I just arrived in New York a few hours ago on the red-eye flight from Los Angeles. Luckily, my hotel room was ready early and I could get a bit of rest before starting my meetings here.
It was good to be in Los Angeles. I had never seen a performance there and - as different as they were - enjoyed Rigoletto and Lohengrin, both operas with singers that were either new to me or that I hadn't heard in a long time. Especially the cast of Lohengrin, with veterans like Soile Isokoski, Dolora Zajick (debuting as Ortrud), Kristinn Sigmundsson, Eike Wilm Schulte (at 71! As Heerrufer in top form, he's the Domingo of German baritones) and our own Ben Heppner, was very impressive indeed. Both operas were conducted by Music Director James Conlon and it was good to spend time with him and my colleagues there.
I also spent some time with the young artists of the Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program, a small group of mostly very young singers with great potential. One of the most beautiful young Paminas I have heard in a while and an outstanding Ann Trulove are just two examples.
Today, I will see the Met's new production of Don Carlo conducted by Yannick Nezet-Séguin. You will find the report here tomorrow.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (1) / permalink
Winnipeg was the first stop on my winter opera trip of Canada and the U.S. I try to see the work of the other Canadian opera companies and since I had never attended a performance at Manitoba Opera I made Winnipeg part of the trip, attracted by an all-Canadian Tosca with Wendy Nielsen (Tosca), Richard Margison (Mario Cavaradossi) and Gaétan Laperrière (Scarpia), conducted by Tyrone Paterson and directed by Valerie Kuinka. Filling a huge auditorium when the outside temperature is -15 degrees Celsius and tons of snow on the ground is probably the ultimate proof that the survival of opera is assured even under the toughest conditions.
I was lucky to have the great Canadian film-maker Guy Maddin as my company for the performance. As you may know he is a native and resident of Winnipeg and his movie My Winnipeg is a great declaration of his love to the city. We got to know each other right after my family and I came to Canada two years ago and have been in touch ever since. It was great to catch up with him.
Over the past few hours I jumped about 30 degrees up on the temperature scale. Really looking forward to spending two days in warm and sunny Los Angeles.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (0) / permalink
I first came to New York in 2003, invited by the New York International Opera Auditions (NYIOP), then a new company that organized auditions for casting directors from Europe. David Blackburn, the founder and CEO of NYIOP (he is now also the Director of Artistic Operations at Palm Beach Opera) and I have been friends ever since, but I hadn't attended one of his audition sessions in years. Since I was also interested in seeing the new production of Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea at the Juilliard School, I travelled to New York yesterday to spend the day with David and a few of my European colleagues at Merkin Hall on 67th Street, probably the best audition space in New York at the moment. Hearing more than 30 singers in one day is a bit of a challenge, but there were a few that I hadn't heard before and a few others that I hadn't heard in a while, so my time was well spent.
In the evening I met with Matthew Epstein, another good New York friend, now officially retired from Columbia Artists but otherwise as active as ever, for the Juilliard Poppea. Monteverdi's operas are long and we had contemplated leaving at intermission but conductor Harry Bicket (at the COC for Idomeneo last season and coming for Orfeo ed Euridice in the spring) did such an exceptional job with Juilliard's new period orchestra Juilliard415 and a cast of Juilliard opera students that we were captivated until the end of the evening. It was a delight to see Monteverdi's masterpiece so stylishly and lovingly performed.
Between the audition and the performance I was lucky enough to make it to Chelsea through rush hour traffic to see the Anselm Kiefer exhibit at the Gagosian Gallery. Kiefer is one of my favourite living artists and apart from the great installation at the AGO a few months ago we don't get to see a lot of his work in Toronto, so I was happy to catch up on his latest creations. If you happen to be in New York before December 18 the show is well worth seeing. My dream would be to get him to design sets and costumes for a COC production. Maybe one day.
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