There's no word about Harteros's one remaining booking, 11 May, yet, but "acute tonsillitis" is not something that clears quickly. Could we have unwittingly seen her last ever Covent Garden performance already?
Jonas Kaufmann wasn't ill; Anja Harteros turned up. Given that she'd marked half her lines at the general rehearsal earlier in the week (every singer's prerogative of course, but rare here) I had wondered. If success is defined as exceeding expectations, then the opening night of this third revival was a winner even before a note was sung.
"Lianna’s recent roles include Desdemona in Otello for Opéra-Bastille in Paris, Leonora in Il trovatore in Marseille, Amelia in Simon Boccanegra in Lille, Mimì in La bohème for the Grand Théâtre in Tours and Amelia in Un ballo in maschera at the Stadttheater in Bern and the Grand Théâtre in Tours. Her roles during the 2012–13 season include Elena (I vespri siciliani) at the Megaron Concert Hall, Athens; and Vitellia (La clemenza di Tito) for Opéra de Marseille."
The Berlin Staatsoper's season was supposed to launch last Saturday with Anja Harteros, a full orchestra, and a long-sold-out evening of Italian operatic arias.
On Friday afternoon, the Staatsoper sent out a curt press release - the concert was cancelled due to illness.
Sounds simple, doesn't it? Not so. In fact, it proved a massive headache for Staatsoper staff, as well as a major disappointment for ticket holders, many of whom came from overseas. Volker Blech of the Berliner Morgenpost sets out the details. A fascinating glimpse at how many problems one little sick note can create:
The Bavarian State Opera in Munich announced their 2011-12 season at a press conference this morning. A novelty worth imitating - a live chat feature on their website allowed Intendant Klaus Bachler and Music Director Kent Nagano to answer audience questions as well.
The heart of the season is a new Ring cycle directed by Andreas Kriegenburg and conducted by Nagano. This begins in February 2012 and culminates in two full cycles during the annual Festival in July. Excellent casting includes Klaus Florian Vogt as Siegmund, Anja Kampe as Sieglinde, Johan Reuter and Juha Uusitalo as Wotan, Lance Ryan as Siegfried, Wolfgang Koch as Alberich and Nina Stemme as Brünnhilde.
There are just two additional premieres. The first is Les Contes d'Hoffmann conducted by Constantinos Carydis and directed by Richard Jones. Rolando Villazón takes the title role and Diana Damrau all the female leads. According to the Munich website, this is an ENO co-production. though who knows if and when. And La Fura dels Baus produce a new Turandot with Jennifer Wilson as Turandot and Marco Berti as Calaf.
The rest of the season is not new, but it's strongly cast - though it has to be admitted some of the productions are showing their age. Jürgen Rose's plain but serviceable Don Carlo is revived under the baton of Asher Fisch, with a starry cast including Jonas Kaufmann, René Pape, Mariusz Kwiecien and Anja Harteros.
Vesselina Kasarova joins Anna Netrebko in I Capuleti e i Montecchi. Konwitschny's dodgy 'spin-class' Der fliegende Holländer reappears with Anja Kampe as Senta and Klaus Florian Vogt as Erik. The annual Gruberova-fest showcases the ageless diva in Christof Loy's Roberto Devereux, with Joseph Calleja in the title role. And to round things off there's La Cenerentola with Joyce DiDonato.
There were two Lohengrins in Bavaria on Sunday. I was at the other one. I had time to take in only the first act of the new Bayreuth one (sounded pretty good) on the radio before setting off for another look at Munich's version. I didn't care much for the production itself last year. Richard Jones's silly lego house and class conflict twaddle was if anything even more irritating second time round. It can't help the performers when the audience are tittering away at inappropriate moments, but when Lohengrin arrives with a nodding swan tucked under his arm, or kills Telramund with a wave of his arm, what can you expect?
La Bohème - Bayerische Staatsoper, Nationaltheater, Munich, 30 December 2009
Otto Schenk's Munich Bohème, which recently celebrated its fortieth birthday, proves that a traditional production if thoughtfully crafted needn't have a sell-by date. From a glance at the photos, it doesn't look that different from Covent Garden's slightly younger yet markedly more tired effort. What sets it apart are the details. It's sensitive to the emotional temperature of the music, attentive to the text, and doesn't indulge in gratuitous additions. Nobody just stands there and barks out their lines across the stage. When Rodolfo and Mimi fall in love, they move closer together. When she's in bed dying, his arm supports her.
What is particularly successful is that even on the packed stage of the second act, the eye is unerringly directed towards the action. Not earth-shattering stuff but it takes great skill. A novice could follow the action without understanding the words or knowing the plot. The production illustrates the story, which is the one and only selling point of the traditional style. Otherwise it's just a concert performance with a twee backdrop. Mentioning no names.
Under Asher Fisch the orchestra were sleekly assured. Not the most detailed or dramatically exhilarating performance I've ever heard, but a beautifully balanced and mature reading.
This particular run is outstandingly well-cast, and there were some superb performances. All were slow to find their voices - we had to wait until the third act for Anja Harteros's wobbles to settle and her sweet and touching Mimi to blossom. I could forgive a little shoutiness from Levente Molnár's big-hearted joy of a Marcello, and Musetta's petulant charm was captured perfectly in the beautiful silvery soprano of Elena Tsallagova, a name to watch out for. But Massimo Giordano's Rodolfo stole the show, a reminder that the real tragedy in La Bohème is not Mimi's death, but Rodolfo's loss. Giordano's grief radiated across the auditorium - I wonder if anyone managed to stem a tear.