NWR Opera and classical concert notes

Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by Po-yu Sung, Apr 1, 2017.

  1. A Beethoven piano fest at Wigmore Hall yesterday. Radio3 Lunchtime concert featuring the rather wonderful Andreas Hifliger playing Sonatas Opi 109 & 111 followed by an evening concert of Trios Opus 1 No 1 and Opus 97 “Archduke” with Imogen Cooper, Henning Kraggerud and Adrian Brendel. Terrific playing all round with a very special chemistry between Henning and Adrian, especially during the 97. A real treat of a day.
  2. Saw a truly awful Calixto Bieito production of Carmen at the Opera Bastille a couple of weeks ago. The singing was good (Rachvelishvili, Jean-Francois Borras, Roberto Tagliavini and a lovely Micaela from Nicole Car), and the orchestra and conducting (Lorenzo Viotti) were fine. But the design and direction were dire.

    The necessary Spanish flavour was wholly absent, except where the music alone supplied it. A small frightened child was on stage throughout Acts 2 & 3 under the wing of Mercedes (but no suggestion this was supposed to be her child), which was distracting, wholly unnecessary to the plot, and not suggested AFAIK by the libretto or even by Merimee's play. Ten old bangers were wheeled onstage for the mountains scene in Act 3, serving no purpose and interrupting sightlines from the stalls. A huge cut-out bull dominated the stage for this act, even though there is no appearance by, and I think no reference to, Escamillo in that act, and certainly no bullfighting.

    Worst of all, the entr'acte preceding Act 4 treated us to an uncredited actor coming onstage, slowly removing all his clothes, parading around the stage in the buff periodically slapping his hips and thighs (hiding nothing), and then rushing to collect his clothes and leave when the first singers entered. No-one we spoke to could see what this gratuitous nudity had to do with the opera.

    We were informed by the programme that Calixto Bieito is "one of the great theatre and opera directors of our era ... he leads his actors and singers into the furthest reaches of their characters' psyches". Suffice to say that if he was trying to do that in this production, he wholly failed. Apparently, he has "positioned this production in a relatively abstract spatiotemporal environment. His dramaturgy focuses on the humanity of the characters, and he has jettisoned the folklore and the cliches generally associated with the tale. ... His significant editing of the libretto has left him with raw and concise dramatic material that mirrors this fast-paced temporality". What pretentious claptrap:(!

    Remind me never again to see a production directed by Calixto Bieito.
    Nigel PMartin and Thom Blach like this.
  3. Prom 34 Agerich and Barenboim
    More tickets released, on royal albert hall website, right now!
    Paul Day likes this.
  4. We truly do live in the age of the cult of personality, where the man (occasionally woman) rises above all else. I don’t think I’d have enjoyed it, though I try not to be too conservative about productions.
  5. Singing is usually excellent at the Paris Opera, but the productions are wildly variable -- from outstanding to the worst of Euro-trash. Although I've never been to La Scala, Paris is the one venue where I've (and more than once) experienced pronounced booing from the audience at the end of the performance. On the plus side, tickets (even the best) are quite modest compared to London and New York.
    Mark Crann and David Crossley like this.

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