After the successful opening of Death in Venice on Saturday, our fall season is now up to full steam. Sondra Radvanovsky has already finished her run of Aida performances. What a privilege to have this wonderful artist with us for her role and COC debut. Michele Capalbo is taking over from her for another six performances and I am very happy to have this great Canadian soprano debut on our stage as well.
Written more than one hundred years apart, our two fall pieces couldn't be more different. It gives me a lot of pride to see how effortlessly our orchestra and chorus move from one to the other night after night and as idiomatically as one could ever imagine.
Profiting from a few calmer days I am off to Europe until Sunday to see a few productions that we might want to bring to the COC and also hold a few auditions.
I will report from Palermo tomorrow.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (2) / permalink
What a powerful piece Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov is! Too bad it is so expensive to put on. A lot of roles and a big chorus. And if you do the Polish Act which Mussorgsky added when he revised the piece, there's also a lot of overtime. We had wanted to present the piece at the COC in a few years from now, but had to abandon our plans. It didn't quite fit in the overall financial picture of the season.
Therefore, I felt very lucky to see the Met's new production, conducted by Valery Gergiev and directed by Stephen Wadsworth. You might have heard that Wadsworth took over the production from the famous German director Peter Stein on fairly short notice and working with Stein's original designs, rather minimalistic sets and sumptuous period costumes.
Of course, it is always special to hear Gergiev conduct one of the great Russian operas. I vividly remember his Onegin at the Met a few years ago with a dream cast including Renée Fleming, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Ramón Vargas. And he certainly had a dream cast for Boris as well, with René Pape (as the tsar), Mikhail Petrenko, Aleksanders Antonenko, Ekaterina Semenchuk and Evgeny Niktin in leading roles. As in Rheingold, there wasn't a weak link in the cast and Donald Palumbo's (next to our Sandra Horst the greatest chorus master in the world) Met chorus was overwhelming. The Met seems to be off for a great season.
I am writing this on the plane back home. Tonight we will open our production of Death in Venice.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (1) / permalink
This was the first time we were invited to the opening of the Met's season and it was a special evening indeed, starting with a walk on the red carpet in Lincoln Plaza and ending with the biggest black tie dinner I have ever seen in a huge tent next to the Met after the performance.
And, of course, this year's opening was a Canadian affair with the first installment of Robert Lepage's highly anticipated new Ring Cycle. It is completely impossible to judge what a complete cycle will look like after having seen Rheingold only, but the beginning was auspicious and at times very impressive. The already famous (and very heavy) unit set didn't fail to show off its almost unlimited ability for transformation even though a technical failure at the end of the opera denied us the Gods' entry to Valhalla. I'm looking forward to the remaining three operas of the cycle with great curiosity.
For me, however, the most memorable part of the evening was the superlative playing of the Met Orchestra conducted by James Levine, celebrating his 40th season at the Met. The level of transparency and detail he achieved in a well-paced, energetic reading was simply breathtaking. The cast lived up to the high level established by the orchestra. From the Rhinemaidens to Wotan there wasn't a single weak link and it would be difficult to choose between Bryn Terfel's impressive Wotan or Eric Owen's powerful Alberich, between Stephanie Blythe's regal Fricka or Patricia Bardon's warm Erda. A very impressive line-up of great artists that did Wagner and the Met extremely proud.
It was a huge privilege to represent the COC yesterday evening in New York.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (4) / permalink
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