Thursday 31 December 2015

Happy New Year to all!

For most people Christmas is now over and New Year is beginning.

For me is Christmas is mostly about the possibility to take a holiday from work and to eat Christmas food, Norwegian Christmas food. Juleribbe!!!

The how-to-make a great Juleribbe (in Norwegian)

In Norway Christmas does not have much to do with Christ or Mass, but still we often go to Church on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We get our presents on Christmas Eve in Norway. I asked not to get presents and I almost got my Wish. I met with family on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day and that was nice even if it meant staying in a hotel because their houses were already filled with closer relatives. Still on 2nd Day Christmas which is just as free but less holy than Christmas (1st) Day I traveled back home and on 4th of Christmas I celebrated my birthday alone and that was nice and quiet.

And now it is last day of 2015, at least it is so in Norway! The fireworks started already at 8pm.


For reviews from my travels, see

Sunday 1 November 2015

I have a lump in my throat, in between opera and hospital visits

This time my lump in my throat has nothing to do with my love of opera except they both belong to me for the time being. Only 3 percent risk that it is malignant but every year the the lump will become bigger and 1 percent more likely to be malignant.

In between many operas this year was also many small visits to doctors and hospitals. Crohn's disease, migraine, seeing and hearing not ok. So MR, CT, operations on both eyes to get better eyesight (first right eye and then left with weeks in between, hearing equipment for my hearing ear that does not hear too well either. MR to my brain showed nothing dangerous in my brain but something in throat/neck was there and suddenly a normal doctor's appointment meant quickly to the another hospital for more checks. I had to stay there some days just to get some tests. Later another hospital again for a better test with better equipment. Staying overnight to get my test. Then weeks later, on October 20th to talk to a doctor about what they had found. He smiled and was ever so nice so I almost did not hear the word "tumor". I kept my cool, the doctor was smiling so how bad could it be. Most likely, 97%, it is benign, but the placement is not good and it will become bigger year for year and the probability of it becoming malignant will increase (just 1 percent yearly). So an operation in 3 months time, yes, I agreed to that.

Well, I have a lump in my throat but it doesn't hurt and I am optimistic. I LOVE OPERA!! I will make sure that the operation will not hinder me overly in seeing the operas I have planned. I am not an opera singer so if the operation touching my vocals cords I will be Ok, and even if it gets too close to nerves for half my face I will still be OK. I have decided to be cool now and OK after the operation. Nothing will hinder my love for opera!! And pizza!

Saturday 31 October 2015

And almost 9 years since the premiere I see again Werther in Munich (2015-10-25)

I believed as I was sitting in Nationaltheater, Munich, that at home I have a DVD with this same production but from Vienna. The reality was that I was in Munich for premiere in 2006 with Sophie Koch and Marcelo Alvarez and that Vienna and the DVD is another production. Stranger still that even with booklet showing Koch and Alvarez I did not remember that I was there for the premiere in Munich.

Werther in Vienna had really set its mark on me and the Munich production had vanished. Marcelo Alvarez was amazing and so was Sophie Koch. But that was 2006 and now it is 2015 and it is Rolando Villazon and Angela Brower. Earlier this year I saw them as Hoffmann and Nicklausse in Les Contes d'Hoffmann and they were absolutely marvelous. 

Rolando Villazon is an amazing actor and has a wonderful tenor voice but this day (2015-10-25) his voice would not always come out the right way especially in the higher notes. It was painful to hear his voice "glitch" but always he was Werther. Angela Brower was Charlotte, a woman who is full of life but unfortunately she has promised to marry dull Albert. Her sister is also in love with Werther but she also seem to genuinely like Albert where Charlotte has to struggle to be accept being near him and dislikes to be touched by Albert. Solution Charlotte should have married Werther and Albert could have Sophie. Probability higher for happiness for sure.

2015-10-25 Werther (Massenet), Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich 

Werther = Rolando Villazón
Charlotte = Angela Brower 
Sophie = Hanna-Elisabeth Müller
Albert Michael Nagy 
Le Bailli = Christoph Stephinger
Schmidt = Kevin Conners   
Johann = Tim Kuypers   
Brühlmann Johannes Kammler   
Käthchen = Anna Rajah 

Asher Fisch, conductor

Production, Set, Lighting Concept 
and Costumes - Jürgen Rose
Mitarbeit Inszenierung - Franziska Severin   
Lighting - Michael Bauer   
Children Chorus - Stellario Fagone   
Dramaturgy - Ingrid Zellner    

This production of Werther made it into 1940-60s or something. It was just an update that gave us nothing. Werther is always writing and in the middle of the scene is a big stone and there is Werther's writing desk. Always is the production trying to remind us that the original novel was a novel made of letters from Werther etc (I haven't read the novel by Goethe). The walls are filled with the scribblings of Werther. But what does that give us, the spectators. The revolving stage is used too much and means seldom much. Only as we see Charlotte desperate to come in time to save Werther is the revolving stage used to help us see, the stage going in the wrong direction this we see Charlotte struggling and it gets real for use, too.

In the personregie it is much better. One can believe this people. The children are adorable and this time the father is played as one who are their loving father and not just a father who lets his oldest daughters to be the parents. This children already have one parent even though they have lost their mother. The two elder sister are helping out. Albert is nice enough but he wants Charlotte to just say she is as happy as him, he does not want the truth. She never wanted him but Albert understand Charlotte so little that he thinks that if Charlotte loves another man she would naturally be unfaithful to her husband. Albert and Werther, i do not understand them, what a weird friendship.

Sunday 11 October 2015

I saw Dr House in Aida (Munich 2015-10-04)

2015-10-04 Aida (Verdi), Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich 

Amneris = Anna Smirnova 
Aida = Krassimira Stoyanova 
Radamès = Jonas Kaufmann 
Ramfis = Ain Anger
Amonasro = Franco Vassallo 
Der König = Marco Spotti 
Ein Bote = Dean Power 
Eine Priesterin = Anna Rajah

Dan Ettinger, conductor
Bayerisches Staatsorchester
Chor und Extrachor der Bayerischen Staatsoper

Inszenierung - Christof Nel Konzeptionelle Beratung - Martina Jochem 
Bühne - Jens Kilian 
Kostüme- Ilse Welter-Fuchs Choreographische Arbeit- Valentí Rocamora i Torà 
Licht - Olaf Winter 
Chöre- Sören Eckhoff 
Dramaturgie - Olaf A. Schmitt   

Since the Puccini album with the Dr House lookalike Jonas Kaufmann I call him Dr House.
Jonas Kaufmann is a great actor but... he is supposed to be a tenor, not just A tenor, but a Great one. His acting is real good and he is a nice person.

Anyway this is about the Aida in Munich and it goes beyond whether Jonas Kaufmann is a great Radames or not. In this production the world Verdi and his librettists created is ignored. With the magic of Verdi et co it is possible to believe that the love between Aida and Radames is real and romantic even as Aida is a slave and Radames is one of her captors. Here in this production Radames is just slightly better than the murdering, raping scumbags that are the soldiers and officers of the Egyptian army. He can save Aida from rape/murder with a slight hand and neck movement. Aida in Verdi's world was captured and became a slave/maid/pretend friend of Amneris, daughter of the King of Egypt. In this production the slaves (females) are there so any scum of the army can use and abuse them and of course slaughter them. In this world where Aida is Ethiopian slave how is her better, easier. Just like it might seem better to be a house slave than a working in the fields slave, it is not better it is as dangerous but in another way. 

Radames is just stupid. He doesn't grasp killing his girlfriends' people is bad. Understanding how her being a slave is affecting her is simply beyond him. He is just about his glory for Egypt. How nice to go to war to the people of his ladylove just for his own glory and take people as prisoners of war, aka new slaves, withouth having any conscience at all. Then his woman sees her father as prisoner and suddenly a bit of these Ethiopians are people too, except that is not that it is about a woman's tear and be a man for his woman. 

Of course, JKs Radames is a good-looking guy. That's nice but really nice singing and then he has the crooning, falsetto thing instead of really singing pianissimo. But with Krassimira Stoyanova we at least have a real soprano and with Anna Smirnova as Amneris a just as great mezzo Stoyanova is soprano. Marco Spotti and Ain Anger sing the basses. Franco Vassallo was jus great as Amonasro.

But the production: a beautiful scenography with great costumes, then the regie and ballett stinks.
Brutality on stage, yep, there was a lot of onstage killings. Always making sure that the Egyptians are just murdering scums who also enjoy raping. Every ballett scene was a scene about killing, destroying. Was that really necessary, annoying director/regie maker? 

Why can't we just have VERDI's Aida instead on REGIE-Aida?

For reviews from my travels, see

Thursday 8 October 2015

La Mamma morta (2012-10-08)

Breast Cancer, that was it that killed my mother. My mother looked as a skeleton, she reminded me of victims of Auschwitz but her suffering was not because of the evils of human hatred. A disease killed her, a disease that is more like natural disaster than a car accident.

Unlike the many victims of the Nazi regime where hospitals, doctors and nurses was a part of the pain and suffering. In many cases hospitals was the place to die suffering under uncaring and often brutals arms, my mother was cared for as one always, ALWAYS, should be when in care of doctors and nurses. She still died but her sister was with her on her last night.

The Nazi regime is our shortcut when talking about the evils of the world. We won that battle. I doubt we will really act against the atrocities today as long as Hitler and Nazism are talking points. It is so safe to talk about Hitler comparing people to him because Adolf Hitler is dead and World War 2 is over. Such obvious evil and how to fight was simply going to war.

I hate the Pink ribbon of the fight against breast cancer. I will never go with one. The color Pink is a cheap and easy point to women, men gets breast cancer too. Cancer is not cute and all women are not pink princesses. Cheapening pain is never ok. Breast cancer will never and should never be alluded to as sexy.

The problem is that the cute Panda bear drives in more money than sharks that are under threat of dying out and if they dies our seas might just became rather dead too. 

All cancers needs funding and research and Pink Ribbon is just a cute but it is just breast cancer funding.

Cruelty, death camps still exists but the people might have the wrong color and it is maybe in the wrong country. And si we are blind just are were in many, many years until we finally got into the fight against the nazis. Some even thought they were right, but usually today they will I was always on the right side.

We are too often on the wrong side or indifferent, saying who cares about THEM.

We are them, they are us!!!

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Nabucco in the Bible - a start with Kings and Chronicles

2 Kings 24 Contemporary English Version (CEV) -

24.1 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia: Ruled Babylonia 605-562 B.C.
24.7 again: Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Egyptian army in 605 B.C. at the town of Carchemish. But a few years later, he was forced to retreat all the way back to Babylonia, which allowed Jehoiakim to rebel (see verse 1).
24.12 Babylonia: These events took place in 597 B.C.
24.13 warned: See 20.16-18.

2 Kings 25Contemporary English Version (CEV) -

25.1 tenth month: Tebeth, the tenth month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-December to mid-January.
25.2,3 fourth: This word is not in the Hebrew text here, but see the parallel in Jeremiah 52.5,6.
25.4 wall: Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 B.C.
25.8 About a month later: Hebrew “On the seventh day of the fifth month.”
25.17 pomegranates: A bright red fruit that looks like an apple.
25.22 Ahikam: Hebrew “Ahikam son of Shaphan.”
25.25 Ishmael: Hebrew “Ishmael son of Nethaniah son of Elishama.”
25.25 about two months. . . his rule: Hebrew “in the seventh month.”
25.27 Evil-Merodach. . . Babylonia: The son of Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled Babylonia from 562 to 560 B.C.
25.27 twelfth month: Adar, the twelfth month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-February to mid-March.
Mostly war... and Kings, of course.

1 Chronicles 6 Contemporary English Version (CEV) -

Absolutely no need to read this for Nabucco.

2 Chronicles 36Contemporary English Version (CEV) -

You can read this but not really that interesting.

Wednesday 2 September 2015

I love Carmen and Carmen loves me (not?)

Bizet: 25 Carmen
1985-05-03, 1991-05-06, 1992-11-07, 1998-10-21, 2000-02-05, 2000-06-25, 2002-05-15, 2002-06-22, 2002-06-23, 2002-06-26, 2002-09-29, 2003-06-27, 2003-06-30, 2003-07-29, 2003-08-23, 2004-09-25, 2008-05-24, 2009-10-10, 2012-12-15, 2013-02-02, 2013-09-16, 2014-05-01, 2014-10-25, 2015-03-28, 2015-07-20

1st Carmen was Guerilla-Carmen (1985).
2nd Carmen was also performed in Oslo (1991).
3rd Carmen still performed in Norway, but this time in Bergen (1992).
4th Carmen was in Zurich and I was disappointed that Agnes Baltsa did not sing (1998).
5th Carmen was in Berlin and with the stupendous Agnes Baltsa. I also enjoyed Alberto Cupido as Don Jose (2000).
6th Carmen was in Zurich, this time with Agnes Baltsa and Gösta Winbergh as Carmen and Don José. Loved it partly, but loved Berlin more (2000).
7th Carmen and with Baltsa and Cupido together this time in Helsinki, Finland. Bravo!!! (2002)
8th Carmen was in Zurich but with a new production so I left for Vienna as quickly as I could (2002).
9th & 10th Carmen was in Vienna with Agnes Baltsa and Richard with Anja Harteros as Micaela. Wonderful (2002).
11th Carmen was also in Vienna with Agnes Baltsa and Fabio Armiliato. Fabulous (2002).
12th Carmen still in Vienna but this time with Baltsa and Julian Gavin. Krassimira Stoyanova was Micaela (2003)
13th Carmen was the same as 12th except with Roxana Briban as Micaela (2003).
14th Carmen was in Verona and it was magic with Jose Cura and Marina Domashenko (2003).
15th Carmen and we are in Oslo but Carmen is still Marina Domashenko (2003)
16th Carmen with Agnes Baltsa and Julian in Berlin (2004)
17th Carmen was in Karlsruhe with Denyce Graves and Jose Cura (2008)
18th Carmen was in Munich with Julia Gertseva and Jose Cura (2009).
19th Carmen with Jose Cura and Anita Rachvelishvili in Berlin. This time in another production, but Berlin still produces wonderful performances (2012)
20th Carmen was in Munich with Nancy Fabiola Herrera and Thiago Arancam. She is great, he is meh (2013).
21st Carmen was in Vienna with Roberto Alagna and Rinat Shaham (2013)
22nd Carmen was in Barcelona with Sergi Gimenez Carreras. This was Salon Opera at its finest (2014).
23rd Carmen was in Madrid with Maria Jose Montiel and sung in Spanish as "Zarzuela" (2014).
24th Carmen was in Milano with Elena Garanca and Jose Cura. Wonderful is a word! (2015).
25th Carmen in Barcelona with Sergi Gimenez Carreras and promised more but we did get some real Flamenco and some cuts (2015).

I love Carmen!!
The Movie was great!!!

For reviews from my travels, see

Tuesday 1 September 2015

September and I got a new lense

On August 31st, 2015 I had my first cateract operation. I see better on my right eye now but my left is still -3.5 so that is difficult. I took the the right eye glass out of my glasses. Well I went to optitician and he did it for free. Personally I had to just pay 75 NOK for the operation, the Norwegian State pay the rest. I am so lucky to be a Norwegian living in Norway. 

So sad that not the rest of the world do not have this kind of welfare state. Naturally, there are places that are even better than Norway, and that is OK by me. To have a functioning welfare state cost a lot of money so many countries are too poor to give their population good health care. Any rich state have a duty to help in my opininion. For me the most heartbreaking stories are from the USA. A rich country but UNWILLING to help their own. They are against Rights for All. They all want PRIVILEGES. Only I and my family have rights, my neighbours never!!

The Republican Jesus with the Prosperity Gospel is ruining USA in their effort to save it from itself. Hate is Love. Taking away possibilities is to help people. To call people evil is an excellent way to save them to Christianity.

Back to Norway. it is really nice here and mostly people are rather mellow. True, it can take a long time to really get us as friends but we are often good, real friends by that point. Racism is not that obvious, we are seldom that directly hateful, but then when you students all in the beginning of the year, they black and white and no no natural mixing and then you wonder more about racism (is it or not). Of course since Norwegians are mostly white we are often wrong about things like racism, was that racist and so on. So we are often blind but we believe that we see it all. One of the most racist things we do is how fast we declare that there was no racist thought there. We can never be sure of that. There will always be places in our mind where old racist ideas lives even if we have work most of our lives to debund them, reject them. They came insidenof our mind without our choosing it, we heard it, we read it, we saw it in movied and on TV.  Colorblind is not an option so long that racism and colorism is there. 
We have to open our eyes. White folks listen more to other Whites even if we can not be experts of lives we have never lived.

All lives matters! That sounds great. Except that we never truly believe it. Not that all matters equally, nope, we don't believe. Old people should also get a heart transplant as the twenty year old. No, not really. When women talk it is as serious as mens talk.... That you should listenas respectfully when a child talk as an adult. Black lives matter! is telling about whose lives are in danger all the time, and it it not the White, Rich, Hetero, Cis men who are in danger. BLM is all the danger and they are more all lives matter than ALM. BLM their ideas will stop the dangers from cops who is not doing real police work from harrassing and killing others. ALM is most angry about the word Black. 

Sunday 9 August 2015

Summer Holidays are over and I am in pain

I loved my summer holidays. It was very hot but I was OK in Paris, Italy and Spain. My latest travel to Spain was via Frankfurt both ways. But on my travel i had to stay overnight in Frankfurt so I had to take one more day off. No problem usually, but on Monday I was not feeling too well. Then when I came to the airport I was in more pain  but not too bad. On the plane I feel pain in my stomach more and more. As we approached Gardermoen I was sitting bent down. This whole thing was not help by my plane being late. 1 hr later than expected we landed. I had to wait for my luggage in Gardermoen. I was so sick and it seemed that all aiplaines was using belt nr 6. It took an hour before my luggage was there. I was sitting there trying to see my luggge on the belt through all those layers of people. The luggage people was carrying was so much, it was extrordinary.

I vomited. Felt a bit better then. A person gave me aiport plastic bag. And as I was vomiting in the bag people was often trying to just walk over me. It was so filled with people, old, young, children. Happily the people was not loud. Loud would have been hell. Finally my luggage came, then I wondered If I would be ble to just walk with all my luggage. I was so tired that I almost cried when I bought my colas, i forgot that as I was sick and likely to vomit I should have bought the original red coca cola, the one tht helps when you are sick. I bought light og Zero, my brain was not completely on.

Then I sat down in a cafe/restaurant. They noticed I was not well and since Gardermoen does not have a nurs og doctor but they have police. So the policemn asked me question, then he made sure that a nurse in the amt centrl got my phone number and we could talk. Then ambulance was coming but instead it was a more normal emergency vehicle where I had to sit and be taken to the closest doctor center. Blood sample was taken, and then an ambulance came and I was sent to closest hospital, Akershus University Hospital. The next morning I was well enough to go home. Better, able to walk easily and pain almost over. Anyway, holidays was over, I had to go to work and if i needed Hospital Time it would be better if it was closer to home, with people who knows me. 

Bus from AHUS, then train to Gardernoen and flight home because 7 hrs from Oslo and homd would be more than I can take.

One night I had such and even with extra pain killer, no sleep. I am still in pain, just on and off. But it is hard. I have to talk to my doctor, should I continue with pain killers (need an upgrade), or do I need to go to hospital (again, and it is so boring).

Lacrymosa - Don Carlo in El Escorial, Spain 2015-07-25

2015-07-25 Don Carlo (Giuseppe Verdi), Teatro Auditorio San Lorenzo de El Escorial (Madrid)

Pelipe II. = John Relyea
Don Carlos = José Bros
Isabel de Valois, tercera esposa de Felipe II = Virginia Tola
Rodrigo, marqués de Posa, amigo y confidente de Don Carlo  = Ángel Ódena
Fraile = Simón Orfila
Gran Inquisidor de Espana = Luiz Ottavio Faria
Princesa de Eboli = Ketevan Kemoklidze
Tebaldo = Sonia de Munck
Voz de Cielo = Auxiliadora Toledano
Conde de Lerma = Gerardo Lopez

Maximiano Valdés, conductor
Orquesta de la Comunidad de Madrid
Coro de la Comunidad de Madrid
Coro de la Orquesta Sinfonica Verum
Banda Interna de a Orquesta Sinfonica Verum

Director de escena - Albert Boadella
Escenografía - Ricardo Sánchez Cuerda
Figurinista - Pedro Moreno
Iluminador - Bernat Jansà
Coreógrafo - Amauri Lebrun
Director del Coro - Pedro Teixeira

So the idea of Albert Boadella was create a more historical correct Don Carlo by Verdi. So he starts off with putting up the the opera in El Escorial. Escorial is after all mentioned in the opera but non of the action is set there. The places in opera is San Yuste monastery in Extremadura, the Royal Palace in Madrid and in the Queen's Garden there. Outdoors in.a Plaza in Madrid for the auto-da-fe and a prison. The opera is played in the hyper-modern Theatre Auditorio in San Lorenzo de El Escorial. The royal building and monastery called just Escorial in the opera is just some hundreds of meters of The Theatre. El Escorial is a big area with several villages and it an hour away from Madrid.

To make the opera or indeed Schillers play more historical is not easy. Historical correctness was not really something Schiller or later the librettist cared too much about. Schiller did try to get the History Right but in the en it was more important to get the drama right, a compelling story. Lucky as the drama was made into an opera it got a better structure and is much more compelling. Historical it is quite false especially the idea that Don Carlos, Infante of Spain and Elisabeth de Valois was ever in love with each other. But first it was Don Carlos who was going to marry Elisabeth. But then it became obvious that Don Carlos was not the right person and the alliance between France and Spain could only be strengthened by the French King's daughter marry the King of Spain, not just the heir of The Spanish throne.

One of the most interesting conflicts in the opera is between the throne and the altar. How long must the throne bend before the altar. In reality Philip 2 of Spain supported Inquisition fully. Assumed guilty was the King's idea of justice. There was conflict often between The king of Spain and the Pope. Philip believed himself closer to God than the Pope. The Pope was not just a religious leader at this time but a sovereign that often went to war and not always for religious reason. Philip made everything for God. The only acceptable faith was the Roman Catholic faith and that meant all Spaniards should follow Philips. Philip was King, Prophet and Priest, and naturally best pals with God. He often made decisions with the firm belief that God would perform the miracles Philip needed. Europe's history might have seen most different if Philip had been more of a realist than a fanatic.

Don Carlos and Elisabeth de Valois was the same age and died in the same year, a terrible year for poor Philip. The only woman that Don Carlos respected and never was uncivil towards Elisabeth. Maybe Boadella was right that Don Carlos loved Elisabeth with an infantile love. There was nothing in Don Carlos to compel Elisabeth to fall in love in, but there was reasons for compassion.  The marriage between Philip and Elisabeth was a happy one. She was his third wife, his second marriage with Maria Tudor of England had not been a happy one, so Philip was devastated when she died because of childbirth. To loose the heir of a kingdom is always a disaster and Philip never wanted Don Carlos dead even as difficult he was and in the end Philip could no longer delude himself that it would be a good idea to have this strange, dangerous person on the Throne of Spain.

The idea of Rodrigo of Rosa is a creation of the times of Schiller who wrote Don Carlo also as a commentary of new idea in politics in Germany. The idealism of Rodrigo does not belong to the century of Philip 2 of Spain. In El Escorial Don Carlos was played as a hunchback with a lame leg and with many nervous ticks. Still someone to trust to change the life of all in the Netherlands. Maybe it was then. The truth about Don Carlos is that he looked at Netherlands and wrote letters to leaders there as he was on the way to treason, and later he attacked his father with a knife or tried. It was popular to tell that Philip killed his son (it was a Protestant rumor). Later a former secretary of Philip, who had managed to run from Spain to England with Death sentence on him. This Secretary Perez had some underhanded affaire with the Princess of Eboli, so he started another rumor that Philip and had an adulterous affair with her. The Princess was dead by that time.

I had come to El Escorial to see an extraordinary Don Carlos but I had seen almost every new thing before. The singing was excellent and the orchestra too. It was a little too much to hint as Elisabeth and Carlos had been childhood friends in the figurines. Eboli looked like historical Eboli with her eye patch. Elisabeth de Valois looked like her historical portrait, same with Philip II but Don Carlos looked too mature but sounded young enough. Don Carlos was unattractive buy the voice was divine.

This was the 4 act Italian version played in the 3 pieces. I love this version but then Rodrigo dies, LACRYMOSA. Until Lacrymosa we have drama going on and working wonderful but then we have "the wonder father-son duet". But it is so illogical and it doesn't fit. Drama just stop up, hi belcanto for no reason, and the scene with fizzles away.

Last act and also the whole opera quietly fizzles away with unnecessary "Carlo il grande imperatore".

Wednesday 22 July 2015

From cold Norway to hot Spain (Carmen, Barcelona 2015-07-20)

So after my Paris travel (July 3-13, 2015). That was Paris with a side travel to Siracusa, Sicily. I sort of got used to the heat so I was totally unprepared to Norway and it was cold there. 14 degrees Celsius are no joke after getting used to degrees never below 28... But it was nice relaxing at home before my Madrid travel (July 19-27).

So my flights from Oslo to Madrid was the cheapest I got being so late to the game of buying them. I used Momondo and then it was GoToGate that got my business. But that meant my flight from Oslo was not until 16 and via Frankfurt so I was in Madrid before midnight. Late as I was in planning my Madrid trip I failed to buy a plane from my place to Oslo. So I had to travel to Oslo the day before and stay at a hotel. I could have taken the night bus but the wait from 5 to 16 in an airport was nothing I would enjoy. So my trip started on Saturday and I was in Madrid Airport before midnight and it was already Monday when the taxi arrived at my hotel. 

It was hot in Madrid and the hotel room was hotter but when I opened the window it got better. I slept until 7 when I started my mini-trip to Barcelona. I used the Metro to go back to the airport and soon I arrived. It took 30-45 minutes to travel to the airport. Vueling flight to Barcelona. Soon I was there. Now I needed to get to the train station Sants. Terminal 1 is too far from the train station to walk so I take the free bus that goes between terminals. Then at Terminal 2b I find the train and buys ticket to Sants. It was a long, hot walk to the trains and queue for buying tickets. Still, I was soon off and then I arrived in Sants. I found my hotel, I love NH hotels.

Then in the evening I traveled to the Palau, got my ticket and waited for Carmen with Sergi Gimenez Carreras as Don Jose.

2015-07-20 Carmen (Bizet), Palau de la Música Catalana (Barcelona)

Marta Valero, soprano
Sergi Giménez Carreras, tenor
Orquestra Terrassa 48
Xavier Puig, conductor

Jesús Fernández, stage direction
Yasmina Pulido, choreography

It was not the very different version of Carmen, it just had more cuts in the score. It was Carmen with orchestra on the stage with the stage area used to showcase Carmen as opera as opposed to just a concert. It had seemed to me that this was to be Carmen as 2 hrs continuous play. In that case the opera would have had serious cuts. In stead it was act 1+2 in 2 hrs and the rest as 30 minutes. We had real Flamenco dancers that danced to Bizets music. Carmen, Don Jose, Micaela, Escamillo, Mercedes, Franquita, Dancaire and Remendado was all there and Zuniga was there, too. 

It was beautiful and realistic staged. 

It started 2030 and ended 2310. It was as lovely as it could be, but no revolutionary vision.

Back to the hotel to sleep. I slept well and this time I took the train to Madrid. I took the AVE train with Preferente and it was just relaxing and the food was amazing. Best chicken I have ever had. The train left 12 in Barcelona and was in Madrid Atocha at 1510. So incredible hot in Madrid. A long walk from Train to Metro and then finally at my hotel and I just went straight to bed to sleep. The hotel room was so chilly but better when I took off the air-conditioning.

Sunday 12 July 2015

Verdi Puccini Opera Concert, Siracusa 2015-07-11

This was opera concert with piano. 3 sopranos, 2 tenors and 1 baritone. Or rather 2 sopranos and 1 mezzo (Antonella Arena!!!) with 2 tenors and 1 baritone (Salve Di Salvo). 

I love the voice of mezzo soprano and I loved ANTONELLA ARENA. The singing was superb and the acting, too. Of the 6 singers she seemed the one most ready for an opera carreer. I would like to see and hear her as Azucena in Il Trovatore, it was so wonderful her Stride la vampa. Then she also sang Amneris from Aida, would love to see her onstage as Amneris. The duet with Aida with Gonca Dogan as Aida, I think. She sang the veil song from Don Carlo. Excellentissima!

The sopranos was also wonderful. Maria Grazia Tringale and Gonca Dogan. Sognando La Scala!

The baritone Salve di Salvo was also very good. The 2 tenors, Dave Monaco and Filippi Micale was good, too. But who is who?

Saturday 11 July 2015

From Adriana Lecouvreur to Adriana Damato (NORMA, Teatro Greco Siracusa 2015-07-10)

2015-07-10 Norma (Bellini), Siracusa Teatro Greco

Norma = Chiara Taigi
Adalgisa = Adriana Damato
Clotilde = Anna Consolaro
Pollione = Piero Giuliacci
Flavio = Giuseppe di Stefano
Oroveso = Jose Antonio Garcia

Jacopo Sipari di Pescasseroli, conductor
Orchestra Sinfonica Bellini Opera Festival
Coro Lirico Siciliano (Francesco Costa)

Regia & Scene = Enrico Castiglione
Costumi = Sonia Cammarata

A wonderful location, a wonderful production. E la grande simplicita! 

To compare this Norma to the Norma of Bayerische Staatsoper Munich would be unfair. They are so different. Here we had the Norma of Chiara Taigi who clearly do love her children. That is the biggest difference so we have much more sympathy for this Norma. Chiara Taigi has a different approach in singing and acting this role than Sondra Radvanovsky. Both are great. Adriana Damato is still in my opinion very much a soprano even as her voice has always been dark and she is able to sing the mezzo part of Adalgisa very well. Of course both roles, Norma and Adalgisa, lays in between soprano/mezzo territory, so all is good. As usual Pollione is often sung by a tenor with more strength than belcanto. Here we have the Pollione of Piero Giuliacci and he can belt it out and in the end he still soars especially in the ending of the opera. As Flavio we have a well known name but it is not the Giuseppe Di Stefano, this is a young Italian tenor ( Anna Consolaro as Clotilde. Finally we have Jose Antonio Garcia as Oroveso. Bravi tutti!

And the evening ended with everybody singing Happy Birthday (in Italian) to Chiara Taigi!!!
Happy Birthday, Chiara Taigi!! Tanti auguri!!

Friday 10 July 2015

Off to Sicily without having seen Fontainebleau

I wish I have stayed longer in Paris to see Fontainebleau and to eat some more great pizza.
But I left Paris on July 7th. Vueling flight to Catania. Then I stayed in Catania for 2 days.

Bellini statue in Catania.
Then traveling with train to Siracusa. I could (should) have stayed one night more in lovely Catania.
Pizza in Siracusa. It looks great, doesn't it? Mozarella bufala, tomatoes, ruccola and olive oil. But the good thing is that the tomato sauce was good, pizza bottom quite adequate, just so sorry about the other ingredients. Tomatoes to well cooked, too much olive oil, mozzarella buffala was hard to eat  with no taste, ruccola could not help. Don't ask for the buffala pizzas at La Pecora Nera Pizzeria. It is much harder to ruin a pizza with mozzarella cheese.

I got a good hotel in Siracusa or rather a good price via but the room they gave me was not at all a quiet room. I had a terrible night there. I had to have my noice-cancelling headphones on me, that was not comfortable and still the noice crept up again and again. I wanted to change hotel so badly. But no I can't, can I, not without still paying the whole 4 night fee. And now I got another room now, but I would have loved to be able to just switch hotel without losing money much. I feel duped. 

So I guess next time I will just book 1 night at a time. How to save money then?

Idiot hotels and booking fees.

July 6th, 2015: ADRIANA LECOUVREUR in Paris

2015-07-06 Adriana Lecouvreur (Cilea),Opera National de Paris (Opera Bastille)

Adriana Lecouvreur = Angela Gheorghiu
Maurizio = Marcelo Alvarez
La Principessa di Bouillon = Luciana D’intino
Il Principe di Bouillon = Wojtek Smilek
L’Abate di Chazeuil = Raúl Giménez
Michonnet Alessandro Corbelli
Quinault = Alexandre Duhamel
Poisson = Carlo Bosi

Daniel Oren, conductor 

Stage director - David McVicar
Sets - Charles Edwards
Costumes - Brigitte Reiffenstuel
Lighting - Adam Silverman
Choreography - Andrew George
Chorus master - José Luis Basso
Bravi, tutti! And I did not have head-ache this time. So this time I waited for the artists to come out. Ihad to give up waiting for Angela Gheorghiu.

I can only repeat myself that this was a wonderful, traditional production. I think Angela Gheorghiu was better this day. I think that since I am deaf on one ear it is hard to me get the right sound in my head and something was slightly off in the sound this day but I think it was probably just my deaf ear and that problem.

The audience was definetely different, they were laughing more something I do not like when I am in an opera house enjoying opera. Not that it was malicious the laughter I just found it out of place.

Monday 6 July 2015

July 4th 2015: Gala Anna Netrebko in Versailles

Voila, moi! So I bought the ticket in Paris on the net. Even as the concert was called Gala Anna Netrebko & Friends, for me it was Gala Ekaterina Gubanova & Friends.

I am so glad they did not start the concert until I arrived... More seriously, I was real happy that the French can be slow because otherwise I would be to late instead I arrived just in time. When I arrived at the station Versailles Rive Gauche I became soon desparate. This is not like the map. Where to go, where to go? I am going to be TOOO LATE... But then the gentleman showed me where the castle was, and I thought I will go there and I try to act like maybe the map was showing something right. And so after 21 I was there and I got my ticket, found my place and soon the concert started. The 20 minutes interval was just about enough time to go to WC, but I think they simply did not start the concert untill all was out from the WC area. I ran to my seat and was in time as all the rest was. After the concert I came back to the train station naturally 10 minutes after the last train had left. Lucky for me other foreigners had the same problem and after a long time being rather lost another gentle man told us how to get back to Paris in the night. Bus 181 to Gare de Sevres and then Metro 9 then I took taxi back to hotel and at 2 I was home. The concert had ended 2345. The bus from Versailles was started 0045 or 0100. And Metro ends at 0215.

The concert was great. The Gardens of Orangerie. 2,5 hr.


4 july 2015 - 9pm
"This is the perfect cast of the most prestigious opera houses. This exceptional concert brings together four of the greatest voices of the opera world in the luxurious setting of the Orangerie of Versailles: the great mezzo of the Mariinsky Ekaterina Gubanova, the tenor of the Met Aleksandrs Antonenko and the bass Ildar Abdrazakov, not to mention the incomparable Anne Netrebko that we expected, for the first time in Aida and Turandot, never before interpreted on stage.
Solos, duets and ensembles: Italian verismo opera's most beautiful and touching scenes of its current best performers."
Anna Netrebko, Soprano
Ekaterina Gubanova, Mezzo-soprano
Aleksandrs Antonenko*, Tenor
Ildar Abdrazakov, Bass

Orchestre National d’Île-de-France
Marco Armiliato, Conductor

*Due to medical reason, Aleksandrs Antonenko cannot participate to the show. He apologizes. Yusif Eyvazov will replace him."

Giuseppe Verdi • I vespri siciliani
Sinfonia – Orchestre
Giuseppe Verdi • Aida
“Se quel guerrier io fossi… Celeste Aida” – Y. Eyvazov
Giuseppe Verdi • Aida
“Qui Radamès verrà… O patria mia” – A. Netrebko
Giuseppe Verdi • Ernani
“Infelice !… e tuo credevi… Infin che un brando vindice” – I. Abdrazakov
Francesco Cilea • Adriana Lecouvreur
“Acerba voluttà” – E. Gubanova
Giuseppe Verdi • Otello
“Gia nella notte densa” – A. Netrebko, Y. Eyvazov
Giuseppe Verdi • La Force du destin
Sinfonia – Orchestre
Giuseppe Verdi • Don Carlo
“Nel giardin del bello saracin ostello”– E. Gubanov
Ruggero Leoncavallo • Pagliacci
“Recitar ! Vesti la giubba” – Y. Eyvazov
Arrigo Boito • Mefistofele
“L’altra notte in fondo al mare” – A. Netrebko
Giacomo Puccini • Manon Lescaut
Intermezzo – Orchestre
Giuseppe Verdi • Attila

“Mentre gonfiarsi l’anima parea dinanzi a Roma… Oltre quel l’imite t’attendo”
 - I. Abdrazakov
Giuseppe Verdi • Don Carlo
“O don fatale” – E. Gubanova
Gioachino Rossini • Le Barbier de Séville
“La calunnia è un venticello” – I. Abdrazakov
Ernesto De Curtis • “Non ti scordar di me” (arrangement Julian Reynolds)

A. Netrebko, E. Gubanova, Y. Eyvazov, I. Abdrazakov
Yusif Eyvazov is a wonderful tenor! A new name for, Yusif Eyvazov, to adore. 

Ildar Abdrazakov. (I love this bass, unfortunately I often remember his last name wrongly, sorry about that. The organizers was right, I was wrong). What a great voice he has!! It was like abrakadabra great! He is just the most amazing bass. I love his impossible low, strong voice. From the old da Silva in Ernani to Attila, La Calunnia and extra number Mephisto from Faust. BRAVO!!

I had no time to read the programme so I was amazed when The Tenor was so amazing in Celeste Aida and in the love duet from Otello with Netrebko. I bought my program in the interval but still did not read it. So still believing him to be A. Antonenko I loved his Vesti la giubba, then Nessun dorm as extra number. But now I known name of the Unknown Prince, it is Yusif Eyvazov!!! My new tenor love! BRAVO, Yusif!!! I wish you to have a great opera career!! Adore him all!
Ekaterina Gubanova as the Princess of Bouillon in Adriana Lecouvreur is my next wish to see her. I loved Luciana D'Intino as she sang this role in Opera Bastille the day before as so that was the reason I recognized the first aria Gubanova sang and I just loved it. She was just everything you can dream of in this aria. I love Don Carlos and wants to see Gubanova as Eboli, so I loved her singing the two arias from Don Carlo in part 2. 

Anna Netrebko sang O Patria mia from Aida, the love duet from Otello with the tenor, but she did not sing the aria from Mefistofele, she sang Un bel di vedremo from Madama Butterfly. As extra number she sang Barcarolle from Hoffmann with Gubanova, and she sang an operetta aria. 

They all sang NON TI SCORDAR DI ME both in program and as last extra. And we will not forget!!