Sunday 22 January 2012

Turandot, January 21th 2012

I had come to Zurich to see Jose Cura as Calaf. But he got a serious head cold so he couldn't sing. Johan Botha was to sing instead. It was like Lohengrin singing Calaf, I thought. But his large girth did not prevent him much to be an effective Calaf. He has a big and beautiful, clear voice. He stood and delivered the goods, but his acting consisted mainly of smiling. Those smiles seemed to me to come sometimes at inapprobiate times, but maybe it was another way of telling that Calaf is more of a cad than a romantic hero.

Martina Serafin was Turandot. She was very different from Paoletta Marrocu as Turandot in this production. Unfortunately she had some difficulties in the aria "In questa reggia" where the demands of the role seemed to somewhat beyond her so Botha's voice could easily overwhelm her in the "enigmi sono tre, la morte una". Martina Serafin was an otherwise great Turandot who I am sure will be able to takle all the demands of Turandot in a few years.

I also came to Zurich to see Isabel Rey as Liu. She was great. From a somewhat weak Signore, ascolta in the first act to the most wonderful and greatest rendition of Tu che in gel sei cinta. Wow, that was amazing!!!

Pavel Daniluk was simply an amazing Timur. His voice was grand and demanding.

What can one say abou the production? Partly it is super traditional, and partly modern. The action does happen in China, in legendary times. BUT the unknown prince (Calaf), Timur and Liu is dressed modernly. AND Calaf uses a computer to answer the riddles. The audience laughed when Johan Botha took the computer. In April 2006 (last time I saw this production) they did not laugh when Cura took the computer. But naturally it was silly then and now. But I guess then it was not so strange to see the chorus dressed in modern cloths when Turandot tells that she know the name of the stranger: His name is Love. Then we are in modern Shanghai and Turandot disrobes her traditional dress to the modern one, and Calaf and Turandot can enjoy a champagne, romantic meal served by modern times Ping, Pang and Pong.

Sunday 15 January 2012

LA TRAVIATA by Verdi (only 5 times)

5x La Traviata 1984-06-20, 1993-01-15, 2002-12-14, 2003-07-31, 2006-03-22

Why have I only seen La Traviata 5 times? Mostly coincidence, and it is not my favorite opera by Verdi even if it is almost every one else favorite opera.

La traviata is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi set to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. It is based on La dame aux Camélias (1852), a play adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas, fils. The title La traviata means literally The Fallen Woman, or perhaps more figuratively, The Woman Who Goes Astray. It was originally entitled Violetta, after the main character. (wikipedia)

Alexandre Dumas, fils was the original Alfredo Germont (opera) / Armand Duval (play), Père Germont/Duval was Alexandre Dumas père and Marie Duplessis was Marguerite Gautier (play)/Violetta Valery (opera). Naturally the author made himself heroic and naive. 

The double standard for men and women. A woman is ruined for life, a man is not.

For reviews from my travels, see

Puccini's 5th opera TOSCA

14 x Tosca 1989-04-06, 1998-10-24, 2001-09-08, 2003-03-17, 2006-07-15, 2007-01-13, 2007-06-09, 2007-11-23, 2009-04-25, 2009-06-20, 2010-09-11, 2010-12-19, 2010-12-28, 2010-12-30

I have seen Tosca 14 times in 23 years. What does that mean? For me it means that this is one of the operas I have seen the most and in general it means that Tosca is one of the most popular operas. Tosca is the safe bet but one needs a great soprano as Tosca, a wonderful tenor as Cavaradossi and a menacing baritone/bass as Scarpia.

TOSCA, Giacomo Puccini, History - Italy - Rome, Napoleon, Battle of Marengo (14 June 1800), Melas, the Roman RepublicHistory of Italy (1559–1814),

For reviews from my travels, see

Friday 13 January 2012

Easter Parsifal in January

My first and only Parsifal was 10 years ago. So it is time to see it live sometime somewhere. And it was Placido Domingo as Parsifal on January 12, 2002 in Wiener Staatsoper. Naturally I have the CD with Placido and Jessye Norman. But I want a CD of the radio broadcast of Teatro Real's Parsifal from March 2001 with Placido and Agnes Baltsa. I was in Madrid in March 2001, could not record the radio broadcast because I was trying to get tickets for the performance and I am still angry with Teatro Real for making it so hard and then we tried the people outside the theatre and still, being first meant nothing.

Parsifal is an opera in three acts by Richard Wagner. It is loosely based on Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, the 13th century epic poem of the Arthurian knight Parzival (Percival) and his quest for the Holy Grail, and on Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval, the Story of the Grail. (wikipedia)

King Arthur, Holy Grail. Parsifal is a quasi-Christian story. Kundry was cursed for laughing at Jesus and the cross. Parsifal is innocence that become wise through compassion. Kundry is the cathalyst for the chance but Parsifal does not have compassion for Kundry, a woman, only for Amfortas, a man. Gurnemanz is the voice of wisdom and compassion even towards Kundry.

More links:
A website devoted to Parsifal, Monsalvat.

For reviews from my travels, see

Thursday 12 January 2012

10 years since my first Nabucco

8 x Nabucco 2002-01-12, 2005-07-01, 2007-06-29, 2007-08-11, 2008-02-22, 2008-07-14, 2008-07-17, 2010-01-30

Opera by Giuseppe Verdi. Known as Verdi's 3rd opera and his first great success.   Nabucco, 9 March 1842. It has the most famous chorus by Giuseppe Verdi: Va, pensiero. The story is biblical and about the Babylonian King Nabucco.

It has the classical and iconic conversion scene of Nabucco. But I find the opera most interesting because of Abigaille, the supposedly eldest daughter of Nabucco. Unfortunately she is not so loved by her "father" as the "minor" Fenena. Abigaille is as fierce as Nabucco but she is in reality "a daughter of slaves" and therefore nothing more than a slave herself. Even Abigaille's love interest loves Fenena and rejects Abigaille. Abigaille just want to be loved, most of all by her father, Nabucco.

Naturally the opera is the bible plus more love and confusion so that it can it juice music.

For reviews from my travels, see

Sunday 8 January 2012

O Fledermaus, O Fledermaus

5 x Die Fledermaus 1985-07-241989-01-071999-05-121999-05-142007-09-23

Wiener Operette, Johann Strauss II, Die Fledermaus, New Years Eve, Gala, Guests

New Years Eve Gala of Die Fledermaus (called The Bat, in English) with Guest stars as simultanious guests of Prince Orlofskys ball as it guests in the opera house. Wow!!

That can be fun. But what can make it boring. This is an operetta not an opera. It is meant to be like opening up a bubbly Champagne. It should sparkle all the way. Operetta is like superlight fun, but it sparkles best when there is some serious thruth down. Real people with problems but with a sparkling, witty dialogue and the sparkly operetta sound. With the right touch from the director and singers than can do the dialogue just right act 1 and 2 will go like a dream. Actually, even act 3 could be a ball. Unfortunately act 3 even if there is some great music and singing usually makes you want to go home.

Then there is the language. German in German speaking countries, yes, naturally. But elsewhere it is the question: Making it all in German (dialogue, singing), or singing in German, everything else in the native tongue, or all translated.

No wonder I loved it in 1999 in Theater an der Wien with Agnes Baltsa as Orlofsky and Isabel Rey as Adele, naturally it was all in German, and it had a very bubbly, sparkly quality.

But I do hate Frosch and his comedic monologue, don't you, too?

For reviews from my travels, see

Friday 6 January 2012

How will 2012 be for me and this blog?

Here is my opera plan:


2012-01-21 Turandot (Puccini), Opernhaus Zurich
Turandot = Martina Serafin
Calaf = José Cura
Liu = Isabel Rey


2012-03-03 Turandot (Puccini), Deutsche Oper Berlin
Turandot = Maria Guleghina
Calaf = Marco Berti
Liu = Manuela Uhl


Macbeth = Lado Ataneli
Lady Macbeth = Maria Guleghina
Banquo = Giacomo Prestia


Nabucco = Leo Nucci
Ismaele = Alejandro Roy
Zaccaria = Carlo Colombara
Abigaille = Maria Guleghina


2012-06-09 Tosca (Puccini), Operan (Stockholm)
Tosca = Emma Vetter
Cavaradossi = José Cura
Scarpia = Fredrik Zetterström

2012-06-12 Tosca (Puccini), Operan (Stockholm)
Tosca = Emma Vetter
Cavaradossi = José Cura
Scarpia = Fredrik Zetterström


2012-07-02 Liederabend Jose Carreras, Opernhaus Zurich

2012-07-03 Simon Boccanegra (Verdi), Opernhaus Zurich
Simon Boccanegra = Plácido Domingo
Maria Boccanegra (Amelia) = Barbara Frittoli
Jacopo Fiesco = Carlo Colombara

But it started on January 2nd with an ambulance tour to hospital where I stayed until Wednesday 4th. And now I am tired already. However, on January 21 I am determined to see Turandot in Zurich with José Cura and Isabel Rey (Liù).

My plans for my blog is to read interesting historical books that has something to do with opera, sometimes not much to do with  it, and tell what I think about it here on my blog. Naturally I will write my "opera reviews" and travel stories as usual. I have plans but I have my work, my disease and sometimes I have a bit of a fatigue, but I will be here. I hope I will be able to post somewhat regularly. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For reviews from my travels, see