Candia) was not the usual most handsome baritone you can find as type. But in saying so, it makes you think, why should it only be believable that Nedda could love only a beautiful man... So in a way, here you are at the heart of the story; who is Nedda, or rather what does love mean for her. Nedda (Svetla Vassileva) made it clear how this is not our usual operatic heroine. She does not love her husband Canio, she does not even let him kiss her, which is humiliating when a wife does so in front a whole village. But Canio seem more good-humored and just go on joking with the children. So during the opera she is uncaring to Canio, and quite cruel to Tonio (Alberto Gazale) but tender to Silvio and good-hearted to her daughter....

Daughter, you say... Yes in this production Canio and Nedda are parents. Which naturally makes Nedda's death truly heart-breaking. In herself is Nedda not a person easy to love. But when a small child comes out, running towards mother's dead body. Then the audience and of course Canio, the father, see what a terrible thing he has just done. And then "La Commedia è finita" he says, his voice is broken, and so is the man and his family. But Tonio got his revenge on the woman he said he loved. But did not love enough to have a happy life.

No, I am not over-looking Canio (Salvatore Licitra). The reason I wanted to see CAV/PAG in the first place. What a singer, what an actor!!! He sang wonderfully, his Vesti La Giubba was the best I ever heard. And when you add to that, he was such a great actor. Totally believable...

BRAVO, Salvatore!! Bravi, tutti! and BRAVA, Bambina!

Saturday, 10 March 2007

March 2007: Le Villi in Genova (2007-03-09)

Le Villi
Opera-ballo in due atti di Ferdinando Fontana, musica di Giacomo Puccini. In forma semiscenica

Teatro Carlo Felice
venerdì 9 marzo, 20.30 (B)

Anna = Fiorenza Cedolins
Roberto = José Cura, tenor
Guglielmo Wolf = Gabriele Viviani
Riccardo Frizza, conductor

Before the opera, there was a concert piece: Sinfonia n. 1 in re minore op. 75 di Martucci. It was not a bad piece. I found it quite operatic. After the interval: LE VILLI. The disappoint was that the opera was just really a concert of a whole opera. So I don't really see this as In forma semiscenica, really. it was just a backdrop showing a film, dark and with showing up some white lines in all its blackness was that Semiscenica.... No, it was simply a concert nothing more. The conductor was energetic with his arms almost in the faces of the artists, specially in the face of soprano Fiorenza Cedolins. Fiorenza Cedolins who was almost the perfect Tosca in Verona 2006 with Salvatore Licitra as her Cavaradossi was not up to the role of Anna, I felt. She was inhibited in her approach.Much better was she on Sunday's Le Villi. Her big voice in Verona seemed to big a little voice in Genova on this Friday. But in the 2nd act she was more like a true Anna.

Jose Cura had his glasses when he sang, on this Friday. His acting was limited, this was more of pure singing than acting out the complete Roberto feeling. But on this Friday it was quite obvious that Cura's main interest lay in the Symphonic structures of the opera. As a conductor LA STREGENDA from Le Villi is sort of his specialty, so he was very much there living the music. Also Fiorenza Cedolins was very there in reading the singers partiture all the time.

Gabriele Viviani as father Guglielmo was too young to be Fiorenza Cedolins father. But in his voice he was Babbo Guglielmo, an imposing man. But his beautiful voice could not really have the bite in it that is needed in act 2.

Even if this had been my only Le Villi in Genova I would not have regretted coming to Italy. But I am really happy that I chose to stay and get the better LE VILLI performance, or should I say the near perfect one.

Friday, 9 March 2007

March 2007: Travelling to Le Villi in Genova

Day 1: Thursday 2007-03-08 Oslo - Milano
Afternoon flight to Milano. Staying the night in Milano.

Up at 0750. Breakfast at home. 0900 still waiting for the bus driver to come out. He came with the bus at 0845, and the bus was due leaving 0900 (timetable) but 0903 finally the bus driver arrived. And some more minutes we were on our way. 35 minutes later in our small airport. 1005 and our flight to Oslo began, 1145 in Oslo. Had it been a direct flight it would have just taken 45 minutes the whole flight.

Lunch in Oslo Airport. There was a long queue in the security line. And my luggage was looked into by a very nice and polite person. Then 1500 my flight to Milan started. 1735 we landed. It was not my first time in Malpensa Airport Milan. This time I decided to take a train to Milano Centrale, the main train station in Milan. I wasted a long time in trying to find the train to Milan. In the end I decided to take the bus after all it was cheaper only cost half the money the train cost. And then I was trying to find my way back to where I started when I first decided the train. And naturally I had forgot about looking closely for the right bus line. But in the end although my bus cost Euro 5.50 and the other Euro 5 I think it did not really matter since both buses seem to take the same route (Of course I cannot really be certain of that).

The traffic in Milan was insane. Not like last time, but if was probably because this time it was evening rush hour. Anyway, even if the train cost double prize to the bus it must have been the faster way to Milan. Anyway the bus took almost double time than announced. So the traffic was dense, indeed. Then came my second ordeal... no, not really :-) Finding my hotel... I must have walked round the huge train station building at least twice. Finally I asked a taxi driver who told me where to go. And with the direction pointed out then it was real easy to find my hotel, Hotel Cristallo. 1935 was the time when I was at last in my hotel room. Yes, I know almost 12 hours after wake up it was, but really it did not seem as a really bad day for me. A bit tired, yes, but everything was well. A sort of Dinner in Milan... McDonald's...

A good night sleep, and then...

Day 2: Friday 2007-03-09 Milano - Genova
Train to Genova. In the afternoon Opera.

0730 Breakfast at the hotel. Before taking the train to Genoa I decide to walk in Milan. I asked the hotel desk where to go shopping. I went the whole until I got to a McDonald's and had a snack there. I don't know if I should trust my memory but it was on this day that I got my two blisters, one small blood blister on and one big one... I don't know if it was already in Milan it happened or in Genoa. So in Milan I did not buy anything, I just got myself blisters. It is quite easy to get it when you start the day walking almost 2 hrs (or maybe it was 1 1/2 or...) Anyway, strangely enough, as it was a pure coincidence I took the train that I already had put on my Yahoo Calendar, pure coincidence. And it was in Milano Centrale that I meet the first JCx member on this trip. Me from Norway, and she from Prague. Very nice. Unfortunately we did not get on the same train, I believe she took an earlier train. After all I had not even bought a train ticket when we met. Of course we saw each other again after the opera at the stage door. It is so great meeting friends when on opera travel (of course at other times, too).

Train 11.10-1242. So did I really think I would remember where my hotel was after almost 2 years. Yes, I did. Of course, yet another time I had to ask the most reliable source for where is my hotel, a taxi driver. Real nice, did not try to make me take a taxi to the hotel, is this a typical Italian treat to be this honest ? Anyway 1340 I was my "new", Hotel Helvetia. A really nice hotel with a nice personnel, and a really comfortable bed. The Breakfast room is tiny and it does not have a wide choice in breakfast. (On Sunday it was so crowded that I had to wait and go up and down more times to finally have my breakfast.) The Hotel Helvetia is just in middle of the train station and the Teatro Carlo Felice, approximate 15 minutes each way, This mean that it is almost 30 minutes from Carlo Felice to Piazza Prinzipe. So maybe it was in Genoa really I got my blisters. Well any way, it was in Genoa that I found it a bit painful to walk. It did not help that the roads was not the asphalt road. Genoa is such an old city, asphalt did not exist when these streets was created.

Walking up and down the shopping street, Septembre... I saw It was really big and kinda confusing trying to find my way there. But I had luck the LA TRAVIATA a Paris DVD was there and I bought it. Finally the opera film was on DVD. It made me feel real lucky to be in Italy and to find this DVD....

And then came the time to get my tickets. Yes, and I was there 1 hour before the opera begins. And I met a couple that lives in Bologna, Bolzano... no, BERGAMO. They were extraordinary nice people but then I find that all JCx members that I have met are truly nice people. I met more people than that so it was from Norway, Germany, Austria, Italy, Japan, Czech Republic, may be more (10 JCx members I think I recognized). And after the opera we were 5 people from different countries trying to find some place not to far away from the opera house where we could eat. It was not possible it was over midnight already... So it became just a cafe and something to drink. But Friendship may help you forget that you are a bit hungry.