Paolo Gavanelli

Simon Boccanegra at LA Opera


* Notes *
The third performance of Simon Boccanegra (Act I Scene 2 pictured left, photograph by Robert Millard) at Los Angeles Opera on Sunday was quite good. The production originates from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and is directed here by Elijah Moshinsky. Michael Yeargan's set is sleek, and Duane Schuler's lighting did help frame the many scenes. The late Peter J. Hall's costumes are lavish and are a fine counterpoint for the relative simplicity of set.

The tempi taken by Maestro James Conlon were brisk, and occasionally the orchestra seemed somewhat rushed. The brass was fairly clean, there were no obvious sour notes. The chorus was not always right on top of the beat, but sang with passion.

The singing was solid. Stefano Secco (Gabriele) was uncharacteristically fervent, perhaps being broadcast live and sharing the stage with Plácido Domingo (Simon Boccanegra) brought out the best in the former. Domingo sounded rather like a tenor in the title role, his voice is, of course, just so resonant and beautiful. Some of his lower notes were not particularly rich. Ana María Martínez made for an ethereal yet girlish Amelia. Paolo Gavanelli made for a convincing Paolo, his voice is sumptuous. Vitalij Kowaljow (Fiesco) also has a weighty sound, and seems bottomless.

* Tattling * 
Watch alarms were heard at 3pm and 5 pm. A mobile phone rang in the middle of Act II from the Loge. The audience talked during the scene changes. A woman in Row E Seat 53 was especially loud, commenting that Domingo sounded "the same" as he always does as he was singing, and making other accurate but unhelpful comments to her husband in 54 and friend in 55.

During a pause, this friend mentioned that "in San Francisco we would have had five intermissions already" and that concessions must generate much income for that opera. An odd statement, given that this production has been performed in San Francisco twice (in 2001 and 2008), both times in two acts with one intermission. One will also note that Patina provides food and beverage for LA Opera and SF Opera.

Il Turco in Italia LA Opera

La-opera-turco * Notes *
The opening performance of Il Turco in Italia at Los Angeles Opera was delightful. The production originates from Hamburgische Staatsoper, directed there by Christof Loy, with attractive costumes and sets from Herbert Mauerauer. Here Axel Weidauer directed the amusing action to good effect, the audience certainly was engaged. Even though the specifics of immigration and Orientalism are different between Hamburg and Los Angeles, the production still made sense to an American viewer. For example, the fear of both the Romani and the Turks is more keenly felt in Germany than the United States, but this did not detract from the our understanding of the opera.

As usual, the Los Angeles Opera orchestra was sounding its best under Music Director James Conlon. The brass soli were a bit tentative, perhaps occasionally sour, but not bad. The chorus had a particularly transparent sound.

Kate Lindsey made her Los Angeles Opera debut as Zaida, she was awfully spunky and sang with zest. Maxim Mironov's light, pretty tenor suited Narciso, though there were times when he was not audible over the orchestra. Paolo Gavanelli was most impressive as Don Geronio. His voice is luminous and warm, and he always embodied the role convincingly. Thomas Allen was charming as Prosdocimo, his comic timing perfect.

As Fiorella, Nino Machaidze looked stunning, and sang well. Her voice has a penetrating quality to it, just bordering on shrill. Simone Alberghini (Selim), the Turk of this opera, was comic and his voice had good volume. He does have a lot of vibrato, but this was fine for this role.

* Tattling * 
The performance was dedicated to Maria Altmann, who died last Monday.

There was some light talking from the audience on the orchestra level, but otherwise, everyone behaved acceptably. The slow moving zombie dancers in the background of many scenes were given great applause, though so were the singers, and Machaidze received a standing ovation.

LA Opera's 2010-2011 Season

September 23- October 16 2010: Il Postino
September 26- October 17 2010: Le Nozze di Figaro
November 27- December 18 2010: Lohengrin
February 19- March 13 2011: Il Turco in Italia
March 12-27 2011: The Turn of the Screw

LA Opera's new season opens with a world premiere, with Plácido Domingo singing the part of Pablo Neruda. Domingo conducts Le Nozze, with Bo Skovhus singing Almaviva in his LA Opera debut. Ben Heppner sings the title role of Lohengrin, Soile Isokoski is Elsa, and Ortrud Dolora Zajick. Paolo Gavanelli sings Don Geronio in Il Turco. Patricia Racette and William Burden star in The Turn of the Screw.

Press Release | Official Site

Il Trittico at SF Opera

Tabarro * Notes * 
Il Trittico opened at San Francisco Opera last night with Patricia Racette singing all three of the major soprano roles. The production, directed by James Robinson, is clean and simple. Allen Moyer's sets are unostentatious, the three are not tied together in an obvious way, yet still look like they match each other. Patrick Summers had the orchestra sounding both tasteful and even. The Alders were out in full force and did very well. Tamara Wapinsky, David Lomelí, Daveda Karanas, Leah Crocetto, Heidi Melton, Daniela Mack, Austin Kness, and Kenneth Kellogg all sang at one point or another.

Brandon Jovanovich sang beautifully in Il Tabarro as Luigi. He was overwhelmed by the orchestra at one point, but perhaps because he was simply too far upstage. In her San Francisco Opera debut, Ewa Podleś was arresting as the Princess in Suor Angelica. Her voice has an incredible richness and resonance. Paolo Gavanelli was menacing in Il Tabarro and darkly hilarious in the title role of Gianni Schicchi. He too sounded wonderful, embodying the parts perfectly. Patricia Racette managed her roles of Giorgetta, Suor Angelica, and Lauretta competently. She definitely looked different as each. Racette's vibrato can be unpleasant and her singing a bit labored. However, she does convey various emotions through her voice with an intense clarity.

* Tattling * 
We were very kindly given premium orchestra seats from the chorus director. The audience around us was well-behaved, very little talking and only a few electronic noises were heard.

One could not help but notice that some of the program notes were written by a certain degenerate blogger.

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

Mistero e Malinconia


Giorgio de Chirico
Mistero e Malinconia di una Strada, 1914
Oil on canvas, 88 x 72 cm
Private collection

* Notes *
Apparently Michael Yeargan's set for Rigoletto is based on Giorgio de Chirico's architectural paintings. De Chirico (1888- 1978) started on this particular style in 1910 when he was living in Florence and moved on from metaphysical in 1919 to paint more realistically.

Mary Dunleavy did hit her high notes in "Caro Nome" for last Monday's performance. Unsurprisingly, Giuseppe Gipali and Greer Grimsley were easier to hear from the boxes than in the orchestra. The former still was so stiff as an actor, he was neither dashing nor rakish as the Duke should be. Paolo Gavanelli, on the other hand, acted well as Rigoletto, his sneering at court, his love for his daughter, his fear of the curse all came out well in his voice and movement.

* Tattling *
Some occupants of Box T chattered intermittently, and the latecomers of Box U were seated after the music started in Act I.

Sii maledetto!

Rigolettoscene13* Notes *
A revival of Rigeletto opened September 30th at San Francisco Opera. Mark Lamos' production from 1997 inaugurated the last General Director's tenure back in 2001. There were a few changes from the last time around, the dancers with exposed bosoms in the first scene were gone, and the lighting was less lurid. At least a prelapsarian Eve appeared, fully nude, holding an unbitten apple. Michael Yeargan's sets are simple but Constance Hoffman's costumes are elaborate. The last act seems to be by a canal rather than a river, but the water and reflections work nicely.

Paolo Gavanelli returned to sing the title role, which he last sang here in 1997. In her preview lecture, Alexandra Amati-Camperi mentioned that Verdi himself wanted the best baritone to sing Count Monterone, not Rigoletto, but this was not the case here. Bass-baritone Greer Grimsley sounded subdued and thin next to Gavanelli. Likewise, tenor Giuseppe Gipali did not sing the Duke's part with any verve. His voice, at least what could be heard of it, seemed pretty enough. Mary Dunleavy made a lovely Gilda, her tone is clear and bright, too bad she hit one note flat in her only aria. Perhaps she'll hit it tonight.

* Tattling *
They had a simulcast of the October 6th performance in front of city hall and at Stanford University, so General Director David Gockley addressed the audience. There were quite a lot of video cameras involved.

Nancy Pelosi was spotted in the orchestra section.

I noticed that the supertitle screens are being used to announce opera talks, opera donations, Gockley's contact information, and the electronic mailing list during intermission. How tiresome!

Also, a particular individual called her father during "La donna è mobile," so that he too could hear it. Too bad the tenor was not good.

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.

Ingrata, t'amo ancor

BsoluciaTickets to yesterday evening's performance of Lucia di Lammermoor completely sold-out, presumably because Edita Gruberova was singing the title role. She is in her 25th year of singing Lucia, and she is quite remarkable. Her voice can be the very embodiment of icy perfection. The audience screamed and clapped after "Quando rapito in estasi" for more than thirty seconds, and after the mad scene for at least a minute.

Marcello Viotti was adequate, the pacing seemed right. Robert Carsen's staging was dull, it involved walls with recessed square panels, like the ceiling of the Pantheon. These walls were arranged at angles to suggest a vanishing point of a painting and perhaps confinement. Richard Hudson's costumes all involved plaid except in the case of Lucia. This heightened the absurdity of an opera whose setting is Scotland, but whose language is Italian.

Paolo Gavanelli, as Enrico, was most impressive besides Gruberova, his baritone is very pleasant. Tenor Marcelo Alvarez was also quite good, one of the better tenors I have heard at the Bayerische Staatoper. The sextet in Act II Scene II was incredible. The only weak voice was Helena Jungwirth as Alisa, though it is a very small part with no aria. I could not hear her over the music from where I was.

Sì, piango, ma t'ammiro.

BsodoncarloIf all the operas at the Bayerische Staatsoper were as good as their current production of Don Carlo, I would never leave the Nationaltheater. It wasn't perfect, but all the singers were good, and Zubin Mehta is a fine conductor.

They chose to do their own version of Verdi's Don Carlo, something in-between the full five act version, and the later four act version. Five acts, and about 3 hours and 40 minutes of music, plus a 40 minute intermission.

The staging was clever, of course, the person in charge was Jürgen Rose with the help of Franziska Severin. They used a large room with many doors that could be moved back and forth quietly. The doors were a little loud though, when they closed. The main feature of the room was a huge crucifix on the left, not flush against the wall, but leaning on it at an angle so that Christ is at three-quarters. In the middle of the floor was a stairway into it, that could be covered.

I found their scrim with a huge cross on it a bit overbearing, especially when they projected a the image of a very poorly executed drawing portraying one of Murillo's St. Francis paintings, which happened every once in a while when the action moved to the front of the stage, and they hid the room so they could rearrange things.

The furniture of the set was also somewhat obnoxious. A flock of IKEA metal chairs were used for certain scenes, at least a few were tossed about.

The choreography was simple, not fantastic. Don Carlo threw himself to the ground several times, only once did he seem like a dying fish, so I would say that Sergej Larin did an adequate job at the choreography he was given. The first scene of the opera has Elisabetta di Valois walking in the woods of Fontainebleu very slowly and stiffly, and this often looked awkward. Also the scene when Princess Eboli sings Nei giardin del bello, Act II Scene 2 in this version (Act I Scene 2 in the final version of 1867), the ladies of the court dance about in Flamenco style with shawls and fans. They did not do this well, and it seemed reductive, and orientalist, even.

I did enjoy the procession in Act III Scene 2, they had people dressed as Jesus and Mary in various scenes of the Passion. The costumes in general were quite beautiful, like something out of Velázquez, or more accurately, Coello. I'm also partial to certain flashiness, this scene also had the pyres that are lit at the end, and an actual fire was set. The choreography did hit a low point at the beginning of this scene when one of the chorus members lost her sandal. The manner in which it was retrieved was not discreet enough.

Our friend Paata Burchuladze, Osmin in Entführung, was much better suited in the part of the Grand Inquisitor, as the range needed was not as great.

I was also glad to hear Ayk Martiorossien as the friar, as it is always nice to see an Armenian on stage, especially one heard before in Arshak II as Nerses. His voice is wonderful, dark and haunting.

Incidentally, Tebaldo was sung by a woman from Xinjiang (the Uighur autonomous region, also known as East Turkestan). Dilbèr's part was small, but she seemed adequate.

Soprano Miriam Gauci was good as Elisabetta, her voice is not distinct. On the other hand, Luciana D'Intino, mezzosoprano who sang Princess Eboli, was the evening's favorite. Her voice started off occasionally nasal, but otherwise very beautiful and full.

Baritone Paolo Gavanelli was convincing as Rodrigo, his death scene was moving, and his duet with Larin at the end of Act I Scene 1 was one of the best performances of the evening. Another best was the aria at the beginning of Act IV sung by Filippo II (bass Matti Salminen).

My reason for seeing this performance at all was Sergej Larin, since I had heard him as Samson at San Francisco during the 2001-2002 season. His tenor voice struck me as the same, impassioned, slightly raveled, yet there is something light about it.

Verdi isn't Mozart, but he's not so bad. I liked this music more than his Otello, but it might have to do with the conducting, which was somewhat sluggish in Otello, I was told. I wouldn't know. Also, it is perhaps easier to swallow the idea of a Schiller play that I don't know as a libretto, than a Shakespeare one I do know as one.

Simon Boccanegra

Simon Boccanegra at San Francisco Opera was excellent. Samuel Ramey (Jacopo Fiesco) and Paolo Gavanelli (Simon Boccanegra) were especially amazing. We got to see Carol Vaness again, who was in Don Giovanni as Donna Elvira and Tosca (as Tosca). She was the sole soprano in the production, and she was, predictably, awful. However, the opera is more focused on the lower voices, the main parts are baritone and bass. All and all it was a wonderful opera, the kind that gives you shivers.