There’s a lot to like in the COC’s production of Verdi’s La Traviata that opened at The Four Seasons Centre last night. Arin Arbus’ production; a co-production with Chicago Lyric Opera and Houston Grand Opera avoids the cloying sentimentality of many productions of this piece and, without being in any way gratuitous, deals very directly with the world Verdi wanted us to see; a world of hypocrisy, sex for sale and early, pointless death.
There are a couple of biggies coming up next week. On October 7th and 8th the amazingly talented and apparently fearless Barbara Hannigan is singing with and conducting the TSO. For all I know she’ll be tap dancing and doing hand stands as well. It’s her conducting debut with this orchestra. The programme features works by Nono, Haydn, Mozart, Ligeti and Stravinsky. 8pm Roy Thomson Hall.
Puccini’s Il Trittico is a collection of three one act operas designed to be performed on a single evening. They rarely are. Perhaps this is because performing all three makes for a rather long evening (and for a huge cast) or maybe it’s because two of the three aren’t all that great. In any event, while most opera goers will likely have seen the comedy Gianni Schicchi, most will likely not have seen the two tragedies that precede it; Il Tabarro and Suor Angelica. However, all three works were performed as a triple bill at the Royal Opera House in 2011. The show was broadcast by the BBC and is available on Blu-ray and DVD. All three pieces were directed by Richard Jones and Anthony Pappano conducted.
Claus Guth’s 2008 Salzburg production of Don Giovanni divided the critics along entirely predictable lines. It’s a very unusual treatment of Don Giovanni but the concept is stuck to with real consistency and it works to create a compelling piece of music theatre. The treatment on video too is not straightforward and, in a sense, the DVD/Blu-ray version is as much the work of Brian Large as it is of Claus Guth.
The 2006 Salzburg production of Idomeneo seems to me to be just about ideal. The production is clean and consistently interesting without ever getting too far away from the core story and the pretty much unbeatable cast is backed up by the period sensibilities of Roger Norrington and the Salzburg Camerata and Bachchor. The only fly in the ointment is the utterly heinous video direction.
The Opéra national de Paris 2005 production of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito is very fine. Ironically it’s actually quite a conventional production overall though one scene, the one where Tito makes his first appearance, is so weird that it provides the generic name used in some circles I frequent for an entirely inexplicable production element (see below).
If you are a fan of bel canto comedies you will probably enjoy the 2009 Glyndeboure production of Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore quite a lot.
Director Annabel Arden sets this bucolic comedy in the Italian countryside of the 1950s (though some of the iconography is more appropriate to the Mussolini period). It has some of the look, but little of the edge of Italian neo-realist cinema. It does though take the work fairly seriously with a Dulcamara who is isn’t the obvious quack we usually see but just hints at having real powers. Dulcemara also acquires a rather bizarre mute assistant. Beyond that it’s all carefully staged with the chorus action well directed and performed. Continue reading