Le Nozze di Figaro

Gran Teatre del Liceu's 2008-2009 Season

October 4-20 2008: Tiefland
November 11-30 2008: Le nozze di Figaro
December 23 2008- January 14 2009: Simon Boccanegra
January 3-10 2009: El retablo de Maese Pedro
February 3-15 2009: L'incoronazione di Poppea
March 17- April 18 2009: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
April 20- May 2 2009: La cabeza del Bautista
May 18- June 2 2009: Fidelio
June 19- July 7 2009: Salome
July 21-31 2009: Turandot

Barcelona's opera season was announced in January. Karita Mattila sings Fidelio, Nina Stemme sings Salome, and Bo Skovhus sings in Die Meistersinger. The one Baroque offering is a production by David Alden.

2008-2009 Season | Official Site

Dallas Opera's 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 Seasons

November 14-22 2008: Le Nozze Di Figaro
December 5-13 2008: Die Fledermaus
January 23-21 2009: Roberto Devereux
February 13-21 2009: La Bohème
March 6-14 2009: L'Italiana in Algeri

James Valenti is having his Dallas Opera debut as Rodolfo. William Burden is singing Lindoro in L'Italiana in Algeri, in the production San Francisco Opera audiences saw in 2005, directed by Chris Alexander. The Fledermaus production from Seattle Opera, last performed there in 2006, was also produced by Alexander.

The 2009-2010 season was announced today:

October 2009: Otello
February 2010: Così fan tutte
February/March 2010: Don Pasquale
Late April 2010: Moby-Dick
May 2010: Madama Butterfly

The new Winspear Opera House will be open by then. Most interesting in this inaugural season is the world premiere of Jake Heggie's Moby-Dick, conducted by Patrick Summers and starring Ben Heppner. The work is a co-commission and co-production with San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, and Calgary Opera.

Press Release [PDF]

Seattle Opera's 2008-2009 Season

August 2-23 2008: Aida
August 16 2008: International Wagner Competition
October 18- November 1 2008: Elektra
January 10-24 2009: Les Pêcheurs de Perles
February 21- March 7 2009: Bluebeard's Castle and Erwartung
May 2-16 2009: Le Nozze di Figaro

I may avoid Aida, as Andrea Gruber is in the title role, and her vibrato is overwhelming. I am not terribly fond of Les Pêcheurs de Perles, but William Burden will sing Nadir, so I might just go, considering it is also during the San Francisco Opera hiatus. I am most interested in hearing Bluebeard's Castle, as I missed this in Los Angeles. John Relyea is singing the title role in Seattle. Mariusz Kwiecien is singing the Count in Figaro, but the rest of the cast may not be up to his level.

Seattle PI Article

Santa Fe Opera's 2008 Season

June 27- August 23 2008: Falstaff
June 28- August 22 2008: Le Nozze di Figaro
July 12- August 21 2008: Billy Budd
July 19- August 20 2008: Radamisto
July 26- August 12 2008: Adriana Mater

The next season at Santa Fe Opera includes the US premiere of Kaija Saariaho's newest opera. Naturally the production of Händel is from David Alden, whose work I am all too familiar with from Munich. David Daniels will be singing the title role of Radamisto. William Burden is singing Starry Vere in Billy Budd. Mariusz Kwiecien will be singing Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro.

Press Release | Season Overview

Se vuol ballere, signor Contino

FigaroactiA revival of Le Nozze di Figaro opened last Saturday, directed by John Copley. The production is of the standard traditional type, the setting is a Spanish villa, curiously there is no set designer credited. There are four sets, one for each act, none painfully elaborate, no moving parts, everything is quiet and simple. This is not to say the sets were not beautiful nor to suggest they were modernist in any way. The costumes were also 18th century, they were not striking but also not gaudy.

The cast is rather impressive, both vocally and dramatically. The only errors I noticed were minor. Camilla Tilling (Susanna) had her debut at San Francisco Opera with this performance. Her voice is pretty, though she has a bit of a raw edge. She cracked just slightly during Venite, inginocchiatevi in Act II, and she and Relyea seemed slightly off from the music in Act I, but just for a few seconds.

Peter Mattei sings Count Almaviva well, I have never heard him in another role, but I did hear him in Le Nozze at Bayerische Staatsoper. His voice is pleasing and sweet. He acts well even though he is terribly tall and gangly, he manages to look elegant. I first saw this production in 1997 with Bo Skovhus as the Count, so I'm a bit spoilt. Skovhus is amazing.

John Relyea is slightly more awkward as Figaro, though he is not as tall, I believe it is something about how he holds his hands. His voice is rich, he can hit all the notes in the lower range with enough ease to be quite pleasing. He is not terribly subtle in his shading, but it is Figaro, so this is fine. It is straightforward music.

Ruth Ann Swenson was a marvelous Countess Almaviva. Her voice is cold, sweet, and bright, never shrill, with great control. Her carriage is also good, clear even from the back of the balcony.

The audience was appalling. Apparently it is too difficult for certain people to arrive on time, and in the balcony, the ushers cordon off the seating and then watch the operas themselves. This leaves tardy and disgruntled patrons to wait in the standing room area. They are often disoriented, out of breath, and not particularly polite. They speak and one man decided that he was going to wedge himself between me and my companion. He apologized as he put his elbow between us, this was during Figaro's cavatina in Act I. I suggested that next time, he might wait until the music was over before he inserted himself between people. I do not enjoy talking during the opera, and what's worse this didn't make him leave. There wasn't enough room for him there, so my companion and I spread out just a little more so that he had to remove his elbow from the railing. He was pretty close to me, we were touching, but he was pressed up against my companion, and she had to kick him away. He wanted to intimidate us into making room for him, and possibly he did not know we were together. It was unpleasant but also humorous. He finally left after Act I, when he was seated.

During Act III, a young blonde wearing noisy high-heeled mules was late after intermission. She was uncomfortable and walked around a lot and also spoke to her friend, once loudly exclaiming "Totally!"

San Francisco Opera needs to keep late people in their own special section. Los Angeles Opera has a telecast in the lobby, and they simply don't let you in at Bayerische Staatsoper if you are late.

Farfallone Amoroso

BsolenozzeLe nozze di Figaro at the Bayerische Staatsoper has been the best production of a Mozart opera I have seen to date there. Too bad two cellular phones rang during the performance. How difficult can it be to remember to turn a noisy electronic item while at a performance?

As soon as the curtain when up, one could tell this was a Dorn/Rose staging, since the scene change curtain was painted much in the manner of their curtain in Così. The stage consisted of one room with with white canvas walls and three doorways. In Act I the light blue doors were off their hinges, in Act II they were set right, in Act III there were dark blue doors, and in Act IV there were no doors. The furnishings were typical Rococo-style, and the floor was covered with various painted designs to look like carpet until the last act, when it was replaced by one large plain white sheet with two smaller sheets as furnishings. Dieter Dorn and Jürgen Rose returned to the silly device of having the singers hide under the sheets and crawl around under them. At least Figaro did not go through the wall as Guglielmo did in Così, though the former was illuminated through the canvas wall as he eavesdropped on Susanna's "Deh vieni."

The costumes were very much like what one always sees in Mozart operas, and were pretty. The only glaring error was perhaps putting Magdalena Kozená in knickers that were perhaps too close fitting, as she was to be the boy Cherubino, and has very adorable girl-thighs that were only exaggerated by the beige trousers.

The choreography was not too bad, the dance-like steps that were interspersed worked quite well. Amanda Roocroft was especially good with movement, she was a sassy Countess. However, they had trouble with Cherubino, making him too childish. Though in the scene when he escapes the Count, they have Cherubino jump into the orchestra pit, and this comes off very well.

Ivor Bolton's conducting was not impressive, one never feels that he has full control.

The singing was of high-caliber, it was too bad the prompter was over on the side and there were a few problems with synchronicity. Peter Mattei was an impressive Almaviva, his voice is very sweet. The Swedish baritone is of an imposing height, he must be 6'4''. On the other hand, the two British sopranos, Amanda Roocroft and Rosemary Joshua, cannot be much more than 5' tall each. They both have lovely voices, and nicely distinct from one another. Roocroft (Countess Almaviva) has a pretty voice that is slightly cold and thin but not too quiet, whereas Joshua (Susanna), whose voice is also pretty, is warmer in tone and more flexible. The latter was especially impressive and angelic in the aforementioned "Deh vieni." The bass John Relyea was a charming Figaro, but also quite tall, and thus looks somewhat silly in knee breeches. Relyea's voice was as impressive as it was in Cenerentola: warm, clear, good volume. His diction is also very precise, the accents are all neatly on the correct syllables. Magdalena Kozená is no Kirchschlager, but was an adequate Cherubino. Kozená's voice is like an angel's, but very light.

Le Nozze di Figaro at the Met

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.