Thursday, 30 June 2011

Opera Globetrotting

Classicalify crew members are constantly globetrotting for opera. Some days ago we ended up in Brussels and Paris.

In Brussel the main reason was the new production of Meyerbeer's grand opéra "Les Huguenots", directed by Olivier Py. And was it GRAND... Classicalify was very impressed by the scenery, the singers and the orchestra (Marc Minkowski). In the leading roles was Marlis Petersen as Marguerite, Mireille Delunsch as Valentine, Yulia Lezhneva as Urbain and goodlooking Eric Cutler as Raoul de Nangis and several more good singers.

As we suspected, we got ourselves some goodlooking nude dancers (male and female), gay sex and more provocatives... But it never went to far!

A more beautiful city than Brussels is Paris and Classicalify catched the high-speed-train Thalys and was in Paris after 1 hour and 20 minutes.

The goal in Paris were actually two... Placido Domingo as Pablo Neruda in "Il Postino" (comissioned by himself for Los Angeles opera and the role of Neruda written directly for him) and to go to Royal Opera Versaille.

"Il Postino" was played at the Châtelet theatre. And Placido was VERY good and together with Cristina Gallardo-Domas as Neruda's wife, their were magic on stage.

Can you imagine passing about millions of tourist standing in line to get in to the Versaille palace? Well, Classicalify did! You showed your ticket for Vivaldi´s "Teuzzone", conducted by Jordi Savall, and in you went. And we can just say THANK YOU Paris and Versaille for restoring this opera jewel.

Soon Classicalify will show up in another big city in Europe. Have fun!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Waltraute's Victory

Before the performance of Wermland Götterdämmerung, Classicalify was told it should maybe be the best one of the four parts. A friend also adviced us to keep an eye (and ear) on Waltraute, sung by Martina Dike.

And how right they were!

The production was just as good as Rheingold with the laser Rhein, marvellous lighting and the moves and direction for the Norns were also outstanding. The Norn's singing, with First Norn Maria Streijffert, was world class.

And so she came... Martina Dike as Walküre sister Waltraute. And she just blew our heads off. This was maybe THE biggest voice of all in this chamber version Ring. But she does have some years experience as Norn, Waltraute and Fricka from Bayreuth, Frankfurt and Stockholm. What a relief to at last her a Wagner mezzo opening her mouth and SING as you want them to...

The rest of the cast is not bad, Classicalify even think Pär Lindskog as Siegfried did much better this night. Alberich (Marcus Jupither) of course and Anders Larsson as Gunther (also Donner in Rheingold). Johan Schinkler as Hagen is also worth mentioning. Very good!

Cassicalify now repack, head back for a city close to you, and will report from more exciting performances around Europe soon.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

The sun always shine in Karlstad

There is a saying in Sweden about the city of Karlstad... yeah... The sun always shine in Karlstad! Sure! During Classicalify's stay for the Ring in the Swedish Bayreuth it has been raining cats and dogs during Walküre and Siegfried, and of course during the intervals.

BUT, yesterday during Siegfried the sun really started shining, and the name of the sun was Jonas Durán as Mime. From the talking during the intervals Classicalify understood not many in the audience knew who this guy was. The information on the Wermland Opera webpage tells us this guy was born in Las Palmas, but grew up in Gothenburgh were he was also educated. More education in London and then his career has mostly been concentrated to Karlstad and Malmö.

This was a perfect Mime with a voice big enough for any operahouse in the world. His acting was really something special, and when he climbed almost on top of his disgusting brother Alberich (Marcus Jupither) we all fell in love with him. And of course he got his well deserved bravos after the second act.

Classicalify want you to remember this name: JONAS DURÁN. And he is a tenor!

In "Siegfried" Fredrik Zetterström was back as Wotan/Wanderer and we were thankful for that. Such power and well balanced voice. Marcus Jupither, a big sice Alberich, is frightening good.

Pär Lindskog as Siegfried is hard to describe...sometimes he shines, sometimes he drops to non-accepted-levels... Classicalify know he also sung Siegfried in Stockholm, but we are not sure this is the right part for him.

To sum up this almost 5-hour long third night Classicalify is happy to rate it 4 stars with a 5-star Mime.

Friday, 17 June 2011

WHO goes to the "Ring" ?

The crew of Classicalify is always seeking out exciting new Ring performances around the globe. The first one was in 1996 in Wagner Mecka stadt Bayreuth, the city where it all started and where it still goes on. We have come across Rings in Helsinki, Stockholm, New York, Weimar, Cologne and Karlsruhe and twice more in Bayreuth. For the moment we are in the small city of Karlstad in Sweden, close to the Norwegian border.

Curious as we are, we often ask ourselves what kind of people actually attend a performance of this kind, four operas in four eavnings with about 16 hours of music, wth some parts (Rheingold and act 1 of Götterdämmerung) lasting longer than a complete Puccini opera...

This is just a fun way of describing the people we see at different venues, and it's NOT scientifically in any means.

As well as you can compare the Wagner family, the Wagner clan, to the different figures in the Ring, you can also, just for fun, do the same with the audience.

1. The Wotans and Frickas

This the VERY elite of Bayreuth, headed by Fricka herself, or maybe TWO Frickas today. Angela Merkel and Katharina Wagner. Always show up on opening night (July 25) at Festspielhaus in Bayreuth. They are followed by all of Germany's important ones like politicians, fashion icons, head of big companies and so on... We guess some of them only go to opera once a year, on July 25, in Bayreuth, as they are invited.

2. The Freias, Donners and Frohs

This is the second best, the elite of any other operahouse in the world. Invited to opening nights at the Met, La Scala and Covent Garden. Here we find singers, actors, fashion and TV-people, opera singers. Some of them will never be invited to Bayreuth, but some has actually sung in Bayreuth.

3. The Siegmund and Sieglindes

This is quite a big lot, they have all been to Bayreuth at least once. They are the ones running Wagner societies around the world. Quite a few of them know each other and they LOVE each other and they LOVE to talk about Bayreuth and memories from their last visit in Wagner stadt. This is an important lot, as they also provide scholars for Wagner singers via their local Wagner Society. Some of them are actually very nice, but Classicalify now and then find them quite boring and conservative.

4. The Loges, Mimes, Fafner and Fasolts

Here you find the loners, the single ones, the gay ones, the crazy ones, the nerds, the disguised ones. A true Wagner fan, often travelling alone, sometimes with a nerd friend, has strong beliefs in the music. Her you also find all the gay couples, young and old, wolves and dinosaurs, but GAY. They see the Ring and operahouses as potential sex-places. It's not unusual to find some of these in the local gay pub or restaurant after the performance.

5. The Brünnhildes

This group consists mainly of old maids, or at least maids... Old, rich and strong ladies. Doing whatever they like, spending their money on travels, Wagner and good food and drink. If you are on crutches doesn't mather, just push your way forward in to the auditorium and all other will move away. Some of this old Brünnhildes also bring their toyboys by their side (well someone has to hold them during intervals, or...?).

6. The Gunther and Gutrunes

This is maybe the biggest part of any audience. As well as the Gibich siblings, this group is confused and often don't know what they want or how to act. Gutrune often brings along Gunther, who very much look puzzeled by all the other groups and he can't really decide if he's in the right place or not. But he tries to please his Gutrune, so he pays for the tickets and trips as long as she is happy. This group go to ANY opera, because it is supposed to be the correct thing to do. Of course they don't understand what is sung or what the fuzz is all about.

7. The Walküres

This is maybe the most interesting audience group. Here you find all the ones talking alot about the opera, the music, the singers and different performances. They are friends of the singers, some of them work at different opera houses and they all know each other. And they all are TRUE opera lovers. They travel quite often and spend much money on opera and recordings. Quite a noisy bunch, but also very fun. Some from groups 3-5 tend to belong (or WANT to belong) here as well, or at least they know someone in this group.

Well, this was just some crazy thinking from a sometimes confused crew member of Classicalify, don't take it to bloody serious. Have fun and enjoy your next Ring!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Die Wermland Walküre

Die adventure of the magic ring continue in Karlstad, die neue Bayreuth... As with Rheingold, Die Walküre is of high standard. The singing of Siegmund and Sieglinde was almost too good (to big?)for the small stage, but Classicalify enjoyed it very much. But why put an ugly wig on the handsome Siegmund (Jan Kyhle)? In Walküre, Wotan is sung by Urban Malmberg... sorry to say, but he didn't had the same power as Zetterström. And Classicalify among others is very curious why on earth his left eye is now patched? Wasn't it the right one in Rheingold?

How about all those screaming walkures? Well, the lot of 8 came flying down from the air, big wings and all... Of course Classicalify was impressed! Sister Brünnhilde (Ann Louice Lögdlund) did a good presentation of the warrior-maid and Classicalify is anxious to see how she develops in the coming two parts.

All in all, this performance is rated 4 stars by Classicalify.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Nibelungen Ring in Karlstad at Wermland Opera

Classicalify repacked the bags and took the train to Karlstad and the Wermland Opera for the biggest opera event in Sweden this year. The Wermland Opera is doing FIVE complete "Rings" after one year of refurbishment.

Some of the most promising and youngest singers today in Sweden is singing, the orchestra is placed on the second balcony and this in a house that seats only about 400 people!

And were we impressed by the first night, Das Rheingold. The production is of very high standard, looking like something you see on international stages. The laser version of Rhein is just stunning and light is used to make the changes of the different scenes, like when Wotan and Loge goes down to Niebelheim. Very impressiv!

The singing is up and down, but Classicalify was very impressed of Marcus Jupither's Alberich, Richard Söderberg's Loge as well of Andreas Franzén's Fasolt. All in all, Das Rheingold belongs to the guys, them being much stronger than the female singers.

Classicalify do rate this as a 5-star-production and is looking forward to the remaining parts coming up this week.

Fundacion Don Juan de Borbon Award for Claudio Abbado

The italian conductor Claudio Abbado has recieved the Don Juan de Borbon Award for his commitment to young musicians. The price consisted of 30, 000 euros. It was presented by the mayor of Segovia Peter Arahuetes. The award was created five years ago with the aim to promote culture in Segovia and it's province. Abbado stated that political commitment is needed to support culture and education. We at classicalify offer our warmest congratulations.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Die Frau ohne schatten in Copenhagen.

As well as spending time in Vienna, Classicalify crew also spent a weekend in Copenhagen. Main reason was to see Strauss' monumental and magic opera "Die Frau ohne schatten". And as we also like good combos, we spent a night with Irene Théorin as ice princess Turandot.

Two big operas, with big music, with big sopranos... Well, Die Frau was something extraordinary with star singers in the main roles and a production worthy any of the biggest houses or festivals in the world. Linda Watson as the Dyer's wife and James Johnson as the Dyer impressed us most. The Kaiser, Kaiserinn and Amme tried to do their best, but to Classicalify felt wrong-casted. Michael Schönwandt conducted with power and great feeling.

This production is the farewell to Copenhagen for Kasper Holten and Michael Schönwandt. Holten is taking over Covent Garden and Schönwandt is going to Amsterdam. Classicalify is looking forward to new and exciting performances in Copenhagen with new management.

Irene Théorin is known for roles of great magnitude like Brünnhilde and Isolde. Classicalify heard her as Turandot in Essen some years ago, and back then as well as now, she is no ideal Turandot. Her high notes (and there are some in Turandot as you know) tends to be on the sharper, shriekier side, and there is also a vobble we don't like. Her Calaf was Frank Porretta... just another tenor! The production is done with the Berio ending, which is a bore...

BUT, we did enjoy ONE singer in this "Turandot" performance, tenor Gert Henning-Jensen as Pang. His singing and acting made the night. When he went down in a split... we just adored him! What a guy!

Marschallin debut by Caballé

As well as spending time in Vienna, Classicalify also made a trip to Copenhagen and while CD-browsing found this new, glorious Rosenkavalier recording.

Conductor John Pritchard, London Philharmonic Orchestra, The Glyndebourne Chorus.

Montserrat Caballé, Otto Edelmann, Teresa Zylis-Gara, John Modenos, Edith Mathis, David Hughes, Angela Jenkins, John Andrew, Anna Reynolds.

Recorded in the 1965 Festival, this production of Der Rosenkavalier was the last directed by Carl Ebert and was hailed as one of his finest achievements. Conducted by John Pritchard this recording features a notable Glyndebourne debut by Montserrat Caballé as the Marschallin with Edith Matthis as Sophie, Teresa Żylis-Gara as Octavian and Otto Edelmann as Baron Ochs.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Vienna now and forever.

It was a long wait for tickets but now the wait was finaly over and we at classicalify packed our bags and went to Vienna to attend this weeks performance of Tchaikovskys opera Eugen Onegin with Swedish baryton singer Peter Mattei in the lead role and his debut at Staatsoper.
And he proves once more that he loves the part. His voice is warm and full of power that sometimes it makes you cry. And we did. His acting is marvelous and powerful as Onegin has shot his friend Lenski sang by Marius Brenciu he embraces the dead body and burst into tears as the curtain falls for intermission.
Falk Richters production is set in a snowy Russia with fake snow raining in the background on the embraced couples representing the love theme of this classic opera. The production is modern with Tatjanas bed in the shape of square blocks of ice. Square blocks of ice also serves as a bar in the second act.
Maija Kovalevska is wonderful in the part and with Mattei a great combination. She has a good voice and she plays the part as you have seen it before without anything new added. Which is a bit sad.
Michael Güttler leads the chorus and orchestra with a steady hand and the music is powerful and moving. All though classicalify wonders if Barenboim or Levine had given it more edge.
In the end a very exciting evening with great music and singers. Mattei beeing the main reason we went. Two days before the performance we went to Musikverein to hear Staatskapelle Berlin. Conducted by Pierre Boulez and Daniel Barenboim at the piano.
A good program but not the greatest. Richard Wagners Faust Overture and Lizt piano concerto number one and two plus Wagner again and the Siegried idyll.
A wonderful orchestra and piano player but the program could have been better but it was worth it to hear Barenboim who is a wonderful pianoplayer and mastered the two piano concertos with great feeling. Boulez is a great musical personality and gives the orchestra no more than needed. A good program but over much to quickly. The next day we had tickets for a recital of Mahler and Korngold with Thomas Hampson but unfortunatly the concert was cancelled due to illnes. That's life. But another day of shopping and drinks at Café Mozart is not bad either.
If you want to get tickets to Wiener Staatsoper you can apply for standby tickets at
when the program of the opera house is official. Or simply write a letter as early as possible to the opera house when you read or hear rumors about a production.