Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Turandot cancelled tonight

The Met has canceled Turandot tonight but will continue tomorrow night with The Tempest. For more information click here.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy forces the Met to Cancel performance

The Metropolitan Opera will cancel tomorrow nights performance of Le Nozze di Figaro due to Hurricane Sandy. The Met will be refunding or exchanging tickets for ticket holders. For more information click here.  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Le Nozze di Figaro opens Tomorrow!

Tomorrow Jonathon Miller's hit production returns to the Met in Mozart classic masterpiece Le Nozze di Figaro. Ildar Abdrazakov leads an all star cast that also includes Mojca Erdmann, Christine Schaefer, Gerald Finley, and Maija Kovalevska. Maestro David Robertson leads the Met Orchestra.

For more information on Le Nozze di Figaro check out our preview linked here.
For more on Mojca Erdmann read our Don Giovanni review.
For more on Ildar Abdrazakov read our Anna Bolena Review.
For more on Mozart read our La Clemenza di Tito and Don Giovanni previews. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Tempest opens tomorrow

The Metropolitan Opera premiere of The Tempest opens tomorrow starring Simon Keenlyside. Isabel Leonard, Alek Shrader and Audrey Luna join the all star cast led by Thomas Ades in the podium in Robert Lepage new production. 

For more information view our preview linked here.
For more information on Isabel Leonard view our barber of Seville review.
For more on Robert Lepage view our Gotterdammerung, Siegfried and Rheingold reviews  

Nixon in China to be released

John Adams: "Nixon in China" [Blu-ray/DVD] [cover]Nonesuch has just announced the release of the Met's Nixon in China. The opera which stars James Maddalena, Kathleen Kim and is conducted by John Adams will be released on November 19th. To pre-order go to Nonesuch records. It will be released in DVD Blu-ray combo.

The complete 2013-2014 Met operas (These are Rumors)

Last we revealed the HDs on my post Rumor article and today  Parterre has revealed the complete 2013-2014 Met Opera season which includes some of the casts and all the new productions. 

As it stands there will only be 6 new productions as I Puritani will be a revival. There is no soprano attached to the role. Other mystery casting is Wozzeck which was rumored to include Karita Mattila and Thomas Hampson but at the moment nothing is confirmed. And a surprise is that L'Elisir d'Amore will be revived with Netrebko and Ramon Vargas. Enjoy the list!

The Tempest Preview 2012-2013

Simon Keenlyside leads an outstanding cast in Thomas Ades contemporary work in a new production by Ring director Robert Lepage.

The Production
The Tempest makes its New York Premiere at the Metropolitan Opera House on October 23. The opera which was composed by living composer Thomas Ades was first staged at the Royal Opera House. It later received a premiere in the US at the Santa Fe Opera and then was premiered in Canada in the Robert Lepage production that will now come to the Met. Lepage who made his debut in 2008 in La Damnation de Faust has been repeatedly accused of playing with his productions to create visuals and never really focusing on the text nor the story. For example his Ring cycle at the Met became one of the most polarizing productions to date as many criticized the lack of inventiveness in the production. Critics stated that it was a bunch of repetitive projections, none of which really exhibit technological advance that is leaps and bounds ahead of more traditional theatrical tricks? Where were the flashy images that would make us feel truly immersed in the environment created by these expensive, heavy, and even dangerous planks? Were a bunch of zebra stripes between scene changes because lack of imagination the most abstract LePage could come up with? Not to mention the different combinations of imagines portraying wood. Or all that running water time and again. Where were the plethora of shapes that these planks would form as previewed by the original Ring trailer? Was a spinning wheel really all it could come up with? For all the critiques, Lepage has obtained another chance with the Met. For his new production, he has decided to bring the action to the 18th century inside the original La Scala theater. He stated that La Scala was a magical place in the 18th century and because the opera is magical, he thought it would be interesting to subvert the action within the theater. The production premiered this past summer in Quebec where critics were mixed about it as they complained that production simply isolates the audience with its effects. Certain elements that bothered included Prospero overhearing Miranda and Ferdinand in a prompters box and Ariel manipulating a clunky spotlight. They also did not like the whole concept as it took away from the magic of Shakespeare's play. However on a good note they stated that the opening storm was inventive. Usually after first runs directors look back at their missteps and try and fix them as they did with Gotterdammerung and even Tosca. Working with a new cast Lepage will most likely find new territory  to cover that could make his vision more understandable and hopefully enjoyable. The Tempest marks Lepage fourth HD transmission

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Met Opera Review: "Otello's Drama Never Unfolds with Disastrous Conducting and Subpar Cast"

  In this Friday, Oct. 5 2012 photo, Renee Fleming performs as Desdemona during the final dress rehearsal of Guiseppe Verdi's "Otello" at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)  By Francisco Salazar
(For the October 16, 2012 performance)

It's been four years since they presented Otello at the Met, Verdi's penultimate opera. The opera known for it's daunting title role is rarely performed due to the lack of tenors singing the role in the world. On this night the originally scheduled Johan Botha cancelled due to illness. In came Avgust Amonov, a Russian tenor who made his Met debut on the previous Saturday the 13th. Amonov proved to be a mixed bag. He took a little while to warm up in the role as was seen with his entrance Esultate  which sounded tentative, lacked the volume and when he was forced to hit the daunting B natural; Amonov held the note too long and eventually screamed the end of it. This was no heroic entrance. Then came his second entrance in which he must restore order after the chaos that Cassio has formed. The character should be angry and should be the main focus of the scene. But Amonov lacked any imposing force. Amonov's Abbado le spade was once again tentative and was hard to understand or hear as he was upstage. At the end of the first act Amonov sang some tender lines during his act one duet with his Desdemona. Here he shared some tender exchanges with Renee Fleming. He sang some ringing pianissmi when the un bacio moment that made you feel that he was really in love. However it was a shame that the orchestra did not build that moment (more on that later). The second act proved a disappointment after such a solid duet. Amonov's Ora per sempre was a rushed mishmash. Then came his duet with Jago which is supposed to a climax demonstrating Otello's rage and swearing Vengeance against Desdemona's infidelity. I could have been fooled as Amonov showed no such anger. His singing was pretty but it seemed that he was not really invested in this act. His acting was relegated to standing around or sitting at his desk. The third act brought a complete turnaround. He sang his duet with Desdemona with fury and command. One felt that he was on the verge of madness. It was shame that Ms. Fleming was not exacting on par with him or else the scene would have been perfect. Then came his Dio mi Potevi which was sung with incredible phrases. Amonov had brought the tragic qualities of Otello bringing frailty as he sang his B flat in a ringing pianissimo and then anger at the end with a powerful O Gioa. And at the end of the act three Amonov had finally come into the part as he was completely believable in a defining mad scene. If only he would have kept that same energy going in the fourth act. As Amonov attempted to kill Desdemona, Fleming brought herself to Amonov and basically asked him to kill her. It was not genuine and lacked any tension. Then there was the Niun mi tema Otello's final aria. Amonov sang for the most part with conviction but by this time it was hard to believe his suffering. All in all Amonov may have these stiff moments due the lack of rehearsal time with his cast mates. If he does sing the last two performances there will be more room for improvement.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Met Opera Review: "Splendid Cast Salvages Routine Staging"

(For October 12, 2012 performance)

For years, Il Trovatore was absent from the Met repertoire due to poor productions. But over the last few years, the opera has been one of the Met’s most popular repertory staples. The David McVicar production was inaugurated on February 16, 2009 to rave reviews. Critics clamored over how the production maintained the steady pace of this fast moving melodrama. But the greatest praise that McVicar received was for finally giving the Met an appropriate Trovatore Production.

Three years later, the appeal is still there, but it has certainly faded. Gone is the energy that had carried it through its first season. Back then, the sets were vibrant with mood and tone. Now their minimalism looks dull and bland. The one scene that still packs a punch is the gypsy encampment at the start of Act 2. The activity of the famous Anvil Chorus and the bright colors add stark contrast to the muted and gray colors of the other scenes. Obviously Trovatore is a dark drama and an appropriate palette is necessary, but many of the sets feel tacked on and unfinished. Act one’s castle is passable if only because the soldiers and narration of Ferrando help the cause. But the second scene which sets up the main conflict between Di Luna and Manrico for Leonora’s love is bare and lacking in any dynamism. The rotating set does help speed up the proceedings, but does not necessarily enlighten or refresh them.

It is completely unfair to blame McVicar’s sets for the routine vibe that the set gave off last Friday. Trovatore is undoubtedly a hard sing for all those involved, but stage director Paula Williams was either rushed to direct anything or ultimately had no ideas and was disinterested in the material. When there was some staged action it lacked authenticity and felt tacked on. It would immediately be easy to blame the actors, but I don’t honestly believe it was their fault. The direction seemed disinterested and lacked the energy of the drama unfolding onstage

Monday, October 15, 2012

Notable DVD and CD releases for the month of October

The month of October sees the release of many new DVDs and CDs including two Toscas and more early Verdi to celebrate his 199th birthday.

A second DVD of Un Giorno di Regno is released with a cast that includes Anna Caterina Antonacci, Bruno 
Practico, Paolo Coni, and Cecilia Gasdia.The production from 1997 is directed by Pier Luigi Pizzi and conudcted by Maurizio Benini.   

Friday, October 12, 2012

Botha cancels!

After a suffering from allergies on opening night Johan Botha has decided to cancel the next performance of Otello. The Met Press ofice released the following: Avgust Amonov will make his Met debut in the title role of tomorrow evening’s performance of Verdi’sOtello, replacing Johan Botha, who is ill.

James Levine Returns

Yesterday the Met released a statement that James Levine will return to the Met podium. He will return May 19 to lead the Met orchestra in the final Carnegie Hall concert. Gelb also confirmed that he will conduct Cosi Fan Tutte, Wozzeck and the new production of Faust.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Verdi

Happy 199th birthday to Giuseppe Verdi!

In celebration we want to know which is your favorite Verdi opera and which is your favorite aria. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Otello Opens Tomorrow

Johan Botha and Renee Fleming return to Otello conducted by Semyon Byhkov. Faulk Struckmann and Michael Fabiano makes his role debut as Cassio.

For more information read our Preview linked here.
For more information on Renee Fleming click here on our Rodelinda preview. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Met Rumors 2013-2014

Courtesy of La Cieca from Parterre, here are the HD operas rumored to be scheduled for the 2013-2014 season.

There are seven new productions scheduled of which Two Boys by Nicol Muhly is rumored to not be HD material. A projected new staging of I puritani will almost certainly not happen, with Natalie Dessay presumably relieved of all further bel canto duties, and the men in the cast—Lawrence Brownlee, Mariusz Kwiecien and Michele Pertusi—rolled over into other projects in spring 2014.

 Here are new productions scehduled:

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Otello Preview 2012-2013

Johan Botha and Renee Fleming reprise their roles in Elijah Moshensky's production of Otello. Jose Cura and Thomas Hampson take on the second run.

The Production
The elegant 1994 production by Elijah Moshinsky returns for its final run. Moshinsky who made his Met debut in 1980 directing Un Ballo in Maschera first mounted this Otello in honor of Placido Domingo's 25th anniversary with the Met. The production was sung by him in the late 90s and then was taken over by other lesser known Otellos who lacked the same vigor that Domingo had. As for the production, it has the same lavish grandeur of a Zeffirelli production. The sets are made up of huge marble pillars, and mythic paintings. There is a huge plaza at the end of the third act and a huge bedroom at the end of the fourth act. It is in all sense the monumental production one expects from Otello. Nevertheless critics have complained about Moshinksy lack of direction and his placement of the chorus, and overwhelming sets. They have also complained about the first scene which they say looks like a construction sight rather than a dock and a castle. Regardless of all the complaints it is a production that presents the action without any superficiality and dumb concepts. It will be the second time this production is recorded and the first live in HD transmission for it.

Met Opera Review: The Elixir is a dose of Charmless Mediocrity

By Francisco Salazar
(For the October 5, 2012 Performance)

When one goes to see Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore, audiences expect laughs, fun and to feel good. On this evening the opposite was seen. There were occasional laughs stirred by Donizetti and Felice Romani's incredible text and a few by Bartlett Sher's uninspired direction. And of course there were the final routine curtain call applause.

What the evening lacked was a real show stopping moment. Instead what was seen were singers who moved around without any direction upstage and downstage and lots of "parking and barking," the term that refers to standing around. There was also uninspired singing and languid playing by the orchestra. Not to mention the production felt as if it was 20 years old.

Bartlett Sher's new production of L'Elisir is beautiful on the outside but ugly and messy on the inside. Sher's production opened the season of September 24 to mixed reviews as it replaced John Copley's colorful production. I had seen the dress rehearsal on 20th and while I wasn't thrilled I still had high hopes.

Sher's production is based on both the works of Oliver Messel from the 50s and the original design of the opera from 1840. He brings an arid and old fashion look to the work. It recalls the traditional sets of legendary directors Otto Schenk, Franco Zeffirelli and Del Monaco.  When the curtain opens, there is a nice village elaborately set up with trees, houses, tables and beautiful costumes. It looks as if this production will be played straight out with its usual comic flair. Except it starts to fall apart the moment Sher infuses his ideas of the Risorgimento (a time period when the political and social movement that agglomerated different states of the Italian peninsula into the single state of Italy in the 19th century). Sher introduces Belcore, Seargent of the regiment,  and his soldiers as aggressive and violent. Belcore will do anything to get the love of Adina, even throwing her to the ground and even dueling with her.