Well, is it?
It depends. It’s certainly rather too long. The story has potential not matched by the librettist’s skills. The mezzo hopeful doesn’t have access to any arias on the level of Parto or Deh, per questo…
But there is a ravishing duet that does often include a mezzo and there is Fuor del mar for the Mozart tenor. Most famous of all is Elettra’s showstopper. And lest we forget, the choruses, which do rival Tito‘s (I have been quoted in the past saying they are better. Again, it depends on who’s conducting/singing). Also, Mozart himself was very excited to write it and there are many letter back-and-forths between him and his father to document the (not particularly smooth – due to external forces -) process.
Conclusion: mixed bag. Definitely worth a listen but pick your conductor/singers/chorus combo wisely. Make sure your Idamante is a mezzo, the other options simply fall short here.
I have nothing particularly operatic to comment on right now but I thought I would share a few snow pictures, since I have been hunting for good ones for years, what with usually being parked in London at this time of the year.
Although snow was supposed to have come down hard for the past week, it only happened since the day before yesterday afternoon. Yesterday I went for a hike in the woods and it looked like this:
I am a sucker for the winter colour palette and fluffy, heavy snow in general:
Since London does not have this kind of wooded hills:
The woods are quite dense and the terrain is rough, though I do not think you can easily get lost (turn around and down and you are back in town). There was good number of other people (couples, mostly) about. Around here hanging out in the woods, regardless of weather, is very common. There is little else to do 🙂 That being said, the strong and fresh air and the specific quiet of the woods (even with other people around, birds cawing, dogs barking like the house is on fire) was out of this world invigorating. Whilst I was there I wondered if there is anything better in life than the woods during a snowfall. Today is a gorgeously clear, cold day, yet I am still wondering.
Back to town:
So Venice has started a fight to cull tourist numbers by way of making your pay a flat daily* (?) fee when entering the lagoon. I can sorta kinda understand where they are coming from (re: gazillions of tourists, mostly parked by Rialto-San Marco; these people are apparently their target). BUT:
these people usually stay at the lagoon hotels per se, so who you are segregating against? Me!
*Is the daily fee a once a day entry fee, or does it allow multiple daily entries? It would affect tourists who stay in the outer boroughs and may have reason to go back and forth during the day.
GO SOMEWHERE ELSE!
They want to divert people to lesser known destinations, like the islands.
Idea: make the vaporetti or whatever takes you there cheaper. I WANT to go to the islands, Lido, whatever – why would I want to see Rialto over and over? I want to take cooler panoramic pictures and I just bet drones are banned.
BRIDGE, WHAT BRIDGE?
But you have another issue: there are only so many bridges that link the many islands. Make more bridges? So many people use the Rialto Bridge because there is no other bloody bridge to get you to the other side for miles. I too was sick and tired to have to use that route again and again but that is the most direct one right now.
A MAZE OF WINDING ROADS
Alternatively, sign post the lesser known streets better, so tourists who are willing to take the scenic route do not have to fear getting lost and waste time chasing their tails. The only properly signed area is the most notorious one.
RUBBISH, I SAY
Apparently there is a lot of littering. I have to say I was not struck by Venice being particularly dirty. But if this is such a problem, install a hefty fine and enforce it.
FUN IN THE SUN ON THE CRUISE SHIP AND OTHER ANNOYANCES
Interesting debate on an older article, this time about tourism in Spain (another country railing against their current source of revenue):
Cruise ships, coaches, even RVs are ways of “doing” the popular or interesting bits of a particular location without really leaving very much behind to the benefit of the area you are visiting. Cruise passengers mainly want to “do” Venice – they do not particularly want to interact with any Venetians.
If, when visiting a place, you stay in a local hotel, eat in local restaurants and spend in local shops you are at least contributing to the local economy; increasing the prosperity of the places you are visiting. All the cruise ships do is add to congestion without contributing very much to the places they are visiting.
The answer is either to restrict the number of such short term visitors, or force them to pay more for their visits e.g. through greatly increased parking / berthing fees.
Here is one who wants to pay the fee, for the sake of the local marble:
I agree we were in Venice this spring and I felt very strongly that we should have been charged an entry fee. Also having your suitcase transported (rather than lugging it around yourself) should be an offence as well, I saw people with insanely large and heavy suitcases trying to pull them up the steps of these delicate marble old bridges it was infuriating.
Surprisingly, other cities seem to have come up with a solution:
They could have special luggage boats and small electric vehicles to transport them when there isn’t a canal handy. Split and Hvar have these wee electric vehicles to move things around in the city centre.
But one thing that we may be momentarily forgetting is the traditional disorganisation at administrative level and good ole corruption. I suspect that Venice is only making a profit (if it is) due to the said humongous number of tourists.
Eventually proposed tourists will probably take all this aboard and not go. If enough of them feel unwelcome then they may end up with not enough tourists. My very easy going nephew said that Venice was extremely unwelcoming, expensive and highly over rated.
I must be SUPER extremely easy going as I did not feel any of that (except that gelato should not exceed 2 Euros / 2 scoops). But the poster has a point: I was taken aback by this proposed fee and having been there twice I may think about other destinations in the future before I decide on a high fee period.
Riga, not my city but I stayed there, has trouble with the notorious stag/hen weekenders who come (from the UK notably) for cheap booze and screws then trash the place. All brought courtesy of low cost airlines.
All brought courtesy of the disparity of income and cultural attitudes between First World
ex-Colonial Empires and the rest of the world. Local admin raw greed and spinelessness as well, of course.
Let us return to cruise ships for a moment, as other from the Adriatic region complain:
And the cruise ships. Don’t forget the damn ships. They’re ten thousand times worse than AirBnB could ever be.
Here in Dalmatia, they dump human and industrial waste with impunity, ruining the water and fouling the beaches. And the class of tourist they disgorge represents a net cost to the communities they disembark in.
Every boat belches out at least a few thousand shambling, shouting, penny-pinching, insensitive tourists who desecrate holy sites, erode ancient roads and buildings, and overwhelm basic utilities. They get drunk and smash up local businesses or start fights with locals. They jam up our underfunded emergency services, then skip out on the bill in time to catch their boat. Most leave without having spent more than a handful of euros on land.
And so it’s an economic disaster here. Study after study shows cruise ship tourism to be a massive net loss to the local economy. Locals are priced out of their communities by sky-high living costs during the high season. Availability and quality of public services drop precipitously as the public sector sags under the load. And there’s barely any assistance from our EU “partners”, who are nevertheless more than happy to privatize and rent our infrastructure back to us when it serves them.
Nice jab at the EU partners as well, which is common thing in ye olde (South) Eastern Europe. Not to say that the local partners are not happy to pawn off their country resources for their sole benefit, screw the local economy.
This is the same idiot who wanted to be taxed earlier:
I think travelling has become too cheap.
Still, the post gets a comeback:
Ah, for the days when aviation was a gentleman’s pursuit back before every Joe sweat sock could wedge himself behind a lunch tray and jet off to Raleigh-Durham.
Which is basically the crux of the problem: wealthy tourists = ok, poor ones = stay at home.
I know — I live in the center of Brussels… — how awful it is to be taken over by masses of tourists but I still think some kind of touristing can be mutually interesting. Life would be pretty boring staying in each one’s backyard.
Sensible view. The usual anger makes it sound like we should all stay at home, which, in a (first) world of disposable income and increasingly freer travel, sounds really odd. Then people complain of tribalism/racism/xenophobia etc. Surely there can be a middle way?
I left a while back, it’s unlivable in Amsterdam. You cannot do simple things on summer evenings, like getting to appointments on time; sitting down for a drink with friends; booking a restaurant. Even cycling your bike becomes a pain with tourists drunk and stupid on their rental bikes.
That is kind of interesting, as I feared for my life when trying to cross the street – not because of cars but because of cyclists in Amsterdam – and you know what a big drunk I am 😉 Nowhere else have I seen such aggressive cyclists, and that is saying something, re: London Olympic cyclists. But perhaps they are just fed up with tourists.
I also do not go to Oxford Circus unless I have to (Wigmore Hall visits, so that adds up to a few times a month). In London you do not have to meet friends in tourist central for drinks but maybe it is because London is so much bigger… I do remember having a nice dinner at a local Turkish restaurant in an anonymous neighbourhood of Amsterdam when I last visited.
I also had to move further afield from Central(ish) London – but due to the more traditional forms of gentrification. Maybe London has its particular challenges, with the centre deserted after being sold off as assets to foreign oligarchs who live elsewhere, so nobody is actually disturbed by tourists because nobody lives where they congregate.
I cannot say that I had a dreaded airbnb near to wherever I have lived in the past 11 years I have been a resident here (or there, as it where, at this very moment). Then again, thank you riots, North London may still be feared by tourists 😉 This could be the answer: organise a local riot in this or that neighbourhood and scare the potential intruders off.
HOW HAVE WE GOT HERE?
It occurs to me, though, that we should ask why have all cities with something to show for become such tourist magnets? Open up a paper or check out the adverts in the tube and you will see lots of adverts for this or that destination. One assumes that these adverts are paid for by the tourism boards in those cities/countries.
Here in ye olde (S)EE the reason every scenic area is turned into bandb paradise is BECAUSE there is no other economy to speak of. The country produces nothing, it lives on the money sent home by work migrants and local services. Can it be the same (minus migrant work for First World
ex-Colonial Empires) for all these other fabulous destinations?
But, you know, blame the tourists. You entice them to come and then you complain that they have come. Kinda like with migrant work, innit?
the behemoth cruise ships that chug through the Grand Canal, emitting fumes and disgorging thousands of people into the crowded streets – on some days as many as 44,000. It was announced in November last year that the largest vessels would be diverted from the city centre, but the plan is yet to be officially approved by the national government. (from this article on the subject)
You may or may not know, but for the past few years all of late December has been family time chez dehhgi. So now that New Year is being celebrated at the ancestral home, yours truly gets involved in food preparation. Due to a fluke (a less adventurous one than the setting up of the 2017 Christmas tree 😉 ), we ended up cooking all we wanted to cook yesterday, leaving quite a bit of thumb twiddling time for today, just right for a recap of what I took part – and what I skipped or missed – in 2018.
I think the right word for 2018 is fabulous, in its glamorous connotation – Venice, Salzburger Festspiele and lots of Glyndebourne, with notable stops in Halle and at the Bremen Music Fest, all of which spawned wonderful memories from meeting up with you, gentle reader, for some rocking performances (and a certain odd production). I think I may also start paying rent at Wiggy, since from the below list it looks like I went there at least once a month, with the notable exception of August, festival month.
Hope to see you at a theatre near you (or me) in 2019 😀 though what is on at the usual places does not look quite as exciting as before. Then again, there were some things this year I did not know I was going to see until closer to the time…
11 Sonia Prina | Wigmore Hall – a good way to start the year, right?
17 Salome | ROH
21 Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria | Roundhouse – I like this January Monteverdi fixture every couple of years. After we are done with the rep, can we start over?
23 Classical Opera (Mozart’s 1768) | Wigmore Hall
25 Anna Bonitatibus and friends | Wigmore Hall
27 Anna Bonitatibus | Wigmore Hall – I did not write about it because she did not sing from En travesti and I was a bit underwhelmed by her choices. But, of course, she is wonderful 🙂
31 Angelika Kirchschlanger | Wigmore Hall
4 Adrian Behle | Wigmore Hall
5 Golda Schultz | Wigmore Hall
English Concert (Buxtehude) | Wigmore Hall – I was sick for the rest of the month, along with Mum (who was visiting…) and one of my cats. Not the best of times chez dehggi by a very long shot.
26 Les Talens Lyriques | Wigmore Hall
13 Rinaldo | Barbican – quite the letdown, aside from Pisaroni as Argante. Both Davies and Harvey did much, much better at Glyndebourne later in the year.
14 From the House of the Dead | ROH
Christine Rice / Rebecca Evans | Wigmore Hall
22 Esther | Wigmore Hall – this year most of the festivals happened elsewhere. This was the only London Handel Fest performance I saw and in the end I did not write about it. Not the best Handel I have seen, I would say, though for sure nowhere near the worst.
26 D’Odette | Wigmore Hall
5 Haim /
Crebassa / Desandre / Devieilhe | Wigmore Hall – yes, this happened. Do not ask me details, as I cannot remember much, beside enjoying the deft playing of the band that did not need extra fireworks. The same Desadre that wowed me in Salzburg did not do much for me here. Perhaps I was bummed Crebassa bailed on me us?
7 Dido and Aeneas | Wigmore Hall
19 Orlando furioso | Teatro Malibran, Venice
21 Orlando furioso | Teatro Malibran, Venice – this was such a fun trip, I do need to write about it again.
24 Matthias Goerne | Wigmore Hall
1 Sonia Prina / Vivica Genaux | Wigmore Hall
3 Mauro Peter | Wigmore Hall
4 Lucy Crowe | Wigmore Hall
6 Royal Academy | Wigmore Hall
16 Hannigan Masterclass | Linbury Studio
21 Sara Mingardo / Francesca Biliotti | Wigmore Hall
24 Lessons in Love and Violence | ROH – it did spawn some interesting ideas (about love and violence) which in the end did not coagulate into a post. I kinda wish I had persevered but sometimes where there is a lot on the roster it is not easy to get your mind disciplined about something you do not particularly enjoy as such.
27 Simon Keenlyside | Wigmore Hall
4 Franco Fagioli | Barbican
5 Stephane Degout | Wigmore Hall
9 Arianna in Creta | Konzerthalle Ulrichskirche Halle Handelfest – after a couple of years of feasts, we have missed Hallenberg in London, so this was an awesome treat.
13 Jakub Jozef Orlinski | Wigmore Hall
15 Giulio Cesare | Glyndebourne – THE Glyndebourne Cesare! With overseas friends! A good metaphor for blogging about opera, right?
17 Ian Bostridge | Wigmore Hall
Christine Rice Julien Van Mallaerts | Wigmore Hall
19 Der Rosenkavalier | Glyndebourne
23 Giulio Cesare | Glyndebourne – and again 😀
2 Veronique Gens | Wigmore Hall
6 Sandrine Piau | Wigmore Hall – that was the week of fabu French singers and I did not write up on them. For no fault of theirs, they were wonderful as usual in their light and sophisticated way. I was absolutely rotten lazy/tired in July, as you can see by the lack of activity below.
Felicity Palmer | Wigmore Hall
15 JPYA | ROH – yes, I went again but I did not write, although I had an absolutely hilarious seatmate, very much up my own alley in spirit. The show itself was a bit underwhelming this year, cannot say anyone stood out for me, hence the lack of commentary.
18 L’ange de Nisida | ROH – if no one produces La favourite around here, at least we got its previous incarnation.
20 Giulio Cesare | Glyndebourne – and the third time, now with the London Crew. It was a very fun (although overcast) day, and the post is half written. I swear I was so tired and a bit out of it in July that I am afraid I came off stand-offish to those who know me less, though it was by no means the case.
22 Pavol Breslik | Wigmore Hall
27 Saul | Glyndebourne – such a fun production! For some reason, a Chinook flew over the gardens. They give me the heebie-jeebies.
1 Pelleas et Melisande | Glyndebourne
12 L’incoronazione di Poppea | Salzburger Festspiele (Haus fur Mozart) – yes. At least nobody got clever with the musical content.
8 La Iole (Porpora) | Theater Oldenburg – my first live encounter with the wonderful Iervolino – and with a Porpora work in its entirety. If you are asking yourself Oldenburg what? this was part of the Bremen Music Festival 2018, which is kind enough to spread around the region instead of allowing the city to hog all the events. Another take on the Hercules/Dejanira story, this centres on the woman with whom he is cheating on her. The cosy Theater Oldenburg lavished its audience with a cast of top young singers in excellent form – Iervolino (Dejanira), Aspromonte (Iole) and Renato Dolcini (Ercole). It is a short (but fun) work but all three really got into it with much gusto and the audience loved it. I liked Aspromonte here much better than in Vivaldi.
10 Dorothea Roschmann | Wigmore Hall
Marianne Crebassa / Mass in B minor | Löningen – also part of the Bremen Music Festival 2018. As you can see, Crebassa remains elusive to me, but the Mass in B minor is a lovely work and the choir did a good job.
19 Masterclass Sarah Connolly | Wigmore Hall – cannot tell you why I never finished this post, I was even well rested by then.
Sandrine Piau | Wigmore Hall
17 Porgy and Bess | ENO
Karina Gauvin | Wigmore Hall – annoyingly, I was under some rough weather in October and missed these two fine ladies due to horrible head colds.
25 Semiramide | Teatro La Fenice – back to Venice 😀 and more Iervolino! Excuse me if I simply love the woman, she is cute as button here. She also sings rather well 😉
26 Serse | Barbican
2 Marie-Nicole Lemieux | Wigmore Hall
19 Roberta Invernizzi | Wigmore Hall – the show that caused me to pick up a guitar (and make some noise)!
11 Lucy Crowe | Wigmore Hall
This year the festive season is extra fabulous, what with having had the chance to visit both Venice in the pre-Christmas season and Salzburg, which is Christmas-y year round. In heathenly fashion, I’m going to have two Christmas posts 😉
Greetings to all of you I’ve met and had a lovely time at the opera this year, as well as those who may just be reading 🙂 Enjoy yourselves, from now into the new year – and beyond, of course, right about until it’s time to return to the grind 😉
Remember that traditional childhood Christmas? I am quite the fan of those old school glass baubles with a painted story:
Hope you’ve all been good this year 😉 and are having a relaxing time with your loved ones during this festive period. This year I’m all about the visuals – time to immerse yourself in the story (and not overthink the details).
Some new faces, some old, plus the return of von Otter:
Aci, Galatea e Polifemo it’s that thing he did twice (among the other things he did twice) 😉
Matthew Rose from the “let no Spring pass without a bass recital” rule book
Senna festegiante (with Emöke Baráth)
Katarina Karnéus let’s see what she’s up to
St John Passion my fave Passion
Anne Sophie von Otter she’s baack! And again, after hours.
Paula Murrihy I have no idea how she sounds like, so I should go and hear for myself, right?
Sumi Jo Masterclass Sumi Jo!
L’Arpegiatta I’m not really a fan but sometimes it’s tempting to go against your own grain
The Bangash Brothers who doesn’t love the sarod?!
Mafi and Morison in “Lieder fan tutte” – sounds like it could be a hoot(-hoot at Paulton’s Park)
Gerald Finley I somehow never saw him in recital
Simon Keenlyside singing Americana – he made such a good impression on my soaked trainers, I am buying what he’s selling even so late in the season
A Vivaldi-heavy performance is only fitting to cap a very exciting concert-going year, that has brought me to Vivaldi’s homebase twice. In furore iustissimae irae is one of those badass motets that can only come from the Red Priest (lest we forget he was an ordained priest; I usually do, his music sounds so wordly most of the time) and it was this that convinced me to attend, even though they livestreamed it. Somehow I have not noticed anyone else bringing it to Wiggy in my time of patronising the venue. I hope more do in the future.
I’ve seen La Nuova Musica in action enough to know what to expect. I have to commend Lucy Crowe for the highest professionalism with which she adapted to the breakneck speeds that are so dear to Bates. Her tone is too sweet (not a criticism) to call what she used “machinegun coloratura” but it’s definitely one of the fastest and most accurate I’ve heard so far. Her top has enough piercing power to break through the volume levels Bates likes to employ.
Gent from Manchester who took 3 trains for this event: she’s more like a mezzo.
Because she sang Gelido in ogni vena, which I’ve only heard contraltos (and countertenors) sing so far? An interesting choice, I agree, proving she has a middle, but something that benefits from a conductor more focused on emotional detail than energy and forward momentum.
She sounded in top form from the getgo, though I still think that, overall, I prefer her in Mozart (I loved her Ismene in Mitridate! She sounded like she was having so much fun, even though the production is somewhat restrictive in allowing you to put your personal touch on the character; then again, I wasn’t so keen on her Susanna and my interest in her was sparked by her Rodelinda… so you see how it goes). I would say from a techincal point of view she absolutely rocked and this was what Bates wanted from her. I suppose had he wanted her to add personality as well, she would’ve.
For its part, La Nuova Musica is perhaps more suited to Handel, as – at least to me – the sound was too heavy for Vivaldi/Italian Baroque, and occasionally the top strings produced a smudgy sound. The harpsichord was, of course, loud. So heavy-ish, loud and furious, though not ponderous but also not souple and bright.
Lucy Crowe soprano
La Nuova Musica | David Bates director
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Overture from Il Farnace RV711
Siam navi all’onde algenti from L’Olimpiade RV725
Gelido in ogni vena from Il Farnace RV711
Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713)
Concerto grosso in G minor Op. 6 No. 8 ‘For a Christmas Night’
Nico Muhly (b.1981)
Land in an Isle (Part One: Translation of the Body) (London première)
Motet: In furore iustissimae irae RV626
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Gloria HWV deest
Sonata a5 HWV288
Land in an Isle (Part Two: Land in an Isle) (London première)
George Frideric Handel
Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno HWV46a
Tu del ciel ministro eletto
Un pensiero nemico di pace
Lascia la spina from Il trionfo…
The Il trionfo bits were also of much interest to me, as I have never seen it/heard any of them live yet. I admit that when Bates said they’d have another trionfo aria for the encore, this time from Piacere, my heart skipped a bit in hopes of Come nembo. After that coloratura fest, can you blame me? Failing that, at least Un pensiero was as lively as one can hope, though that one could hope for more lightness 😉
Not sure I’d heard any Muhly before. Perhaps it’s not surprising that I had no particular reaction to the piece. The biggest effect was showcasing Crowe’s diction in English vs Italian. It could have been the high speeds, but her Italian was mostly vowels.
I was first introduced to In furore… by Roschmann, of all people. Unless you’re familiar with this wonderful motet, you may not know that Roschamann used to sing this kind of stuff when she was very young (1994). It’s quite the rarity for me but you can feel her distinctive personality already, albeit in a much lighter presentation than we know and love.
Then I went on to listen to Piau’s definitive version and so on. It’s a piece that benefits from a more introverted approach rather than an operatic one, dealing as it is with one’s relationship with sin, divine forgiveness and human rejoicing.
The event was suprisingly well attended, perhaps it’s the time of year when people feel a particular pull towards live culture – and thus people were very happy with the performance. I was somewhat amused to have a May-December couple plop next to me. This is not an unusual occurence at Wiggy, where we have the following types of public: old money mature populace who goes to these things as a matter of fact, music students, other musicians, regular music loving people/fans of the singer/band/conductor and academics and their much younger partners (ex (one hopes)-students). The May part of the couple behaved exactly like the young woman from Carol.
Director Peter Sellars returns with two contrasting staged productions, continuing and expanding on previous Barbican and LSO collaborations: a performance of Lassus’s a cappella Renaissance masterpiece Lagrime di San Pietro (Barbican classical music season 2018/19)
YAY! This is our chance to see a very ye olde worke transposed in So-Cal cca 2018 meets 1988 fashion. I was starting to get widthdrawals.
Dear all, have you ever wondered how come I don’t play or sing, since I enjoy talking and writing about music so much? Well, wonder no more! I bought a guitar 😀 so now I can join the ranks of those actually involved in music, even a little bit. No more simple moaning from the bleachers for yours truly 😉 I hope this new endeavour will help me appreciate everyone’s efforts more than before.
PS: the decision sprung up shortly after the Invernizzi recital with the two lutes, so thank you, Marchitelli and Pavan! I’ve actually tried learning before but it never quite caught on. This is the first time it feels like fun. Long may it stay that way 🙂