What is better than to catch the spring at the continent? Classicalify recently did a small tour to Brussels, Berlin and Frankfurt to enjoy the spring heat and sun and of course some good opera performances.
We started in Brussels, who welcomed us with RAIN! This ugly city, filled with VIP:s from the EU and a high number of immigrants, does have THE opera house of the year (2011) and maybe some of the most interesting productions in Europe. So, even if Classicalify does not like the city, Classicalify LOVE the opera house, La Monnaie/De Munt.
This time we went to see Dvorak's "Rusalka", a production by Norwegian director Stefan Herheim that opened some years ago. And what a show this was! Fun, witty, kitschy and lots of stuff to look at ON stage and IN the auditorium. This performance took place all over and made us very happy.
Rusalka was sung by Tatiana Monogarova (born in Moscow). A creamy soprano reminding us of Renée Fleming. Her song to the moon was delivered very accurate and with much passion. The satellite TV dishes on the balconys of the houses around the town square were spotlighted and accompanied Rusalka as four moons - very nice! A happy surprise for Classicalify was swedish soprano Annalena Persson singing Princesse étrangère. For the first time she showed us a comic side and she did it very good. You could see she really enjoyed it. Her full dramatic soprano was used to the maximum for her small part, and so was her acting skills! To see her and the prince having sex in the Royal box added to all the fun.
From Brussels, Classicalify, went to Berlin and straight to Staatsoper at Schiller Theater. "L'Elisir d'amore" with Rolando Villazon back after his throat problems, what could that be? Well, the glitter and the brightness on the top notes was not there. In duets and ensembles Villazon disappeared in the crowd... This was not what it used to be. Classicalify do hope he slowly will work his way back o the top. The voice is there, but it feels like he dosen't dare letting it all out...and we understand! Take care Rolando!
One of the most writen about performances in Berlin for the moment is "Der Freischütz" at Komische Oper. Spanish director Calixto Bieito is, as usual, making headlines and uproar. Nude scenes, blood, sex, dead animals and weapons are common stuff in his productions. The performance started out with a big, fat pig walking around in the woods... and Classicalify and company waited for someone to shoot the pig. The tension was spectacular and horrifying!
The russian tenor Dimitry Golovnin sang Max and obviously did not approve of Bieito's intensions. He was wearing his underwear all the time. The tenor in the first cast went on diet, lost 50 kg, and act nude! A little disappointment for Classicalify! If you are going to see this, do not bring your underaged children along, they will not be admitted to the performance if they are under 16!
Back to Unter den Linden at Schiller Theater and "Tristan und Isolde". This is a performance Classicalfy have seen a couple of times before. The fallen angel version. Waltraud Meier was casted as Isolde but was replaced by swedish international soprano Irene Théorin. And was that a luck! What a voice! Théorin (49 years old) must be at her peak righ now. In the beginning of the year she sang three Elektras in Stockholm to much acclaim and here she stepped in and did an Isolde of world class. Her Tristan was Ian Storey and King Marke was sung by René Pape. Daniel Barenboim conducted. In the audience we spotted Patti Smith who we hope enjoyed it as much as we did.
From Berlin to Frankfurt and a concert performance of Mascagni's "L'amico Fritz". Star Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja in this rare piece is really a wonder of singing and passion. A clear, distinct voice and pianissimos nevere heard before. A most enjoyable eavning!