Archive for May, 2009

Domingo Scores!

Posted in Reviews with tags on May 28, 2009 by figarosi

My comments in about Placido Domingo and the new Cyrano de Bergerac in Paris

Haneke rising

Posted in News on May 26, 2009 by figarosi

After his Don Giovanni at the Paris Opera in 2006, Michael Haneke’s recent movie won the “Palme d’or” a few days ago at Cannes and he will stage a Cosi fan Tutte at Gerard Mortier’s Teatro Real in Madrid in February 2012.

Dessay on the wild side.

Posted in Random Comment on May 26, 2009 by figarosi

After news from our blogger colleague at Opera Chic about Netrebko wandering from the straight and narrow classical path, we read in the local Toulouse press that soprano Natalie Dessay and her husband, baritone Laurent Naouri, both have made public their future forays into popular music.
She is working on an evening of the songs of Michel Legrand, to be staged in Toulouse by no less than Laurent Pelly (a friend and colleague who directs her first Traviata in Sante Fe, New Mexico.) Both husband and wife will sing a program of Michel Legrand (her for the first time with microphone) on the 28th and 29th at the same local theater.
Naouri will stray also. His life-long interest in jazz has him singing with his “dream trio” of drummer Matthieu Chazarenc, bass Mathias Allamane and, at piano, Manuel Rocheman. Cole Porter will be the centerpiece. He will be back in Toulouse in December at the irrepressable Baron de Gondremark in Offenbach’s “La Vie parisienne” (also by Pelly).
Regarding the Traviata in Santa Fe, Dessay lets drop that the production will also be seen in Aix, Vienna, New York and “probably” Paris. Another thing she mentioned is Elvira in “I Puritani” (again Pelly) in Paris and New York, the year not specified. She will make her theater debut in Thomas Bernhard’s “L’ignorant et le fou” to be staged by Alfredo Arias in Paris next year.
You can watch a teaser for a program on France2 TV on June 2nd which has Dessay and Legrand doing a duet, a brief bit with Naouri and Dessay again doing Legrand.

Manchester Wins!

Posted in Random Comment on May 26, 2009 by figarosi

While the weekend visit to Manchester, May 9 and 10, was an excuse to see family and friends, it was also a time to, by accident, witness a new level of achievement for their Hallé Orchestra, which happens to be the oldest in England. Wagner’s Götterdämmerung was done over two nights and the orchestra, working on this “project” since January, delivered a masterful reading under their music director, Sir Mark Elder (“Sir” since 2008).
Opera in Manchester has always been a rough ride. As John Allison, editor of Opera Magazine pointed out, it is the largest metropolitan area in Europe without its own resident opera company. The latest proposal – for the Royal Opera to visit regularly – is on life-support and about to be unplugged. The hardscrabble Northern industrial town, world renowned for soccer, is less well known for the dainty lyric arts. Odd, since one of the early conductors of the orchestra (1899-1911) was the great Hans Richter, who conducted Seigfried’s Funeral March with the Hallé in 1877, only a year after the debut.
This Götterdämmerung was world class by any standard. The orchestra is skilled and involved and every section, particularly the brass, distinguished itself during the undertaking. Edler has a good feeling for the Wagnerian pallet and was alternately tender and powerful but never trapped into bombast (a frequent problem with conductors.)
He was working with singers that any house would envy; outstanding was Katarina Dalayman as Brünnhilde. At the top of today’s Wagnerian sopranos, she delivered the final scene with a power, elegance and grandeur which left the audience numb and cheering. Her fellow Swede, Lars Cleveman, replaced Ben Heppner as Siegried only weeks before the concert, and, while not with the same vocal size, was totally convincing and also an audience favorite. Special mention is deserved by the really scary and strong Hagen of Korean bass Attila Jun. Another plus was a fine Alberich from Andrew Shore and good support from Peter Colman-Wright as Gunther and Nancy Gustafson as Gutrune. There was no weak link with the supporting cast. Another exciting contribution was the choral forces assembled; four choirs were listed in the program, numbering well over 100, and raised mighty sounds during the choral scenes. The modern and acoustically pleasing Bridgewater Hall was the scene of this triumph and has been the home of the Halle since 1996. It is not surprising that, only a few days after the applause finally died down, the board announced the extension of Sir Mark’s tenure until 2015.
How Manchester United does in the championship game tomorrow in Rome is another story.

Yet another one…

Posted in Awards on May 26, 2009 by figarosi

In yet another in a series of awards to the young dynamo, in a ceremony at the Semperoper in Dresden, conductor Gustavo Dudamel was presented with the Dresden Music Festival Prize on May 23. It was awarded the same day as his concert with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in a program of Prokoviev, Chavez and Grieg. The prize has been given since 2004 and past reciepients have included conductor Kurt Mazur, choreographer John Neumeier, violinist Gidon Kremer und mezzo Christa Ludwig

Susan Neves

Posted in Random Comment on May 24, 2009 by figarosi

On TV Saturday night was a production of Cav-Pag from Genoa. I watched with grim determination this small-town effort. The Cav was set in some desert for unknown reasons. Suddenly, a voice had me sitting straight. Susan Neves, a larger size soprano, had both the heft and color for Santuzza. It was a performance of one of the most gifted sopranos of our time. If she had a career a generation earlier she would have been a huge star in New York, Paris and London. She was a terrific Abigaille in “Nabucco” when I saw her last in Paris almost a decade ago but she has not been invited back. It is some hint of what we lost with the recent emphasis on theater in opera.

Manuel Legris

Posted in News on May 23, 2009 by figarosi


Manuel Legris, star of the Paris Opera Ballet, made his final company appearance on May 15 with a performance of John Cranko’s Eugene Onegin at the Palais Garnier. He will head the Ballet of the Vienna State Opera in October of the next year.
It was an emotional evening with a great number of fans of the star, the last of the great dancers discovered and engaged by Rudolph Nureyev during his time in Paris. The performance was preceded by a “Défilé du Ballet” of all the dancers and students at the Paris Opera Ballet.
A product of the ballet school, he was made a principal dancer at 16 and “Danseur Etoile” in 1986. Among many other honors, he was awarded the Legion d’honneur by the French government.