Sunday 24 May 2015

Love others as you love yourself

Mark 12:30-31 [Full Chapter]
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”(NIV)

Mark 12:30-31 [Full Chapter]
You must love him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.’ The second most important commandment says: ‘Love others as much as you love yourself.’ No other commandment is more important than these.” (CEV)

Love others as much as you love yourself.

What does that mean? I am not interesting in the theology or theory of it. For me it is the application to our lives that matters. As Sophie sings in Jules Massenet's Werther "God permits us to be happy".  In so many type of Christianity happiness is eather not allowed or the only feeling allowed. Both ideas are as false as they are damaging. 

In order to love anybody we need to love ourselves first. Then as we allowe ourselves happiness let us allow other their happiness. As we give ourselves, our group rights we must give others the same. Do not ask for special privileges that will be given only your group but will at the samw time deny others. If you are married and another person marries does you marriage then fall apart. Only when the other martiage directly impacts your marriage. Can a husband and wife still love each other even when another man marries a man, or when a woman marries a woman? Sure. If two persons can be married because they both of free will, knowing each other, wants to marry, why not? Marriage = 2 adults decide both of free will to marry. Not problematic. All adult will then have the same right. Marriage wilø no longer be a privilege for the few. 

Privilege does harm to the Love others as much as you love yourself because Privilege sets one person above another. Prvilege is a right than can be taken away as universal rights can not.

My belief is Universal Rights for all one this planet, indeed in this universe as in alø universe. The UN rights is a start. Whenever I thank God or whatever for something I have and am grateful for I remember that other people are not as lucky and send a wish towards the universe/God. I am not an activist so I feel ineffective, but sometime I get a chance to argue to the better world for all and then I hope that I do something good after all. 

Praying is the act when all other options are out. Actions is what is needed! Love is not enough if it is just a feeling. Act with love and respect. Do not pray when you with action can change something! Pray when you have done all and hope, desperate hope is the only thing left. Action! Forward! Towards love, towards a better future. Make this life in earth more like heaven than hell for us all. In heaven all helps one another. In hell all is working just for themselves. In heaven all have food. In hell nobody can eat because as all work for themselves, against the other.

Life is here and now. God permits us to be happy, but to laugh at others misfortunes.

May the blessings come to all that are in need. Will you carry a blessing to someone in need? Will make the blessing into what the people need? Blessings are food to the hungry, a helping hand etc. 

Saturday 16 May 2015

GIUSEPPE VERDI Don Carlo(s) on DVD (3) - Rolando Villazon in 4 and 5 acts

De Netherlandse Opera, Amsterdam

Opera in 4 acts, sung in Italian

Don Carlos = Rolando Villazon
Philip II = Robert Lloyd
Elisabeth de Valois = Amanda Roocroft
Rodrigo = Dwayne Croft
The Princess of Eboli = Violeta Urmana
Grande Inquisitor = Jaakko Ryhänen
A friar = Giorgio Giuseppini
Tebaldo = Marisca Mulder
The Count of Lerma = Kristian Benedikt
A Royal Herald = Rudi de Vries
A Voice from Heaven = Cincia Forte

Conductor = Riccardo Chailly
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Chorus of De Netherlandse Opera

Stage Director = Willy Decker
Set Design = Wolfgang Dussmann
Costume Design = Wolfgang Dussmann, Susana Mendoza
Lighting Design = Hans Toelstede
Dramaturgie = Klaus Bertisch

2 DVDs = 2h 49 m
+ extras

The Royal Opera House, London

Opera in 5 acts, sung in Italian

Don Carlos = Rolando Villazon
Philip II = Ferruccio Furlanetto
Elisabeth de Valois = Marina Poplovskaya
Rodrigo = Simon Keenlyside
The Princess of Eboli = Sonia Ganassi
Grande Inquisitor = Eric Halvarson
A friar, Carlos V = Robert Lloyd
Tebaldo = Pumeza Matshikiza
The Count of Lerma = Nikola Matisic
A Voice from Heaven = Anita Watson
Priest Inquisitor = Alexander d'Andrea

Conductor = Antonio Pappano
Royal Opera Chorus and Orchestra

Stage Director = Nicholas Hytner
Designs = Bob Crowley
Lighting Designer = Mark Henderson
Movement = Scarlett Mockmin¨
Fight Director = Terry King

2 DVDs = 3h 30m

Pure delight both versions.

Willy Decker is the claustrophobic version. They are all trapped. They are so awkward, Elisabeth and Carlos in this version that one can not envision them not blunder about. The Nicholas Hytner version with 5 acts starting with Su, cacciatore... has much to offer, beauty and a superb cast with Ferruccio Furlanetto as Philip and the wonderful Rolando Villazon as poor, awkward Don Carlos who can't do anything right.

Of the 8 versions of Don Carlos I have on DVD

I chose
 Salzburg 2013. Jonas Kaufmann
 Salzburg 1986. Jose Carreras
Royal Opera House, London 2008. Rolando Villazon

For reviews from my travels, see

GIUSEPPE VERDI Don Carlo(s) on DVD (2) - Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo & Luciano Pavarotti

Salzburger Festspiele

Opera in 4 acts, sung in Italian

Don Carlos = Jose Carreras
Philip II = Ferruccio Furlanetto
Elisabeth de Valois = Fiamma Izzo d'Amico
Rodrigo = Piero Cappuccilli
Princess of Eboli = Agnes Baltsa
Grande Inquisitor = Matti Salminen
Friar (Carlo V) = Franco di Grandis
Tebaldo = Antonella Bandelli
La Contessa d'Aremberg = Katarina Schuchter
The Count of Lerma = Horst Nitsche
A Royal Herald = Volker Horn

Conductor = Herbert von Karajan
Berliner Philharmoniker
Chor der Bulgarischen Nationaloper Sofia
Konzertvereiningung Wiener Staatsopernchor
Salzburger Konzertchor

Director and Artistic Supervisor = Herbert von Karajan
Set Design = Günther Schneider-Siemssen
Costumes = Georges Warhevitch

1 DVD = 2h 58

Perfection!!! Carreras, Cappucilli, Baltsa etc. supreme cast. LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Teatro alla Scala, Milano


Opera in 4 acts, sung in Italian.

Don Carlos = Luciano Pavarotti
Philip II = Samuel Ramey
Elisabeth de Valois = Daniela Dessi
Rodrigo = Paolo Coni
The Princess of Eboli = Luciana D'Intino
Grand Inquisitore = Alexander Anisimov
A friar = Andrea Silverstrelli
Tebaldo = Marilena Laurenza
A Voice from Heaven = Nuccia Focile
The Count of Lerma = Orfeo Zanetti
A Royal Herald = Mario Bolognese

Conductor = Riccardo Muti
Orchester and Chorus of Teatro all Scala

Stage Production and Video Director = Franco Zeffirelli.

2 DVDs = 3h 02

We have Franco Zeffirelli and Luciano Pavarotti here, and the rest of the cast is great. I loved Paolo Coni and Luciana D'Intino most. This is something mostly for fans of Pavarotti, I think.

Metropolitan Opera, New York

Opera in 5 acts, sung in Italian.

Don Carlos = Placido Domingo
Philip II = Nicolai Ghiaurov
Elisabeth de Valois = Mirella Freni
Rodrigo = Louis Quilico
The Princess of Eboli = Grace Bumbry
Grand Inquisitore = Ferruccio Furlanetto
A Friar = Julien Robbins
Tebaldo = Betsy Norden
A Voice from Heaven = Marvis Martin
La Contessa d'Aremberg = Barbara Greene
The Count of Lerma = John Gilmore
A Royal Herald = Charles Anthony

Conductor = James Levine
Orchestra and Chorus of Metropolitan Opera

Production = John Dexter
Set Design = David Reppa
Costume Design = Ray Diffen
lighting Design = Gil Wechsler

2 DVDs =  3 h 33 m

It starts with The Winter is long, in Italian. No watering down French influence and Act 1 (Prologue) in Italian is good. Great singers. This is the MET!! Ghiaurov, Domingo, Freni, Louis Quilico and Grace Bumbry, they are just great!!

For reviews from my travels, see

GIUSEPPE VERDI Don Carlo(s) on DVD (1) - Jonas Kaufmann, Ramon Vargas & Roberto Alagna

Salzburger Festspiele 2013

Opera in 5 acts, sung in Italian.

Don Carlo, Infante of Spain = Jonas Kaufmann
Philip II, King of Spain = Matti Salminen
Elisabeth de Valois, Princess of France, later Queen of Spain = Anja Harteros
Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa = Thomas Hampson
Princess of Eboli = Ekaterina Semenchuk
Grande Inquisitor = Eric Halfvarson
A friar (Emperor Charles V) = Robert Lloyd
Tebaldo = Maria Celeng
A heavenly voice = Kiandra Howarth
The Count of Lerma / Royal Herald = Benjamin Bernheim

Conductor = Antonio Pappano
Wiener Philharmoniker
Konzertvereiningun Wiener Staatsopernchor
Chorus Master = Jörn Hinnerk Andresen

Stage Director = Peter Stein
Set Designer = Ferdinand Wügerbauer
Costume Designer = Joachim Barth
Choreographer = Lia Tsolaki
Video Director = Agnes Meth

2 DVDs = 3h55m

Great singers: Jonas Kaufmann, Anja Harteros, Thomas Hampson, Ekatarina Semenchuk.
It starts with L'hiver est long in Italian, naturally. And the opera lasts almost 4 hrs because the rejected extra music is put back in, not all of it. So the action gets delayed and one get a watered down Don Carlo.

For the most complete Don Carlos in French:

Wiener Staatsoper

Opera in 5 acts, sung in French.
Unabridged original version of 1867)

Don Carlos = Ramon Vargas
Philip II of Spain = Alastair Miles
Elisabeth de Valois = Iano Tamar
Rodrigue = Bo Skovhus
The Princess of Eboli = Nadja Michael
Thibault = Cornelia Salje
A friar (Charles V) = Dan Paul Dumitresco
The Count of Lerma = Benedikt Kobel

Conductor = Bertrand De Billy
Wiener Staatsoper Orchester and Chorus
Chorus Master = Ernst Dunsheim

Stage Director = Peter Konwitschny
Sets and Costume Design = Johannes Leiacker
Lighting = Hans Toelstede
Dramaturgy = Werner Hintze
Auto-da-fé Assistand and Video Director = Vera Nemirova
Directed for Television and Video bt Anton Reitzenstein

2 DVDs = 4h 07

Ramon Vargas is a great Don Carlos. Love also Iano Tamar as Elisabeth de Valois. Does not love at all this production. Great singing but the director is destroying the opera.

A better French 5 act version  but not so complete.

Theatre de Chatelet, Paris

Opera in 5 acts, sung in French.
(Original French version in 5 acts - DVD booklet)

Don Carlos = Roberto Alagna
Philip II of Spain = José van Dam
Elisabeth de Valois = Karita Mattila
Rodrigue = Thomas Hampson
Princess of Eboli = Waltraud Meier
Grand Inquisiteur = Eric Halfvarson
Friar - Charles V = Csaba Airizer
Thibault = Anat Efraty
Voice from Heaven = Donna Brown
The Count of Lerma = Scot Weir

Conductor = Antonio Pappano
Orchestre de Paris
Chæur de Theatre de Chatelet
Chorus Master = Andrea Giorgi

Director = Luc Bondy

1 DVD = 3h 31m

The long hair version I call it. Thomas Hampson and Roberto Alagna are great but 3 day bearded and hairy. Love also Karita Mattila and Waltraud Meier in their roles. Better than Wiener Staatsoper version or as bad?

Tuesday 12 May 2015

From Berlin to Vienna, I am getting sick: Neil Shicoff Gala 2015-05-03

Traveling by train to Vienna via Munich. The quiet coupe is not that quiet, but better than the Budapest train. 11 hrs by train, I think. Theoretically I was in Vienna in time to Don Pasquale, but now I have seen it on and I am fine with resting in my hotel room. I am not fine with the room Ibis Mariahilf tried to give me, it was almost 18 o'clock but wet towels and an unmade bed, no, that is not ok. But I got a decent room that was cleaned quickly enough. It was not the best start in Vienna. Then came May and shopping in Mariahilferstrasse and so I did not buy much but I got this nasty Cold.    Ok. It was probably Eugen Onegin first that I missed and then Don Pasquale. Then it was Neil Shicoff gala something that the tenor himself had proposed to the opera director. My reason was Agnes Baltsa as Carmen even it is just the last act. Elena Maxinova, never heard of her, sang instead. So I was both disappointed and rather ill. How I longed to be in Berlin for another Don Carlo (also on May 3rd)!

2015-05-03 Neil Shicoff Gala, Wiener Staatsoper


Les Contes d’Hoffmann (Jacques Offenbach) – Prolog 
Hoffmann: Neil Shicoff 
Lindorf: Paolo Rumetz 
Nicklausse: Stephanie Houtzeel 
Andres: Thomas Ebenstein 
Luther: Marcus Pelz 
Hermann: Clemens Unterreiner 
Nathanael: Carlos Osuna 

Pique Dame (Peter I. Tschaikowski) – 2. Akt, 2. Szene 
Hermann: Neil Shicoff 
Lisa: Krassimira Stoyanova 
Gräfin: Anja Silja 
Mascha: Hyuna Ko 

La Juive (Jacques Fromental Halévy) – 4. Akt 
Eléazar: Neil Shicoff 
Kardinal Brogni: Ferruccio Furlanetto 
Rachel: Krassimira Stoyanova 
Eudoxie: Simina Ivan 

Carmen (Georges Bizet) – 4. Akt 
Carmen: Elena Maximova
Don José: Neil Shicoff 
Escamillo: Clemens Unterreiner 
Frasquita: Simina Ivan 
Mercédès: Juliette Mars 

Frédéric Chaslin, conductor

What a disappointment, coming to Neil Shicoff 's Gala and no Agnes Baltsa as Carmen to his Don Jose. From the greatest Don Carlo of Rolando Villazon et co. in Berlin. Had I known that Baltsa would not sing I would have seen Don Carlo for the 2nd time on this day instead I got the cold in Vienna and Neil Shicoff. 

Having just seen Les Contes d'Hoffmann with Rolando Villazon in a great production seeing the prolog was nothing much. Shicoff can act and sing, but he is not my guy.

Pique Dame - Shicoff was great as Hermann. Anja Silja was not that audible. Krassimira Stoyanova was having an Off day, or maybe it was just that I was OFF.


La Juive - not the whole end but we got the Aria from Eleazar. Simina Ivan and Krassimira Stoyanova could have been the Duet of the Ages but they had aged since I saw them in the of Eudoxie and Rachel. Ferruccio Furlanetto as Brogni, he only gets better with age but then he is a bass.

CARMEN - the end
Elena Maximova is the new CARMEN on the block. Neil Shicoff acts but he is no Carreras, Domingo, Cura & Alvarez. Clemens Unterreiner was Escamillo and a good, solid one.

Frederic Chaslin conducted it all.

Then  when we thought it was over we got 45 minutes or so with speaches. Shicoff ended it with his I am so nervous, the most nervous if them all. The audience gives us the energy not the other way around. And thank god for my wife, Dawn Kotoski.

And I am still not cured. Kleenex forever!!!

The Day After going home worrying about having enough Kleenex and to endure the 3 plane trips back home. Survival modus needed...

From Oslo to Berlin, from Wagner to Verdi: DON CARLO 2015-04-30

My last opera erlebnis was Lohengrin in Oslo and now off to Berlin for Don Carlo. From Wagner to Verdi, from greatness to Greatness. Verdi even worked WITH other people, like his librettist. Rolando Villazon and the whole cast was wonderful and I was in great shape myself but it rained cats and dogs when the opera was over so I never took any "backstage" photos. If Wiener Staasoper had not misinformed me that Agnes Baltsa would be singing in the Neil Shicoff Gala on May 3rd I would have stayed in Berlin to get a second dose of this great masterpiece in Berlin.

2015-04-30 Don Carlo (Giuseppe Verdi), Deutsche Oper Berlin

Philipp II. = Giacomo Prestia
Don Carlo = Rolando Villazón
Rodrigo, Marquis von Posa = Etienne Dupuis
Graf von Lerma / Herold = Gideon Poppe
Der Großinquisitor = Albert Pesendorfer
Ein Mönch = Andrew Harris
Elisabeth von Valois = Kristin Lewis
Prinzessin Eboli = Anna Smirnova
Tebaldo = Alexandra Hutton
Stimme von oben = Siobhan Stagg
1. Flandrischer Deputierter = Michael Rapke
2. Flandrischer Deputierter = Thomas Lehman
3. Flandrischer Deputierter = Seth Carico
4. Flandrischer Deputierter = Carlton Ford
5. Flandrischer Deputierter = Noel Bouley
6. Flandrischer Deputierter = Andrew Harris

Donald Runnicles, conductor
Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin

Inszenierung, Bühne, Licht - Marco Arturo Marelli
Kostüme - Dagmar Niefind
Chöre - William Spaulding

A great performance of Don Carlo by Giuseppe Verdi

Giacomo Prestia as Felipe II, Rolando Villazon as Don Carlos, Kristin Lewis as Elisabeth de Valois were all great in their roles and singing. Etienne Depuis as Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa was a marvel to hear and see. Gideon Poppe as the Count of Lerma was equally an enjoyment to hear and see. The high and mighty Albert Pesendorfer was the high and mighty Grand'Inquisitor.  Anna Smirnova was impressing as Principessa Eboli. As lovely Tebaldo we had the lovely Alexandra Hutton. Siobhan Stagg sang divinely as the Celestial Voice. Andrew Harris was hard pressed to impress as the monk (Carlo Quinto) but he hold his way.

Donald Runnicles was running the show as the conductor making it a Don Carlo to rememmber fondly. Marco Arturo Marelli made the opera work as the director, scenographer and light designer with Dagmar Niefind creating the costumes. William Spaulding as chorus master. Orchestra and Chorus of Deutche Oper Berlin. 

A total win on all fronts: musically, theatrically and the choice of Edition was perfect. It was the Italian 4 act version with one interval after 105 minutes of music. No Fontainebleau scene here and no addition of the extra French fuzzies translated into Italian.  This was the work as I believe it should always be played.

Kristin Lewis was amazing. AND Rolando Villazon is back!!!!
Etienne Depuis was the best of the best. Remember his name: ETIENNE DEPUIS.