Thursday, 12 February 2009

Update: Off to hospital for an operation

I am soon to be off. I will have a medium operation. 1 week or so in hospital, and then back to blogging again

For more reviews from my travels, see

3 faults by Vienna Staatsoper, but Stiffelio still wins

2009-02-10 Stiffelio (Verdi), Wiener Staatsoper

Stiffelio = José Cura
Lina = Hui He
Stankar = Anthony Michaels-Moore (a)
Stankar = Mark Rucker (s)
Raffaele = Gergely Németi
Jorg = Alexandru Moisiuc
Federico = Benedikt Kobel
Dorotea = Elisabeta Marin

Michael Halász, conductor

Fault no.1: Anthony Michaels-Moore is onstage acting Stankar, but his name is not in the rolelists, no mention of him at all. Fault no 2: Mark Rucker is beside the stage singing the role of Stankar with his notes before him, the role list says he is Stankar, but he is not onstage in costume. Fault no 3: the orchestra under Michael Halasz often sound like there is several orchestra members missing, and the conductor is careless so that the singers suffers, they have to fight to come in right on time.

The singers are wonderful. This Stiffelio seemed to have microphones for the radio broadcast. Saturday that was the superior performance was not broadcast, why? Because of the change in baritone, really?? Bad decision, and then to slight 2 baritones in one (see Fault 1+2). I found the acting of Anthony Michaels-Moore worth mentioning, he is great. But still I was disturbed when I understood that Mark Rucker would not be allowed to act as Stankar. If it was the will of either baritones then I will be content, but if it was the management then I really don't understand it. The audience that had not been there on Saturday was understandably confused. If only they had mentioned Anthony Michaels-Moore. M-M who acted admirably was too ill to be there for all the applause, so why wasn't he allowed to rest. If Mark Rucker would have to do some improvising then I would be sure the rest of the cast would have been up to it.

I have read two reviews of this Stiffelio, both praises the baritone Mark Rucker. One said that Jose Cura was no longer a Tenor Crown Prince, meaning he was no good, I guess. But the all the other got some praise. The other praised all, except Hui He who was too Diva and not Lina. Here both Jose Cura and Hui He are doing their best performances vocally and as actors, but the review doesn't like them. They are so wrong. I am really trying to understand how Jose Cura's singing could be prove that he is no longer good. I think the reviewer must already dislike his choices of how to use his voice for dramatic purposes. I can sometime disagree myself, but not this time. Hui He acting like a Diva, wow, not acting like Lina. What? Should she sing the arias bad, and then ... I really wondered, did we see the same performance?

Das Wunder Oper - Wiener Zeitung

Staatsoper: Tenor-Kronprinz? Längst gestürzt! - Die Presse


For more reviews from my travels, see

INDRA THOMAS triumphs as Amelia, Vienna 2009-02-09

9. Februar 2009

(66. Aufführung in dieser Inszenierung)

Dirigent: Paolo Carignani
Inszenierung: Gianfranco de Bosio
Bühnenbild: Emanuele Luzzati
Kostüme: Santuzza Calì
Chorleitung: Thomas Lang

Gustaf III.: Ramón Vargas
René Ankarström: Dalibor Jenis
Amelia: Indra Thomas
Ulrica Arvedson: Elisabeth Kulman
Oscar: Ileana Tonca
Christian: Marcus Pelz
Horn: Janusz Monarcha
Warting: Dan Paul Dumitrescu
Richter: Peter Jelosits
Diener: Peter Jelosits

Beginn: 19.00

INDRA THOMAS triumphs as Amelia

Ileana Tonca is wonderful as Oscar. Elisabeth Kulman, who I saw as Fenena, is actually a marvel as Ulrica. For the first time the scene with Ulrica made sense, both musically and as theatre. BRAVA!!!

First in the 3 act, the masked ball, was the costume of Amelia right for Indra Thomas. If this had been a new production then I would have wondered if the old art of making attractive costumes to big bodies had gone lost. Even with her costume not being right for her Indra Thomas managed to project her inner Amelia. Her voice reminded me of Jessye Norman. My wish for Indra Thomas is that she will be recognised as a great soprano, and then she could be DIVA enough to demand costumes that sits right. That would be great for her and her audience.

The men, Ramon Vargas and Dalibor Jenis took longer to warm up. But they were also great.

This production was no doubt set in the historical time of King Gustaf III of Sweden. I really liked it.

For more reviews from my travels, see

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Cough, cough, Stiffelio in Vienna: one sings, the other acts

(34. Aufführung in dieser Inszenierung)

Dirigent: Michael Halász
Inszenierung: Elijah Moshinsky
Bühnenbild: Michael Yeargan
Kostüme: Peter J. Hall
Lichtregie: Paul Pyant
Choreinstudierung: Thomas Lang

Stiffelio: José Cura
Lina: Hui He
Stankar: Anthony Michaels-Moore (acts)
Stankar: Marck Rucker (sings)
Raffaele: Gergely Németi*
Jorg: Alexandru Moisiuc*
Federico: Benedikt Kobel*
Dorotea: Elisabeta Marin*

(* Rollendebüt an der Wiener Staatsoper)

Beginn: 19.30

I didn't. Cough, I mean, But two people did. Maybe more. Annoying.

But the real news, Anthony Michaels-Moore is sick, he cannot sing. The American Mark Rucker steps in on very short notice. So there he stood beside the stage with his partiture singing Stankar while onstage Anthony Michaels-Moore acted Stankar (only mouthing his part). Strange to see and think about but this was like advanced synchron swimming. They did it very well. The actor Michaels-Moore was great as actor, the singer Rucker was great as Stankar. Maybe MM was not great, but opera is not straight theatre, so when we think it as opera acting, not being able to sing probably meant the actor too was a bit unabled by that.

Did Stiffelio, the opera, suffer from this? No, not at all. Was the other singers affected by this? No, they were all great. Did the conductor suffer? No idea at all.

It was a great success for Mark Rucker. People were wild. I was near 3 of them who seem to come only for him. (If there is 3 it must really be plenty.)

HUI HE was wonderful as Lina. And all the audience understood they, one could hear that in the applause. She was warm and acted her role wonderfully. Wonderful voice. JOSE CURA did one of his very best Stiffelio's, if not the best. I wish I could describe how I have seen how Jose has changed with this role. One the negative side: Federico di Frengel was rather thin and old, Raffaele was tall and somewhat big and young, but in the opera it should be possible to think Federico was Raffaele. Oh, that was maybe while it was so dark lit the stage. I thought that was to make it possible to Mark Rucker to read the notes.

Anyway, Mark Rucker was the super nice and happy man with a big laugh when he came out of the opera house. Hui He was also very nice and humble. Jose Cura sat down to as many signing and photos, even until the warming all to get out of the building, the lights are soon put out. It was a relief to Jose Cura, And really the fans was not slighted a bit.

A wonderful opera night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For more reviews from my travels, see