I guess many opera goers in the English speaking world will have at least a passing acquaintance with Bartok’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle but I suspect fewer will have seen Offenbach’s take on Perreault’s rather grim tale. It will probably come as no great surprise that Offenbach’s Barbe-bleue is a somewhat tongue in cheek version of the story of the notorious serial killer.
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 →