Thursday, October 27, 2016
The tenor may have cancelled Meistersinger in Munich and other early-season engagements. But his Puccini night at La Scala is being traded like hot chestnuts on the media market. Variety reports: Starline Entertainment has closed a raft of international television and VOD deals for “Jonas Kaufmann : An Evening with Puccini,” a concert event film produced by Arts Alliance that played in cinemas worldwide earlier this year. Sky has taken U.K. broadcast rights for the La Scala opera production featuring the acclaimed singer, with Sky Arts additionally taking rights in Germany and New Zealand. Starline has also closed a deal with DTS (CanalXtra) in Spain. Further rights have been to sold to HRT for Croatia, Czech TV for Czech Republic, YLE for Finland, NRK for Norway, and SVT in Sweden. Air Emirates has secured the film for in-flight broadcast. More here.
Detail from a costume design for a cousin from 1905 production of Madama Butterfly © 2016 ROH Collections. Puccini 's iconic opera Madama Butterfly is no stranger to the Covent Garden stage. The tragic story of the young Japanese girl Cio-Cio-San and her love affair with American Lieutenant Pinkerton has been a favourite with audiences for over 110 years – and now, we're inviting audiences to explore the opera's history through a new interactive online resource. Our Design Challenge 2016 interactive learning resource brings together some of the foremost experts in the world in the disciplines of Set Design, Costume Design, Hair Wigs and Make-up Design and Marketing design. Through archive images, never-before-seen online, users can explore the historic costumes and designs of three iconic past productions, as well as learning more about the world of opera and theatre design through a series of questions and links to other resources. The resource accompanies our long standing Design Challenge project, for Key Stage 5 students and will also support its KS4 sister project Design and Make, which is due to launch nationally in 2017/18. Visit our Design Challenge Interactive exploring Puccini's Madama Butterfly Find out more about the Royal Opera House Design Challenge project
Glyndebourne, Lewes Annilese Miskimmon’s production for Glyndebourne’s tour presents a hard-edged view of Puccini’s romantic tragedy. Musically, Matteo Lippi’s Pinkerton is marvellous, while John Wilson excels in the pit Annilese Miskimmon’s production of Madama Butterfly for Glyndebourne’s tour updates Puccini’s tragedy to the 1950s and presents us with a hard-edged view of an opera that some persist in seeing as primarily Romantic. Always one to rethink key works in the repertory, Miskimmon attempts an at times scathing study of exploitation and its consequences, though in so doing she is only partly successful. This is a staging that engages the mind, sometimes at the price of the work’s emotional impact.The first act is relocated to Goro’s marriage bureau in a tatty suburb of Nagasaki, where Matteo Lippi’s Pinkerton is but one of many American servicemen keen to take advantage of the local custom of a conveniently dissolvable marriage. We’re aware of the ghastly monetary quality of it all as wads of banknotes change hands. Men pick out women from catalogues. A slide show unnervingly reveals Karah Son’s Butterfly as already taken. Continue reading...
Giacomo Puccini´s "Manon Lescaut" is his third opera, and after the weak "Edgar" his first success. It was premièred at Torino in February 1893, almost at the same time as Verdi´s "Falstaff" at Milan, and our city premièred it just four months afterwards. The famous novel by the Abbé Prévost is dated 1731 and there are two other operas inspired by it: the charming one by Auber (1856) and the very famous Massenet "Manon" (1884). Although "Manon Lescaut" is a giant step forward in Puccini´s career, his style will only be fully formed with "La Bohème" (1896). A phrase by the composer is illuminating: "Massenet feels Manon like a Frenchman, powdered and with minuets. I will feel it like an Italian, with desperate passion". Its progress was difficult, for it successively had four librettists, because the composer wasn´t satisfied: as Claudio Ratier tells us in his excellent programme notes, Giulio Ricordi (Puccini´s editor) hired two librettists: the playwright Marco Praga and the journalist Domenico Oliva. Leoncavallo, the future composer of "I Pagliacci", tried to fix the offending passages of both. But Puccini hadn´t finished composing, and for the fragments still to come the prestigious Luigi Illica was called. The fact of not having an acceptable (to him) libretto forced Puccini to compose piecemeal and not in order, hence the music varies in quality. But even if the compounded libretto has its problems and is much weaker than Massenet´s, it does add in the Fourth Act a scene where the lovers are in a desert near New Orleans (never mind that there are no deserts there) and where she dies from exhaustion. But the main roles are a gift for great singers: very demanding both vocally and dramatically; in fact, the tenor has no less than four arias and is even tougher than Calaf in "Turandot". I have been perusing the Colón presentations since 1911; truly great singers and conductors up to 1966 (Caballé-Tucker-Bartoletti). Now comes this one from Buenos Aires Lírica. I am sorry that I can´t be happy with the results. It´s very hard to find a first-rate duet of protagonists, and neither Macarena Valenzuela (Chilean) nor Eric Herrero (Brazilian) were quite up to the requirements. She wasn´t in her best vocal condition and her high range was clearly uncomfortable in the first two acts; she bettered in the Third and was in fuller command in the crucial final aria, "Sola, perduta, abbandonata". And Herrero was taxed by the frequent top notes; he has them, but not with the timbric quality they need: the sounds came out raw. The best voice was Ernesto Bauer´s as Lescaut, Manon´s brother, a heal and a gambler; he sang with clean open phrasing and a satiric turn the part needs. Geronte di Ravoir, his very name tells us, is the old rich man (no less than the Kingdom´s Treasurer) that is keeping Manon in the splendor of his Parisian palace; it was well impersonated by Norberto Marcos. Iván Maier, in unexpected harsh voice, was Edmondo, Des Grieux´s friend who aids him to elope with Manon; he also was a foppish Dancing Master and a Lamplighter singing a ditty. Baritone Enzo Romano sang well as Innkeeper, Sargent and Commandant, and Trinidad Goyeneche was correct as a Musician in a madrigal. Veteran maestro Mario Perusso knows well his Puccini, but the reduced orchestra can´t give the richness of tone this composer needs (he probably used a retouched orchestration); the pit only holds 43 players. Nice work from the chamber choir under Juan Casasbellas. But the staging by André Heller-Lopes was absurd from the beginning. Act I: a square at Amiens with a tavern on the side, and what do we see?: a splendid palace with huge columns and a rococo ceiling (quite handsome; stage designer Daniela Taiana). Of course, it´s perfect for the Second Act, with the addendum of an extremely Baroque bed. However, the same columns are at Le Havre and at the desert! Plus a mixture of costumes (Sofía Di Nunzio): women with hoop-skirts and men with modern ties. Tasteless marking of the singers with sexual innuendo, ridiculing publicly a powerful man as Geronte or manhandling women in Le Havre scene. And an ominipresent desk at extreme left, for we are supposed to see everything as the narration of an older Des Grieux... For Buenos Aires Herald
After Sony snatched Jonas Kaufmann from Decca last year, he was outraged when his former label pushed out his old Puccini tracks to play against Sony’s Nessun Dorma release. There was even talk of legal action. Now, weeks after DG captured Murray Perahia from Sony with a set of Bach suites, his former label has issued a spoiler compilation. Small boys in playgrounds?
Grand theatre, Leeds; Coliseum, London Opera North delivers a devastating Puccini double bill, as a brutal new Don Giovanni turns heads at ENOThe death of a child nominally links the two plots. Yet Puccini’s Il tabarro and Suor Angelica are so different they shatter any fragile notion of similarity. One is set outside in Paris on the banks of the Seine, a dark, seedy, hard-drinking male landscape of relentless labour and squally sexuality. The other is clean, enclosed, ordered, all-female; a convent in which freedoms are repressed, desires scrubbed and pumiced out of sight. God alone is love. Anything else is sin. As a double bill, strongly cast and presented as part of Opera North’s autumn season and conducted by Jac van Steen, they devastate.These short operas equal two thirds of Il trittico. Puccini’s trio, premiered in New York in 1918, makes a long evening and is complicated and costly to stage; therefore it’s quite a rarity in the theatre. Each work can be paired with something else – not restricted to Puccini – which is how they are more usually seen. Now, with a new Suor Angelica directed by Michael Barker-Caven, Opera North has all three operas in its repertoire. One day a complete Il trittico maybe, but this was a richly satisfying evening even minus the brilliant, comedic third element, Gianni Schicchi. Continue reading...
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