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!!

Sunday 5 July 2015

2015 July 3rd: Adriana Lecouvreur in Paris

So off to the usual start of my travels, night bus to Gardermoen. Then off to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. Something was off and that was me. It had just started that very day to be hot in Norway, but me I was dressed all in black. Stupid! Luckily I had my luggage with white clothes. And Paris was hot. Remember, I am Norwegian and in Norway we seldom gets days off over 26 grades Celsius, 28 is just amazing and over 30, that's almost never. So here in Paris it was well over 20 even when dark.

As a Norwegian and not the regular sun lover I was in need of a powerful sun lotion in the least. But first I had to come to Paris from Charles de Gaulle. I was buying a train ticket and then tried to find a bus. Yes, I should have known that a train ticket does not work for bus, but I was under the illusion that my ticket worked for all kinds of connections to Paris. Then rejected by the buses, I found that trains was not too hard to work out. The trains to Paris, was there, and those going in another direction was through another staircase. To Gare de Nord, then. So taxi to my hotel. 

My hotel in Montmartre. It is OK. Big, nice bed. Wonderful pillows. A TV, a little table with a chair. Bathroom with shower, WC and washing bin. The WC is crowded in with washing bin in front and shower cabinet on the left. No space at all had I been a big woman. Little space, easy to hurt oneself. But the problem is just when you need to use the toilet...

I loved Adriana Lecouvreur but I got my hot-temperature-headache during the opera and started feeling slightly sick. So no photos of the singers after performances, I just wanted to go straight to bed.

2015-07-03 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

It is wonderful and rare to see a truly traditional opera production but for Adriana it is so right.
Loved the production and did warm up to this opera rather quickly. I loved Alessandro Corbelli as Michonnet. He was so right for the role. He loves Adriana and he is the decent type of a fellow someone to trust interely. Raul Gimenez as L'Abate was also wonderful as this not so trustworthy man, not so much of a man of the Church as a man of the flesh. Wojtek Smilek as the Prince of Bouillon was impressive, too.

Angela Gheorghiu was not impressive as she started with "Io son l'umile ancella", mostly because I have heard the likes of Montserrat Caballe singing it, and with MC it is most impressive and impressionistic. The rest of the audience, however, went wild for Angela Gheorghiu. Luciana D'Intino was her rival the Princess of Bouillon and Luciana was great. Luciana has everything passion and La Voce and her voice can go through all and everything. Marcelo Alvarez was just the most adoringly, wonderful Maurizio. What a beautiful voice? He could use to loose some weight but NOT if it changes his voice because the Voice is Perfect. 

Daniel Oren conducted and the orchestra was just wonderful. Angela Gheorghiu became better and better. Luciana wins on power, Angela wins on sweetness. Marcelo Alvarez has it all! BRAVO tutti!

Took the Metro to Concorde and taxi from there to hotel. Maybe if I had not tried to walk to Bastille, 4.7 km, I would not have gotten my ill-fated headache. I think I got half way and the sense got to me and I took a taxi.

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Norma from Munich 2015-06-21

2015-06-21 Norma (Bellini), Bayerische Staatsoper

Norma = Sondra Radvanovsky
Adalgisa = Ekaterina Gubanova
Clotilde = Golda Schultz
Pollione = Gregory Kunde 
Flavio = Francesco Petrozzi 
Oroveso = Mika Kares

Paolo Carignani, conductor

Inszenierung, Bühne und Kostüme, Lichtkonzept - Jürgen Rose
Choreographische Mitarbeit - Jo Siska
Licht - Michael Bauer
Produktionsdramaturgie - Peter Heilker
Chöre - Stellario Fagone

Finally, Norma! Live from Munich with Sondra Radvanovsky and Ekaterina Gubanova as Norma and Adalgisa.

First time to see this opera live for me. Sondra Radvanovsky, who I saw last time in London as Lina in Verdi's Stiffelio 8 years ago, has become NORMA in a very big way. She is there alongside with Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland and Montserrat Caballé. Ekaterina Gubanova, who I have loved ever since Oberto in Paris in 2011, was equally amazing as Adalgisa.

Gregory Kunde was Pollione instead an indisposed Massimo Giordano. He was Pollione with gusto but not my cup of tea, so to speak. Mika Kares was a wonderful Oroveso. Frnacesco Petrozzi was Flavio and I wanted more from him like he should be singing Pollione with his beautiful voice.

Golda Schultz did her job in the little and yet important part of Clotilde. Parolo Carignani conducted it all.

Two children played the roles of the children of Norma and Pollione. Poor children!! Innocent young boys with a mother who loves (and hates) them.  A father who in the end is more a lover than a father. I still wonder if Norma was the only to die (did she die?), was Adalgisa also killed, did the children really get a chance to live safely with Oroveso, or ... Did Pollione die (killed by the Druids)?

The music is divine but who can love Norma or Pollione. Adalgisa can, I cannot. But I can love Adalgisa and wish the children did get a chance of love from ever lovable Adalgisa.

For reviews from my travels, see