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Good times at the opera in 2018

Venice, Teatro Malibran, 2018

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 ūüėČ ), 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 ūüėÄ 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…

Salzburg opera mile, 2018

January

11 Sonia Prina | Wigmore Hall Рa 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 ūüôā

31 Angelika Kirchschlanger | Wigmore Hall

February

4 Adrian Behle | Wigmore Hall

5 Golda Schultz | Wigmore Hall

8 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

March

13 Rinaldo | Barbican Рquite 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

20 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

April

5 Haim / Crebassa / Desandre / Devieilhe | Wigmore Hall Рyes, 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

May

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 Рit 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

June

4 Franco Fagioli | Barbican

5 Stephane Degout | Wigmore Hall

9 Arianna in Creta | Konzerthalle Ulrichskirche Halle Handelfest Рafter 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 РTHE Glyndebourne Cesare! With overseas friends! A good metaphor for blogging about opera, right?

17 Ian Bostridge | Wigmore Hall

18 Christine Rice Julien Van Mallaerts | Wigmore Hall

19 Der Rosenkavalier | Glyndebourne

23 Giulio Cesare¬†| Glyndebourne – and again ūüėÄ

Glyndebourne 2018

July

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.

9 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 Рsuch a fun production! For some reason, a Chinook flew over the gardens. They give me the heebie-jeebies.

August

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.

September

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

14 Marianne Crebassa / Mass in B minor | Löningen Рalso 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.

October

8 Sandrine Piau | Wigmore Hall

17 Porgy and Bess | ENO

22 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 ūüėÄ and more Iervolino! Excuse me if I simply love the woman, she is cute as button here. She also sings rather well ūüėČ

26 Serse | Barbican

November

2 Marie-Nicole Lemieux | Wigmore Hall

19 Roberta Invernizzi | Wigmore Hall Рthe show that caused me to pick up a guitar (and make some noise)!

December

11 Lucy Crowe | Wigmore Hall

Glyndebourne – the lawn, 2018

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Giulio Cesare 2018 comes into its own (Glyndebourne, 23 June 2018)

That week was all about Glyndebourne and it being June, we were graced with good to very good weather – bright skies, fluffy clouds, fragrant roses and fields and acceptable temperatures for this time of the day in a temperate climate.

It’s quite amusing (in an endearing way) to see people’s first reaction at arriving in the bucolic English countryside for opera. Agathe said pictures don’t do it justice, as you think what is posted is the best of the best possible angles but when you get there it’s that in 360 surround. She also reckons it’s bigger and more remote than Bayreuth. Though remote isn’t exactly what I would call English countryside (unless it’s the moors). It is very much the country, rolling hills that just cry out for a long walk with your hounds, healthy crops, shady country lanes and exquisitely tended to look awesome-wild flower beds but it isn’t quite the same as Croatian forest wild.

Under the care of the younger Christie Glyndebourne has become more accomodating to the younger and trendier crowds (though the big bulk is still mature audiences that think nothing of dishing out ¬£200 on a ticket and having the swanky G-dining experience on top of that) whilst at the same time getting really creative with the type and design of products they can attach the G logo to. If I had the money to spent I’d be shelling a few hundreds on G goods, they are all very well done.

So this time it was Agathe and I who took the train from Victoria to Lewes along with various picnic-ers and someone who looked suspiciously much like Patricia Bardon (conspicuous: no luggage, no picnic/gown attire but took the designated train and got off at Lewes with all of us; moreover, she was on the train back with all of us). In the G gardens, we met Giulia at the interval over some major Baroque-swooning (you can read her account here if you haven’t already).

Dumaux, Bardon, Stephany, Connolly, Christie, Harvey, Moore, Kim and Thatcher.

Giulio Cesare: Sarah Connolly
Cleopatra: Joelle Harvey
Tolomeo: Christophe Dumaux
Cornelia: Patricia Bardon
Sesto: Anna Stephany
Achilla: John Moore
Nireno: Kangmin Justin Kim
Curio: Harry Thatcher
Conductor: William Christie | Orchestra or the Age of Enlightenment
Director: David McVicar

Like a vintage convertible, Cesare took a couple of performances to come into its own. Compared to previous week (second performance of the run), everybody seemed more relaxed and ready to adlib.

After seeing two performances, I am happy with everything but above all I loved the sound of the orchestra to a delirious degree (ha!). With the less than satisfactory acoustics of Ulrichskirche still fresh in mind, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in the Glyndebourne hall had my ears purring.

All three of us agreed that this is one of the best period ensembles (or ensembles who play period Baroque) on the market today. I still have the gorgeous sound of the low strings from Svegliatevi nel core1 ringing in my ears. It’s not quiet playing but it’s always accomodating the singers and still the power comes through. Certain Baroque-playing bands that fancy themselves rock’n’roll badass should pay attention to this subtle solidity.

I highly enjoyed focusing on this time was Christie’s interaction with orchestra and singers. He quite obviously allowed the singers to lead and do their thing2 and then he would bring in the orchestra with perfect timing, giving specific instruments their moment to shine as well – all this with elegance of movement and minimal fuss (none of that flying off the conductor’s stand).


  1. specifically when Sesto says svegliatevi! and the low strings echo it = swoon. 
  2. though most certainly he wasn’t down for anyone going all diva and screwing with the tempi for personal gain. 

(The madness of king) Saul (Glyndebourne, 27 July 2018)

I attended this actually not knowing the work1. Stray has repeatedly mentioned how \m/ this oratorio is. How very true! The choir parts in this piece are super badass!¬†Combined with Kosky’s tongue in cheek approach, their first entrance had the effect of an avalanche on me. Maybe Kosky needs to stage Israel in Egypt as well? More busy choir (and in fact it reminded me of it2). Set your speakers to the loudest option:

You can’t quite get the feeling from the video as you do from the hall – the choir are grinning like how excellent! He killed Goliath! Way cool. Also it’s much more booming in the house (Glyndebourne has dry acoustics, as far I understand – similar to TADW).

I haven’t seen the DVD but at first you get the very long overture with the curtain down. It goes on and on (not the most exciting one in the scheme of things to come) and nothing happens. Then all of a sudden you realise there is a head on stage (didn’t we have one just last week? Dead heads in Handel = a thing) on something that looks like dirt, but it’s actually road grit (made me think of the blasting of Sodom).

The curtain goes up and David comes in with his slingshot, a second curtain goes up and we get the choir perched on the table, in high mime mode, as only Kosky can do it and not look cheap. I generally love all his references, he integrates his chosen elements very well and it never feels thrown together or gratuitous3 (just poking fun at received reverence).

I can see how this work could get very preachy-earnest4 if you don’t find a way to infuse it with some levity. But it’s an interesting moment to write about and you’re left aching for the sequel of how great David is going to be when he grows up.

Saul/Apparition of Samuel:¬†Markus Br√ľck
David: Iestyn Davies
Merab: Karina Gauvin
Michal: Anna Devin
Jonathan: Allan Clayton
Abner/High Priest/Amalekite/Doeg: Stuart Jackson
Witch of Endor: John Graham-Hall
Dancers: Robin Gladwin, Ellyn Hebron, Thomas Herron, Merry Holden, Gareth Mole, Yasset Roldan
Conductor: Laurence Cummings | Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment | The Glyndebourne Chorus
Director: Barrie Kosky (2015)

In short, Saul needs to be performed more often. It’s true the arias aren’t as catchy as in his most famous works but it’s quite obvious he thinks differently when it comes to oratorios. The scale is grander and he stretches his creativity in all directions, including giving opportunities to all sorts of instruments (as per wiki):

He conceived¬†Saul¬†on the grandest scale and included a large orchestra with many instrumental effects which were unusual for the time including a carillon (a keyboard instrument which makes a sound like chiming bells); a specially constructed organ for himself to play during the course of the work;¬†trombones, not standard orchestral instruments at that time, giving the work a heavy brass component; large¬†kettledrums¬†specially borrowed from the¬†Tower of London; extra woodwinds for the Witch of Endor scene; and a harp solo.[2]:318‚Äď319

I love Handel’s organ work! Whoever else does, listen to this, there is quite a bit ūüėÄ Kosky, as usual, listens and responds to the music, so when the major organ solo happens the organist + organ raises from hell below the stage and spins around in the centre of a field of candles! That’s what I’m talking about (\m/).

Also, there are quite a few very effective duets, ariosos, direct dialogue between the choir and different characters and lots of exciting chromatic stuff like this amazing minute of brass’n’vocal goodness here:

And then he goes into old school Handel like it was nothing. Then he reprises How excellent. Handel = the man, best known for Messiah. Let the world not stop there.

As far as acting, Gauvin’s Merab ran circles around everyone else. Such direct, logical, efficient and unaffected acting ‚̧ Nobody was a bad actor in regards to doing what they were called to do, but it’s also a matter of stage presence.¬†You have a panoramic view of the stage from your spot in the audience and you get a very good feel for who has presence and who is being dutiful about their stage movement.

Merab’s job isn’t that complicated by acting standards but there are some moments that a sensitive actor will use to pop her character into 3D. For presence we have the time early on when Merab wasn’t gonna take daddy Saul’s shit (= marry David from the barrio just because he said so, being momentarily taken with the popular hero). She also gets to call him on his illogical ways when Saul changes his mind from David is the bees knees to David must die or I’m gonna throw down. But then there’s the moment of reflection when she feels bad for David, who although not posh, has some qualities. Plus the way she acts outraged and disgusted by Saul’s trying to assault her when mad – all this adds to a rounded portrait of a living person.

Saul is quite the opera about men interacting with each other, so we only have two female characters and the Bechdel test would be easily failed. Michal in Devin’s interpretation is a typical teenager, instantly in love with David the same way contemporary girls would rave about the Biebster. It’s a valid portrayal, but I’m not habitually enamoured with her high soprano. On the other hand, I enjoyed the contrast of sound with Gauvin’s Merab. It’s an interesting role vocally, lower and more dramatic than Michal; of course, Gauvin worked it with intelligence.

From our perspective Saul’s turn from yay, David to nay, David¬†is a funny moment: the choir is busy praising – Saul killed a thousand enemies, he gets a few thousand praises. David killed ten thousand enemies, he gets a large shitload of praises! Yay, David, you rock! [David stage dives and they carry him around – no, really, he does and they do]

Saul: Yay, David! Wait… that can’t be right. Why do I get just a few thousand praises and he gets the large shitload? I mean, come on! He’s just a kid! What next? They’ll be voting him king! OMYahweh.

Saul becomes very tormented – we assume he’s in throes of psychosis, because the dancers show up at least once specifically to mime him wrestling with unseen forces. He has a fit and people have to hold him down. Jonathan pleads with bro David to do something.

Here we see David’s very fine de-escalation techniques, when he sings to Saul (which works for a while) and then holds him (human touch also works for a while). Alas, the situation is too serious already. Acuphase came to mind. He’s behaving unreasonably with his loved ones and insists David should die, which is embarassing, now that he’s agreed for David to marry his younger daughter, Michal5.

He schemes to have David go into battle against the Philistines, hoping he would be killed. David being David, the battle has a happy ending. Saul is upset his son Jonathan, too, has started to idolise David (bromance alert)¬†and refuses to kill him, even when his father points out that David will depose him of his rightful throne. At wits’ end, Saul enlists the powers of daaaaaaaaaaaarkness (\m/).

Lydia of Definitely the Opera fame warned me that the Witch of Endor was the worst caricature of mature femininity¬†and I was expecting something offensive. What I got was comical. It’s sung by a mature dude who looks like Willie Nelson with the fakest (though apparently lactating, so much for mature)¬†saggy boobs. It’s more Les Mamelles de Tiresias than Ulrica Arvidson on a bad day.

The Witch does in no way act feminine to me, so I resolved to see the whole thing like an interaction between a man without boobs and a man with boobs (not breasts, those are defo boobs). That was especially true when the Witch grabbed Saul’s hand after the terrible pact with Samael and the two walked off like two arthritic gents from the Retirement Palace.

Say a job¬†opening¬†appeared for a witch, not a wizard, and Willie Nelson put on his boobsuit and applied. Absent other candidates, the Witchy Authorities of Endor felt pressed to fill the vacancy the best they could (a bit day late and dollar short, judging by how things turn out but that’s¬†HR departments¬†the world over).

It’s a Kosky production, so I didn’t expect any camp opportunity to be missed. There are way worse faults out there beside indulging in it. So bring on the moob-y man-witch and let these past-their-due-date heroes¬†get on with¬†their dastardly schemes. I mean you can imagine what kind of dark entity Samael is if he has to do their bidding. Though does he? Because in the next scene Saul ends up headless (moral: it’s always good to tone down your enthusiasm when your mortal enemy ends up headless, lest some¬†devil-wannabe¬†from a literal hellhole play a cruel prank on you).

Br√ľck’s job is to portray Saul as an erstwhile hero whose mental health is destabilised by today’s yoof. It’s not easy for any of us getting to grips with the¬†latest gadget (BC version: a slingshot)¬†but it’s not worth losing your head over it.¬†What we get is¬†a¬†garden variety¬†mental breakdown so in itself not all that amazing to act. The best part is when Br√ľck has to channel Samael and alternate sounding authoritative with meek and lost. Also his mock-Shakespearian, fourth wall-breaking¬†recitation of I’m the king! was¬†quite powerful and caused at least one goer to keep asking afterwards was that re-ci-ta-ti-ve? Because I don’t quite know what it was.¬†His singing was all right but the top credits as far I’m concerned would go to Gauvin, Davies and Clayton, in this order.

It’s not that long ago that most everybody ended up suggesting that Stephany’s Cesare Sesto wig was the same she had on¬†last year for Tito‘s Sesto. I offer that Clayton’s Jonathan wig is the same he had last year as Hamlet. Glyndebourne hair politics aside, he’s a very musical singer, always paying attention to the orchestra and working with what’s going on around him. This role showcases his sensitivity a lot more than Hamlet did¬†(but I’m sure you could see that one coming from me). Tl;dr: more Baroque, less shot in the dark contemporary.

Acting-wise, he was very involved and followed the character well, though not quite¬†a stage animal. Then again, Jonathan is more like a self-effacing hippie at heart. He has an aria that would¬†warm the cockles of¬†Jarvis Cocker’s heart – ie, he’s all about the love of common people, titles and high birth meaning nothing to him. Well, dear, I’d like to see you move to the barrio with David and leave palace life behind to Merab and them. Funny how just hours before I read this gem from Gigi Hadid, a woman famous for having society-approved features: My first Louboutins came from my first paycheck.

Naive or not, Jonathan is David’s biggest fanboy. Kosky does not miss the opportunity to have the two of them make out and David seems very satisfied by that course of action (does he kiss Jonathan’s dead head later on? quite possibly; opera history¬†tells us¬†that’s a go¬†in that part of the world).

For his part, David is not only in the possession of the latest gadgets but leads his generation with his no-label attitude to love. Here he’s pictured open to anything (he’s very polite in refusing Merab’s hand, though he notices her antagonism, accepts Michal’s worship with enthusiasm and Jonathan’s puppy-eyed devotion with similar good nature and gusto). A doubly large shitload of praises to you, Jesse’s son.

Davies presents that with his usual boyish charm. That’s the thing with CTs, they have plenty of that kind of presence. Later on David has to step up as winner of popular vote, with Saul and Jonathan conveniently killed in battle while he was away to see his family for the holidays. He walks down the same stage Sarah Connolly walked a day before as Cesare. It’s hard not to compare. There is no comparison.

On the other hand, with the proper amount of¬†rehearsal behind him¬†and without the hectic travel he did in the Spring, he too sounded superior to his stint in Barbican’s Rinaldo.¬†His¬†pleasant plaintive tone and clear coloratura sounded fresh and flowing.

Cummings is a regular at the annual London Handel Fest, where I have seen him conduct Faramondo, Ariodante and Semele. He knows how to read his Handel make it exciting and did a very good job this time as well. The orchestra needs no further recommendation from me, I have only good things to say about their performances. The Glyndebourne Chorus likewise, especially considering the amount of physical stuff they have to do whilst singing. All in all, a wonderfully riveting performance of a still underrated score. Opera houses, please program Saul more often. In the meanwhile, watch it here and if you like it remember you have until Thursday to back it up.

scorched earth and stormy skies… check out how it normally looks by clicking on it.

You know what I noticed a good while ago and somehow never worked into any of my write-ups? There’s this trend among Japanese opera fans in this courntry¬†to show up in kimonos regardless of rep. We had at least one kimono yesterday. What’s the deal with that? To be fair, we also had the kilt with sporran, which made sense for Cesare but seemed a bit out of place for Saul. I’m always a bit thrown by specific traditional attire as formalwear.

Since I went on my own this time, I decided to explore the lesser taken paths, which would be the veggie garden, the mini orchard and the hothouses (all extremely well tended). And what did I find? The statue of Tito from the old production ūüėÄ at least I think it’s Tito (it looks Roman). Anyway, I only had my old Samsung with me this time and the battery was kaput by then, so no old Tito pic for now. A quick shower caught me in the tomato and chili pepper hothouse so I spent some time with them ūüėČ 27 was the turning point of weather this Summer with the temperature plunging for at least 10 degrees within an hour or so. Back to the capricious English weather, though apparently the hot temperatures will make a return next week.


  1. ¬†At this point my attitude to Handel is¬†I‚Äôll most likely enjoy it, whatever it is. But I don‚Äôt enjoy everything this much. Military oratorios FTW! 
  2. Unsurprisingly, since Israel in Egypt is his next work. It’s true what Grant said, Handel goes into 6-12 months of intense inspiration, so many of of his best works come in twos. 
  3. ¬†Like when other directors think they‚Äôre cool by having all sorts of periods represented together on stage and it just looks clueless, confused and lazy. 
  4. ¬†It‚Äôs a morality piece: envy ‚Äď the eldest born of hell ‚Äď is bad for you -> it gets Saul killed. 
  5. Michal sounds exactly like Michael and confuses my gender-conscious mind. 

Der Rosenkavalier or the threesome and the jets (Glyndebourne, 19 June 2018)

I was sloppy with these pictures and the details aren’t very good close-up but that wallpaper is right out of The Sims ™!

Der Rosenkavalier is, in many ways, the ultimate trouser role opera. Octavian is a mezzo with not one but two sopranos to choose from. That could be the end right there but s/he also gets to humiliate the ridiculous villain out of the opera, just to doubly underline the point.

What’s more, it’s actually funny. In Richard Jones’ hands that’s very silly. The second time around it seems even more hilarious.

I was sort of swept by peer pressure (that’s actually a strong term, peer enthusiasm rather) and went again, on the strength of the daring wallpaper in Marschallin’s salon. It was also because Carsen’s production from ROH was a bit too heavy on its own meaning and way, way too light on the comedy for me. I don’t want to overthink things when it comes to DR, I want to have a silly couple of 3 hours.

Octavian: Kate Lindsey
Die Marschallin: Michaela Kaune
Ochs: Brindley Sherratt
Sophie: Louise Alder
Faninal: Michael Kraus
Annina and Valzacchi: Stephanie Lauricella and Alun Rhys-Jenkins
Italian tenor: Sehoon Moon
Marianne Leimetzerin: Garniele Rossmanith
and others
Conductor: Robin Ticciati | London Philharmonic Orchestra and Glyndebourne Chorus
Director: Richard Jones / Revival Director: Sarah Fahey

Whilst the production still stands 4 years later and acting across the board served it very well, the singing was a bit more approximative. We appreciated Lindsey’s ability to project over the orchestra and the Kaune’s… acting ability. She wasn’t quite as comfortable as Kate Royal during the “manhandling Mariandel” scene (when Ochs is merely boasting about his “female hunting”1 techniques and says oh, yea, you only know how it is to be pursued, but, omg, to be on the prowl every season of the year like me! – and the Marschallin is playfully trying some fun hunting moves on Mariandel for a change), but she was game most of the rest of the time.

The monologue scene wasn’t particularly memorable and the last trio was marred by Ticci allowing the jets in the orchestra to finally take off, so that the singers were left to fend for themselves. The result was more akin to an enthusiastic racket rather than smooth and alluring. Yo, Ticci, I guess you don’t know the one about trouser role operas and threesome epilogues. Someone should send him the memo.

Alder as Sophie has finally come into her own as far as I’m concerned. That’s a voice that begs to soar over something, and she’s ready to move on from sinking a delicate Baroque mezzo/contralto. She was the epitome of modern woman when it came to scolding Ochs for his ochsnoxiousness or generally being outraged at what is going on around her when Octavian isn’t there. Her interaction with Lindsey’s Octavian was very good in the Presentation of the Rose (this production has them sway back and forth, languishing in the arms of budding teenage desire).

Sherratt’s Ochs was more Ochsish than last run’s Rose (who was rather the bumbling English country cousin type) and was probably in possession of the best suited voice for Strauss on that stage, at this particular moment.

None of the rest or the orchestra stood out for any kind of faults as far as I can remember, but then we don’t go to DR for Faninal or the Italian Singer ™, do we?

the rose garden in the middle and the building where the singers warm up in the background

On the way back from Glyndebourne we caught an earlier train and spent the ride back into Victoria thinking about scenarios regarding the fictitious act IV. Put a bunch of WS together and pretty soon discussions about whether Octavian would or would not (and under which conditions) return to the Marschallin arise.

Forgot to say: at Cesare, crows and magpies thieved our blackberries (and were well on their way to make off with the celery)!!! :p so this time we got clever and put all the fruit away. And then at the short interval we only had time to move the blanket into the sun before we had to go back to the opera. I ended up very thirsty.

Crow: what are you doing this summer?
Magpie:¬†I’m going to Glyndebourne.
Crow: trying to get famous, are you?
Magpie:¬†I heard the catering is fabulous. Then again, if I get offered a cameo I’m not going to say no…

The lawn was mobbed with picnic-ers even more so than at Cesare‘s, so we (this time Mon, Anna and I) ended up also pondering if the Cesare and DR crowds are different or the same. I think we agreed they should more or less be the same. It was also amusing to note that DR is 30min shorter. Baroque operas mean business.

This year it was very smooth sailing as far as trains were concerned (knock on wood from now on). If anyone is interested, the recommended train is going to Ore/Littlehampton and you need to be in the 4 front (Ore) carriages. It (usually) runs from track 15 during the week and track 12 at the weekend.

evidence that young people like opera, too.


  1. you just know he would call women females

Glyndebourne 2018 Gen sale kickoff

Currently waiting for the General sale to start, busy twiddling my thumbs, hoping not to end up too far back in the queue.

Here is a picture from last year:

Cavalli’s Hipermestra; the view from the Blue Circle Standing Room

Hipermestra = I fudged that writeup real well. I guess the reason is I still haven’t warmed up properly to Cavalli. It was very good – and I really liked the staging, with the small band not only given a lot of stage but becoming part of the show later on – but it was the kind of very good that didn’t make me very verbose. Aside from Nessie, about which I should talk some more.

But! On to the famous Giulio Cesare ūüėÄ

6:02 : Bad gateway!

7:02 : yours truly still 278 in the queue but we seem to have done a great job as a group ūüėÄ we’re in business, thanks to spitfiretommy, who was a real spitfire and shot out and grabbed seats ‚̧

7:30 : the Cesare tickets went like hot cakes. I don’t think there’s anything left online at this point, so it’s all returns from now on. But there’s phone booking starting tomorrow morning, so luck could be had that way.

Let us not forget there are other productions this year, such as:¬†Saul (a Kosky production), Pelleas et Melisande, Richard Jones’ Der Rosenkavalier, Vanessa (Samuel Barber) and Madama Butterfly. I myself (eventually) got a ticket to Saul¬†(La Gauvin is in it!) and one for Pelleas (I’m not too keen on it but it’s a new production ūüėČ I mean I don’t hate it and I may like it even better in the house).

Giulio Cesare returns to Glyndebourne 2018

Glyndebourne 2013

Yes, the one we know and love, with Sarah Connolly, Patricia Bardon and Dumaux reprising their 2005 roles and Christie conducting. Now with Joelle Harvey as Cleopatra. Sounds like another picnic date to me ūüėÄ

We also get Saul (two Handels??) with Karina Gauvin among others and the first edition of the Singing Competition, with a Mozart theme.

Also in an attempt to get Leander into 20th century opera we have a revival of the 2014 production of¬†Der Rosenkavalier with Kate Lindsey in the title role ūüėČ

Glynderbourne 2018