It's hard to believe that I hadn't been to the German capital since 2005 and I have to admit that I had forgotten what an enjoyable city is, and even more so since the process of bringing together a divided city after the German reunification finally seems to have ended. Most of the old buildings have been beautifully restored and there's an abundance of green space and water everywhere. One almost never has the feeling to be in a big city.
Yet, the most astonishing thing about Berlin for me is the abundance of culture. With three big opera companies, at least three major symphony orchestras, some of the most important companies for German theatre, museums, galleries etc. one would have to spend weeks there to even scratch the surface. In my three days there I got to see a performance of Turandot at the Deutsche Oper, a concert of the Berliner Philharmoniker at the Philharmonie (still one of the most stunning concert halls in the world), with Simone Rattle conducting Berg's Pieces for Orchestra op. 6 and Mahler's Symphony No. 6, and a performance of Elektra at the Schillertheater, the exile of the State Opera while the old opera house is under renovation. Elektra was sung by the stunning German soprano Evelyn Herlitzius, one of the most intense and accurately sung accounts of the role I've heard live, and conducted by our own Music Director Johannes Debus. I'm happy that we have some Strauss for him coming up at the COC as well. He's so good at it.
I'm writing this from London where I arrived this morning for another three days of meetings and performances.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (0) / permalink
After the end of our mainstage season on Sunday, my travel season has just started.
Yesterday, I took my wife to Stratford for the official opening of the Festival (black tie on the hottest day of the year, of course!) with Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor, really funny in my opinion, and now I'm waiting at Pearson for my flight to board.
Over the next nine days, I'll be in Berlin, London and Paris for meetings and performances. There will be lots to tell.
We ended our 2010/11 season with a brilliant performance of Ariadne auf Naxos this afternoon. I'm very proud of this production, the wonderful cast with mostly Canadian singers (there were moments in the opera when there were only Canadians on our stage, up to eight or nine) and a few stunning guests, our fabulous orchestra and Andrew Davis' inspired leadership. Actually, the whole spring season with Ariadne, Orfeo and La Cenerentola made me feel that the COC has reached a new level of achievement. The increasingly enthusiastic reactions of our public after each performance and many, many standing ovations seem to confirm my perception. If I just speak for myself, I found Lawrence Zazzo's performance as Orfeo heartbreaking each single time and Robert Carsen's essential production totally captivating. Not to speak of the period sound and dramatic energy that Harry Bicket got from our chorus and orchestra. Or Lawrence Brownlee's high C's and Elizabeth DeShong's beautifully coloured "Una volta c'era un ré" in Cenerentola, etc. etc. You see I have trouble naming all the things I liked about our spring season and should refrain from trying to review my own productions.
Taking a breath this evening I realize that this already is the end of my third season with the COC. While people still call me the new General Director I feel I have my feet firmly on the ground now and we have done some amazing work together over the past three years. It's important for me to stress that I couldn't have done it alone. We've done it all together. Thank you.
Now, I'm looking forward to the summer with some quiet time and quite a bit of travelling, as always, to some of the usual places, but also to places I haven't been to in quite some time or ever.
Soon enough, we'll be in rehearsals for the 2011/12 season. The journey continues.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Season / comments (4) / permalink
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