Monday, January 3, 2011

2011: The Delights of Anticipation

I am currently making lists of all the operas I want to attend in the coming months, instead of lists of the hundreds of books I will have to read before comprehensive exams in the fall.  Ah well.  The Twelve Days of Christmas aren't over yet, so I'm digging my heels in and luxuriating in holiday relaxation.  One niggling question is: do I want to play a rousing game of "collect them all!" with the Met's current season?  I am not feeling particularly inspired by Armida, but should I go for the sake of coloratura?  Despite having seen Tosca twice last season, I might go again for love of Sondra Radvanovsky (I've seen her in Trovatore and Stiffelio, and she was fabulous both times.)  There are other will-I-won't-I debates, but I'll spare you my dithering, and borrow a thought from Likely Impossibilities: if there are Met or other NYC operas that you think I absolutely must not miss, let me know in the comments and I'll do my best to fit them into schedule and budget!

(c) Metropolitan Opera
My opera project for January is immersing the Beloved Flatmate in Verdi.  I'm looking forward to the Willy Decker Traviata, as I found the Salzburg DVD stylish and thought-provoking.  Also, based on one live experience and a few teaser clips, Marina Poplavskaya seems a promising Violetta (Dich, teure Halle favorite Matthew Polenzani will be Alfredo.)  Although Simon Boccanegra is unexciting as far as production goes, the cast/conductor combo (Levine! Frittoli! Vargas! Hvorostovsky! Furlanetto!) seems divine.  February gets me dates with out-of-town friends: Nixon in China with an Adams aficionado, and Don Pasquale with a college roommate and her husband, for their first live opera (hooray.)  The rest of the spring promises an eclectic mix of (for me) horizon-widening performances.  In roughly chronological order, here are a few of the things I'm most excited about:

Lucia di Lammermoor.  This one's all about the cast for me: Dessay (one of those I-cannot-believe-she-just-did-that voices,) Calleja, the incredible Ludovic Tézier (go here for compilation of YouTube highlights,) and the always-exciting Kwangchul Youn.

Queen of Spades.  I promise to spend some time familiarizing myself with this opera before I go.  For now, I am salivating over cast and conductor.

Le Comte Ory.  For a counterweight to wintry Russian despair, we have Rossini, Florez, DiDonato, and Damrau.  Perfect.  I'm smiling already.

Wozzeck.  Alban Berg and one of my favorite crushingly depressing laments for dysfunction and oppression in modern society!  My goddess, Waltraud Meier, as Marie!  And in addition to Matthias Goerne as Wozzeck, there will be Stuart Skelton as the Drum Major and Gerhard Siegel as the Captain.  Um... can you say luxury casting?

Die Walküre.  I adore this opera.  And while there are some question marks in the cast, it's a very exciting lineup.  Please have ideas, Mr. Lepage... please.  Flying Valkyries are pretty neat, but thinking about, say, politics and gender would be even neater.  

I'll be back to New York City, and the event-related posts related thereto, soon.  In the meantime, I witter on about opera on Twitter.


  1. If money and distance were no object, I'd surely do all of those, plus Ariadne & Capriccio, and probably Le Rossignol @ BAM. Pre-season triage was painful this year. I hope we can look forward to more seasons like this one.

    Good luck with the reading. I'm amazed that anyone could manage graduate school AND an opera season and still find time to write such excellent blog posts. Brava!

  2. i envy you you can see Simone Boccanegra, if only it had been included in the live in hd transmissions.but i am happy i´ll see the trovatore at least. will you write a review about hvorostovsky´s boccanegra please?

  3. @S. Thank you for the Rossignol information! I don't keep up with BAM as well as I should; I'll have to look into that. Thank you very much for your kind encouragement as well. I do occasionally feel stretched between opera and history, but I couldn't give up either (and am lucky to be able to pursue them.)

    @asperias: I'm looking forward to Hvorostovsky's Boccanegra, and will certainly review it!

  4. Agree with S. Certainly Capriccio. Renee was a (somewhat) disappointing (though still, imo, excellent) Marschallin but I heard her in Cap a couple of years ago and she was superb. S mentions the Ariadne and thats almost certainly worth it for DiDonato. Finally, although you've already seen it a second look at Boris might be interesting. You never know if and when you'll get a chance to see Pape again as Boris in his prime.

    Dissent from S about the reading. The rest of us should be so lucky. To be sure many "academic" history tomes can be sensationally boring. The facts and analysis might be interesting but getting even through a page can be incredibly grinding. Ugh.

    (On that point a tangential and hesitant but very enthusiastic recommendation. I can't imagine, given your academic pursuits, that you would want to use any of your spare time reading history and it is, I think, somewhat to the west of your area of study but I cannot recommend Jonathan Sumption's "Hundred Years War" highly enough. Fact filled, fluid, beautifully paced, absolutely gripping narrative history at its very best. The third volume* ends with the ascension (usurpation?) of Henry IV. Can't wait to see what happens next!!!

    *He comes out with them about every decade or so but given his other pursuits (in light of my occupation and interests the man is my hero) its amazing he finds the time to do it even at that pace. Incidentally there are very few (any??) operas set in the Hundred Years War even though there seem to be abundant operatic material - particularly for Bel Canto or French Grand Opera

  5. If I had to pick only one of those, it would be Comte Ory, purely based on the casting. But in reality I wish I was in NY and could hit every single one of them. My consolation is that I'm probably going to hear Thomas Hampson sing Mahler soon.

    Good luck with the reading! I'm hoping to get into a graduate program for music history, so I can only imagine what you're facing right now! :)

  6. @marcillac Thanks for all the suggestions! I will add Capriccio to the list of priorities. I was forgetting (shamefully) about DiDonato's Composer. Definitely worth checking out. And a sage remark about Pape's Boris... I'll see if I feel I can handle being devastated again. Believe me, I do feel very privileged to be able to pursue my academic passions. The quantity and density of reading just provokes the odd spot of mild unjustified grumbling. Actually, Sumption is on my list of possible authors for further self-education about post-medieval history (in all my spare time...!) I'm glad to hear that his style, as well as his substance, comes highly recommended.

    There's an opera based on Der abenteurliche Simplicissimus, but I can't think of any others.

    @Christie So many operas, so little time! I am really looking forward to Comte Ory. Hampson in Mahler should be amazing! A graduate program in music history sounds exciting... best of luck!

  7. will you see trovatore as well?
    i learned i can listen to simone boccanegra online on the 20th january:-))

  8. @asperias Oh, good! I'm glad you won't have to miss that. I'm not sure about Trovatore. I do like the production, and I loved this cast when I saw it in '09, but I doubt I'll have time to fit it in this time around, especially since it takes place almost simultaneously with the Walkuere run.

  9. and in Valkyre is Kaufmann, that mustnt be missed:-))

  10. have you already seen simone boccanegra?

  11. No, sorry, asperias, I couldn't make it to the prima. I'm hoping to go on Monday.

  12. good, i can´t express how much i envy you :-)) I have already listened to it online, on thursday, I liked it very much. dont forget to write a review please:-) here is review by New York times. i was surprised to learn the tenor has been singing only for four years:-))) thas is a quick career.


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