Daniele Gatti

Aida at the Metropolitan Opera

Met-aida * Notes * 
A revival of Aida opened earlier this month at the Metropolitan Opera, and the Opera Tattler attended last Saturday's matinée at a score desk. The orchestra sounded tastefully restrained under Daniele Gatti, but not without emotion. The tempi and the dynamic nuances were unmistakable, and the playing was fairly clean and rarely overwhelmed the singers. The chorus was very much in unison, synchronized with each other and the orchestra.

Stefan Kocán sounded both creaky and shaky as Il Re, whereas Carlo Guelfi (Amonasro) was much more authoritative and commanding. Johan Botha's hefty voice is not particularly sweet, and his attempts at dolce and dolcissimo were not exactly on the mark. As Radamès, Botha was able to make distinctions in the dynamics, yet be heard. Dolora Zajick (Amneris) was cold, especially at first, but her "L'aborrita rivale a me sfuggia" was incredible. In the title role, Violeta Urmana had a range of expression in her voice, she could sound completely insane or absolutely delicate. The chorus and the three leads came together beautifully for "Immenso Ftha" at the very end.

* Tattling * 
The seating on the sides of the Family Circle confused more than one person, and I was asked more than once if I was in a given person's seat. I tried my best to explain that I was at a score desk, and that it was unlikely that he or she would want to sit where the stage could not be seen anyway. There was a minor altercation between a young lady and an elderly one, it seems that people can be quite cantankerous about the seating.

There was lots and lot of applause at the beginning of the Triumphal March, perhaps because of the horses used in this production. One is tempted to see The Met: Live in HD broadcast of Aida this Saturday.

Und suche dir, Gänser, die Gans!

Bayreuther-parsifal * Notes * 
The final performance of Parsifal at this year's Bayreuther Festspiele was last night. The orchestra sounded fine under Daniele Gatti, and the chorus was absolutely lovely. The singing was good all around, everyone could be heard, even though the production did have the singers far upstage at times. Mihoko Fujimura was utterly terrifying as Kundry, her movements were reptilian and her voice stunning, without a trace of shrillness. Likewise, Thomas Jesatko (Klingsor) acted well and sang adeptly. Diógenes Randes was appropriately grave as Titurel, and Detlef Roth was deeply engaged with his role as Amfortas. Kwangchul Youn's rich, warm tones were welcome in his portrayal of Gurnemanz. In the title role, Christopher Ventris did not fail to impress. He sang with power and very little strain.

Stefan Herheim's production was nauseating, there was just so much going on, lots of movement, many lights and mirrors, and much noise during the music. It seemed that every moment was packed with explanation of not only the plot, but also something about German history in the 20th century. There were many cinematic references from campy musicals to Josef von Sternberg. At the same time, much of the staging felt highly predictable, for instance, the swan that appeared on a shield just above the bed in the middle of Act I was clearly going to be shot by Parsifal, and naturally, it was.

* Tattling * 
The audience was far from silent, there was even yelling during the performance, especially when Nazis appeared on stage. The woman in Row 5 Seat 18 of the Right Parkett must have bathed in perfume, and her poor father had absolutely no idea what was going on with the opera. They were at least less idiotic than the person who took a flash photograph when a mirror was turned toward the audience.

There was some clapping at the end of Act I, which was hushed and hissed at by others. During the last curtain calls there were scattered boos for Gatti, but nothing near the palpable outrage about Die Meistersinger the previous evening.