Opera News Viaggio review

Our Viaggio got a review in US magazine Opera News (a slightly modified review by the same writer is also in this month’s Opera, a UK magazine).

The latest continental production of Viaggio, unveiled in mid-February at the State Theater Nürnberg, is by far the funniest opera performance experienced by yours truly for many a month…

Everyone involved — singers, musicians, dancers, supers and technicians — seemed to be having an exceedingly good time. The score was electrifyingly realized by conductor Sebastian Kennerknecht, who gave us Rossini at his irresistible, fizzy best, so rollicking that one can hardly sit still.

And if the standard of singing in Nürnberg did not quite match that ideal Pesaro cast of 1984, it tickled our ears, starting with Melanie Hirsch’s fruity mezzo Maddalena, followed by Nicolai Karnolsky’s pompous announcement as Don Prudenzio, “Oggi il bagno non si prende.” The fun continued with Heidi Elisabeth Meier’s affirmations as Madame Cortese, Leah Gondon as Contessa di Folleville (here made up to look like the English Queen) and Vladislav Solodyakin as Barone di Trombonok, who was joined in the bewitching sestetto by Saeyoung Kim’s Don Profondo, Andrew Finden’s Don Alvaro, Anna Lapkovskaja’s Marchesa Melibea and Martin Nyvall’s Conte di Libenskopf. In a class of her own is Hrachuhi Bassenez as Corinna, the harp-playing poetess (like Carla Bruni competing at the European Song Contest). Kurt Schober was the tragic English Lord Sidney, Mark Adler the smart French Cavaliere Belfiore, and Rüdiger Krehbiel was Antonio, the maitre d’hotel. It was a folie of mad people, but they were all charming. They infected us with their craziness, so that we all left the theater after two and a half hours not as “Mastersingers” but as “Madmen” of Nürnberg.

Comparisons to Leo Nucci aside, not a bad write-up!

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Behind the scenes of the Met competition

The celebrated photographer Lee Friedlander has done a somewhat bizarre series: portraits of the finalists of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the biggest singing competition in the US.

Click to see more. (btw, I sang a charity concert in NYC with the guy on the right)

The New York Times also carries a wonderful documentary piece on the competition. It’s not often that I read an article that makes me feel like I’m part of the action (though it may be because I’ve been in very similar situations myself).

the goal they are pursuing, a career on the opera stage, is difficult nearly to the point of being quixotic

There’s also a short video (though I found the written piece much more engaging to be honest):

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A Musical Missionary – great quote from Myung-Whun Chung

There’s an interesting portrait in the April 2011 AirFrance Magazine of the conductor Myung-Whun Chung. One of his roles is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, about which he says:

We must be missionaries, go out and meet the public. We have to underscore just how beautiful and authentic our music is, demonstrate this. The music has withstood all the tests of time and truth. Bach is much less dated than a 1960s rock idol. Mozart is much younger than the latest new rock star.

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An Augsburg revolution

We took the HfM Figaro to Augsburg and the beautiful Jungedstil Parktheater last week. I must confess* I got an excellent review in the Augsburg Allgemeiner:

Bariton Andrew Finden war ein bravouröser Conte mit prachtvoller Stimme und Spielwitz

Baritone Andrew Finden was a brilliant Count with a magnificen voice and playfulness

We head to Montepulciano in Italy this week for a couple of performances there.

Isabel Blechschmidt as La Contessa


*I couldn’t resist a reformation reference.


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