19 September 2010

New Metropolitan Ring: Das Rheingold Premieres 27 September

James Levine and director Robert Lepage join forces to create what The Metropolitan Opera describes as a "groundbreaking new Ring". Das Rheingold will premiere on Monday 27 September.

Robert Lepage brings cutting-edge technology to the new Ring, using spectacular optical effects. Time will show if the effects enhance the experience or lives its own life and distracts the public, like the circus Ring in Valencia.

Bryn Terfel is singing his first Wotan at the Met. He is leading a cast that includes Gerhard Siegel as Mime and Hans-Peter König (both well known from Bayreuth).

Levine, who has conducted every complete Ring cycle performed by the Met since 1989, has been sidelined in recent years due to health problems. The lates reports says thet he is fit for fight now. According to Levine, “The Ring  is one of those works of art that you think you know, but every time you return to it, you find all kinds of brilliant moments that hadn’t struck you with the same force before.”

According to the director Robert Lepage, “The Ring is about change. I try to be extremely respectful of Wagner’s storytelling, but in a very modern context. We’re trying to see how in our day and age we can tell this classical story in the most complete way.”

Conductor:  James Levine
Freia: Wendy Bryn Harmer
Fricka: Stephanie Blythe
Erda: Patricia Bardon
Loge: Richard Croft
Mime: Gerhard Siegel
Wotan: Bryn Terfel
Alberich: Eric Owens
Fasolt: Franz-Josef Selig
Fafner: Hans-Peter König

09 September 2010

08 September 2010

Meistersinger at Bayreuth 2010

Klaus Florian Vogt (Walther) and Michaela Kaune(Eva).
Photo Enrico Nawrath/Bayreuther Festspiele
My reactions after seeing Katharina Wagner's Meistersinger production for the second time are totally schizophrenic.

I have immense respect for her completely new interpretation and the way she carries it out - even though this is far from what Richard Wagner intended. Making Beckmesser develop into a hero and Hans Sachs into a monster is fresh, thought-provoking and stimulating. The production was also a historical necessity coming at a time when Bayreuth announced a more open-mindedness to research into the Festival's dark past.

At the same time, I must admit that most of what is happening in the production before "Wach auf!" in Act 3 really is pushing me to the limit. It is simply not good. For me the production gets interesting 30 minutes before the end.

Am I being unfair? Too positive? Too negative?

Read my thoughts on the production on Wagneropera.net and please leave your comment here

Bayreuth 2010: Warum lebt der Mensch?

Totally nonsense, and made from unused footage. No Oscar is expected.

04 September 2010

Tannhäuser Returns to London

Semyon Bychkov. Photo: Sheila Rock
Tannhäuser, "Wagner's great battle of the sensual and the spiritual" returns to The Royal Opera in London just before Christmas. A new production by Tim Albery puts Tannhäuser back in the repertory after an absence of more than twenty years. Semyon Bychkov, who may be one of the finest Wagner conductors today, will return after stunning performances of Lohengrin last year. Johan Botha – one of the most acclaimed Wagner voices in the world today – sings the lead role.

Michaela Schuster, who did a wonderful Ortrud in Stefan Herheim's "marionette" Lohengrin in Berlin, will sing Venus and Eva-Maria Westbroek, who many will know as Sieglinde in Die Walküre from Bayreuth, will sing Elisabeth. According to ROH, the production combines striking imagery of the two worlds set apart, from the indulgence and abandon of the Venusberg to the privation and sincerity of the Wartburg. What exactly this means, we will have to wait and see, but obviously the visual aspect of the production is important.

The Royal Opera, Covent Garden
Conductor: Semyon Bychkov
Director: Tim Albery
Sat 11 Dec 2010 (premiere)
Wed 15 Dec 2010
Sun 19 Dec 2010
Wed 22 Dec 2010
Mon 27 Dec 2010
Thu 30 Dec 2010
Tannhäuser: Johan Botha
Elisabeth: Eva-Maria Westbroek
Venus: Michaela Schuster
Wolfram von Eschinbach: Christian Gerhaher
Herrmann, Landgrave of Thuringia: Christof Fischesser
Biterolf: Clive Bayley
Walter: Timothy Robinson
Heinrich: Steven Ebel
Reinmar: Jeremy White
Set designs: Michael Levine
Costume designs: Jon Morrell
Lighting design: David Finn
Choreography: Jasmin Vardimon

More info on roh.org.uk