The Gewandhaus Orchestra will tour the American West in 2010 led by Riccardo Chailly. The German powerhaus orchestra usually tours the East Coast with the occasional visit to LA, but 2010 will actually see the debut in... Costa Mesa!
We're not sure exactly what's going on here (sorry, OC doesn't speak Communist), but honestly, we don't really care...it'd only ruin the illusion. Enjoy opera's Silver Fox, Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and his naughty smile.
This coming Thursday, at Milan's Auditorium Verdi, Wayne Marshall will conduct Beethoven's Ninth (it's his first time with the Ninth) in the classic December 31 concert @ Auditorium di Milano. Maestro Marshall (above, in English) talks about the Ninth. La Verdi's Maestro del Coro, Erina Gambarini, discusses the work, in Italian, after the jump.
Lucky Angelenos are about to enjoy a pretty awesome theatrical end of the year and beginning of 2010: David Mamet (who one day will give us the most kicka$$ Rigoletto ever staged, as soon as a cool opera house GM gathers the good sense to hire him) directs Ricky Jay -- magician, actor, and one of America's most interesting writers, quite obviously -- in “Ricky
Jay: A Rogue’s Gallery — An Evening of Conversation and Performance”. The show
includes Jay’s sleight-of-hand, magic tricks, illusions and general awesomeness. Opens on Tuesday at 8 p.m., Geffen
Playhouse, Westwood Village.
(No one under 17 is admitted because the grownups must think the kids are probably better off watching television instead. Bring a good fake ID if needed, then).
In two special Israel performances to celebrate the holiday season, Riccardo Chailly led Zurich's Orchestra La Scintilla, the Dresden Chamber Choir, and a handful of soloists in Bach's Christmas Oratorio. Both concerts were held in historic churches, the Xmas eve concert in Bethlehem while today's Xmas day concert was in Jerusalem. Let's hope Chailly & friends could fit in some sightseeing. Merry Xmas, Y'all!
The usual suspects totally hated the concept but Opera Chic thinks that, in general, a man with a great sense of humor such as Amadé would have laughed, too. Not to mention -- but this is probably true for every opera composer who ever lived, except for Wagner -- he would have simply been astonished, and pleasantly surprised, that his work is still staged everywhere, still so loved, so successful, and so relevant to our 21st Century lives.
Oh, and if you visit Amsterdam next month (insert weed jokes here) you can also catch on the Nederlandse Opera's stage that big tall order of sexy, Luca Pisaroni, reprising his role as Figaro.
Hedi Slimane wishes you a (vaguely creepy) Happy Holiday with 16 year-old Royal Danish Ballet Theater star, Oscar Nilsson (video and more at Slimane's website, with sound -- if it gets taken down from YouTube):
Corriere della Seraflaunted today its journalistic muscles showing us stuff that, frankly, no American newspaper would dare publish, afraid to baffle its readers and challenging their attention span -- and we even have our doubts about the Brits: how cool is that Italy's leading newspaper is publishing a huge interview with Hans Werner Henze, the world's greatest living composer and unabashed animal lover (he owns three beloved hounds), who explains all about his new composition about to be introduced to the public, on January 10, in Rome by Orchestra di Santa Cecilia, Antonio Pappano conducting.
"Opfergang" uses a Franz Werfel poem as the libretto, with two voices: a man chased by the police (John Tomlinson) and a lost dog (Ian Bostridge). This is, Corriere writes, "Henze's exploration of the human soul's darkest depths". "I've wanted to turn the poem into an opera for 40 years, it impressed me so much. What strikes me the most is the humans love for animals. And the theme of sacrifice". The music, says HWH, "is directly inspired by dog sounds: dogs invent whole languages. One of my three dogs speaks German -- at least he thinks he does. He gets sad if he doesn't find the echo he's looking for".
Henze quite wittily observes that, in his youth, he had a few composers "bark" at him, whom they considered guilty of not being avant-garde enough. "I was considered old-fashioned and an innovator at the same time. My music wasn't in sync with the fashion of the moment... If I may joke about it, I'd say some barked at me for it. Who? Stockhausen, Boulez. And Adorno said my music was beautiful but too orderly, he thought it needed more chaos. I say music is chaos only when it's badly written".
Henze ends the interview on a sweet note, evoking his work that premiered last year in Leipzig under Riccardo Chailly's baton, "Elogium Musicum" and was executed again this year in Florence. "Elogium Musicum" is dedicated to Fausto Moroni, Henze's companion for 45 years until Moroni's death at 65 in 2007. "The piece evokes images of Fausto: Fausto and the sound of cicadas in our garden; Fausto and two falcons we often saw flying above our property...". More info about the world premiere of "Opfergang" here.
Earlier tonight in frosty, snowed-out Milan, Daniel Barenboim conducted La Scala's orchestra and the all-powerful Scala chorus -- the astonishingly beautiful creation of maestro Bruno Casoni, probably the greatest chorus in the world -- in the Concerto di Natale, the traditional Xmas concert here. Barenboim had rawked the opera house here four years ago with a Xmas Beethoven Ninth that truly had moments of absolute greatness, proudly Furtwaenglerian in that Barenboim way, and tonight he chose a 100% Verdi program (the Quartetto in mi minore per archi, and the bada$$ Quattro Pezzi Sacri -- Adriana Damato, the weakest voice from Barenboim's vocally unexciting Carmen, as soloist).
Now Verdi isn't really Barenboim's thang -- on this, everybody but the most abnormally enthusiastic DB freaks agree -- but then, frankly, Xmas & the Baby Jesus -- thank the Lord -- aren't really his thang either, so it's kind of par for the course.
The Scala chorus, on the other hand, could even sing Xmas carols that one would have to listen, in awe, and thank one's favorite deity for their existence -- and their chorus master Bruno Casoni -- on this wacky, snowed out, half-frozen planet.
At 4'3" & 59 lbs., Maria Gorokhov is larger than life. The 11-year-old sixth-grader is the star of the New York City Ballet's The Nutcracker, dancing Marie in Balanchine's seasonal production that's playing right now in NYC's Lincoln Center. She's living OC's dream -- really, what little girl didn't want to be a star ballerina in The Nutcracker? You want me to be one of the Stahlbaum children? NO THANKS! -- and made the the cut.
Valley Girl (and opera singer) Danielle de Niese got hitched over the weekend in England to her fiance' of ten months, Gus Christie, the dude behind Glyndebourne. What better way to celebrate a May-December relationship with a December wedding? ~Mazel Tov~
Opera Chic can vouch for (some) opera stars, conductors, and musicians: they know how to work it. So we're going to celebrate those steely few who show up to rehearsals in couture labels -- like model #1, Italian maestro (with the German brain) Fabio "Weezy" Luisi, who appears below in a Hermes skinny tie (same image as reported on in this post) during rehearsals with the Metropolitan Opera for Elektra. Unfortunately we don't have a paparazzi-rich heritage when it comes to classical music, so we'll settle for what we can get.
December 12 marked the 40th anniversary of the bombing in Piazza Fontana and Milan's Teatro dal Verme hosted a concert in commemoration, bearing witness through poetry and music in a tasteful, resonant event. The "Concerto per ricordare: Piazza Fontna 1969 - 2009" brought together Teatro alla Scala's Coro di Voci Bianche, Italian actress Maddalena Crippa, Italian Maestrino Alessandro Cadario, and I Cameristi della Scala (a small group of musicians who also play in the Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala and in the Filarmonica della Scala). Works played were Vaughan Williams's Magnificat, Haydn's Seven Last Words, and Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus -- nicely no predictable Requiem Mass.
On December 12, 1969 in the late afternoon, a bomb exploded at the headquarteres of Banca Nazionale dell'Agricoltura in Milan's Piazza Fontana, killing 17 and leaving 88 wounded. It began a period of terrible political unrest in Italy -- a wave of terrorist attacks that lasted well into the 1980s.
Stage Actress Maddalena Crippa read from the theater work, "Sboom!", written in remembrance of Piazza Fontana, and told the story of the December 12 massacre in detail while a list of hte 17 dead was read. Then a multimedia presentation, news footage of the bombing that was originally broadcast on RAI, with images of the aftermath.
Then Cadario in full frac, with his shaggy Abercrombie and Fitch model mane (we've blogged about his grooming habits before and for the record, we fully endorse the coiff the Italian conductor was rawking last week), led the children's chorus of la Scala in a slow and pensive reading of Mozart's short work, Ave verum Corpus. The Voci Bianche were awesome, but they need a serious wardrobe upgrade (red, unisex bowties on preteens? c'mon...).
Haydn's Seven last words was accompanied by la Crippa again, reading Milanese writer Lorenzo Arruga's Cronache di sette silenzi from 1998 between each movement. Cadario overall picked a dignified, introspective, solemn reading. Personally, we like our Haydn a bit less earthbound. Cadario used economical gestures which marked a deep and weighty interpretation. Gorgeous oboe solos in the 3rd movement allowed the work to soar. Standout movements were the second, with a nice lyricism and the sixth -- delicate pizzicato great control, and a bit of clarity.
Although the dirge-like Haydn sparkled only a few times, the breathtaking Vaughan Williams was stunning. The Coro di Voci Bianche del Teatro alla Scala came back on stage in full force. The chorus was warm and full, and pulled off a haunting and evocative piece. Cadario, working with a smaller gathering than usual for Williams' work, managed to evoke a big sound, the result a sumptuous, ethereal finale.
Bis? Of course! A sweet & sweeping christmas carol from Home Alone (Mamma, ho perso l'aereo), replete with sleigh bells, a nice way to end the evening without dwelling on too much historical trauma. Bruno Casoni took a well-deserved curtain call for the man with the golden vocal arm.
Click the link below for a few more photos from the evening...
Opera Chic snapped this picture of Muti from her plasma TV while watching the Italian conductor give an intimate concert for the Italian Senate on Sunday afternoon (from the post directly below). We think it's the shiz!
It totally reminds us of those late 1970s family portraits ~trapped in a brandy snifter~.
Before rushing out this afternoon for a nice Sunday lunch (Da Ilia's for steamed branzino sotto sale, padellata di funghi porcini e patate, and a delicious Morellino) she caught Muti's live concert from teh floor of the Italian Senate in Rome. Muti appeared with the cool kids of his Orchestra Cherubini crammed into the Senate floor in a lovely concert of Beethoven's Fifth (with the ouverture of Don Pasquale as a delicious encore), while members of the senate (and Italy prez, Giorgio Napolitano) looked thoroughly bored (except for the token Cardinal who was probably under the influence of Jesus Juice). Opera Chic took some screenshots for you guys so you can feel the warmth of Muti's love.
OC's favorite Muti fetishists can go ahead and click the link below for more pictures of Riccardone.
The 2009/10 ballet season of Teatro alla Scala opened on Thursday night with a triptych program highlighting three ballet styling of French choreographer Maurice Béjart, who passed away in 2007, leaving behind a legacy of fans and colleagues who spoke about his innovative vision and intellectual choreography. We were kind of disappointed that Scala doesn't make a big fuss of the first ballet like they do in NYC with the ABT and the NYCB, but it didn't dissuade us from putting on a Lanvin lace dress and Alexander McQueen lace-up heels.
Via Stravinksy and Mahler (so perfect for Béjart's rhythms of dance in the modern world), British Maestro Daniel Harding took the Filarmonica della Scala and Il Corpo di Ballo del Teatro alla Scala on a wild adventure full of snappy, intricate Stravinksy and intuitive, burnished Mahler -- his first ballet conducted in Milan was full of win. In all honesty, Opera Chic came for the symphony (we will forever admire the work of Béjart and for what he's done in revolutionizing contemporary dance, but his choreography doesn't speak to us like how we feel after a rousing Brahms or Beethoven) -- C'mon...who could pass up two of Stravinksy's coolest works?
Sixteen lead dancers took to their skin-tight body stockings to flaunt Béjart's best moves (and their own disciplined musculature), choreographed to Stravinsky's Firebird and Rites of Spring -- then Mahler's Chant du Compagnon Errant accompanied by Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, which was sadly last heard at Scala in 1975.
Even though star etoile Roberto Bolle was forced to withdraw a month prior from Serata Béjart (where he's recovering from minor surgery in Germany), it gave 23-year-old Gabriele Corrado a chance to learn his Mahler and to also have a nice anecdote to tell his friends at dinner parties.
Stravinsky's Firebird began with a corps of a dozen mixed dancers in cotton peasant gear of work shirts and loose pants. The firebird, Antonio Sultera, appeared in a bright red body stocking and made Béjart's lean choreography looked effortless. The entire stage was used effectively by both leads (the phoenix was Eris Nezha) and lighting was fabulously clean. Harding's Firebird started as a tenebrous hum tinged with light. He wrapped the orchestra with a lyric, emotive gesture, and his reading expressed a tenderness and vulnerability.
The highlight of the night (for Opera Chic anyway) was Mahler's Chant du Compagnon Errant, accompanied by Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen sung by baritone Christopher Maltman. While the dancers were exceedingly excellent, (Massimo Murru and Gabriele Corrado), the baritone not so much with too many precarious high notes. Again, the choreography never overwhelmed the narrative with gesture or distraction. As lean as Bejart's choreography was, adversely Mahler's music was full of imaginative color, cleverly told by Harding, in perfect control of the soloist, the dancers, and the orchestra (he fared well enough that after the first pause he was gifted with smatterings of bravos as he walked to the podium to start the last half).
Stravinsky's Rites of Spring begins with an awakening of the dancers, lights shifting from midnight blue to golden yellow, signaling the tranition. The male dancers in unitards of greens and browns, the women in flesh-colored body stockings, the work built to a literal climax which melted into an intricate orgy, as unsexy as one could imagine -- not kinky, but kinetic.
Harding understood well how one should be bright but not shrill, a fine line between the two which was greatly mastered, with great tension full of drive and passion. An uninhibited reading, unrestrained and unafraid to use the full fortissimo of the orchestra.
Of course, aside from the superb music, one can always stay for the ballet.