Sunday 25 May 2008

"Non, tu ne m'aimes pas" (Carmen, Karlsruhe 24.5.08)

Wonderful to be back from Karlsruhe, Germany. Tired, happy... tired.

So Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe invited three famous artists for their CARMEN (May 24, 2008): José Cura as Don José, Denyce Graves as Carmen and Jacques Delacôte as the conductor. So naturally I had to come, especially since it was also a Saturday, no need to use part of my holidays from work. LOVELY.

As "always" the trip started with the 7 hours long bus ride in the night to Oslo, arriving in Oslo Bus Terminal at 0525. And I am not normally an early bird but I am often lucky enough to sleep on the bus, and so I was reasonable awake... Then I just took the airport bus to the Airport Gardermoen (OSL). 45 minutes ride.

Everything went as planned:
0935-1145 LH6231 Oslo-Frankfurt
1354-1459 ICE 507 Frankfurt Airport-Karlsruhe
Wow, was I confused when I arrived at Frankfurt airport but luckily I found my way to the train station on the airport. I had bought my flight tickets on and Deutsche Bahn's website to find out how to get from Frankfurt Airport to Karlsruhe. I almost took an earlier train to Karlsruhe (via Mannheim) but it was so crowded. I decided to wait. As always I used to book my hotel, Hotel Blankenburg. I liked this hotel. Great!

What was not that great was that I had forgotten my camera at home. That was bad!! Saturday, part 1: searching and thinking about buying a new camera. I found a camera in Oslo Airport for NOK 2299 or 2799 (Fujifilm F50 or F100), did not buy it there, I looked at the shop in Frankfurt Airport (no Fujifilm, no buy) and in Karlsruhe I found a wonderful place called Ettinger Tor, a lot of shops together, but still I did not buy. I used my mobile phone, poor NOKIA 6630.

"Non, tu ne m'aimes pas" (Carmen, Karlsruhe 24.5.08)

I was looking forward to a tradional CARMEN with the same sensational people that I had enjoyed in 2004 in London as Samson et Dalila (José Cura and Denyce Graves) and conducted by the great Jacques Delacôte. But I must admit that by the time that Cura had sung a wonderful Flower song and Denyce Graves was responding with "Non, tu ne m'aimes pas" that I knew what I was going to called the review of this Carmen. Yes, Carmen or Denyce Graves I do not love your voice anymore. It makes me sad!!! Already at the Habanera I thought, what have happened with the wonderful full mezzo voice, Denyce two voices appeared, one of a grown woman and the voice of a small and whiny child. Then my hopes was for the Seguedilla, but the same thing happened, but the Card Aria in act 3 was wonderful. So SAD... But hopefully this is just temporary problem... Of course, 2nd act of Carmen is a bit like Samson et Dalila, I even fantasized this Carmen being morphed into a SAMSON ET DALILA where Denyce Graves would have no vocal problems at all. And as a Baltsa fan I must admit I wanted Agnes Baltsa to come and rescue this Carmen, even if one at this stage of AB's career can hear that she is over 60.

DENYCE GRAVES was despite her vocal state, a wonderful Carmen, she can act and she can dance. And she was celebrated in Karlsruhe. JOSE CURA was wonderful as Don José. His only problem, and that was the whole ensembles problem; the French dialogue. It was hard to hear, the pronunciation was not all that good by all singers. And the dialogue was cut shorter which really did not help that much. As if one got instead of thought got half thought. The dialogue was such a pain that I wanted the sung recitative (and I normally "hate" that one).

The Escamillo was great as an actor but as a singer so much volume was missing and he was too light in voice. Nice, cute, good-looking, yes.... But I missed a voice, big and with resonance (like Ruggero Raimondi in the opera film by Rosi). Micaela was wonderful in the duet with Don José and OK in her big aria.

Last act. We are in the matador's room, we see Escamillo pray the Prayer all matador pray before the corrida, he was dressed up by his men. Of course he walked into the room with Carmen. The duettino (Si tu m'aimes, Carmen) and the when Escamillo walks out to the corrida, Frasquita and Mercedes come to warn Carmen about Don José. It is all in the room, José and Carmen meets again, he pleads and then he kills. Escamillo has finished his job at the corrida, and does not see Carmen is killed, he is too busy with Frasquita and Mercedes. Fine man, that Escamillo!! Mercedes sees and finally Escamillo... (what? a slight shock) while Don José is all finished and asked to be arrested, he has killed his love, his Carmen.

The Production was OK. Modernized. But the men were all creeps and the women was nothing worth. And the Gypsies smuggled cocaine. Is it modern to be so negative... or is it just CARMEN?

Signierstunde after the opera with José Cura, Denyce Graves and Jacques Delacôte. And I had just a mobile phone. In the end I was the last to get to take a photo of José, he was tired as you can see, and as you can also judge a mobile camera is no competition to a real camera. but still....
And then we all went to our hotels, a bunch of us JCx members went to Hotel Blankenburg and enjoyed a drink and the company.

And Sunday we all went separate ways, by train, flight and car. I took the train back to Frankfurt Airport and the flight to Oslo Gardermoen (OSL). But this time no night bus back home, a flight back home. The one flight in Norway costed ca. 75 percent of the two-way flight Oslo-Frankfurt. But 7 hours by bus in the night is tiresome. So no regrets....

Home 1845 on Sunday 25.

I am content....

For more reviews from my travels, see

Sunday 11 May 2008

Review: Operngala in Dusseldorf 2008-04-19

"Grosse OpernGala mit José Cura" -Deutsche Oper am Rhein (

Opernhaus Düsseldorf
Samstag, 19. April 2008, 19.00 Uhr

Der Freundeskreis der Deutschen Oper am Rhein e.V.
Präsentiert die

José Cura (Tenor)

Therese Waldner (Sopran)
Laura Nykänen (Alt)
Boris Statsenko (bariton)

Chor der Deutschen Oper am Rhein
Leitung: gerhard Michalski

Es spielen die Düsseldorfer Symphoniker
Musikalische Leitung: Alexander Joel

When I first read the program I just saw a fault. Nabucco's aria "Ah torna Israello" would just be too short (1,5 minutes is not an aria).

One of the overtures to constantly pop up in concerts, gala is Verdi's Nabucco, the overture from La Forza del Destino is even more used. I love NABUCCO and it was an OK overture from Orchestra and conductor.

And then came NABUCCOs aria with Boris Statsenko as Nabucco. Statsenko looked really not like his 2002 self. But he did well in this killer aria. It was the full scene and aria with Nabucco, Abdallo and chorus.

Parte quarta
L'idolo infranto

Bel è confuso: i suoi idoli sono rotti in pezzi
Geremia XLVIII [sic] Note 1

Appartamento nella reggia, come nella Parte seconda
12. Scena ed Aria Nabucco
Scena Prima

Son pur queste mie membra
Dio di Giuda!
O prodi miei, seguitemi,

Then it was José Cura singing from Il CORSARO Chorus, Scene and aria from act 1. So we heard a wonderful "Tutto parea sorridere" and José really enjoyed himself with the orchestra and chorus. We LOVED it.

Therese Waldner, the Polish soprano sang a wonderful "Ecco l'orrido campo" from UN BALLO IN MASCHERA. She was Amelia in the horrible place where so many criminals had beem executed. Love for the King, best friend of the husband, and here she was to pick an herb that could cure her from this unwanted love.

The Chorus was wonderful in OTELLOs Fuoco di gioia (act 1)

And then part 1 ends from the love duet from OTELLO with Therese Waldner and José Cura both singing and acting their hearts out.

In part 2 Giacomo Puccini (TOSCA), Umberto Giordano (ANDREA CHENIER) and again Giuseppe Verdi (LA FORZA DEL DESTINO, DON CARLO)

Normally there would be applaus after E lucevan le stelle but not in Dusseldorf here the aria continued directly in the duet (Franchigia a Floria Tosca). And this time we were treated with the full orchestra introduction to E lucevan le stelle. A treat both Act 3 scene 2 and 3 together. Magic from José Cura and Therese Waldner.

Umberto Giordano's ANDREA CHENIER, Boris Statsenko with "Nemico della patria" and Therese Waldner with "La mamma morta". WONDERFUL.

Laura Nykänen and Chorus sang Rataplan from Verdi's LA FORZA DEL DESTINO. Why? I would have loved to hear Don ALvaro's aria sung by Cura or one of the tenors great arias from ANDREA CHENIER.

But at last the duet from DON CARLO the whole scene naturally "E lui, desso, L'Infante - Dio, che nell'alma infondere" sung by José Cura and Boris Statsenko. Wonderful!!!

AND Extra numbers: 2 times Nessun dorma with José Cura and chorus.

For more reviews from my travels, see

Travel to Dusseldorf, Germany (April 19-20)

As usual my travel start with the night bus to Oslo. I booked my travel via Direct flight Oslo-Dusseldorf (Saturday 0955-1155 Sunday 1905-2055). As my bus arrived in Oslo a bit before 0530 and then I could just take the airport bus at 0530 and be at the airport 0615. So no STRESS at all. I had slept reasonable well on the bus. So things were OK in the airport. Breakfast and security line. Relaxing, but not too much, wouldn't want to miss my flight.

It was not my first time in Dusseldorf but last time was in 2002 so how much would I remember? I chose a hotel near Deutche Oper am Rhein, Opernhaus Dusseldorf. HOTEL AN DER OPER. It was an OK hotel for just night, no mini bar, but my room had a bath tub. If you wanted to use the TV you would have to ask for the remote, and I think maybe it was some euro out too. But the hotel being just across the opera house and only 5 minutes walks away, so that made up for something. The traffic could be quite heavy at times at that road, 2 lines both ways. But there was an underground and it had traffic lights. U-Bahnhof Heinrich Heine.

In the opera shop a building away from the opera house there you can buy tickets or collect them as I did. Not much too choose from in the shop (CDs etc) but the place for theatre tickets that is sure. Nice people, too.

After the Gala I had a wonderful night at my hotel. Breakfast in this hotel was OK, nothing special. I asked, and was then allowed to stay longer in my hotel room than the usual time. That was very nice. Still I had a lot of free time on my hand, my flight being in the evening (19). I asked and got some advise but I did not go to see any castle. It was a wonderful day, warm and nice spring day so I went down Königstrasse enjoying the day. Lucky to not have a lot of luggage. And then I walked to whole way to the Rail Station. And then I took the Train to the airport. So what to do when it is still some hours to wait, I listened to my IPOD.

Then I came to Oslo from Dusseldorf, Aiport train to bus station, and Night bus home.
5 in the morning is not my best time but then I wanted to do my photos right away instead of going to bed and try sleep a bit until I have to go to work.

For more reviews from my travels, see