Saturday, April 28, 2012

Kaufmann is ILL!

Frank van Aken will make his Met debut as Siegmund in Die Walküre at today's matinee performance, replacing Jonas Kaufmann who is ill.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The 2012 HD awards

The following are Salazar Family Circle's awards for best HD performances for the 2011-2012 Metropolitan Opera Season. Those who have followed our blog may recall that this blog started with the 2010-2011 awards and this year we have added an ensemble category. For the past 6 seasons the Metropolitan Opera has presented operas in movie theaters in order to expand the public and to bring performances all around the world. These transmissions are supposed to show the best the Met has to offer. However not always do these transmissions work and many of the casts disappoint. This year however the Met offered one of the most incredible series of HD transmissions and therefore after seeing all the performances on TV and in Movie theaters it was was hard choose. The following are the nominees and the winners for my second annual HD Awards at the MET.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Makropulos Case Opens tomorrow

Karita Mattila and Richard Leech star in Janacek's masterpiece in Elijah Moshinsky's legendary production.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Dessay still sick

Last Night Natalie Dessay canceled after Act 1 of La Traviata at the Met due to illness, leaving the second half (or more like two-thirds) of the performance to Hei-Kyung Hong

Friday, April 20, 2012

La Scala Announces 2012-13 Season as Commemoration to Verdi and Wagner

Verdi and Wagner afficionados can get their fix in 2012-13 at La Scala. Today the famous opera sanctuary announced its upcoming season which will premiere on December 4, 2012 with a recorded performance of Wagner Lohengrin starring Rene Pape, Jonas Kaufmann, and Anja Harteros. Later on, La Scala will treat audiences to two Ring Cycles and Der Flieglende Hollander starring Bryn Terfel.

Verdi fans will get Aida and Nabucco starring rising star Liudmyla Monastyrska, Don Carlo with Rene Pape, Falstaff with Ambrogio Maestri, Ballo in Maschera with Marcelo Alvarez and Sondra Radvanovksy, in addition to performances of Macbeth and Oberto, Conte di Bonnifaccio. 

There will also be performances of La Scala di Seta (Rossini) and  Cuore di Cane (Raskatov). For more information, look on the Scala's official website.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Diana Damrau pregnant once again, cancels December Royal Opera debut

While Damrau has her newest child,
Lucic will likely get a new Daughter for next year's Rigoletto. 
Leading Soprano Diana Damrau announced today that she will be canceling her debut of Robert le Diable at the Royal Opera House this December due to... pregnancy. Yes Ms. Damrau is pregnant once more and has started making those announcements we all dread.

Assuming the child is born in January, this likely means that the Met will need to find a new soprano to premiere their new Rigoletto, but of more pressing concern (in my opinion) is whether she will take on Willy Decker's challenging Traviata production in April. Will Damrau make her Met debut as Verdi's tragic heroine? It seems to be a rather ambiguous point as it is completely possible that she may be ready to come back to the stage 2 months after giving birth, but it is also possible that she may need a break. If she chooses the latter, then we will unfortunately be unable to witness one of the world's great sopranos take on one of the great opera roles of all time. But on the flip side, congrats to Diana and her husband on their next child!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Met Opera Review: Pelly matches Mulvey with Manon

By David Salazar (For the 04.11.12)

In 1975, Laura Mulvey developed the feminist theory of the "Male Gaze" which purports that the audience is put into the perspective of the heterosexual male. Mulvey asserted that most classic Hollywood Cinema takes this stance and in doing so we get the ideas of voyeurism, fetishism, and objectification of women and women as an object of male pleasure are directly linked to the theory. Mulvey supported this notion by stating that the majority of filmmakers of the time were male and hence the voyeuristic gaze of the camera was male.

Interestingly enough, the same correlation could be made to opera. Predominantly male composers with a never ending list of suffering heroines that fall victims to male dominance. Puccini springs to mind in his own obsessive manner of bringing tremendous pain and suffering on his numerous heroines. And indeed Puccini himself wrote a certain opera entitled "Manon Lescaut" that succeeded a french opera on the same topic.

When writing "Manon Lescaut" Puccini famously claimed that he would do the opera differently than his predecessor Massanet and instead of "Powder and Minuets" his opera would be filled with Italian Passion and ardor. And while a great deal of the French operatic history has been marked by the pomposity and (to a certain extent) the superficiality of Grand Opera, it is really hard to number Massanet among those. Yes Manon is a story which centralizes on the superficiality of a young women and her eventual tragedy, but there is certainly more to say for Massanet's ability to bring slice of life moments into his work like few other composers.

Notable DVD and CD releases for the Month of April

This month we see the release of various DVD's from some of the greatest singers in the world and from the major opera houses.

Rossini: Le Comte Ory
Last season the Met assembled one of the finest cast to premiere Rossini's last comic opera Le Comte Ory. Juan Diego Florez astonished audiences around the world with his comic timing and his seductive power. Diana Damrau and Joyce Didonato, two of Florez's frequent collaborators added their charisma to create one of the most unforgettable nights. Maurizio Benini conducted an energetic rendition.

La Traviata Videos

The Met has just released videos of La Traviata with Natalie Dessay. Share your thoughts!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Met Opera Review: Machine passes first real test in Rheingold Revival

By David Salazar (For 04.07.12 performance)

For anyone who has followed my past reviews on Robert LePage's underwhelming (for some)/revolutionary (for Peter Gelb) production of Richard Wagner's magnus opus, you know that I am not particularly in love with the production. But now the real test comes for Mr. LePage: Can he get the entire cycle to work cohesively? Saturday night was the first time I actually enjoyed a LePage Ring staging. Yes the very person who stated of LePage's Gotterdammerung:  "A Wagnerian audience wants to be awed, but also treated like an intelligent one as well. LePage certainly doesn't care for the latter, though he certainly thinks he's succeeding in the former.   There isn't much here in the way of interpretation. What does the Ring mean to LePage? The production indicates that it was some nice pages from a coloring book and that the machine was his crayons. What of the profound themes permeating the Ring? You wouldn't think Wagner was a profound philosophical genius by just watching the production onstage," actually enjoyed a LePage Ring performance. 

I never published a review of the first Rheingold I saw, but at the time, I thought that for all the hype the production was rather bland and uninspired. The noise from the planks was a massive turnoff, the images weren't all that varied and the actors looked rather uncomfortable on the set and in their costumes. The production worked well enough, but it seemed more like a trial version that was still working out its kinks. This time around the drama seemed to flow a bit more seemlessly. The characters were more engaged with their environment, the coup d'theatre moments (the hanging Rheinmaidens, the descent into Niebelheim and the rainbow into Valhalla at the opera's climax) seemed to work more fluidly without any visible glitches, and the machine made almost no noise! That's right no audible creaks while the thing rotated into different positions. There was one instance in one of the planks banged the ground rather audibly, but otherwise the machine was seemless throughout. That is a HUGE achievement considering the machine's inopportune ability to make its audible presence felt during some of the Ring's greatest music. Oh and one last note, the machine had no perceptible breakdowns, slowdowns, malfunctions, etc. It worked. You can state that my new perception may be a result of lowered standards, but regardless, I enjoyed Rheingold well enough. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Hei-Kyung Hong to the Rescue

The Met’s press office: “Hei-Kyung Hong will sing the role of Violetta Valéry in Verdi’s La Traviata at tonight's performance, replacing Natalie Dessay, who is ill.” 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

La Traviata opens tomorrow

Natalie Dessay takes the lead role of Violetta in Willy Decker's iconic production of La Traviata. Dessay is joined by Matthew Polenzani who returns to his acclaimed portrayal and Dimitri Hvorostovsky. Fabio Luisi conducts Verdi's masterpiece.

For more information on the production check out our preview:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Das Rheingold opens tonight

The first installment of the Ring Cycle opens tonight and I will be attending. The production by Robert Lepage is led by Bryn Terfel, and Eric Owens.

The opera will be live streamed through the Met's Sirius and on the Met website. Please share your thoughts and comments. 

For more information on the Ring Cycle's production and cast you can read our reviews or previews:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

La Fanciulla del West on DVD

La Fancuilla del West will be released on DVD. The Cast includes Deborah Voigt, Marcello Giordani and Lucio Gallo. Nicola Luisotti conducts the revival of Giancarlo del Monaco's legendary production

Gelb talks about the future

In a recent interview for the New York times Peter Gelb has confirmed some of the rumors that have long been talked about.  Next years opening night Eugene Onegin with Mariusz Kwiecien and Anna Netrebko was confirmed and will be conducted by Valery Gergiev. Nina Stemme and Gary Lehman will headline Willy Decker's 2016 Tristan und Isolde and Marlis Peterson will reprise Lulu in William Kentridge's 2015-2016 production. To read the whole article click here.

Natalie Dessay cancels

Today at the final dress rehearsal of La traviata at the Met this morning (with invited audience) Hei-Kyung Hong sung Violetta, replacing Natalie Dessay, who canceled. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Il Trovatore on DVD

The Met production of Il Trovatore will be released on DVD. The Cast includes Marcelo Alvarez, Sondra Radvanovsky, Dolora Zajick, and Dimitri Hvorostovsky. The production by David McVicar is conducted by Marco Armiliato.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A comment on the MET HDs

 Despite my being extremely critical of Mr. Gelb at times, everyone knows that the one thing that I  admire about the guy is the way he revolutionized performing arts via the Live in HD program. It is definitely his greatest achievement as Met General Manager, and if this was it, it would solidify him as a major figure in the development of spreading opera as a business worldwide.

But as is the case with many of Gelb's actions/policies/programs, the HD still has a lot of growing up to do. Yesterday afternoon is a prime example that shows the lack of connection with the Met's audience. 

A few facts about yesterday's performance, which I will not grow tired of repeating time and again:

A. Juan Diego Florez, Diana Damrau, Mariusz Kwiecien. Do these names sound familiar? 
B. L'Elisir D'amore by Gaetano Donizetti? Anyone ever heard this opera?
C. Fan favorite production released on DVD a few years ago but has not obtained exposure in ages. 

How the combination of A, B, and C does not ring the words "MONEY" and "HISTORIC PERFORMANCE" in the ears of Mr. Gelb's HD committee (assuming he's not making these decisions in his office on his own) is unfathomable. It is possible that next year's new Elisir scared him away from doing two years of Elisir HDs in a row, but that argument is silly considering: