Sunday, September 30, 2012

Met Opera Review: Rachvelishvili and Lee give fresh new life to Eyre's production

By Francisco Salazar
In this Sept. 22, 2012 photo provided by the Metropolitan Opera, Anita Rachvelishvili performs in the title role in Bizet's "Carmen," during a rehearsal at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Photo: Metropolitan Opera, Ken Howard / AP
(For the September 28, 2012 performance)

The Met revived Carmen on Friday night in an unforgettable fusion of cast and production.

Richard Eyre’s production is one of the better ones to premiere during the Gelb era. The curtain is a black one with one red stripe through it. This red stripe opens up during the first and third acts to reveal ballet dancers that simulate the passion and intensity of Carmen and Jose’s romance. In the opera’s prelude the dance is set against the dark and fateful music, emphasizing the destruction of the main heroine while in the third act, the ballet is set against the tender intermezzo that serves as the cinematic equivalent of montage to show the brief beauty of the romance between Carmen and Jose.

Carmen, like Mozart’s Don Giovanni, is a tragic-comedy. The opera premiered at the Opera Comique and in a sick way (like Don Giovanni) has a happy ending in which the main character, also an anti-hero of sorts, dies. Whereas the happy ending celebrates the death of the Don in Mozart’s masterwork, the “happy” ending in Carmen celebrates the heroine’s independence and liberty until the very end of her days. Even Bizet is content to delight in this double personality of his work. The prelude starts off with the gallant toreador’s march before being taken over by the aforementioned fateful theme. During Act 3, Carmen sings a fateful lament upon reading the fateful hand of cards she has been dealt while Frasquita and Mercedes sing a joyful theme. This same technique is employed in possibly the most incredible display of dramatic counterpoint in the final act when Jose kills Carmen while the crowd cheers Escamillo’s goring of the bull.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Guanqun Yu makes her Met debut earlier!

The Met has just announced that: Guanqun Yu will make her Met debut as Leonora in Verdi’s Il Trovatore on September 29 matinee, replacing Carmen Giannattasio who is ill.”

Il Trovatore opens tomorrow!

The Celebrated soprano Carmen Giannattasio makes her long awaited Met debut in the role of Leonora in Verdi's Il Trovatore. Veteran mezzo Dolora Zajick returns to her signature role as Azucena, Gwyn Hughes Jones sings the title role of Manrico and Franco Vassallo sings the Count. Danielle Callegari conducts the acclaimed David McVicar production. 

For more information on Il Trovatore check out our preview linked here.
To find out more about Il Trovatore DVD click here.
To find out more on Carmen Giannattasio click here.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Polenzani opens the New Year in Maria Stuarda

The Met has just announced that Francesco Meli will no longer sing the role of Leicester in Maria Stuarda. Matthew Polenzani who just opened the season in L'Elisir d'Amore will take over every single performance joining Joyce Didonato.

Official press center: “Matthew Polenzani will sing the role of Leicester in all performances of the Met’s new production of Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda this season, replacing Francesco Meli, who has withdrawn the role from his repertoire.”

Anna Netrebko's La Boheme to be released on DVD!

The Salzburg production of La Boheme will be released this November by Deutsche Grammphon. The production stars Anna Netrebko, Piotr Beczala, Nino Machaidze and Massimo Cavalleti and is conducted by Danielle Gatti. The production was by Damiano Michielleto

Carmen Opens Tomorrow!

Anita Rachvelishvili reprises the role of Carmen with a a rising star cast that includes Yonghoon Lee, Kate Royal, and Kyle Ketelson. Michele Mariotti conducts Richard Eyre's striking production.

For more information check our preview here 
For more information on Yonghoon Lee click on our review of Nabucco.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

More opening night Pictures!

The Met has just released new pictures from opening night! Check pictures of Anna Netrebko, Renee Fleming, Matthew Polenzani, Deborah Voigt, Carmen Giannattasio, Janai Brugger, Michael Mayer, Mariusz Kwiecien, Isabel Leonard, Alec Schrader and Placido Domingo.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Guess who graced the Red Carpet?

Last night the Met opened its 2012-2013 season and the celebrities came out to walk the carpet. Among them included Patrick Stewart, Martha Stewart, Maggie Grace, Lee Pace and Zac Posen. Even some of Opera's most talented came out icluding Renee Fleming, Deborah Voigt (She hosted), Maria Guleghina, Placido Domingo, Isabel Leonard, Lissette Oropesa and of course Anna Netrebko and her husband Erwin Schrott.

Here are couple of selections:

Turandot opens Tomorrow!

Maria Guleghina takes on Puccini's icy Princess in Franco Zeffirelli's lush production. Hibla Gerzmava, James Morris and Marco Berti round out the cast and Dan Ettinger conducts.

For more information on Turandot read our Preview linked here
For more information on Maria Guleghina read our Nabucco review and Nabucco Preview

Monday, September 24, 2012

Turandot Preview 2012-2013 Season

Maria Guleghina and Irene Theorin share the title role of the Icy Princess in Puccini's unfinished masterpiece.

The Production
Franco Zeffirelli's critically abhorred production returns to the Met. Ever since the Met premiered the Zeffirelli production critics have complained for his excess and for the grand scale. They have stated that the big sets take away from the action and do not let the singers shine through. Nevertheless the production has been one of the audiences favorites as the sets are rich with detail bringing the audience to the world where the action takes place. The costumes are also striking and with great actors such as this years cast, the characters are easily brought to life without any distractions. Peter Gelb has stated in various interviews that there are no plans of changing the set and I applaud him for it. Zeffirelli's Turandot is a spectacle that is is easily one of the Met's finest productions to date.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

LElisir D'Amore opens tomorrow

The Met opens its 2012-2013 tomorrow with a beautiful new production of L'Elisir d'Amore starring Diva Anna Netrebko and Matthew Polenzani. Maurizio Benini conducts the new production by Bartlet Sher.

For more information on the production view our preview linked here
For reactions on the rehearsal click here
For pictures of the production click here 
For videos of the production click here
For more L'Elisir information check last year's review and preview

Friday, September 21, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

L'Elisir D'amore rehearsal Reactions

Just got back from this mornings L'Elisir d'Amore rehearsal. Here are our impressions

I would like to preface this article by stating that this is not intended to be a review but simply a reaction to the dress rehearsal I was present for of the Met's new production of Gaetano Donizetti's "L'Elisir D'Amore." I refrain from considering this a review for a number of reasons. First off, I will make many comments on the singers (which were all excellent) because this was a rehearsal and they were not singing at an hour optimal to their voices. As such I will focus mainly on addressing my reaction to Bartlett Sher's new production which will open the season this coming Monday September 24. But bear in mind that since this is a rehearsal any comments I make on what I saw may very well be altered or changed by the time Monday rolls around.

As stated by General Manager Peter Gelb, "L'Elisir" represents the first time in his now seven year tenure as manager that the reputable opera company opens with a comedy. An exquisite "Madama Butterfly," a strong "Lucia Di Lamermoor," a gala dedicated to singer Renee Fleming, "Tosca," a unique new production of "Das Rheingold," and "Anna Bolena" were the opening nights of the Gelb period. All of these nights showcased dramatic works that in some ways emphasized the splendor of opera.
But now comes a comedy, an everyman's story of a shy lover who wants THE girl in town but she plays to hard to get. The story plays out like everyone's favorite romantic comedy, but with delightful music. It should be a fun night at the opera with the right singers and production. Continue reading 

Anna Netrebko's new Repertoire

In a  recent interview with the Wall Street Journal Anna Netrebko has revealed that she will be dropping the INA roles and adding new heavier roles. In those plans she is singing Eugene Onegin for next years opening night at the Met, Manon Lescaut in Munch in 2014, Lenora in Il Trovatore in Berlin in 2014 and Elsa in Lohengrin in 2016.  She also said that Lady Macbeth will also happen as well as the rarely heard Giovanna d'Arco. Norma is also rumored for 2016 at the ROH.

Sadly Anna has stated that there will be no Madama Butterfly, Suor Angelica, Desdemona or Maria in Simon Boccanegra. She will be retiring Gilda, Julietta and Manon.

Tell us what you think about this new turn. Here is the link to the article

Monday, September 17, 2012

L'Elisir D'Amore Preview 2012-2013 Season

Anna Netrebko leads the cast in Bartlett Sher's new L'Elisir d'Amore

The Production
Last year when the Met announced that they were doing a new production to the L'Elisir d'Amore I was ecstatic that they would finally get rid of the 1991 John Copley production. I have never been a fan of the colorful and cheerful sets nor the clumsy and hokey costumes. However after seeing it with a cast with the likes of Juan Diego Florez, Diana Damrau, Mariusz Kwiecien and Alessandro Corbelli, I had realized that it wasn't the production that bored me, it was the lack of energy that was produced on stage. After April's performances of the work, I was sad that I would never see this production or such cast again. Additionally I was upset that the Met had not made an HD for it. Therefore when the programs for the new season arrived I was honestly not thrilled by the casting or the decision of a new production to open the season. Originally the season was supposed to open with a new production of Eugene Onegin but was moved to 2013-2014. The 2013-2014 season was supposed to open with a new production of La Boheme but was cancelled after the Tosca fiasco in 2009. As a result Gelb had to come up with a quick change and what he decided was a new L'Elisir since he already disliked the current production. Bartlet Sher who has been great with comedy in his two Met productions of Le Comte Ory and Il Barbiere di Siviglia was hired. For his concept, Sher decided to research, Donizetti's old sketches to see what the original intention was. as a result for the new production he has decided to use backdrops and John Copley style flats. Based on the pictures of the production, it looks like a combination of the Vienna Schenk production and the Copley production using brown for most of his sets and vibrant colors for his costumes. This will most likely be good as it will bring in all the traditional minded folks into the house and there will be no boos on opening night. However the question that comes into play is where does Peter Gelb's revolutionary modo come into play if this new production looks and breathes the same air as the older generation productions Gelb is trying to get rid of. While I think I will enjoy this production I have a feeling I will be disappointed by the casting and by the safeness. However I may be wrong.
This production will be part of the HD transmission.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Siegfried premieres tonight on PBS

The third installment of the Ring cycle premieres on PBS. The cast includes Jay Hunter Morris, Bryn Terfel, Eric Owens and Deborah Voigt. Fabio conducts Robert Lepage's enthralling production.

For more information read our review linked here. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Die Walkure premieres tonight on PBS

The second installment of the Ring Cycle premieres tonight. Two years ago I named this performance the best of HD of 2011 and it is truly an incredible performance with an all star cast that includes Deborah Voigt, Bryn Terfel, Jonas Kaufmann, Stephanie Blythe, Eva-Maria Westbroek, and Hans-Peter Konig. James Levine Conducts this exciting new ring.

For information read our review.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Enchanted Island to be released

The cover art to "The Enchanted Island" has finally been released. The DVD will be released this fall under Virgin Classics. The opera stars Danielle de Niese, Joyce Didonato, David Daniels, Placido Domingo, and Luca Pisaroni.   

Das Rheingold premieres on PBS!

After last nights preview with Wagner's Dream, tonight is the start of the Met's controversial new production of the Ring. Das Rheingold will air on PBS at 8pm. The opera stars Bryn Terfel, Stephanie Blythe, Eric Owens and Richard Croft. It is conducted by James Levine.

For more on the production read our Review.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Notable CD and DVD releases for the month of September

This month a variety of repertoire will be released on DVD and CD. 

The first of the releases is La Didone conducted by William Christie leading his esteemed group Les Arts Florissants. Anna Bonitatibus, Kresimir Spicer, Xavier Sabata lead the cast in Cavalli's early gem from the theatre de Caen. Opus Arte releases. 

Wagner's Dream premieres on PBS tonight

The documentary about the making of Robert Lepage's ring premieres tonight kicking off the one week long Ring Marathon. The film will air on PBS followed by tomorrow's presentation of Das Rhiengold.

Here is our review of the movie.

Friday, September 7, 2012

L'Elisir d'Amore in Costumes

The Met has just released another picture and this time Anna Netrebko, Matthew Polenzani and Mariusz Kwiecien are in Costume. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

More Met pictures

The Met released more pictures today and I have a feeling there will lots to come as the season opening comes closer. The following show more L'Elisir d'Amore and more backstage of Turandot and Il Trovatore.

Il Postino on DVD

It looks like Sony has finally decided to release Il Postino from the LA opera. The opera by Daniel Catan stars legendary Placido Domingo and Charles Castronuvo as well as Christina Gallardo Domas and Nancy Fabiola Herrea. No news on the release date.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Met Previews New Season

The Mety has released of Anna Netrebko, Matthew Polenzani, Michele Mariotti, Thomas Ades, Donald Palumbo and Anita Rachvelishvili rehearsing Carmen, The Tempest, Le Nozze di Figaro and L'Elisir d'Amore

Salvatore Licitra died a year ago

Today, last year Salvatore Licitra died and we take today to remember his legacy and his amazing singing.

Here is a clip from his memorable Tosa

Monday, September 3, 2012

Anna Netrebko surprises Fans

As the Met gears up for their new season, they are showing past HDS outside the Met in Lincoln Center Plaza. Tonight at the Anna Bolena showing, Anna Netrebko made a surprise appearance on the Met plaza greeting fans and inviting them to see the new production of L'Elisir D'amore. She said that was excited not die in an opera and that the production terrific. More on the production coming soon.

Foto: Anna Netrebko greeting crowd at showing of "Anna Bolena", the last night of Met Summer HD Festival

Anna Netrebko Opera singer Anna Netrebko attends MET Opera Summer HD Festival Closing Night at Lincoln Center on September 3, 2012 in New York City.
A video is featured on the Met's Facebook page linked here.

Il Trovatore Preview 2012-2013 Season

David McVicar's crowd pleasing Trovatore returns with a cast of up and coming stars which include Gwyn Hughes-Jones, Carmen Giannattasio and Alexey Markov

The Production
For years the Met had suffered from terrible productions of Il Trovatore from Fabrizio Melano and Grahm Vick. They were unable to tell the story that has become known for its complicated plot and its complex characters. In 2009, 6 years after the last Trovatore had been shown, the Met unvealed a new production by David McVicar and quickly became a critic and audience darling. The production has only missed one season and has been easily cast. Set in the Spanish Civil War, McVicar's sets uses a rotating turntable to easily move the action forward. The backdrops draw inspiration from “The Disasters of War,” Goya’s series of etchings and give the production a consistent and harrowing look. Having seen the production twice I was absolutely convinced the first time by its direction, and its imagery. As critics stated I believed the Trovatore "curse was broken." However the second time I was bored as the sets looked like drab and ultimately failed to provide any new insight. I don't know if it was because the cast was nothing special or because the production is ultimately a one shot deal. However what I do know is no matter how good a production is, the cast is ultimately what matters when it comes to this opera.