Saturday 29 September 2012

Zarzuela! ALMA DE DIOS

ALMA DE DIOS - Canción húngara 5:42 Pedro Lavirgen 3 av 16 Gala Lirica, Sevilla 1991 Serrano, José (1873 - 1941) 1991
ALMA DE DIOS - Canción húngara 5:01 José Carreras 3 av 10 José Carreras canta Zarzuelas Serrano, José (1873 - 1941) 1979
ALMA DE DIOS - Canción húngara 5:00 José Carreras 4 av 12 Lo Mejor de la Zarzuela - English Chamber Orchestra, Teresa Berganza, José Carreras Serrano, José (1873 - 1941) 1994
ALMA DE DIOS - Escena gitana farruca 5:42 Teresa Berganza 5 av 12 Lo Mejor de la Zarzuela - English Chamber Orchestra, Teresa Berganza, José Carreras Serrano, José (1873 - 1941) 1994
ALMA DE DIOS - Preludio 1:13 Conductor Enrique Garcia Asensio 1 av 15 Paginas Castizas en la Zarzuela - Teresa Berganza, English Chamber Orchestra, Enrique Garcia Asensio Serrano, José (1873 - 1941) 1976
ALMA DE DIOS - Escena gitana farruca 4:26 Teresa Berganza 2 av 15 Paginas Castizas en la Zarzuela - Teresa Berganza, English Chamber Orchestra, Enrique Garcia Asensio Serrano, José (1873 - 1941) 1976

Alma de Dios (link to synopsis)
by José Serrano
libretto by Carlos Arniches and Enrique García Álvarez

For reviews from my travels, see


(Sainete Lirico, Pasillo Verniege en Un Acta)
Miguel Ramos Carrión / Federico Chueco


Doña Simona - Garibaldi: TERESA BERGANZA

Coro Cantores de Madrid
Orquesta de Cámara de Madrid, Director: ATAÚLFO ARGENTA

Federico Chueca / Arreglo: José Olmedo

Orquesta de Cámara de Madrid, Director: ENRIQUE ESTELA


Classics on Line (mp3)
DiVerdi (CD)
Beautiful music.

Agua, azucarillos y aguardiente by Federico Chueca, libretto by Miguel Ramos Carrión

Agua, azucarillos y aguardiente
Complete text and translation of the vocal score

For reviews from my travels, see

Sunday 9 September 2012

Between Life and Death

Living between Life  and  Death, or between Birth and Death. Our own Birth and our own Death, and between the lives and deaths of others. My mother, my father, my own, and countless others that cross in different ways to my Life.

In Opera it is usually clear-cut, either you live or you die. One may have had to face the sword or a bullet but  when the question comes are you strong, you can say "as strong as before". Outside Opera one cannot always go through an operation or such and be as strong as before. It is possible to have a diagnosis of a deadly disease, getting help, and be in between of "will the answer be Life or will it be Death", and yet. Wishing for the answer of YES to LIFE but also to be able to live as strong as before the disease struck. Wanting to be able to be awake most of the day, to walk fast the staircase, to come quickly up from a chair, to just simply take that phone quickly. And maybe if Life means to be almost helpless and in need of help some times it might be better to that life would be short, like 6 months, but it would be good months where one might feel healthy and strong enough. BUT until we are in that position ourselves we will never know how it feels and what we would want. Maybe not even then would it be clear-cut what we want.

A Good Life is all we want.

The question asked of medical procedures is often a simple Life and Death question. The in-between is forgotten. One does not always just die from a procedure gone wrong. Usually it is more a change of how your life will be. A risk of living the rest of Life in Pain, how much pain. A risk of disability, how grave a disability. Maybe not pain but something that is unpleasant or making things harder than before.

Percents of perfections. But nobody talked about the real risk. A blind person and surgery that could make the person see again. It seemed like a reasonable risk but it wasn't. It was not just a choice between Blindness and to be able to see. It was also the choice (the risk) to be Blind and No Pain, or Live with PAIN for the rest of Life. It failed, the answer became Pain. I read this in a book many years ago, I still remember it. One must ask the right questions. How else can be make the right choices in life.

I had a surgery. It went well. But I was told life would just be so much easier. It has been easier, and it has not. I would have liked to hear the truth even if it would not have made be agree as easy to the surgery. I know it was the right answer. It helped. But before surgery I could sleep during the night for many hours without waking. After surgery all my nights are in bits and pieces. They never told me about that. They said I would not have toilet emergencies but I have had kinds of emergencies. It is different but still can be embarrassing. Maybe the doctor was right the first time he said I should have ostomy but I was not ready. My surgery, my disease (Crohn's disease) are not Life AND Death choices, it is simply about my Life.

My parents are old. I feel still young. We are all going to die some time. Can one be prepared? I think not. Death will come one day, it will be a shock, and yet, we always know it would come, just not when. Life, on the other hand, is all around us, giving us choices. Some we see, some not. So we must prepare ourselves for LIFE, to choose to find the best way to live. LIFE IS HERE. And hopefully we will all have Tomorrow.

In September I was in Stockholm for Tosca. In October I will come to Oslo for I Capuleti ed i Montecchi. In November I will go to Madrid to see Isabel Rey sing Zarzuela. In December it will be Carmen in Berlin with Jose Cura. In January 2013 I will go to Vienna for L'Italiana in Algeri. In February it will be zarzuela in Madrid. In March there is no plans at this point. In April Rolando Villazon will sing Verdi Arias in Frankfurt and then I will see Stiffelio in Monte Carlo. And I have hopes for May 2013. My plans can all fall through but until I have to give up, I will be making plans-

For reviews from my travels, see

Sunday 2 September 2012

What a pity with such a tenor (Tosca, September 1, 2012)

2012-09-01 Tosca (G. Puccini), Operan (Stockholm)

Floria Tosca = Lena Nordin
Mario Cavaradossi = Thiago Arancam
Baron Scarpia = Fredrik Zetterström 
Angelotti = Anton Eriksson
Sagrestano = Magnus Kyhle
Spoletta = Daniel Ralphsson
Sciarrone = Michael Schmidberger
Jailer = Alar Pintsaar

Lawrence Renes, conductor

Stage design: Björn Brusewitz
Costumes: Ann-Mari Anttila 
Light design: Hans-Åke Sjöquist
Producer: Knut Hendriksen  

It was a pity I was not there when Jose Cura sang even though I had tickets. I had hoped for another tenor to love.

I did not love this tenor, Thiago Arancam. He was good-looking and could act. He was the ideal Mario Cavaradossi except for his voice. I do not like Jonas-Kaufmann-like tenor voices, they are too dark for me.  There was no announcement that the tenor was not well. The weather was bad, lots of rains so it would not have been strange if it had some impact on the opera singers. But with no announcement and with the enthusiasm of the audience I must believe that the voice I heard on September 1, 2012, was his normal opera voice. He had the weakest voice of all in this performance. His voice was dark and so "covered" that he seem to have to fight to get it out. It is great shame when then tenor can be overwon by the Sagrestano. Magnus Kyhle was magnificent and had a big voice. Lena Nordin as Floria Tosca was likewise in all shapes better than the tenor. The duet was less painful to listen to than the Recondita armonia. But it was act 1 so I thought it must get better. This must just be a bad start. Fredrik Zetterström as Baron Scarpia was perfect in all, singing, acting. Fredrik rules!!!

Act 2 and I am really getting to see the production as it is. And that it is nothing too special. It is a traditional opera production and the only thing that differentiates it from other traditional Tosca productions is that in Act 2 the stage floor is lifted up  while they are singing and we see the dungeon where Cavaradossi is tortured. But Cavaradossi has his back to the audience so it is not like we are really getting some gruesome detailed torture scene. It is rather clean and nice. And when Cavaradossi comes up again from the torture there is no blood that I could see. This is beautiful production that is not daring at all. Fredrik Zetterström, Thiago Arancam and Lena Nordin can all act well and they do it well. Only Fredrik Zetterström and Lena Nordin lifts the act up. Zetterström is the closest to the ideal Scarpia. Lena Nordin is a wonderful Tosca and sings the most vulnerable Vissi d'arte and for the first time the audience interrupts the opera with applause. She deserved the long applause of Wiener Staatsoper and many BRAVA shouts.

Act 3 and for the second time an aria ends in applause. But this time with shouts of BRAVO. For me I can only say yes, he did not completely ruin this aria as he did in Recondita armonia. I was sitting there so decidedly underwhelmed and confused by the "whole" audience going wild for Thiago. THEY loved him, I liked him after all he is the dark good-looking man. He can act.  Then the duet. I wonder how did it feel to be Lena Nordin singing with him. Or maybe she just loved it. I don't know. Lena saved the show!!! But I know I prefer to have a great Tosca, Scarpia AND Cavaradossi in Tosca.

Dear Thiago, you can only be better. I hope this was just this time, but if not, please get help with the issues. Love!!

For reviews from my travels, see

Så synd med en slik tenor

Så synd med en slik tenor

Første akt er over. Det ble ingen skjønn Recondita armonia. Det ble en nesten OK duett. Thiago Arancam har en svak stemme som ikke blir nettopp hjulpet fram av den mørke klangen og en slags lukket lyd. Utseendemessig er han flott, god skuespiller også, men dette er opera. Sangen må også være bra. Det var vanskelig å høre ham selv ofte når han sang alene. Da var det mer futt over Lena Nordin som Tosca. Hun mangler kraften til en Maria Guleghina, men hun gjør en bra figur ellers. Fredrik Zetterstrøm er en kraftfull Scarpia. Han har alt man ønsker fra Scarpia. Magnus Kyhle var rene luksus i rollen sim sagrestanen. Men det blir feil når sagrestanen gjør sterkere inntrykk enn Cavaradossi. Men det er enda tid: andre og tredje akt er ikke spilt.

Da var akt 2 over. Det er slett ikke noe ekstra over denne svært så tradisjonelle Tosca-oppsetning. Det eneste er at de løfter scenegulvet slik av vi ser Cavaradossi blir torturert. Han har ryggen mot oss og det er ikke så mye fælt vi ser. Thiago er som akt 1 feiende flott og fun skuespiller, men... Fredrik er suveren. Og Lena synger den skjønneste og mest sårbare Vissi d'arte og får applaus. I Wien hadde det strømmet med bravo-rop og applausen ville vært nærmest endeløs.

I tredje akt fikk vi en OK E lucevan le stelle, om bare han kunne synge høyere. Og da ble det skrik og skrål med bravo-rop for tenoren. Han er visst veldig populær. Men jeg var uenig. Litt slapp slutt. Lena Nordin er bra, altså. Liker henne. Det var
, ikke mer.

Maria Guleghina kan nok redde en opera alene. Neida. Det kan ingen. Opera er team-work, Gesamtkunstwerk. Men jeg angrer ikke at jeg dro.

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