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In Brief: Still Hot Edition

Here is your regular Sunday selection of links to good things in Blogville and Beyond.
  • Paul McCreesh led his Gabrieli Consort and Players in a performance of Handel's Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno at the Festival de Beaune. Here is the online video. [ARTE Live Web]

  • With hat tip to The Cranky Professor, this news that excavations for a new bridge over the Mississippi River, near Jerseyfield, Illinois, have uncovered major archeological finds of the Mississippian culture. The researchers believe they have discovered a large settlement flourishing around the year A.D. 600, and archeological deposits dating back another 4,000 to 5,000 years. []

  • The English word chapel comes from the French chapelle, which came from the Latin cappella. It turns out that the etymology of this word is a derivation from the word chape (Lat. cappa), or cape. As in the cape that St. Martin of Tours cut in half, to clothe a beggar: a part of that cape (a little cape, or cappella) was by legend kept as a relic in the imperial church attached to Charlemagne's palace at Aachen. The building eventually became known as the cappella or chapelle, whence the name of the town in French, Aix-la-Chapelle. [Languagehat]

  • Gregorian Idol! The cloistered Benedictine nuns of the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de L'Annonciation have signed a deal with Decca, after being selected from among 70 convents in Europe, South Africa, and America. [The Observer]

  • Renaud Machart continues to travel around to summer festivals, recently finding himself at the Festival classique de Ramatuelle. Nicholas Angelich played there on the 15th, and on the 21st Martha Argerich sat down at the piano with Michel Legrand. [Le Monde]

  • Christian Merlin is in Munich for the summer opera festival. Singers' cast lists, good; productions, bad. [Le Figaro]

  • The Aix-en-Provence Festival continues, with a staging of Rameau's Pygmalion by Trisha Brown. According to the report by Raphaël de Gubernatis, the audience received the work of the American choreographer warmly. [Le Nouvel Observateur]

  • Also at the Festival de Beaune, Andreas Scholl performed a Purcell recital with Accademia Bizantina, led by Stefano Montanari. [ARTE Live Web]

  • Have a listen to Hasse's 1768 opera Piramo e Tisbe, performed as part of the Festival Radio France in Montpellier by Fabio Biondi's group Europa Galante, with Désirée Rancatore, Vivica Genaux, and Emanuele d’Aguanno. [France Musique]


jfl said...

Re: Agreement with Christian Merlin, although he was perhaps summarized too flippantly? Just a few few points adding / subtracting:

1.) Calling Ramon Vargas a stylish tenor--on any count--is pretty risque. One of the least stylish voices around... but, in some Mexican way, he embodies the cliche of the dramatic Italian tenor. Stiff performances and no voice up top. Boring old production. Like a glammed-up concert version... and when it *does* get busy (Auto-da-fé), it gets pathetic with well behaved choristers at the stake.

2.) Mattila in the (awful) Tosca: completely miscast.

3.) Indeed: Schweigsame Frau: Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. Director, Dramaturg, and conductor together with the top-notch cast turn an odd, modest opera into 'one of those nights at the opera'. Hawlata my not have the bottom of other Morosi (Moll, Salminen), but his dramatic presence more than makes up for that. How they worked Damrau's pregnancy into the opera was pure genius.

4.) Dramatic aspects are hardly lacking; Jürgen Rose's Don Carlo is a 'Sir Peter Jonas' production. Tosca is a one-size-fits-all pseudo-co-production... and the rest (the new Lohengrin and L'Elisir are very much about the drama).

Charles T. Downey said...

No, my one-line summation just really oversimplified what Merlin wrote. He praised Munich for having lower prices, a more varied repertoire, and a less snobbish audience than Salzburg, and said that the most beautiful voices were on the cast list. Only toward the end does he make the observation about the productions he saw (he was there only three nights):

"Difficult nevertheless to repress a mild worry: Jürgen Rose's basic but decorative production for Don Carlo, Luc Bondy's lazy staging of Tosca. Is Munich beginning to neglect opera's theatrical dimension? All worries were soothed the third night: Barry Kosky's absolutely brilliant staging of Die schweigsame Frau is simply unforgettable, so spirited and musical, with an up-to-date concept and perfect timing."

Nice to see that Bondy Tosca, which caused such a debacle at the Met, get some air time elsewhere. Also, how unfair that Diana Damrau had to cancel her Ophélie in Washington, only to star in Munich's Die schweigsame Frau when she is now seven months pregnant (and, Merlin notes, she burned up the stage!).

Also worth noting is Merlin's final paragraph: "It was the music director, Kent Nagano, at the podium of [Die schweigsame Frau], who received ovations at the head of the magnificent Bayerisches Staatsorchester, already so competent the two preceding evenings under the careful baton of Marco Armiliatio. Nagano the modern, who will not stay in Munich, obviously does not share the views of general director Klaus Bachler. Let us hope that this will not confirm our fears of a turn backward."

jfl said...

Ladies with bellies don't like to fly. That's why she cancelled everything overseas and then everything outside of Germany but still performs in Munich now (tonight for the last time, before hatching) and in Salzburg in a week or so.

She and her belly were superb. Gave a whole new level of meaning to some of the duets. Tear-wellingly good.

Most of the Nagano standing ovations are political, these days, but for Die Schweigsame Frau he totally deserved them. That score is so easy to let slip into a complete mess (I call the Boehm recording as witness No.A) and he glided through in supreme style.

The Bondy Tosca, which really is pathetic, if for totally different reasons than the MET audience seemed to object to, is a Munich-initiated triple-co-production; but New York had to get first billing to do a co-production in the first place. We'll see if Gelb-Bachler work together like that, again.

It's a good concept, really; it's not realistic to think that audiences will travel across continents to see even just the 'big' new productions... so let the productions travel more often. When houses of the same size with similar budgets get together, good things could come from this.