Sometimes you wonder whether it is worth crossing the Atlantic just to see a few performances and suffer from jetlag. But then a performance like yesterday's eclipses all your doubts. I had only known Massenet's Don Quichotte from a recording which left me with the impression of a pale and one-dimensional piece. Seeing and hearing it in a live performance made me understand why it was such a success when it was first performed in Monte-Carlo one hundred years ago. Massenet's score evokes an artificial Spain very much in the succession of Bizet's Carmen, but also points forward to Ravel's Alborada del Gracioso. Alain Guingal conducted the score masterfully and lovingly and Ferruccio Furlanetto proved to be the worthy successor to great protagonists like Chaliapine or Ghiaurov. I am glad I came all the way.
It is a gorgeous morning here in Palermo and as on all these business trips I would have loved to see more of the city than my hotel and the splendid Teatro Massimo, but I am already on my way to Bologna for auditions this afternoon and a performance of La Traviata tonight.
I will leave you with a discovery I made at the hotel this morning: a piano stool that, apparently, belonged to Richard Wagner during one of his visits to Palermo.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (1) / permalink
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.
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