Sunday 22 May 2011

Lost and found in Berlin's Samson et Dalila

Berlin is changing yet another time so I took the wrong train and ended in Pankow. I think I took S8 instead of S9. So at Pankow I took U2 Ruhleben except that the train ended on Potsdam Platz. Then I gave up and took taxi to Kanthotel so that I would finally rest. It could have taken me 38 minutes from Schoenefeld Flughafen but took 2 hrs all because of wrong digit and that Berlin is working on its transportation. The food and drink of this day, May 21, became Brezel and pizza with Cola Light.

I love Saint-Saens' Samson et Dalila and act 2 is the best act. But today in Deutsche Oper Berlin I was bored and I was pained by listening to the mezzo Vesselina Kasarova. It was not helped by the feeling of lacking fresh air in the audience room. But, any way, I am pleased to say that both Jose Cura and Vesselina Kasarova was excellent in the big duet of act 2 beginning with En ces lieux and continued with Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix.

Kasarova's voice is deeper now and sound almost like an alto. Her voice lacks some agility and she was not helped by the young maestro's slowing the music. Jose Cura's voice seemed to have opened of by act 2 and continued its triumph in act 3. In act 1 his voice sounded muffled. Laurent Nouri was an excellent High Priest of Dagon.

This Samson et Dalila was not shocking, or edgy. It was not even interesting. Even having Jose Cura singing his heart out in Vois ma misere did not change the fact that this production failed to make us care. It was the best singing of this aria so this says the production failed. It did not fail because director chose to put the action to another time place, Paris at the time the opera was composed. It fail by having half-cooked ideas, by defying logic, by putting distractions up instead of making the audience think and feel. The young boy and young woman (his mother? and servant to Dalila), the boy was supposed to be the alter-ego of Samson, but what interpretive value did it give the opera? Little value but plenty of distractions to the real story. The offensive part was the end of the opera with cattle wagons and Philistine dressing down as if they were Jews off to Auschwitz. But the real offensive part of this offensiveness was to make Holocaust into kitsch and it did not even make sense.... BAD

Yes it was bad, really bad, I have never applauded so little in my life, except that time when I had almost broken my wrist.

UPDATE: All the reviews I have read about this production gives the highest praise to Vesselina Kasarova.

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Wednesday 11 May 2011

Head-ache and curtain calls - Nabucco in Vienna

After a wonderful Jenufa on May 9th, another wonderful opera on May 10th: Nabucco in Wiener Staatsoper. Alberto Gazale sang Nabucco in stead of Leo Nucci who was still recovering from an illnes. At the beginning of the opera he sang Nabucco as if he was trying to be Leo Nucci singing the role. Luckily he as the evening progressed he came more into himself and showed himself as a Nabucco to admire.

Maria Guleghina was Abigaille. With body and soul she was Abigaille, singing as forceful and as quiet as the role demands with her voice ready to any high thrill or low note. What an actor an singer she is! The most amazing aspect was how well she sang in the duet with Nabucco and in her last moment: Su me morente esanime. No weakness showed that the great singer was suffefing from the blow of the theater curtain falling on her forehead when the singers took their first applaus after act 2. How could Wiener Staatsoper accept such an accident to happen? And to add insult to injury to call it a head-ache as the official did that talked to the audience. I had an head-ache, she had a trauma to her head, that is a very different matter. I sat in row 2nd and I heard only "schwere kopf-schmerzen aber trotzdem singen", I could not hear which singer but for me it sounded as if was Teodor Iloncai, Ismaele, who was sick. Big difference!!

Teodor Iloncai was Ismaele. Good-looking and wonderful voice so no wonder two women both wanted him. This was one of the few times I understood Abigailles passion for this man, Ismaele. I loved his voice and acting and wish him all the luck further. I hope that he will still look good when I see him in bigger roles. Eat well and exercise as we all should!

Ain Anger was another new recruit to this production and made a good figure lf his role. It was another great night at the opera. But because of the accident Maria Guleghina could not go to Kazachtan as the Unicef Goodwill Ambassador to sing a benefit concert... Wiener Staatsoper should make a compensation for all this. Get well, Maria, and thank you for a wonderful night at the Opera!!!

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Tuesday 10 May 2011

Jenufa in Vienna on May 9, 2011

I arrived in Vienna airport 1310. I took the City Airport Train CAT 1335. 1430 in my hotel room. And Jenufa, the opera, starts at 1930. Not only that but I was tired from "sleeping" in the night bus to Oslo. The bus arrived arrived in Oslo 0540 + my flight was 1045 = really tired when I arrived at last in Vienna.

Then it was opera time suddenly and I had not had a decent dinner, only McDonalds, BurgerKing and a tomato soup at Marodo. The conductor Graeme Jenkins looked older, the tenors Marian Talaba and Jorma Silvasti looked fatter, but Agnes Baltsa and Angela Denoke was in great shape and lifted the opera up to the highest level. A debut as Old Burya, Marta Benackova, was greatly applauded in the Staatsoper, but I found her lacking in vocal authority. I saw Angela Denoke as Jenufa in 2002 and I found her good then but she was glorious now. Agnes Baltsa did was must be one of her best Kostelnicka's ever. She was in a fantastic vocal shape and her acting was as sharp as ever. Marian Talaba was Stewa and he did a good figure but I missed the oppulence of a Torsten Kerl in the role. Although Jorma Silvasti did another wonderful Laca performance I think that maybe Talaba should have been Laca Klemen and Silvasti Stewa Burya.

Jenufa is in 3 acts of approx 45 minutes each. Even as the opera ends in a higher and a positive note both act 1 and 2 ends in a tragic shock. Act 3 in the conclusion of a tragedy that was unavoidable but still the positive character of Jenufa gives the opera an end as if we have seen the paradise and the love of God that awaits us there. It is strange that I have seen this opera more times than one and still I was only just now so strongly aware of the religious content. Strange because the opera never hids its Catholic content.

After the opera we were a lot of people waiting at the stage door. Finally even Agnes Baltsa came out.

And then I could go to my hotel content and happy. The opera was even on the big screen for people to see for free. I was happy for my expensive ticket a to be inside and not freeze listening to traffic and opera at the same time. I hope this Jenufa was on Tv and would come out as DVD. HOPE.

BRAVO tutti

Sunday 1 May 2011

Conclusion of Easter - La Boheme in Zurich

When my gall bladder operation was rescheduled to April 4 from April 28 I thought it meant I would not only be gall bladder free but completely well in Easter. But I still have pain from the operation, even today May 1.

Still, my Easter was OK. Stiffelio in Stockholm on April 16 (Palm Saturday), Cav/Pag in Barcelona on April 17 (Palm Sunday). Relaxing at home with my parents until my travel for Zurich and La Boheme.

On Good Friday evening (April 22) I traveled to Oslo Gardermoen Airport for a late flight to Zurich. I had a miserable first night in Zurich with the constant noice of traffic and lots of pain, almost no sleep until early morning on April 23rd. I had booked 2 nights on this hotel but I was lucky I only I had to pay for this one night. Then I was off with all my things to the Main Train Station (Hauptbahnhof) and I had breakfast in BurgerKing containing of Chickenburger and Cola Light. Then I went to the Opera House to check on the time of my opera. Later I went for lunch in the McDonalds close by for more chicken and cola light this time as lunch. There I used the HRS.DE app on my IPad to check hotels nearby and I chose Hotel Europe. Then I went to the hotel and was checked in and so I could rest for a few hours until I went out to have dinner before the opera started. Poulet sweet & sour at the Asian restaurant nearby.

April 23, 2011 at 20hrs LA BOHEME in Opernhaus Zurich. It was a wonderful performance with Jose Cura and Barbara Frittoli as Rodolfo and Mimi. All singers were excellent. And tears when Mimi dies, the hallmark of a great La Boheme performance. Loved it. And I meet severals JCx members after the performance. Some of us got together for a drink at the restaurant to Hotel Europe. At midnight it was time to retire to bed. Happy to bed I went.

Easter Sunday, April 24, it is time to leave but also time enough to relax a bit longer at my hotel. But in the end it is time to go to the train station. There I missed the direct train to the airport so I must go via Main Train Station. As breakfast I had my brezel and Cola Zero. I ate it on the way to the airport. Then I relax and wait some more in the airport. I also tried to check in using the check in machines but no luck. So I had to go to the counter. Finally it is time to go further into the airport and then almost to my gate. But I am hungry so I have to go back to see where is the BurgerKing restaurant. I found it and so another Long Chicken with Cola Light is mine. Relaxing... Back to the security line of my gate. Finally I can safely buy a bottle of Cola Light. Then it is my flight to Copenhagen. Not only is it not a direct flight to Oslo, but as I depart from the plane I am reminded that I could have had this very plane further to Oslo at 1700 instead I have to wait 3 more hours for my Oslo flight. Bored in Copenhagen Airport I have a slice of pizza there. But when my second flight lands in Oslo Gardermoen Airport I have finally some luck. My plane arrives early but then the passangers are slow in motion but then some decide that I can get out before them and I race out of the airport and gets the bus that are just about to leave. Success!! Home before midnight...

Easter Monday, April 25. Last day of my holiday. I have decided to fly back home in stead of 7 hrs bus ride. It is over 21hrs when I am back to my appartment.

Tuesday April 26 first day at work and all is normal. Some pain, but nothing really to worry about. Wednesday April 27: first I work, then I get a doctor's appointment for the same day. But my doctor decide to send me to hospital. Right now? Wow, that was unsuspected, but I get a chance to go home and find out what to take with me. But then Patients Travels calls me to tell me that they have a taxi travelling back to the hospital right now. That is right, now I have even less time to find all the things I need. Naturally some things were forgotten like my evening pills. The taxi is here, off we go. Before my mobile phone goes blank I phone my mother about these new events and my mother had tried to call me because my aunt is in hospital. Luckily she recovered. Thursday April 28 a CT scan of the gall bladder etc, boring, pain, boring, head-ache, loud noices and bright light right into my brain. Friday April 29 my heart has a check up but my heart is fine and strong. I was not worried, I tell you. Finally off the hospital the bus leaves at 1500 and I home at 1715.

It would have been wonderful if the hospital stay meant that I am now without pain. But it seems to more a case of a flair up of my Crohn's disease. Nothing to serious. Still, no reason to shout hurrah. Another reason of the pains is my endometriosis and it sure gives real pain just as those I feel just now as I am writing these words. Then it is my operation scar that is pressing my skin, not in a good way. And so this is the conclusion: Life goes on even with pain.

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