Thursday, 29 September 2011

Grand russian Opera

Sergei Prakofiev's impressive and grand opera "War and Peace" is seldom staged (if you see it you'll understand why), so given the opprotunity, Classicalify went from London to Cologne, Germany for a grand occasion.

The opera is based on the novel "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy, and composed in the beginning of the 1940's. First performances were of different parts of the opera at the end of the 1940's. The 13-scenes version (several versions excists) became popular during the 1950's.

The version used in Cologne is 13 scenes made into two parts with an interval between. This is probably one of the hardest operas to stage and to cast, you need about 30 soloists where some is also singing several roles. You need extra chorus, children, people, people and more people...

The production in Cologne is well sung in all parts and the staging is massive. You do get the big battle (Napoleon's invasion of Moscow), you get fire, you get the new years ball, you get rape, you get Napoleon Bonaparte, russion war prisoners, french drunk soldiers...

If you EVER have the possibility to see this masterpiece of opera, just go!

The conducting from young Michael Sanderling was brilliant and impressive!


Fürst Andrej Bolkonski
Johannes Martin Kränzle
Natascha Rostowa
Olesya Golovneva
Sonja / 2. französische Schauspielerin
Adriana Bastidas Gamboa
Gastgeber / Iwanow
Alexander Fedin
Dalia Schaechter
Peronskaja / 1. französische Schauspielerin
Kathleen Parker
Graf Ilja Rostow / Marschall Davout
Wilfried Staber
Graf Pierre Besuchow
Matthias Klink
Gräfin Hélène Besuchowa
Katrin Wundsam
Anatole Kuragin
Mirko Roschkowski
Leutnant Dolochow / Capitaine Jacqueau
Daniel Golossov
Werner Sindemann
Fürstin Marja Bolkonskaja
Regina Richter
Fürst Nikolaj Andrejewitsch Bolkonski / General Belliard
Magnús Baldvinsson
Sandra Janke
Anthony Sandle
Doktor Métivier / Marschall Berthier
Johann-Werner Prein
Matias Tosi
Ordonnanzoffizier des Fürsten Andrej
Philipp Hoferichter
Miljenko Turk
Adjutant des Generals Compans
Jeongki Cho
Adjutant des Generals Murat
Gustavo Quaresma Ramos
Adjutant des Fürsten Eugène / Gérard
Ralf Rachbauer
de Beausset
Martin Koch
Capitaine Ramballe
Dennis Wilgenhof
Leutnant Bonnet
John Heuzenroeder
Ein französischer Offizier
Sévag Serge Tachdjian
Platon Karatajew
Manfred Fink
Chor der Oper Köln

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

1, 2, 3… The Puccini triple bill at Covent Garden

When Classicalify planned this tour, one of the main reasons was the performance of Puccini’s “Il Trittico” at ROH Covent Garden. The planned cast was Eva-Maria Westbroek as Giorgetta in “Il Tabarro”, Anja Harteros as heartbreaking Angelica in “Sour Angelica”, Lucio Gallo as Michele in “Il Tabarro” and also as Gianni Schicchi. Combined with Swedish worldstar alto Anna Larsson’s debut at ROH as La Principessa in “Sour Angelica” this was about to be a once in a lifetime experience. Alas, about a month before opening night it was announced that Anja Harteros had cancelled her Angelica and was replaced by Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho (who Classicalify is waiting for to sing Violetta in Stockholm).

The production at Covent Garden is directed by Richard Jones and conducted by sweetheart Antonio Pappano. Tabarro and Angelica being new productions and Schicchi a production played before at ROH.

Pappano knows his Italian opera inside out, no question about that and no further comments. Tony is good, very good and simply the best… Of the three operas you get what you expect from Tabarro and Schicchi… but what is done to Angelica only Richard Jones, Miriam Buether (set design) and Nicky Gillibrand (costumes) know! “Sour Angelica” is set in a children’s hospital and you just wonder why?

Eva-Maria Westbroek as Giorgetta is frustrated, horny and do whatever she can to get out of her misery life at the barge and boring husband Michele (Lucio Gallo). Sorry for her, lover Luigi (Aleksandrs Antonenko) is getting killed by Michele before she gets away… Westbroek and Antonenko superb together, Lucio Gallo more withdrawn and not in his right place.

“Sour Angelica” is pain, pain, pain and tears running… you can’t just refuse or deny it, this is Puccini at his very best. Ermonela Joho sings her heart out and the Principessa bitch Anna Larsson is just as disgusting as you want her to be… What tension, what drama, what singing!!! OK, there were some other nuns on stage, but did we notice them… Naw! “Sour Angelica” is all about Angelica and her bitch aunt, the Principessa.

In “Gianni Schicchi” Lucio Gallo seems more in the right place. Now he really seems to enjoy it and he really takes the chance to be the central figure, and he does it good and he sings it good. The two young lovers, Lauretta and Rinuccio, do what they are supposed to, and so do the other singers.
But how much can you hate “O, mio babbino caro”?

Classicalify’s top list for “Il Trittico”:
1. Ermonela Jaho (Sour Angleica)
2. Eva-Maria Westbroek (Giorgetta)
3. Aleksandrs Antonenko (Luigi)
4. Anna Larsson (La Principessa)
5. Antonio Pappano (conductor)
6. Lucio Gallo (Michele, Gianni Schicchi)Elena Zilio (Monitress/Zita)

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Day 3 - Faust without Grigolo.

Classicalify spent day 3 in London scanning the CD stores, which is easy... The only shops worth it is HMV and Harold Moore's. HMV with two shops on Oxford street and Harold Moore just one block away from Oxford street, you can easily do them in the morning.

After a siesta in the afternoon it was time to prepare for Gounod's "Faust" at ROH Covent Garden. This was a performance Classicalify saw some years ago with Gheorghiu, Alagna, Terfel and Keenlyside to much appriciation! For this round, ROH is casting two sopranos, Gheorghiu and Swedish soprano Malin Byström together with Vittorio Grigolo, René Pape and Dmitri Hvorostovsky.

In good time to ROH to enjoy a glass of wine on the terrace Classicalify found out smoking is no longer allowed on the terrace... Quelle surprise! Classicalify also found out Vittorio Grigolo was indisposed and replaced by Philadelphian tenor James Valenti... hmmm...

The production by David McVicar with sets by Charles Edwards and costumes by Brigitte Reiffenstuel is a masterpiece of opera and much enjoyable, even if we prefer an interval after act 2...

The night belonged to René Pape as Méphistophélès and Malin Byström as Marguerite (a role she sang in Gothenburgh some years ago). To see Pape in gala drag for the Walpurgis Night scene is just as fun as Terfel in drag... but it seemed to Classicalify Pape did it with more style, feeling more comfortable than Terfel did.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Brahms and Sibelius

After a slow start day 2 (Sunday) Classicalify went to the Southbank and Royal Festival Hall and the opening concert for Esa-Pekka Salonen and Philharmonia Orchestra.

Part one was Viktoria Mullova playing Brahms' Violin Concerto in D, Op. 77. How easy it looks and how relaxed she looks...But maybe she wasn't because once or twice she had to glimpse in her notes. Maybe some more practise Viktoria?

After the interval, Esa-Pekka was joined by the Swedish male chorus Orphei Drängar, Monica Groop and Jukka Rasilainen. And off we went to the Finnish woods and the dark story of Kullervo, who shags his own sister... Powerful music and a gruesome story in combination with that glorious OD chorus, the soloists and maestro Salonen made this a strong night.

Calssicalify Euro Tour

Calssicalify is on tour and started out some days ago in buzzing London.

First on the agenda was a visit to English National Opera at the Coliseum to see Mieczysław Weinberg’s 1968 opera "The Passenger". Not a very famous opera, but well recieved in 2010 at Bregenz (there is a DVD of that performance).

The opera is based upon a semi-autobiographical novel by Auschwitz survivor Zofia Posmysz and the story tells us about an encounter between two women, one a former Auschwitz guard, the other a former prisoner. The meeting on a ship plunges them both back into the horrors of the Holocaust, pitting perpetrator against victim in a moral battle between guilt and denial, retribution and absolution.

The set are in two levels, the upper level beeing the ship and the lower level beeing the concentration camp. When Liese Franz (Michelle Breedt) remember the horror from the camp and her task as overseer we are being told the horrorful story and memories down below. That was very effective and very frightful. Marta, the polish prisoner, who is the mysterious woman on the ship, is sung by Giselle Allen. The cast is strong all over, the conducting is good, the music is a mixture of classical opera, jazz and showtunes.

This was a strong experience and Calssicalify is more than satisfied.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Puccini hat-trick

As mentioned Classicalify will attend the Puccini hat-trick called "Il Trittico" at Royal Opera House Covent Garden. Some very good singers in all the three one-act-operas. Mostly we look forward to Ermonela Jaho's Sour Angelica (picture) and Anna Larsson's Principessa (picture).

Read more on ROH's page:

Photos by Bill Cooper for Royal Opera House.

We will try to report from this and much more during the same week in London and the following performances during the Classicalify tour.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

'Pavarotti's heir' Licitra dies after crash, aged 43

Classicalify found this on the BBC page this morning... Soo sad.

R.I.P. Salvatore!

Italian tenor Salvatore Licitra has died from head and chest injuries suffered in a road accident.
The 43-year-old - who was seen as the heir to Luciano Pavarotti in Italy - crashed his scooter into a wall in southern Sicily last month.
He was not wearing a helmet when he crashed in the town of Modica.

The singer made his international breakthrough in 2002, when he stepped in for Pavarotti in Puccini's Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Licitra died on Monday morning in the hospital in Catania, where he had been flown after the accident on 27 August, a statement on the the Swiss-born singer's website said.
He had been in a coma since the crash and never regained consciousness.
Doctors at the hospital said Licitra's family had agreed to make his organs available for transplant.

They said that a news conference would be held later on Tuesday.

Friday, 2 September 2011


Anja Harteros has cancelled all her perfomances in Suor Angelica this month in Londons Royal Opera house due to health reasons. Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho will sing instead.
She is working very hard and has learned the part in two days. That is serious hard work.
Classicalify will attend one of the performances in London.Read more about her on this website