Monday, October 31, 2011

Phantoms of the operas! Ghost scenes for Halloween.

Opera is full of the supernatural.  Stages are haunted by devils, demons, witches, and ghosts.  Dissonant chords and eerie instrumentation often accompany these spirits, creating a creepy, spooky atmosphere.  These moments add a chillingly exciting dimension to the already often-hair-raising art that is opera.   For Halloween, I pulled together a few ghost scenes for your enjoyment.

Let's start off with MacBeth.  The new king has had his best friend murdered, only to have his ghost (who no one else can see) turn up in the middle of a banquet.  There really is no surer way to spoil a party!  Of course, everyone around him thinks he has simply lost his mind.



Next up, The Queen of Spades.  In this scene, the ghost of the Old Countess appears to a restless Hermann, and seeking revenge, tells him the secret of  the winning cards.  That doesn't really end up working out too well for him in the end, though.



The Turn of the Screw is a straight-up ghost story from start to finish.  Here is a taste of bits and pieces of the whole opera:



And finally, what post about operatic ghosts would be complete without the Commendatore scene from Don Giovanni?  There really is nothing I can say about this except watch and enjoy!



Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bolshoi: A grand performance!

Hi, everyone!  First off, I'm sorry I didn't get this up sooner.  I wanted to do it the moment I finished watching the performance.  Alas, I have to occasionally spend some time doing other things besides sitting around watching and writing about opera.  But be that as it may, here goes.  In short, it was a spectacular event!  The theater is beautiful, and the dimensions are staggering:



After a few minutes of opening remarks from Medvedev and shots of the auditorium, the curtain opened.... to several dozen construction workers with noisy machinery working on renovations!  Well, those construction workers turned out to be members of the chorus and orchestra, and they burst into Glinka's "Glory to the Russian People!"  The performance continued with an all-Russian program of opera, ballet, and various other orchestral and choral works.  At times during the evening (or morning, for us) the music would stop completely and we would be treated to various fully-staged street views of the theater from several points in its history.  And then there was the ballet.  Ballet doesn't usually do much for me, and at times I found my attention wandering from it.  But at others...  There was a beautifully elegant performance from Swan Lake, and the Polovetzian Dances from Prince Igor were a joy to watch.  And finally, the opera.  First of all, no Placido Domingo.  I guess squeezing a night in Moscow in between two nights in London would have been too much even for him.  The soprano bits were lovely but unmemorable, with Angela Gheorghiu, Natalia Dessay, and Violeta Urmana all giving nice enough performances.  I am pretty new to Russian opera, though, and I wasn't really familiar with anything they sang.  In fact, where Russian opera is concerned, I pretty much know Eugene Onegin and Prince Yeletsky's aria from The Queen of Spades.  Oh, but what an aria!  Performed, of course, by none other than the great Siberian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky.  I could go on about the rich, velvety voice, but I'd rather just share the moment we were all (or at least, I was) waiting for:



The evening finished off with nearly every singer and dancer on the stage for Tchaikovsky's Coronation March.  It was a truly grand event, and we were very fortunate to have the opportunity to participate!

Friday, October 28, 2011

This Sunday: Carmen at La Scala, coming to a theater near you!

Okay, this is the first of two posts I will be sharing today.  The second will come after I have watched the Bolshoi Gala.  In the meantime, here is a brief look at what we can expect from La Scala's broadcast of Carmen, which we can see on Sunday at noon at the University of Miami's Cosford Cinema.  This production stars Anita Rachvelishvili, Jonas Kaufmann, Erwin Schrott, and Adriana Damato.  I really haven't heard much at all from Rachvelishvili, Schrott, or Damato yet, so I'm not sure what to expect from them.  Now, Kaufmann.  I know I am going to make some people upset, and I have yet to see him in a complete opera, but from what I've heard so far, I just don't like him.  I think he would have made a splendid baritone, but to me, as a tenor his voice sounds muffled.  I keep trying to see what everyone else seems to see in him, but I haven't found it yet.  I have heard, however, that he does a very good Don Jose, so I will reserve judgement until I have seen it.  In the meantime, here is Rachvelishvili singing the Habanera in Salerno.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bolshoi reopening: There's hope for us yet!

Good news for the Bolshoi reopening!  While we still won't get to see it on the big screen, it will be broadcast live on the Bolshoi Theater's YouTube channel!  http://www.youtube.com/bolshoi  It will begin at 10:00 am Eastern time, so make sure you're glued to your computers tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Bolshoi is reopening, and we're not invited!


After a six-year, $700 million renovation, the Bolshoi Opera is reopening its doors with a star-studded gala celebration on Friday, October 28.  The performance will include opera and ballet, and will feature such artists as Natalia Osipova, Svetlana Zakharova, Ivan Vasiliev, Pl├ícido Domingo, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Natalie Dessay, and Violeta Urmana.  It promises to be a magnificent event, and I think I speak for opera lovers everywhere when I say that we are all very envious of those lucky enough to get to attend this spectacle.

 

Now, first the good news.  While it may not be quite the same as being there in person, many of our fellow opera lovers will still have the opportunity to share in the experience.  This gala performance will be broadcast on over 600 movie theater screens around the world.  Great news, right?  Well, next comes the bad news.  Unfortunately, not one of those theaters is located in the Broward/Dade/Palm Beach area.  Not a one!  Somehow, we managed to get overlooked.  Finally, the not-so-terrible news, if you don't mind driving a couple of hours to get to a movie theater.  Several theaters in Northern and Central Florida will be showing this.  The closest two are the Silverspot Cinema in Naples and the Carmike Lakeshore 8 in Sebring.  I know I won't be able to make it, but if anyone else manages to, we would love to hear all about it in vivid detail.  Particularly those pertaining to Dmitri Hvorostovsky!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Welcome!

Welcome to the South Florida Opera Scene.  This is my first post, so I'll start with a word on the purpose of this blog.  There are many opportunities to experience opera in its many forms in South Florida, but not everybody is aware of all our available options.  I will compile a list of upcoming performances, both live and telecast, fully staged, concerts, and recitals.  When available, I will post information about upcoming performances, as well as discussions of past performances.  From time to time, I will showcase various artists, both local talent and international stars.

Our first upcoming event is Saturday's Met Live in HD screening of Don Giovanni, available on about two dozen movie theater screens throughout South Florida.  This new production, under the baton of Fabio Luisi, stars Polish baritone Mariusz Kwiecien as the Don.


The stellar cast also includes Luca Pisaroni as Leporello, Marina Rebeka as Donna Anna, Ramon Vargas as Don Ottavio, Barbara Frittoli as Donna Elvira, and Mojca Erdmann as Zerlina.  Joshua Bloom is Masetto, and Stefan Kocan is the Commendatore.

For tickets, please visit http://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/liveinhd/unitedstates.aspx.