Monday, October 19, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Slightly shocking........heehee but not really.
I knew it was going to be an "interesting" production.
Production team HEAVILY booed by the Met audience. Tremendous applause for all of the vocalists (and it's well deserved) but the director and production staff ohhhhh myyyyy that was QUITE intense. Not as wishy-washy as even the Sonnambula booing fiasco. This was LOUD, CLEAR booing.
I'm kind of in shock hahahaha I almost can't believe it.
All I have to say is: Franco Zefferelli is somewhere chuckling to himself.
Happy Listening!! =)
Saturday, August 22, 2009
I came out of my not-blogging cave to sadly announce the death of one of the great Wagnerians sopranos, Hildegard Behrens. I was introduced to her work, however, not through Wagner, but through the perfection that is the 1985 Zefferelli Tosca. When I delicately dipped into the world of the Wagner cult, the Otto Schenk Ring cycle with her as Brunhilde was the only one I could watch. She always stunned me with her emotional and dramatic power on the stage, not to mention the force of her beautiful voice.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Ballet Boot Camp Year II aka Ashley Bouder Knows My Name aka Darci Kistler: The End of a Remarkable Era
Well if you have been wondering what I have been up to the past.....month I have not been posting, then you should know that I have been dancing my tail feathers off at a ballet summer intensive in Saratoga Springs, New York.
One of the benefits of this particular program is that many of the dancers you look up to on the SPAC (Saratoga Performing Arts Center) stage then come to teach your ballet class! For example, my intensive was witness to the incredible New York City Ballet Gala which marked the final performance of Darci Kistler in Saratoga in the ballet "Slaughter on 10th Avenue." She is retiring with the NYCB next year at the David H. Koch Theater in Lincoln Center. Her retirement marks the end of an era with the NYC Ballet because she is the last ballerina in the company to have been chosen by Balanchine to join the company. Just a few short days after this amazing gala I was taught by Darci Kistler herself. First she watched our rehearsal of the "Raymonda Variations" and then taught us an amazing pointe class. Oh and just saying: She said I did beautiful pique turns =D =D It was possibly the best moment of my life.
We also had the fabulous opportunity to be taught the Raymonda Variations (and many other classes) by none other than Ashley Bouder, one of the best ballerinas in the whole world and a principal dancer with the NYCB, and Melinda Roy, a former principal dancer with the NYCB and the director of the summer intensive. We worked so closely with Ashley that she quickly learned all of our names. She is one tough cookie, but she makes everything perfect. She is a wonderful teaher and oh my gosh what a gorgeous dancer. I can't even describe! One day we walked into the studio and she was rehearsing Firebird. All of us were stunned. We sat 5 feet from her as she danced through the pas de deux by herself, hearing her breathe and seeing her every move. That's an experience that none of us will forget.
One of the perks of being in the highest level of the intensive (while it is extremely difficult) is the opportunity to take a partnering class with dancers from the NYCB. Such participants include Ask la Cour, Amar Ramasar, and Henry Seth who are so wonderful and kind and are so helpful. This was my first experience in a pas de deux class and they were so understanding and always wanted to help. The other wonderful thing is that we had four classes: two taught by Jason Fowler, one taught by Philip Neal, and one taught by the legendary Jock Soto. It's hard to imagine my emotions when he walked into the room. He said so many funny and wacky things like "You want to be like the prize turkey" and when we stood proud before a combination he turned to Melinda Roy and said "Those are prize turkeys." He was quite the character.
Daniel Ulbricht.... Oh my what to say what to sayyyyy. Well he complimented my passe and had me demonstrate a balance for the whole class. It made my day. He taught us only twice but both times he was so charming and personal and we all learned a lot from him. He is such a charismatic dancer and he translates that so well to his teaching. He gives difficult combinations that are often very fast and very complicated and it's fabulous because it makes us work so hard! Plus we're trying to impress him =) but that's not a big deal haha. He says that he gives us these crazy things so that when another teacher comes and gives us a simpler combination, we can relax and focus on our technique rather than too much on the steps. I found that to be so logical, or maybe I was just charmed. No....it's logical.
This NYCB SPAC season, while a week shorter than last years, was just as exciting. Even more exciting than the season itself, however, was the dancers that I had the privilege to study under this summer. Thank you NYCB!
Back to opera soon I promise!
Happy Listening!! =)
Thursday, June 11, 2009
After the opera season has ended, what is an opera fanatic to do but to search the city for other shows to attend? I jest, I am a huge fan of Broadway, and always have been, but never in my life have I attended a production at the Lincoln Center Theater. That is, not until last Saturday when I finally saw the award winning Bartlett Sher production of South Pacific.
Ever since I saw Paulo Szot serenade Deborah Voigt during the opening night moviecast last September I've been itching to see it. Plus, who doesn't get the irresistible urge to hear a true baritone sing "Some Enchanted Evening"?
I first have to say that I am a great fan of Bartlett Sher, I loved his Barber of Seville at the Met and this was just as impressive. There were no moving doors, mind you, but the sets were beautiful and the moving thrust stage was very affecting at certain moments in the show, particularly the first act curtain. The stage also pulled back during the famous and fabulous overture, revealing the talented orchestra led by Fred Lassen. They sounded like a lush, old-fashioned Broadway orchestra. In other words, very much like an opera orchestra or a philharmonic, and they accented the singers beautifully.
I kept hearing how I simply must see Kelli O'Hara, as the original Nellie, but truthfully I thought Laura Osnes did as fine a job as anyone. She was charming, sang beautifully, and moved with grace and sparkle across the stage. My one bone to pick is that she did not keep her "hick" accent while she was singing. I know how hard this can be, but if you want to have an accent you have to keep it. Otherwise I thought she was lovely, particularly during "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair" and "Honeybun."
Paulo Szot was frankly put the best pick for the role of Emile de Becque. His European charm, dashing good looks, and operatic voice (which made any microphone virtually unnecessary) made him a perfect romantic hero. Being in the very front row, I could watch him very carefully, not to mention that he almost sang "Some Enchanted Evening" right to me. You could tell the moment he started singing that he was an opera singer, just the way he approached the music made it so obvious. It was beautifully done, as was "This Nearly Was Mine." Besides his beautiful singing, Mr. Szot is also an affecting actor, eliciting so many emotions from the audience.
Another actor who brought heart-wrenching emotion from the audience was Andrew Samonsky as Lt. Cable. He portrayed the lieutenant as very suave and yet tortured. His "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught" was chilling, and "Younger Than Springtime" was beautiful. His death was the most poignant moment in the show, and when Liat (played by Li Jun Li) learns he has died I must admit I cried.
Danny Burnstein was hysterical as Luther Billis, the comic figure in the show. He was wonderful, a real joy to watch. As Bloody Mary Loretta Ables Sayre was both spooky and intriguing; "Bali Ha'i" was a highlight of the evening. Both of these - what could be considered - supporting roles were rightfully portrayed as major characters and both actors made their mark on the production.
Being that most of the original cast is still in the production, I say that no one should wash this show right outa their hair, and everyone should go and prepare themselves for some enchanted evening! (Could that be any more cliched?)
Happy Listening!!! =)
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Il Trovatore April 25, 2009
In other words, the Met has not found its definitive Trovatore production.
I won't talk about the singers, even though that's totally sacrilegious, because all the singers were very good, even though it was not the original cast. Right now I just want to talk about the production because the Met has had such problems finding the right Trovatore.
Maybe I was just in a bad mood, but I did not enjoy it at all. The small cut out windows on the wall and the wire crucifix? I didn't quite get the whole thing; it looked rather industrial. The only set I liked was the scene of the Anvil Chorus, that really had life in it. With the pyre and the red aura it stuck out more than any other scene. Well, at least it was the one that stuck out for the right reasons.
I suppose the reason I didn't like it at all, besides the Anvil Scene, was because I had such high expectations for such a beloved opera. I had never seen Il Trovatore, this was my first time ever, and I wasn't as blown away as I expected myself to be. Perhaps the cast didn't suit me? Was it the production? Or a combination of the two?
I will be kind and give it another season before I start calling for a new production. Let's hope that a more invigorating cast can save this almost distressing production next time. =)
I'd also like to add, this is totally random and has nothing to do with anything, that Junior year is not a fun year for a student haha. Yes, this is my excuse for being totally neglectful of this poor blog. After this year it's smooth sailing (besides college applications) so the future looks bright. I just need to get to the end of this year and I will be completely myself again!!!!! =)
Happy Listening!!! =)
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I hope to be returning to the ROH soon to experience some amazing opera! =)
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Dear Metropolitan Opera,
I would like to first introduce some proposed improvements to your recent presentation of subscriptions...Lowlights!
- Will someone PLEASE make sure that Rolando Villazon gets his life in order before we all get our hopes up about Contes d'Hoffmann????? From recent reports via Parterre and Opera Chic should we get the hint that maybe Rolando isn't going to be appearing at the Met if not after an extended absence, then ever? This whole situation makes me rather depressed.
- Someone just remind me why we are replacing the Zefferelli Tosca? No, no I shouldn't think like this. I'll be open minded: Will someone reassure me that the new production will be fantastic??
- Why, for goodness sake, can't the Met fit in a Der Rosenkavalier into any of the Saturday Evening subscriptions? That is one of the few operas that I am absolutely dying to go see and I can't squeeze it in to any of my subscription choices! I will have to buy tickets separately, but can't the Met replace anything with Rosenkavalier?
- Another little detail they forgot about in the Saturday subscriptions: The Nose. This is another opera I want to see so badly (just for Paulo Szot, but shhhh don't tell anyone!) and it's nowhere to be found on Saturday Evening!
- I just have this to say about Renee's new production of Armida: Can we trust Mary Zimmerman with another bel canto opera?
Alright, that's all the complaints I have. On a lighter note, here are some events I'm looking forward to this season...Highlights!!!
- I'm very curious about From the House of the Dead. I have a very funny feeling about it, but a good funny feeling. Something is going to make this opera interesting. I'm intrigued!
- The new Carmen! I'm usually very conservative when it comes to new productions, especially when they're for such staples as Carmen, but this is another case where I have a good feeling about it. I'm hoping that even if the production turns out eurotrashy or just flat out obnoxious (ie. the recent Sonnambula) the stellar cast will keep it afloat.
- As I said in the Lowlights, I'm looking forward to the Der Rosenkavalier and The Nose, but for very different reasons. The primary reason in The Nose is, of course, Paulo Szot, but I'm trying to branch out into more contemporary opera to see if I like it. Trying to stay hip and "with it." =) Der Rosenkavalier, on the other hand is a shameless guilty pleasure. Not only does it star my dear Renee Fleming, but oh look! there's Susan Graham and Thomas Allen! Did I mention that this is one of my favorite operas of all time?
- Maybe this season I'll finally get to see Damnation de Faust or Il Trittico. I wanted to see Damnation this year, but never got around to it. It looked like a strange production!!!! Il Trittico is in support of my darling Patricia Racette. She's got the triple bill going and I wouldn't miss it for the world!!!!!
This is sure to be a season of opportunity. There are so many new operas and genres to try, new productions to explore, and new singers to fall head-over-heels for (namely Paulo Szot). Even if we hate (or love to hate?) every single new production, or if we bash every singer in a revival, we KNOW that this season will NOT be boring. The blogosphere and Angela Gheorghiu will make sure that we will always have something to talk about during the 2009-2010 season!!!
Happy Listening!!! =)
PS. *sighhhhh* I missed posting! =)