Sunday, 21 May 2017

Holiday week. Don Carlo in London 2017-05-19

So my Opera Holiday Week was ending with a climax. What can go wrong with Don Carlo, my favorite opera, in my favorite production in one of the best opera houses in the world?

First and formost, never assume that nothing can go wrong. Manage that and you are good and ready to go.


I was travelling to London via Oslo from Milano Airport. What idiocy was this and who is to blame? I was, naturally, to blame for that, I was sick and could not travel to another place but I could for a small amount of money change that to a travel from Milano to London. Unforfunately with Norwegian Air it meant going via Oslo.

Since I was Genova it meant the plane from Milano could not be an early flight because I needed to able to travel from Genova to Milano Malpensa Airport. I really hate waking up early but I could manage travel from Genova Piazza Principe to Milano Centrale 08.18-0955. Then it was off to Malpensa Aeroporto with Trenord 1025-1123. Then I had time to get to gate in time of my flight to Oslo 1355-1635. Finding a place to eat a meal at Oslo Gardermoen airport, and then my flight to London Gatwick airport 1845-2005.

And so I arrive at Gatwick airport and I am trying to get the best idea of how to get to my hotel, Strand Palace Hotel. Slightly confused but eventually I manage to buy a ticket from a train to London. The train trip was relaxing. It was dark outside and raining. In the end I ended of at what was that day the nearest train station/metro station to my hotel. I think I took another train/metro station to get there. It was raining heavily and then I took a taxi to avid more trains and walking in this rain. Still I ended up being totally soaked when I sat down in the taxi. It took much longer to get to my hotel because of the crazy traffic. So it was 2200 or so when I finally walked into this grand hotel. When I came to my room I suddenly remember that in London the hotel rooms are small, SMALL. Because I was so late I had no other real choice but McDonalds so there was no festive mood that day. AND the day was May 18th, 2017 and it was downer.

May 19th, 2017 Opera day.

It was also a cloudy, cold and rainy day. I had been in Bonn and Genova and it had been hot. I was now almost freezing. I was getting "dinner" at Pizza Hut. London is really boring when it is mostly raining. In between finding something to eat, I was tracking the paths between the hotel and the opera house, and hotel and McDonalds, hotel and Pizza Hut, hotel and some shops to buy Pepsi Max or Cola light and some food. Then show time, opera time.

2017-05-19 Don Carlo (Giuseppe Verdi), Royal Opera House (London)

Don Carlo - Bryan Hymel
Rodrigo - Simone Piazzola
Elizabeth of Valois - Kristin Lewis
Princess Eboli - Ekaterina Semenchuk
King Philip II - Ildar Abdrazakov
Grand Inquisitor - Paata Burchuladze
Frate - Andrea Mastroni
Voice from Heaven - Francesca Chiejina
Tebaldo - Emily Edmonds
Count of Lerma - David Junghoon Kim

Bertrand de Billy, conductor
Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House

Director - Nicholas Hytner
Designer - Bob Crowley
Lighting designer - Mark Henderson
Movement - Scarlett Mackmin
Fight director - Terry King

Co-production with
Norwegian National Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, New York

I love the production of Nicholas Hytner and I have enjoyed the DVD from The Royal Opera House (London) with Rolando Villazon and the video from Metropolian Opera (New York) from Met Opera on Demand (app on Ipad) with Robert Alagna as Don Carlo. I will always regret not going to Oslo and see the production with the Norwegian National Opera and Ballett. So I was really excited to see it in the The Royal Opera House (London). So, I was disappointed.

In 2017 it was still a great production and there was many great singers as Don Carlo really is an opera that need great singers. I think Jonas Kauffmann was originally to sing Don Carlo, and another soprano was to sing Elisabeth de Valois. I know that Kristin Lewis can be a really great Elisabeth because I have experienced her live in theater. Bryan Hymel was new for me and even Kauffmann was intended to sing at first I was still open to Bryan Hymel.

Don Carlo does not work if the singer is not on form. From both Don Carlo, Bryan Hymel, and Elisabeth, Kristin Lewis, it was a weak performance on May 19, 2017, that was my impression. It was cold and it rained heavily in London so I think they was under the weather. I believe that had I been there on another day it could have been spectacular. The opera really suffer from the main people, Don Carlo and Elisabeth, being not their best.

We had Ildar Abdrazakov as King Filip, he was great as always. As Rodrigo of Posa we had the wonderful Simone Piazzola. Ekaterina Semenchuk was the enchanting Princess of Eboli. We even had Paata Burchuladze as the Grand Inquisitor. And last we had Andrea Mastroni as Frate. A great cast, but Don Carlo and Elisabeth had already sunk the boat.

It should have been the highlight of my opera holiday week, but it was too rainy and dark and then the opera did not light up the mood. I loved my hotel though. Strand Palace Hotel!! Small hotel room but lovely staff. 

No blunder even with Londons weird time zone. The British, always so different then the normal Europe.

Saturday May 20th, 2017. Home trip.

Check out at Strand Palace Hotel 1200. Then travel home 1535 (Heathrow, London time), arrived 1845 (Oslo, Normal time). Eating in Oslo Gardermoen Airport and waiting, waiting for 2235 when the bus will travel north and west to arrive home on Sunday May 21st 0530. Normality resumed.

For reviews from my travels, see

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