I am writing this on a rainy Sunday morning from my cozy room at the Ritz in Madrid where I have the privilege of staying thanks to a very special rate that I got through the Teatro Real. As you know, the company has been run by my former boss and mentor Gerard Mortier for two years now and I arrived here yesterday morning for two women and what must have been one of the most important opening nights of the season: Tchaikovsky's Iolanta and Stravinsky's Perséphone, staged by Peter Sellars, designed by George Tsypin and conducted by Teodor Currentzis. I've never made a secret of my admiration of Peter's work, but what he and Currentzis achieved with this new double is a complete re-evaluation of two underrated operatic gems. But above all it was a wonderful gathering of friends from all over the world that had come together for the occasion: the wonderful Dominique Blanc and Paul Groves in the cast of Perséphone, Pierre Audi from Amsterdam, Serge Dorny from Lyon, Alex Poots (Manchester Festival and now also Park Avenue Armory in New York) and the person who taught me everything about being an opera administrator: Evamaria Wieser from Salzburg. A late Madrid dinner ensued.
At the COC, we've been busy with two other women. Getting our two casts of Tosca ready on stage was the task of last week. Only the dress rehearsal on Wednesday separates us from opening night this coming Saturday. We're ready for our public and I'm sure it's going to be a very exciting run.
With Tosca coming to the end of rehearsals, L'amour de loin will move on stage next week and we will add the finishing touches to our second winter production.
Now, I'm off to see Gerard Mortier and then Velázquez and Goya at the Prado!
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (0) / permalink
I was lucky to get to spend the past two days with a Board member and his family on their farm just a short drive north of Toronto. No suits and ties, but flannel shirts, jeans and rubber boots, walks in the snow (finally!) and even some tobogganing made for a quite different environment than usual to talk and think about the COC. It is one of my favorite places to go and get some distance, perspective - and always good advice.
Meanwhile in Toronto we have started orchestra rehearsals for Tosca. I can't wait to join tomorrow morning.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Board / comments (3) / permalink
Happy New Year, dear loyal and patient readers.
I don't really believe in New Year's resolutions, but rather in habit building. And since I've fallen out of the habit to post blog entries over the past few months I thought the New Year would be a great time to start again and I will do my best to post here as regularly as possible.
I've been in New York for the past few days to get some time off and meet with artists, but first and foremost to attend the opening of the Met's new production of The Enchanted Island, a baroque evening combining music by Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau and a few other composers with a new text by Jeremy Sams, inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch (who were also in charge of the magnificent production of Satyagraha which I saw earlier this season) and conducted by the eminent baroque expert William Christie. What sounds quite complicated on paper actually was a fairly entertaining evening, but I'm still wondering whether I would have preferred to see one of Handel's, Vivaldi's or Rameau's master operas rather than a mix of a few of them (I'm thinking of Goethe's "wer vieles bringt, wird manchem etwas bringen..."). It certainly was an experience that I wouldn't have wanted to miss, with a cast that couldn't have been more stellar: Placido Domingo (still going strong), Luca Pisaroni, Joyce DiDonato, David Daniels, Danielle de Niese, Elizabeth de Shong (our COC Cenerentola last season) as well as Canadians (and Lindemann Young Artists) Layla Claire and Elliot Madore, in his house debut. So much good singing.
At the COC, we're already in staging rehearsals for both winter productions, Tosca and L'amour de loin. Later this week, our orchestra will return and we will be back on the stage of our Four Seasons Centre. Getting busy again.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (1) / permalink
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