Concert Performances at Le Poisson Rouge and Mathis der Maler in Zurich

I don’t know how you all feel about the “Response to Comments as Blog Posts” format I’m following here, but it’s really working for me.

In the past week I’ve gotten a couple of interesting comments that I think are worth sharing and responding to – one about the Met’s new concert initiatives at Le Poisson Rouge and one about Zurich’s recent Mathis der Maler and the lack of coverage.

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Re: 5 Reasons Why Traditional Opera Kind of Sucks

About a week ago (maybe longer?  I’m only just recovering my sense of time after the madness of July/August), a commenter by the name of Antonio pointed me towards Re:Classical’s “5 Reasons Why Traditional Opera Kind of Sucks” post.  The “About” section of my blog is getting rather ungainly, so I’m trying to start shifting discussions from the About section into blog posts.

Without further ado, here is my response… Continue reading

Opera Apprenticeship Anecdotes: Erwin Schrott

It is storming like craaaaazy right now, and in my quest to keep myself occupied with things besides the probability of golf-ball sized hail and tornados I came across Tiny Doom’s “How I met Erwin Schrott” post – I highly recommend it.  It’s not only a great story, but it takes place in my beloved Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus!  The coolest book/media store with the coolest name.

My own (very brief) encounter is comparatively anti-climactic. Continue reading

Asher Fisch and the Wagner Society

Portrait of Maestro Asher Fisch

Photo by Chris Gonz

This past Monday, the DC Wagner Society hosted a lecture by Asher Fisch at the Goethe Institute about conducting Wagner.  This was the first Wagner Society event I’d attended since becoming a member (the membership rate for persons under 28 is ridiculously cheap, by the way!) and the first time I’d been in close contact with the society members.

In addition to the Wagner Society members and board members (and anyone else who managed to book a free ticket in time), it was attended by Washington Post opera critic Anne Midgette and Stefanie Irànyi, a German mezzo-soprano with whom Fisch will be performing a concert of Mahler songs at the University of Maryland tonight (Asher Fisch will be playing piano). Continue reading

David McVicar and Royal Opera Insights: Directing and Acting

The Royal Opera live-tweeted an interview with David McVicar as part of their “Opera Insights” series.  McVicar’s Salome (inspired by the 1975 Pasolini film Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom – not a film for the faint of heart of weak of stomach) has been in rep at the Royal Opera since it premiered in 2008, and his new Les Troyens opens toward the end of June.

Based on the ROH’s tweets, the interview covered a lot of ground, from rehearsal methods to to surtitles to comic acting in opera.  Unfortunately, the ROH has no plans to make a complete version of the interview available, but they have assured us that clips will be forthcoming.  The parts of the interview that were relayed across the twitterverse (you heard me!) were rather provocative.  I spent much of the afternoon pondering his first answer:

David McVicar tweets from the Royal Opera

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Götterdämmerung – Met HD Encore Broadcast and Lepage Ring Post-Mortem

The Met HD Ring Cycle has come and gone, and what a lackluster finale.

The peripheral characters were all quite good – Hans-Peter König was a smooth and insidious Hagen (and as the only performer who appears in all four operas, it was fascinating to watch him through the cycle).  Iain Paterson’s Gunther was very natural and human.  Wendy Bryn Harmer’s Gutrune started out pretty interesting – ambitious and a little sly, but that characterization was never resolved within the actions of the opera, which is a shame.  I don’t think it would have been difficult to round out that take on the character.  I wish Eric Owens’s Alberich had been a little more warped and cruel; this is a man (dwarf) who spent his entire life and beyond being eaten away by hate and greed.  It didn’t help that his clothes and hair were totally plain in this opera.  Very strange – like he’d been domesticated.  I liked the Rhine maidens’ costume change, and Erin Morley contributed a lovely bright sound to the trio.  And, as we all know, Waltraud Meier was brilliant, and her interview during the intermission was as articulate, incisive, and intelligent as her performance.  I wasn’t terribly impressed with the Norns, but my guess is that a lot of time was spent in rehearsal trying to choreograph the ropes and less attention was paid to the women holding them.

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Hang in there, baby!

I was hoping to get my Götterdämmerung post up during lunch today, but I seem to have caught whatever’s going around the office and putting coherent ideas and thoughts together is incredibly taxing right now. But never fear – it’ll be up by Wednesday (I’m sure you’re all just hanging on the edge of your seats!).

After G-dämmerung, a post mortem and then I think it’s time to revisit the Otto Schenk Ring. And I’m sure after that I’ll want to watch the Chéreau and then Stuttgart and Copenhagen and Valencia; and before you know it this blog will be all Wagner, all the time and I’ll have to change the name!

But we’ll see.