Thursday, 12 December 2013

A happy evening with José Cura and an unhappy travel home (December 9-10, 2013)

How to start an evening perfectly? For me it was simple. Just find the right restaurant. I found it on Yelp: La Piazza ristorante. Their pizza was just perfect just like their location Johannesgasse, not far from Konzerthaus. 

Even as the concert was on Monday many JC fans was there and althought there was still free seats in the hall it still seemed quite full. Monday means taking 2 days off work for those not living close to Vienna. Saturday would have been a much better day. Secondly Sunday, third Friday. But it was quite good for being on Monday. I feel the concert could have been advertised much better. Maybe an opera concert with Jose Cura would have been completely sold-out even as it was a Monday in early December, but Argentinian songs with masters like Carlos Guastavino, Alberto Ginastero and the new composer Jose Cura himself should have been a must for all opera lovers especially if Cura is one of your tenor heroes.

From Tristan und Isolde on Sunday to Jose Cura singing songs on Monday, that is a distance. Excellenc is excellence in whatever form it takes. An ethusiastic audience greated the great maestro with thunderous applause. Jose Cura relaxed and smiling sat down. Kristin Okerlund sat down at the piano, with a young man as her page turner. A young woman sat down, she too like Okerlund and Cura had some notes (papers) in front of her. 

The concert started with Jose Cura singing alone Hilda Herrera's Desde el fondo de ti, then the piano invoced Maria Elena Walsh' Postal de guerra. Then Jose Cura started talking as he did during the concert. The other woman was called "Lalo" (?), a friend of Cura who would be reciting in German some short verses to give us some idea of what the songs meant. It was hard for me to hear her and so I got no more idea of the songs from her. Our progammes was free. The 3rd song according to the program was Alberto Ginastera's Accorro, but that was not what he song, we got that as one of the encores instead.

Instead of going through it song by song, here is my impression of the concert. Many years ago Jose Cura recorded Anhelo and that CD had many of the songs he now song. Those years gave Jose Cura a greater depth and a passion that makes these songs even better today than ever. Cura sang his own work of Pablo Nerudas Sonetas with Lalo in the role of the woman as Cura was the man. It was magic!!!

In the second half it was more unfamiliar songs except La rosa y el sauce and of course, La cancion de la Bandera by Panizza. Highlights. And then 3 encores!!

And after the concert, meeting with fans and Jose Cura inside the building. It was a cold day in Vienna, rain and icy winds. At last I had to go.

Tuesday I was off to Vienna airport. My flight was first told to be 30 minutes late and then 1 hr. And it was not a direct flight to Oslo. So I was again in Zurich airport, 10 minutes before my flight had left Zurich, and my new flight to Oslo was 3 hrs to wait. Swiss gave me CHF 10,- , I felt they were really cheap. Zurich airport and finding good food to eat that is not easy. Most of the 10 Swiss Francs went to an expensive and hardly eatable tomato soup. Then I had a Pizza Margerita at Marche, eatable but not a revelation. Still, hungry no more. The prezel I bought at Marche was great and saved me later in the night. 

My second flight was also delayed so that instead of landing 2225, which is late, I was in Gardermoen airport 2345. Without any delays my first second flight would have landed 1935 and if I had then chose to spend a night on a hotel and fly to Førde the next morning that would have been a gift I gave myself. Thanks to these 2 delays I HAD to chose to spend 3000 NOK extra, and SWISS thinks 10 Swiss Francs is enough!! From now I will try to avoid Swiss and Zurich airport!! 


Having to be at a meeting in Førde after such an ordeal gave me a headache that lasted Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. On Friday evening the pain was less so I went to the cinema to see The Hobbit - the Desolation of Smaug. I thought it was a bad idea but luckily my head was fine in the end. It was beautiful, but movie 1 was better. Movie 2 made me just read the book and enjoy the better story there.

For reviews from my travels, see

Monday, 9 December 2013

Wagner 2013: My 5th ever Wagner opera

Richard Wagner
Oper | 17.00 - 21.45 | 2 Pausen | Preise S | Abo Zyklus 1


Peter Schneider | Dirigent
David McVicar | Regie
Robert Jones | Ausstattung
Paule Constable | Licht
Andrew George | Choreographie
Robert Dean Smith | Tristan
Albert Dohmen | König Marke
Violeta Urmana | Isolde
Matthias Goerne | Kurwenal
Elisabeth Kulman | Brangäne
Clemens Unterreiner | Melot
Carlos Osuna | ein Hirt
Marcus Pelz | ein Steuermann
Sebastian Kohlhepp | Stimme eines jungen Seemanns

A little detour before Tristan in Vienna. First the night bus to Gardermoen Airport. The rumored bad weather in the mountains did not happen to my bus. So I came to the airport with hours to spend until my flight on Saturday. My bus arrived 0515 and my flight started 0945. Because of a technical error in Zurich my plane arrived one hour late so my flight started 1 hrs later, 1045. Then 1305 in Zurich, waiting more hours. 1635 started the boarding, and fight started 1700. Vienna, finally 1820. Vienna International Airport... City Airport Train to Wien Mitte, then U-Bahn to Stephansplatz, and then Südtirolerplatz - Hauptbahnhof. 2000 at my hotel. I do not think I could have been faster.

With Saturday almost gone I still had something I wanted to do. Eating great food at my favorite restaurant and then waiting at the stage door for Vittorio Grigolo and Angela Gheorghiu after their La Boheme that I arrived in Vienna too late for even if there had been any tickets left. Would have loved to see Boheme in Wiener Staatsoper. Sadly I found myself to tired for the excursion to the Opera. Still, I needed food. McDonald's then. Not too great, but not too bad.

Sunday. Breakfast at McDonald's. My early in the morning need are very simple so McD is enough. Later I was wondering about Tristan, to buy or not to buy a ticket. As I was close I had my lunch at the Operncafé. A cremed tomato soup that not did not have it in it to be my best, just OK this time. Then back to my hotel. Suddenly the decision was made Tristan to night. A not a second to spare lasagne dinner at my favorite hotel and then off to Wiener Staatsoper. The opera house was filled to the brim of people. A long queu just to collect my reserved ticket.


"Love" at first note. Loved the orchestra with conductor. Wagner the composer is great. Too many words all the time. But one does get into it. I no longer oppose the idea of Jose Cura as Tristan. But really Wagner heroes vs Verdi heroes, Verdi wins every time. Loved Elisabeth Kulman as Brangäne. Highlight in love duet between Tristan and Isolde = Brangäne singing. Robert Dean Smith is a great singer, once in a long while one hears he is not German but still amazing singer. Violeta Urmana as Isolde, great work, a great singer but she was not able to mesmerize me as she did as La Gioconda in Paris. Albert Dohmen was so great that I wished his part was bigger. Matthias Goerne as Kurwenal was just luxus. Clemens Untermeier as Melot was also very good. Carlos Osuna as the shepherd was also wonderful.

The production with David McVicar as director, scenography by Robert Jones, was great. Sadly it was Isolde's Liebestod that ruined the perfect Tristan. Tristan is the one the who dies of love, and King Marke appearing with Tristan dead that is truly sad. I actually cried. Then Isode's Liebestod, who would have guessed that was the disappointment of the evening. Violeta Urmana was singing her heart out. But instead of dying there, she was going slowly out in her red dress. For the applause Urmana appeared with the black dress and was then more like Isolde then in Liebestod. Bravi, tutti!!