Friday, October 21, 2016
Even in these Trumpian times it comes as a shock to see where US music is heading. The top-selling classical album last week on Nielsen Soundscan – the most accurate industry measure – sold just over 4,000 copies, which is more than any other new release all year. That’s the good news. The release is a tribute album to the Three Tenors. The singers are Il Volo, an Italian pop trio – Gianluca Ginoble, Piero Barone and Ignazio Boschetto – which competes at San Remo and the Eurovision Song Contest. They are as classical as Trump. But Sony have persuaded Placido Domingo to conduct them, so that makes them classical, right? And Domingo clearly has no idea what damage he’s doing to the exhilarating memory of the original Three Tenors. Here’s a clip: This is their usual stuff.
New York´s Metropolitan Opera is recognized as the most important in the world, and its satellite transmissions, with excellent sound and image, have been a major contribution to opera in many countries. Fortunately, the Fundación Beethoven took up the challenge and we have had many seasons at the Teatro El Nacional, generally with packed audiences, who know that many of the artists heard and seen don´t come to our city, for the Colón is far from being what it was. However, there has been a downside more and more evident: the Met used to be a guarantee of productions where not only the music but also the libretto were respected. As one great European house after another fell under the evil trend of disregarding the very essence of opera as a genre that allows us to explore different epochs, supplanting it with incongruous and often insulting changes, it finally reached the Met, and its current Director Peter Gelb is responsible for that, as he is in the positive side of the worldwide transmissions. So now we have a Nazi "Manon Lescaut" or a "Rigoletto" in Las Vegas. This year his choice for the opening was curious: generally the Met offers a grand production of operas that have a spectacular side, such as "Aida" or "Turandot", and of course with the most famous singers. Wagner´s "Tristan and Isolde" certainly isn´t that: an intimate story of love, vengeance and death between Medieval Celtic reigns, with few choir interventions and no massive scenes. But apart from the distortion of taste and common sense, there´s another general problem: even if tickets are quite expensive, costs are very substantial; at the Met salaries of orchestra and choir are exaggerated and productions have gone sky high. So the Met complies with reality: this "Tristan" is a coproduction with Festival Hall Baden-Baden, Teatr Wielki-Polish National Opera and China National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing. So you can see the same stage conception in four cities; and the HD live process extends this to two thousand venues in 69 countries. Wonderful if the production is good, but deeply destructive if it is bad. And this one is. The producer is Mariusz Trelinski, Director of the Teatr Wielki; stage design by Boris Kudlicka; lighting by Mark Heinz; projections design, Bartek Macias. Director of HD live: Gary Halvorson. And an inexplicable item, for there isn´t any: choreography, Tomasz Wygoda. In the cast I find two characters that don´t exist in Wagner: young (in fact, boy), Tristan; the other isn´t even seen: a Doctor. Now let me stress the musical side, for it was very worthwhile. I didn´t know Sir Simon Rattle as a Wagnerian, and I was pleasantly surprised: his reading was intense, coherent and intelligent, and of course the Met Orchestra is first-rate, so we had the intercrossing of Leitmotiven admirably expressed. And the singers were of undoubted quality. Nina Stemme probably is the best Isolde nowadays, of the Behrens rather than the Nilsson mold: a solid firm voice, but foremost a psychological insight that makes riveting every passage she sings. She recorded it with Plácido Domingo. Stuart Skelton, a new name for me, is tall and portly; his timbre is of the Windgassen rather than the Melchior tradition: it is clear, well projected and of ample register, though lacking in the volume and baritone richness of the ideal Tristan. He sings musically, with no nasality, and has the stamina to arrive fresh to the end of his part (the Third Act has terrible demands). And he is reasonably good as an actor. Ekaterina Gubanova was an expressive and well-sung Brangäne, and Evgeny Nikitin a bluff and forthright Kurwenal. We know the exceptional King Marke of René Pape, for he made his Colón debut two years ago singing the Second Act in the concert version conducted by Barenboim. The production: a) We were robbed of hearing the Preludes concentrated on the music, for a big periscope circle center stage showed confused images of mostly inextricable meaning. b) Costumes were modern and revolvers were used. No sense of Medieval values. c) Clumsy final minutes: you don´t see King Marke´s retinue nor the clash between Kurwenal and Melot, only lights with no people; and in what should be a sublime Isolde Love-death goodbye, she cuts her veins. And so on... For Buenos Aires Herald
He’s always said he wanted to perform on the island where his parent appeared often with their touring company. Now, the baritone, 75, has arranged to give a concert next month in Havana. Details here.
“Legendary tenor Plácido Domingo has renewed his contract as general director of Los Angeles Opera through the 2021-22 season … Domingo’s positions within the company have included artistic consultant from 1984 to 2000, artistic director from 2000 to 2003 and finally, general director from 2003 until now.”
Ever wanted to take centre-stage at Covent Garden with our world-class Royal Opera Chorus ? A new virtual reality experience allows aspiring performers across the globe to get a taster of what it's like in the run-up to opening night, as they stand on stage in the centre of a rehearsal. Viewers can experience a 'Chorus eye view' journey into the heart of the Royal Opera House, making their way backstage and behind-the-scenes, before heading to a rehearsal to run through the famous 'Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves' from Verdi 's Nabucco . The full experience, available on the Jaunt app, also allows viewers to be part of the performance on stage, showing the differences between the rehearsal and the buzz of performing the work on stage. The extended Jaunt experience is fully immersive, with 3D imagery and ambisonic sound – in other words, when wearing a VR headset, you'll experience the room's natural variations of sound, depending on where you look. The experience was created during the June 2016 run of Nabucco which starred Plácido Domingo . View the full film, created in partnership with Jaunt VR, in 3D sound and vision by downloading the app from jauntvr.com . The Jaunt app is available for both iOS and Android devices via Apple and Google Play stores.
The board of directors of Los Angeles Opera has renewed Placido Domingo’s contract as general director for another three years, to the middle of 2022, when he will be 81. The tenor turned baritone joined LAO as artistic consultant in 1984 and as artistic director for two years before becoming general director in 2003.
Great opera singers