Il Tabarro and Pagliacci at the Met

The Metropolitan Opera opened the 1994/5 season with a starrily cast double bill of Puccini’s Il Tabarro and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci.  Both were conducted by James Levine and filmed by Brian Large.


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An offer you can’t refuse?

trollsSo this header was in my mailbox today:

Cineplex’s The Met: Live in HD features Franco Zefferelli’s Tosca on January 27 and Bartlett Sher’s production of L’Elisir d’Amore on February 10th

My first thought was that I would rather be suspended upside down in a vat of ordure and flogged by drug crazed trolls and then I realised that unless I was somewhere in the the multiverse where the Met still had Robert Carsen’s Eugene Onegin this couldn’t be right.  The body text clarified.  It’s actually the, by now scarcely distinguishable from the Zeff, Caledonian knight Sir David MacVicar “Rivaling the splendor of Franco Zeffirelli’s Napoleonic-era sets and costumes”.

I’ll stick with the demented trolls.

Met vs COC – the numbers

Inspired by this post at Likely Impossibilities on the Met’s 2015/16 season I thought I’d take a look at how the COC compared.  Now, one season at COC wouldn’t provide much in the way of stats so I’ve looked at the eight seasons from 2008/9 to 2015/16.  (In all the numbers each work in a double bill has been counted as 0.5).

Productions by composer

composerVerdi unsurprisingly tops the COC list with 15% (Met 17%) closely followed by Puccini (10%) and Mozart (13%) but Puccini is nowhere near as heavily represented as at the Met (21%) and Donizetti only scores 5% versus a whopping 21% in New York.  Throw in Rossini and the “big 4” Italians account for 68% of productions in New York versus 36% in Toronto.  I didn’t do a full analysis of the percentage of performances because I didn’t have all the data but Verdi, Puccini, Rossini and Mozart tend to get more performances per production so, as in New York, production percentages somewhat understate their position. Continue reading

Where would you go to see opera in cinema?

party2So further to my rant the other day about the ROH and ENO approach to their cinema broadcasts in Canada and the Met’s lock up with Cineplex Odious…

Suppose one were responsible for marketing the Royal Opera or ENO’s product in Canada what would you do?  Personally I wouldn’t worry about signing up loads of suburban and small town fleapits.  I’d go for the where the opera audience is in the downtown areas of the cities that have opera companies and maybe university towns.  I’d also go for the upscale theatres with decent sound and bars with decent beer and that sort of thing.  In Toronto that would be the TIFF Lightbox and Bloor Hot Docs.  Elsewhere I don’t know but I’d like to push the idea with the ROH marketing folks so any ideas on the “right” cinemas in Montreal or Vancouver or even Hamilton would be most welcome.

Don’t cry for me Vancouver

2011-09-21-Rigoletto-2073There were two big 2015/16 season announcements yesterday.  On the west coast Vancouver Opera unveiled a four production season.  there’s fairly conventional fare; Verdi’s Rigoletto (d) Nancy Hermiston (c) Jonathan Darling and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (d) Michael Cavanagh.  Less conventionally they are offering Nico Muhly’s Dark Sisters.  It’s about conflict in a breakaway Mormon community.  Anthony Tommasini gave the original production a somewhat mixed review in the NYT but it sounds like it’s not without interest.  It’s presented here in a new production by Amiel Gladstone and Kinza Tyrrell will conduct.  Rounding out the season is Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Evita in a production by Kelly Robinson.  Casting information is sparse but Simone Osborne will sing Gilda in the Rigoletto.

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Statistical round up of 2014

standingovationSo here we are at the beginning of 2015 and it’s time to look back at the statistics for 2014.  There were 93208 page views, up 32.6% on 2013.  I think that’s not totally reflective of the underlying reality as a non-trivial chunk of the increase was caused by a short period in which The State of the Met got hit 9543 times.  Still, each of the twelve months was busier than the equivalent in 2013, though often not by much.  Analysis of various order derivatives of the underlying functionmight be an interesting exercise in non-parametric statistics but one I can’t really be bothered to do!

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All who were lost are found

Thomas Adès’ 2004 opera The Tempest was given at the Metropolitan Opera in 2012 in a new production by Robert Lepage.  It got an HD broadcast and a subsequent DVD release.  It’s an interesting work which, on happening, was compared to Peter Grimes as the “next great English opera”.  Whether this early hype will turn into a sustained place in the repertoire is yet to be seen.  Musically it’s not easy to characterize.  Adès very much has his own style; mixing lyricism with atonality and, in this piece, setting one of the roles, Ariel, so high it’s surprising anyone has been found to sing it.  Certainly it’s a more aggressively modern style than most of the work currently being produced in North America.  The libretto two is unusual.  Shakespeare’s own words were, apparently, considered too difficult to sing though, of course, Britten famously set great screeds of unadulterated bard in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  For the Tempest, Meredith Oakes has rendered the text into couplets; rhymed or half rhymed.  It works quite well with only the occasional touch of Jeremy Sams like banality.

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Labour relations more popular than naked soprano

photo-14Something rather extraordinary happened around here yesterday.  The state of the Met produced a completely unprecedented amount of traffic.  This year traffic has been running around 6000-8000 hits/month.  It’s been steadily growing since I started in August 2011 but not wildly.  Yesterday saw 5916 hits; most of them on the Met piece.  It was 17 months before I got that many hits in a month.  In less than 24 hours the piece became the most read thing I have posted eclipsing the previous “best seller” which was, oddly enough, a review of the 1992 ROH Salome with Maria Ewing.  This has been steadily garnering traffic for two and a half years mostly, it appears, from people who Google variants of “maria ewing nude”.  It appears that even a naked Lady Hall can’t compete with labour relations at the Met.

The state of the Met

This is the first time I’ve posted about the current labour negotiations at the metropolitan Opera though I’ve been following the story closely.  I have rather a lot of experience of contract and grievance negotiations and I think I can spot bad faith bargaining at some distance.  Good faith bargaining typically occurs when both sides want to reach a settlement.  The opposite when one side is more interested in ramming home some “point of principle”.  This last was often a starting point on the union side in the bad old days ,especially in the UK and Australia but has become much less common.  Nowadays bad faith is much more likely to come from the employer’s side, usually when they are bent on some principle like the “right” to hire and fire at will.

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Girard’s Parsifal on Blu-ray

François Girard’s production of Parsifal at the Metropolitan Opera was much written about at the time of the HD broadcast in March 2013.  My review of that broadcast is here.I don’t think my opinion has changed very much.  It’s a powerful and intensely beautiful production and there are some wonderful performances, especially that of René Pape.  I’m not going to rehash the previous review but there were a few things I noticed second time around.  In Act 1, for instance, the gendering of the scene is mirrored in other ways to emphasize the polarity.  The knights are in white, the women in black.  The men are in orderly circles, the women are just a crowd.  Also the final scene is almost overwhelmingly intense.  Kaufmann sings quite beautifully with fine diction, gravitas and simply gorgeous high notes.  Pape caps off a performance of great pathpos and humanity with the gentle gesture with which he closes Kundry’s eyes in death.  It’s compelling stuff.

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