let me tell you

Layout 1Hans Abrahamsen’s let me tell you is a work for orchestra and soprano setting text arranged by Paul Griffith from Ophelia’s lines in Hamlet.  It was written for and dedicated to Barbara Hannigan who recorded it in 2015 (I think) with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and Andris Nelsons.

It’s a piece in seven sections of varying moods expressing different aspects of Ophelia; both in the play and in the afterlife of the character in paintings etc.  Generally the music sits on the fractured edge of tonality with a melodic line that owes something to folk music.  Sometimes it’s extremely slow with a bassy, brooding air and other times it’s bright and busy.

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The Flying Welshman

BrynAdrianneThe Royal Opera House production of Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer finally made it to Toronto yesterday with a showing of the film at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema.  There areva couple of Toronto connections.  The production was created by Tim Albery, although Daniel Dooner directs this revival, and the Senta is sung by Adrianne Pieczonka who was present with her family and introduced the film.  The Dutchman, of course, is played by hulking Welshman Bryn Terfel who wasn’t there.  He was probably crying into his beer somewhere at Wales coming up short in the Six Nations. Continue reading

There were rats

I guess Lohengrin is one of those operas that’s so loaded up with symbols it just begs directors to deconstruct it.  Well that’s what Hans Neuenfels’ Bayreuth production, recorded in 2011, does and then some.  There is so much going on in this production that I think it would take many viewings to really get inside it.  The bit most critics have fastened on is the costuming of the chorus as rats or, on occasion, half rat, half human.  It’s visually interesting and since there are also ‘handlers’ in Hazmat suits it’s clear that some sort of experiment is being alluded to.  Add in bonus rat videos at key points and there’s a lot to think about.  One thing this does do is solve the Teutonic war song problem.  A chorus of rather timid looking rats singing with martial ardour is a good deal less Nurembergesque than a similar chorus in armour or military uniforms.  Rats aside the story is really told in a quite straightforward and linear way while providing all sorts of moments that one might want to interrogate further,

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