In this vale of tears

In May of this year I reviewed a recording of Janáček’s Jenůfa from the Staatsoper unter den Linden that impressed me enough to get onto my all time favourites list.  I really did not expect to come across another as good for a very long time, let alone one that is, perhaps, even better within a few months but I have.  It’s the 2021 recording from the Royal Opera House and it’s really fine.

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Tcherniakov’s Holländer

Dmitri Tcherniakov directed Der fliegende Holländer in Bayreuth in 2021 where it was recorded.  It’s no surprise given (a)Tcherniakov and (b)Bayreuth that it’s not a straightforward production.  I’m not sure I have fully unpacked it and there isn’t anything in the disk package to help (just the usual essay telling the reader what he/she/they already know/s).

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Psychological Elektra

Strauss’ Elektra, for all its “grand” music, is essentially a rather intimate psychological study of the psyches and relationships of three women.  Given this, one might think that the enormous stage of the Felsenreitschule in Salzburg a very odd choice of venue.  Krzysztof Warlikowski’s approach to the challenge is bold but almost impossible to do justice to on video.  Despite that, what does come across on video is a rather compelling version of the work.

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An anti-Salome?

I’ve learned not to dismiss Romeo Castellucci’s work on first watching because it has a nasty habit of starting to make sense on reflection.  His 2018 production of Richard Strauss’ Salome for the Salzburg Festival may be a case in point.  Castellucci seems determined to destroy any preconceptions we have about the work and Franz Welser-Möst in the pit is a willing accomplice.

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Queen of Spades

Yuri Temirkanov’s 1992 Kirov Opera production of Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades is extremely traditional but not dull.  It’s given the default Catherine the Great setting and there are opulent ball rooms, gold braid, wigs and crinolines aplenty.  There’s also careful direction of the action and some good acting so it’s far from a “park and bark” snoozefest, though it has nothing new or original to say.  The lighting for the supernatural bits is especially atmospheric.

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