Claus Guth’s Cosi fan tutte

Researching Cosi fan tutte for my Opera News review next month…I love this contemporary version of “Ah, guarda, sorella” from the 2009 Salzburg production – conceived by Claus Guth.

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Metropolitan Opera Simulcast: Lucia di Lammermoor

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/26/arts/music/26lucia.html

The Metropolitan Opera presented the final performance of a run of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor for its March 19 HD simulcast  

Director Mary Zimmerman incorporated a ghostly apparition during Lucia’s aria, “Regnava nel silenzio” – not outlined in the score – but as a reference to the Walter Scott novel.  It was haunting and effective to see as Lucia tells the story of the ghost of Lammermoor.  Then in the final act, after Lucia’s demise, the specter is a pale Lucia (Natalie Dessay) who helps her grieving lover Edgardo to commit suicide. 

Overall the production was beautiful.  Dessay’s mad scene was riveting, but I found the rest of the stage action static.  Donizetti’s music doesn’t represent the emotion of the characters in a contemporary way.  For example, anger is expressed through refined, elegant music in the bel canto tradition.  (Lucia di Lammermoor premiered in 1835.) In that context, Zimmerman’s stage direction was suitable. 

Even still, the stage movement seemed unsatisfying at times.  I found myself wanting more.

More about Porgy and Bess

Opera is a music drama in which all dialogue is sung.  Gershwin used the operatic convention of recitative within his Porgy and Bess in order to forward the plot of the opera.  Bess’ brief aria  “What you want wid Bess?” is preceded by sung dialogue with her old boyfriend, the drug addict and murderer, Crown. 

This is one of the most expressive parts of the opera and certainly one of my favorite parts of Porgy and Bess.  Bess’ music is so sensuous and completely contradicts her text.  In this moment Bess is trying to convince Crown to leave her alone, but in the process Bess ultimately seduces him.

I heard the baritone in this clip – Gregg Baker – years ago, singing  Mozart’s Don Giovanni in Tulsa.

This Week at the Royal Opera House…

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/music/is-anna-nicole-smith-worthy-of-an-opera/article1910008/

Above is an article about the new opera Anna Nicole by composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and librettist Richard Thomas which premieres in London this week.  It’s surprising that such an esteemed baritone, Gerald Finley, would agree to be part of the cast and makes me wonder what the music is like.