Covid fan tutte is the best opera thing I’ve seen come out of the pandemic yet. It’s from Finnish National Opera and it uses the music of Così fan tutte (mostly) and a new libretto (in Finnish natch) to poke fun at every aspect of the current situation. To quote the blurb:
On stage, singers are rehearsing Die Walküre, when they are suddenly interrupted. As management has been laid off and the news of a global virus spreads rapidly, the Wagnerians are suddenly instructed to perform a modern satire on the situation.
It’s fully staged with a socially distanced orchestra and a virtual chorus. There appears to have been some sort of live audience in the house. They weren’t mucking about here. Both Karita Mattila and Esa-Pekka Salonen are involved. Bottom line; it’s very well done and genuinely funny with a few really sad bits like where a man sings an aria to his mother to the closed window of the old people’s home. There are subtitles for those whose Finnish isn’t up to it.
You can find it on Youtube on the Operavision channel. Brexit supporters should stay away as Operavision is funded by those nasty cultured foreigners, the EU.
Patrice Chéreau’s last major opera production was of Strauss’ Elektra for the 2013 Aix-en-Provence Festival where it was recorded. It later appeared with a different cast at the Met and was broadcast in HD but that performance has not yet been released on disk. It’s a very good example of Chéreau’s work. The towering, blocky sets recall his From the House of the Dead and are equally dark and grey. The interest is all in the characters.
It’s perhaps odd that somebody like me, who got into Janáček’s music as a teenager, should have taken so long to discover his operas but I’m so glad I did. The latest discovery is Věk Makropulos in a 2011 recording from the Groβes Festspielhaus in Salzburg with Angela Denoke as the 337 year old diva Emilia Marty. It’s a strange work dramatically; a sort of fantastic detective story. Apparently it’s based on a comedy (by Karel Čapek, the guy who coined the modern meaning of “robot”) though how it got from a comedy to the opera is a bit of a mystery. It’s weird, compelling and creepy but not at all funny. It also has a terrific score. Continue reading →