Angelika Kirchschlager has canceled her recital in Berkeley due to illness.
September 13 2008- July 2 2009: Turandot
September 14 2008- March 22 2009: Der fliegende Holländer
September 15-27 2008: Rigoletto
September 20 2008: L'Amico Fritz
September 21 2008- May 2 2009: Die Zauberflöte
September 30- October 8 2008: Pique Dame
October 1-5 2008: The Nose
October 2-7 2008: Chowanschtschina
October 3 2008 - February 15 2009: Der Rosenkavalier
October 22-31 2008: Manon Lescaut
October 30- November 6 2008: Lohengrin
November 20 2008- May 8 2009: La Traviata
November 28 2008- April 12 2009: Aida
November 30 2008- May 31 2009: Tannhäuser
December 8 2008- February 12 2009: Daphne
December 13 2008- March 11 2009: Lucia di Lammermoor
December 14-28 2008: Hänsel und Gretel
December 17 2008- January 9 2009: Cunning Little Vixen
December 18 2008- January 4 2009: La Bohème
January 7- June 24 2009: Tosca
January 18- February 14 2009: Die Ägyptische Helena
January 25- February 10 2009: Salome
January 28- February 13 2009: Cassandra / Elektra
February 8-27 2009: Ariadne auf Naxos
March 8- July 3 2009: Carmen
March 13- April 25 2009: Un Ballo in Maschera
March 26- April 4 2009: Andrea Chenier
April 9-24 2009: Marie Victoire
April 30- May 9 2009: Eugene Onegin
May 20- June 2 2009: La Cenerentola
May 26- June 18 2009: Der Freischütz
May 27- June 6 2009: Madama Butterfly
June 10-21 2009: Tristan und Isolde
June 17-25 2009: Le Nozze di Figaro
June 26- July 4 2009: Tiefland
Valery Gergiev conducts Pique Dame, The Nose, Chowanschtschina. Bo Skovhus sings the title role of Eugene Onegin. Roberto Alagna sings Fritz in L'Amico Fritz, with Angela Gheorghiu as Suzel. Gheorghiu returns in May for La Traviata, and in June for Tosca. Angelika Kirchschlager sings the title role of Carmen and Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier. Nancy Gustafson sings the Feldmarschallin in the latter, but only in December. Mariusz Kwiecien sings in the March performances of Lucia, opposite of Burcu Uyar and Elena Mosuc, who share the title role with Ruth Ann Swenson.
The only reason I went to hear Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier at the Bavarian State Opera was because Felicity Lott and Angelika Kirchschlager were singing. Good thing I didn't go to hear Walter Fink, for he fell ill and his part was sung by Artur Korn. I am not fond of R. Strauss, though I was surprised by his Ariadne. Der Rosenkavalier has some much more modern elements that I did not enjoy, such as grinding noise maker and wind chime sounds. Sometimes the music was high-flown and melodramatic, sometimes simply noise, sometimes charmingly waltzy with a hysterical edge.
The set was the most beautiful I have ever seen. It was as if they had stolen a couple of rooms out of the Wittelbach residences. The Rococo splendor of the first two acts was highly impressive. Act I was in the Feldmarschallin's bedroom, and the walls were covered with painted scenes, the room was all pale green, ivory, and gold, with beautiful carved doors in the center. The floor was covered with a light green carpet, with ivory flowers at the edges. Act II was in a receptional hall within the Faninal residence, and it was light blue, ivory, and gold, with all manner of elaborate cupids and garlands decorating the walls, which also had cabinets filled with porcelain. The center doors were glass, revealing a staircase in the background. The floor was painted to look like a yellowish marble. Act III looked like the set to La Boheme.
The costumes were just as beautiful as the set. The choreography was pretty good, Kirchschlager as a good presence and a clear boyishness perfect for Octavian. Lott moves elegantly as the Feldmarschallin. Korn played the unctous Baron quite well also. The worst choreography was when Octavian brings the rose to Sophie, he enters through the center doors, and she faces away from him toward the audience, face expectant, leaning forward with arms out as if ready to take flight. This was awkward and ugly. She also stamped her feet a lot.
As for the singing, Lott's clear, cold soprano was quite nice with Kirchschlager's warmer, mezzo tones. Bass Korn wasn't bad, but his timing seemed somewhat off. Soprano Heidi Grant Murphy made a good Sophie, her sweet voice sounds young, though almost a bratty whine at times. Her voice was a little quiet, especially in contrast to her maid's. Also, tenor Eduardo Villa was back in an opera playing a singer once again. We last saw him in Die Fledermaus as an opera singer. His voice is exceptionally pretty.
I should mention this production had two small dogs in it, in Act II, handled by one Manolito Mario Franz. They were very well behaved. Bravi!
Due to a scheduling mishap, La Cenerentola and Angelika Kirchschlager's recital of Lieder von Franz Schubert on one evening. The opera started at 5pm and ended at 8:15pm, the recital began at 8pm but was only 5 minutes away by taxi. Nonetheless, the first half of the Lieder were missed. Straining to listen in the hallway, but it was not quiet enough.
The second viewing of La Cenerentola only confirmed my great love for this particular production. Due credit must be given Grischa Asagaroff, who directed, since Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, who headed up the staging, set, and costumes, died in 1988. The singing of all the principals again was quite good, the choreography was perfect, and this time Martin Gantner was well enough to run. I feel it is also only fair to say the title role is quite difficult, for coloratura contralto, and that Antonacci did an admirable job.
On the program for mezzo-soprano Kirchschlager were the following Schubertlieder:
Du bist die Ruh
Der Tod und das Mädchen
Die junge Nonne
Ellens Gesänge Nr. 1- 3
Die Liebende schreibt
Kirchschlager's voice is clear and warm, without the slightest darkness whatsoever. She has very good control and precise enunciation.
Le Nozze di Figaro at the Metropolitan Opera was quite simply the best opera I have ever been to. Everything was amazingly marvelous. The difference between the San Francisco Opera and the Met is vast, despite the fact that they get some of the same singers and conductors and so forth.
First of all, Mozart is my favorite opera composer, and I've seen Le Nozze before in San Francisco. It simply blew me away, because it was just so much better than Puccini, Bizet et al. It was the longest opera I had seen at that point, yet I was fully engaged in it. So I was perfectly willing to see it again at the Met.
The Metropolitan Opera lives at the Lincoln Center. The building is, sadly, quite ugly, and also gigantic, though the acoustics seem to be good. They don't have a projection screen for supertitles, which great because I never need that kind of distraction. Instead they have a small screen on the backs of the seats, which one can leave on the off position. I don't understand why one can't just read the libretto, or learn Italian, but I'm crazy.
Money cannot buy happiness, so they say, but it can buy very good opera seats. Our seats were center third row orchestra, and we managed not to sit behind giants, so the view of the stage was good and the sound was good there. I could even see and hear the conductor, which is a rarity for me. I've been to operas that Donald Runnicles has conducted at San Francisco Opera, but I've never seen him up close. He looks very different than the photograph that he uses in the programs.
All of the singers were consistently good and at the same excellent level. This was a striking difference between the Met and SF operas. The singers were as good as the ones at the Volksoper in Vienna. Rebecca Evans was charming as Susanna, her voice was sweet, warm, and clear as ever. I've seen this Welsh soprano as Adina in the San Francisco production of L'Elisir d'Amore, in which she was also brilliant. Melanie Diener had the part of the Countess, and her voice was colder and airier. It was a nice foil, actually. Ferruccio Furlanetto also did a splendid job as Figaro, he also has a warm rich voice.