Monday, 9 June 2008

Don Carlos at the Paris Bastille Opera with Morris, Hvorostovsky, Naef, Iveri, Secco etc

The four-act Italian version Don Carlo in Graham Vick´s 1998 staging was revived at the Paris Bastille Opera on June 5th with James Morris (Filip), Dmitri Hvorostovsky (Posa), Yvonne Naef (Eboli), Tamar Iveri (Elisabetta), Stefano Secco (Carlos) and Mikhail Petrenko (Inquisitor).

Reader nv has just written an excellent report from this production in comment number 1 to this post. Thank you! I find it particularly interesting what he writes on James Morris as I suspect these to have been my sentiments as well, had I been there (discussed in the comments section).

Another review (without Dmitri Hvorostovsky) in English at Out West Arts. And with Dmitri Hvorostovsky at Pêcheurs des Perles.

For the historically interested, here is a review from when this production opened in 1998 with Samuel Ramey, Carol Vaness, Neil Schicoff, Vladimir Chernov and Dolora Zajick!

17 comments:

NV said...

Well... as I am french, my english is far from perfect…

The first problem is that it is the italian version in four acts without the first part in Fontainebleau.

Graham Vick's production is not a nuisance to the singing (modern staging with historical costumes). But nothing to write home about. A big cross made with candles in the Yuste monastery. Nice lighting. A lot of effects with shadows. A ridiculous Autodafe.

The good surprise was Secco’s Carlos. Glorious high notes. Splendid legato. Very convincing physically, as he is short and not specially handsome as was the real Carlos.

Tamar Iveri was replacing Olga Guryakova and it was good news. She made a very nice pair with Secco. She is not a diva but she made a very good job. Ok she is not a first-class actress but the last duetto was really entrancing.

Hvoroskovski died marvellously. Large breathing. Impressive legato. But he began very cautiously. As his voice is not naturally powerful, the scene with the king at the end of the first act was a real anti-climax. But the ladies loved him of course.

Yvonne Naef was a deception. The voice is strong. The guys at the back of the theater were enchanted. She has very nice verdian low notes. But the high notes are shrilling and she compensates the lack of legato with effects of throat. The main problem is that I don’t really like her voice. But reading the french forums about opera, I think I am not alone… Well “O don fatale” should be moving and it was not.

Good frate(Paul Gay). Standard Inquisitor (Petrenko).

The great controversy in France is about James Morris. He is an immense artist. But he has not the voice to sing King Philip. The high notes in the nose. A lot of wobble. And no low notes. Forget about Ghiaurov… But the boos were undeserved. With such inadequate a voice, he gave a very moving “Ella giammai m’amo” where he succeeded in making expressive assets of his technical problems. I saw Salminen in Munich two years ago. Of course he had the voice. But he was singing the phone directory as we say in France. I was moved by Morris… The last performance this month will be sung by Furlanetto.

The conductor was a young greek, Theodor Currentzis. Ironists in Paris say he is well known in Novossibirsk. He made himself ridiculous in the paris opera review saying that conductors should not bother about helping singers and implying that Karajan didn’t understand anything about Verdi. So… the boos. He was quite efficient but not particularly subtile. It is out of question to look at him because he makes plenty of comic gestures with his hands and his hairs. And there is a lot of brass and not to much strings… Well he is young…

Well a nice evening on Saturday but Sunday afternoon, there was Capuletti with Anna and Joyce… And Paris is still shaking with bliss…

per-erik said...

You are aware og Google Alerts?

"Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic."

I use it extensively.

mostly opera... said...

nv - thank you very much for the excellent report! Much appreciated. I know exactly what you mean with Morris - I have the same reservations about the voice which I really don´t care for, but he is a great presence on stage.

per-erik: Google alert only helps you if articles on the subject exists! And in this case, I chose to handsearch some opera forums and French papers as well as I don´t know how well this alert covers more "hidden" entries.
But otherwise, thanks for the tip, maybe I should use the Google Alert more generally..

Anonymous said...

I just noticed from the Paris Opera site that Hvorostovsky is NOT going to perform on the 10th and 22nd June....We are travelling from abroad to Paris Opera/Don Carlo on the 22nd June. I can't believe it, we've waited for years to hear him in this particular role! Would anyone be interested in three excellent seats for the matinee on the 22nd....Maybe to hear Furlanetto ;-)

mostly opera... said...

That change must have happened quite recently - I´d almost swear Hvorostovsky was scheduled for the entire run when I looked at the site a couple of days ago.
Bad luck indeed. "Unfortunately" I am in Vienna that weekend.. Good luck selling those tickets!

Dr Yiapud said...

First of all i must admit kourentzis is a good actor indeed, he has a somehow theatrical explosiveness during conducting and he uses his look(he is handsome and he knows it-jeunne premier or something like this as you say in France).He is now well known with many interviews and sometimes it is very difficult to handle this(ie the comment about Karajan).There are many interviews in which he is exaggerating.Looking the things from another point of view though, you must remember that he is only 36 years old.He studied in the conservatoire of St Petersburg with Muschin (the same with valery gergiev).When he was 23 he conducted the philarmonic orchestra of the town.His master had in mind to get him to marrinsky theater.After that he went to the opera of this difficult town in Siberia and he made russians to travel from Moscow just for him and his works.In 2005 was the best conductor in russia and in 2007 the best conductor of music theater.The widow of Dmitri Schostakovitch said that he is the second maestro(after evgeny Mravinsky) who conducts his symphonies so well.He is the maestro of the Moscow festival Territoria and he has an orchestra Musica Aeterna with old instruments.He has a 3 years contract with opera Bastille...

So do not (yet) shoot the maestro!!!

Extatic said...

On another French forum:
http://odb-opera.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=6723&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

nv said...

Dr yiapud. Thanks but I didn't intend to shoot anybody.

Currentzis is conducting next spring Macbeth in Paris. A co-production with the Novossibirsk opera. As parisians are snobbish, ans as Gerard Mortier is an easy target, they will have plenty to laugh at... My problem is that I don't know if I want to see Macbeth without Shirley Verrett...

Personnally, I didnt find Currentzis totally out of purpose. The orchestra was lacking velvet. But the paris opera orchestra is ... what it is...

Antonio said...

For some comments (in French) on the performances you can visit opera-giocoso.net, and then the section Représentations d´opéra.

Dr Yiapud said...

ok nv..we shall see him in macbeth..i am really curious about that..although not too optimistic....

Brian said...

I've written a review on my blog outwestarts.blogspot.com of the June 10 performance that did not involve Hvorostovsky. I share much of nv's thinking

marcillac said...

I saw the performance on the 10th and generally concur with NV's overall assesment. Unfortunately I have to agree that Morris was suboptimal vocally though every inch the King. Even considering that Phillip is pretty much the center of the show for me and I'm inclined to be picky, overall he was more that adequate to the task. Also, while his voice is certainly not what it was he is certainly capable of more than he was on display on Tuesday (I'm thinking of two stupendous Walkure Wotans (vocally stupendous as well) and an excellent base part in Mahler's 8th. (Hopefully he'll be at his best in next year's Ring).

Very much missed Hvorostovsky because I have rarely heard him outside of the Met and was interested in observing him in a smaller venue.

Also Iveri was missing some badly needed charisma and was somewhat unsatisfactory in the lower register. Very similar impressions of her recent Met Vitalia.

Looks I'll be able to make it Vienna for the Pape Phillip (and Capriccio) this weekend and Furlanetto later in the Pris run. (Would be nice to hear the production in London but doesn't look like it will happen).

marcillac said...

Um...this every inch a King thing is of course problematic because while Morris is roughly 195cm and rouhgly 105 to 115kgs, Phillip (judging by the Armour in Veinna and Madrid) was 166cm and 60-62kgs - tops). One also imagines his voice was something other than a powerful base. Still, the dramatic license makes for a much better show. What fun is tiny and whiny king.

mostly opera... said...

That is the exact difference between Ferruccio Furlanetto and René Pape as King Filip.

Judged by a live recording of Furlanetto´s Filip from London last week and previous live performances (Pape´s Filip I know very very well), they both create an equally convincing, though different dramatic portrait of the character of King Filip.

Furlanetto achieves this by singing like the ailed King, not always on pitch, struggling with some of the top-notes and with some sprech-gesang as well. But, as a portrait, entirely convincing.

René Pape does it with more than twice the voice in both volume and beauty, even throughout the range, completely on-pitch, hitting the top-notes in full voice and managing the full range of dynamics from piano to fortissimo at the top of the range..
But no, no matter how they dress him up I´ve never seen him really look or sing like Carlos´ father or making Elisabetta´s choice of Carlos over him even remotely believable...

Parsifal said...

Any reviews on Dimitri Tiliakos who is doing second cast to Hvorostovsky's first cast?

mostly opera... said...

Parsifal did you see what Brian wrote here: outwestarts.blogspot.com
Also see here (in Dutch..): http://www.gopera.com/igi/ and in French here: http://opera.forumpro.fr/generalites-f3/don-carlo-t2579-225.htm

Anonymous said...

Saw this production yesterday and enjoyed it very much. Agree with the reviewer here. Furlanetto was the strongest member of a generally good cast. Hvorostovsky was in good form, but really shone at the end in his farewell. Tamar Iveri seemed weaker at first, but had warmed up by the end to deliver a moving 'Tu che la vanita'. Yvonne Naef was fine in the Saracen aria, but sounded overparted and 'O don fatale' was disappointing. Supporting parts were well sung. I liked Paul Gay's Frate. The minimalist sets worked well, but the dull lighting lacked imagination. Orchestra sounded good on the whole, if a little unsubtle at times.

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