Just in case you didn't see it we had a really spectacular sunrise this morning. I'm off to Stratford today to see Christopher Plummer as Propsero in The Tempest. Sounds like a real treat.
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Toronto / comments (2) / permalink
Our wonderful stay in Santa Fe is slowly coming to an end. Today, we will finish our cultural program with a visit to the Georgia O'Keefe Museum and tomorrow, we will return to Toronto.
The past two days were completely devoted to the Santa Fe Opera. In the morning, I attended the annual auditions of the Apprentice Singers. The program has existed for over fifty years, since the inception of the Santa Fe Opera, and is always a fantastic resource for young singers. This year, the group was a little bit older than usual, following a deliberate decision to take singers that would be ready to be hired by the companies attending the auditions. The level was very high and I am sure you will see a few of these talented young singers on our COC stage in the future. There were no Canadians this year, but there were quite a few great Canadians in the performances we attended.
In general, I found the performances this year to be on a higher level than the ones I attended last year. In his second season as General Director Charles McKay is already starting to see the results of his work. Charles is a very hospitable and generous man, a true gentleman and one of the most highly esteemed of my North American colleagues. We are talking about a few co-productions and I hope we will make some of them work. The COC could benefit greatly from a partnership with this prestigious festival.
This year, we were also able to see all five productions of the festival, finishing with The Magic Flute on Thursday and yesterday's Life is a Dream.
Tim Albery's wonderful production of The Magic Flute looks deceivingly simple, but it is exactly from this simplicity that it draws its strength and its universal character. Tim makes it magnificently clear that this is a tale about the human condition that concerns us all and will concern us for a long time to come, without sacrificing the playfulness and humour of the piece. A great achievement. The performance also had a few world-class performers, notably the absolutely amazing Pamina of Ekaterina Siurina and the Tamino of Charles Castronovo. I have known Ekaterina and Charles (also a couple in real life) for many years and was so pleased to see how they have grown into the most accomplished Mozartians one could imagine. As Papageno, Joshua Hopkins added another triumph to his Sid in Albert Herring. Joshua certainly is one of the most talented singers of his generation, and a Canadian, of course. I am glad we have now found a debut role for him at the COC.
Lewis Spratlan's Life is a Dream, after Pedro Calderón de la Barca's incomparable 17th century play, had been waiting for its world premiere for more then twenty years. It is an edgy piece asking for a lot from the audience, but also extremely demanding for the singers. Leonard Slatkin's full commitment in the pit made a compelling argument for the piece and the excellent cast contributed to last evening's success as well, especially Ellie Dehn, who made the part of Rosaura sounds like one of Richard Strauss' great soprano roles, and the Canadian tenor Roger Honeywell. Roger not only met all the vocal demands of the extremely difficult part of Prince Segismundo, he also succeeded in bringing a deep humanity to his character. This was a truly outstanding singing actor's performance. Chapeau, Roger!
Posted by Alexander Neef / in Travel / comments (0) / permalink
You might have wondered already why I haven't posted any photos from this trip so far. I did try, but the beauty of this place has shown me the limits of technology. On my blackberry camera it just doesn't come out the way it really is. When I was driving to the performance of Madama Butterfly yesterday there were dark black clouds hanging over the mountains, a huge, beautiful rainbow stretching out from the mountains to the clouds and flashes of lightning coming down from the clouds. Impossible to capture.
For a change, the performance of Madama Butterfly didn't have to compete with the forces of nature, but Lee Blakeley's efficient production allowed us nice views of the New Mexican Moutains at night. I'm always surprised that the story of this unlucky Japanese geisha continues to move me after having seen it so many times. It is the world's most frequently performed opera for a reason. Kelly Kaduce's intense Cio-Cio San, Brandon Jovanovich's deliberately unsympathetic (and very well sung) Pinkerton and James Westman's warm Sharpless did a lot for credible drama on stage, but for me the true star of the evening was the Suzuki of Elizabeth DeShong with her dark-coloured warm mezzo. She will be our Cenerentola next season and I truly look forward to having her on our stage.
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