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Syd
Posted: Mon Oct 24, 2016 8:55 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12517 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
The Metropolitan Opera is doing an outstanding version of Don Giovanni this week (rerun on Wednesday), The Magic Flute reprises on December 3, and Idomeno in March, so they clearly know about my Mozart fetish. Also Rusalka by Dvorak.

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Syd
Posted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 9:23 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12517 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
Turns out that if you cut out the intermission, interviews with the performers and advertisements of coming operas, The Magic Flute does in fact last an hour and fifty-five minutes. This was actually a repeat of the original Met production, released for some anniversary (probably of the broadcast). Very oddly costumed, with some makeup looking like kabuki, and our hero straight from "Floating Weeds," and Sarastro looking oddly like an Incan priest. Papageno as usual stole the opera from its hero. I found it interesting that the night maidens were all in coal black masks (or makeup) carrying what looked like greek masks on poles, but then there were a bunch of people all in black manipulating props. Oh, and the libretto was all in English (though still with subtitles for the songs. Did it work? Yes! Thanks to very good singers in all parts, and really good acting. And Mozart's music being intact.

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Syd
Posted: Sun Dec 11, 2016 11:02 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12517 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
I saw L'Amour de Loin (Love from Afar) because sometimes you just have to see something you know next to nothing about. Actually, I knew even less, since I thought the author was Japanese and she is Finnish. In this opera, a prince describes an ideal woman, and a pilgrim says he may have seen such a woman in Tripoli (Lebanon, not Libya). The prince falls in love with her, writes passionate poetry and songs for her, describing her beauty and sea-green eyes, all without ever having met her and only hearing descriptions from the pilgrim. This seems pretty silly, and positively medieval--which it is since this takes place during the Crusades. Just think what Dante could have accomplished if he had never actually laid eyes on Beatrice!

Some good things: the fair maiden Clemence is the sister of the Count of Tripoli, would indeed make a wonderful wife if she were not a thousand miles away and not so idealized. She is played by Susanna Phillips, who is a delight to watch. The sea between the Lovers is represented by rows of lights which brighten, dim and change colors to represent the sea. Periodically the Chorus stick out their heads since they have to come up for air. The only other props are the pilgrim's boat, which resembles a gondola, and a movable stand that represents a balcony when horizontal and turns into a staircase when slanted. The sea dominates the stage.

The Prince finally decides to go to Tripoli, and what do you expect from an opera, a happy ending? Probably would have worked out better if Clemence had decided to visit this man who was penning all this romantic stuff about her. She seemed a lot more robust.


Last edited by Syd on Sat Mar 25, 2017 11:13 pm; edited 1 time in total

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billyweeds
Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2016 10:41 am Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 20394 Location: New York City
Finally getting to see The Book of Mormon this week. SO psyched!

P.S. Going on SIX YEARS into its Broadway run, saw this amazing show and found it was not remotely overrated. Funny, tuneful, memorable in every way.
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Syd
Posted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:58 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12517 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
Today it was Idomeneo, because once again I wanted to see an opera I knew nothing about--except it's one of Mozart's so I knew the music would be good, and that he wrote it six years before The Marriage of Figaro, so he had considerable maturing to do as a composer of operas. He was 24 when he did this, and, though it's not as good as his last five operas, not many operas are. This is a historical piece, set in the aftermath of the siege of Troy, when the gods were out to screw as many of the survivors of the siege as possible.

Idamante, the son of Idomeneo, is ruling Crete in his father's absence, and has two women in love with him, Ilia, who is a captive Trojan princess, and Elettra, or Electra (who is indeed THAT Electra) despite him being a soprano. Idamante prefers Ilia, who is sweet, innocent, has a wonderful singing voice, did not engineer her mother's murder, and is sane. (At least, I assume her mother was Hecuba, who survived the Trojan war.) Fortunately, Idomeneo, who is assumed dead until he shows up, has found a way to resolve the romantic triangle by removing its apex because he was caught in a shipwreck and swore that in exchange for his survival he would sacrifice the first thing he saw when he landed. Guess what that was?

The Met's presentation is quite good, including the acting. My personal favorite is Nadine Sierra, who played Ilia, and who has a wonderful voice well suited for some of the most beautiful music Mozart ever wrote. (She also played Zerlina in Don Giovanni). Matthew Polenzani is a fine Idomeneo. Alice Coote is Idamante, which was once a castrato role, but which now goes to women since we're less inclined to cut off boys' testicles these days.

Elettra (Elza van den Heever) unfortunately has a mad aria that gives her the chance to chew the scenery and does; she sings about joining her brother Orestes in Hades, but she'll probably be disappointed because I believe Orestes was very much alive at this point in Greek Mythology. I recognized her as Queen Elizabeth from Maria Stuarda.

Biggest flaw, actually, was that the sound failed five minutes before the opera ended, but fortunately the plot had been resolved and was winding down. Also, this is 4hrs 20 minutes, including intermissions, and could have used some cutting, even if it is Mozart.

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Syd
Posted: Sat Mar 31, 2018 8:44 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12517 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
And today Cosė fan Tutte, which I saw once several decades ago in Italian and was charmed. Less charmed today when I discovered how cruel the plot was to the women, and that if the women had gotten to play the practical joke on the men, we would have the same result. (Despina pretty much sings this at one point, though she's also one prone to give bad advice for money.) The libretto is, frankly, sexist, and Fiordiligi and Dorabella should have considered using the daggers in the magic cabinet.

In any case, which in this Met performance is relocated to 1950s Coney Island, with carnival perfomers in the non-singing parts, including a fire-eater, two sword-swallowers, a bearded lady (refugee from "The Greatest Showman"?), acrobats and a strongman. It actually works very well, and all six singers are excellent (Amanda Majeski and Kelli O'Hara are more than excellent). The practical joke that makes up the plot is really pretty cruel, and I doubt the men would do any better if positions were reversed, but this also contains some of Mozart's best music. Fiordiligi (Majeski) has a beautiful aria sung while going on a balloon ride, where she's singing about her crisis of conscience, that despite all her virtues, she is ... tempted.

This will be broadcast again on the evening of April 4. Am I the only one here who gets to watch the Met broadcasts?

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inlareviewer
Posted: Tue Apr 03, 2018 12:42 am Reply with quote
Joined: 05 Jul 2004 Posts: 1896 Location: Lawrence, KS
Syd wrote:
And today Cosė fan Tutte, which I saw once several decades ago in Italian and was charmed. Less charmed today when I discovered how cruel the plot was to the women, and that if the women had gotten to play the practical joke on the men, we would have the same result. (Despina pretty much sings this at one point, though she's also one prone to give bad advice for money.) The libretto is, frankly, sexist, and Fiordiligi and Dorabella should have considered using the daggers in the magic cabinet.

In any case, which in this Met performance is relocated to 1950s Coney Island, with carnival perfomers in the non-singing parts, including a fire-eater, two sword-swallowers, a bearded lady (refugee from "The Greatest Showman"?), acrobats and a strongman. It actually works very well, and all six singers are excellent (Amanda Majeski and Kelli O'Hara are more than excellent). The practical joke that makes up the plot is really pretty cruel, and I doubt the men would do any better if positions were reversed, but this also contains some of Mozart's best music. Fiordiligi (Majeski) has a beautiful aria sung while going on a balloon ride, where she's singing about her crisis of conscience, that despite all her virtues, she is ... tempted.

This will be broadcast again on the evening of April 4. Am I the only one here who gets to watch the Met broadcasts?
No. I quite liked last Saturday's matinee, which is what was HD broadcast, and it played even better over the radio, without all the bells and whistles and fire-swallowers and snake-handlers and effluvium. Admired all six principals very much, La O'Hara handled the recitativi as though she'd done it for her entire Broadway career, Mr. Bliss's Ferrando showed enormous promise, his "Un'aura amorosa" worthy of the young Stuart Burrows, and both sisters actually sounded like two sides of the same soprano/mezzo coin, which almost never happens, but is exactly how it was written, w/Ms. Majeski's airborne "Per pieta" a luminous high point. Not a perfect reading -- all but impossible, too many contradictions between the now-untenable sexist buffa of the plot and the profundity of Wolfie's sublime score -- but a very impressive, enjoyable and, from the musical standpoint, Mozartean one. Maestro Robertson and that world-class orchestra were invaluable at keeping it from turning into Coney Island Fan-Dancer Tutti-Frutti.

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billyweeds
Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:26 am Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 20394 Location: New York City
Also enjoyed Cosi Fan Tutte in the movie theayter, especially Kelli O'Hara, who as inlareviewer pointed out, sounded as though she'd been doing opera her whole life. Is there nothing this genius can't handle? The plot is, as noted, amazingly sexist and retro and all that stuff, but eff 'em if they can't take a joke is my response.
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Syd
Posted: Tue Aug 28, 2018 9:22 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12517 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
Don't know where to put this: I watched the BBC version of Timon of Athens, and there are good reasons that it's one of the least performed of Shakespearean plays. It is alleged to be incomplete (and the ending suggests that Shakespeare got as sick of Timon as I did), has a protagonist who I didn't like even before he became a misanthrope, and who spends the last two acts sitting on a accidental fortune of gold and using it to spread hate and misery. The highlight is at the midpoint when the bankrupt Timon invites all his false friends to a banquet where he serves them stones and water and torments them. Amazing he dies of natural causes apparently, rather than being strung up to the applause of Athenians.

This and "Titus" show why it is a bad idea to adapt all of Shakespeare's plays.

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