Thursday, 29 December 2016

Anne Boleyn and Anna Bolena, history and opera

 Wikipedia (english):
Anne Boleyn (/ˈbʊlɪn/, /bəˈlɪn/ or /bʊˈlɪn/)[3][4][5] (c. 1501[1] – 19 May 1536) was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of King Henry VIII, and Marquess of Pembroke in her own right.[6] Henry's marriage to Anne, and her subsequent execution by beheading, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that was the start of the English Reformation.

Henry VIII (28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547) was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. Henry was the second Tudor monarch, succeeding his father, Henry VII.
Henry is best known for his six marriages and, in particular, his efforts to have his first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, annulled. His disagreement with the Pope on the question of such an annulment led Henry to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority and appointing himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England. Despite his resulting excommunication, Henry remained a believer in core Catholic theological teaching.

Henry Percy, 6th Earl of Northumberland, KG (c. 1502 – 1537) was an English nobleman, active as a military officer in the north.[1] He is now primarily remembered as the betrothed of Anne Boleyn, whom he was forced to give up before she became involved with King Henry VIII.

Jane Seymour (c. 1508 – 24 October 1537) was Queen of England from 1536 to 1537 as the third wife of King Henry VIII. She succeeded Anne Boleyn as queen consort following the latter's execution in May 1536. She died of postnatal complications less than two weeks after the birth of her only child, a son who became King Edward VI. She was the only one of Henry's wives to receive a queen's funeral, and his only consort to be buried beside him in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

George Boleyn, 2nd Viscount Rochford (c.1503 [1] /c. April 1504 [2] – 17 May 1536) was an English courtier and nobleman, and the brother of queen consort Anne Boleyn. This made him the brother-in-law of King Henry VIII and the maternal uncle of Queen Elizabeth I of England. A prominent figure in the politics of the early 1530s, he was convicted of incest with Anne during the period of her trial for high treason. They were both executed as a result.

Mark Smeaton (c. 1512 – 17 May 1536) was a musician at the court of Henry VIII of England, in the household of Queen Anne Boleyn. Smeaton, the Queen's brother George Boleyn (Viscount Rochford), Henry Norris, Francis Weston and William Brereton were executed for alleged treason and adultery with Queen Anne.

Anna Bolena is an opera by Gaetano Donizetti. It is a tragedy. The 5 main characters all have flaws.

Anna Bolena (Anne Boleyn) wanted a crown so she chose Henry the 8th (Enrico), the King of England not Percy. Sir Riccardo Percy (in reality it was Henry Percy who was betrothed to Anne, but the opera could not have with the name Henry, Enrico in Italian). The real Anne Boleyn might possibly be a much better person than she is usually portrayed even in the history books. (19 May 1536)

Giovanna Seymour (Jane Seymour) fell in love with a king who already is married. She also was a close friend of the Queen, Anna Bolena herself. Giovanna wants to be free from the king's love since he is not free to marry Giovanna. She loves the King and the Queen.. She is flawed but the most virtous of the 5. The real Jane Seymour was also probably a more complex person, or may not. (24 October 1537)

Smeton (Mark Smeaton) is a young musician in the court. In the opera Smeton is more of a teen ager than a 23-24 year old person and beloved by Anna Bolena in an innocent way but he is in love with her. In love and a social climber, perhaps. In love in the opera, social climber in real life. But both showed he was just unlucky and a pawn in Henry's game. (17 May 1536)

Sir Riccardo Percy (Henry Percy) is mortally in love with Anna Bolena. He is a foolish, young man who plays right into Enrico's deadly plan to get free to marry Giovanna Seymour. The real Henry Percy was once bethrothed to Anne Boleyn but the bethrothal was without permisson of either the king or father. Anne Boleyn was not noble enough for young Henry Percy decided his father. (29 June 1537)
In May 1536 Northumberland, by now a man in broken health, formed one of the jury for the trial of Anne Boleyn. Anne is said to have confessed a precontract with him in the hope of saving her life.[1] He collapsed following the verdict and had to be carried out.[11]
Lord Rochefort (George Boleyn, 2nd Viscount Rochford) was Anna's brother and friend of Percy. He led Percy into his sister's room, it was supposed to be empty but Smeton was already there. And so Enrico had his evidence of adultery as he wanted. How Rochford thought the king's castle could be safe and how to stop the King to enter the Queen's room...

Enrico VIII (Henry VIII of England) is the king and he decides. Enrico has fallen out of love in Anna Bolena and is now in love with Giovanna Seymour. He wants to be loved as the man Enrico and yet he uses his role as king to get his way. He now hates Bolena and thinks she only wanted a crown and in that way he thinks he is not that guilty of all the deadly schemes he makes. Seymour is now his love and conviently he thinks FAMA, means that Seymour wants to be queen, but for Seymour the word means her virtue. Giovanna tries to save the life of the Queen, but Anna must accept to no longer be queen. Anna refuses and the King wins. Naturally he would have won anyway because he is The King.

The day after Anne's execution in 1536 the 45-year-old Henry became engaged to Seymour, who had been one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting. They were married ten days later.[103] On 12 October 1537, Jane gave birth to a son, Prince Edward, the future Edward VI.[104]
Percy married another woman, and died not by the King's hand.

For reviews from my travels, see

Saturday, 24 December 2016

The English Court in Seville: Anna Bolena 2016-12-10

I have always wanted to se Seville, Spain, and now I have been there. I loved it!!!

Not to hot, blue sky and Seville is beautiful.

I arrived in Seville at 2010 in the evening on Friday 9th December after night bus to Oslo Gardermoen Airport, flight to Malaga airport and bus to Seville., and I used the apps on my Iphone and wallet. In Oslo we had to wait an endless hour until we could be up in the air. I wondered if I would be on time for the bus ride from Malaga airport to Seville and I was lucky. When I arrived in Seville I decided to take taxi to my hotel. So after all that travel I had a nice meal in my hotel room courtesy Room Service. On Saturday I walked in Seville and shot many photos. It was just so beautiful and the Royal Tobacco Factory in Seville was now University of Seville. I walked 9,8 kilometres that day according to my phone.

2016-12-10 Anna Bolena (Donizetti), Teatro de la Maestranza (Seville)

Anna Bolena = Angela Meade
Enrico VIII = Simón Orfila
Giovanna Seymour = Ketevan Kemoklidze
Lord Percy = Ismael Jordi
Smeton = Alexandra Rivas
Lord Rochefort = Stefano Palatchi
Hervey = Manuel de Diego

Maurizio Benini, conductor
REAL ORQUESTA SINFÓNICA DE SEVILLA Artistic and Musical Director, John Axerold

Director - Graham Vick
Design - Paul Brown
Lighting - Giuseppe di Iorio
Production - Fondazione Arena di Verona

I love Gaetano Donizetti and Anna Bolena is a beautiful opera. Angela Meade was a wonderful Anne Boleyn. Ketevan Klimoklidze was a lovely Jane Seymour. Alexandra Rivas was an amazing Smeton. Visually one would never mistake one for another but vocally they was quite similar although Anna is a soprano role, Jane mezzo and Smeton is an alto. Maybe the three roles can be sung by mezzos.

Simon Orfila was Henry the 8th, Ismael Jordi was Richard Percy. The production was very historical and the costumes, too. Maybe too much historicality,  The music was mesmerizing and the singing good. Loved it!!!

Sunday 11th December: an early bus ride to Malaga Airport, flight to Oslo Gardermoen Airport, and then night bus home.

For reviews from my travels, see

Friday, 28 October 2016

2016-10-25 Lucrezia Borgia (Donizetti), Palacio Euskalduna (Bilbao)

Finally I was off to another Opera Travel. Last travel was already in June 2016 to Hamburg to see Fanciulla del West with Jose Cura. And now july, august, september had already and no opera live and no opera travel.

My plan to see Jose Carreras concert in Halden, Norway did not happen. In October I had planned also to go to Parma, Italy to see Verdi operas, Don Carlos, Giovanna d'Arco and Il Trovatore, and I had to stay home. BUT to Spain I went.

On Sunday October 23th, 2016 I took the bus to Bergen. After being coldly received and rejected at the DaStefano restaurant in Bergen. The "best pizza restaurant" rejected me since I had no reservation, how could I have known I needed that?, and was rather unwilling to point me to another restaurant for my pizza hunger. Wow, was I hungry and defeated.

I had noticed a restaurant on my way to my hotel so I went there. I went past Peppe's Pizza since their pizza sauce is too spicy for me. In Egon Restaurant I bought Pizza Margherita and a big Coca Cola zero. I would have eaten to whole pizza if not after 3/4 of the pizza I could no longer ignore that the wonderful pizza bun, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese tasted 100% oregano. I love oregano but this was too much. Nice place, though.

It was nice to wake up on Monday October 24th, 20016 to no stress even as it was the day I was traveling to Bilbao, Spain. Leisurely eating breakfast at the hotel. Check out and directly outside the door was the bus to Flesland Airport. Fixing my tickets there took some time but in the end I had all my tickets to Bilbao and back to Bergen. So no stress with my flight to London Heathrow airport and a nice stay in Heathrow until my flight to Bilbao.

British Airways was wonderful and the food too. Understanding English is a must when using British Airways something that might be a shock if you thought Iberia was flying you to and from Spain.

Luckily for me I dressed for the cold weather in Bergen and had my Helly Hansen jacket on. Even in Spain the summer is over and autumn has come. In the day when the sun is shining it was very nice with 23 degrees Celsius, but morning and evening could be cold. Of course, this was still Spain so it was hotter than in Norway, but it was Northern Spain...

I loved my hotel in Bilbao even it was without breakfast but it was perfectly placed and I remembered still where to go.

On Monday I had to eat in my room. My spaghetti bolognese from room service was ok. On Tuesday October 25, 2016 I chose to try another pizza and this time it was Pizza Prosciutto and it was lovely. it was the perfect Italian pizza in an Italian restaurant. Lovely and friendly, just as one wants a restaurant to be. Loved it!! Breakfast on this day had been a not quite warmed up breakfast at McDonald's, I ate it not gladly. So I really needed the Tagliatella restaurant experience to cheer me on. Unfortunately I went back to McDonald's to eat something before the opera, unfortunately the chicken wings was too spicy so it was mostly 100% loss. BUT the OPERA was a WIN.

2016-10-25 Lucrezia Borgia (Donizetti), Palacio Euskalduna (Bilbao)

Lucrezia Borgia = Elena Mosuc
Gennaro = Celso Albelo
Alfonso I d´este = Marko Mimica*
Maffio Orsini = Teresa Iervolino*
Don Aposto Gazella = Jose Manuel Díaz
Ascanio Petrucci = Zoltan Nagy
Oloferno Vitellozzo = Manuel de Diego
Rustighello = Mikeldi Atxalandabaso
Gubetta = Fernando Latorre
Astolfo = German Olvera*
Jeppo Liverotto = Jesús Álvarez*

José Miguel Pérez Sierra, conductor
Euskadiko Orkestra Sinfonikoa
Coro de Ópera de Bilbao

Scene Director-  Franceso Bellotto
 Director of the Chorus - Boris Dujin
 Production - Torino, Bergamo and Sassari theaters
 *Debuting at ABAO-OLBE

I have started to love Donizetti operas very much. In Bilbao I saw the most perfect Lucrezia Borgia. The production was amazing. The cast was splendid. Elena Mosuc was the most perfect Lucrezia Borgia. Celso Albelo was also stupendous. Marko Mimica was such a great Alfonso.

As Maffio Orsino we heard and saw Teresa Iervolino. Unfortunately her voice which was a lovely mezzo soprano voice was not penetrating the wall of male voices. Elena Mosuc voice would ring through the whole chorus. Teresa Iervolino did not had that power, but I might be wrong after all I was sitting in front row where one sees well but hears maybe not that well.

Another tenor to enjoy besides the Celso Albelo was the wonderful, thrilling tenor voice of Mikeldi Atxalandabaso as Rustighello. A wonderful find!!!

I loved the production so much. It felt historical and real.
Scene Director -  Franceso Bellotto
Scenography - Angelo Sala*
Costumes - Cristina Aceti*
Choreography - Martín Ruis*
Light - Fabio Rossi*
The regie was right, the costumes and scenography was wonderful and singers and chorus alike was acting so it felt real. I even, after a while, liked the choreography by Martin Ruis. The orcs, I mean soldiers of Alfonso was allright. The woman and boy as Lucrezia and young Gennaro worked in the opera even as I do no generally enjoy ballet in opera. The main thing is that it worked and added a dimension that was emotional and after a while felt real. Lucrezia and Gennaro remembers and feels those two and see them in their inner eye. It meant that no longer is there an incestuos meeting but a mother and son that meets. The mother wants her son. The son wants his mother. Alfonso loves Lucrezia and he thinks Gennaro is a rival. In this production Alfonso is ashamed when he finds out that he was gloating over a mother's loss of her child. Wonderful production even if Lucrezia is still poisoning people here she is a mother under all her actions.

I have seen on video the Lucrezia Borgia from La Scala with Mariella Devia, Marcelo Alvarez and Michele Pertusi with Daniela Barcellona as Orsino and I thought nothing could be better than that. This experience in Bilbao was brilliant and at least on par with La Scala but also better. Elena Mosuc, what a voice and her acting was so brilliant. A beautiful voice and not only that every note was enjoyment for the listener and deeply acting not only through her body but voice too. Celso Albelo won me over. A robust voice even in the higher register. He sang ‘T´amo qual s´ama un angelo’. It was so touching. There was changes in the score from La Scala to Bilbao. Equally beautiful but musically I liked the score from La Scala better. Marko Mimica was a stunning, young Alfonso with his Lucrezia. So young and powerful. His voice rang out.

Chorus and orchestra was great under the hands of José Miguel Pérez Sierra.

And so it ended "Era desso figlio mio". Era dessa Lucrezia Borgia!!!! Brava, Elena Mosuc!! Bravo, Celso Albelo! Bravo, Marko Mimica! Bravissimi!


Back to my hotel to get a good night sleep. Chicken wings are still uneatable,

Wednesday October 26, 2016 off to Bilbao airport. The bus costs only EUR 1,45. I was traveling via Heathrow but this time I have even better time. I was trying to follow the transfer signs (they are purple). Suddenly no purple anywhere and I have exited. I am on terminal 5, my next flight goes from terminal 3. Head-ache does not really help does it. It was probably the reason I cried a bit even though this was hardly any crisis. OK. The answer is buying Paracetamol at Boots and take the Heathrow express to terminal 3. Then security and now I find a restaurant to eat. Great. No stress this time either. Then my flight to Bergen. And another airport bus, to Bergen centrum, I find my hotel OK.

Thursday October 27, 2016. Wake up and eats breakfast at the hotel. I have an disagreement with my keys so I had no glasses on during breakfast. Then I just rest until I really feel like I must go even if I could stay at my room until 1200. Off to find somewhere to sit and to eat again. Then the bus to Haukeland University Hospital for my meeting with the surguon. I have plenty of time to finish my cheese and ham calzone from Deli de Luca and then up for my talk. I talk to her for 5-10 minutes and I can go back and buy another calzone. Then back, bus again, wrong stop, it is raining but I have only 15 minutes to go and Google maps is useful again. On the bus station waiting for my bus to carry me home. At home it is raining cats and dogs, or even elephants. It is 10 in the evening and pitch dark. HOME. What a wonderful Opera Travel I have had!!!!

For reviews from my travels, see

Sunday, 12 June 2016

My OperaDuets Travel in June: Hamburg and Fanciulla

2016-06-04 La Fanciulla del West (G. Puccini), Hamburgische Staatsoper

Dick Johnson (Ramirez) José Cura
Minnie = Amarilli Nizza
Jack Rance Claudio Sgura
Harry Benjamin Popson
Jake Wallace Stanislav Sergeev
Nick Jürgen Sacher
Ashby Tigran Martirossian
Sonora Kartal Karagedik
Sid Alexey Bogdanchikov
Trin = Joshua Stewart
Bello Viktor Rud
Joe Daniel Todd
Happy = Zak Kariithi
Harry = Benjamin Popson
José Castro = Christoph Rausch
Larkens Alin Anca 
Billy Jackrabbit = Bruno Vargas
Wowkle = Marta Swiderska
Un Postilione = Sergiu Saplacan

Josep Caballé-Domenech, conductor
Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg
Chor der Hamburgischen Staatsoper

Inszenierung: Vincent Boussard
Bühnenbild: Vincent Lemaire
Kostüme: Christian Lacroix
Licht: Guido Levi

It was Jose Cura's Day.

Some people disagree with me but this was the best Fanciulla del West for me, anyway.

This was the performance where I was never bored. I think the orchestra and the conductor did a fine job at least when I was the on June 4th, 2016. I loved Amarilli Nizza as Minnie. I found her absolutely right. She was the perfect Minnie. Jose Cura did one of his best Dick Johnson. Claudio Sgura was a great Jack Rance. The only thing about Jack Rance was that the director seemed to have had less thought about this important role in La Fanciulla del West than he used when thinking out the singer Jack Wallace. The director made Jack Wallace into a blonde but male Marilyn Monroe clone. What a stupid and useless idea that was! Putting Marilyn Monroe into an actual gold-mine, whoops.

I loved it. It was believable except for Marilyn Monroe, the canary in a gold-mine. The kiss in second act with the curtain coming down, it was snowing, a snow storm outside, and then curtain up and wow, suddenly a few seconds in real time could have been hours together with Dick doing more than just kissing Minnie. That was elegantly done. The sets was used in the best manner in this opera production. And even the 3rd act was well done. Bravi, tutti! 

I must apologize to Marilyn Monroe: Sorry but you are still the icon to be used and abused and this time they did it as they were still in kindergarten. Buh!

My OperaDuets Travel in May: Vienna and Boccanegra

Friday 27th of May. A good night sleep, just 30 minutes to the airport and a direct flight to Vienna.A little before 12 the airplane left Frankfurt and after 13 it was in Vienna. Hotel Vienna Amadeus was just 5 minutes walk from Stephansplatz. I relaxed too long at my hotel. I used the the same time as Wiesbaden the day before but the opera in Vienna started 30 minutes before so I had to use McDonald's for food and after my operation I have had problems eating and drinking so I could only eat the pommes frites which I finally had the chance of eating at midnight. 

Wonderful opera in Vienna. And even though I was home 2200 Saturday 28th of May. I was actually still tired on Monday at work. Of course to start the week with meetings are never fun. Simon Boccanegra in Vienna was wonderful and well worth the trip. It was hot, though!

2015-05-27 Simon Boccanegra (Verdi), Wiener Staatsoper

Simon Boccanegra = Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Maria Boccanegra (Amelia) = Barbara Frittoli
Jacopo Fiesco = Ferruccio Furlanetto
Gabriele Adorno = Francesco Meli 
Paolo Albiani = Adam Plachetka
Pietro = Sorin Coliban
Un Capitano dei Balestrieri = Carlos Osuna
Lydia Rathkolb = Anat Edri

Marco Armiliato, conductor
Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper
Chor der Wiener Staatsoper

Peter Stein | Regie
Stefan Mayer | Bühne
Moidele Bickel | Kostüme

It was Dmitri Hvorostovsky's day, it was Francesco Meli's day.

For many people in the opera this was Hvorostovsky's day as he triumphed in the title role of Simon Boccanegra. For me it was the triumph of Francesco Meli. Ferruccio Furlanetto was also great. Adam Plachetka was an amazing Paolo and I would love to experience him as Simon Boccanegra himself. 

Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Barbara Frittoli was soft and suave. They were perfect together but vocally their voices did not had the strength of Ferruccio Furlanetto or Francesco Meli. Furlanetto was the perfect Fiesco and Francesco Meli was the most wonderful and strong Gabriele Adorno. Adam Plachetka was the luxury of Simon Boccanegra.

I am now a fan of the marvellous tenor Francesco Meli. Bravo, Francesco Meli! 

And I adore the magificient bass of Ferruccio Furlanetto. Bravo, Ferrucio Furlanetto!!

This production of Simon Boccanegra in Wiener Staatsoper was just stupendous, perfect.

My OperaDuets Travel in May: Wiesbaden and Forza

Finally I was going to see Jose Cura live as Don Alvaro in La Forza del Destino. But no, it was not to be because Cura had to cancel his whole May schedule in 2016. Why? We don't know why but we was know it was in ny way because of the opera production in Wiesbaden. So I decided if I don't get Cura in Wiesbaden then I wanted to check out my new tenor Francesco Meli in Vienna as Gabriele Adorno in Simon Boccanegra.

At this late time to buy my plane tickets because of my operation in early May I found out that with or without flight from Frankfurt to Vienna was almost the same in NOK, only 100 NOK in difference. And the train would force me up even earlier and with very little time to get to the opera house in Vienna. So Oslo - Frankfurt - Vienna - Oslo.

Night bus to Oslo Gardermoen. Arriving OSL 0500 in the morning of Thursday 26th of May. My flight was not a direct one to Frankfurt but went via Munich Airport. It started in OSL 0740 and landed 0950 as scheduled, but my flight for Frankfurt was canceled and the next was delayed and delayed. Had I known that I had so much time I would have found more to eat and not stressed so much. Almost 4 hours waiting in Munich. No fun, always a bit more to wait. Then 1320 finally off to Frankfurt. 1420 in Frankfurt and soon off (after 1 hour resting and eating) to Frankfurt with S-Bahn.

It was just a bit more than 30 minutes until I arrived in Frankfurt and then I went to my wonderful hotel, Radisson Blu Schwarzer Bock. Check in at 1600 and resting. I was pretty exhausted when I arrived the hotel. It was so hot and I was so weak. Relaxing as long as possible at the hotel and then walked to the restaurant near the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden. I bought the Pizza Margherita and then I went to the opera house and got my ticket and the opera started at 1930. I had a great seat but great singing could not save a terrible production. I don't understand how Jose Cura accept this production.

2016-05-26 La Forza del Destino (Verdi), Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden

Der Marchese von Calatrava, Pater Guardiano = Young Doo Park
Donna Leonora = Hui He
Don Carlos di Vargas = Carlos Alvarez
Don Alvaro = Richard Furman
Fra Melitone = Patrick Carfizzi
Curra, Preziosilla = Romina Boscolo
Mastro Trabuco = Benedikt Nawrath

Christoph Stiller, conductor
Chor, Extrachor & Statisterie des Hessischen Staatstheaters Wiesbaden, Hessisches Staatsorchester Wiesbaden

Inszenierung nach Immo Karaman
Spielleitung Magdalena Weingut
Bühne Timo Dentler
Kostüme Okarina Peter
Licht Andreas Frank
Choregrafie nach Fabian Poska
Chor Albert Horne
Dramaturgie Stephan Steinmetz

If only Jose Cura had been Don Alvaro...

Now, we had second tenor Richard Furman as Don Alvaro. And that meant we had a weak link. Hui He was a strong, vibrant Leonora and with an equally excellent Don Carlo in Carlos Alvarez. The rest of the cast was also strong singers. Richard Furman acted well but his voice was sweeter and softer than the rest so his Don Alvaro was lost in this Forza del Destino.

I enjoyed very much this Fra Melitone, Patrick Carfizzi. Here was a strong singer and great actor and his role in this production was most believable. Unfortunately this production was bad, good and bad ideas were flouting around making little sense. Some scenes had some sense but in the end the whole structure was lacking. So: Production rubbish but Patrick Carfizzi as Fra Melitone was great. Fra Melitone was an idea that worked and often Fra Melitone is just stupid, here he made sense.

I guess that making the singer singing Marchese di Calatrava into Padre Superior was supposed to make an profound effect to the story and that was not really realized in the production. The same was true about making Curra = Preziosilla was a bit better but still in the end made no sense.

Putting La Forza del Destino in our times, or rather World War 2, was also damaging to the whole opera. Without Hui He and Carlos Alvarez or singers in that calible as Alvaro, Leonora and Carlo there is no need to put yourself into this production. The poignant end is no longer poignant!!!

OD Travel & Photos

Monday, 28 March 2016

CavPag and Pizza in Berlin

Everything was fine at Easter. I was free from work and resting and suddenly it was Good Friday (March 25th, 2016) and I was getting ready for a Travel.

Most of everything that I needed was with me and something was lost in Berlin. But as I was in the bus I was feeling sick but luckily it went away. Traveling felt like new for me. I had been sick and the only traveling had been walking (slowly) and taking the taxi (for the short and expensive trips to shopping). And now in a bus. Night bus to Oslo Gardermoen Airport. So the flight to Berlin Schönefeld went fine just as the bus. Then it was the train to Hauptbahnhof and Pizza at Vapiano. An OK Pizza Margerita. Then off to my hotel. Sleeping, resting there and walking to Deutsche Oper Berlin. I collected my ticket and then to the Don Giovanni restaurant for a Pizza Margerita there. Disappointing to say that Vapiano's pizza was better and I was in a hurry and not that hungry.

And then Opera no 1.

2016-03-26 Cavalleria Rusticana (Mascagni), Deutsche Oper Berlin 

Santuzza = Elena Zhidkova
Turiddu = Jorge de León
Lucia = Ronnita Miller
Alfio = Mark Delavan
Lola = Stephanie Lauricella
Zwei Bauern = Robert Klöpper
Tomasz Rakocz

John Fiore, conductor
Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Kinderchor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin

Director - David Pountney
Stage design, Costume design - Robert Innes Hopkins
Choreographer - Silke Sense
Chorus Master - William Spaulding
Childrens Chorus - Christian Lindhorst

It was almost 11 years ago that I saw this production for the first time (2005-05-01) and I do not like it much. The singing was superb on this occacion. Jorge de Leon (Turriddu) and Elena Zhidkova (Santuzza) have the most amazing voices, strong, vibrant voices and the acting was also superb. Ronnita Miller who looked like a Big Mama from another show was the definitive Mamma Lucia. I found the whole opera Cavalleria Rusticana much more to my liking with this Mamma Lucia. She was so real, so touching and yes, totally believable. Lola was also very good. Mark Delavan was Alfio. His acting was all there but the voice was not up to the high power of rest of the cast which was a shame.

The production has its wonderful moments like the Mass with all the icons and the Hymn. The Lord is risen. The chorus was amazing and Elena Zhidkova was the high light and supported by the wonderful Mamma Lucia, Ronnita Miller. It was an OK production with an incredible cast. Or I should say the cast was very credible and real.

Worst moment was when Turridu is murdered and a doll was sent flying down and Reality just flew away. It was unbelievable, stupid and a crude moment.

Opera no. 2
2016-03-26 Pagliacci (Leoncavallo), Deutsche Oper Berlin

Canio = José Cura
Nedda = Carmen Giannattasio
Tonio = Mark Delavan
Beppo = Álvaro Zambrano
Silvio = John Chest

John Fiore, conductor
Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Kinderchor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin

Director - David Pountney
Stage design, Costume design - Robert Innes Hopkins
Choreographer - Silke Sense
Chorus Master - William Spaulding
Childrens Chorus - Christian Lindhorst

Just like in 2005 Jose Cura was Canio. In 2016 Jose Cura was even better. The singing was beautiful. Jose Cura may look older but he sings younger. The acting was great. He is truly a great Canio, I do long his Turriddu but this time JC could give everything to Canio because Jorge de Leon was Turriddu, Álvaro Zambrano as Beppe is just marvellous, he got everything the voice, acting and looks. Mark Delavan was Tonio. Great acting, weak voice compared to the others. But Pagliacci is all about acting.

Carmen Giannattasio was Nedda and since I don't care for Nedda I can only say she was good (she probably was amazing, but I don't like Nedda so,..). John Chest was Silvio. In another production I would probably say Bravo but here Silvio is a pathetic nerd, he is probably a Nedda stalker. And so the whole theater in theater gets another theatric layer and that it the whole Bajazzo thing is just a snare so that Canio can kill Silvio and just pretend to kill Nedda. La commedia e finita, but David Poutney ruins it when Canio can go away with Nedda. It nullifies it all.

Why should Pagliacci start with the dummy being cast down from the overhead to the road below and Mamma Lucia running to mourn her son. Hanno mazzato compare Turriddu! and the Prologue with Tonio. Why! The Funeral wagon with Mamma Lucia dragging it cross the stage during the Intermezzo. No! Why connect the opera together and then changes the whole stage into a theater stage. Stupid!

BUT Jose Cura was amazing!!!!!! BRAVO!!!!!

Taxi to my hotel. Slept well. But suddenly it is Summer time and luckily my Iphone and Ipad changed automaticly even if my watch did not. I LOST a WHOLE HOUR!! Stress, but luckily remembering to go on Iphone time and not Watch time. Back to Hauptbahnhof and Pizza Margerita as Vapiano, Great! Then to Schönefeld Airport. Almost forgot the Summer time thing there but then I was off to security. And I could buy something to drink. Cola Zero is no 2 after Pepsi Max, but I could only choose between Cola (whenever sick or desperate drink), Cola Light (no 3), and Cola Zero. Then the flight to Oslo and the flight home with 2 bottles of Pepsi Max (brought dearly at the airport). Home ca. 1930 (March 27, 2016)

For reviews from my travels, see

Monday, 21 March 2016

Easter and Opera

I did not go to Paris. My ticket for Il Trovatore is unused. No reimbursment from the Paris Opera because I was sick. No it was a total loss.

Finally I am well. Breathing more easily, but still not in my form which was never splendid. Still now I can look forward to an opera duets travel, this time to Berlin for CavPag. I hoper Jose Cura will sing on Saturday 26.03.2016 even as he is singing Otello the next day in Salzburg. He is just Canio in Berlin, Jorge de Leon will sing Turriddu. I am half excited and half dreading this CavPag in Berlin. The productiom there is not my favorite. I saw it in 2005. Ekaterina Gubanova is not Santuzza. The website of DOB shows another on: Elena Zhikova.

Easter, the Holy week, but for me just days off from work. I love the Easter psalms, some more than others. But now I know too many things in the Bible are just stories and so many are so false that it flies against all real scientists know about the times in which the stories are supposed to be set in. The most false are the stories I allways loved the best, the Nativity story and Easter. Beautiful stories that no one can dislike or hate but the probability that it true are too small to believe now that I am adult and care more and more about Truth. I love fantasy when it does not try to make you believe that it is absolutely true. But this is not the real reason I am drifting even from my soft Christianity. The reason lies in the lies and hate so may Christians show towards others. If Love and Forginess and Second Chances was the face of Christianity I would still support it in some way or another. Prayer is the answer they give to crisis, not action. I would like to see Action not Prayer as the automatic response from the religious people but always their answer is inaction. Prayer in not Action, it is the opposite.

Opera, I still love opera, but know I notice a lot of things like religion in so many operas and I do not accept is as I used too. Another thing about opera is how wrong the love is in this stories. Love in opera, the so called Romantic Love, is a Love that goes smoothly to Hate whenever the loved one does anything the lover does not approve off. But this is Abusive love. I loved you as an angel, now I hate you as a devil, sings the tenor to the soprano. I want to never be loved by this kind of Love, the Romantic one. I do not want to be killed when romance is over. No matter how hard my lover would cry after he had killed me, I still don't want death. Beside the lovers crying over their loved dead ones is more Woe is me! than oh my god now this person is dead and can never laugh and be happy again in this life. Poor me, you must have pity on a murdering lover, someone who can never take NO for an answer. No, my feelings go out towards all those killed by a closed one who never could take a divorce as the answer. How many intimate partners and children has not been killed just over the words No! It is over! 

Love does not end. Love does not kill. Love is not ego. Love is to wish the best to the loved ones no matter if you are loved back or not. Your happiness is to see them happy and fulfilled. Love is not a feeling close to hate. It does not hate, love is compassion.

In this Holy Week my wish is that we will all be filled compassion towards all and everyone in mankind and that it will come out with Action towards all injustice even those we will never feel ourselves. Do let Hate TRUMP .... Compassion and LOVE.


Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Paris is next, I hope

I have been sick for over 2 weeks and I am still coughing. Now is the time to rid my body of the last of the infection. Cough the illness away! 

Trying to go work tomorrow. Il trovatore in Paris is my goal.

Monday, 1 February 2016

January 17, 2016: Otello in Frankfurt

2016-01-17 Otello (Verdi), Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden

Otello = José Cura
Desdemona = Cristina Pasaroiu
Iago = Matias Tosi
Cassio = Aaron Cawley
Roderigo = Benedikt Nawrath
Lodovico = Young Doo Park
Emilia = Celeste Haworth
Montano = Nathaniel Webster
A Herald = Christian Balzer
Bianca = Rosa Alt

Leo McFall, conductor
Chor, Extrachor, Jugendchor & Statisterie des Hessischen Staatstheaters Wiesbaden, Hessisches Staatsorchester Wiesbaden

Director - Uwe Eric Laufenberg
Stage Designer - Gisbert Jäkel
Costume Designer - Jessica Karge
Lighting Designer - Andreas Frank
Chorus Master - Albert Horne
Dramaturgy - Regine Palma

Once again and it is Jose Cura as Otello. This time in Wiesbaden.

He was great and this time one could understand why Otello behave as he does because this time we have a Jago who you can see how other people could trust hime. He is a villain, no doubt about that and nothing good is in him.

A great cast. Amazing Otello, Desdemona and Jago. All the other roles was also well. And we have Bianca.

The person-regie was amazing, all the details was there. I really did not like all the sexing and alll that, men are are brutes, women are whores. So cheap to go that way. 

So some love and some meh!

Monday, 25 January 2016

January 16, 2016: Don Carlo in Frankfurt

2016-01-16 Don Carlo (Giuseppe Verdi), Oper Frankfurt

Don Carlo = Sergio Escobar 
Elisabeth von Valois = Tamara Wilson 
Philipp II. = Andreas Bauer 
Prinzessin Eboli = Tanja Ariane Baumgartner 
Rodrigo, Marquis von Posa = Daniel Schmutzhard 
Graf von Lerma, Herold = Simon Bode
Tebaldo = Julia Dawson
Der Großinquisitor = Magnús Baldvinsson 
Ein Mönch = Vuyani Mlinde 
Stimme von oben = Danae Kontora

Renato Balsadonna, conductor
Chor und Extrachor der Oper Frankfurt 
Frankfurter Opern- und Museumsorchester 

Director - David McVicar 
Revival rehearsed by Caterina Panti Liberovici 
Stage Designer - Robert Jones 
Costume Designer - Brigitte Reiffenstuel 
Choreography - Andrew George 
Lighting Designer - Joachim Klein 
Chorus Master (Chorus and Male Extra Chorus) - 
Tilman Michael 
Dramaturge -Malte Krasting 

Sergio Escobar and Tamara Wilson, two amazing artists with great voice and acting skills. BRAVI, Sergio & Tamara!!

In fact everybody was amazing, the singing and acting likewise. Only the Grande Inquisitore sounded old and tired but that fitted the role. 

Tamara Wilson was divine. Her acting was totally believable. She sang Elisabeth de Valois in a way that I realized that  never before had it been sung to such perfection with all the passion we would wish for. She reminded me of Montserrat Caballe except that Caballe is often Caballe onstage too where Tamara Wilson was always Elisabeth de Valois. The booklet showed a paiting of the thin, almost too skinny, Elisabeth de Valois. It is not possible for a soprano in the age group of Elisabeth de Valois to sing this hefty Verdi role. Tamara Wilson had everything except the look of Elisabeth de Valois. But this is opera so we are invited to see love not in the Hollywood perfect size way but the every-kind-of-body-size that opera singers have. Should we not postpone old ideas of how love looks and accept what the stage gives us. 

Both our Elisabeth and our Carlos had a different body that what we saw in the booklet (programme). But who cares about that when the singing and acting is absolute perfection. This perfection was not cold it was passionate as Verdi should be. Sergio Escobar was wonderful. And the singing and acting made you forget all sizeist bias and you are thanking Oper Frankfurt that they decided to allow us opera-goers to experience such bliss.

I loved it all so much. I wish I had it on DVD. Thank you, director and production theme!

I enjoyed the Eboli of Tanja Ariane Baumgartner so much. Her voice, everything!

Tamara Wilson, my new Soprano Diva!! Brava, Tamara Wilson! and the best for your career!!!