It's been a while since I dipped into Die Oper kocht. But one particular dish has been calling my name ever since I bought the treasure trove of operatic recipes.
The instructions for Rene Pape's Sächsischer Sauerbraten mit Klößen und Rotkraut (boiled beef Saxon-style with dumplings and red cabbage) don't quite hang together, I couldn't track down the main ingredients, and I don't like dumplings. But, unlike most folk not brought up on the stuff, I actually like boiled beef and cabbage. Must be something to do with school dinners.
Faust - Royal Opera House, 18 September 2011 (first night)
looking for a John Tomlinson impersonator?
Despite some outstanding performances from a top-drawer cast, this second revival of David McVicar's Faustsomehow fails to hit the mark. Part of the blame is of course Gounod's - never afraid to cut a flowing story dead in its tracks with a crowd-pleasing ballet or drinking song.
What has a deep, dark, chocolately blend of sweetness and bitterness with a fruity finish? Not just the voice of Rene Pape, but the special cake baked in his honour by the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo.
To mark Rene Pape's long-awaited return to the Royal Opera House, in Faust, I'd hoped to tackle his Sauerbraten recipe from Die Oper kocht. The difficulties in getting hold of Tafelspitz, proper buttermilk and - most importantly - Soßenkuchen in London have put paid to that idea for a while.
So instead here's the chocolate and caramel cake devised by the pastry chef of the Imperial Hotel. It was originally sold only when Kenneth Branagh's Magic Flute film (in which Rene played Sarastro) was released in Japan in 2007. Pape himself loved the cake, so when he returned to Japan May 2011 for the Met tour, the recipe was dug out again, and named the Rene cake.
On the last night of Don Carlo, he bought the cake for the rest of the cast:
Want to know how Rene Pape spent his last summer hols? Starring in a movie, that's how. Of course der Superbass is already a screen veteran, having been the only thing worth watching in Kenneth Branagh's excruciating Magic Flute a few years ago.
Now he plays the Hermit in a new film version of Der Freischütz, shot last year and shortly to be released under the title Hunter's Bride.
The film promises a treat for lovers of 'realistic' opera. Set during the Napoleonic wars, the publicity shots suggest neither corsetry nor cavalry have been scrimped on. The cast is rounded out with an unbeatable group of singing actors - Juliane Banse as Agathe, Michael König as Max, Michael Volle as Kaspar and Olaf Bär as Kilian. And while they were singing on the battlefields of Saxony, Daniel Harding conducted the LSO at Abbey Road.
The Dresden premiere on 4 September promises to be a special event. Instead of herding a gaggle of micro-slebs into a cinema, the movie will be shown on the banks of the Elbe, open air and open to all, with just a few prime spots held back for sale at €15 each. It goes on general release in Germany later this year, but there's no word as yet about the UK (where, to be fair, Der Freischütz has never exactly taken off).