Tuesday, May 23, 2017
On the assumption that Beethoven’s Fifth might be too heavy for the US President, the Filarmonica della Scala has changed next Friday’s programme to scoops of gelato . Andrew Powell has sent us this rundown: Puccini – Madama Butterfly: Act III Sunrise Rossini – Overture to L’italiana in Algeri Rossini – Overture to Guillaume Tell Verdi – La traviata: Act I Prelude Verdi – Overture to La forza del destino Mascagni – Cavalleria rusticana: Intermezzo
Paata Burchuladze in Don Carlo (C) 2017 ROH. Photograph by Catherine Ashmore Verdi wrote his five-act grand opera Don Carlos for Paris, where it was first performed in 1867. He later revised the opera for Italy as Don Carlo. He revised it further as a mixture of the French and Italian versions, sung in Italian, and it is this version from 1886 that The Royal Opera performs. One of the opera's most memorable scenes in Don Carlo is the confrontation between King Philip II of Spain and the Grand Inquisitor, ‘Son io dinanzi al Re?’ (Am I before the King?). It is a fine example of one of the distinctive features of 19th-century French grand opera: individuals caught up in the great sweep of history, subject to powerful forces beyond their control. In this scene, two particularly powerful forces confront each other: the state as embodied by King Philip; the Catholic Church by the Grand Inquisitor. Will the Church give way to the State, or must the State back down in the face of the Church? Which force really rules Spain? Where does it take place in the opera? The scene takes place in the fourth of the opera’s five acts. We have already been shown the competing elements that spark the drama between these two powerful men. We know that Philip II has married Elizabeth of Valois to seal a political alliance. But Philip’s son – Don Carlo of the title – and Elizabeth are in love. Don Carlo’s friend Posa urges the prince to challenge his father politically – while Philip thinks that Posa is a faithful adviser to the throne. By the time of this duet, we’ve seen that the story is fraught with personal conflicts and political power games, with Philip II caught in the middle of it all. Enter the Grand Inquisitor, who will demand not only that Philip execute his son, but that he also deliver up Posa to the hands of the Inquisition. What makes the music so memorable? The Grand Inquisitor makes only two appearances in the opera – although his music pervades throughout. In this highly charged duet, there is no sustained melody, rather a set of questions and answers, sometimes direct statements, each shifting musical direction to generate a constant air of unease: what is going to happen next? Both characters are sung by bass voices , and the instrumentation is often low and sonorous. So there is a weight and darkness in the music to match the mood, as the Inquisitor threatens the King under the pretence of it being God’s will. When the meeting is concluded, Philip has his answer: Posa will have to be sacrificed. A musical phrase for Philip heads right to the top of his vocal range and then plunges down a whole two octaves to the vocal depths to mark the chilling result: ‘Dunque il trono piegar dovrà sempre all’altare!’ (Then the throne will always have to give way to the altar!). A contrasting duet from Don Carlo Another duet from earlier in Don Carlo gives an idea of the extraordinary dramatic range Verdi explores in this opera. Midway through Act II there is Don Carlo and Posa’s ‘Dio che nell’almo infonde’ : an expression of enthusiastic brotherhood in the cause of justice. Instead of musical unpredictability to match a conversation of challenge, here there is a clear melody based on martial rhythms and fanfare-like phrases. Don Carlo and Posa both think the same so they both sing together; musically their vocal lines run in parallel. The words are honest and direct, no subtle subtexts worrying away in the words or in the music. This is popular hit of sorts, both heart-on-sleeve and rousing. So despite the fact that the two duets share significant features – both with male voices, both scenes that are vital to the story, and both memorable highlights of the whole opera – in purpose and in musical approach they could not be more different. Don Carlo runs 12–29 May 2017. Tickets are still available. The production is a co-production with Norwegian National Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, New York , is sponsored by Coutts and is staged with generous philanthropic support fromvAud Jebsen, The Taylor Family Foundation, Simon and Virginia Robertson, the Patrons of Covent Garden and The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund .
Last week´s Buenos Aires Philharmonic´s concert was outside the norm, for symphonic repertoire was left aside and the orchestra, under our seasoned operatic conductor Mario Perusso, accompanied the brilliant debut of German soprano Diana Damrau and her husband, French bass baritone Nicolas Testé. She has a splendid twenty-year career and is a rarity: a soprano of enormous range (strong lows, stratospheric perfect highs), histrionic at all times, equally convincing in drama and comedy. She was imaginative as Rossini´s Rosina, florid and light in Meyerbeer (so rarely heard here), dramatic as Gounod´s Juliet, heart-rending in Bellini´s mad scene from "I Puritani". Testé was a surprise for many; not as famous as his wife, he is certainly one the best bass baritones nowadays, with a firm beautiful voice capable of fine shading but also of stark drama: from the cunning of Basilio´s "La Calunnia" (Rossini), to the comic bravado of "Pif, paf" (Meyerbeer´s "The huguenots"), the noble line from the French version of Verdi´s "Don Carlos"(clumsily not announced), the intense aria from Antonio Gomes´ interesting "Salvator Rosa" and the sinister Alvise in Ponchielli´s "La Gioconda". As contained as his wife is adrenalic, nevertheless the two combined admirably in the closing "Bess, you is my woman now" (Gershwin). In the encores, Puccini arias from both and a lovely duet from Bernstein´s "West Side Story". Perusso and the orchestra shone in orchestral pieces of Rossini, Gounod, Saint-Saëns and Bernstein. For Buenos Aires Herald
Kristin Lewis and Bryan Hymel in Don Carlo (C) 2017 ROH. Photograph by Catherine Ashmore First things first. Act 5 of Don Carlos among the best operatic music ever written #rohdoncarlo — Ed Beveridge (@dredbeveridge) May 12, 2017 EKATERINA SEMEMCHUK'S CHEST VOICE #ROHDonCarlo — Tiffany (@SecondNorn) May 12, 2017 Schiller's source material was never closer to the surface than in this stunning revival of #rohdoncarlo . Thrilling ensembles and duets. — Nick Macrae (@violanick) May 12, 2017 Paata Burchuladze in Don Carlo (C) 2017 ROH. Photograph by Catherine Ashmore Is it just me or does Posa's lace collar rock? #rohdoncarlo — James Edwards (@waldorfbear) May 12, 2017 I love Don Carlo (actually I love Posa, but hey). One of my top favourite operas & a great cast tonight. Posa's death scene . #rohdoncarlo — Deborah Marson (@debmarson) May 12, 2017 Really liked my 1st #ROHDonCarlo : beautiful music and duets. Hymel and Pohl stood out with their powerful voices. Good sets. Looong — Eurydice Flore (@EurydiceFlore) May 14, 2017 Don Carlo (C) 2017 ROH. Photograph by Catherine Ashmore Great performances at #ROHDonCarlo tonight and stunning production. — Maria Thomas (@mariarthomas) May 12, 2017 #ROHDoncarlo Changes: the red "Lego" bricks now black, Christ has had a radical makeover & the offending extra noises in auto-da-fe reduced — Manuela Kleeman (@manou44) May 13, 2017 .@TheRoyalOpera @ROHchorus Sememchuk impressive actress and singer, Hymel better than I expected and Pohl died beautifully!#ROHDonCarlo — Sebastian (@Sebastian_G_A) May 12, 2017 Press reviews: Evening Standard ★★★★ Financial Times ★★★ Bachtrack ★★★ The Stage ★★★ Guardian ★★★ Telegraph ★★★ What did you think of Don Carlo? Share your thoughts via the comments below. Don Carlo runs until 29 May 2017. Tickets are still available. The production is staged with generous philanthropic support from Aud Jebsen, The Taylor Family Foundation, Simon and Virginia Robertson, the Patrons of Covent Garden and The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund.
Royal Opera House, London Nicholas Hytner’s production yields variable results as glorious singing and fine individual achievements don’t cohere into a satisfactory wholeSixteenth-century Spain resembles a prison or a madhouse in Nicholas Hytner’s Royal Opera production of Don Carlo, first seen in 2008, now on its third revival. Though it has its flaws, it reminds us of the innate bleakness of Verdi’s vision, with its irresolvable clashes between church and state, liberalism and oppression, politics and desire.Black walls with grilles hem the characters in on every side, even in the gardens of the San Yuste monastery, where Ekaterina Semenchuk’s Eboli entertains the court ladies with her veil song, and Ildar Abdrazakov’s Philip and Christoph Pohl’s Posa discuss atrocities in Flanders as the sky turns a bloody red. Continue reading...
Giuseppe Verdi (10 October 1813 - 27 January 1901) was an Italian Romantic composer, mainly of opera. He was one of the most influential composers of the 19th century. His works are frequently performed in opera houses throughout the world and, transcending the boundaries of the genre, some of his themes have long since taken root in popular culture - such as "La donna è mobile" from Rigoletto, "Va, pensiero" (The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) from Nabucco, "Libiamo ne' lieti calici" (The Drinking Song) from La traviata and the "Grand March" from Aida. Although his work was sometimes criticized for using a generally diatonic rather than a chromatic musical idiom and having a tendency toward melodrama, Verdis masterworks dominate the standard repertoire a century and a half after their composition.
Great composers of classical music