Sunday 15 February 2015

From Berlin to Hamburg, a Greek Tragedy on Valentine's Day (ELEKTRA,Hamburg 2015-02-14)

Head-aches after Friday, working with it, and trying to stop in when I came home. But in the middle of the night I decided that it will be no travel to Hamburg. Early morning came and my head-ache was over. So I took the flight to Oslo, and then to Hamburg. I stayed in Hotel Ambassador in Hamburg. Lovely. And then off to Staatsoper. First a pizza at Restaurant opera. That was not too bad, but not great. My head-ache was returning. 

2015-02-14 Elektra (R.Strauss), Hamburgische Staatsoper

Klytämnestra = Agnes Baltsa
Elektra = Lise Lindström
Chrysothemis = Hellen Kwon
Aegisth = Peter Galliard
Orest = James Rutherford
Pfleger des Orest = Stanislav Sergeev
Vertraute = 
Schleppträgerin = Stefanie C. Braun
junger Diener = Daniel Todd
alter Diener = Dieter Schweikart
Aufseherin = Renate Spingler
1. Magd = Deborah Humble
2. Magd = Maria Markina
3. Magd = Rebecca Jo Loeb
4. Magd = Gabriele Rossmanith
5. Magd = Katerina Tretyakova

Simone Young, conductor
Chor und Orchester der Hamburgischen Staatsoper

INSZENIERUNG: August Everding

I loved the production. It was really like one can imagine the Ancient Greece was like. Lise Lindström who is famous for her Turandot had in the role of Elektra a much harder task. Her Elektra was believable as a crazy but very human woman. In this role Lise Lindström had to be present all the time, to be the person alway ON and never off. Taxing, is the least of this role. Agnes Baltsa, incredible that she is 70 now, sang the role of Klytemnestra and acted like the queen she is. Real singing from Agnes Baltsa and with real power. She was an extraordinary Klytemnestra. Nobody can do this role better. Hellen Kwon had the misfortune to be a more ordinary figure. Chrysothemis is the daughter who try be so nice that her mother Klytemnestra will give her the chance to live her own life. C just want to be an ordinary woman with husband and child. E want revenge. Klytemnestra want to no longer have nightmares or any dreams. Peter Gailliard was Aegisth and James Rutherford was Orest. The men pales at such women as Lise Lindström, Hellen Kwon and the divine Agnes Baltsa, but still they are in the right league.

Even with the head-ache doing their destructive work I was able to applaud them vigorously.

A great night in a wonderful hotel bed after a wonderful Opera Evening.

Hamburg - Frankfurt - Oslo, and now flight home.

Monday 9 February 2015

From London to Berlin - from tenor to baritone? (Macbeth, Berlin 2015-02-07)

With lovely memories from London with tenor Jonas Kaufmann as Andrea Chenier I went to work. Then Friday came and work was over for this week. Home from work and resting, eating and getting sure the last things also came with me to Berlin. Night bus to Oslo Gardermoen. I slept some in the bus. It was not too bad. 5 in the morning, wake-up I am at the airport. Traveling via Hamburg to Berlin and the same back home. Ok. Hotel an der Oper in Berlin. I could not get my room imediately but suddenly my room was ready. I should have slept some hours in my bed there but no, I went looking for a special restaurant, got lost and lost some hours. I almost fell asleep in restaurant Rosati waiting for my pizza. Then opera time.

2015-02-07 Macbeth (Verdi), Staatsoper im Schiller Theater (Berlin)

Macbeth = Plácido Domingo
Lady Macbeth = Liudmyla Monastyrska
Macduff = Rolando Villazón
Banco = René Pape
Malcolm = Florian Hoffmann
Dama di Lady Macbeth = Evelin Novak
Medico = Jan Martiník
Un Sicario = Jan Martiník

Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Peter Mussbach

Tenor Placido Domingo is now a baritone (just like he is sometimes the conductor. Tenor Rolando Villazon was in good shape as Macduff.

The production was good. It was one of the productions where the witches is really spot on. This was a believable theater. Scenography was just to give a emotional feeling. Colors and lights was also done to make us feel the reality in stead of just seeing it in a realistic setting. Placido Domingo's baritone was dark and heavy and he was a very much believable Macbeth. Ludmila Monastyrska was an amazing Lady Macbeth. Her voice has the most velvety, beautiful quality and at the same time she gives the role all the rage and all the other feelings. Beautiful and dangerous woman. Rene Pape as Banquo is naturally a solid choice and does this role well. Rolando Villazon was Macduff and in this production Macduff gets a little lost not strange when we Birnam forest move (Fangorn!!!! - Tolkien, dude). 

Small things, sometimes Macbeth sings about something he sees but the production team misses to make the audience see it. Was it it misses or did they decide to do it like it.

Sunday 8. February 2015 and I am up at 0645 and checks out. Then to Tegel airport. Hamburg. Oslo Gardermoen. I decide to not take bus home, but fly. So over 12 hrs after wake up and I am home again.

For reviews from my travels, see

Tuesday 3 February 2015

From Valencia to London, and it is still January 2015 (Andrea Chenier, ROH 2015-01-31)

Wonderful weather in Valencia and 2 performances of Luisa Fernanda by Federico Moreno Torroba. And London? Windy and some rain but that was not the worst, delays in The Tube (subway) that was the worst for me with London. Night bus to Oslo Gardermoen Airport, and then Norwegian Air Shuttle to Gatwick Airport. A 2 hours flight but in London it was only 1 hour later. Back home it would be still 2 hours flight but arriving 3 hours later. (CET in Oslo, GMT in London). 

My hotel in London was close to Victoria station because both train and coach (bus) went from Gatwick to Victoria. I choose train, Gatwick Express, 30 minutes ride and normally the train goes with 15 minutes between trains, but this weekend it was 30 minutes inbetween. From Victoria it would have been just a straight road to my hotel but I got lost using google maps and had to ask a policeman for help. But I loved my hotel in Belgrave Road. One could almost call it Hotel Road, because it was hotels all the way and in between some normal homes. My hotel was closer to Pimlico subway station. Victoria line was my line. And normally one would just take Victoria to Green Park and then change for Piccadilly line to Covent Garden. 

On Saturday January 31st 2015 Green Park was a nightmare. Trouble earlier in King's Cross created delays and Piccadilly was in difficulties. So many people trying to go forward and sometime there was a dead-end and going back was hard too. So I gave up and back to Victoria Station and some food and drink there. Resting in my hotel. Still I had to go to Royal Opera House Covent Garden to get my ticket and to see Andrea Chenier. So back to Victoria Station I went and took a Black Cab (taxi). It was nice and relaxing.

2015-01-31 Andrea Chenier (Giordano), Royal Opera House (London)

Andrea Chénier - Jonas Kaufmann
Carlo Gérard - Željko Lučić
Maddalena di Coigny - Eva-Maria Westbroek
Bersi, her maid - Denyce Graves
The Countess of Coigny - Rosalind Plowright
Madelon - Elena Zilio
Roucher - Roland Wood
Mathieu, a sans-culotte - Adrian Clarke
The Incredible - Carlo Bosi
The Abbot - Peter Hoare
The novelist Pietro Fléville - Peter Coleman-Wright
Fouquier Tinville, the Public Prosecutor  -
Eddie Wade
Schmidt - Jeremy White
Dumas - Yuriy Yurchuk
Major Domo - Dominic Barrand
Antonio Pappano, conductor
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera Chorus
Concert Master - Peter Manning

Director - David McVicar
Set design - Robert Jones
Costume designs - Jenny Tiramani
Lighting design - Adam Silverman
Movement - Andrew George

This was a very much traditional Andrea Chenier but not done in a lazy way. I found it elegant and profound. It had a reality feel. What a great treat it was to have Rosalind Plowright, herself once a famous Maddalena, as Comtesse Coigny, Maddalena's mother, and the great mezzo Denyce Graves as Bersi, Denyce Graves who is famous for her Carmen and Dalila!!! Sadly I did not see them at the final bow after the opera. 

Rosalind Plowright sang Maddalena opposite Jose Carreras' Chenier in 1984 when this opera came back after more than 50 years absence. What I loved here is that one can see in this new ROH production that the Comtesse Coigny is really Mother of Maddalena. Not just a foolish aristocrate but a mother. Denyce Graves as Bersi is here much more a friend of Maddalena, a close friend, not a simple servant. And I love that. I love that there is real dedication between Maddalena and Bersi. It makes me understand Bersi's dedication to Maddalena much better. This Bersi is smart and resilient. Denyce Graves was such a joy to see and hear. I love Bersi!! Brava, Denyce Graves!!! Brava, Rosalind Plowright!

Jonas Kaufmann, I guess you want me to gush over the tenor as they all do. I won't do that but he sang so well this night so I almost ready to call him a tenor, but not Tenor with big T, yet, not for me. Eva-Maria Westbroek, she really filled the role of Maddalena di Coigny. A superb pair, Westbroek and Kaufmann!!

Željko Lučić as Carlo Gerard was more subtle than I would have expected after seeing him as Jago in Otello in Berlin. Still it worked, I could find sympathy for this Gerard.

Another thing I want to mention is that Idia Legray had a small girl who was there during the sentencing with an relative. Mother and child tries to hug but soldiers tears them apart. When Maddalena and Gerard come to prision, Gerard carries the young child. And we see mother and child meet again and go out with Gerard protecting them.

For reviews from my travels, see