Sunday 21 May 2017

Holiday week. Don Carlo in London 2017-05-19

So my Opera Holiday Week was ending with a climax. What can go wrong with Don Carlo, my favorite opera, in my favorite production in one of the best opera houses in the world?

First and formost, never assume that nothing can go wrong. Manage that and you are good and ready to go.


I was travelling to London via Oslo from Milano Airport. What idiocy was this and who is to blame? I was, naturally, to blame for that, I was sick and could not travel to another place but I could for a small amount of money change that to a travel from Milano to London. Unforfunately with Norwegian Air it meant going via Oslo.

Since I was Genova it meant the plane from Milano could not be an early flight because I needed to able to travel from Genova to Milano Malpensa Airport. I really hate waking up early but I could manage travel from Genova Piazza Principe to Milano Centrale 08.18-0955. Then it was off to Malpensa Aeroporto with Trenord 1025-1123. Then I had time to get to gate in time of my flight to Oslo 1355-1635. Finding a place to eat a meal at Oslo Gardermoen airport, and then my flight to London Gatwick airport 1845-2005.

And so I arrive at Gatwick airport and I am trying to get the best idea of how to get to my hotel, Strand Palace Hotel. Slightly confused but eventually I manage to buy a ticket from a train to London. The train trip was relaxing. It was dark outside and raining. In the end I ended of at what was that day the nearest train station/metro station to my hotel. I think I took another train/metro station to get there. It was raining heavily and then I took a taxi to avid more trains and walking in this rain. Still I ended up being totally soaked when I sat down in the taxi. It took much longer to get to my hotel because of the crazy traffic. So it was 2200 or so when I finally walked into this grand hotel. When I came to my room I suddenly remember that in London the hotel rooms are small, SMALL. Because I was so late I had no other real choice but McDonalds so there was no festive mood that day. AND the day was May 18th, 2017 and it was downer.

May 19th, 2017 Opera day.

It was also a cloudy, cold and rainy day. I had been in Bonn and Genova and it had been hot. I was now almost freezing. I was getting "dinner" at Pizza Hut. London is really boring when it is mostly raining. In between finding something to eat, I was tracking the paths between the hotel and the opera house, and hotel and McDonalds, hotel and Pizza Hut, hotel and some shops to buy Pepsi Max or Cola light and some food. Then show time, opera time.

2017-05-19 Don Carlo (Giuseppe Verdi), Royal Opera House (London)

Don Carlo - Bryan Hymel
Rodrigo - Simone Piazzola
Elizabeth of Valois - Kristin Lewis
Princess Eboli - Ekaterina Semenchuk
King Philip II - Ildar Abdrazakov
Grand Inquisitor - Paata Burchuladze
Frate - Andrea Mastroni
Voice from Heaven - Francesca Chiejina
Tebaldo - Emily Edmonds
Count of Lerma - David Junghoon Kim

Bertrand de Billy, conductor
Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House

Director - Nicholas Hytner
Designer - Bob Crowley
Lighting designer - Mark Henderson
Movement - Scarlett Mackmin
Fight director - Terry King

Co-production with
Norwegian National Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, New York

I love the production of Nicholas Hytner and I have enjoyed the DVD from The Royal Opera House (London) with Rolando Villazon and the video from Metropolian Opera (New York) from Met Opera on Demand (app on Ipad) with Robert Alagna as Don Carlo. I will always regret not going to Oslo and see the production with the Norwegian National Opera and Ballett. So I was really excited to see it in the The Royal Opera House (London). So, I was disappointed.

In 2017 it was still a great production and there was many great singers as Don Carlo really is an opera that need great singers. I think Jonas Kauffmann was originally to sing Don Carlo, and another soprano was to sing Elisabeth de Valois. I know that Kristin Lewis can be a really great Elisabeth because I have experienced her live in theater. Bryan Hymel was new for me and even Kauffmann was intended to sing at first I was still open to Bryan Hymel.

Don Carlo does not work if the singer is not on form. From both Don Carlo, Bryan Hymel, and Elisabeth, Kristin Lewis, it was a weak performance on May 19, 2017, that was my impression. It was cold and it rained heavily in London so I think they was under the weather. I believe that had I been there on another day it could have been spectacular. The opera really suffer from the main people, Don Carlo and Elisabeth, being not their best.

We had Ildar Abdrazakov as King Filip, he was great as always. As Rodrigo of Posa we had the wonderful Simone Piazzola. Ekaterina Semenchuk was the enchanting Princess of Eboli. We even had Paata Burchuladze as the Grand Inquisitor. And last we had Andrea Mastroni as Frate. A great cast, but Don Carlo and Elisabeth had already sunk the boat.

It should have been the highlight of my opera holiday week, but it was too rainy and dark and then the opera did not light up the mood. I loved my hotel though. Strand Palace Hotel!! Small hotel room but lovely staff. 

No blunder even with Londons weird time zone. The British, always so different then the normal Europe.

Saturday May 20th, 2017. Home trip.

Check out at Strand Palace Hotel 1200. Then travel home 1535 (Heathrow, London time), arrived 1845 (Oslo, Normal time). Eating in Oslo Gardermoen Airport and waiting, waiting for 2235 when the bus will travel north and west to arrive home on Sunday May 21st 0530. Normality resumed.

For reviews from my travels, see

Friday 19 May 2017

Holiday week: Maria Stuarda in Genova 2017-05-17

The bus trip from Bonn to Genova lasted 15 hours, from May 15th at 19 to May 16th at 10. It was OK. I could sleep and/or listen to music from my iTunes library. It was not bad in the beginning but then the smell from the toilet became harder to ignore. I had to put kleenex in my nose just to breathe without gagging. But that was just the last hours. Kleenex saved me! No foods to buy on the bus. Luckily I had some Cola with me but not enough food. I had been foolish enough to believe FlixBus promise of cheap food and drinking on the bus. One hour before Genova the bus stopped and we could go to a beautiful toilet and buy food and drink. Not a moment too soon but at this point we were only 4 or 5 passengers left.

The Australian woman complained that Europe was so cold, but Italy was nice. I, as Norwegian, was almost having heat stroke. And it was only 10 in the morning! Different perspectives... The hotel was too far away and I had too much luggage so I took a taxi. Hotel Columbus Sea sounds and looks impressive from a far. But far away from the center it was no matter what the nice receptionist said. Cheap it was. Yellow walls, carpets and worn it looked. The bed was hard and it was a noisy room with a view not to the sea but to traffic. And the room had a smell that was making me crazy. Opened the window and tried to get the smell out but it was more noise in than smell out. The hotel room made me slightly depressed. I was allowed to pay only for the one night and not for the booked 2 nights. Nice! 

The breakfast on the National day of Norway, May 17th, was a meager affaire. But things were looking up. Taxi to my new hotel, Grand Hotel Savoia. The day before I had been looking to see which hotel would be perfect for me. After the disappointment I deserved something really great like a 5 stars hotel for 3 times the price of my previous night. And voila! 

Google maps is a wonderful app but in Genova there are many small streets called vico that Google maps insists is the best route. They are small, shabby and smelly. Via is more like our normal streets. Genova with piazzas is beautiful. In the night it will be safer to avoid vico. The heat was hard for me and the walking tough for my feet. Finally it was time for opera.

Donizetti: Maria Stuarda. Teatro Carlo Fenice, Genova 2017-05-17 at 20:30-23:20.

Maria Stuarda Elena Mosuc
Elisabetta Silvia Tro Santafé
Roberto, Conte di Leicester Celso Albelo
Giorgio Talbot Andrea Concetti
Lord Guglielmo Cecil Stefano Antonucci
Anna Kennedy Alessandra Palomba

A great cast, especially Elena Mosuc, Silvia Tro Santafe and Celso Albelo. The production was good enough, the costumes beautiful for singers. The chorus was dressed in black always, a way to get the cost down but... The sets was moved around as the music starts so the stage hands also got their own applause. This was the premiere. The singers was acting as themselves on stage and then when see through curtain was raised they became their roles. It was a waste to do it like that and it did nothing for the opera. Then it was the costumes. They were beautiful but to see men in dresses made me wonder if that was historically correct. It had to be that. Elena Mosuc was a wonderful Maria Stuarda, Silvia Tro Santafe was a splendid Elisabetta and Celso Albelo was a powerful Leicester. 
Naturally Elisabeth in the opera of Donizetti is just a really jealous women instead of a queen which reign is threatened by the Scottish queen Mary Stuart. Leicester is a toddler of a man. He does not understand powerful women, he just wants what he wants. Disaster is assured. Like most Stuarts, Mary Stuart knew how to die splendidly. And we saw that in Elena Mosuc singing the end of Maria Stuarda. Brava, Elena! Brava, Silvia! Bravo, Celso!

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Holiday week: Peter Grimes in Bonn 2017-05-13

I start my holiday week with a night bus to Oslo Gardermoen. It arrived there at 5 in the morning and my flight to Frankfurt will start at 9 so I have plenty of time. This time I have extra luggage, it is big and it is not black. Four wheel on that piece of luggage so I have to lay it down for it to stay put on an uneven surface. When on 4 wheels it is easy and no drag, but sometimes it would not work unless I just use 2 wheels and then I feel it is heavy. In the end my backback also feels quite heavy and my hand bag, too. Then I also have a plastic bag with me. What was I thinking? I was thinking that a week is a long time and I will need a lot. I wonder how much I have packed that I will never use on this trip.

Arriving in Frankfurt was easy. Waiting for my baggage was boring. A mother had to use the wc and took a long time to come back to her child and her luggage and so I did not feel I could leave even after my luggage was there. Then I had to go to wc with all that luggage with me. Then I went to the train station and unfortunately I had not earlier bought my train ticket to Bonn so now it was not so cheap. Later than needed I arrived in Bonn. Then I went to Hotel Ibis Bonn. At 1500 I was in my room. The opera starts 1930. I ate a Pizza Margherita at the restaurant nearby, Tuscola. It was too big for me and I did no want to take the rest to my hotel room because it didn't taste that well. 

Then I walked to the opera house. I met other Jose Cura fans there. And then the opera began. Peter Grimes by Benjamin Britten.

Peter Grimes - José Cura [P] / Johannes Mertes [11.6., 22.6., 30.6.]
Ellen Orford - Yannick-Muriel Noah [P] / Johanni van Oostrum [13.5., 26.5.]
Balstrode - Mark Morouse
Auntie - Ceri Williams
1. Nichte - Marie Heeschen
2. Nichte -  Rosemarie Weissgerber* [P] / Panagiota Sofroniadou [10.5., 26.5., 22.6., 8.7.]
Bob Boles - Christian Georg
Swallow Leonard Bernad
Mrs. Sedley - Anjara I. Bartz [P] / Susanne Blattert [10.5., 26.5., 22.6., 8.7.]
Pastor Adams David Fischer [P] / Jonghoon You [10.5., 26.5., 8.7., 15.7.]
Ned Keene - Fabio Lesuisse* [P] / Ivan Krutikov [10.5., 13.5., 26.5., 11.6., 22.6., 30.6.]
Dr. Crabbe - Goswin Spieß [P] / Jan Löcher [10.5., 26.5., 22.6., 8.7.]
Hobson - Daniel Pannermayr
Fischersfrau - Asta Zubaite [P] / Marianne Freiburg [10.5., 13.5., 26.5., 22.6., 8.7.]
Fischersmann - Nicholas Probst
Ein Anwalt -  Georg Zingerle [P] / Dong-Wook Lee [10.5., 26.5., 22.6., 8.7.]
John (Der Lehrling) - Jaydon Morouse [P] / Moritz Hamelmann / Clemens Risse
William - Clemens Risse / Mika Wagner
Chor / Extrachor des Theater Bonn
Beethoven Orchester Bonn
Musikalische Leitung: Jacques Lacombe
Inszenierung und Ausstattung: José Cura
Licht: Thomas Roscher
Choreinstudierung: Marco Medved
Regieassistenz und Co-Ausstattung: Silvia Collazuol
Regieassistenz und Abendspielleitung: Christian Raschke
Bühnenbildsassistenz: Ansgar Baradoy
Musikalische Assistenz: Stephan Zilias
Inspizienz: Karsten Sandleben
It is a dark tale of persecution of the people who are different and therefore may easily be believed to be guilty. A fishing village with a fisherman who is not like the other people there, Peter Grimes. This man is loved by Ellen Orford and he loves her back. He needs another boy from the poorhouse to work with him. He has a problem, the village people believe he drowned his last boy.


"An English fishing village. During a coroner’s inquest at the town hall, the lawyer Swallow questions the fisherman Peter Grimes about the death of his apprentice during a storm at sea. Though the room is crowded with villagers hostile to Grimes, Swallow accepts the man’s explanation of the event and rules that the boy died accidentally. He warns Grimes not to take on another apprentice unless he lives with a woman who can care for the boy. When the hall empties, Ellen Orford, the schoolmistress, asks Grimes to have courage and promises to help him find a better life."

I loved Jose Cura's Regie and acting in Peter Grimes. Peter Grimes is separated by the other people at the Coroner's Inquest by a curtain that makes the other people as shadows while Peter Grimes with his shaggy hair and beard stands right before us. Brilliant use and it is also used later in the opera. Peter Grimes is haunted by the death of this boy and of the other boy that also died. We see this physically played out. The new dead one is then greated by other dead boys dressed in white. The boys are angels now. Ellen Orford (Johanni van Oostrum) comes out and takes him away from his now staring of the imagination of the dead boy.


"On a street by the sea, the women repair nets as a group of fishermen head for the Boar, a tavern kept by Auntie. Other villagers arrive: the Methodist fisherman Bob Boles, the widow Mrs. Sedley, and Balstrode, a retired sea-captain who warns that a storm is approaching. Grimes calls for help from the harbor to land his boat, but only Balstrode and the apothecary Ned Keene lend him a hand. Keene tells Grimes that he has found him a new apprentice at a workhouse. When the carrier Hobson refuses to fetch the boy, Ellen offers to go with him. The villagers make hostile comments, and she accuses them of hypocrisy (“Let her among you without fault cast the first stone”). As the storm rises and the crowd disperses, Grimes is left alone with Balstrode, who tries to convince him to leave the village. The fisherman explains that first he has to make enough money to open a store and marry Ellen.
That night, as the storm rages, the villagers gather at Auntie’s tavern. Auntie’s “nieces” are frightened by the wind and Bob Boles gets into a fight with Balstrode over one of them. When Grimes enters, there is a sudden silence, and he begins talking to himself, mystifying everyone (“Now the Great Bear and Pleiades”). The drunken Boles tries to attack Grimes. In an attempt to restore quiet, Ned Keene starts singing a sea shanty (“Old Joe has gone fishing”). When Hobson and Ellen arrive with the new apprentice, John, Grimes immediately takes the boy back into the storm and to his hut."
- See more at:

The synopsis above refers to the Metropolitan Opera production and not to Jose Cura production in Bonn. So many little things are different here and I wish I could remember it all clearly enough to to mention them all. Peter Grimes doesn't himself any favors by being so different from all the others but he just can't help being the odd one. He is kind but he has a suddenness and semi-violent strike. Ellen Orford, the school-mistress, and Peter Grimes, the fisherman, makes up an odd couple. But she is also an outsider. Ellen is kind to everyone and so she sees in Peter a person worthy of love and affection. 


On Sunday morning, as Ellen and John are watching the villagers go to church (“Glitter of waves”) she discovers a bruise on the young boy’s neck. Grimes comes to take John fishing. Ignoring Ellen’s concerns, he hits her and drags the child off. Auntie, Ned Keene, and Bob Boles have observed the incident and tell the congregation about it as they come out of church. The men decide to confront the fisherman, and despite Ellen’s protests, Boles leads the angry mob off to Grimes’s hut. Ellen, Auntie, and the nieces remain behind, reflecting on the childishness of men.
At his hut, Grimes orders John to dress for work. He dreams of the life he had planned with Ellen, but his thoughts return to his dead apprentice. As he hears the mob approaching, he rushes John out the back door. The boy slips and falls down the cliff; Grimes escapes. Bob Boles and the Rector find the hut empty and orderly and decide that they have misjudged Grimes. The villagers disperse, except for Balstrode, who looks over the cliff and knows better.
- See more at:

Grimes has a problem with affection or maybe it is just having other people's hands close near or on him that freaks him out. He do not understand how to be affectionate even though he loves Ellen and does care for every new apprentice he takes. But he is always too sudden and almost violent even in his most affectionate state.


A dance is under way in the town hall. Outside, Mrs. Sedley tries to convince Ned Keene that Grimes has murdered his apprentice. Balstrode enters with Ellen and tells her that Grimes’s boat has returned but that there is no sign of him or the boy. He has also found John’s wet jersey, and Ellen remembers embroidering the anchor on it (“Embroidery in childhood was a luxury”). Mrs. Sedley has overheard the conversation and informs Swallow that Grimes’s boat is back. Once again, the crowd sets off on a manhunt.
Grimes, deranged and raving, listens to the villagers shouting his name in the distance. He hardly notices Ellen and Balstrode, who try to comfort him. Ellen asks Grimes to come home, but Balstrode tells him to sail out and take his own life. He helps Grimes launch the boat, and then leads Ellen away. As dawn breaks, the villagers return to their daily chores. Swallow tells them that the coast guard has reported a sinking boat, but no one listens to him.
- See more at:

Mrs Sedley is always causing trouble about Grimes. She has a sneaky way but pretend to be a very godly women. Of course godly women can be smoking pipe and have a drug habit. Mrs Sedley loves gossip. Ned Keene who provide Mrs Sedley with her drug and provide boys from the poorhouse as apprentices and so on, should not be one of the men ganging up on Grimes. But hypocrisy is rampant. Poor Grimes is visited and haunted by the angels, 3 boys dressed in white. He is so alone, also in himself is he alone. Ellen Orford and Balstrode try to talk to him. Ellen still believes in a happy end for Peter, but Balstrode knows. He tell Peter Grimes to go out to sea and when he is furthest away and on deepest water to cut a hole in the boat. The desperately unhappy Peter Grimes does that. Ellen is shocked by Peter's decision and the Balstrode, the nearest of friend of Peter, could say that.

Peter dies and nobody else care in this village. 

An amazing production. Britten' music is not for everyone and story is dark. This is right production and it can  thank Cura for all this.

May 14th, 2017

Another night in Bonn. From Ibis Bonn to Hotel Europe. Closer to centrum but Ibis was better. Europe was ok but more for young folks. Ibis was cheap and for everyone. Bored. I bought shoes, sandal like Ecco, and socks. I walked a lot and it was hot, too hot for the socks and shoes from home. Bored in Bonn

May 15th, 2017
Another boring day and I think it was this day I bought the shoes and socks. My feet loved it. I waited until it was time to finally leave hotel Europe for the last time to catch my Flixbus to Genova. Bus trip from 19.00 till 10 next morning.

For reviews from my travels, see

Monday 1 May 2017

April 1, 2017: Lucrezia Borgia in Valencia (review & travel)

It all depends on how one sees things. I prefer to see opera live, still I adore to see opera on TV, internet or DVD or simply listening to opera on Ipad or CD. And then it is travelling and a little holiday time abroad, that is good, too. Plus I did not know until I arrived in Valencia, Spain, that Lucrecia Borgia was going to be recorded and sent live on the very same day that I had a ticket. There I was again, in Valencia.

This time my route was night bus to Oslo Gardermoen on Thursday 30. March. Then my flight to Alicante airport. First time for me in Alicante! To arive at OSL at 5 in the morning and have a flight at 6 already was NOT a joy. Arriving in Alicante before ten. Airport bus from Airport to Train station. Me not a fluent Spanish speaker at all, I am all single words in Spanish sometimes arrived to the shortest possible sentence. The bus driver was kind but not too fluent in English. But the question that settled where I was going was like Driver: "Benidorm?" and Me: "Valencia!" Tren, train, yes.

In Alicante train station I got a chance to eat. I had to, my train was not before 1400. Train trip, many photos. And then to my hotel in Valencia. 2 nights from Friday 31. March to Sunday 2.April.

April 1 in Valencia, photos and the main course opera in the evening. Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia with Mariella Devia. What a night of opera it was!

2017-04-01 Lucrezia Borgia (Donizetti),
Palau de les Arts (Valencia)

Lucrezia Borgia = Mariella Devia
Gennaro = William Davenport
Alfonso I d´este = Marko Mimica
Maffio Orsini = Silvia Tro Santafé
Don Aposto Gazella = Alejandro Lopez
Ascanio Petrucci = Simone Alberti
Oloferno Vitellozzo = Andres Silbaran
Rustighello = Moises Marin
Gubetta = Andrea Pellegrini
Astolfo = Michael Borth
Jeppo Liverotto = Fabian Lara
Ujer = Jose Enrique Requena
Una Voz = Lluis Martinez
Fabio Biondi, conductor

Stage Director: Emilio Sagi
Scenography: Lorenc Corbella
Costumes : Pepa Ojaguren
Light design: Eduardo Bravo

New production: Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia

Another wonderful Lucrezia Borgia. This time it was Mariella Devia as Lucrezia. To compare Mariella Devia to Elena Mosuc in this role is like comparing a mother to a daughter when they are equally astounding and look the same. Of course, this is opera so it was the sound that was alike, same quality, except Mariella Devia is older than Elena Mosuc so it was the older diva against the younger. Who wins? I would say both. Great singing and acting from both.  I loved Mariella Devia as Lucrezia just as I did love Elena Mosuc in the same role. Brava, Mariella Devia!!

In both productions we had Marko Mimica as Alfonso d'Este. This is really a bass to go and see. Great acting and voice. Bravo, Marco Mimica!!

William Davenport was singing and acting the demanding belcanto role of Gennaro. There was many things to admire in this tenor. His voice was not so sure on the track but with age and more stage experience he will a be a tenor to look for. Bravo, William Davenport!!

Silvia Tro Santafe was Maffio Orsini. A great mezzo soprano voice and  a sure stage presence she presented this important person right on stage. Brava, Silvia Tro Santafe!!

With great singers and personalities in all the smaller roles this was a great production. Emilio Sago has created another triumpth for the stage! Perfection from Valencia.

And think, the Borgia had family ties to the city of Valencia and the region of Valencia.

Viva, Valencia!!!

On April 2 it was time for the long travel home with a night in Alicante, too. A quarter past 1300 I was on my way from Valencia to Alicante. Another beautiful city! And in the end a good night sleep until April 3rd and 1545 my flight to Oslo. SO it all ended with another night bus and so 5 or rather over 5 in morning on April 4th I was home. So tired that it has taken me a whole month to write this. Or rather, there are things that are more amusing than blogging, and then there was work...

For reviews from my travels, see