Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Gift From the Opera National de Paris

Those who follow the articles of my blog may recall that Poteet Theatre recently went to Germany to present their award-winning production of John and Jen. The crew of the show as well as the administrative officers of our theatre had a marvelous time in the Rheinland, and when they departed from thence they allowed themselves the additonal luxury of vacationing in Paris, France, for some time. Asking my opinion of which was the best opera house in Paris, I told my dear friend Mr. Prock that I thought the best was the Paris National Opera, so he made it a priority to visit the Palais Garnier to procure some token for me. When he saw this magnificent edifice that serves to glorify opera, he told me that his first emotion was to weep because it was so incredibly beautiful. He also related that he thought the Met was the most gorgeous opera house that he had ever had the pleasure to see, but he said that Opera National de Paris "blew the Met out of the water," if I may quote his phrase. In beauty of their respective venues, I should agree with him, but I must assert that the Met has the luxury of the better casts in its advantage.

The gift he gave me was a program of Charles Gounod's Mireille, which apparently had its premeire run at the company earlier this season. I was overjoyed at the thickness of the program, for this indicates that there is more to peruse and discover, but I was rather taken aback by the advertisement that appeared on the inside cover of the booklet which depicts a model presenting some perfume only lacking an essential part of her raiment. Mr. Prock assured me that his stay in France was pervaded by much of the same imagery, which, I suppose, reveals something as to their lax state of morals in the region around the Loire. Mr. Prock, though he did pay homage to the aforementioned opera house, the Eiffel Tower, and several restaurants, would not visit the Louvre museum, the Musee de l'homme, made forever infamous by the international incident concerning orthodontist Jack Cuozzo of which few know, the Bibliotheque National de France, the Champs Elysees, and other places that I should have visited on such a journey as he had. Another disappointment that I had with the party was that the only food of which they partook was crepes. I should have liked to hear them tell of all of the fabulous French cuisine they tried while they were there and could enjoy it within the best location for that variety of comestible. I think that all of you know by now that I watch far too many travel programs and would invariably add great unecessary expense to my budget in departing to another locale.

In other news in opera, Opera News' website reveals that tenor Roberto Alagna and soprano Angela Gheorghiu are attempting to obtain a divorce. The breaking news alert also indicates that the couple, who have long been billed as opera's dream couple, have been separated from each other for these past two years, which means that during the run of Puccini's La Rondine at the Met last season they must have already assumed that state, but they were still agreeable with each other then. It is alleged that their impending divorce is the reason that Gheorghiu has withdrawn from most of her performances in the Met's current season's new production of Bizet's Carmen for the fact that Alagna is singing Don Jose. Is this actually the case, or is the media making more of this than they ought? I am leaning towards the latter opinion.

Thank you all for your continued visit of my posts.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Something New from Cecilia Bartoli

Cecilia Bartoli released her latest offering on Tuesday, the twentieth of October, entitled Sacrificium. As with the latest three albums she has released, those being Maria, La Sonnambula, and Opera Proibita, this disc has a premise behind it, which is the story of the lives of the castrati. Personally, I do not have any desire, not even a remote one, to explore that legacy, but I will probably buy the album just to hear the eleven world-premiere recordings of arias on it.

Bartoli is returning to what many believe suits her best, and that is the music of the Baroque period. Of course, knowing her delivery of coloratura to be what it is, one cannot help but to assume that the operas of the Bel Canto style are better presented for her involvement, a fact proven by her and Juan Diego Florez's Decca release of La Sonnambula last year. Indeed, I should have liked to see a company capitalize on that recording and turn it into a vehicle for the two singers, and I beleive it could have been done in Europe quite easily, for, though American companies are skeptical to make that sort of dramatic shift in a work, European ones are not averse to such idiosyncracies.

It also bears mentioning that my younger brother, whom I have not mentioned prior to now, is going to see the Star Wars: Live in Concert arena spectacular tonight at our local arena. I read an article in our local newspaper about it, and it promises to be a memorable occasion for the devoted follower of the saga.

I shall also mention that I heard a broadcast of Verdi's La Traviata, which some may call my favorite opera, and I must admit that I much prefer the Met's 2004 broadcast of it with Renee Fleming, Ramon Vargas, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and Rosalind Elias, which I possess, to this one. This broadcast was from the San Francisco Opera, and it starred Anna Netrebko amongst other people whose names presently escape me. The tenor was not someone with whom I am familiar, but I do recall his name from the Met's season brochure, so I know he is beyond the regional level of performers. Netrebko did not sound terrible, but, as I may have before related to you, I am just not a great fan of Netrebko's. For those who inquire as to my right to have a bias, I proclaim that I own her Sempre Libera recording, and I do return to its music on occasion, but her run in Verdi's jewel from his canon of operas is not one of her best roles in my opinion. My particular reason for distaste of her performance of this role is that her voice simply does not seem to have any volume, any body to it. I am looking forward to her performance in Les Contes d'Hoffmann later in the present Met season to see if I enjoy it, and I think that I shall.

It also begs reference that I bought a Sansa Clip mp3 player, but the reason that I purchased it was that it records directly from FM radio, so I can record all of the Met's broadcasts and transfer them to CD-R's. Speaking of the Met's broadcasts, my readers may find it interesting to learn that both Rossini's Armida and Berg's Lulu, starring Renee Fleming and Anne Sofie von Otter, respectively, will be broadcast this season. We are also offered a classic broadcast starring Eleanor Steber. I long to hear these classic broadcasts to compare my opinions to those contained in Mr. Paul Jackson's volume entitled Start-Up at the New Met: The Metropolitan Opera Broadcasts 1964-1974. I like to think that I can hear all of the subtleties he describes, and sometimes I do.

Thank you for reading my posts, and may God continue to bless you.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Is This A Joke?

I read on the Opera Tattler blog that Los Angeles Opera and San Francisco Opera are both holding sales of costumes from their costume shops in anticipation of the Halloween season. Those of us who want to dress up for our parties as the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto now have the opportunity to do so because they are liquidating 2,500 costumes from their collection. Is it safe to assume that both of these institutions are attempting to earn some extra revenue when it is in short supply for arts companies? Common sense dictates that my answer be yes since the only logical alternative response is that the companies are benevolent to commoners and have an excess of costumes, and that is not a very plausible explanation. The costumes available are mainly things worn by chorus members, but for the collector who has extra capital to spend since these will likely sell for a good amount considering the information I am about to provide, there are also costumes worn by sopranos Carol Vaness and Karita Mattila, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Larmore, who is the most recorded mezzo-soprano of all time, and tenor Placido Domingo. In addition to all of the complete costumes, they are also selling individual accesory pieces such as hats, shoes, and scarves.

According to the press release of the Los Angeles Opera, all of these costumes are of the most excellent quality since the costume shop employs dozens of master crafters in every field related to creating costumes. Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention that prospective customers need not worry about finding something that will fit them because they have costumes made to fit everyone from "robust Wagnerians to petite Mozartians." Apparently they are helping to advance stereotypes of singers. I wonder if there shall be any horned helmets and spears for sale? Next time around they may start auctioning James Conlon's batons and singers' scores. I think that such would be a more practical sale.

Thank you for reading this post, and I hope that you found this as anecdotal as I did.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

If I May Direct Your Attention To The Upper Right of Your Screen...

If you have not noticed this, I have added a poll to my blog. This first one is designed to offer me some ideas for future posts, which is not to say that I do not have a great amount of these already in my brain, but I wish to wriote things that will be construed as interesting by my readers. If you would like to see new things in posts, then please vote from the four options I have provided. Other polls in the future will contain questions dealing with one's personal instincts concerning a new production or performance, but for now, you are all doing me a favor.