Stefano Poda’s production of Turandot (he is also responsible for the sets, costumes and lighting) for Teatro Regio Torino, recorded in early 2018, is one of the most visually effective productions of this (or perhaps any opera) that I’ve seen. I don’t know whether it makes “sense” (but I’m also not sure that any Turandot does) and, if it does, I doubt one would be able to unpack it in a single viewing because there’s a lot going on (but see comment at the end).
The catalogue is full of La Bohèmes from regional houses sung by serviceable casts. The version recorded at the Teatro Regio Torino in 2016 is another. My reason for wanting to look at it is because the production was directed by Àlex Ollé of La Fura dels Baus and I hoped it would prove as insightful as Stefan Herheim’s Oslo production. It doesn’t really. He gives the piece a fairly gritty modern setting but I don’t think it speaks to our modern insecurities the way Herheim does. Rather it plays pretty much as a gritty 19th century setting, which is, admittedly, vastly preferable to Zeffischenk excess or ne0-Broadway tweeness.
The TSO’s program last night was too tempting to miss; Adrianne Pieczonka singing Strauss and Wagner and a Beethoven 7th plus Gianandrea Noseda conducting. So I went.
Things started off with Casella’s Italia. This is a sort of mash up of Pucciniesque bombast and Neapolitan popular tunes. I’m surprised it never featured in a Warner Bros cartoon. Perhaps it did. In any event Nosada is probably the ideal conductor for it; infusing it with a kind of manic energy. Next up were the Strauss Vier letzte lieder. Here manic energy is exactly what’s not needed and Nosada seemed to have some difficulty adjusting. Too often Adrianne Pieczonka’s beautiful singing was covered by an over loud orchestra. Roy Thomson Hall is tricky but George Benjamin showed exactly how to manage the acoustic last weekend. Nosada wasn’t so successful.
The operatic forces of Teatro Reggio di Torino are on a four city tour of North America. Last night, at Roy Thomson Hall, they performed a concert version of Rossini’s Guglielmo Tell. It was strictly concert style without any of the “semi staging” touches that are normal here so just music stands at the front of the stage and concert dress. It’s in some ways a very odd way to experience a piece like this because some of the most dramatic scenes aren’t sung but are accompanied by the orchestra. Take the canonical scene where Tell shoots the arrow off his son’s head. We get the build up and it’s fairly obvious what the hushed orchestra is all about and then we get the chorus announcing basically “Gee by golly, he did it”. Maybe the supertitles could be used as a commentary track at such points? Continue reading →
This Sunday sees the first of the season for Recitals at Rosedale. Entitled A Walk on the Dark Side: Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales, it will feature soprano Leslie Ann Bradley, mezzo soprano Allyson McHardy and baritone Geoff Sirett with pianists Robert Kortgaard and Rachel Andrist. The programme features works by Mahler, Debussy, Symanowski, Weil, Gershwin and more. It’s on November 9th at 2.30 pm at Rosedale Presbyterian Church and tickets are available here.