Here's one of Verdi's you may enjoy if you weren't able to watch the live broadcast.
Some Like It Hot.
19 August 2013 at 09:51 PM
Here in Canada, it's still available for free on Medici.
Emil Archambault |
19 August 2013 at 10:04 PM
I think that Don Carlo-Roberto Alagna (1996) - is the best, and "Lachrymose" with Alagna and Jose Van Dam is UNSURPASSED.
20 August 2013 at 09:55 AM
I can't say it's doing much for me thus far (end of Act II scene I). If anything, I feel it's rather ruthlessly exposing the limitations of all concerned, both as vocalists and actors. And conductors. There's a lack of musical focus unconnected with Stein's admirably hands-off approach which is letting the musical tension sag badly and slowly bleed off the edges of that preposterous stage (it's the shape it is because Herbie, in planning it in the late 1950s, wanted to make opera more "cinematic", to which end he decided on having an original CinemaScope aspect ratio of 1: 2.55, which even Fox, its inventors, abandoned in 1957 as too impractically wide, applied to the stage. It's well over 35m/110' wide, twice the width of even the Coliseum. Silly tit).
Kaufmann sounds middling rough to me, and is having trouble articulating the endless grupetti in his part (and, of course, NO trill at the end of "Io la vidi") and even seems to have brought his gawky golly-gosh assumption with him straight from the ROH, in which he doesn't so much act as semaphore. She, unhelpfully dressed in Act I as Mrs. Overall with a hat featuring a dog bowl surely acquired in the local Oxfam shop for all of €2, is both oversinging and visibly straining for effect. Hampson is simply too old for the part, both vocally and dramatically. Salminen looks right, sounds ropey. Semenchuk too blowsy and bosomy for the Veil song. And Pappano isn't so much leading as following, and that at a far too respectful distance, cautious and coolly contained.
So it isn't Stein's contribution I'm finding dull, I'm afraid. We'll see if it ever picks up (though I'm not hopeful: like everyone on here and out there of any length of experience, no-one has ever seen an Auto-da-fé scene that worked, and that's nobody's fault but Verdi's).
20 August 2013 at 10:43 AM
Interesting to read your comments. I always feel that with you the Emperor never has any clothes.
I watched it on Medici and thought Salminen did not even LOOK the part. He acts the same in everything he does, I thought it was Daland who had wandered in from Zurich. Salminen is Salminen and we have to face the fact that he is past it.
It is such a horrible opera, I had to give it up after 2 acts.
20 August 2013 at 01:02 PM
How could Salzburg fail to get its hands on Furlanetto? He doesn't seem to have anything in his diary in August, unless he's particularly protective of his summer holiday.
20 August 2013 at 01:29 PM
Marvellous to see this via the streaming - I would have been underwhelmed to pay Salzburg prices.
Stein's staging had his customary insights - such as Elisabeth catching sight of Carlo in the cloister. It is a scrupulously clean presentation of the action if without the energy of his wonderful WNO Falstaff and Otello all those years ago.
But is it the scale of the stage that sucks life out of the production - or the superficial conducting and performances on auto-pilot? Pappano seems to skate over the surface. There is more tension and passion in Don Carlo than this.
This used a much more intelligent version of the score than at the ROH. The opening of the second garden scene with the masqueraders worked wonderfully - though we lose the lovely orchestral preamble to the scene as a consequence. I can well do without the lachrymosa in the prison - I'm ready for the opera to hurtle onwards by that stage.
A thrilling opera, but not in this performance.
Paul Arrowsmith |
20 August 2013 at 03:17 PM
Tomorrow I am flying to Salzburg where I shall start this year's pilgrimage with "Don Carlo", at 22/8. So, Hariclea, I will resist the temptation to have a look. By the way, will you be there? If so, let's meet socialy. I will be wearing a lavender coloured evening dress.
20 August 2013 at 03:25 PM
I can assure you me and Intermezzo here are two very different ladies ;-)))) I am just an occasional commentator here, by no means the owner :-))
20 August 2013 at 03:56 PM
do you truly mean Don Carlo is a horrible opera? Surely not :-) I can't say any tension lacked in the ROH version i saw :-) Having said that maybe it got overused in this Wagner year, with a bit of the same people doing it over and over again instead of taking a well deserved summer vacation. It is an amazing opera which i love dearly, but i just feel this year there has been too much of it around, via radio, internet or live we've all been able to hear it 4-5 times, too much. It would have been better served done once and great, each cast had its weak points, etc.
I love both Wagner and Verdi, but this Saturday i could have thanked all saints for the refreshing pleasure of hearing Britten/ Billy Budd :-) Just too much of a good thing lately :-)
20 August 2013 at 04:04 PM
No, Alagna is not "the best Don Carlo", even not when he was young. He always looks and sings the same way, nothing happens with him.......
May be he is/ was a good singer, but his staging is not able to show what Carlo is suffering from..... and that is the main thema of the opera.
waltraud becker |
20 August 2013 at 06:32 PM
Frankly, it is a little foolish to state that Alagna's Don Carlos is "unsurpassed" and to even mention his name on a blog where everybody is convinced that only Kaufmann is worthy of such.
21 August 2013 at 12:58 AM
"But is it the scale of the stage that sucks life out of the production - or the superficial conducting and performances on auto-pilot?"
But they're not mutually exclusive propositions, are they?. That stage will always tend in the modern, post Gunther Schneider-Siemssen era - the one designer who could regularly work visual miracles there - both to overwhelm and undermine the material. But if the musical side of things is strong enough, all is usually well. Here, it simply isn't, and the reason the German press have declared this effectively DOA is not, as they seem to imagine, down to Peter Stein, but to the surprisingly subfusc, slack sense of musical purpose exhibited everywhere else in it.
Moral: however rapture-guaranteed a cast and conductor combo looks in theory, it's nothing of the kind in practice. Crap casts can amaze, dream ones disappoint (perhaps in relation to the level of general expectation, it is true, but often enough just plain absolutely).
21 August 2013 at 02:19 AM
"I will be wearing a lavender coloured evening dress."
Damn. That was my plan too. Back to La Westwood's......
21 August 2013 at 02:21 AM
" I always feel that with you the Emperor never has any clothes."
Given that the next Emperor I'll be seeing will be Johan Botha, he bloody well better have some or hundreds will die in the stampede for the exits....
21 August 2013 at 02:32 AM
I gave myself a cheap thrill and only watched/listened to the scenes between Carlo and Elisabetta. A cheap thrill because much as I love this opera, I was watching just for how handsome he is and how attractive she is and how romantic it all is. In a sad way, of course.
I like how touchable Harteros plays her in the first scene, and elsewhere. I agree that Kaufmann's voice is showing strain; he needs to take some time off. I didn't notice strain in her voice. I didn't dislike the stage so much as the horrible lighting. Apparently, European opera houses feel no obligation to change the lighting so the television/computer audience can see anything. On the other hand, we were lucky this time around because we could actually see the principals. Wasn't it last year that we suffered through another Don Carlo with mostly side lighting and barely visible principals?
Whatever the drawbacks, and I intend to watch the entire thing and see just how bad this auto-da-fe is, it's a treat to have this opera experience without needing to fly to another hemisphere.
21 August 2013 at 05:50 AM
I can not agree with You.
Any artist presents himself on the stage and therefore he seems the same. That's Jonas Kaufmann, he is the same always - dark, depressed as a rule. Fortunately Alagna has the different voice and for Carlo his voice just is very suffering, deeply lonely. Somebody named his Carlo alter spanish Hamlet, may be it's like that.
21 August 2013 at 06:18 AM
I think your lighting problem may be due to your computer settings. I saw it live and can assure you it was not dimly lit at any point.
inter mezzo |
21 August 2013 at 06:57 AM
SJT I really cannot understand how somebody can always be so negative and cynical. I think you must be quite an unhappy person though sometimes some of your remarks do make me laugh. I have read a lot of the German critics (in German) which you perhaps don't understand, as well as the Telegraph and the Financial Times and over all the reviews with some exceptions were very good as was the public's reaction. But probably they are all idiots in your eyes. Almost all praised it as the best alround performance of this Salzburg season and particularly Pappano and the Viennese Orchestra. But maybe you generally don't approve of the Salzburg Festival.
21 August 2013 at 10:03 AM
Sorry, Kaufmann is not always depressiv. Do You remember Maurizio or Cavaradossi first act or Nina and so on. Depressiv roles have to be presented depressiv! we will have Dick Johnson in Vienna, lets see, what Kaufmann will do there...
waltraud becker |
21 August 2013 at 03:56 PM
The purply pinks seem to be order of the day - or is it pinky-purple? I so agree with SJT about the horrible travelling dress and hat Harteros wore in Act 1- I just looked up ‘heliotrope’ but it isn’t quite that either......... - what a relief when she began to unbutton by that pathetic fire. No wonder Kaufmann seemed to be getting the giggles at times - possibly not just acting. I was a bit worried that he was about to play to the audience at one point in their first scene together. He didn’t seem to like his short jacket much either, and tugged it down at one point (with Rodrigo I think) - not really in character!
I have only managed to see the first act and last scene of this Don Carlo - and a few five or ten minute excerpts, including of Fillippo’s ‘ella giammai m’amo’, so can’t say much with any justification. But the production seemed to be all on one level - with little variation of flat bright lighting - very boring. Jurgen Rose’s Munich production was certainly dim, but the greys and slate and dark blue worked beautifully in the theatre, and seemed to echo the claustrophobia of the action. ( It also pointed up the extravagant colour and luxury of the religious procession before the auto da fe. ) Having seen that production, and the ROH one recently, nothing effaces for me Rene Pape’s heart-rending ‘ella giammai m’amo’ - such power and vulnerability and superb control and colour. There was a double bed on the set, and the king was in night-gown and bedsocks: so poignant and human. Rene Pape is Fillippo for me - knocks the socks off the others (sorry....)
This Salzburg production seems to be big on textile, and low on directorial imagination - looks like a cheap story-book. However, i am interested to read the posts about the dimensions of the stage there, having never been. And the pauses for the scene-changes - why, why, why? The impetus was completely lost. I too could have done without the woodcutters at the start. From what I have seen so far, Kaufmann and Harteros were performing in an opera of their own making, quite above and apart from everyone and everything else on stage. Heaven knows they know it well enough together by now. Kaufmann’s last expression of ecstatic insanity as he was dragged into the tomb was unnerving - I wonder if it was his idea or Stein’s?
Am looking forward (mostly) to seeing the rest of it.
21 August 2013 at 04:08 PM
First, never try to patronise a professional: "which perhaps you don't understand". I can and do. Next, don't try half-arsed sub-Freudian cheap-shots at another poster's views simply because they don't tally with yours: "you must be quite an unhappy person": or I might just feel obliged to break my own rule and surmise on that basis that you are an idiot. I don't follow critical consensus in anything, ever, and never have, not because I wish to be different but ultimately because I don't care what anybody else thinks: that's their business, not mine. So if you don't like what I have to say, just jog on, and spare everybody the junior-school analysis.
21 August 2013 at 10:39 PM
Well of course the cerise coat and pale green dress and the whimsical hat are all supposed to convey the freedom Elisabetta has as a girl and in the lively French court, versus the all-black or nearly so wardrobe of her stifling married life in the Spanish court. They don't exactly look period to our eyes, but that kind of hat was actually worn then, possibly not in such an early 20th century manner, though. Harteros is too stately a lady to wear a hat tilted dashingly as if it might just fall off.
Kaufmann's last expression was nutso, for sure. I'll have to watch the whole thing to see if he builds up to that; he seems normal enough in the love scenes. (Are we allowed to call them that in opera?)
22 August 2013 at 04:13 PM
I find 'ecstatic insanity' a much better description of what I saw onscreen (thanks village diva) than nutso.
I think, just coming off the 'we'll meet again in heaven when we're dead' ecstasy and assuming that he'd be going to Flanders to honor dead Rodrigo--to be then faced with Papa and GI--yes I think he just cracks and maybe thinks he's going directly to heaven to wait for Elisabetta.
As to whose idea--I always thought it looked a little odd that DC simply marched into the tomb with CarloV in the Munich production with a similar ending. So maybe this was Stein & Kaufmann working together.
It really worked for me!
22 August 2013 at 06:45 PM
The slightly nutso expression worked for me - in fact I'd go as far as to say that slightly deranged/relieved expression rescued that ending because the 'Carlo disappearing into the vault' ending I normally have problems with. And the body language reflected the initial incident with Carlo and his grandfather at the vault. But the ROH production ending worked better for me.
And yes, they're definitely love scenes - even if they're slightly off kilter one's :)
22 August 2013 at 07:21 PM
The problem as usual stems from the material. Schiller's play ends - unhelpfully for a five-act French Grand Opera - with the lovers being caught in flagrante and Philip icily saying to the Inquisitor "I have done my duty. Now you do yours." Curtain.
In trying to cook up something, anything, to provide a more obviously dramatic final tableau, Verdi and the librettists went through agonies. But every time the "ghost" of Carlos V was in some way invoked to paper over the anti-climax, Verdi would profess incomprehension. Even after all the endless post-Paris tinkerings were over, he admitted that he had never, not once, had the faintest idea what was going on at the end of his own opera, and never felt it made any sense whichever way it was altered. And alas, it shows, not least in the recourse to that last refuge of the compositional scoundrel, throwing in a fat high B for the soprano to cover up the mayhem going on little enough of which actually involves her directly (and out of which a certain Spanish soprano of my acquaintance made an entire opera all to itself, entitled "Elisabetta di Valois")
23 August 2013 at 01:56 AM
The idea of this production was to keep it as much as possible to the times in which this "historical" play
is set by Schiller. Schiller being a poet took always the liberty of changing the real facts, but the main protagonists are historical. Annamaria Heinrich, the costume designer went especially to the Prado and Escorial to look at paintings of Velasquez and other artists of that time to look at the fashion in detail. It took one year to design and make these dresses and I think they were all absolutely lovely.
Reply to Sheila
I liked the first and only coloured dress and thought it was very becoming and made a lovely change to the afterwards all black for everybody which had to be worn by order of Philip who would not tolerate any other colour. It was, however, completely different at the French court, hence the colourful dress in the first act.
Reply to Fragende Frau
I also think that DCs last expression was rapture to leave this unhappy live and see his loved ones in
another world (heaven) in which the people of that age strongly believed.
23 August 2013 at 01:57 PM
I always find it fascinating that any post that includes Jonas Kaufmann or Anna Netrebko gets so many, many comments. It's the mark of their star power, even though mostly we have been discussing costumes, sets, the last scene, etc. I can't think of anybody else in the opera world right now who is so interesting. And from being a neglected opera pre-1950, Don Carlo is being played on many, many stages in the coming year. I'm actually kind of full up on it right now. It's so sad I can't keep watching it day in and day out.
23 August 2013 at 02:43 PM
I’ve got loads of other things to do, and I have been trying to let go of this, but have failed.
That Coat and Hat! Lianne, thanks for your comments about the costume designer. I would expect any designer to go back to sources and paintings for information and inspiration. In this case it’s distressing that so much research, time, expertise and expense went into making a magnificent human-being look like a frump.
Elisabetta’s costume may indeed be historically accurate, but the opera stage isn’t a costume museum, or Madame Tussauds. Shouldn’t a costume serve the aliveness of the work and character? Which may mean precise references, but with some flair and flexibility. It seems this Elisabetta has been sacrificed to sartorial pedantry.
Clever Hat, though, to stay on when she lay back on the forest floor. Two more nights to go - maybe Carlo could seductively unpin it and fling it into the forest........ there must be a few bars of music which could allow for that......... Tebaldo could retrieve it. Or not.
PS. I have just checked Classical Iconoclast - he called the outfit ‘truly hideous’, and said that he groaned when he saw it. I salute him.......
24 August 2013 at 02:01 PM
Most people don't like or wear cerise and celadon green in combination; the colors flatter different complexion types. Cerise in particular can be a very harsh contrast with a woman's complexion, turning it blue and making her look older. Meanwhile, celadon usually only looks right on pale blondes. So I am baffled by the mix of the colors. Is opening her coat and revealing a demure green mean to signify her virginity and her sexual surrender? But she has black hair. Why would she ever wear a pale green gown?
The hat is not terrible, but to a non-hat-wearing audience, it does look odd. Together with the coat, it reminds me of the "smoking" outfit, with hat, that Alfred "borrows" in Die Fledermaus.
24 August 2013 at 05:06 PM
24 August 2013 at 08:05 PM
Or indeed what she reminded me of most:
25 August 2013 at 01:00 AM
Well, not sure one can draw such a sweeping conclusion about star power based only on the number of comments on this blog. Yes, Kaufmann is very popular on Intermezzo, but Kaufmann gets many more headings here than any other artist, so this blog has become a bit of a Kaufmann fan club, let's face it. Singers about whom there are few posts will elicit fewer comments, obviously. A survey of other blogs may present you with a somewhat different picture: though the top 10 biggest stars will probably be the same everywhere, you may find less of a fixation on one artist and less rejection or indifference for all the others.
As for Netrebko, she attracts much less attention than Kaufmann here. Actually, she gets less attention than Gheorghiu, who is the champion of hateful comments on this blog (though things have evolved lately, it would seem). Maybe this is a mark of Gheorghiu's star power too...
25 August 2013 at 01:12 PM
I have now found the literally missing link:
25 August 2013 at 06:08 PM
...commentus interruptus SJT?
25 August 2013 at 06:38 PM
So much carping about one outfit. Sorry I LIKED it. And so too what I have seen and heard of the production so far.
mark rochester |
26 August 2013 at 09:25 AM
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daddy I want a harpsichord