Category Archives: mozart

Bad night for Roschmann?

(it’s one of those old news chez dehggi moments)

From Serenade‘s account of a 2017 performance of Le Nozze at Wiener Staatsoper (the other opera house in Vienna 😉 ):

The Countess was played by Dorothea Roschmann herself an erstwhile Susanna. In my opinion she has not quite graduated yet to the bigger role and she would do well to limit her appearances as the Countess. Her Porgi amor at the beginning of Act Two was sung with beauty of tone and a quick vibrato. But her Act Three Aria Dove sono was disappointing as it lacked breath control and a sense of line. She was unable to take any of the long phrases in a single breath and there were times when the voice just did not carry forward.

She has not quite graduated?! Ehehehe. I think I’d still like to see her as the Countess even on a so-so day. Then again, I’d rather see my fave singers on their good days.

Advertisements

Where no other Tito production has gone

Schade looks like an aging ’70s porn star in the COC production 😀

Sesto and Vitellia in a nutshell

If you love Tito and haven’t seent Double Indemnity, do it now. If you have, revisit, it’s more than worth it 🙂

The capitalism vs. the people Idomeneo Act 3 (Jacobs, 2013)

Remember this one? I posted parts I and II way back when in January 2014. Thanks to this performance I 1) got interested in Idomeneo, 2) realised I quite like Rene Jacobs as a conductor, 3) became interested in the Arnold Schoenberg Choir, 4) Theater an der Wien appeared on my radar in style. So whilst cleaning the cobwebs inside the vault I thought I should to put this last part out, even all this time later.

I care because you do, as Richard D. James would say. Thanks to some interest shown in Act I and II, I took pity on this production and went back to finishing Act III, most of which – you will weep – was already written in January. Yes, that’s right, I had it in my drafts just sitting there, gathering virtual dust. But I couldn’t make up my mind what I wanted to say about Andro ramingo (I’m still not sure) and the ending (dramatically; now I think meh) and I had to also watch it again because my attention drifted away from the extremely exciting production. And then a flurry of Clemenze completely distracted me for many months. We all know it’s game over for everything else when that happens.

  • Idomeneo: Richard Croft
  • Idamante: Gaelle Arquez
  • Ilia: Sophie Karthauser
  • Elettra: Marlis Petersen
  • Arbace: Julien Behr
  • Il Gran Sacerdoto di Nettuno: Mirko Guadagnini

Conductor: Rene Jacobs | Theater an der Wien, Vienna, 2013 | Freiburger Barockorcherster | Arnold Schoenberg Choir

So it’s only been what, 3 years+? Right. Back in January 2014 we left off where Nessie gets angry at the Cretans. But by Act III he’s lost some steam and the weather has improved, because Wolfie needed to shoe in a bit of lovin’. Monsters and storms are fun for a couple of acts. But what’s the use of having two young people of marriageable age in your opera if you won’t make them fall in love?

Act III starts with Zeffiretti lusinghieri. Up to this point I said barely anything about Ilia. SK started quite screechy but maybe that’s how the director wanted it or maybe it was nerves. I gave her time to come into her own but by now I know that I don’t particularly like her voice. It’s sort of run of the mill, her vibrato bothers me and I’m not one to call foul on its use. She’s not that lacking in technique just kind of meh in presentation.

Principessa, a tuoi sguardi… ah, s’io non moro a questi accenti isn’t bad. Arquez is coping very well with Idamante’s transporto. Ilia takes pity on Idamante, who is at the end of his tethers after being rejected by both father and the woman he loves. She admits to her feelings and tells the poor sod she actually shares his love. They launch into the gorgeous duet that is S’io non moro. It’s a sweet moment, where our hitherto doomed lovers are finally getting a bit of respite from all the gloom and mud. Tutto vince il nostro ardor, Arquez and K sound beautiful together – moving and delicate. (But now that I’ve been there a few times it’s really hard to imagine the stage at TADW as muddy as that!) Of course they get interrupted but at least now they know where they stand which is together.

Andro ramingo e solo – an unsual one, this ensemble. Idamante: I’ll go looking for death and I’ll find it (and after that I’ll write a long post about it in my (online) diary). Ilia: Me too, me too! I wanna go with you. Elettra: (mocking Ilia wordlessly) Me too, me too! Then she abuses a lone plant (standing for hope I guess) Ilia later cares for. Idomeneo: Somebody kill me! I can’t watch Nessie chomp on my son! All: I can’t take this anymore! Idamante gives his dad his jacket (to sing to?) and Idomeneo physically abuses him a bit. Hey, mister, you’ve been really tough on the youngster by which we know you mean you really love him. Idamante puts the jacket back on, ready to take on Nessie. Ilia takes off his jacket, because we all know he can’t leave without it.

Arbace mourns Sidon’s fate and goes on a bit of rampage of his own then sings his aria about saving the local royal family. Behr’s voice is pleasant but the aria ain’t all that.

Nice intro to the Gran Sacerdoto, who’s got a pleasantly sacerdotal voice. The chorus swings low and noble then the music goes on like this for quite a while.

Trumpets. The choir gets busy. Idomeneo wonders what’s going on. Arbace rushes in with the news that Idamante put on his power suit to face off with Nessie. Idomeneo isn’t sure his delicate son is cut out for hand-to-tentacle combat. Idamante tries to convince him how noble it is to save his people by handing in a son. They argue over idealism vs. paternal love. Ilia shows up and isn’t keen on this Idamante as sacrificial lamb deal. She offers herself. She and Idamante go back and forth outdoing each other on who’s more ready to die.

Creepy celestial womb rumbles, all stand to attention. Foetus ex machina speakth: Idoemeo’s humanity has been taken on board but as a manager he has failed. He’s fired. Idamante is replacing him as King of Crete effective immediately. Ilia shall marry him and to hell with Elettra’s plans.

She can’t take this dissing and flings herself about in mud with abandon. The wig comes off. No more Miss Ditzygirl, she’s feral now. Marlis Petersen, that was some taking one for the team. The entire crew owes you one for getting mud in your eyes whilst singing the best (known) aria from the opera. Jacobs offers gentle support and she copes (although she bypasses the second set of evil laughter), especially considering what she has to do but it’s not all that grand vocally. I don’t think Petersen holds back as much as she doesn’t have the vocal oomph for this aria. I might be among the few who thought this production was entirely miscast save for this bad motherfucker. I mean, HELL yea, that’s portraying your character. No need for mud there. Harteros is pretty damn good in the Salzburg production but not on that level of losing it. Then again, her timbre is the closest to how I envision Elettra. Good thing nature never tossed Behrens and Harteros together, the earth might cleave and swarms of locusts might obscure the sun. (this paragraph sounds amusing to me now but that’s what I thought at the time…)

All live happily ever after. The end, tnx bi. (By which I mean I don’t get whatever Michieletto is trying to say. If you do, please enlighten me. Some productions seem very hard to break through)

The ballet and chaconne at the end is some of my favourite music in the whole piece, though I can imagine it gives headaches to directors (and is often cut? luckily it was neither here nor at ROH later that year). Conclusion 2017: Jacobs and the Freiburger Barockochester, the Arnold Schoenberg Choir and Richard Croft rock. The tempi are great. The other singers are pretty good. There was another chance to see this in concert performance form at TADW earlier this year but I couldn’t be in two places at the same time 😦 Anyway, it’s really worth listening to.

Tito arias in Masterclasses (Parto)

Ow, ow, check out the chap banging out Parto on the piano 😦 so wrong. The starting tempo is too fast (what will we be doing by the cadenza? Rossini patter? – to be fair, he’s better at that point) and the setup for the initial partos is way too even and decisive. Decisive? Mr Pianoman, what the hell is this aria about? The subsequent lack of legato, the insensitive take on the clarinet line… 😦

To be fair, La Fleming is exclusively talking about sound production here (which is an interesting thing) and we all know what this aria is about so there’s not much loss. Also she thinks he’s good so maybe I’m talking bollocks. Still…

Happy Tito Day to all Tito lovers!

As the banner says, September is normally Tito Month but since we had a very full August this year I think we’re all taking it easy in September 😉 Nonetheless, (this) September 6 marks the 226th anniversary of Mozart’s Tito premiere in Prague. So I’ll leave you with that silly Sesto and Vitellia dance from Sellars’ production:

I think it’s supposed to be erotic? I don’t quite believe Vitellia is trying to ascertain Sesto isn’t armed and ready to off her instead, though they are performing those weird stabbing movements as well… I guess the little dance gives you the gist of the opera and especially the gist of Sellars’ approach to it.

Tito at the Proms tonight (28 August 2017)

 

Tito17G

The bird we all love! 😉

Just a reminder, in case you haven’t had enough Tito this month: tonight the Glyndebourne team will be live at the Proms at 19:00 GMT for a last round of Tito. If you can’t make it tonight, you’ll find the concert archived by the BBC for a while (a month, I think).

ps: since I’m gif happy now (thanks for the relentless push, t 😉 ), I also added the Parto shake to the big WTF Medley post. You know you want to see it.

More coherent thoughts on Sellars’ and Currentzis’ Salzburg Tito

Spending a couple of hours on a flight with an impressive number of rambunctious children under 10 offers a good opportunity to sit through this unnecessary bloated production. At several moments I wanted to skip the extraneous music but faced with the joy of the child next to me playing with the tray I went back to Sellars et all 😉

Well, hohum. Quite the letdown. It’s got enough visual chutzpah to give an initial impression of thought out but there doesn’t seem to be any coherence at all due to the lack of strong relationships. The drama is pushed back behind the chutzpah and the endless choir action. I would under no circumstances show this to a Tito novice. But I think Tito veterans should see it for many reasons, none of which, sadly, have to do with the story of Tito – except in the general Tito context. It’s unusual but it’s not illuminating, unless you really wanted to know more about the MusicAeterna choir.

Let me start with what I liked:

  • whatever is going on during the overture. It’s enegetic and interesting, it hits you and it feels refreshing that you don’t quite know what’s going on.
  • I liked the idea behind the choreography on Non piu di fiori. The development was thin.
  • Servilia and Sesto have a lovely sisterly relationship the likes of which you’ve never seen in a Tito production.
  • the black/white/ethnic thing. It’s unusual (though not for Sellars) and it says something. An interesting conversation could be had regarding what exactly it does say. I am not entirely sure.

What I didn’t get:

  • the development was thin in general. I never got the important relationships, aside from Annio and Servilia, who look like a real couple and the nice revelation of Servilia and Sesto.
  • who is Sesto, really? What is his motivation, really? It’s never explained and you need that – there can’t be Tito without it laid out clearly. If any of you get it, please enlighten me. I am stumped. She looks like a student who hangs out with people of a radical bent, though the same people seem to really like Tito. She doesn’t look like a proper fanatic, especially when she starts feeling really remorseful. Again, if you saw something I didn’t, please argue your point. I would love to see more meaning that I could so far.
  • Vitellia! She reminds me of the one we know but, again, her relationship with Tito and, especially, Sesto, is unclear to me. The upshot is I loved Schultz’s musically. She needs a proper Tito production, I hope she gets to sing in one somewhere we (I) can see.
  • Tito dying lessens the drama and the message. In fact
  • the lack of proper relationships dilutes the message to the point where it’s hard to care about what is going on.
  • The MusicAeterna choir and their neverending closeups: yea, they’re good but I don’t see why Tito has to be used as a vehicle to push their agenda to the point where it’s more MusicAeterna choir than Tito.

I am still undecided on Currentzis yet. Some good stuff, some overdone, meddlesome. Whover advocated the extra music needs to be spanked with a wooden paddle (unless they particularly like it).

Why is Tito usually so much older than Sesto? and other musings

Yesterday I had a short exchange on this subject with Kate V. and it seems it got stuck in my head before the performance 😉 Here are some things that occurred to me only whilst seeing it again in the house (says something about my usual attention span):

on the subject of age: it works for Sesto to be/look significantly younger, especially when the production is based on the angle of Tito missing those more innocent times. In this case = absolutely. I was thinking about Sesto’s rock, too, which is located right under Tito’s chair/throne. There is a reason why it’s there and not across the stage, which would also make sense.

burying the magpie (during Del piu sublime soglio):

  • shows us that Tito and Sesto are working on their issues together
  • Tito hasn’t forgotten but has forgiven Sesto, so he’s not faking his goodness
  • Sesto is aware of his own nature and is actively trying to become a better person

amicitia vs il primo amor: Glyndebourne translated il primo amor in Deh, per questo as “the first friendship”. During the opera (ie, other than in this aria) their relationship is called amicitia, whereas Annio and Servilia always refer to theirs as il primo amor. What I take from this is that Tito and Sesto’s friendship is of a more intense kind than usual friendship (though not necessary gay as we understand it today). Also considering it’s only called amor during an aria, it’s probably not something that’s so much put into words as felt.

questo cor and altro cor: Sesto refers to questo cor in Deh, per questo (not cor 😉 ) and immediately on its heels Tito asks for (un) altro cor in Se all’impero. I like that link of ideas and I also like how at the end all the people who turn out to share questo cor are downstairs in the reeds whereas the bureaucrats are upstairs in the manmade structure1.

ah, sventurato!: says Publio, upon hearing from Tito that Sesto’s fate is decided (right before Se all’impero). I’ve always taken it to refer to Sesto but after yesterday’s performance it hit me that Publio is talking about Tito because he knows Tito2 and he also knows what the mob wants (not merciful leaders, despite professing otherwise).

the reeds: they pop right out of their stands, if you look closely when Tito is harvesting them (Tu fosti tradito).


  1. I like designer Christian Schmidt’s comments on how the structure seems to have dropped from the sky in that originally idyllic landscape. It’s a good metaphor for adult life, with its inherent rigidity and hypocrisy invading the simpler, more direct and more imaginative world of childhood. 
  2. isn’t he singing what Tito feels during Quello di Tito e il volto? He’s clearly aware of Tito’s struggles. 

Tito under the mulberry tree (more Glyndebourne)

Intermission notes:

This time I cried during Del piu sublime soglio. Awesome performance from Croft.

Everybody is more relaxed by now, the acting flows beautifully. There are no more cameras.

Rookie audience:

Young woman at intermission: is Sesto sung by a woman? I kept wondering…
Other ladies in the loo queue: Yes, yes, he is. There was a cast change. But the reviews are about the one we’re seeing.
Young woman: oh, wow! Sesto is the star of the evening!
Other ladies: YES!

The only applause came after Parto. I was confused as it had been so beautifully performed, light and gentle, with some swoony ppp along the way (really moving) but also funny (Vitellia putting the moves on Sesto).

Especially in the wake of the Currentzis Tito I want to commend Ticci and Gupta on the fortepiano continuo for a very light, unfussy touch.

It’s raining. I took refuge under a very friendly mulberry tree with a cute little sleepy bird. How appropriate!

We had a weird incident on the way here, that held up the trains for almost an hour and a half. Luckily I was on a train ahead of the suggested train. The shuttle waited for the stragglers 🙂 but we only had 20min to settle and have a bite before curtain up.

Loud thunder was overheard in the auditorium just as the insurrection started on stage.

Staff offered umbrellas but I like my tree. Too bad I couldn’t visit with the sheep properly (now grazing on the adjacent meadow) ❤

Gent next to me in the auditorium: nobody dies! Not very operatic.
Dehggi: nobody should die. It’s all about the search for a better, more forgiving society.

the mulberry is split in two and the side on the right is propped up.

After the intermission:

This was an all around emotional day, as it was my last time at Glyndebourne this year, the end of “my” season (though I really would’ve liked to come back again a couple of times, but you have to observe life-opera balance). Also going to the opera on your own makes for a very different atmosphere, perhaps even moreso when it’s your favourite opera. Even so, a few conversations happened:

Lady who sat next to me for act 2: I saw you talking to the usher about those free seats up there.
dehggi: yes, I want to possibly upgrade because this is my favourite opera.
Lady: …of all operas?!
dehggi: YES! I really like the ideals, forgiveness… and the music is beautiful.
Lady: well, someone is always forgiven at the end of Mozart operas.
(dehggi: someone, even some ones but not everyone.) I didn’t actually say it, because I didn’t particularly want to chat, I was in my own world and cried again during Eterni dei. After the curtain calls I dashed out for fear somebody would notice how tearful I was. Also to be first in line at the loo.

On the bus there were two French people behind me. The woman thought the production was too “brutalist” and concluded “this was the new tendency”. I wanted to turn around and ask where she had been for the past 20 years. She did think the voices very good, though this opera was “by no means” one of her favourites (dehggi: eyeroll). Then she went on to wax lyrical about some wonderful production of Giselle at Opera Garnier.

At 21:30 the train station was almost deserted and the train board let us know the 19:30 was delayed. Some ladies started to make plans in case the trains were still disrupted. I said I’d help them split the taxi bill to London if it came to that. We co-opted some very excited Japanese ladies, so all in all, we would’ve been 5 to split that bill.

The train was on time. I’ve never heard the Glyndebourne crowd whoop so freely outside the opera house before 😀

Everybody said they liked the performance, very good voices. One of the “taxi planning” ladies explained trousers roles to me 😀 Then I somehow got to talking about the earlier Hamlet production/opera with the other taxi lady. She, like the gent sat next to me at that performance, loved it (the actual music)! She also thought the production was “more modern” than this one. (dehggi: head scratching moment. Maybe we were thinking of different things?).

In the end, there were three arias that received applause: Sesto’s and Se all’impero (<- a lot more than for the livestreamed performance). However, there was very loud thumping at curtain calls. I guess this audience is more used to lieder? Heh. I’m not quite sure why they kept their appreciation to the end if they actually liked it this much. There was, however, a lot of laughter, even during Vengo…! Aspetatte! I agree, it’s a funny moment.