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Carmen at Les Chorégies d'Orange... for Don Jonas Kaufmann

Alain Duault

Carmen in Orange is a classic!Here people have applauded some of the greatest, particularly Béatrice Uria Monzon who provided thrills for audiences on three occasions at the Théâtre Antique.But this time, Carmen was forgotten, and the 9,000 or so spectators had eyes (and ears!) only for Jonas Kaufmann’s Don José. Not that Kate Aldrich is a poor Carmen:she is beautiful and has a certain noblesse (almost too much, sometimes evoking...

Otello at the Teatro alla Scala

Raffaele Mellace

With the exception of a single charity performance for the victims of the Franco-Prussian War back in 1870, Rossini’s Otello had been missing from La Scala for over 150 years, since January 1863, when the composer was still alive: an astonishing record for Rossini’s historically most popular opera seria, along with Semiramide. Its comeback was meant to be quite an event – and it actually turned out to be one. The opera house had summoned a remarkable set of singers:...

Arabella at the Munich summer Festival

Ilana Walder-Biesanz

The dominating image in Andreas Dresen’s staging of Arabella for the Bayerische Staatsoper is stairs. Giant staircases grace the stage in all three acts, and important events usually involve dramatic ascensions or descensions. This suits the plot, where both relationships and fortunes suffer ups and downs. The Waldner family is looking to refill their empty coffers through a wealthy match for their beautiful daughter Arabella. She has no shortage of suitors, but she...

Falstaff at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Sam Smith

Verdi’s final opera Falstaff premiered in 1893 as the composer was approaching his eightieth birthday. With the exception of the ill-fated Un giorno di regno, it is the only comedy that he ever wrote, but its obvious hilarity should not detract from its musical and emotional intelligence. It almost requires more skill to write a piece that maintains a cracking pace throughout, and hence sees recitative and aria virtually merge into one, than it does to compose the most soulful,...

Pelléas and Mélisande in Pieces at the Munich summer Festival

Ilana 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...

I Capuleti e i Montecchi at the Opernhaus Zürich

Helmut Pitsch

It is starting soft and intimate, transparent, and the melodic intonation is kept in chamber music alike. There is no oversteering of volume or emotional outflow in the conducting of Fabio Luisi, musical director of the Zurich Opera House. Everything is said about the tragedy and melancholic fate of the plot, the heroic fight for love and the sweet moments of hope and confidence. The scenic interpretation of the overture seems to be a three dimensional overflow on the fast turning...

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