I'm writing this on the Eurostar from London to Paris, which will be the last stop on my European trip. If you're not caught in snow chaos (like me back in December) the trip from London from Paris really is extremely enjoyable, from city centre to city centre just a bit more than two and a half hours.
My weekend in London turned out to be great, mostly due to the presence of my former boss and great mentor Gerard Mortier, who is now running the Teatro Real and had flown in for the dress rehearsal of Dmitri Tcherniakov's production of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra at English National Opera (ENO) which we attended together yesterday evening. The night before we had dinner together. With him being in Madrid and me in Toronto we don't get to see each other very often and having the opportunity to spend time together really was very welcome. If he hadn't given me a lot of confidence and tons of professional opportunities when I was very young and still a beginner in opera I wouldn't do what I'm doing today.
Also at ENO I was lucky enough to see Terry Gilliam's new production of Berlioz' Damnation of Faust, one of the most brilliantly conceived and crafted productions I've seen in quite some time. It is hard to believe that this was Gilliam's first staging of an opera ever. The performance alone would have made my trip worthwhile.
In Paris, I will have another two busy days of meetings and performances before I come home on Thursday.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (1) / permalink
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.
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