Wednesday 23 July 2008

Again Nabucco from Munich, another Ismael (July 17, 2008)

2008-07-17 Nabucco (G. Verdi), Bayerische Staatsoper

Nabucco = Paolo Gavanelli
Ismaele = Mikhail Agafonov
Zaccaria = Giacomo Prestia
Abigaille = Maria Guleghina
Fenena = Heike Grötzinger
Il Gran Sacerdote = Steven Humes
Abdallo = Kevin Conners
Anna = Lana Kos

Paolo Carignani, conductor

Mikhail Agafonov sprang in for Aleksandrs Antonenko as Ismaele with short time to prepare. But he sang and acted really well.

This time I sat on the best side for this opera, on the left, so I saw better the action. There were hammering sound during the opera even as the singing resumed it did not stop, it was simply disrespectful to the audience such noises. And then there was all this changes on stage that had often seemingly no reason to happen. And then Nabucco is an opera where the chorus play a great role in itself. The singing was OK but the acting simply wrongheaded.

This time Zaccaria (Giacomo Prestia) was well and the new Ismaele was an improvement. Paolo Gavanelli simply in my opinion has the wrong kind of voice for Nabucco, too sweet is his voice and not commanding in the voice. And then it was his looks, a big belly (his own or was it the directors idea) seemed to take even more command away from his appearance one could hardly image him riding tough and hard on a horse.

This was the better Nabucco is one sense, the overture was in anyway better played than on July 14th. Maria Guleghina was perfect as Abigaille. Heike Grötzinger was good as Fenena. But still as the opera ended and the singers bowed to the audience, the singers with Maria Guleghina as their head seem more tired than on July 14th. It was the last Nabucco of the season... Sadly it made me long for Vienna's Nabucco although there was things I did not like about that production.

BRAVA, Maria Guleghina!!!

For more reviews from my travels, see

Wednesday 16 July 2008

A weak Nabucco in Munich (July 14, 2008)

Up early in the morning for breakfast and the bus to the airport. And so the flight to Munich, everything went fine. Train to Munich Main Train Station (Munich HBF) and soon in my hotel. I could have been relaxing and having everything ready and gotten a meal in the right time but the stress, getting batteries for my camera, and having the MD player in my hotel recharging. That all got to me and then I ate at McDonalds at Karlplatz forgetting the time and suddenly I had lost my way in Munich. Then I took a taxi to the opera house. I learnt some lessons, don't tell the taxi driver that you are going to the Nationaltheater say the opera instead, that one should be kind to the drivers of cars in Munich since most pedestrians is not, and don't stress.

And then it was opera time. My favorite opera, NABUCCO by G. Verdi and one of my favorite sopranos, Maria Guleghina as Abigaille. When the manager went out to announce something I got scared maybe it was something about my favorite Abigaille. But no, Giacomo Prestia was not well but was still singing.

Even as Giacomo Prestia was not well I still enjoyed his Zaccaria more than Paolo Gavanelli's Nabucco. Paolo Gavanelli was simply quite wrong as Nabucco in my opinion. He did quite well in Nabucco's great aria and was quite good in the great duet with Maria Guleghina. Ismaele was Aleksanders Antonenko who was not the best tenor for this role, but then which top star tenor would want to sing Ismaele. It is usually a role for the young tenor in the beginning of his career like it was for Josep Carreras and José Cura.

Maria Guleghina was a wonderful Abigaille. But the production was not a great one. The chorus sang well but felt nothing. It was much use of the possibilities on the stage to move stars and so on. But seldom did that add something to the opera. It was a lot of lost opportunities. Fenen was also great. Heike ....

For more reviews from my travels, see

I saw Jose Cura in Turin July 5, 2008

He was walking near Teatro Regio Torino. I would have asked him about this opera Edgar by Puccini: what did he think of the opera itself and of the role of Edgar, what did fascinate him about this opera. But I did not talk to him. I was thinking about seeing the opera again on this day, Saturday 5, July (it would be with another cast, but could still be interesting). No, I was to tired and had a head-ache.

But I bought Edgar on CD with Plácido Domingo as Edgar, Adriana Damato as Fidelia, Marianne Cornetti as Tigrana, and Juan Pons as Frank. Only this was the 3 act version and that meant that all the wonderful music in act 4 was missing. So no long love duet here. The 3 act version was shorter and made even less sense than the 4 act version. Juan Pons was a luxury Frank. Adriana Damato was a wonderful Fidelia. Plácido Domingo was solid as Edgar. Marianne Cornetti was not quite there as Tigrana. I had thought about bying the CD set of Edgar earlier but only after seeing it live did I think that I should buy it. But it was a sour point that it was only 3 acts, that made it almost cheap losing all the loveliness in act 4.

I wonder what José Cura thought about this opera. Did he find Edgar rewarding musically and an interesting challenge to act a role like Edgar He had sung previously TOSCA in Vienna with Amarilli Nizza (Fidelia) and Marco Vratogna (Frank), and CARMEN/Samson et Dalila with Julia Gertseva (Tigrana). And then it must be exciting to sing in an opera that is so seldom shown in theatres.

My stay in Turin went to an end. EDGAR is an opera that you get to enjoy more after a while but it will never be able to compete with Puccini's other masterworks like TOSCA, BUTTERFLY... The story is too weak and it is musically not enough developed.

I had the luck to stay in Hotel ROMA in Turin. I liked it there. Next time I will travel to Turin I will try to stay in the same hotel and I will try to fly to Turin instead of Milan so that I would not have to take the train between Turin and Milan. It is not that I do not like to take the train but it is inconvenient.

Sunday 6. july. Unlike so many of my friends I will not see Edgar again this Sunday with José Cura, Amarilli Nizza, Marco Vratogna because I am going home. This meant an early train to Milan and then airport bus to Malpensa Airport. I was extremely lucky to be so early in Malpensa because I had gone out at the wrong terminal. Which was the real reason that Malpensa did not look as the Malpensa I knew. And so with bus to the correct terminal and now suddenly a bit of stress and no relaxing. And then everything should go OK. I was in Oslo in time and had a flight back to home booked. But in Norway there had been a lot a bad weather. It was raining and not only that some lightning had destroyed some of the equipment in the airport so we flew to another airport and from there it was bus home. 2 hours delayed. But it was still Sunday just a bit close to Monday.

For more reviews from my travels, see

Friday 11 July 2008

Puccini's second opera in Turin (July 4th, 2007)

My travel to Turin, Italy started as usual with night bus to Oslo. And then airport bus to Gardermoen Airport. With delays in Oslo and from Stockholm I arrived later in Milan Linate Airport than expected. It was my first time in this airport and so I did not know how to get from the airport to Turin. I asked at Malpensa Express office in Linate. To get to Turin I would have to take the airport bus to Milano Centrale train station and then the train to Torino Porta Nuova (train station in Turin). The train leaves every hour quarter past the hour. My bus left at 1300 and so my train was 1415. It was supposed to arrive in Turin at 1600 but was an 1/2 hour later. And so I was at my hotel, Hotel Roma at approx. 1700.

The opera starts at 2000 so I had some time. But I thought I could collect my ticket early. But I could have waited till 1 hour before the opera starts to collect it. So I wasted some time at that. I was hungry and saw many opportunities to eat but somehow went past them. But then I went to Teatro Regio di Torino at 1900 and collected my ticket, met a lot of JCx members, and went to the McDonalds close by to eat. I chose McChicken and Cola Zero. Not a good choice it was a very dry burger but I could drink. Then I went back to the theatre.

The opera EDGAR by Giacomo Puccini was a much longer opera then I had thought. It was the 4 act version and according to the opera house it was with 2 intervals both 25 minutes and the opera was to end at 2330. It lasted to ca. 2345.

The only piece I knew from the opera was the tenor's aria from act 2 "orgia, chimera". It was a beautiful aria. The opera itself did not have many memorable musical moment except this aria. But here and there was Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Boheme melodies in it more raw form that was to be perfected in his later operas. The story of EDGAR was also flawed. No person became real person. Fidelia (the soprano) was simply just a good person, very true to Edgar. Tigrana (the mezzo soprano) had similarly just one level, she was simply only a seducer of men, provocative to others, egocentric. Frank, Fidelia's brother, was a good man inexplicable in love with Tigrana in the beginning and still a good man in the end. Gualtiero, their father, also good from beginning to end. And EDGAR himself, in love with two women, Fidelia for the purity and Tigrana for he seductive powers.

Act 1: Fidelia declare her love to Edgar. Tigrana mocks Edgar for being interested in pure love. She wants him back. Frank wants to know where Tigrana was, he waited for her. She doesn't want anything to do with him. Tigrana is acting provocative to the people of the village. In the end they want to drive her out of the village. Then Edgar comes in for the rescue. He is so angry with the village that he burns his own house and go away with Tigrana.

Act 2: Tigrana and Edgar has a castle with orgies going on all the time and gambling. Edgar is bored and wants out (Aria: Orgia, chimera). Tigrana will never let go of Edgar unless she herself is bored with him. Frank is a soldier now and his company visits Edgar's castle and now Edgar has found a way out as a patriotic soldier.

Act 3: Edgar's funeral except that Edgar is not dead, he pretends to be a monk. Frank tries to have a solemn funeral for the patriotic soldier Edgar. But the monk is making the crowd angry with his stories of Edgar's former life. The burning of the paternal home and running away with Tigrana, the courtesan. And his gambling and the orgies. The crowd is angry but Fidelia is telling the crowd that Edgar was not all that bad. And the crowd is no longer angry. But then Tigrana arrives pretending to be mourning Edgar. Edgar and Frank decides to out her as a liar. They used flattery and jewels and money. And then she agrees to tell the crowd that Edgar was thinking about deserting his country. Now the crowd is unstoppable and they open the casket but it is empty. Edgar reveals himself. And Tigrana is now proved a liar. And the village people is shocked by their own behavior as Edgar really was a war hero.

Act 4: Fidelia still thinks Edgar is dead. In a dream he has told her that she can be his wife in heaven. But the Edgar comes in and declares that first she will be his wife in the world. Beautiful love duet. Then Tigrana comes in and stabs Fidelia. Fidelia is dying while the village people prepare the wedding. Then Edgar comes back, he sees the blood. Fidelia can show her killer before she dies. And the END.

The production was beautiful and scenography was very natural, almost old-fashioned. The opera house was not full with people so the acoustics was not always the best. Amarilli Nizza was not the best voice, Julia Gertseva was better. Marco Vratogna and Carlo Cigni was really good as Frank and Gualtiero. And it was another triumph for José Cura as Edgar.

2008-07-04 Edgar (Puccini), Teatro Regio di Torino

Edgar = José Cura
Fidelia = Amarilli Nizza
Tigrana = Julia Gertseva
Frank = Marco Vratogna
Gualtiero = Carlo Cigna

Yoram David, conductor

For more reviews from my travels, see