Saturday 18 February 2012

Placido's Greatest Roles: ANDREA CHENIER

Placido Domingo : My Greatest Roles - Vol.4 Verismo Opera [DVD] [2011]
Video snippet
ANDREA CHENIER by Umberto Giordano

Conductor Julius Rudel - 1985(LI)
Orchestra - Covent Garden
Chorus - Covent Garden

Andrea Chénier - Plácido Domingo
Carlo Gérard - Giorgio Zancanaro
Madeleine di Coigny - Anna Tomowa-Sintow
La mulatta Bersi - Cynthia Buchan
La Contessa di Coigny - Patricia Johnson
Madelon - Anny Schlemm
Roucher - Jonathan Summers
Il sanculotto Mathieu - Rodney Macann
Fouquier Tinville - John Gibbs
Un Incredible - John Dobson
Pietro Fléville - Gordon Sandison
L'abate - Alexander Oliver
Dumas - Roderick Earle
Schmidt - Eric Garrett
DVD (Video) - Warner Vision 5046 68357-2 (2004)ª

For reviews from my travels, see

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Elektra by Richard Strauss

4 x Elektra 2007-10-19, 2007-11-24, 2008-02-26, 2010-01-29. I have seen this opera 4 times but the lovely Rosenkavalier only twice. 

Elektra is a depressing opera about a depressing subject and it ends bad for everyone. For some people that love Richard Strauss the music is pure genious. But for me it is depressing and even though it is only one act it is LOOOOONG. And there are no beautiful arias or duets or anything. I know, given some years, I might disagree with what I just wrote but for now, it is the TRUTH. My truth, anyway. And I only watched it because of Agnes Baltsa as Klytemnestra, and I still don't love it. It takes too long before Klytemnestra arrives and then the fun is soon over. IT IS A GREEK TRAGEDY... no fun :-(

More information: Elektra (the opera), Richard Strauss, Electra (Greek mythology), Clytemnestra


For reviews from my travels, see

Die Lustige Witve by Franz Lehar


I have seen this operetta 3x :Die Lustige Witwe 1984-01-282000-06-212007-04-18.

I am obviously to young to have seen it when Norwegian Diva Wenche Foss was Hanna Glawari in Nationaltheatret in 1956, a decade before I was even born. On the photos Knut Wigert as Count Danilo. And it was with this photo I learnt about Opera and Operetta and The Merry Widow (Die Lustige Witwe in German, Den Glade Enke in Norwegian).

OK. Operetta is harder than Opera, but it is also lighter. The difficulties is that you are expected to talk and sing, and to do both well. Operetta is usually comedic so the singer is not just expected to do dialogues well but also to get the timing right. Shifting between singing operetta arias and duets etc that can be as difficult as most opera arias, duets etc and then to talk naturally in a theatre that is hard. And then it is language. All in the original German, or translated. Operetta can be wonderful when done right.

Hanna Glawari is the Merry Widow, a very rich widow. She is so rich that her money could save the economy of Pontevedro (Montenegro). Then there is Count Danilo Danilowitch, her former lover, who "works" in the Embassy of Montenegro (Pontevedro in the operetta). He wants her but he does not want to marry for money. But the embassy is decided he must woo her. All ends well.

Vilja Song and Maxim song is the most famous from this operetta. And of course, Lippen schweigen.

More information: The Merry Widow, Maxim, Montenegro, Franz Lehar

For reviews from my travels, see

Saturday 11 February 2012

Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss

What a beautiful opera it is, Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss. The music is easy on the ear, almost Mozart-like.

Die Marchallin is double the age of her lover, Count Octavian Rofrano.  But we are not supposed to be upset. That Octavian is just 17, his lover is higher up in nobility and older (ca. 35). But we are not supposed to be upset after all this happened in the past. It was another time and place, Vienna in the 1740s. Besides Octavian already has a history of many "conquests". In act 1, in the love scene of Marchallin and Octavian, if you listen carefully you hear a woman calling her lover a boy and almost baby him. Octavian, the young boy, a teenager as we would call him, imagins himself important but it is really she who rules him which is not necessary evil but they are certainly not equals. But we are not supposed to see something wrong in a young, not adult, boy/man and an older women, we are supposed to see the boy as super-lucky. We forget the power imbalance, and we should not forget it. Boys suffer when we think they are already sexualized when they have not even started their internal sexual journey, yet. Naturally it is only opera, so there you have it.

Die Marchallin is noble, Octavian is noble, Sophie is noble and the opera has one of the best endings. Baron Ochs is a bull in a China shop.

Read more, Wikipedia articles: Der Rosenkavalier, Richard Strauss, Empress Maria Theresa, Vienna, nobility.

I have seen this opera 2x: Der Rosenkavalier 1982-05-22, 1990-01-25
For reviews from my travels, see

Tuesday 7 February 2012

La Boheme by Puccini

My first attempt to make another love opera. It did not work. So I gave up. But how can you not like this opera. It seemed to obvious. It is a cute opera with some of the best music by Puccini. But no, it was boring and that it was a traditional production was not what my friend wanted. Alban Berg's Lulu in a hyper-modern production could have converted my friends to opera. I have been seen Lulu myself, but I saw Schönberg's Jakobsleiter and then I was really BORED.

Che gelida manina sung by Jose Carreras, can one wish for more? Evidently one can.

7x La Bohème 1989-01-23, 1990-12-29, 2007-06-30, 2007-09-01, 2010-03-20, 2010-03-28, 2011-04-23

So what have I learnt from my 7 La Bohemes? Naturally one does have a soprano to love as Mimi, and a tenor to care for as Rodolfo. But that is not enough, without a great supporting cast it will not really move you. A great supporting cast without an affective Mimi or Rodolfo will not work. LA BOHEME is really a straight forward type of history. It is no need to embellish it, just put it on and let there be realism. 

There are many kinds of realism. Sometimes less is more. Just remove what is not  necessary and as the story is real. La Boheme needs person-regie. No opera is fail-proof not even La Boheme. 

More info (wikipedia links): Giacomo Puccini, La Boheme, bohemianism,
Latin Quarter, Paris

For reviews from my travels, see

Turandot: In questa reggia

All you need to understand Turandot is in the aria "In questa reggia".

Turandot is the daughter as the emperor. She has power and self-worth as the Daughter of the Sun (the emperor). As a child she was told the horrific story of the kidnapping and rape of her ancestress Lou-ling. Is her fear of men and fear of losing her power just unrealistic thinking? No. China is good for men, especially rich men who can afford to have several wives and multiple concubines. Choises for women is not many, not even for the daughter of an emperor.

For comic relief in this opera we have Ping, Pong and Pang. They complain that they have been reduced to helpers of the executioner. They dream of many things, from the innocent dreams of retiring to the residences in other parts of China to finally putting Turandot, the difficult woman who insists on being important just like a man, under the thumb of a man. Nowhere is the idea that if Turandot had a power in herself that no man could take from her there would have been no need for Turandot's neurotic angst.

Instead of caring for Turandot we care for Calaf who has no care for others except his own wishes. Calaf is just shallow. Where is his love for others, his father, Liu or even Turandot? Turandot has a reason for her cruel ideas, where is Calafs?

Liu is a woman/girl willing to sacrifice herself for love. In the opera Liu is what is expected of women, Turandot is portrayed as how every thing goes to hell if a woman is in charge.  And then there is the last duet of Turandot and Calaf (Principessa di Morte), and the cute forced kiss/rape that makes Turandot hot with love for her Prince. Wow!!

More info (wikipedia links): Giacomo Puccini, Turandot, China, Peking, mandarin, concubinage, misogyny, Emperor of China

8xTurandot 2003-06-28, 2005-08-30, 2006-04-30, 2009-01-17, 2009-07-30, 2009-07-31, 2010-05-13, 2012-01-21
For reviews from my travels, see