Watching the recently released recording of the 2017 production of Giodarno’s Andrea Chénier from La Scala had me wondering why this piece isn’t done more often. If it had been written by Puccini, and it might well have been, it would get done as often as Tosca, with which it has many similarities. In the conscience stricken revolutionary Gérard it has one of the few multi-dimensional characters in verismo opera and the music, for Chénier in particular, has all the qualities that people listen to Puccini for. I guess perhaps one needs at least a rough understanding of the events of the French revolution to really follow the plot as Giodarno, unlike Puccini, roots his work in actual history but still. Opera fashion is very odd.(*)
Regular readers of this blog would probably expect that, faced with a Zeffirelli production of Il Trovatore from the Verona Arena, I would run screaming for the hills. The 2019 recording though piqued my interest. The geek in me wanted to see how much difference 4K ultra HD made, having only so far been able to get my paws on a couple of such recordings. I was also aware that it’s quite some time since I’ve heard Anna Netrebko and here she heads up a very appealing looking cast. So I succumbed.
Sometimes a video recording just seems to have it all and I would put the 2019 Salzburg Festival version of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra in that category. It’s quite an interesting production but it’s the sheer quality of the music making that puts it in the very top bracket. It’s also technically very good in all departments.
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 →