Tuesday 30 December 2014

Merry Christmas and a Happy Birthday + Luisa Miller 2014

Christmas celebrations in Oslo with relatives. I even got Christmas presents.
I especially loved the socks. But even in Zurich it was too cold to go out to see an opera dressed like that. It even snowed a bit in Zurich, but then rain took over. 

Since I stayed in a hotel in Oslo during Christmas I am now a friend of Scandic Hotels. I wonder if it is a bit like being a Facebook friend. Anyway that how it is. But how do one remember all the hotels one has a number at? So after good food, presents and family time I was off to Zurich to see Luisa Miller on December 27th.

Late evening flight to Zurich on December 26th. Arriving in Zurich Airport at 22 and then to my hotel Radisson Blu in the airport. Eating breakfast at McDonalds at 0930, lunch/dinner at Pasta & Pizza at 1500, then off to Zurich train station Stadelhafen ( or something like that) and had late dinner at 1800 in  Asian fast food restaurant. The late dinner was expensive for me as ate only half of it, mostly I was there because I used to eat there almost each time I was in Zurich so I was on memory lane. 5 minutes walk to the opera house in the rain. At 2000 the opera started.

Carlo Rizzi conducted. He had now more gray hair but as most vigor as before. Last time, and first time I saw this opera was in 2000 (March 4th) also in Zurich and with the same soprano as Luisa Miller. Elena Mosuc was great as Luisa, even better than in 2000, and she was great in 2000 also. Ivan Magri was a just as wonderful as Rodolfo just like Elena Mosuc as Luisa. Such beautiful voices and acting beautifully too. Leo Nucci was a powerful Miller. The most surprisingly beautiful voice was the voice of Vitalij Kowaljow. Conte di Walter was just so pleasing dressed in beautiful white cloths and such a beautiful voice one could almost forget that he is one of the villains. Judith Schmid was Frederica and she was all and more that one could wish for as Frederica. 

The use of revolving stage was overused and the chorus was treated more like props. And then we had Wurm sung beautifully by Wenwei Zhang. Maybe I should call him Wormtongue. A villain is Wurm there is now doubt that it is true. So the director makes him look and act as a villain in all times. There is now need to make him move his neek and head in strange ways just to make him villainous the director should have been much more subtle. Other than the overuse of revolving stage, using chorus as props and setting Wurm up as just villainous it was a wonderful production of Luisa Miller.

2014-12-27 Luisa Miller (G. Verdi), Opernhaus Zurich

Graf von Walter = Vitalij Kowaljow
Rodolfo = Ivan Magri
Federica = Judith Schmid
Wurm = Wenwei Zhang
Miller = Leo Nucci
Luisa Miller = Elena Mosuc
Laura = Hamida Kristoffersen

Carlo Rizzi, conductor
Philharmonia Zürich
Chor der Oper Zürich​ 

Musikalische Leitung - Carlo Rizzi
Inszenierung - Damiano Michieletto
Bühnenbild - Paolo Fantin
Kostüme - Carla Teti
Lichtgestaltung - Hans-Rudolf Kunz
Choreinstudierung - Jürg Hämmerli

December 28th, 2014. Early up to get the early flight to Oslo. And then waiting in Gardermoen for my flight home. So at 1400 or so home and Happy Birthday to me!!!

Wednesday 17 December 2014

2014-12-13 Los Diamantes de la Corona (Asenjo Barbieri) in Teatro de la Zarzuela

2014-12-13 Los diamantes de la corona (Francisco Asenjo Barbieri), Teatro de la Zarzuela (Madrid)

CATALINA - María José Moreno
DIANA - Marina Pardo
REBOLLEDO - Fernando Latorre
DON SEBASTIÁN - Gerardo Bullón
ANTONIO - Joseba Pinela
CRIADO - Antonio Gómiz
UJIER - Xavi Montesinos

Oliver Díaz, conductor
Orquesta de la Comunidad de Madrid
Coro del Teatro de La Zarzuela
Antonio Fauró

Music director - Oliver Díaz
Stage director - José Carlos Plaza
Sets and lights - Francisco Leal
Costumes - Pedro Moreno
Stage assistant - Jorge Torres
Costumes assistant - Carmen Mancebo
Lights assistant - Pedro Yagüe

Why go to Madrid to see this zarzuela? Well, I did buy a subscription for zarzuelas mostly because I wanted to see Carmen as zarzuela. You know I should have gond on November 29 that was my subsciption day but the cold and feeling sick and suddenly the flights was too much money. Still, I did not give up on Los Diamantes de la Corona. So I can go another Saturday, December 6th or 13th. And 13 won. The traffic in Madrid is just massive. Because I had an early flight on Sunday I stayed in one of the hotels around the Madrid Barajas Airport. Tryp Alameda Aeroporto this time. Took taxi to anf from the theatre, almost 30 Euro to the theater and less than 25 home. Free 24 hrs transfer bus to/from airport. Not too expensive and free internet.

Beautiful singing and lovely production. Great fun and surtitling in Spanish and English. A full theatre. Lots of Bravos. A lovely theater night but not something I needed to go to see more times not like La Chulapona by Moreno Torroba.

Monday 8 December 2014

I am dreaming of a White Christmas

I am dreaming of a White Christmas, not a KKK Christmas.
NEVER a KKK Christmas. NOT a Christmas only for White People. My dream of Christmas is a Day, a Week, a Season we all can enjoy whether Christian or not. It should not matter who we are or what we are doing this should be a season of Love.

It looks like here in Norway we will have a White Christmas as it has been snowing. But still... White Christmas does not sound so great after Ferguson, after all those Black men, women and children killed by cops. #CrimingWhileWhite shows that the police can be compassionate if you are White. If not White then you are no good, a thug, no matter if you were just sitting somewhere, shopping, or on the phone etc. If you are white you can go in town with your assault rifle and nothing happens but then so surprised when the White people use their guns to kill. 

My dream of White Christmas is a dream of a colourful Christmas where we are all human and worthy of being tried in a fair legal trial. First all are assumed innocent and only real, factual behaviour is used against you. Whiteness should give you nothing for free, Blackness should never take anything from you. Feelin fearful should not give you free chances. It must be proven that it really was a danger or that previous encounters showed that the could be grounds to be fearful. But NEVER, NEVER should killing be the first thing, ever. DO NOT KILL. DO NOT LIE. For police to lie should mean losing their job, for police to kill when there was other options, lose their job. Naturally police abuse should mean a prison sentence in the least.

White Christmas is so near....

Colourful Christmas is so far... When will there be justice for all? When? Can we, Europe, Africa, Asia, America, Australia & New Zealand, rally for justice in USA? Can we be against all police violence no matter where and who? Can we, please?

Of course, I wish you all a happy Christmas, but I am so sad...

Sunday 2 November 2014

Carmen in Madrid 2014-10-25

This time a flight to Oslo in the evening. Hotel near Gardermoen. The flight was so late so I had only time to just go to bed and sleep. Then early up and bus to Gardermoen. From Oslo via Frankfurt to Madrid and then to the hotel with hotel bus. So 1700 in hotel and I thought I might have time to eat before Zarzuela at 1900. I decided to take taxi directly to the Theatre and there look for somewhere to eat. But I had to survive on the Lufthansa meal. And of course the 3 pretzels I bought in Frankfurt airport was great to have. 

After La Zarzuela I took taxi to the Hotel, then right to bed. Early morning hotel bus to airport. First I thought 7 would be early enough, my flight was 0830 and I had nothing to check in. But I got nerves so I choose 6 (hotel bus to airport only early hour from 0400). 7 would have been OK, but at least no stress this way. With just a short stay in Frankfurt I needed to go out quickly, a woman shoved me hard in the stomach as I was just stepping forward and she was still in her row. I found that rude and strange behaviour, never experienced that before. And she did that while complaining about the people who was just trying nicely to exit the plane. Many had other flights like I had. No time to say or do anything just go and find my flight to Oslo. Eating and waiting in Oslo until my flight back home. Home 21 on Sunday.

2014-10-25 Carmen (G. Bizet), Teatro de la Zarzuela (Madrid)

Carmen = María José Montiel
Don José = Javier Palacios*
Escamillo = Rubén Amoretti
Micaëla = Sabina Puértolas
Zuniga = Francisco Tójar
Moralès = David Rubiera
El Donairo = Javier Galán
El Remendado = Néstor Losán
Frasquita = Isabel Rodríguez García
Mercédès = Marifé Nogales
CURRO FLORES = José Vicente Ramos
UN GUÍA = Juan Pedro Schwartz

Yi-Chen Lin, conductor
Orquesta de la Comunidad de Madrid
Coro del Teatro de La Zarzuela
Antonio Fauró

Dirección de escena - Ana Zamora
Escenografía - Richard Cenier
Vestuario - Deborah Macías

Zarzuela en cuatro actos, basada en la ópera cómica de Ludovic Halévy y Henri Meilhac
Traducción de Eduardo de Bray

Estrenada en el Teatro-Circo Alegría de Barcelona, el 7 de abril de 1890
Nueva producción del Teatro de la Zarzuela

10, 12, 15, 17, 19, 22, 23, 25, 26, 29, 30 y 31 de octubre de 2014
19:00 horas (domingos, a las 18:00 horas)

JAVIER PALACIOS as DON JOSE in replacement for Jose Ferrer who was not well.

Yes that was the announcement that started this Carmen in Madrid's Teatro de la Zarzuela. And a great Don Jose he was, this Javier Palacios on Saturday, October 25th, 2014. Maria Jose Montiel was Carmen just as expected. 

This was not the usual Carmen, this was an opera turned zarzuela but for me it was nothing like a true zarzuela just Carmen sung and spoken in Spanish. No Lillas Pastia here, in this Carmen he was names Curro Flores. Here the spoken dialogue was in Spanish almost the same as the original French but expanded to more dialogue and more realistic in then Spanish version. But in this version I could here no doubt the music was French. Strange that when sung in French I could feel it spanishness and only lose Spain and suddenly be in France in the dialogue.

Zarzuela it might not be but the cast was strong with Maria Jose Montiel as a great Carmen, Javier Palacios also in great voice and believable as Don Jose. Sabina Puértolas as Micaela was a wonder as a strong Spanich Micaela. Rubén Amoretti was a rather usual Escamillo when compared to Montiel, Palacias and Puertolas. Francisco Tójar as Zuniga and David Rubiera as Morales were both great actors and singers.

Ana Zamora as stage director created a bright colored Carmen but her idea was that Carmen was to be very feminine but not feministic. That sound like someone who thinks that feminists can not be feminine. She tried to make Carmen into something "more" by setting each act into a newer time so Carmen ended in the 1960s or so. But Carmen can very well be a femistic idol, she rules her own and no man can make her different. Don Jose is a man still very much in the paternalistic pattern, his idea of honor, and he thinks Carmen can be become his help mate. He never listens to her views or believe in them as real. In the end he can only look at Carmen as an Idol or a Demon. Don Jose never sees himself as a man who chooses, so he think he has to kill her when she refuses to save him from himself. Micaela is a brave woman even if she fears Carmen. She never gives up. The soldiers street harassment of Micaela as young, unprotected girl (17)  walks into Sevilla to ask after Don Jose, the officer. Escamillo, the cynic, is he really that much better than the other men, or is he is just the benevolent sexist. And what would really be Carmen's story if Jose did not kill her? Maybe we should also ask how happy would Micaela  and Don Jose be together if Carmen never happened to them. What would be Micaela's story?

Bright colored Carmen, sweetly done, but still no layers here in Ana Zamora's zarzuela version of Carmen. Still: Viva Espana!!!

For reviews from my travels, see www.operaduetstravel.com

Thursday 9 October 2014

Simply the best Elvira of all times: Ditte Højgaard Andersen as Svava (Nordfjordeid 2014-10-05)

More photos from operaduetsphotos.com.

The Opera Nordfjord production of I Puratani by Bellini was called Søner av sola (Sons of the Sun) and was called a fantasy opera. Norse mythology in stead of Civil War in England. New translation by young Norwegian Jostein Avdem Fretland.

Two Danes as the protagonists Svava (Elvira) and Vakar (Arturo): Ditte Højgaard Andersen & Bo Kristian Jensen. Trond Gudevold was Svava's uncle Svidre (Giorgio) and Bjørn Gisle Seter was Svavna (Valton), King of the Volunds. Then as the other man who loves Svava and had the King's promise to have her Snjodainn (Riccardo), a great Volund leader,  was the great Trond Halstein Moe. The other tenor of the group Stallarhrut (Bruno) was Petter Wulfsberg Moen. As Arnaviv (Enriquetta), Queen of the Egds was Gro Bente Kjellevold. ¨

The two lovers comes from different people Svava of the Volunds and Vakar of the Egds.No politics is involved, it is just two different people and maybe different Gods. The cast of two Danes and the rest Norwegians was great. Fabulous singing of the soloists, a great chorus and orchestra conducted by Michael Pavelich, the man himself.

Michael Pavelich also had the Regie, Scenography was by Sunniva Bodvin. Costume design by Anne Gotaas. Light design by Hans Åke Sjöquist. Masks by Maren Togstad. Assistant regie and choreography by Marit Grytnes Dullaert.

In this new production there was an added element Herkja, a Volve working for Svidre played by Jannik Bonnevie. The opera started with the vigorous prelude of Puritani and then full stop and then words, words and words and then finally the opera started again. I was bored while she explained the background or something. But then it started. Puritani is not Norma, it has many good parts but Norma has a story that makes sense and you can feel for Norma and Pollione and Adalgisa. Puritani, yes even in this Norse fantasy opera version has the same weaknesses. But the aria, and duets and ensembles are just smashing wonderful. And we had Bel Canto here and also stupidity as sometime come with bel canto repertoire. Trond Halstein Moe, the old wolf of Norwegian opera (I probably read to many novels about shifters) was wonderful as the young and dashing Snjodainn, powerful and so bel canto. I was surprised how little stage time Svavna, Bjørn Gisle Seter, had, but yummy. Trond Gudevold as Svidre and Ditte Højgaard Andersen in duet was amazing. Trond Gudevold was like a bel canto God, Ditte was the Godess of all. Gro Bente Kjellevold was great to stand out. The tenors Stallarhrut, Petter Wulfsberg Moen had such a beautiful tenor voice, but poor Vakar or rather Bo Kristian Jensen had all those nasty high note to press out.

It was a beautiful production in Nordfjordeid but I am sorry to say I am not totally on board but I think it is the opera's fault. I Puritani, I am sorry, but I can not love you.

Still it is totally you have to go and see and experience this. Because you listen to Met on Demand for hear some Puritanis and not even Joan Sutherland or Edita Gruberova are better than Ditte Højgaard Andersen!!!

For reviews from my travels, see www.operaduetstravel.com

Monday 6 October 2014

After Verona, what then?

After a great night in the Arena I slept well in my B&B but I had this great idea to go to Milano because I thought that would be fun and my airport to back home is Milano Airport Malpensa. 

Then I got the headache of the century or at least decade. Milano is not my kind of city, Verona is much better. A 4 star hotel cheaper than B&B in Verona but with the worst pillows, they were hard, no help with 2 pillows or 4 when all were so hard. After the struggle of finding the centrally situated hotel in Milano I rested on those hard pillows, or the one that was almost a bit soft, naturally my headache was still aching. So I went to the Duomo, just to eat pizza there. Great pizza, but it was a rather cold September night at 1900. Why such a long walk? Just walking and so many other nice places I could even sit inside and not freeze and eat well. But done is done. Eating food helps when in headache mode. But I had one of the worst night, up and up and down to sleep some more but first time I woke was 2330. So up every hour or so it seemed. Then finally morning, headache still there not in in complete killing me modus. Got lost going to the Milano Centrale and I am accusing the Maps in my Iphone. Finally accepting defeat I went to the nearest hotel and asked for help. Finally taxi to Milano Centrale stazione. Should have asked for taxi in my own hotel but the person say just go left, right or right, left and then I would be there. He should a least have given me a map. 

So that is Milano for you, stress and more stress, not nice like Verona and other Italian cities. So finally Malpensa airport and via Zurich to Oslo. Then I stayed with my aunt and uncle. Sunday I should have visited my dad but my headache was still on. So I took the plane back home. And then my headache took a rest, and I could rest without all that clawing in my head. Sunday 28. September was a good day, not like Friday.

Sunday 5 October 2014

A travel to the wonderful Opera Concert in Verona 2014-09-25

Oh, yes, it was a great concert but first one has to arrive. As usual I was thinking cheap flight, decent hotel and no stress. 7 hrs bus ride in the night to Oslo Airport, 4 hrs wait in airport. 2 hrs flight to Frankfurt, 1 hr in airport (or less, remember find gate and boarding), then 1 hour flight to Milan, Malpensa airport. Malpensa airport and walk, walk up and down to finally get to train. The MalpensaExpress directly to Milano Centrale except all those stops, 45-50 minutes train ride. THEN train to Verona Puorta Nuova, that is 1,5 hour. So 1730 in train station. Something to eat there and then off to my B&B. More like private living but no hotel was free in my prize class and close enough. It was good enough. Relaxing a bit until walking to Piazza Bra. Was lucky to met friends so that we could have food and drink together. Should not have chosen pizza. Now Concert.
Welll, we got our seats all right but a lot of double bookings in row 1 - 2. Polite complaining, standing up waiting for staff to help. Arena di Verona was not full, except in poltrone and poltronissimo there it was reasonable full. 

20 minutes late it started and the presenter talked and talked.
L'Opera è la grande bellezza, 

Carlo Guelfi

Presentatore Michele Mirabella

Orchestra Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini
Massimo Zanetti, conductor
Coro Teatro Regio di Parma, Coro Università degli studi di Perugia, Coro dell’Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia e le Voci Bianche Adamu

Regìa e progetto scenografico di ENRICO STINCHELLI
Coreografie di “Modulo Factory

Almost 7 minutes of talk by presenter before and then a lot of talk later on too.
Orchestra & ballet
"1. Terzo ballabile Macbeth"
Carlo Guelfi, baritone
2. Pietà, rispetto, amore (Macbeth) "
Jose Cura & Maria Guleghina
"3. Già nella notte densa (Otello)"

Jose Cura
"4. E lucevan le stelle (Tosca) "
Maria Guleghina
"5. Vissi d'arte (Tosca) "

Orchestra & ballett & chorus
"6. La Traviata - matadori & zingari"

Carlo Guelfi, Maria Guleghina
"7. Donna, chi sei? (Nabucco) "

Chorus & Orvhestra
"8. Patria oppressa (Macbeth) "

Jose Cura, Carlo Guelfi
"9. Desdemona rea...Sì pel ciel (Otello)"

fanfara dei carabinieri (2 minutes)
"10. korpsmusikk"

fanfara dei carabinieri
"11. Gloria all'Egitto, Aida con marcia trionfale e balletto"

fanfara dei carabinieri (2 minutes)
"12. ukjent korpsmusikk"
Maria Guleghjina
"13. Nel dì della vittoria (Macbeth)"
Jose Cura
"14. Vesti la giubba (Pagliacci) "

Carlo Gulefi, Chorus
 "16. Te Deum (Tosca)"

Maria Guleghina, Jose Cura & Chorus
 "17. In questa reggia (Turandot) "

Carlo Guelfi
"18. Nemico della Patria (Chénier) "

"19. Va’, pensiero (Nabucco)"

Jose Cura, Chorus
"20. Nessun dorma (Turandot)"

Maria Guleghina, tutti
"21. Finale Turandot TUTTI"

Jose Cura, tutti
22. National Anthem of Italy "Fratelli d'Italia"

What to say? Carlo Guelfi got better as the night progressed, Jose Cura and Maria Guleghina was on target all the time. The presenter just made it take longer take but the audience applauded a lot that he was saying so maybe it was allright. A super night of opera arias, duets, ensemble, ballet & corps music. Then I saw Maria Guleghina after the concert, she was freezing so she needed to get into the warm bus car right, and it was cold in Verona. Then we waited ages for Jose Cura to come and he came with his wife and company. Photos.

For reviews from my travels, see www.operaduetstravel.com

Saturday 20 September 2014

Placido Domingo in Giovanna D'Arco

I almost called this post "Placido Domingo as Giovanna d'Arco". He would of course need to use his falsetto voice, and still people would be coming because Placido is Placido.
After Placido Domingo started his new carreer as Baritone I find myself enjoying more his Tenor voice. Placido Domingo is not a real baritone, even when he sings his baritone roles one hears the tenor, but he is an Artist, an Actor who can use himself so that the audience falls for it. The Young Tenor would never had managed it but it is the Old Tenor Voice that becomes Baritone because Placido Domingo has the innate ability to Act and just be. Naturally those Verdi fathers is becoming to the white-haired Placido Domingo, The Opera's Grand Old Man.

I bought the new CD of Giovanna d'Arco in Vienna. With Anna Netrebko as Giovanna d'Arco, Placido Domingo as her father Giacomo and Francesco Meli as King Carlo VII of France it could have been magnificent but it was lacking. Anna Netrebko has been hailed Queen of Opera almost as much as Placido Domingo is the King of Opera. It is not only making it difficult to get tickets to events with her but she is too popular for her own good. She sounded tired, streched out too thin in places. I wish her magnificence back and that I finally will get to see her live. Tickets, please! Placido Domingo is wonderful but one need only to her Sherrill Milnes in the same role to understand that PD is no baritone. But there is still much to love about Placido as Giacomo. Francesco Meli is the tenor, good enough but not exciting as Placido Domingo was when he sang Carlo. Delil was sung by Johannes Dunz, Talbot was Roberto Tagliavini. It was recorded in Salzburg with Philharmonia Chor Wien, Munich Radio Orchestra conducted by Paolo Carignani. Deutsche Grammophon.

The EMI recording with Montserrat Caballe as Giovanna, Placido Domingo as Carlo and Sherrill Milnes is the superiour recording. Montserrat Caballe is superb as Giovanna, Placido Domingo is magnificent as the King and Sherrill Milnes give with hos baritone voice Giacomo all the power that is needed. Keith Erwen as Delil and Robert Lloyd as Talbot with Ambrosian Opera Chorus and London Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Levine.

Last year I saw Giovanna d'Arco in Bilbao, Spain. What I remember best was Claudio Sgura as Giacomo, Giovanna's father. He was so powerful with his strong voice and personality. This opera is really a difficult piece especially for soprano and tenor. It is demanding that from the moment they step on stage they are to sing powerful arias, no chance to ease into the role. Just step out there and be ON. 

Best Giacomo

1. Claudio Sgura
2. Sherrill Milnes
3. Placido Domingo

Sorry, Placido! 

Monday 15 September 2014

And off in a balloon they went (La Fanciulla del West, WienerStaatsoper 2014-09-14)

Mala lingua, indeed!

Why the balloon in the end? Was it not implausable enough in the original, off they went unto the sunset. 

Production aside, it also had some musical problems. It was nothing like the wonders that was Graeme Jenkins conducting Janaceks's Jenufa. The orchestra was frequently too loud and the conductor was too precise to allow the music to flow. Worst was the first act. Not only was it too loud orchestra but it was slow. The singers struggled, even Wagnerian soprano Nina Stemme struggled. Sadly this was neither Wagner nor the more common opera by Puccini. 

La Fanciulla del West is something conpletely different than Tosca or Butterfly. Second act was wonderful. Nina Stemme and Jose Cura together was great. And the second act is the most musical rewarding in this opera. Third act is a long wait for the tenor aria. Jose Cura was just great as Dick Johnson / Ramerrez. I did not care much for the Sheriff Jack Rance even musically speaking.
2014-09-14 La Fanciulla del West (Puccini),Wiener Staatsoper

Minnie = Nina Stemme
Dick Johnson (Ramirez) José Cura
Jack Rance = Tomasz Konieczny
Nick = Carlos Osuna
Ashby = Alexandru Moisiuc
Jake Wallace = Gabriel Bermúdez
Sonora = Boaz Daniel
Bello = Tae-Joong Yang
Happy = Clemens Unterreiner
Joe = Benedikt Kobel
Jim Larkens = Marcus Pelz
Trin = Thomas Ebenstein
Harry = Peter Jelosits
Sid = Mihail Dogotari
José Castro = Gabriel Bermúdez
Wowkle = Ilseyar Khayrullova
Billy Jackrabbit = Il Hong
Postiglione = Jinxu Xiahou

Graeme Jenkins, conductor

Director  & Set design- Marco Arturo Marelli
Costumes - Dagmar Niefind
Lighting design - Marco Arturo Marelli

Wednesday 27 August 2014

So much did not happen in August

I was going to see Carmen in Theatre Grec in Barcelona with Sergi Gimenez and I to Erl, Austria to see Jose Carreras as El Juez in Kolonits' new opera. That was how I was to use my 3rd and last week of Summer holiday. As I worried about how to get to Erl. All busses and train went to Kufstein... Then came the message the Barcelona OperAir Festival was cancelled due to severe technicsl problems.

Had I just made it two separate travels then I could just enjoy Barcelona and later take the trip to Erl. But my travel was OSL - BCN and then I would travel by train (that would have cost ca 300 Euro, and my hotel nights at least 300 Euro) then INN (Innsbruck)  - OSL. I mistrusted Erl and since on my May travel to Barcelona and Bilbao with Sergi in Carmen with piano and as an evening soaree, and El Juez with Carreras in Bilbao. I was tired after so many too hot days for being in Norway, and both Spain and Austria seemed to be even hotter. So the hot Summer days in Norway made me feeling quite cold about traveling. I wanted to rest beside I had seen EL JUEZ before. That decision made me save some money. Not that I got much from the airline when I cancelled, only 500-600 NOK did I get back, losing more than 2000 NOK. Most money was saved on not traveling by train from Barcelona to Austria and the staying home saved money as a hotel stay never does.

Saturday 26 July 2014

20 years Dalhalla Festival, Sweden - Jubilee Concert with Josep Carreras (2014-07-23)

2014-07-23 The Legendary Tenor José Carreras, Dalhalla, Sweden

José Carreras, tenor
Simge Büyükedes, soprano
Stockholm Concert Orchestra
David Giménez, conductor


On July 23rd, 2014 is it exactly 20 years since Birgit Nilsson opened the first Dalhalla festival with her concert. So this is the Jubilee Concert for Dalhalla. Josep Carreras was chosen to do the special Jubilee Concert as he is now a legend himself. Many years ago he sang with Birgit Nilsson in Tosca (in the US) and she refered to him as "her baby Cavaradossi".

Simge Büyükedes was the unknown quantity in this concert and she was the one who sang opera arias in the concert, the famous ones from Rusalka and La Wally. She was born in Istanbul, Turkey. A wonderful soprano voice that is like velvet. The weather that had threatened the concert with thunders, lightnings and heavy rains that luckily stopped in time of the concert begin at 2100 might have had an effect on her voice as it in the second half seemed to loose some of the strength. A slight cold could be hard on the voice. Josep Carreras was as he is nowadays a strong voice but not so subtle as when he was younger, no wonder when the man is over 67 years old. Nevertheless this was a party of well song canciones, musical tunes, zarzuela and opera arias. The Majesties of Sweden was there. And there were encores and Bravos and Bravas. The man holding it all together was David Gimenez conducting STockholm Concert Orchestra.

1. Verdi: NABUCCO - Ouverture (Orchestra)
2. Donizetti: Te voglio bene Assaje (Carreras)
3. Tosti: L'ultima canzone (Carreras)
4. Dvorak: RUSALKA - Song to the Moon (Büyükede)
5. Albeniz: El eco de tu voz (Carreras)
6. Rubas: Rosó - pel teu amor (Carreras)
7. LA WALLY - Ebben ne andro lontana (Büyükede)
8. Bizet: L'Arlesienne suite - Farandole (Orchestra)
9. Leigh: THE MAN OF LA MACHA - The Impossible Dream (Carreras)

10. Rendine: Vurria (Carreras)
11. Valente: Passione (Carreras)
12. Delibes: Les filles de Cadiz (Büyükede)
13. Satie: Je te veux (Carreras & Büyükede)
14. Jimenez: LA BODA DE LUIS ALONSO - Intermedio (Orchestra)
15. Barbieri: EL BARBERILLO DE LAVAPIES  - Cancion de Paloma (Büyükede)
16. Caballero: EL DUO DE LA  AFRICANA - Duo y Jota (Carreras & Büyükede)
17. Cardillo: Core n'grato (Carreras)


1. Gitarra Romana (Carreras)
2.  I Could Have Danced All NIght (Büyükede)
3. Non ti scordar di me (Carreras & Büyükede)
4. Torna a Surriento (Carreras)
5. Libiamo ne lieti calici (Carreras & Büyükede)

For reviews from my travels, see www.operaduetstravel.com

Sunday 6 July 2014

My weekend in Oslo with Der Fliegende Holländer 2014-06-22

It was supposed to be so nice. Finally I was to stay at Hotel Opera just across the opera house. Tired after a long night ride in the bus to Oslo rest in a nice hotel bed would be heaven. I booked via HRS.DE as I use to. I thought it would be no trouble, the check-in time was 1500 but I have never had trouble in any of the hotels I use now, not since the 1990s. The hotel was fully booked so I would have to wait. The lounge looked nice with many nice chairs and sofas to rest in. So I thought, no trouble I will just rest here for some time. A nice place to sit but after 5 minutes or less I was told that they had a policy of not letting people staying in the lounge. I having booked a hotel room in this hotel had thought I coud just stay just like has been allowed in other 4star hotels. A security woman came close. So I told the young woman who worked in the hotel that being treated this way I no longer wanted to stay in this hotel. One would think that working in hospitality sector they would be trained in offer apologise that does not work as another insult. "I am sorry that you feel like that". No really making me feel better was it. 3 times, at least, I had to repeat that I wanted to cancel and each time it seemed like she got it. But repeating the nonpology did nothing to helt. I cancelled the reservation also on HRS because I did not trust this "hotel person".

So that was not what I wanted 6 in the morning. 4 star hotel and potential hotel guest was asked to wait in the train station. Oslo main train station, Oslo S, is nice, but not anything to tell people who want to stay in a 4 star hotel to rest in. Tired and not happy I waited in Oslo S. Ate something. Then I was off to see my dad who has Alzheimers. Bus instead of train so it took longer. Then 3 hrs chatting with dad. He is nice and one can talk to him allright it is mostly his short term memory that is affected. Then back to Oslo. I did some shopping but I was tired, so tired. Luckily I have relatives in Oslo and I was allowed with them it was really nice, one cousin with wife and 2 girl, another with her husband and nr 3 had her last night until going back to USA. Tired as I was I should have gone to bed earlier but really seing my cousins again, I could not go to bed until they left.

Sunday. Breakfast with relatives and then to Oslo. It was opera matinee Der Fliegende Holländer 1500-1730. Opera with no breaks. Visits to the WC was stricly before or after. No snack between acts. But I was the last night of Terje Stensvold who was looking forward to be full-time grand-father. With his 70 years one can't really complain that he wants to retire. 

2014-06-22 Der fliegende Holländer (Wagner), Den Norske Opera & Ballet (Oslo)

Hollenderen = Terje Stensvold
Senta = Erika Sunnegårdh
Daland = Ketil Hugaas
Erik = Henrik Engelsviken
Mary = Tone Kummervold
Styrmannen = Marius Roth Christensen

John Helmer Fiore, conductor
Den Norske Opera & Ballet

REGI - Andreas Homoki
SCENOGRAFI - Wolfgang Gussmann
KOSTYMER - Wolfgang Gussmann
DRAMATURGI - Werner Hintze

LYSDESIGN - Franck Evin

I thought I would be so bored. This was Wagner after all. Opera with no intervals is just plain wrong. I have to admit I looked at my watch. First time I looked one hour had already passed. I thought I saw wrong numbers it was dark there. So this was working and with this regie and scenography it did not make sense to stop between acts.

Here one could have compassion with the Hollender because he care about Senta. When the H understand that Senta would probably suffer eternally he wants to stop the wedding. Senta has promised herself to Erik years ago but she is so much in love in the idea of the H. Erik loves Senta but he comes of more like a brute who has such self-pity. The H. is a man who has suffered a lot for his arrogance but his love for Senta makes him able to put Sentas life and happiness first, something Erik has not learned. Senta shows her "love" for the H. with sacrifising her life, she blows her brains out.

The Romantic Opera of Wagner. Where is the Romance really? Senta is not really the kind of woman one should aim to be. Daland, her father talks about her that she would be as pleasing and obidient to her husband as she is to Daland. Senta, my sweet child. But ever since she heard the story of the flying hollender she has been wild. So it was a great!!

After the opera and the applaus and the speech and flowers it was time to go home. I took the train to the airport and then flew home, and finally 2 weeks later I wrote this...

For more reviews from my travels, see www.operaduetstravel.com. 
If you want to see more photos from my OperaDuets Travels, go to www.operaduetsphotos.com

Wednesday 11 June 2014

The Opera and The Truth

The Opera has always had difficulty with the Truth. 

The Truth with big T has always been elusive. Carmen by Georges Bizet was first a novel by Prosper Merimée. Maybe it is even true that the story of Carmen was told to Merimée by the real Don José. Would that mean that Merimée's Carmen was the true story of Carmen. How would we know what is the truth here? Don José could have lied about little things or big things, or maybe just believing in his ignorance that he knew more than he did. Lying by omission is common and lying by telling the truth as one believe it is and yet be mistaken. Merimée would as he adapted the story as a novel (or novella) could change bit and pieces as authors do. The knowledge that Prosper Merimée had on Spain and of the Spanish Gitanas, was that true facts or just what was at the time believed to be true. Merimée was no Spaniard. Did he need to be Spanish? Georges Bizet, the composer of Carmen, was French as Merimée. An Opera will never be exactly like the novel, theatre, poem or movie that it comes from. The libretto was by Meilhac and Halèvy. The music by Georges Bizet. The opera first comes when the libretto and music comes together. That is the easy way of telling it. The process of making an opera is usuay far more complex, a friendly or unfriendly cooperation that often threaten to make the creators going mad. 

So the opera Carmen is made. Then comes the creation of what is truly an opera, and that is the staged production of the opera. Otherwise CD's was enough. DVD of a staged production is more like the real thing. Carmen, the opera, is so alive and true for me that CARMEN is Spain and my understanding of the real Gitanas and Spanish women is based on Carmen, the character in this opera . I have been to Spain. I have seen Barcelona, Madrid, Bilbao, but still not been to Sevilla. I love Spain because of Carmen and I dream of going to Sevilla and to see Andalucia because of Carmen. This seems all very well. Except that the idea of Spain based on any opera or something like that is a lie or rather an untruth. Spain is happy to have a great tourist industry and Carmen fuels that. It is the exotism of Spain and the Gitanas that can be harmful.

Here comes the Regie. For me the right way is to look at the opera mostly and mostly ditch the source. Verdi's Don Carlos comes from Schiller's play which is based on true Spanish history. Schiller made his choices caring not overmuch about historical facts. The opera goes another step. The Regie has to match the opera, historical facts goes to the programmheft. 

The Opera needs to be truthful to the opera that is written. How historial true does it need to be? Analyze the text and the score to understand if an updating can be done without hurting the core of the opera. Do not let people sing sword and then use a revolver. I wish people did not thing booing means did they did it right. Usually it is not a sign that you are a genious. 

Sunday 4 May 2014

And suddenly it is May, an abrupt travel to Spain

So nothing for April. Lazy April, and I feel guilty for that. I had thought to travel to Bilbao for the new opera with Josep Carreras, El Juez by Kolonits. Saturday 26th April, the first Premiere of a new Opera. Then I decided, no, too expensive and I am going to Erl, Austria to see it there in August. Then a Facebook friend invited me for the Salon Opera version of Carmen with Sergi Gimenez Carreras as Don Jose and that was in Barcelona on May 1st. So I started thinking could it not be combined with a Bilbao trip for El Juez on May 2nd with Josep Carreras as el juez Federico Ribas and conducted with David Gimenez Carreras. Just like that, an OperaDuets Travel for May 2014 is born.

Being in Barcelona but not for the first time was great. Everything was going great. Well, except that I hardly slept on the bus to Oslo Gardermoen Airport, 7 hrs and maybe 2-3 hrs sleep. One can't sleep in the airport waiting hrs for my flight. No rest as some peoples was laughing so loudly and that seemed to go on forever. My headache did not help. Finally Barcelona came and finding my hotel went well. Tried resting. Then I was hungry needed to eat before opera, and then lost... Will I never find the Salon for this Carmen. My headache thundered. Then I was in a street and some other people was looking to find... something, and then I could see tickets. No longer lost in Barcelona was I. And in time for Carmen, the audience was in time, the Salon was still sorting things out. Then Prelude to Carmen. The was a staged Carmen, not the complete opera but with nothing essential missing. A piano was the orchestra and the pianist was up to the task. With full passion and acting it all out, this was CARMEN!!!

2014-05-01 Carmen (Bizet), Salon de Opera (Barcelona)

CARMEN - Ana Ferro
DON JOSÉ - Sergi Giménez
MICAELA - Cristiana Oliveira
ESCAMILLO - Nuno de Araujo Pereira
FRASQUITA - Anna B. Gómez
MERCEDES- Carla Mattioli

Piano - Montse Pujol Dahme
Sitting just a few feet from the opera singers this was intense. On sofas and chair in a living room with a piano we sat. The prelude and entr'acte was played on speakers. Then the pianist starts the live opera or maybe we should call it lived opera. The space was used for optimal operatic tension. The staircase was used theatrically and so was other rooms used as backstage. One of the best Carmen performances and in such a limited space! Amazing!!!

Then a train travel to Bilbao. Not my first time there but for all practical matters it could be.
2014-05-02 El Juez (Christian Kolonovits), Teatro Arriaga (Bilbao)

Federico = Josep Carreras
Paula = Sabina Puértolas
Alberto = José Luis Sola
María/1ª monja = Mª José Suárez
2ª monja = Itziar de Unda
Paco (cameraman) = Manel Esteve
Abadesa = Ana Ibarra
Morales = Carlo Colombara
Hombre 1 = Alberto Núñez
Hombre 2 = Giorgi Meladze
Hombre 3 =José Manuel Díaz
Hombre 4 = Mikel Zabala
Mujer mayor = Milagros Martín
Figuración (niña) = Laia de la Fuente

David Gimenez, conductor
Coro niños perdidos: Kantika Korala
Director: Basilio Astúlez
Coro: Coro Rossini
Director coro: Gerardo Carbajo
Orquesta: BIOS

Dirección escénica: Emilio Sagi
Escenografía: Daniel Bianco
Figurinista: Pepa Ojanguren
Iluminación: Eduardo Bravo
Ayudante de dirección escénica: Javier Ulacia
Maestra repetidora: Husan Park
Realización de escenografía: Neo Producciones
Realización de vestuario: Pepispoo

A new opera in Bilbao, an old one in Barcelona. Josep Carreras in a new role as the Judge Federico Ribas. The tragedy happens when people agree to dubious thing for a supposed higher reason. It was another villain role for Carlo Colombara. The Italian bass was Morales. Morales is a role cast from the same mold as Baron Scarpia in Puccini's Tosca. Even worse than Scarpia and more towards Mefisto. Pure evil but suppossedly in the service of the Church. Probably just after power and lust for violence. 

Alberto is a man in search of his brother. The brother is one of The Lost Children. Children taken by the Church and given other parents without knowledge of the truth. Alberto with journalist Laura is on the task to find out more of the lost children. This threatens the Church and Morales. So Morales talks to Alberto and promises him to know who his brother is. The catch is that the judge that Alberto will threaten is Alberto's brother. And Morales knows this, so he will crush two in one crash. Before any happy end can happen Morales kills Alberto. As Alberton lies dying, brother meets brother. SAD END!!!

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Stiffelio in Stockholm with Andrea Caré and Lena Nordin (March 8, 2014)

It was the first time that I saw and heard the tenor Andrea Caré. I do think I have found my new favorite tenor. He was just wonderful as Stiffelio. 

After 27 years working in Royal Opera House in Stockholm Lena Nordin was singing her last role as permanent engaged as opera singer. Now she is officially retired. But as Birgitta Svenden, the opera chief said she will still work in other opera houses and with her festival and also come as guest to Stockholm opera house.

I almost missed that the opera started 1500 and not 1900 as I thought. It was cold in Stockholm, not as bad as in January. Since I had already seen the production before, and did not love it, but as I had seen it I found it easier to like it this time. Having Andrea Caré as Stiffelio helped a lot. I think the whole ensemble was better, more together. Las time we had two Stankars, one singing and one acting. Now we had the unity that was missing. Lena Nordin was Lina that time, too. I think that Andrea Caré was inspiring them all. And then it was Lena Nordin chance to go out with a bang. Lovely!!!

Andrea Caré is a young tenor and hope he will have a long and exciting career. One could not have a better Stiffelio, not even Carreras, Domingo or Cura could do better!!! As a Cura fan I would love to see him in Stockholm as Stiffelio... Andrea Caré is just simply lovely. His voice has everything, strength and sweetness.

2014-03-08 Stiffelio (Verdi),Kungliga Operan (Stockholm)

Stiffelio = Andrea Caré
Lina = Lena Nordin
Stankar = Kosma Ranuer
Raffaele = Jonas Degerfeldt
Jorg = John Erik Eleby
Federico = Klas Hedlund
Dorotea = Sara Olsson

Giampaolo Bisarti, conductor
Stage design and costumes:Magdalena Åberg 
Light design: Ellen Ruge 
Dramaturg: Stefan Johansson 
Producer: Tobias Theorell