To continue with the second part of my opera patchwork, skimming over a few moments from various recordings I’ve watched and listened to over the past months, here are more highlights, in slightly ordered disorder:
Dons, and Don’ts…
As it happens, my two favorite operas both start with “Don”: Don Carlo(s), and Don Giovanni. (And the opera I have shed most tears over and just recently discovered, is Don Quichotte.)
Well, of course, I need to be getting myself ready for the French version of Don Carlos before October, as I am mostly familiar with the Italian versions. So, I ordered a gently-used copy of the 1985 the Domingo/Nucci/Raimondi CD conducted by Claudio Abbado. (More later.) Also, I am rewatching the beautiful 1996 Theatre du Chatelet production with Roberto Alagna, Thomas Hampson, Jose Van Dam, Karita Mattila, and Waltraud Meier. Very much recommended.
The highlight of recent Don Giovanni productions was a broadcast on Sirius radio a couple of months ago, with the reverse casting of my original Don Giovanni production. I had fallen in love with Samuel Ramey as the Don when I was a little girl, in the Salzburg production with Ferruccio Furlanetto’s Leporello. In the recent radio broadcast from the Met on Sirius, the roles were reversed–as, apparently, they often were–and here Ferruccio was the Don to Ramey’s Leporello. Completely delightful!! My opera-pal-extraordinaire, Gabriela, listened to it as well, which was perfect: we both have old associations with that Salzburg Don Giovanni…and her crush was Ferruccio!
And speaking of Ferruccio, that brings me to another “Don” highlight: the recent Vienna production of the 5-act Italian Don Carlo with Ramon Vargas (Carlo), Ferruccio Furlanetto (Philip II), and…the baritenor (?) Placido Domingo as Rodrigo! I very much enjoyed it, even though I was not overwhelmed by the production itself. (And dear Placido will be forever a tenor to my ear.) However, Placido was a tender, fatherly Rodrigo, whose character trajectory was beautiful. The highlight for me (and for dear Gabriela, who probably has not fully recovered) was Ferruccio as a commanding Philip. His “ella giammai m’amo” was to die for. (And frankly, he looked really dashing in that outfit…)
I also caught a rather odd production of Don Giovanni from the Finnish Helsinki Festival. It was rather inventive; a Don-Giovanni-as-reality-show concept. I liked it in some ways, although the handheld camera additions became a little dizzying after a while. The highlight for me was the Leporello. I fear the Don himself was too eccentrically portrayed–very so drugged-out and jittery–to have the devilish charm that is necessary for the believability of it all.
I had several encounters with the relatively new-to-me opera, Don Quichotte, based on Cervantes’ Don Quixote, composed by Jules Massenet with a libretto by Henri Cain. My first encounter was Jose Van Dam’s farewell performance at La Monnaie in 2010, which I received on DVD for my birthday–and when I finally got to it, found it so moving that I almost couldn’t bear to go past Act IV. Highly recommended. It is one of the most beautiful productions I’ve seen. I then heard a wonderful radio rebroadcast of Ferruccio in the title role, from the Lyric Opera of Chicago last year. To die for. I also listened to a CD copy of a production with Nicolai Ghiarov. However, Don Quichotte will have an entire blog post on its own, so I will simply say: see the 2010 La Monnaie production if you can.
Going for Baroque…
I’ve begun to dip my toe into Baroque opera, inspired by opera pals Blake and Laura, starting with a beautiful Dido and Aeneas with Sarah Connolly and Lucas Meachem, which is available to watch free if you have Amazon Prime (at least here in the States right now).
I also caught a really thought-provoking and clever regie production of Les Indes Galantes from Bordeaux, which really deserves a post of its own.