Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Today : world première of 'Penthesilea' by Pascal Dusapin in Brussels

Today, Pascal Dusapin's new opera, Penthesilea, with a libretto (in French) by Beate Haeckl and the composer after Heinrich von Kleist, will be performed in Brussels (Théâtre de la Monnaie).

Penthesilea, the proud queen of the Amazons ! After the accidental death of her sister Hippolyta, she took part in the Trojan War to prove the courage of the Amazons. A complex and deadly game of love and hate, attraction and repulsion arose between Penthesilea and Achilles. It was Heinrich von Kleist (1808) who brought the subject into the modern era. In his version, Achilles does not kill Penthesilea, but vice versa : in a moment of tragic madness she tears apart the one she loves with her teeth. (reproduced from La Monnaie website)
The cast includes Natascha Petrinsky (Penthesilea), Marisol Montalvo (Prothoe), Georg Nigl (Achilles), Werner van Mechelen (Odysseus). La Monnaie Symphony Orchestra and Chorus are conducted by Franck Ollu. Pierre Audi directs.

It is Dusapin's seventh opera since Romeo and Juliet in 1988. His most recent stage works are Perelà - Uomo di fuomo (2001), Faustus, The Last Night (2004) and Passion (2008). Kleist's play has already been adapted to the stage : by René Koering (Scène de chasse, Montpellier, 2009) and Othmar Schoeck (1927).

The performance should last about 1 hour and 45 minutes (no intermission). The production will be available for streaming on the opera house website from April 23rd to May 13th. No broadcast seems to be planned. The opera will be also performed in Strasbourg (Musica festival) next September.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Received in the mail this morning : program book for 'Die Brüder Löwenherz' von Helmut Oehring

This Monday morning, I have received in the mail the program published by the Semperoper Dresden for the world première performance of Helmut Oehring's children opera Die Brüder Löwenherz.

It is a 8 pages brochure. It contains :

- complete cast and crew ;
- biographies of the performers (on a separate page) ;
- an interview with the composer ;
- a goose game.

I have scanned all the covers of the program books for contemporary operas I have. You can find the images in this flickr folder.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

New recordings in my collection

I have recently acquired the following recordings of contemporary operas :

- Charles Wuorinen : Brokeback Mountain, Engel / van Hove, BelAir Classiques (DVD)

- Dominick Argento : Postcard from Morocco, conducted by Rossen Milanov (Albany) ;
- Jack Beeson : Dr. Heidegger's Fountain of Youth conducted by Thomas Martin and Hello out There conducted by Frederic Waldman (Albany) ;
- Philippe Boesmans : Au Monde, conducted by Patrick Davin (Cypres) ;

- Ricky Ian Gordon : 27, conducted by Michael Christie (Albany) ;
- Ned Rorem : Miss Julie, conducted by David Agler (Albany).

Received in the mail this morning : program book for 'Paradise Reloaded' by Peter Eötvös in Chemnitz

This Saturday morning, I have also received in the mail the program book published by Theater Chemnitz for the German première of the opera Paradise Reloaded (Lilith) by Peter Eötvös. The opera was first performed in Vienna (Wien Modern festival) on October 25th, 2013, but I never received the original program book.

The program from Chemnitz is a 32 pages brochure. It contains :

- complete cast and crew;
- color photos of the production ;
- synopsis ;
 - an article on the opera by Jon Philipp von Linden ;
- an excerpt of Imre Madach's Die Tragödie des Menschen ;
- biography of the composer ;
- an interview of the conductor Frank Beermann ;
- biographies of the team and singers.

New season 2015-2016 at the Komische Oper in Berlin

This Saturday morning, I have received the program book for the 2015-2016 at the Komische Oper in Berlin.

The following operas will have new productions :

- Jacques Offenbach : The Tales of Hoffmann (in German and French), conducted by Stefan Blunier and directed by Barrie Kosky ;
- Elena Kats-Chernin : Snow White and the 77 Dwarfs (in German) conducted by Pawel Poplawski, directed by Christian von Götz (children opera, word première) ;
- Frederick Loewe : My Fair Lady (in German), conducted by Kristiina Poska, directed by Andreas Homoki ;
- Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky : Eugene Onegin (in Russian), conducted by Henrik Nanasi, directed by Barrie Kosky ;
- Heinrich Marschner : Der Vampyr (in German), conducted by Antony Hermus, directed by Antu Romero Nunes ;
- HK Gruber : Geschichten aus dem Wiener Wald (in German), conducted by Hendrik Vestmann, directed by Michal Zadara ;
- Jules Massenet : Cendrillon (in French), conducted by Henrik Nanasi, directed by Damiano Michieletto.

The following productions will be revived :

- Paul Abraham : Ball im Savoy (in German), directed by Barrie Kosky (first performed in June 2013) ;
- Leonard Bernstein : West Side Story (in German and English), directed by Barrie Kosky and Alma Sadé (first performed in November 2013) ;
- Nico Dostal : Clivia (in German), directed by Stefan Huber (first performed in March 2014) ;
- Georg Friedrich Haendel : Serse (in German), directed by Stefan Herheim (first performed in May 2012) ;
- Georg Friedrich Haendel : Giulio Cesare (in Italian), directed by Lydia Steier (to be first performed in May 2015) ;
- Engelbert Humperdinck : Hänsel und Gretel (in German), directed by Reinhard von der Thannen (first performed in March 2013) ;
- Marius Felix Lange : The Ghost of Canterville (in German), directed by Jasmina Hadziahmetovic (first performed in November 2014) ;
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart : The Magic Flute (in German), directed by Suzanne Andrade and Barrie Kosky (first performed in November 2012) ;
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart : Don Giovanni (in German), directed by Herbert Fritsch (first performed in November 2014) ;
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart : Le Nozze di Figaro (in German), directed by Barrie Kosky (first performed in January 2005) ;
- Jacques Offenbach : La Belle Hélène (in German), directed by Barrie Kosky (first performed in October 2014) ;
- Cole Porter : Kiss Me, Kate (in German), directed by Barrie Kosky (first performed in May 2008) ;
- Sergei Prokofiev : The Fiery Angel (in Russian), directed by Benedict Andrews (first performed in January 2014) ;
- Jean-Philippe Rameau : Castor et Pollux (in French), directed by Barrie Kosky (first performed in May 2014).

21 operas (including 7 new productions) by 17 composers will be performed  in 5 languages. They cover the complete history of opera, from baroque era (Haendel and Rameau) to contemporary (Lange, Gruber, Kats-Chernin).

Friday, 27 March 2015

Received in the mail this morning : program book for Johannes Harneit's 'Abends am Fluss / Hochwasser' in Heidelberg

This Friday morning, I have received in the mail the program book published by Theater und Orchester Heidelberg for the world première performance of Abends am Fluss and Hochwasser, two operas composed by Johannes Harneit. The first performance was on February 6th.

It is a 40 pages brochure. It contains :

- complete cast and crew ;
- color photos of the production ;
- synopses of both operas ;
- biographies of the composer and the librettist ;
- an article by the librettist on writing the libretti ;
- 3 stanzas from a poem by Ferdinand Freiligrath, Die Revolution ;
- a conversation with the production team : composer, director (Peter Konwitschny), sets and costumes designer (Helmut Brade) and dramaturgist Bettina Bartz ;
- a poem by Paul Celan ;
- an article by Rosa Luxemburg ;
- a text by Karl Jaspers, philosopher and psychiatrist ;
- biographies of the cast and crew members, with black and white photos.

It is entirely in German.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

New Season 2015-2016 at the Semperoper in Dresden

This Wednesday morning, I have received the program book for the 2015-2016 season at the Semperoper in Dresden.

The following operas will be performed with new productions :

- Albert Lortzing : Der Wildschütz, conducted by Asher Fisch, directed by Jens-Daniel Herzog ;
- John Harbison : The Great Gatsby, conducted by Wayne Marshall, directed by Keith Warner (European première) ;
- Pietro Mascagni : Cavalleria rusticana and Ruggero Leoncavallo : Pagliacci, conducted by Stefano Ranzani and directed by Philipp Stölzl ;
- Paul Hindemith : Mathis der Maler, conducted by Simone Young, directed by Jochen Biganzoli ;
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart : Don Giovanni, conducted by Omer Meir Wellber, directed by Andreas Kriegenburg ;
- Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky : Eugene Onegin, conducted by Pietari Inkinen, directed by Markus Bothe;
- Viktor Ullmann : Der Kaiser von Atlantis, conducted by Johannes Wulff-Woesten, directed by Christiane Lutz (Semper 2).

In fact, Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci will be performed in Salzburg during the 2015 Easter Festival, later this month.

The following productions will be revived :

- Georges Bizet : Carmen, directed by Axel Köhler (first performed in September 2013) ;
- Gaetano Donizetti : L'Elisir d'amore, directed by Michael Schulz (first performed in April 2012) ;
- Charles Gounod : Faust, directed by Keith Warner (first performed in June 2010) ;
- Georg Friedrich Händel : Alcina, directed by Jan Philipp Gloger (first performance in October 2011) ;
- Georg Friedrich Händel :Giulio Cesare, directed by Jens-Daniel Herzog (first performed in December 2009) ;
- Georg Friedrich Händel :Orlando, directed by Andreas Kriegenburg (first performed in January 2013) ;
- Engelbert Humperdinck : Hänsel und Gretel, directed by Katharina Thalbach (first performed in December 2006) ;
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart : Le nozze di Figaro, directed by Johannes Erath (this production will be performed for the first time next June) ;
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart : Die Zauberflöte, directed by Achim Freyer (first performed in Dresden probably in 2006, considering that Freyer directed this opera as soon as 1982 in Hamburg) ;
- Giacomo Puccini : La Bohème, directed by Christine Mielitz (this production is more than 22 years old) ;
- Giacomo Puccini : Tosca, directed by Johannes Schaaf (first performed in January 2009) ;
- Peter Ronnefeld : Nachtausgabe, directed by Manfred Weiß (first performed in October 2014) ;
- Gioachino Rossini : Il barbiere di Siviglia, directed by Grischa Asagaroff (performed in Dresden since at least April 2008, but also in Zurich from 1991 to 2007) ;
- Johann Strauß : Die Fledermaus, directed by Günter Krämer (first performance in December 2003) ;
- Richard Strauss : Arabella, directed by Florentine Klepper (first performed in Dresden in November 2014, original production for the 2014 Easter Festival in Salzburg) ;
- Richard Strauss : Elektra, directed by Barbara Frey (first performed in January 2014) :
- Giuseppe Verdi : Don Carlo, directed by Eike Gramss (first performed in October 2003) ;
- Giuseppe Verdi : Macbeth, directed by Philipp Himmelmann (first performed in October 2005) ;
- Giuseppe Verdi : La Traviata, directed by Andreas Homoki (first performed in Dresden in October2009, but already performed in Leipzig and other German Cities in 2004) ;
- Richard Wagner : Der fliegende Holländer, directed by Florentine Klepper (first performance in June 2013) ;
- Richard Wagner : Lohengrin, directed by Christine Mielitz (this production is more than 22 years old) ;
- Richard Wagner : Die Walküre, directed by Willy Decker (first performance in November 2001) ;
- Carl Maria von Weber : Der Freischütz, directed by Axel Köhler (first performance next May) ;

Therefore, 31 operas by 20 composers in 5 languages will be performed next season. There will be one opera from the 21st Century, and another one contemporary. This season covers quite well the complete history of opera and its various genres.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Today : World première of Xavier Dayer's opera, after Kenji Mizoguchi, in Rouen

Today, Xavier Dayer's opera, Les Contes de la lune vague après la pluie, with a libretto by Alain Perroux based on the script of Kenji Mizoguchi's movie Ugetsu (1953), will be performed in Rouen.

In 16th century Japan in the grip of civil war, two poor men set off in search of recognition. Their couples are shattered by separation. At the core of the work, an artist comes across a bewitching princess and is caught into the trap of his own vanity. (reproduced from the Opéra Comique website)
The cast includes Benjamin Mayenobe, Majdouline Zerari, Carlos Natale, Judith Fa, David Tricou and Luanda Siqueira. The Orchestra of the Opéra de Rouen Haute-Normandie is conducted by Jean-Philippe Wurtz. Vincent Huguet directs, with sets by Richard Peduzzi.

The opera should last about 90 minutes, with no intermission.
The opera will then be performed in Geneva (in concert) on March 29th, and in Paris (Opéra Comique) on 18th and 19th May.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

New season 2015-2016 at the Teatro Real in Madrid

This Thursday morning, I have also received the complete program for the 2015-2016 season at the Teatro Real in Madrid.

The following operas will be performed :

- Gaetano Donizetti : Roberto Devereux, conducted by Bruno Campanella and Andriy Yurkevych, directed by Alessandro Talevi (production from the Welsh National Opera in Cardiff, October 2013), with Mariella Devia and Mariusz Kwiecien ;
- Georg Friedrich Haendel : Alcina, conducted by Christopher Moulds, directed by David Alden, with Karina Gauvin and Sonia Prina (production from Bordeaux, May 2012) ;
- Giuseppe Verdi : Rigoletto, conducted by Nicola Luisotti, directed by David McVicar, with several casts, including Stephen Costello, Leo Nucci, Olga Peretyatko and Carlo Colombara (production from Covent Garden, September 2001) ;
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart : Die Zauberflöte, conducted by Ivor Bolton, directed by Barrie Kosky, with Christof Fischesser, Joel Prieto, Ana Durlovski (production from the Komische Oper in Berlin, November 2012) ;
- Manuel de Falla : El retablo de Maese Pedro, conducted by Josep Vicent, directed by Enrique Lanz, as part of the celebration for the 400th anniversary of Miguel de Cervantes' death (production from the Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, January 2009) ;
- Tomas Marco : El caballero de la triste figura, conducted by Manuel Coves, directed by Guillermo Heras, for the same celebration (new production) ;
- Richard Wagner : Das Liebesverbot, conducted by Ivor Bolton, directed by Kasper Holten, with Christopher Maltman, Andrew Stapels, Bernard Richter, Ante Jerkunica (new production) ;
- Richard Wagner : Parsifal, conducted by Semyon Bychkov, directed by Claus Guth, with Detlef Roth, Ante Jerkunica, Franz Josef Selif, Anja Kampe (production from the Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, February 2011) ;
- Hans Krasa : Brundibar, conducted by Jordi Frances, directed by Susana Gomez (new production) ;
- Arnold Schönberg : Moses und Aron, conducted by Lothar Koenigs, directed by Romeo Castellucci, with Albert Dohmen, John Graham-Hall and Catherine Wyn-Rogers (new co-production, to be first performed in Paris in October 2015) ;
- Viktor Ullmann : Der Kaiser von Atlantis, conducted (and orchestrated) by Pedro Halffter, directed by Gustavo Tambascio (new production).

The four following operas will be performed in concert :

- George Benjamin : Written on Skin, conducted by the composer :
- Giuseppe Verdi : Luisa Miller, conducted by James Conlon ;
- Vincenzo Bellini : I Puritani, conducted by Evelino Pido ;
- Giuseppe Verdi : I due Foscari, conducted by Pablo Heras-Casado.

15 operas (including 4 chamber operas, and 4 operas in concert) in 5 languages, from the baroque era to the modern period, will be performed. There will be only 2 new productions from large-scale works, but 4 operas from the 20th or 21st centuries.
According to a document received with the program, the "Teatro Real [should] achieve financial stability in 2015 with only 30% of public funding. Let's hope it will allow them to commission some new works in the near future.

Received in the mail this morning : program book for Sotelo's 'El Publico' in Madrid

This Thursday morning, I have received in the mail the program book published by the Teatro Real in Madrid for the world premiere performance of Mauricio Sotelo's El Publico (The Audience) on February 24th.

It is a 32 pages brochure. It contains :

- complete cast and crew ;
- synopsis ;
- an article written by the librettist ;
- an article written by the composer ;
- biographies of the artists, with B&W photos.

It is entirely in Spanish, with the exception of the synopsis which is bilingual (Spanish and English).

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Received in the mail this morning : program book for Jost's 'Rote Laterne' in Zurich

This Wednesday morning, I have received in the mail the program book published by Opernhaus Zurich for the world premiere performance of Christian Jost's last opera, Rote Laterne.

The 76 pages book contains :

- color photos of the production ;
- synopsis ;
- dialogue with the composer ;
- several quotes from Jean-Paul Sartre, Paul Celan, Georg Büchner, Su Tong
- dialogue with director and designer ;
- an article on Su Tong, the author of the original novel ;
- the composer's biography ;
- the complete libretto ;
- a separate 16 pages brochure with complete cast and biographies of performers.

It is entirely in German.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Today : world première of 'Rote Laterne' by Christian Jost in Zurich

Today, the new opera composed by Christian Jost, Rote Laterne (Red Lantern), with a libretto by the composer after Su Tong's Wives and Cocubines, will be performed in Zurich.


It is the composers's eighth opera, since Death Knocks in 2001. His operas include Hamlet (2008), Mikropolis (2010), Rumor (2011) and Heart Sutra (2012, video available on YouTube).
the story of a young woman who is married off into a traditional Chinese family as the fourth and youngest wife and perishes as the result of their backward attitudes. Four wives of different generations live under one roof with their husband, Master Chen, and form a hopelessly catastrophic ménage à cinq. The piece is about female desire and social constraints, dreams, emotional self-determination, domination, envy, jealousy and death. (reproduced from the Zurich Opera house website)
The cast includes Shelley Jackson (soprano, Song-Lian), Claudia Boyle (soprano, May-Shan), Nora Gubisch (mezzo, Zhuo-Yun), Liliana Nikiteanu (alto, Yu-Ru), Rod Gilfry (baritone, Master Chen) and Anna Goryachova (mezzo, Yen-Er). Alain Altinoglu conducts and Nadja Loschky directs.

The orchestra is the following :

- 2 flutes (II. also alt flute), 1 oboe, 1 English horn, 1 clarinet, 1 bass clarinet, 1 bassoon, 1 contrabassoon ;
- 4 horns, 1 tuba ;
- 6 percussionists : vibraphone, marimba, chimes, 3 cymbals, Chinese cymbal, 6 tomtoms, 2 timpani, bass drum, 2 woodblocks ;
- harp, solo violin, strings

The opera should last about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Today : World première of 'The Manchurian Candidate' by Kevin Puts in St. Paul (MN)

Today, the Minnesota Opera presents the world première performance of The Manchurian Candidate by Kevin Puts, with a libretto by Mark Campbell after Richard Condon's novel. Performances will take place at the Ordway Theater.


It is Puts' second opera after Silent Night, first performed by Minnesota Opera on November 12, 2011.
An American soldier, decorated during the Korean War, is brainwashed into becoming an unwitting assassin in a conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government. Can a fellow POW crack the code in time to stop him ? (reproduced from the opera website)
The cast includes Matthew Worth (Sergeant Raymond Shaw), Brenda Harris (Eleanor Iselin), Daniel Sumegi (Senator Johnny Iselin), Leonardo Capalbo (Captain Ben Marco), Adriana Zabala (Rosie Chayney), among others. Michael Christie conducts and Kevin Newbury directs.

The opera should last about 2 hours and 10 minutes, including one 20-minute intermission.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Performance today : world première of Dai Fujikura's 'Solaris' in Paris

Today, I attended the world première performance of Dai Fujikura's opera Solaris, with a libretto by Sabuto Teshigawara after Stanislas Lem's novel, at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris.

It started with silent prelude you had to watch with special glasses. I guess it was supposed to show the journey through the stars to the planet Solaris, but it was rather ineffective. Then the music started, played by the Ensemble InterContemporain (14 musicians ensemble specialized in contemporary music) conducted by Erik Nielsen. The score is an interesting one, not by the pure musical sounds they had to play (as in Le Petit Prince by Michaël Levinas) but by the live electronic device conceived by IRCAM for this opera : it changed original sound to new one that was also projected around the theater through loudspeakers.

Unfortunately, these efforts to design an appropriate sound landscape for this journey to the depths of human sould were ruined by the ineffective staging by librettist-director-choreographer-set-costumes-and-light-designer-dancer Saburo Teshigawara. The unique set was a large box (no props) using all the space stage with the exception of a small part in front of it. The singers were always standing still in front of the box (or at some very specific moments, in the box), while dancers (one for each singer) were 'acting' in the box. The whole evening rather looked like a ballet performance with singers and orchestra, rather than a real opera. This new work definitely deserves a more appropriate staging.

The program book (88 pages) contains :

- complete cast,
- complete crew,
- introduction to the opera,
- synopsis (in French and English),
- an article on the composition of the opera, by Bastien Gallet,
- an article on the opera, by Jérémie Szpirglas,
- an article on Saburo Teshigawara, by Philippe Noisette,
- 'Seeing the unconceivable', by Ulf Langheinrich,
- biographies of all artists, with color photos,
- the complete libretto, in English and French.

A second booklet (48 pages) includes black and white photos of rehearsals.
The two performances in Paris are recorded by France Musique and there should be a broadcast in the next few months, probably on Monday.

Today : World première of 'Solaris' by Dai Fujikura in Paris

Today, the first opera composed by Dai Fujikura, Solaris, with a libretto in English by Saburo Teshigawara after Stanislas Lem's novel, will be performed in Paris.

Solaris Fujikura 

The cast includes Sarah Tynan (soprano, Hari), Leigh Melrose (baritone, Kris Kelvin), Tom Randle (tenor, Snaut), Callum Thorpe (bass, Gibarian), and Marcus Farnsworth (baritone, off stage Kelvin). The Ensemble InterContemporain is conducted by Erik Nielsen. Saburo Teshigawara directs.
The book centers upon the themes of the nature of human memory, experience and the ultimate inadequacy of communication between human and non-human species. In probing and examining the oceanic surface of the planet Solaris from a hovering research station the human scientists are, in turn, being studied by the sentient planet itself, which probes for and examines the thoughts of the human beings who are analyzing it. Solaris has the ability to manifest their secret, guilty concerns in human form, for each scientist to personally confront. (reproduced from en.wikipedia.org)
The orchestra is the following :
- 1 flute, 1 oboe, 1 clarinet, 1 bassoon
- 1 horn, 1 trumpet, 1 trombone
- 1 percussionist, 1 celesta, strings, and live electronics.

The opera should last about 90 minutes. It will be performed in Lille later this month, and in Lausanne in April. It is at least the fourth opera composed after Lem's novel, after Michael Obst (Munich, 1996), Henry Correggia (Torino, 2011) and Detlev Glanert (Bregenz, 2012). The work is published by Ricordi Berlin.