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Tito 230 (part 3)

Yep, the series is merrily going along. The latest installment linked below follows the action from Vitellia doing her snarky best to congratulate Servilia for her good luck to the end of Act I.

I’ve quite been enjoying this weekly exercise in rediscovering an old fave. It’s doing a good job at pulling me back into the opera fold 🙂

Tito at 230 (part 2)

Continuing this series throughout the month only makes sense. Part 2 takes us from Deh, se piacer mi vuoi to Ah, se fosse intorno al trono. That’s because I decided, as I was re-listening, the music was too good not to include, so there’s quite a lot of it and a surprising amount of Garanca, too. Way more than you’d expect from me 😉 Another things is I got overly inspired to discuss the themes of the libretto. It’s really quite different when you talk vs when you write, especially as I am talking basically as I am listening, just giving in to whatever the music brings to mind. And, like I said, this production has always inspired me to think 🙂 Makes a bit of a change from all the other times 😉

Tito turns 230!

Well, here we are, 230 years later, which feels right about how long it’s been since I last properly updated. Happy Tito Day to all 🙂

I started a mini-Tito series, in order to celebrate, in which I talk (I’m under the illusion it goes faster than writing… I may be wrong) about my perennial favourite Tito production – the Sellars 2017, obviously. Just kidding, wrong Salzburg year, wrong speed 😉 Give it a listen below. You know you’ve missed my soothing voice vintage non-Currentzified Mozart…

Cookoo Nerone and his doomed sex kitten – first impressions from Salzburg 2018

Gorgeous singing – this is the best I’ve heard from Lindsey, and I’ve seen her a lot, even two months ago; she should sing more of this stuff; Yoncheva rocked, too, and the two of the have excellent chem, both vocally and dramatically – some fabulous diminuendi in their scenes together (you know which, the supremely sexy ones)

Christie and team – YEA! Well deserved most applause – some badass original ornaments, especially around Seneca’s parts

Desandre and Quintans – lovely discoveries for me, great stage presence and very confident, stylish singing

Production poster – if you long to see two women headline together ❤ I took some very cheesy non-selfies with it 😉 (Giulia was so gracious to put up with my “photo shoot”) and you will be forced to see them, because when are we getting that kind of poster for a major festival again? Not for next year’s Alcina, that’s for sure.

The venue – so bloody stylish! You know I like my casual everything but I can appreciate style when it’s done right. And great acoustics, too, though diction was so-so

Company – it was great hanging out with Giulia, I hope I did not exhaust you 😉 ah, going to the opera with enthusiastic buddies is a drug in itself!

Some of the production ideas were great; some not so much; generally it was undercooked. Rest assured I will go into how I see this done right, because – though I was here to enjoy myself “to the bitter end” 😉 – I am getting a bit tired of directors overdoing Poppea. It really is not that hard. The Glyndebourne production is still the most concise and coherent for me.

And now: Tito from Salzburg tonight (single violin liveblogging from dehggi)

Tito from Salzburg on

Just in case somebody doesn’t know about this and/or hasn’t had enough Tito this week 😀 when it rains, it pours! (btw, I mean to finish this! I am just juggling two Titi at the same time and spending a bit too much time with the ending of the Glyndebourne one at the moment 🙂 )

– does the Tito dance –

I’m reading the Tommyknockers right now. When I saw that green stuff I thought “They got Sesto!” – you know Sesto would be the first to go.

Intermission edit: I didn’t intend to liveblog this (because I like to take my time with Tito), I started with regular handwritten notes but then the production sort of took over and I had to “say” something. I wanted to do a different post for this later but it looks like I should better add my earlier notes here and let this mofo do its thing. Also I may not be able to watch everything tonight on account of work (I’ve already been late yesterday because of the Glyndebourne livestream), so I may just end mid-sentence, to be added later. Anyway, if you’re here, enjoy 😉

one more edit before I sign off for tonight: someone needs to tell Sellars that too much hand movement ain’t needed for operas written before 2010. Come ti piace imponi was a riot because of that. Come to think of it, maybe those were secret hand signals from Vitellia to the terrorists… but where’s the sex? Too much violence, not enough sex (remember Bush’s Everything Zen? Ha, I didn’t think I’d come to quote that fake grunge band but there you go, thanks for nothing, Sellars).


Tito: Russell Thomas
Vitellia: Golda Schultz
Sesto: Marianne Crebassa
Annio: Jeanine de Bique
Servilia: Christina Gansch
Publio: Willard White
Conductor: Teodor Currentzis | musicAeterna / musicAeterna Choir
Director: Peter Sellars
Felsenreitschule (where else?!)

edit on 5 August: for the sake of completeness, here are my initial handwritten notes, in navy, with some additions after I slept on it.

Overture: running? Structures? coming out of the ground? Sesto and Servilia are running, he’s confused. The motley choir is back! Are they muslims?

And who are the armed dudes? Terrorists already? Guards?

Tito and his court come in, he checks out the crowd and wants Sesto and Servilia to join them; he introduces Sesto to Vitellia but the way they look at each other you can tell they’ve been acquainted already. The plot thickens! Did she signal to Tito which “commoners” to get?

Come ti piace imponi: interpretive dance?! Well… 😀 Berenice (muslim?) and Tito say a long goodbye

Annio: quite strong voiced/ no nonsense

Berenice shakes hands with Vitellia; Vitellia looks ready to bite her scarf off

Deh se piacer mi vuoi: very smooth start, nice trills on tuoi and fede; continuo gets busy (kitchen sink); Sesto wears cargo pants with tie – I really like Servilia’s black and white gauzy dress, girl has style; Vitellia puts moves on Tito who initially seems repulsed by her but then seems pulled into her game (did she not notice that? why does she need Sesto then?).

What does Tito want?

Musically I like this version, it’s very elaborate, with the right accents and very good chops from Schultz; it’s Vitellia we know and love but I think the message gets muddled as she moves between Sesto and Tito. I know there is a point there but we get it from the libretto. I think this would confuse Sesto even more and this aria is all about Sesto getting the right message.

It’s quite odd, as for once she seems to put the moves erotically on Sesto but then she gets further from that, which I don’t think is a good decision. Context intruding?

Annio has Servilia with him when asking Sesto for her hand, I like this. It’s good that she’s included, instead of the men (men? see below) deciding her life. Their (all three) interaction is very warm.

Deh prendi: interesting interpretive moves; are Sesto and Annio women? I don’t think men interact that way with each other. I will take it they are women in this production. Nice vocal mix and I like the added trills, you barely even get that in this little duettino. I like their warm interaction 🙂

Serbate dei custodi: who is Annio? He seems to be more the upper class dude in this production. Sesto and Servilia go back to “their people” and hug them. It feels like they’re about to plead their cause or something.

The choir has good vocal balance.

White’s Publio looks super fierce.

Tito gets massive gold bullions as his temple.

Edit during stream: Lucky me! I’m loving this production, too, though what the hell is it with the Baroque music during the Temple scene? (Ok, Rob explains it in the comments; I mean he explains what it is, not why it’s there) Molto odd! Let’s get back to Tito.

Annio speaks up about how cool that gal Servilia is, who, remember, is there already, so she gets the good news directly from Tito and runs away. Annio is gutsy.

No more talk – Del piu sublime soglio – which Tito sings at Sesto (who is there, too). He seems touched. Very forceful segue into it; seems Tito gets bigger voiced with every production. The couple of trills don’t come easy to Thomas. I enjoyed Croft’s softly delivered avrei a lot more.

Everyone is very sweaty already.

Ah perdona: wish the damn continuo wouldn’t keep barging in where it’s not its business. (see the comments again if you’re not used to Currentzis) I like how Servilia ain’t happy Annio shopped her to Tito. They seem very worried, not the usual happy duet and without much talk they start to sing. I like the rubato Currentzis gives the both of them to emphasise their own position within the duet.

Tito : Publio: they talk about the list of wrongdoers brought by Publio. Sesto is there for it, quite pointedly so. Tito says se ragion to Sesto (in regards to why people plot against him). Does he have, well, reasons to hint at that?

Servilia kisses Annio to make her point to Tito and then I guess what happens next makes sense:

Is this La clemenza di Tito or La voce di Servilia? More Servilia intrusive music?! Seriously, maybe I spoke too soon about liking this production. SCREW THE EXTRANEOUS MUSIC!

… because I guess she thinks she needs to sweeten the verdict a bit? Still:

Ah se fosse: THANK FUCK! For a moment there I really thought we’d skip it. It’s kinda interesting how everybody is there all the time and it makes sense. Though when we have bassoon why do we need that annoying continuo to start the aria?

Parto already! Ha. I have to think if Sesto being there for everything justifies why he should be so easily pushed into Parto. If anything, I’d think the opposite. Lying on one’s back for Parto = classic 😉 Also, the week of the French Sesti (ok, Stephany is not). That physical jump into guardami! was amusing. Poor Sesto. He killed the clarinet, eh heh. Is this a first, when even the instrumentalists lie on the floor?! 😀 Too much movement for the cadenza, though the ladies who complained there wasn’t enough movement in the Glyndebourne one would love it (some old bats on the train back to London bitched about it being too static; I hope they liked this shit). Whose brilliant idea was to have a closeup there? My head was spinning from all the movement up and down and all around. Gimmicky to the max but at least Crebassa tried to look for a chest touchdown. Didn’t find a sexy one, eh.


I really liked how Sesto and the clarinet even did their trills together – BUT this is not about Vitellia anymore. It’s not even just Sesto and his emotions anymore, it’s Sesto and a flesh and blood double. Like I said, gimmicky to the max. Unless I’m missing something, which is possible, because duh.

Vengo!: waaaaay too slow! Haha, kidding, of course. The ’80s called and couldn’t get through to get their styles back. That being said Schultz has some mad chops.

Act I finale – more Baroque shit to mark Mozart’s Romantic forays, yay! I hope Servilia ain’t back with something praising the lords in Latin.

Sesto is putting on a massive submissive act considering how organised his insurrection is.

I really wish they got on with things, I need a bathroom break and the cats were clawing for grub. Finally! Sesto, suicide bomber? Yes, it works, but he lives on to sing the damn Deh per questo… bomb failing?

He’s trying to shoot Tito when he can blow them up? Clearly he’s not thinking straight. Then Tito knows already?

(Dude, take off the damn vest!) How did Annio not see what happened? Haha. They all see everything except the most important bits.

Good call Currentzis to speed the damn thing up after wasting so much time with the baroque stuff. Seriously, though, why is Vitellia wearing latest style cca 1987?

And still nobody notices Sesto’s suicide bomber vest! It’s not 1987, you know.

Is it Brian Large again? I want to see more wide views, less sweat (I know this is maddest continental heatwave since 2003 (coincidence? probably), everyone is drenched in sweat).

End of Act I conclusion: mad chops Schultz, me gusta mucho! WTF is with the extra crap, though??? This is the year Tito is fucked with, yanno. Remember the one with the belcanto add-ons? Let me make one thing clear: TITO DOESN’T NEED EXTRA MUSIC. There, I feel better.

Wow, this production – Sellars has really gone a bit cookoo. I mean, dude. What? But also kinda cool. Some things are very cool, like how everyone is always there and how that makes a difference in how they react – screwing with meaning, I guess. I like that. But we’re wasting too much time with gimmicks. It really does not need gimmicks (especially what happened with Parto and the camera panning into the mad movement – just no). Guth wins this time. Less fuss, more personal meaning, more intimacy. This take is too much about the bigger picture Tim Ashley wanted. I hope he went to Salzburg to see this one.

Currentzis needs to put a cap on the continuo. Seriously, it’s fucking annoying. But some things are cool. Too bad he’s got a kitchen sink kinda mentality. TOO FUCKING MUCH! Calm down a bit, it’s good music already. Trust Mozart.

Act II

Tito is loved by ethnic people. Nice. Is this the Requiem? Can we just have Tito for like 2hrs? Will we get something from the Magic Flute as well?

How about the Commie looking dude? He’s some sort of friend of Sesto’s and Servilia’s. Maybe from when they went backpacking during their gap year and stayed with his family in the Urals and experienced the simple life Tito wants?

I’m all for context but I’m feeling this is too much context and not enough Tito.

Shit, it’s Torna di Tito a lato! Who would’ve thunk they’d throw in a lesser known Tito tune?! Did you guys know I once woke up singing it aloud? Nice trills. In fact, the trills are some of the best things in this Mozart medley.

(phew, Sesto took off his suicide bomber vest!)

And just like that it’s Se al volto. Crebassa is a bit whingy sounding but it’s a very supple voice and this trio needs a bit of whinge. Schultz = ❤ Sesto loves his family. You know what, I only always meant to ask why Sesto and Servilia have so little (like 0) stage time together. So I’m glad we get warmth with Servilia here.

You know what I ain’t feelin’? Sesto and Vitellia’s connection. I’m not sure who exactly they are to each other because chemistry is not built into their acting.

White got some soft action in those vienis.

The continuo doesn’t know yet if Tito has survived. It’s all as it’s happening 😉 Too cool for school.

Ah non sventurato = Tito came back from the dead due to the love of his people! Haha. I like Thomas but he’s a bit past Mozart days.

Tardi: I never thought I’d get to hear White sing Tardi. I just like the man. It’s of the booming type, of course. TARDI! Ehehehe.

Publio (to Annio and Servilia): see what you did to him? Anyway, come on, Tito sign the damn thing.

This Tito on deathbed is like the Act IV of Traviata. He sings on! But first some more Requiem or whatever. I mean, duh. 1791 and all. It feels like they were saying in the ’50s when Stalin died (mum told me that when he died in 1953, in ye olde Eastern Europe people were crying in the street like the sun had just dropped off the sky). I want the Papageno-Papagena duet, me.

Come on, folks, with Glyndebourne we were already almost through with Se all’impero. I need to get going. Guth wins so far.

Tu fosti tradito: and io sono partito, ciao bambini! (nice chops, Annio, had we heard more of this stuff tonight, eh? That music is nice, I wonder who wrote it and why.)

fffwd to the end: I wanted to hear what Currentzis did with Eterni dei and… well, when I caught a glimpse of Sesto in the plastic jumpsuit and then how he dropped Tito – clearly he’s not done his Moving and Handling Mandatory Training! Somebody’s (Annio?) going to have to write a very complex Datix on this serious incident and let’s not talk about the inquest. Sesto’s not done with Publio yet.

2003 Salzburg Tito: a change of perspective

Sometimes you can’t write/talk about something because you don’t feel anything about it. Other times it’s because you feel too much. But we change.

When I first saw the 2003 Salzburg Tito I actually wrote (longhand!) extensively about it. It’s so gushy and intrinsicly linked to the period of intense change I was going through that it’s not fit for a blog. I waited for the emotion to cool down but during the next stage no words were good enough. I think I was trying for objectivity and when that didn’t quite work I left it be. It’s been well documented by other bloggers so I didn’t feel depriving the world of my positive opinion on it was such a big loss. At lon last I wrote about the 2006 revival (audio only), which was less commented on. Same production but not the same. Yet it offered me enough distance to say something.

Recently I noticed a change.

I still love it but, after hearing a lot of more recent versions, often with period orchestras, there’s no doubt it’s very heavy of sound (quite understandably so, with the Vienna Philharmonic of 13 years ago in the pit of the hangar-like Felsenreitschule driving everything). For a long time I could not hear that, enamoured as I have been of everything it contained. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing that it’s heavy and slow; Tito needs a bit of gravitas; it makes sense with the venue setting and the production; the world was starting to change but it still had a solidity about it we might not be feeling anymore today. As a whole it’s got so much that is good and unique about it (those sweaty (with unease), partially painted pale green walls 😉 ) that it still feels as fresh as it did on day one. But the way things are going, the future great Sesto and Vitellia will sing a lot lighter. And, I venture to say, in a smaller venue.

2017: Tito year

After a couple of years of relative absence, Tito will receive two new major productions in 2017 – Glyndebourne and Salzburg. This new Salzburg production will be directed by Peter Sellars. Judging by Sellars’ recent focus, I’m guessing it’ll be all about Vitellia’s feminist plight and the patriarchal hypocrisy of Tito. Curentzis sinks his teeth into another Mozart opera. I’m not sure what I think about that.

Well, what can I say? I can’t afford Salzburg but I’m curious how this new incarnation will work and how those who will star will fare.

thanks again to giulia for tipping me off 🙂

Röschmann’s Tito (Salzburg, 2006)

Some things are so good they need a reprise.

Or do they?

Just in case anyone is wondering, I’m talking about a performance from the 2006 revival of Kusej’s now classic Salzburg production of La clemenza di Tito, the production that sealed yours truly’s interest in opera in general.

This is a French radio broadcast of (mostly) very good soound (you feel like you’re in Vitellia’s cleavage) and it starts with the announcer calling Michael Schade “Shed”. Is he right? I always pronounce it the German way but this is the first time I’ve heard someone actually say it. Then again I also pronounce Kurzak with a zs.




Tito: Michael Schade
Vitellia: Dorothea Roschmann
Sesto: Vesselina Kasarova
Annio: Malena Ernman
Servilia: Aleksandra Kurzak
Publio: Luca Pisaroni
Conductor: Nicolaus Harnoncourt | Choir and Orchestra of Vienna Philarmonic, 16/08/06 Felsenreitschule/Salzburger Festspiele

There’s a funny thing going on with these CDs, namely surprise skipping. Right after Ma che, sempre l’istesso it ffwded itself straight to Parto (track 15). Talk about artificial intelligence – but it underestimates my patience. Dear CD, with this opera – and this cast especially – I can proceed in disciplined fashion.

But since we’re here, is track 15 any good? Of course, captain, of course it is. Sensei VK, Master of Parto, is in the dojo with I imagine the same Clarinet Blackbelt from 3 years before. Replay button at the ready. This Sesto seems a bit more vulnerable than the 2003 one, perhaps hiding a substance addiction. He’s not exactly ecstatic in the coda. Those people who couldn’t see this production in 2003 clap hard this time.

Anyway, the main point: Roschmann is even better here than in 2003. Everything one likes about her voice is here, from the first moment she opens her mouth to the end. Just wow. That this came shortly after her singing the Countess at the same festival is badarse. (If we go by the date on the CD this was first night, I heard things got a bit pearshaped by the end of the run).  fun with the construction site of doom

The Amenaide as ninja assassin Tancredi (Salzburg, 1992)

This draft has been biding its time since the Autumn of 2013 in the dark and mossy opera, innit? vault. Yesterday thadieu and Smorg showed unexpected interest in it and since I happened to have a day off, its day in the sunshine has come. Thadieu, I’m only talking about the bits you posted on youtube as I don’t have the rest.


Tancredi: Vesselina Kasarova
Amenaide: Nelly Miricioiu
Argirio: Donald Kaasch
Orbazzano: David Pittsinger
Isaura: Ruxandra Donose
Roggiero: Caroline Maria Petrig
Conductor: Pinchas Steinberg | Vienna State Opera Choir | ORF Symphonieorchester | Felsenreitschule | Salzburger Festspiele (August, 1992)

Given that it was performed at Felsenreitschule I mourn the fact that it was a concert performance (I can only imagine how they could’ve handled the boat). The ‘schule is such an odd, badass venue. And yes, the word that comes back again and again regarding this performance is badass. And odd.

As the story goes, back in ye olde early ’90s, Salzburger Festspiele thought they were cool (don’t they always?) and booked cult Tancredi Marilyn Horne as the slightly morose knight. Since things often don’t go as planned, she cancelled rather late in the game. I think the original Amenaide also dropped out but I can’t remember who it was (big name belcantist – Katia Ricciarelli maybe? Edita Gruberova! Cheers, t & S). When Salzburger Festspiele saw themselves without main singers they chanced on the 27 year-old VK who was just then eager to pounce on the opera world, one long and difficult role at a time. Finally, belcanto gun for hire Miricioiu saved their Amenaide-less hide – for a terrible price 😉 fear and trills in Siracusa

Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja

You know that opera Wolfie wrote in 1791? Yea, not that one. I mean Die Zauberflote. Here’s a confession: I’d only heard it twice before, an old recording mum had. But today I thought, hey, that’s not right. What kind of Mozart fan am I to be so poorly acquainted with this work?! I chose the most ridiculous production I could find on short notice. Trust Salzburger Festspiele to go all wacky on Wolfie. How cool are the bold colour sets, Papageno’s papier mache VW and his assorted animals? Damrau’s dress looks like a radioactive broccoli. Perfect. If anybody knows of an even wackier one, please let me know.