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Toutes ses chroniques . 15
Farewells with Der RosenkavalierIlana Walder-Biesanz
Der Rosenkavalier is an opera about the passing of time and the need to let go. It’s a particularly appropriate, then, that the current Metropolitan Opera production marks goodbyes for two singers. Superstar soprano Renée Fleming is leaving the opera stage (though she will continue to perform in concerts and on Broadway), while mezzo-soprano Elina Garança has announced her intention to give up trouser roles (including, of course, Octavian). Elina will be very much...
The Met makes a strong case for Alfano’s CyranoIlana Walder-Biesanz
Operas are frequently derided for their weak plots. Many are based on melodramatic plays or novels that were once popular but have failed to stand the test of time. Franco Alfano’s Cyrano de Bergerac is a welcome exception. Alfano’s opera lacks musical originality, but it has both depth of emotion and great respect for Rostand’s theatrical masterpiece. It helps that Henri Cain’s libretto is more or less a shortened version of the play. While speeches and...
Music conquers all in the Met’s DutchmanIlana Walder-Biesanz
All Wagner should sound this glorious. Der Fliegende Holländer is the work of a young Wagner still finding his distinctive voice and style. But it has the (rare) merit of brevity, which allows the best performers to attack it with unstinting energy. At the Metropolitan Opera, under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, it is taut and thrilling music drama. From the first moments, the brass section played with an energy that swept me away. Nézet-Séguin...
An extraordinary Norma in SalzburgIlana Walder-Biesanz
Cecilia Bartoli is not the type of singer modern audiences are used to hearing as Norma. La Scintilla isn’t the sort of orchestra we’re used to, either, and the Biondi/Minasi edition of the score used for this production includes surprises even for experienced Bellini aficionados. It’s daring to re-interpret the music of such a popular opera, but this project has clearly been painstakingly researched and carefully put together. In the hands of a superbly talented cast and...
A dramatic evening with Plácido Domingo and friendsIlana Walder-Biesanz
Plácido Domingo’s long reign as operatic royalty shows no sign of ending. In a concert celebrating forty years at the Salzburg Festival, he and his friends wowed an appreciative crowd with a well-chosen and expressively delivered program. Especially for a concert performance, the drama received an unusual amount of attention. The show opened with an atmospheric, icy prologue from the second act of Giordano’s Siberia, played by the fabulous Munich Radio Orchestra. The...
Pelléas and Mélisande in Pieces at the Munich summer FestivalIlana Walder-Biesanz
Claude Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande is an opera of disconnections. Mélisande’s first words are, ‘Ne me touchez pas!’ -- ‘Do not touch me!’ And, indeed, she (and everyone else) remains isolated. Not only physical contact, but emotional and intellectual contact seem impossible throughout the opera. Characters fail to understand their own emotions and fail to communicate what little they do understand. They constantly...