Friday, 27 January 2012

Mozarts best opera - vote

In celebration of Mozarts 255th birthday:

I dare assume, few will choose an opera not listed above.

David McVicar


Scottish. Born 1966. Studied acting initially graduating from Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Detailed biographical information here.

Directorial approach:
Multilayered productions, often surprisingly traditional in the outlook, with opulent costumes (McVicars favourite period is the 18th Century) but come with a nasty twist. Reknowned for his direction of the singers. The relatively conventional appearance of his stagings make him "suitable" even for major houses with a preponderance towards traditional productions, such as Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Notable achievements in opera:
Breakthrough with Handel´s Giulio Cesare in Glyndebourne 2005 and he remains blosely associated with Glyndebourne Festival, where he directed Wagner´s Meistersinger in 2011. However, most closely he seems to be associated with the Royal Opera House (London), where he has staged (among others) Magic Flute, Rigoletto, Faust, Nozze di FigaroSalome, Aida, Adriana Lecouvreur and Les Troyens. His Metropolitan Opera debut took place in 2009 with Il Trovatore and in 2013 he directe Maria Stuarda there. David McVicar staged the Nibelungen Ring 2010-12 in Strassbourg and his works may be seen in most major opera houses, Rarely in Germany, though as he expains below:

"No, it's horrible. And institutionalised. You have to fight against ineptitude, and arrogance, and stupidity." when asked about working in Germany

"I am good at what I do because I care so terribly much, and I do put so much into it, so much energy and so much love!.

Current and future productions: Full calendar of present and future productions.


Interview with David McVicar related to Giulio Cesare in Glyndebourne 2005, probably his international break-through:

Nozze di Figaro, Royal Opera House 2006 - one of the finest versions on DVD:

 Documentary of the making of Meistersinger in Glyndebourne 2011:


Carmen, Glyndebourne 2002
Giulio Cesare, Glyndebourne 2005



All posts on mostly opera related to David McVicar

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Munich Don Carlo with Kaufmann, Harteros, Pape

Don Carlo. Bayerische Staatoper, January 22 2011 LIVESTREAMING. Prod: Jürgen Rose. Cond: Asher Fish. Cast: René Pape (Filippo), Jonas Kaufmann (Don C), Anja Harteros (Elisabetta), Anna Smirnova (Eboli), Daniel Boaz (Posa), Eric Halfvarson (Inquisitor).
  • According to the opera house about 459.000 people watched the free online-streaming, which worked perfect in my region (Scandinavia).
  • Jürgen Roses semi-abstract and dark production serves the opera well, though in some scenes I´d wish for a torch to be able to see exactly what was going on.
  • In my opinion the 5-act version is too long and it serves the work to cut the Fontainebleau scene, both dramatically and musically - Jonas Kaufmann (as seen in the intermission interview) unsurprisingly does not agree.
  • Jonas Kaufmann is probably the most convincing Don Carlo on stage since Plácido Domingo, italianitá or not.
  • For once Carlo a believable alternative to René Pape´s King Filippo, of which everything has been said previously on this blog on more than one occasion.
  • This version includes the wonderful lacrymosa, later to be incorporated in the Requiem, sung by Filippo after Posa´s death.
  • Most regal of the cast was Anja Harteros in both appearance and with a wonderful bloom to her singing. Though I can fault her nothing, and many may feel she lacks nothing at all, I miss an emotional connection with her. Marina Poplavskaya provides this, but vocally she is not at Harteros´ level.
  • A better lead trio may not be seen today.
  • Daniel Boaz did his best as a late substitute for Mariusz Kwiecien, though I´d have preferred the latter.
  • Anna Smirnova has heft but not much else as Eboli.
  • A Grand Inquisitor in his prime would be great for a change.
  • This performance will not be released on DVD (according to Munich Intendant).
  • Asher Fisher was good, has vastly improved (or learned) from his years in Berlin with Daniel Barenboim.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Paris Forza del Destino

La forza del destino. Paris Bastille Opera, November 28 2011. Production: Jean-Claude Auvray. Conductor: Philippe Jordan. Cast: Violeta Urmana (L), Marcelo Alvarez (Alvaro), Vladimir Stoyanov (Don C), Nadia Krasteva (Preziosilla), Kwangchoul Yun (Padre Guardiano), Nicola Alaimo (Fra Melitone)

In summary, the Bastille Opera has presented  us with and entirely unconvincing staging of Verdis La force du destin, both dramatically and vocally a major disappointment.

To begin with the staging, Auvray transposes the plot to the 19th Century and to a stage with occasional backdrops of paintings being the only decorations in the very dark and naked sets. Not an unreasonable approach, as such, however, with austere sets like, much relies on the singers ability to convince dramatically.

Vocally, Violeta Urmana, a former mezzo-soprano, is simply too heavy, with a strained top without bloom and spirit. Marcelo Alvarez, whose acting skills are never above the mediocre, here falls considerably below mediocre, with stand-and-deliver acting, and dispirited vocal delivery (though he does hit the notes relatively unstrained). While it may have worked (to a certain extent) for Pavarotti, vraiment, ca ne suffit franchement pas monsieur Alvarez.
Vladimir Stoyanov was simply monotonous and uninteresting, Nadia Krasteva was rough-voiced and unsophisticated. The only cast member infusing a bit of life into this production was Nicola Alaimo as Fra Melitone.
The biggest applause, deservedly went to conductor Philippe Jordan, though to lift this dead-weight production would be beyond the means of any conductor.

The production clearly benefited from being transferred to television, but in the auditorium it was dismal evening, that never seemed to end.

L´Opera de Bastille peut et doit mieux faire. Bonne nuit a tous.

The final scene:

The bottom line (scale of 1-5, 3=average):

Violeta Urmana: 2
Marcelo Alvarez: 3
Vladimir Stoyanov: 2

Production (Auvray): 2
Philippe Jordan: 4

Overall impression: 2
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