A convincing Rigoletto

Oliver Mears’ production of Verdi’s Rigoletto recorded at Covent Garden in 2021 looks and feels like the work of a British theatre director.  There’s nothing particularly weird about it.  The Personenregie is careful and precise and the emphasis is on text and story telling.  The opera house element perhaps comes into play in the rather impressive visuals including an extremely dramatic storm scene.

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Moving Traviata from MMF

It’s not all that often I feel genuinely moved by an opera on video.  It’s so much less immersive than experiencing live.  There is the occasional one.  Both the Berlin Parsifal and the Aix-en-Provence La traviata come to mind.  The recently released La traviata from the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino is another one.  It’s an interesting and effective production with a strong cast centred on the searing Violetta of Nadine Sierra.

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Classy singing from the Rebanks fellows

Yesterday’s free concert in the RBA featured the vocalist Rebanks fellows from the Glenn Gould School.  There was some very classy and very powerful singing.  We heard Hannah Crawford, fresh off her second place at Centre Stage, sing a couple of arias; “Pleurez, plearez mes yeux” from Masenet’s Le Cid and “Come Scoglio” from Cosí.  There was some very considerable power on display here as well as accuracy and emotion.  Definitely one to watch.

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Opera Sustenida’s Il Trovatore

Opera Sustenida was started during the pandemic and came to my attention because of a couple of well produced on-line shows.  Feeling very strongly that it’s time to move back to live performance, and not seeing much yet from the smaller opera companies, I could hardly overlook Opera Sustenida’s show, even if I might not have chosen Verdi’s Il Trovatore for my first go at a live production.

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TCO’s Nabucco

Toronto City Opera performed a concert version of Verdi’s Nabucco at St. Andrew’s church on King Street yesterday afternoon.  It was strictly a concert version with the principals singing off music stands with no attempt at interaction.  The principals were costumed, which helped keep straight who was who and recitative was eliminated in favour of a spoken summary before each scene.  That made sense as there were no surtitles.  Accompaniment was piano.

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Act 1 Finale. L to R. Lauren Estey (Anna), Cristina Pisani (Abigalille), Lillian Brooks (Fenena), Corey Arnold (Ismaele), Michael Robert-Broder (Nabucco), Dylan Wright (Zaccaria), with the TCO Chorus

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Rigoletto on the lake

I’m rather a fan of the productions on the lake stage at Bregenz.  It can be a bit hokey and the productions, though spectacular, aren’t usually particularly deep but they are fun to watch.  The 2019 production of Verdi’s Rigoletto might just be the best I’ve seen.  It takes spectacular to new heights, it’s got some interesting ideas and the performances are very good indeed.

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Spectacular Trovatore

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.

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Searing Simon Boccanegra

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.

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Another fifties Falstaff

Directors seem to see the 1950s as the logical time period to stage Verdi’s Falstaff though they come up with very different 1950s.  Robert Carsen set his in a rather dark world that pits the nouveau riche against a declining gentry.  Richard Jones went for a sort of Carry on film aesthetic that was entirely English.  Laurent Pelly in his production filmed at the Teatro Real in Rome in 2019, despite some overtly English elements in the set design,  gives us a distinctly continental European feel.  Indeed Falstaff, Pistola and Bardolfo might easily be hangovers from the more criminal end of the French resistance.  There’s much less of “class struggle” in Pelly’s rather straightforward production.  In fact it seems like a fairly light comedy with the darker aspects emerging only rarely.

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