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Capriccio at the Opéra National de ParisAlain Duault
What a happy idea Stéphane Lissner had for his first season in reprising the last (and necessarily melancholy) production by Hugues Gall a little more than 10 years ago, when he left the Paris Opera:there is an implicit homage, and the sign of a desire for continuity in excellence.For the excellence is there, in the prodigious staging by Robert Carsen, perhaps one of his most successful:in this setting, which is an elegant mise en abyme of the Opéra Garnier, the...
Otello sinks into mediocrityXavier Pujol
Bad singing and worse staging. Otello, Verdi’s masterpiece with a libretto by Arrigo Boito – another masterpiece – and based on Shakespeare’s masterpiece, sank clumsily in its return to Liceu’s stage, after 10 years of absence. It isn’t easy to ruin three masterpieces, but in this occasion it was achieved. Locating the opera in a refugee camp, besides resulting awkwardly fashionable, alters seriously the relationship and the balance...
Tosca at the Royal Opera House, Covent GardenSam Smith
Based on Victorien Sardou’s 1887 French-language play, Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca of 1900 not only occurs in a specific time and place, but on a precise date that can be linked to an historical event. All of the action takes place during the afternoon, evening and early morning of 17 and 18 June 1800, following the Battle of Marengo between Napoleon’s army and Austrian forces. The Austrians were initially triumphant and sent news of victory back to Rome, but the...
Lucia di Lammermoor at Liceu: Florez, a “Di Bella Morte” tenorXavier Pujol
The main attraction of this Lucia di Lammermoor presented at Liceu, with 14 performances lasting until after Christmas, was the world’s debut of Juan Diego Flórez as Edgardo, one of the greatest bel canto roles, which the celebrated Peruvian tenor had not yet tackled. Nowadays, this opera is considered a “soprano opera”, but it has not always been this way. Since its premiere in 1835, with the great Gilbert Duprez in the main male character, and until the...
Prokofiev's Fiery Angel at the Bayerische StaatsoperHelmut Pitsch
Sergei Prokofiev was very fond of the story when he first red the novel of Valeri Brjussow and found some autobiographical parallels with his own life, relations and philosophical orientation. His inner conflict between rationalism and Christian belief, reality and surrealism, love and affection, demon and obsession. He started the composition during his exile years in Paris and Ettal, Germany. After the unsuccessful first presentation, he composed a second version, which he was not able...
Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci at the Royal Opera House, C...Sam Smith
Although Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci are entirely separate operas, they are so frequently performed together that ‘Cav and Pag’ is now a standard phrase in the operatic world. Written only two years apart, in 1890 and 1892 respectively, their short running times mean they can comfortably fit into one evening, while both tell stories of love, betrayal, jealousy and murder. Many directors ensure that the same...