On Saturday, July 16, the Opera de Lyon will bring Cosi fan tutte to all Lyonnais (outside screen, place des Terreaux and elsewhere 9pm) and also to all internet fans, wherever they might be (streaming starts at 9:35pm on the Opera de Lyon's website).
Jul 13, 2011
May 21, 2011
The Librabry of Congress has put online some Victor recordings from the early XXth century in a section called National Jukebox. The Opera section contains, to date, more than 1000 extracts.
This is indeed a good way to re-discover famous operas and famous names from the past, long since forgotten. In the French section, this includes extracts from
- Victor Massé, Paul et Virginie, "Air du tigre"
- Ferdinand Hérold, Le pré-aux-clercs, "Souvenirs du jeune âge"
- Ambroise Thomas, Le caïd, "Air du tambour major"
- Félicien David, La Perle du Brésil, "Charmant oiseau"
- Benjamin Godard (the composer who reorchestrated Bizet's Les Pêcheurs de Perles, see there), La vivandière, "Viens avec nous petit" (the melody reminds me of the French national anthem)
- Meyerbeer, Robert le Diable ("Du rendez-vous") and Le Prophète ("O toi qui m’abandonnes")
- Lecocq's operette La fille de Madame Angot, "Voyons, Monsieur, raisonnons politique"
- Massenet, Cléopâtre ("Air de la lettre") and Griselidis ("Ouvrez-vous sur mon front, portes du paradis!")
Other Gounod's extracts:
- "Oh nuit d'amour ciel radieux" duet with Geraldine Farrar and Enrico Caruso, from Faust
- "O ma lyre immortelle", Jeanne Gerville, Sapho
- "Au bruit des lourds marteaux d'airain", Marcel Journet, Philémon et Baucis (the tempo is not as good as the recording I own and doesn't really give justice to this beautiful aria - Philémon et Baucis is, to my opinion, a brilliant score ruined by an atrocious libretto, which explains why the opera was alas forgotten)
- "Faites lui mes aveux" (air de Siebel), Louise Homer, Faust
- "Ah! Lève-toi soleil", Charles Dalmorès, Roméo et Juliette
- "Ah! Ne fuis pas encore!", Beniamino Gigli and Lucrezia Bori, Roméo et Juliette
Extracts from Bizet's Les Pêcheurs de Perles:
- "Je crois entendre encore", Enrico Caruso
- "Au fond du temple saint", Marcel Journet and Edmond Clément
- "De mon amie", Enrico Caruso
Apr 5, 2011
- Opéra Comique, Paris, June 18-28 2012
Nadir, Dmitry Korchak
Zurga, André Heyboer
Nourabad, Nicolas Testé
Direction musicale, Leo Hussain
Mise en scène, Yoshi Oïda
Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
Jan 25, 2011
Drame lyrique en quatre actes
Livret de Edouard Blau, Paul Millet et Georges Hartmann, d'après Les Souffrances du jeune Werther (Goethe)
Opéra de Lyon
Jan. 24, 2011 - premiere
Last performance of this run: Feb. 7
When you have been especially careless with your voice, the time comes rather quickly when you have to find a new way of earning money, and hope to find a new career besides singing - directing, in the case of Rolando Villazon.
Well, I don't think he's yet ready, and if he'll ever be ready for that new job of directing an opera.
Having sung the role of Werther many times clearly didn't provide him with any kind of a deeper insight of the opera, as he tried - and failed - to give it a Regietheater twist that only resulted in a disaster.
All the components of the Regitheater are present, from the white and almost empty stage, the bright, colorful and ugly costumes, to some "grand" ideas that completely disrupt the dramatic moments of the opera and to some frankly very naive views on the whole story.
First of all, I think the way to core concept of Villazon is very wrong.
Werther is not one of those operas you can twist into a circus-like idea, or if you can, you completely loose all it's interest; maybe the idea of all the characters living in a world of fate and thus being clowns of their own lives could have had a chance, if Villazon could have been constrained to be less explicit and more subtile.
Subtility, here's what's clearly missing from this.
For instance, the first time Werther enters the stage, it's not enough that this child double is dressed in the same horrific color as he is (chick yellow), Villazon trusts himself (or the audience) so much that, just to make sure everyone gets it, they have the exact same gesture. Really useful? I sure don't think so, but I'm also sure this example is pretty much the quintessential way to describe this production.
It all seems terribly immature, almost childish, and this is clearly not the way to emphasize the dramatic quest of Werther.
Yet another example at the end of Act II, moments after Werther bids farewell to Charlotte in a very dramatic way (basically telling her he's going to kill himself): a giant pillow fight on stage orchestrated by the clowns and the children.
Again, was that really useful?
As far as the conducting by Leopold Hager was concerned, nothing extraordinary there, but rather a blend and forgettable reading of the score.
The singer clearly on top of the cast is Karine Deshayes (Charlotte) whose interpretation was indeed very convincing and quite well-sung.
Arturo Chacon-Cruz (Werther) struggled with his high notes (or rather has to learn how to sing a high note without yelling) and seemed like a clone of Villazon on stage: too much movements for such little effects... his stage presence, in other words, was all but sincere and credible.
Lionel Lhote (Albert) and Alain Vernhes (le Balli) both had a good performance, as well as Anne-Catherine Gillet (Sophie).
All pictures on this page from the Opéra de Lyon.
Video extract here.
Links to the Opéra de Lyon website:
- presentation of the production
- programme (incl. libretto)
- "Un Werther "clownesque" à Lyon pour la première mise en scène de Rolando Villazon", AFP
- "Werther à l'Opéra de Lyon - rencontre avec Rolando Villazon", Le Progrès
- "Pas tout à fait la Bohème", Le Progrès, Antonio Mafra
- "Werther, Opera de Lyon, review", The Telegraph, Rupert Christiansen
- "Des danseuses et des clowns", La Libre Belgique, Nicolas Blanmont
Jan 3, 2011
Just a few days before Christmas, on Dec. 22, the great French baritone Ernest Blanc died at the age of 87.
He was, as stated here, probably the baritone I loved most.
Reviews in French:
- "Ernest Blanc s'est tu pour toujours", Sud-Ouest
- "Ernest Blanc est mort", Qobuz