Bayerische Staatsoper

Bayerische Staatsoper's 2012-2013 Season

September 23 2012- June 29 2013: Tannhäuser
September 30- October 30 2012: Fidelio
October 7 2012- July 24 2013: Tosca
October 27 2012- July 21 2013: Babylon
October 28- November 4 2012: Dialogues des Carmélites
November 5-16 2012: Rusalka
November 11 2012- July 3 2013: Lohengrin
November 22- December 1 2012: Turandot
November 24- December 8 2012: Die Zauberflöte
December 6 2012- July 20 2013: La bohème
December 15 2012- July 24 2013: Rigoletto
December 16-22 2012: Hänsel und Gretel (1965 Production)
December 23 2012- January 4 2013: Aida
January 31 2012: Die Fledermaus
January 5- July 13 2013: Das Rheingold
January 6- July 14 2013: Die Walküre
January 9- July 15 2013: Siegfried
January 10-20 2013: Lucrezia Borgia
January 13- July 18 2013: Götterdämmerung
January 14-19 2013: Madama Butterfly
January 29- February 6 2013: Carmen
February 9-16 2013: Il barbiere di Siviglia
February 13- July 30 2013: Boris Godunow
February 18-24 2013: I Capuleti e i Montecchi
March 3- July 11 2013: Tristan und Isolde
March 6-16 2013: Jenufa
March 17- July 10 2013: Ariadne auf Naxos
March 24- April 4 2013: Hänsel und Gretel (New Production)
March 28- July 31 2013: Parsifal
March 31- July 16 2013: Otello
April 14- June 28 2013: Der fliegende Holländer
April 30- May 4 2013: L'elisir d'amore
May 3-12 2013: Don Giovanni
May 3-9 2013: Elegie für junge Liebende
May 5- July 29 2013: Macbeth
May 18- July 23 2013: Les Contes d'Hoffmann
May 20- July 9 2013: La Traviata
June 3- July 12 2013: Simon Boccanegra
June 27- July 8 2013: Il Trovatore
July 6 2013: Falstaff
July 23-27 2013: Written on Skin
July 25-28 2013: Don Carlo

The 2012-2013 season for Bayerische Staatsoper was announced on March 12, 2012.

Official Site | 2012-2013 Premieres

Don Giovanni at Bayerische Staatsoper

Don-giovanni-bso2009 Our correspondent in Germany, Opernphrenologe, was recently in Munich. What follows is a lightly edited review of the new Don Giovanni production that recently opened at Bayerische Staatsoper.

   * Notes *
The premiere of Don Giovanni, directed by Stephan Kimmig, in München started out badly enough. The curtain opened to reveal a naked old man with saggy boobs, shivering. From that point on, the production continued to get steadily worse. Behind him were a bunch of shipping containers that moved around and opened throughout the opera. One of the worst scenes was the wedding party, which was a rave with two 3-foot high penguin statues that people danced with. The masks were snorkeling masks, and there were half-naked lesbian snow bunnies humping each other here and there. Even worse was the send-Giovanni-to-Hell scene. Heaven was a shipping container, this time filled with people dressed like priests and army soldiers. Giovanni was cooking dinner in his modern kitchen (located in a shipping container that also contained around 20 mannequins), and he was sent to Hell by shaking hands with a chain of hand-holding army dudes and priests. When they let go, Giovanni fell to the ground next to his modern food processor. Profound. There was also a film screen that added absolutely nothing to the production, except to perhaps make it worse, as if it needed help in that department. At the end, everyone danced around, and old-naked-man came out again with his old-man-boobs to blow on some pinwheels.

Mariusz Kwiecien (Don Giovanni) did not sing as well as I remember him singing before. He sounded like he was mumbling and there was not much dynamic range in his voice. Perhaps he had a cold? Then again, he was definitely slimy, and an especially bad moment was when he pretended to give a doll a horseback ride on his knee. Maija Kovalevska (Donna Elvira) was a hippy backpacker chick in this particular production. Her voice was sweet and lovely, and she was incredibly fit. She must work out a lot. My favorite singer was Pavol Breslik (Don Ottavio), and I guess others agreed since he received loud applause at the end. His interpretation of the music was wonderful, with lots of dynamics and a sugary tone. However, even he could not make up for the flat, off-tune, and downright ugly singing of Ellie Dehn (Donna Anna). Her famous aria was like nails on a chalkboard. Fortunately for her, most people do not have perfect pitch and she received lukewarm applause at the end (with only a few buh's). The orchestra was also lightly buh'd. It is true that they were a bit sloppy, but they were not bad. They were like a player piano that had played the same tune one too many times. Some of the horn section looked angry when they were buh'd, which I suppose is understandable. After all, it is the conductor's (in this case, Kent Nagano's) job to interpret the music and not allow them to be sloppy.

The producers were heartily buh'd at the end. Some people responded to the buh'ing with loud applause, as if they somehow "got" the profundity of the production while the buh'ers did not. Or perhaps they just found the old-man-boobs incredibly sexy. I might guess the latter.

* Tattling * 
We did not have tickets for this production, since it sold out and I tried to buy tickets too late. Instead, we bought tickets from vicious female ticket scalpers who fought amongst themselves to unload their overpriced tickets on us. It was fearsome to watch them in action, and we both needed to tipple afterwards. My companion was an Opera Virgin, and we acquired her ticket from the only nice scalper in the bunch. I suspect that my companion will never willingly attend opera again -- the production was that bad. The audience was unusually engaged compared to the average performance (but perhaps not for a premiere). They seemed extremely pleased with themselves during the hearty buh'ing at the end.

Bayerische Staatsoper's 2009-2010 Season

September 19 2009- July 20 2010: Ariadne auf Naxos
September 20 2009- July 6 2010: Lucrezia Borgia
October 4 2009- June 12 2010: Carmen
October 11 2009- July 9 2010: Jenůfa
October 15 2009- July 29 2010: Lohengrin
October 31 2009- July 8 2010: Don Giovanni
November 1-8 2009: Eugene Onegin
November 13-25 2009: Il turco in Italia
November 27- December 25 2009: Hänsel und Gretel
December 1 2009- July 27 2010: L'elisir d'amore
December 2-12 2009: Der fliegende Holländer
December 6-20 2009: Die Zauberflöte
December 15-30 2009: La bohème
December 29 2009- January 9 2010: La Traviata
December 31 2009- February 16 2010: Die Fledermaus
January 6- July 22 2010: Don Carlo
January 13- July 31 2010: Tannhäuser
January 15- July 26 2010: Così fan tutte
January 22- February 2 2010: Madama Butterfly
January 31- February 7 2010: Salome
February 3- July 24 2010: Macbeth
February 21- July 4 2010: Roberto Devereux
February 22- July 12 2010: Die Tragödie des Teufels
March 7- July 17 2010: Le Nozze di Figaro
March 10-21 2010: Il barbiere di Siviglia
March 28- July 13 2010: Les dialogues des Carmélites
April 4-18 2010: Palestrina
April 16-24 2010: Wozzeck
May 12-23 2010: Aida
May 22- June 2 2010: Die Entführung aus dem Serail
June 7-29 2010: Medea in Corinto
June 28- July 19 2010: Tosca
July 20-30 2010: Die schweigsame Frau

Mariusz Kwiecien and Erwin Schrott share the role of Don Giovanni. Kwiecien also sings Almaviva in Figaro. Nadja Michael stars opposite Ramón Vargas in Medea in Corinto, current Adler Alek Shrader has the role of Egeo. Shrader also sings Almaviva in Il Barbiere. Mattila sings Tosca opposite Jonas Kaufmann, with Juha Uusitalo as Scarpia.

Official Site | 2009-2010 Season

An Opera Outing


I'm being kept quite busy with non-opera activities, so I present to you an opera painting from 2003. This acrylic on paper work was painted after I had gone to a performance of Händel's Serse at the Bavarian State Opera. It was one of the few times in Munich that I wasn't in standing room. The Königsloge is quite nice, the painting does not capture how shiny it is. This is one of the first paintings I had ever sold.

Details of Painting | Performance Review of Serse

Bayerische Staatsoper's 2008-2009 Season

October 2 2008- July 24 2009: Macbeth
October 4-11 2008: Das Gehege / Salome
October 5 2008- July 13 2009: Norma
October 19-25 2008: Die Bassariden
October 23- November 2 2008: Eugene Onegin
November 1-6 2008: Die Entführung aus dem Serail
November 8 2008- May 21 2009: Der fliegende Holländer
November 10 2008- January 31 2009: Wozzeck
November 22 2008- March 27 2009: Tamerlano
November 24 2008- July 26 2009: Luisa Miller
November 28 2008- July 7 2009: Werther
December 9-14 2008: Doktor Faustus
December 13-18 2008: Hänsel und Gretel
December 17 2008- May 31 2009: La Bohème
December 21-28 2008: Die Zauberflöte
December 23 2008- June 15 2009: La Traviata
December 31 2008- February 24 2009: Die Fledermaus
January 4-10 2009: Carmen
January 19- July 14 2009: Palestrina
February 2-18 2009: Elektra
February 7- July 22 2009: Nabucco
February 20-26 2009: La Calisto
February 23- July 6 2009: Lucrezia Borgia
March 1- July 31 2009: Falstaff
March 14- July 30 2009: Otello
April 8- July 9 2009: Jenůfa
April 9-12 2009: Parsifal
April 26- May 2 2009: Così fan tutte
May 13-15 2009: Madama Butterfly
May 16-23 2009: Le Nozze di Figaro
June 8-30 2009: Aida
July 5-19 2009: Lohengrin
July 13-20 2009: Ariadne auf Naxos
June 14- July 30 2009: Idomeneo

Nicola Luisotti is conducting a new production of Macbeth next season at the Bavarian State Opera. Željko Lučić sings the title role, Nadja Michael sings Lady Macbeth, and Dimitri Pittas is Macduff. Anna Netrebko sings in the May performances of La Bohème, with Joseph Calleja as her Rodolfo. John Relyea sings Colline. Relyea is also singing the title role in Le Nozze di Figaro, with Lucas Meachem as the Count. Angela Gheorghiu is Violetta Valéry in the June performances of La Traviata, singing opposite Jonas Kaufmann. Simon Keenlyside is Germont. Paolo Gavanelli sings the title role of Nabucco during the Münchner Opernfestspiele 2009. Earlier in the year he also sings Sharpless in Madama Butterfly.

New Productions for 2008-2009 | Official Site

Lucia at ENO

LuciaenoThe English National Opera presented Lucia di Lammermoor for the first time this season, and the last performance was yesterday. The adorable Anna Christy made her British debut in the title role, despite recently suffering bronchitis. She has a sweet, warbling sort of voice, and from the reviews, it sounds like she was adequate, not distinguishing herself but not awful either. She certainly didn't get as much attention as the whole lip-synching incident of the opening performance.


The Lucia production looks quite tame for David Alden, dark but not absurd. Neil Fisher titled his Times interview "David Alden, the Stephen King of Opera," which I don't find particularly apt, having seen half a dozen of Alden's productions. Stephen King is popular, and is known for horror. David Alden's productions did not seem popular at Bayerische Staatsoper, where I heard him booed a couple of times. Nor was his Rodelinda at San Francisco Opera popular, though not nearly as reviled as Anna Viebrock's Alcina or the recent Macbeth from Zürich.


David Alden's work isn't exactly horror either, though he did have the valkyries give the audience gesto dell'ombrello with those wands airport ground handlers use in Die Walküre, for which he was he was roundly booed for at the end of the premiere. The enormous Playmobil doll whose trousers fall down in Rinaldo was also vaguely horrific (and also garnered the audience's vitriol), though I did like the cupcake frosting hairdos on the sirens. His Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria  has the distinction of being the only opera performance for which I had a ticket for but did not turn up to simply because I could not bear to watch what he had done with Monteverdi another time.

Trexgiuliocesare_2It is more self-indulgent than truly scary, even the T-Rex used for Giulio Cesare is not frightening! This image was used in Bayerische Staatsoper's advertising, and alas, I never managed to see it, as it was put on shortly before I arrived in Munich. For the past few years I've successfully avoided David Alden's productions and I'm slightly annoyed to see that the Radamisto at Santa Fe this summer is his. As there are not many Baroque operas being performed at major opera companies, it does seem inevitable that I will be forced to see Alden's work again.

Times Interview | ENO | BSO | Santa Fe Opera

Fidelio at Bayerische Staatsoper

Fidelio* Notes *
Peter Mussbach's production of Fidelio, which premiered at Bayerische Staatsoper in 1999, is infuriating and yet strangely dull. The set is boring, despite the many scene changes. It was also rather loud, the scrims made all sorts of sounds as they banged against the stage and a certain metal door squealed when opened or closed. There were bizarre choices of when have the curtain down, as in the middle "O welche Lust" and during the Overture to Leonore No. 3, which was placed, as it sometimes is, between Florestan and Leonore's duet and "Heil sei dem Tag!" The choreography was simply stupid, why have Marzelline spin around in joy and then grab the wall or have everyone space themselves neatly like sculptures on a staircase?

The costumes, by Andrea Schmidt-Futterer, are likewise unexciting, lots of white and grey, though at some point Jaquino wore a skirt for just one scene. Certainly the most annoying part of the production is Konrad Lindenberg's lighting, or rather, lack thereof. The faces of the singers were perpetually in shadow, which dampened their dramatic force. Ridiculously, the rest of the stage was lit well, so one could see a staircase, or a heater, or a pile of dirt perfectly clearly.

Christof Prick's conducting was not inspired, the horns sounded off in the overture of Act I, and generally it seemed somewhat slow. The chorus sounded rather strange in the last scene, for they were placed in rows beneath the principal singers. Waltraud Meier was at least reasonable visually in the title role, but vocally she was brittle and out of tune. Robert Dean Smith was somewhat reedy as Florestan. The rest of the cast was fine, certainly best was René Pape's Rocco. His voice has good volume but is also nuanced. Martin Gantner sang the small role of Don Fernando, and as usual was not unpleasant.

* Tattling *
The audience distinctly less well-behaved than at Parsifal, though, at least, there was no late seating. There was whispering throughout, a chief offender on the orchestra level was in Row 17 Seat 696. This white-haired fellow also turned some sort of device on during the overture, for his face was bathed in a blue light for a few seconds. A person to his left peered over at him, confused by the visual disturbance. There were also two beeps during Act I, at least one was during an interlude in which Florestan and Leonore's voices are heard, but there is no music.

Parsifal at Bayerische Staatsoper

Parsifal* Notes *
Paper was the main motif in Peter Konwitschny's production of Parsifal currently at Bayerische Staatsoper. The set was first hidden by a scrim covered with pieces of paper reading, in various languages, "Erlösung dem Erlöser," the last line of the opera. Act I featured a stage littered with white sheets of paper, a papier-mâché ramp with branches, and a red piece of paper hanging from the ceiling. Act II had many saffron colored pieces of paper hanging from the ceiling, along with the same white sheets still strewn across the floor. Act III had an enormous black sheet hanging at center stage, in addition to black sheets scattered around, and a medium-sized sheet covering the corpse of Titurel. Even the prompt box was covered with paper, at first matching the scrim and at the end black.

The set and costumes, both by Johannes Leiacker, seemed somewhat incongruous. The knights wore long grey coats, Parsifal fleecy lederhosen without a shirt, and both Klingsor and Amfortas wore black robes over their bloody loincloths. At first Kundry had on inexplicable flowered pants, a short wrap dress, and a black blazer with one patched elbow, but changed into a black and red evening gown in her siren guise. The set moved in a clever manner so that changes of scene were unproblematic. The ramp that Kundry rode her toy wood horse down for her entrance lifted up to become a tree that holds the grail. Parts of the stage could be raised and lowered, quite handy for bringing in the choruses of knights or flower maidens.

The production did make me laugh, especially when Parsifal made his entrance by attacking the red sheet of paper as he swung from a rope. Naturally he wore an Indian head dress and carried a stick bow. Another choice part was when Parsifal threw a tantrum at the end of Act II, breaking a plastic statue of the Virgin Mary so that her head fell off. When Kundry started menacing poor Parsifal with the Mary head, I thought I would lose my composure completely.

Perhaps Kent Nagano is still easing in to his position as the Generalmusikdirector, as his tenure began last September. There were moments when the orchestra was not together. The chorus also had a few problems of this sort, especially at the end of Act I.

As Amfortas, Martin Gantner found a certain balance that the others lacked. The baritone acted well and had good volume and control, and his only weakness was a brightness that is not best suited for someone long-suffering. It was rather shocking to see Gantner in little more than diapers, his legs are very skinny. Bass John Tomlinson looked like a proper Gurnemanz, his voice was shaky and gravelly, which is fairly apropos. Luana DeVol was piercing as Kundry, she had a frightening amount of vibrato, especially when she sang "Parsifal! Bleibe!" in Act II. Nikolai Schukoff was a convincing youthful Parsifal, his voice is also rather bright and young, without much heft. He did strain somewhat, and gasped here and there. He saved himself for the last act, his last notes in the opera were beautiful.

* Tattling *
The audience was well-behaved, as it is only a certain type that will go hear Wagner in Germany. There was no late seating, no ringing of mobile phones, no watch beeping, and no speaking aloud. Thankfully for you, gentle reader, there were certainly transgressions nonetheless. Some young men in the standing area of the Second Tier Left Row 1, Places 1 and 3 waited for the very last moment go to their spots. This was in hopes of nabbing some seats, but there were very few left, and none together. They pushed their way behind the three others in this standing section and then one sat up on one of the barrier walls (his head practically touched the ceiling) and the other had himself perched on the railing. The seats in the Nationaltheater are small and creak a great deal, plus the shape of the theater is such that it is difficult to see all of the stage from the sides. Audience members on the sides would sometimes just stand up so that they could see what was happening. There were isolated cases of whispering, mostly in the first act. A woman in Row 1 Seat 17 unwrapped a candy.

The Münchner have a peculiar habit of trying to find the best possible place in spite of whatever ticket they may hold. The person next to me in Place 15 found a seat in Row 3, and no one was on either side of me for the first act. In Act II, the woman who had Place 17 on the other side of the aisle decided that 15 was better, and stood next to me. She took off her shoes and kept ducking so that she could see the supertitles, then she finally sat in the aisle. During Act III two other women surrounded me, for I moved to Place 11 to get away from the aisle woman. I noticed that the latter fell asleep at one point, as she rested her head on the railing.


BsoelektraYesterday I attended a performance of Richard Strauss's Elektra at the Bavarian State Opera. Peter Schneider conducted well, as usual, and the orchestra seemed very much together. Herbert Wernicke's production was uninspired. It involved a huge black square door that would open to various degrees, but on a diagonal. They also utilized one of the boxes on the left, which must have been dreadfully obscured if one was on the left as well. The costumes were silly, the women wore shifts and the men modern suits. The lead, Gabriele Schnaut, perspired through her costume throughout. Very charming.

The choreography seemed non-existent. Schnaut looked uncomfortable even when she was not moving at all, and when they had her dance around with an axe, it was not pleasing to the eye. Jane Henschel, as Clytamnestra, was given a huge velvet curtain to use as a mantel. Her movements down the staircase revealed when the giant door swung its widest, were awkward. Her subsequent displays of the mantel were also absurd.

The singing wasn't too bad, Schnaut was much better in this than as Brünnhilde last season, as the part is much less demanding. Inga Nielsen had the perfect voice for Chrysothemis: sweet, thin, and bird-like. Her final "Orest, Orest" was haunting. Alan Held (Orestes) had a noble, strong voice, his duet with Schnaut was one of the best parts of the evening. Henschel's voice seemed dark and rich, I would like to hear her in a bigger part.

The music was not to my taste. At times, R. Strauss seems to make everything very loud in order to disguise how bad his music is. Though the opera is not even two hours long, it melodramatically clunks along. To his credit, there were moments that were quite beautiful as well. That Strauss! A first-rate second-rate composer, indeed. Toscanini said of him, "To Strauss the musician I take off my hat; to Strauss the man I put it on again." I just giggle.

Die heil'ge deutsche Kunst!

BsomeistersingerThe Münchner Festspiele and the 2002-2003 opera season at the Bayerische Staatsoper ended with a performance of Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. August Everding's production from 1979 was undoubtedly the best I have seen with this opera company, and naturally, they are getting a new one for next time.

Peter Schneider conducted impeccably. The music was very beautiful, less monumental than Der Ring, much more filled with joy. Jürgen Rose's sets and costumes were lovely, the sets were not ornate, of light wood, but filled the space nicely. The costumes were fitting for the middle of the 16th century from what I could tell, and there were no strange choices of color.

The singing and acting all came off well. Jan-Hendrik Rootering as Hans Sachs and Eike Wilm Schulte as Sixtus Beckmesser were especially good in Act II, as the latter is trying to serenade Eva, and the former is cheerfully foiling his efforts by cobbling while singing.

Robert Dean Smith as Walther von Stolzing, our headstrong Frankish knight, was charming, a very pleasing voice, but his accent in German is not perfect.

René Pape has the perfect voice for Veit Pogner, but he seems to young to be the father of Eva, just as far as his carriage.

At any rate, it was a thrilling performance. To think that the opera itself premiered in that very space!

Frosting for hair

Aldenrinaldo1The David Alden production of Rinaldo at the Bavarian State Opera was not particularly well-attended, and at each intermission, people left. This was more pronounced for this production than for Rodelinda.

Part of the problem was the singers. None of them were particularly stunning. The lead, Ann Murray, has a voice that lacks substance and depth. Her high range is not bad, but her lower range does not project well. Sometimes she uses too much vibrato. She is no Ewa Podles.

Then there were the three mediocre countertenors, really more than any audience can bear. Dominique Visse (Goffredo) has a reedy, whiny voice. Axel Köhler (Eustazio) does not have good volume. Christopher Robson (Mago cristiano, Donna, Araldo) has a pretty voice when he is within his rather limited range. There were too many points in which they had these countertenors go into their actual voices, the effect was unpleasant.

Deborah York was not horrible as Almirena. Her voice is pretty, like a little bird's. At times it was difficult to hear her over the orchestra. The best singer was Veronica Cangemi as Armida. Her volume was always good, but her voice is not beautiful. But as the villain, this is perhaps not the detriment it would be otherwise. She acted well.

The costumes were a bit random. Rinaldo wore suits with fedoras and trench coats, very simple. Almirena wore a fifties style dress, crusader armor that she stripped off to reveal a cheerleader outfit, some strapless short gown that was billowed up on the right side to make her look like she was in motion, and a corset with a tulle skirt. Armida wore an asymmetrical gold dress, then a jade colored silk outfit that looked vaguely mughal (she also wore a bindi with this). But her last outfit was most strange: she wore a huge gold mask, perhaps Southeast Asian in style; long golden claws; a gold corset; and a black poodle skirt with a gold dragon instead of the poodle.

Best of all, the sirens had frosting for hair. They looked a bit like cupcakes. Though the Mago cristiano wore stilts and a huge hat with many long spongy points.

The production was atrocious. The first scene had a larger than life-sized plastic Jesus statue, the last scene had innumerable small plastic Jesus statues lined up all across the stage. The worst was the giant plastic doll, one story tall. It was a school boy, wearing a blue hat, red tie, yellow sweater, red shorts, gray socks and black shoes. He had a spring for a neck and first appeared in Act II, scene iv. He just moved about the stage, and then his shorts fell down for some reason that is rather unclear to me. There was some tentative booing at this point.

There are many good arias in Rinaldo, but most of them seem to be in Act I. Act III is a mess, dramatically much happens, but there does not seem to be enough music to sustain this, the act is a mere 40 minutes long. The finale is brief, simply light and twinkling. As a whole, the opera did not have balance.

Prendete questo fiore

BsotraviataThe Bavarian State Opera production of La Traviata was impressive as far as the principal singers. Anna Netrebko sang Violetta, and she was simply perfect. Her voice is supple and nearly angelic. This part showed her abilities off more than in others I have heard, she was Nannetta in Falstaff at San Francisco and Natasha in War and Peace at the Met. Rolando Villazón was also good as Alfredo, his tenor utterly warm and light. Paolo Gavanelli's voice was almost too sweet to be that of Alfredo's father Giorgio. His upper range had a slight tentativeness. Various people around me booed at him, I can only think it must be for some political reason, as his voice is beautiful.

Helena Jungwirth (Annina) was again, inaudible. Ann-Katrin Naidu (Flora) alternated between shrill and throaty. The chorus was excellent in the first act, but the male chorus was not together in the second.

The staging, produced by Günter Krämer, sets by Andreas Reinhardt, was ugly, it involved walls and doors. There were leaves all over the stage. Act II, scene one included a swing, teeter-totter, and beach umbrella. The Carlo Diappi's costumes, however, were elegant. Tuxedos and evening gowns, just white and black.

The audience was more well-behaved than usual, and I was able to concentrate. It was very moving, but I don't know if that is because of the music, the performers, or simply because I was able to forget myself.


Aldenritorno1Bayerische Staatoper's production of Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria had almost no redeeming qualities. If they find Baroque operas so boring they shouldn't bother putting them on. It shows very little respect to be making Monteverdi's opera into a farce. It was so bad that even I could not sit through it twice, though I had a ticket for the performance on the 18th, the thought of going again made me feel ill.

David Alden's remarkable work included the return of the Chattering Teeth head, playboy bunnies, a gigantic projected raven, hot dogs, and the eating of a cat. If he had only stopped here, it would have been merely bad. The laughter that ensued after this must have been gratifying. I'm sure they were pleased to be able to use the Chattering Teeth head again in Siegfried.

Worse yet, the singers were made to tap dance and flamenco during the music, although the movements involved are both percussive and inappropriate for Monteverdi. It made me wish for the drunken staggering Alden has used in every other production of his I've seen, at least that is not loud. Also, some of the singers would punctuate their parts with stuttering or screaming, elements not found in the music.

It must have been difficult for the audience to focus on the singing, they talked and laughed quite a lot. Rodney Gilfry, who sang the title role, has an excellent voice, very rich and full. Vivica Genaux, as Penelope, was disappointing, the mezzo's voice is underdeveloped. She sounds light and young. Toby Spence (Telemaco) also sounded a bit young, but for his part it was appropriate.

I was unable to get a good feel for Monteverdi from this opera, as the production was distracting. The scene in which Odysseus kills the suitors had the most powerful music.