Thursday 12 December 2013

A happy evening with José Cura and an unhappy travel home (December 9-10, 2013)

How to start an evening perfectly? For me it was simple. Just find the right restaurant. I found it on Yelp: La Piazza ristorante. Their pizza was just perfect just like their location Johannesgasse, not far from Konzerthaus. 

Even as the concert was on Monday many JC fans was there and althought there was still free seats in the hall it still seemed quite full. Monday means taking 2 days off work for those not living close to Vienna. Saturday would have been a much better day. Secondly Sunday, third Friday. But it was quite good for being on Monday. I feel the concert could have been advertised much better. Maybe an opera concert with Jose Cura would have been completely sold-out even as it was a Monday in early December, but Argentinian songs with masters like Carlos Guastavino, Alberto Ginastero and the new composer Jose Cura himself should have been a must for all opera lovers especially if Cura is one of your tenor heroes.

From Tristan und Isolde on Sunday to Jose Cura singing songs on Monday, that is a distance. Excellenc is excellence in whatever form it takes. An ethusiastic audience greated the great maestro with thunderous applause. Jose Cura relaxed and smiling sat down. Kristin Okerlund sat down at the piano, with a young man as her page turner. A young woman sat down, she too like Okerlund and Cura had some notes (papers) in front of her. 

The concert started with Jose Cura singing alone Hilda Herrera's Desde el fondo de ti, then the piano invoced Maria Elena Walsh' Postal de guerra. Then Jose Cura started talking as he did during the concert. The other woman was called "Lalo" (?), a friend of Cura who would be reciting in German some short verses to give us some idea of what the songs meant. It was hard for me to hear her and so I got no more idea of the songs from her. Our progammes was free. The 3rd song according to the program was Alberto Ginastera's Accorro, but that was not what he song, we got that as one of the encores instead.

Instead of going through it song by song, here is my impression of the concert. Many years ago Jose Cura recorded Anhelo and that CD had many of the songs he now song. Those years gave Jose Cura a greater depth and a passion that makes these songs even better today than ever. Cura sang his own work of Pablo Nerudas Sonetas with Lalo in the role of the woman as Cura was the man. It was magic!!!

In the second half it was more unfamiliar songs except La rosa y el sauce and of course, La cancion de la Bandera by Panizza. Highlights. And then 3 encores!!

And after the concert, meeting with fans and Jose Cura inside the building. It was a cold day in Vienna, rain and icy winds. At last I had to go.

Tuesday I was off to Vienna airport. My flight was first told to be 30 minutes late and then 1 hr. And it was not a direct flight to Oslo. So I was again in Zurich airport, 10 minutes before my flight had left Zurich, and my new flight to Oslo was 3 hrs to wait. Swiss gave me CHF 10,- , I felt they were really cheap. Zurich airport and finding good food to eat that is not easy. Most of the 10 Swiss Francs went to an expensive and hardly eatable tomato soup. Then I had a Pizza Margerita at Marche, eatable but not a revelation. Still, hungry no more. The prezel I bought at Marche was great and saved me later in the night. 

My second flight was also delayed so that instead of landing 2225, which is late, I was in Gardermoen airport 2345. Without any delays my first second flight would have landed 1935 and if I had then chose to spend a night on a hotel and fly to Førde the next morning that would have been a gift I gave myself. Thanks to these 2 delays I HAD to chose to spend 3000 NOK extra, and SWISS thinks 10 Swiss Francs is enough!! From now I will try to avoid Swiss and Zurich airport!! 


Having to be at a meeting in Førde after such an ordeal gave me a headache that lasted Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. On Friday evening the pain was less so I went to the cinema to see The Hobbit - the Desolation of Smaug. I thought it was a bad idea but luckily my head was fine in the end. It was beautiful, but movie 1 was better. Movie 2 made me just read the book and enjoy the better story there.

For reviews from my travels, see

Monday 9 December 2013

Wagner 2013: My 5th ever Wagner opera

Richard Wagner
Oper | 17.00 - 21.45 | 2 Pausen | Preise S | Abo Zyklus 1


Peter Schneider | Dirigent
David McVicar | Regie
Robert Jones | Ausstattung
Paule Constable | Licht
Andrew George | Choreographie
Robert Dean Smith | Tristan
Albert Dohmen | König Marke
Violeta Urmana | Isolde
Matthias Goerne | Kurwenal
Elisabeth Kulman | Brangäne
Clemens Unterreiner | Melot
Carlos Osuna | ein Hirt
Marcus Pelz | ein Steuermann
Sebastian Kohlhepp | Stimme eines jungen Seemanns

A little detour before Tristan in Vienna. First the night bus to Gardermoen Airport. The rumored bad weather in the mountains did not happen to my bus. So I came to the airport with hours to spend until my flight on Saturday. My bus arrived 0515 and my flight started 0945. Because of a technical error in Zurich my plane arrived one hour late so my flight started 1 hrs later, 1045. Then 1305 in Zurich, waiting more hours. 1635 started the boarding, and fight started 1700. Vienna, finally 1820. Vienna International Airport... City Airport Train to Wien Mitte, then U-Bahn to Stephansplatz, and then Südtirolerplatz - Hauptbahnhof. 2000 at my hotel. I do not think I could have been faster.

With Saturday almost gone I still had something I wanted to do. Eating great food at my favorite restaurant and then waiting at the stage door for Vittorio Grigolo and Angela Gheorghiu after their La Boheme that I arrived in Vienna too late for even if there had been any tickets left. Would have loved to see Boheme in Wiener Staatsoper. Sadly I found myself to tired for the excursion to the Opera. Still, I needed food. McDonald's then. Not too great, but not too bad.

Sunday. Breakfast at McDonald's. My early in the morning need are very simple so McD is enough. Later I was wondering about Tristan, to buy or not to buy a ticket. As I was close I had my lunch at the Operncafé. A cremed tomato soup that not did not have it in it to be my best, just OK this time. Then back to my hotel. Suddenly the decision was made Tristan to night. A not a second to spare lasagne dinner at my favorite hotel and then off to Wiener Staatsoper. The opera house was filled to the brim of people. A long queu just to collect my reserved ticket.


"Love" at first note. Loved the orchestra with conductor. Wagner the composer is great. Too many words all the time. But one does get into it. I no longer oppose the idea of Jose Cura as Tristan. But really Wagner heroes vs Verdi heroes, Verdi wins every time. Loved Elisabeth Kulman as Brangäne. Highlight in love duet between Tristan and Isolde = Brangäne singing. Robert Dean Smith is a great singer, once in a long while one hears he is not German but still amazing singer. Violeta Urmana as Isolde, great work, a great singer but she was not able to mesmerize me as she did as La Gioconda in Paris. Albert Dohmen was so great that I wished his part was bigger. Matthias Goerne as Kurwenal was just luxus. Clemens Untermeier as Melot was also very good. Carlos Osuna as the shepherd was also wonderful.

The production with David McVicar as director, scenography by Robert Jones, was great. Sadly it was Isolde's Liebestod that ruined the perfect Tristan. Tristan is the one the who dies of love, and King Marke appearing with Tristan dead that is truly sad. I actually cried. Then Isode's Liebestod, who would have guessed that was the disappointment of the evening. Violeta Urmana was singing her heart out. But instead of dying there, she was going slowly out in her red dress. For the applause Urmana appeared with the black dress and was then more like Isolde then in Liebestod. Bravi, tutti!!              

Monday 18 November 2013

My 3rd Verdi in Visir in Hamburg: I Lombardi (2013-11-17)

The opera evening ended well enough with meeting stars at the Backstage: Bühneeingang of Hamburg Staatsoper. Here a photo of the beautiful tenor Massilliano Pisipia who sang Arvino.

2013-11-17 I Lombardi alla prima Crociata (Verdi), Hamburgische Staatsoper

Arvino = Massimiliano Pisapia
Papano = John Relyea
Viclinda = Cristina Damian
Giselda = Elza van den Heever
Pirro = Szymon Kobylinski
Un Priore = Dovlet Nurgeldiyev
Acciano = Wilhelm Schwinghammer
Oronte = Dimitri Pittas
Sofia = Solen Mainguené

Simone Young, conductor
Philharmoniker Hamburg
Chor der Hamburgischen Staatsoper

Inszenierung - David Alden
Bühnenbild - Charles Edwards
Kostüme - Brigitte Reiffenstuel
Licht - Adam Silverman
Chor - Eberhard Friedrich

Third time did not have the charm. First I saw La Battaglia in Legnano that was a good enough production. Then I Due Foscari also OK, but. And now I LOMBARDI ALLA PRIMA CROCIATA. Where to begin?

I can start with the positive. Two great tenors, Massiliano Pisipia and Dimitri Pittas, as Arvino and Oronte. Loved also Vicinda, Gisenda and Sofia: Cristina Damian, Elza van den Heever and Sofia Mainguené. I was sorry not to see Viclinda and Sofia take their place at the end of the opera to get their very much deserved applause. John Relya was Papano and as the opera progressed he became more imposing by the minute.

The problem with I LOMBARDI lies with the words ALLA PRIMA CROCIATA. Was it any reason to update it in this way. It did not give anything to the story if it did anything it would be taking away. Then there is the opera itself, the text. It is no way to avoid the racist way Muslems are portrayed. I felt this production made it worse which is totally avoidable. To be a Christian and white means it is too easy just two say it was only 2 scenes so who cares. People who want to malign Muslims will find justifiing causes here. A Muslem wanting to be radicalezed will also find just cause here. Then there is the portraits of Christians, whether one choose to play them as nicer than the reality of the crusades, that would be wrong and as this production as a rather murderous horde, sadly more historically true, still not a good idea. 

I LOMBARDI is a musical gem from Giuseppe Verdi, but it is not something that one should put onstage without any cultural awareness. Can we afford to create a wider gap between Christians and Muslems? NO. Should I LOMBARDI ALLA PRIMA CROCIATA be staged, at all? 

Sunday 17 November 2013

My second Verdi in Visir in Hamburg (I due Foscari 2013-11-16)

Again my trio started with me worried about even coming there. This time it was the weather. Stormy weather of more extreme type than usually: landslide and closed mountain roads. Lots of rain creating bigger rivers or possible overswimming of roads. Finally a fierce storm with higher than normal waves.

I brushed it off at first. Then I decided to fly to Oslo and stay at a hotel. From work and suddenly off again. My flight was late. But I could still get my night in hotel before off to Hamburg via Munich. My hotel was Preuss. but when I came to the hotel I found out it was in the 4th floor and it seemed like a lot of bother and it was only a 3 star hotel so I cancelled that and chose the same hotel I stayed in to see La Battaglia di Legnano, Hotel Quality Ambassador which is a hotel that I can recommend to others.

The train S1 stopped in Hasselbreek because of work on the line so we had to take a bus to Berliner Tor, S1 extrabus. So I took the S21 to Dammtor and found Preuss. Gave that up. Back to Berliner Tor and then the familiar route to my new hotel.

Rested a bit and then back to Dammtor and to the Restaurant Opera. I was there a long time before my pizza arrived. Too many people had asked for pizza at the same time. Then finally to the opera, I Due Foscari.

2013-11-16 I due Foscari (Verdi), Hamburgische Staatsoper

Francesco Foscari = Andrzej Dobber
Jacopo Foscari = Giuseppe Filianoti
Lucrezia Contarini = Amarilli Nizza
Jacopo Loredano = Ziyan Atfeh
Barbarigo = Dovlet Nurgeldiyev
Pisana = Maria Markina
Fante del Consiglio = Sergiu Saplacan

Simone Young, conductor
Philharmoniker Hamburg
Chor der Hamburgischen Staatsoper

Inszenierung: David Alden
Bühnenbild: Charles Edwards
Kostüme: Brigitte Reiffenstuel
Licht: Adam Silverman
Choreografie: Maxine Braham
Chor: Eberhard Friedrich

This Due Foscari did not impress me immediately as La Battaglia di Legnano did. I did not warm up at once Giuseppe Filianoti and Amarilli Nizza. Andrzej Dobber was from the first moment on worth the whole trip himself. He is impressive as Doge Francesco Foscari. Amarilli Nizza may be a small woman off stage but she was a gigant onstage. Impressive singing that won me over from Amarilli Nizza. Was it my ear that deceived me or was she a bit hesitant in the beginning, who knows? Pyrotechnics she has. False notes seemed to come off Giuseppe Filianoti in his first scene but from those small misteps he climbed up to the top places.

The production was much like La Battaglia di Legnano. But. Yes, I know, BUT is not a full sentence and barely conceive any meaning still I must leave it like that. 

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Again Otello with Jose Cura, this time in Berlin (2013-11-09)

I almost did not get there. First I had a head-ache so severe that I had to go early from work and then straight to bed. So it did not seem to be a good idea to travel to Berlin this week-end. Two hours sleep and rest and then I could not be in my bedroom anymore. I was starting to feel much better.

Thinking about my travel to Berlin I realised that since I was taking an early flight with Air Berlin I would be able to get some sleep in my hotel before even going out on Saturday. I phoned Hotel an der Oper for some information and they were positive. So I dined and then made my last preparations and off I went.

Night bus to Gardermoen. 7 hrs and some sleep. Then fast through security and soon off to Berlin. It was just a bit over 8 in the morning when I arrived in Tegel airport, building C. I had some difficulty at first to find my bus. After asking for directions I quickly found the bus. I had naturally looked it up in Google maps but still I missed the nearest stop which was Bismarckstrasse I thought the end stop Zoologischer Garten was my stop.

At Zoologischer Garten U-Bahn station close to McDonald's was where I realised my error. But I was not lost. I had my Iphone with Google Maps and I turned on the 3g and then I could just go. Google Maps was good but I got lost at Ernst-Reuter-Platz. Then I was unlost again but not after going almost the whole circle. Then, finally at 10 in the morning, I was inside Hotel an der Opera and I got a big, nice room in the 4. floor. Internet was free and I got 2 vouchers but it was a very on and off experience. Mostly internet was off and unavailable so I had to be on 3g if I wanted some internet access. Not bad but it is not free to go roaming on 3g. 

Nice to be in Berlin. To be able to collect my ticket by walking over the street. Bismarckstrasse, lots of cars. It took me 10 minutes just to cross the lanes. Later I learnt how to make lights go green faster. I was in Berlin doing nothing. Just relaxing in my bed. Finding out where my bus stop was and how long time it would take to go there. The bus was going to Tegel airport every 10 minutes from Bismarckstrasse bus stop. Then I found a shopping centre and gave that up. I found the restaurant to have my dinner on this walk to. It opened at 16 it said. After more rest, listening to music, I was there 1645 and they were open but still vaccuming. So yes, they said, I was early but I was given a seat and the menu. 

The Don Giovanni restaurant was just what I wanted. The background music was not too bad. The service excellent and I loved my Don Ottavio pizza. The perfect pizza for me. I drank Cola light, naturally. And it was just perfect. I realised then that although I had just changed my stoma plate and pouch it was leaking. So I had just pay NOW. Then I paid and went with unseemly haste. Now I was even more carefull to make sure that my opera evening would not end like my dinner did. This time I must have done it right so I was saved, at last....

2013-11-09 Otello (Verdi), Deutsche Oper Berlin

Otello = José Cura
Desdemona = Barbara Frittoli
Jago = Marco Vratogna
Emilia = Katarina Bradic
Cassio = Matthew Newlin
Rodrigo = Clemens Bieber
Lodovico = Seth Carico
Ein Herald = Andrew Harris

Donald Runnicles, conductor

Director - Andreas Kriegenburg
Stage-design - Harald Thor
Costume-design - Andrea Schraad
Dramaturgie - Katharina John
Choir Conductor - William Spaulding
Children's Choir - Christian Lindhorst
Choreography - Zenta Haerter

I had forgotten how much I disliked this production when I saw it at the premiere, 30.05.2010. I felt no outrage this time just boredom. It was the female ballet dancer in the back of the stage that annoyed me. The dancing was as a comment to Jago's narration of the Cassio's dream. In one way a good idea. But the placement of the dancer in the stage room meant that I could either watch the dancer or the singers, and that made it a bad execution of an idea that could have been good. I wanted to see and understand the dynamics between Jago and Cassio but the movement of the dancer forced my eyes away from my goal. Putting distractions onstage is not good theatre. And do untimately this is the failing of the director Andreas Kriegenburg, the production itself works as a distraction against Verdi's Otello.

In midst of it all, here comes Otello, Jose Cura. Placido Domingo used to be the ultimate Otello, now we have Cura. From the moment Jose Cura comes in it becomes a better show, finally it is possible to throw oneself into the work. I have seem him several times as Otello before and in different productions but this was the best performance with the most beautiful and sublime phrased singing and a overwhelming acting. He was good before too but here is the matured Otello, the excellence that comes from being Otello in so many different productions. 

In one way we could say Cura singlehandedly a dull production to an exciting experience. To be fair I must say that Donald Runnicles conducting was a great part of the success. Marco Vratogna was singing and acting as if the role of Jago was tailormade for him. Barbara Frittoli was excellent as Desdemona, so warm. The vibrato was heavy in the first minutes but then the nervousness left and the lush, warm tones shone from Barbara Frittoli. Katarina Bradic sang and acted Emilia wonderfully. She made fine portrait of her role. Matthew Newlin made an excellent debut as Cassio. He was a joy to see and listen to.

After such a fine opera evening what can be better than to meet afterwards "backstage" with fans from  the Nordic Countries, Germany, Austria, Hungary, France, USA to name a few places. I guess Marco Vratogna was the MC-guy, Barbara Frittoli was also soon off. Jose Cura talked to his fans while the photos was flashing.

Then Saturday ended on this happy tune. After a good night sleep, breakfast alone and with friends it was time to go home. Bus to Tegel airport. Building C, gate 47, and then off to Norway. In Oslo it was airport train to Oslo main station, then bus back home. Home and it is 10 in the evening, 22.

Home! Home! Home!


Monday 4 November 2013

To Paris for a Golden and vapid Aida (2013-11-02)

The King = Carlo Cigni
Amneris = Luciana D’intino
Aida = Oksana Dyka
Radamès = Marcelo Alvarez
Ramfis = Roberto Scandiuzzi
Amonasro Sergey Murzaev
A messenger = Oleksiy Palchykov
High Priestess = Elodie Hache

Philippe Jordan, conductor 

Stage director - Olivier Py
Sets and costumes - Pierre-André Weitz
Lighting - Bertrand Killy
Chorus master - Patrick Marie Aubert

In the night bus to Oslo Airport Gardermoen and everything is going well. Just 40 minutes from the airport and the road is blocked because of an accident. Luckily 1,5 hours later it opens and so I am in time for my flight to Paris.

For the first time at Charles de Gaulle airport. My hotel is close to Opera Bastille and to Gare de Lyon so I took Les Cars de Air France ligne 4 to Gare de Lyon. The dreaded Charles de Gaulle airport was not so daunting, I liked Terminal 1. It took the bus almost 30 minutes just to go throught the airport stops and then 30 minutes to Gare de Lyon. The traffic machine of the CDG airport was a maze... I was worried if we weren't to stop at Gare de Lyon but going directly to Gare Montparnasse. But at last, Gare de Lyon. I recognised it all and could quickly walk in the right direction. Soon I was at my hotel, Hotel Luxor Bastille. And yes, this was one of those times when the room would not be ready until 1330 as the website said. So I went to my restaurant in Paris, Les Ateliers Americain and there I enjoyed a Pizza Vegetarienne and Cola light. 

50 Euro for a 2 star hotel. Hotel Luxor Bastille was OK for that prize, I guess. But no way would I use that elevator even as my room was on the 4th floor. It was just enough room for one person and perhaps some luggage but then it would crowded. So up I went. Slept a few hours. Went to my restaurant and had a wonderful calzone and Cola light. Then to the opera.

So Opera Bastille and Marcelo Alvarez as Radames in Verdi's AIDA. The sets was in gold. The costumes was black or golden or camouflage. We all know that Verdi was an Italian patriot and that his name was used to say discreetly that they wanted Vittorio Emanuele Re D'Italia. Etiopia became Italy, and Egypt became Austria and that did not make sense here. The director improvements of Aida was distractions and in bad taste. 

The singing was glorious, the conductor magnificent. I was happy in the beginning, no blackface. Alas, that was not to last... 

The opera started with man waiving a big, Italian flag behind the big golden building. Then soldiers dressed in camouflage caught him and beat him severely. Aida in black dress and blonde whig tried to help him. Amneris was also in a black dress with sparkly spots and blonde whig. Blond and white was name of Amneris followers. Aida rebelled and soon the whig was off. Radames was dressed in black as a general with gold streaks. Ramfis and his men was dressed as Catholic priests and monks. Ramfis was dressed in gold as Archbishop or Pope. 

Soldiers in camouflage, some times off with shirt, flexing muscles, eager always to use machines against anyone. OK. We get it, Austria was bad to Italians. Ballet meant a chance for bad taste to unfold. The blackest blackface to one of the dancers and then a red "egypt hat" with black, curly hair AND dancing in a kind of monkeytype dance AND beating of two camouflage soldiers. I had to look over the stage towards Amneris and friends and just avoid the stage floor. And what did it do for the opera NOTHING except BAD TASTE in whole body. Then there was the Holocaust looking like scene with lots of Dead, White Bodies and Radames strolling there with his water bottle. Also something in Bad Taste and Not Necessary.

This production was distracting when it should not be and it did not speak to me. All that wonderful musical talent and then we got a Golden, but Empty AIDA. Oksana Dyka was wonderful!!! Marcelo Alvarez wonderful!!!

When I left Opera Bastille I was SOOO happy I did not have to see it again. My number 10 Aida and sadly not one of the good ones. The Aida in Verona this summer does not seem so bad now.

It gave me a headache. Sunday off to Paris Charles de Gaulle and then bus home. The whole day just coming home again.

Wednesday 30 October 2013

La Battaglia di Legnano in Hamburg 2013-10-26

I have changed my mind. No longer is Don Carlo my favorite opera by Verdi: it is LA BATTAGLIA DI LEGNANO.

Simone Young conducted a wonderful cast. Don Carlo need 6 extraordinary singers, La Battaglia needs 3. But in Hamburg also the minor roles was great.

Yonghoon Lee was the Tenor and magnificent from beginning to end. Alexia Voulgaridou was the Soprano, Lida is a coloratura tour-de-force. And then Giorgio Coduro as the Baritone, as sweet or forceful whenever was needed.

Bravi tutti!

This was my irst impression from Hamburg's production of La Battaglia di Legnano.
2013-10-26 La Battaglia di Legnano (Verdi), Hamburgische Staatsoper

Federico Barbarossa = Tigran Martirossian
Rolando = Giorgio Caoduro
Lida = Alexia Voulgaridou
Imelda = Rebecca Jo Loeb
Arrigo = Yonghoon Lee
Marcowaldo = Viktor Rud
1. Console di Milano = Vincenzo Neri
2. Console di Milano = Alin Anca
Il Podestá di Como = Szymon Kobylinski
Un scudiero di Arrigo = Manuel Günther
Un araldo = Sergiu Saplacan
Simone Young, conductor

Inszenierung - David Alden
Bühnenbild - Charles Edwards
Kostüme - Brigitte Reiffenstuel
Licht - Adam Silverman
Chor - Eberhard Friedrich

What a wonderful opera night in Hamburg!!!

The great Simone Young conducted a superb cast. Loved the music and singing. This is an opera that shoud be played more in theatres around the world.

First it starts with one of the most beautiful Verdi ouvertures. Simone Young knows how to get best of the orchestra with great clarity it shines. What a demanding, physical work it is to be a conductor. Not only that but concentration and a great precision is needed. 

Viva Italia!!! That is the theme of the opera. An Exit sign is on the stage. What does that mean? USCITA means just EXIT, but why is it onstage. It does naturally help the people to find the exit door but it is just never explained.

The chorus is just not on the stage but on the roof/floor of the stage. "Viva Italia" is sung a capella with the chorus dressed in classic Milanese cloths. The men are on the second floor. The women on the stage. The men onstage are actors not singers unless they have a role like being the Herald and such. A wounded Arrigo comes onstage, he is weak and wounded in his arm, he need support of a stick to hold himself erect. Yonghoon Lee sings Arrigo's aria ernestly and with a haunty beauty. Then comes Rolando and the two friends are now reunited. The young Giorgio Caoduro is convincing as Rolando. In Hamburg Arrigo and Rolando is of the same age. Rolando is an important man in Milano, he is the captain of the city. Arrigo has just been released from war prison. La Battaglia is an opera filled with patriotic moments and it the most Milanese opera. All of the opera happens in Milano, the main city of Lombardy. 

The marches of La Battagia gives the opera the  most vigorous feeling.

After the scene of prisoners of war coming wounded to the city and not that welcomed by officials. Hospital bed and now out, in comes women happy for Italia. So strange that Lida is not happy. Married with one child, she cannot forget her first love, Arrigo. Her father and brothers are now all dead. Her father arranged the marriage of Lida and Rolando. She thinks Arrigo is dead, too. Alexia Voulgaridou is really a wonderful Lida. A wonderful coloratura. Unfortunately Marcowaldo, who has been allowed to stay at their home by a generous Rolando. He is the servant who fancies his boss' wife. This is a real annoyance for Lida but worse is it that he is present when Lida is beeing told Arrigo is alive. That a sad Lida is suddenly giddily happy is a giveaway. Great coloratura aria!!! Then Rolando comes with Arrigo. Now Marcowaldo has double reason to doubt. Then Rolando has to go out on official business. Arrigo is now alone with Lida. He wastes no time in accusing Lida of all sorts. The singing is glorious and musically the duet is just wonderful. But Lida never gets the chance to explain herself. Arrigo seems to believe that Lida as a woman could be free to chose whatever she wants. Arrigo is blind with fury. I loved you as a god, now I see you as a demon. But what would an opera be if the characters was thinking before acting. Opera is often all emotion. Reason be damned!

So now Lida is back to unhappiness again. 

In Hamburg it seems that the opera is happening during the risorgimento. Act 2 starts with the Mayor of Milano and a group of important who is about to agree with the opressor Barbarossa. Rolando and then Arrigo are outraged of the patriotic weakness. They will never accept Barbarossi. But then suddenly Barbarossa with his big, red beard appears. He was in the room all the time while Rolando and Arrigo was insulting him. Great scene. Barbarossa has already surrounded the city. He gloats, Rolando and Arrigo counter that with patriotic will will Milano cast out the foreign army. The city is in turmoil and burns already. Barbarossa is not the destiny of Milano. NEVER!!


Arrigp desperate of love and patriot as he is. He joins the Cavalieri della Morte. Dressed in the flag of Italy with a skull in his hand Arrigo swears to be a Cavlier della Morte. The scene is of glorious gloom and a musical feast. And on this note, the lights go out and we can now eat, drink, relax. 

Why a pause at the beginning of act 3? Musically it simply ends better so it feels right. After act 2 we just feel a scene is over but it not as clear. Anyway, that was the decision in Hamburg.

So after a pause of 25 minutes we are in the Rolando household. Lida is extremely agitated, Arrigo has joined the death/suicide squad. This is just a scene of extreme feeling. Lida is in secret writing a note to Arrigo. Imelda agrees to carry it, to give it to Arrigo. But sleazy Marcowaldo gets hold of the document.  Rolando comes to Lida to say goodbye and since it is war again and he could die. He is very emotial and Lida becomes teary-eyed, too. Their boy is seated and Rolando gives instructs Lida "tell him he is of Italian blood, then him he is my son". Beautiful duet. Then a scene with Rolando and Arrigo alone. Rolando does not know that Arrigio has joined the death squad so he asks Arrigo to take care of his wife and son. Arrigo who has shown no mercy toward Lida, he can feel sorry Rolando, the man who "stole" Lida from him. Beatiful scene. As Rolando is about to depart Marcowaldo shows the letter Lida wrote to Arrigo and naturally Rolando waste no time to think and goes into fury about the "betrayal" immediately.

Arrigo is in his appartement feeling sorry for himself. So sure of his death is Arrigo so he is writing his mother to prepare her. Having heard no word from Arrigo since Arrigo has not received the note, Lida comes. She confesses her love. But even as that makes Arrigo happy Lida tells him he must live for his mother just as she must live for son. The appartment is on the second floor and the stage is covered in blue light as it night and the river runs there. Rolando appears, Arrigo hides Lida. Rolando has decided against killing Arrigo. Arrigo is to die the slow, agonizing death of shame. Rolando knows that for Arrigo that is worse than death. For Lida, another shame, to no longer be a part of the Rolando household, Rolando will no longer accept her as his wife. Infamia!!! Desperately Arrigo throws himself in the river. He will find a way to join the Componi della Morte. This scene is just Verdi magic.

Act 4. War is over. Lida is overjoyed to hear that Arrigo managed to get to his squad, His shame has been averted. Masses celebrate. A mourning sound is heard. The death squad leads a mortally wounded Arrigo, a man dying for the fatherland cannot lie. Rolando must understand that Lida is innocent. Will Rolando not accept and hold the hand of Arrigo. Rolando forgives Arrigo and possibly Lida, too. Arrigo dies as hero. The opera ends beautifully!!!!!

Friday 25 October 2013

Don Carlo in Vienna, opera with one (1) Pausen

Just not what I wanted!!!

Not that I missed Anja Harteros when we had Tamar Iveri as Elisabeth de Valois. The cast was superb. The production OK. I was rested enough and had something to eat before opera but then. Maybe it was the lasagna from Pizzeria Venezia. The opera began at 19. And just 5 minutes into one of my favorite operas I feel. There is a leak. Then I realized it. The only interval would be after act 2. I suffered those 100 minutes. Yet I could enjoy the wonderful music and glorious singing. I could not immerse myself completely in Verdi's wonderful world. Pausen. After the wc queu and change of my stoma. I could have a cola light and then no more rest. Back to my seat. Act 3 and 4. Lovely, except another leak. I LOVE DON CARLO. But I cannot wait after the opera for my beloved opera stars. I came to my hotel room in time to prevent the DISASTER. This time I took my time and took extra, extra care and so I have had no more leaks. Well, one, but that was another matter entirely.

2013-10-19 Don Carlo (Giuseppe Verdi),Wiener Staatsoper

Philipp II = Ferruccio Furlanetto 
Don Carlo = Ramón Vargas
Rodrigo = Ludovic Tézier
Elisabeth von Valois = Tamar Iveri
Prinzessin Eboli = Violeta Urmana
Großinquisitor = Eric Halfvarson
Mönch = Dan Paul Dumitrescu
Tebaldo = Ileana Tonca
Lerma = Xiahou Jinxu
Herold = Xiahou Jinxu
Stimme vom Himmel = Valentina Nafornita

Franz Welser-Möst, conductor

Daniele Abbado | Regie
Graziano Gregori | Bühnenkonzeption
Angelo Linzalata | Bühne
Carla Teti | Kostüme
Alessandro Carletti | Licht
Boris Stetka | Regiemitarbeit
Simona Bucci | Choreographie

Did I like the production? Well, it was OK but nothing new and interesting. The stage was just like how do we move this walls around. The effect was nothing really. Costumes good but not amazing. Modern kind of historic. It was the majesty of Ferruccio Furlanetto, the vulnerality of Ramon Vargas, the vigor of Ludovic Tezier, the sweetness of Tamar Iveri, the passion of Violeta Urmana, these singers made the opera real. 

Xiahou Jinxu as Lerma/Herold was just wonderful!! A wonderful voice, a skilful presention and a singer for the future. Loved him!!! Of course I adored Ramon Vargas who is a great singer and actor. I found the interaction between Vargas and Ludovic Tezier as Don Carlo and Rodrigo, just perfect. Tezier was a really wonderful Rodrigo. The interaction between Ferrucio Furlanetto and Tamar Iveri as Fillip II and Elisabeth was another high. Vargas as Iveri also very good. I really liked Violeta Urmana and her Eboli. 

So on Sunday 20th, it was time to go home. No more leaks but a really bad head ache that never stopped until Monday when I was back to work.

NEXT Verdi Opera for me: LA BATTAGLIA DI LEGNANI, Staatsoper Hamburg 2013-10-26. Wish me luck!!!