A spontaneous musical concert at a California shopping mall ended with the entire complex being evacuated after some 5,000 people turned up to sing.
The incident happened at the Roseville Galleria shopping mall, which is reported to have started shaking due to the volume of people inside.
Fire and safety officials struggled not to spoil the festive mood as they evacuated the mall.
One warden said: "You can keep singing, but please walk."
Thousands had gathered at the shopping mall's food court to take part in a group rendition of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus as part of a flash-mob concert - when groups of people - often strangers - conspire on social networking websites to turn up at the same place at the same time and start singing.
(Above: Jennifer Rivera as Nerone in Agrippina, photo copyright Jennifer Rivera)
Georg Friedrich Händel's Agrippina, a political tale with lots of sexual maniplation thrown in for good measure, all within the background of ancient Rome and a riviting score makes for good opera. One of our favorite young, American mezzo sopranos, Jennifer Rivera (not to be confused with the Mexican pop star who made a steamy secks tape), has freshly arrived in Berlin and is preparing for Agrippina, where she'll be singing the role of Nerone at the Staatsoper in February. In her frank and self-depricating voice that she pulls off so well, Jennifer reflects from the intensive, no mercy, Händel-heavy reshearsals and dares: "Handel's totally gonna be my b1tch by the time this is all over." Awesome. Sounds like something out of a '90s action movie.
In a new production by Vincent Boussard and costumes by Christian Lacroix, Rivera will share the stage with Maestro René Jacobs, and Alexandrina Pendatchanska as Agrippina, the Bulgarian soprano that takes no prisoners and will steamroll you with her sheer vocal power.
Salzburger Festspiele's 2009 stage opens on Saturday, July 25 with Handel's 1750 oratorio, Theodora. Chief conductor of Mozarteum Orchestra, Ivor Bolton, spirits away director Christof Loy's vision of the rebel's martyrdom and her love, Didymus. P-Diddy(mus).
Christine Schäfer sings Theodora, Bejun Mehta is Didymus, Johannes Martin Kränzle is Valens, and Joseph Kaiser is Septimius.
From the March 2009 "Intelligence in Lifestyle" -- the men's supplement of il sole 24 ore -- comes a small profile of Danielle De Niese in their Global Agenda.
This Tuesday, De Niese is making her Royal Opera House debut under the baton of Hogwood singing Galatea in Händel's Acis & Galatea (apparently in a big, blond wig). She'll sit out the double bill of Purcell's Dido & Aeneas (sung by Sarah Connolly & Lucas Meachem in the leads). The British baroque operas are directed & choreographed by Royal Ballet resident choreographer Wayne McGregor.
After cruising through Danielle's website hoping to find pictures of the be-wigged Galatea, we're giving her props for being the first person post-2003 to un-ironically use comet cursors on their website.
Canadian director Robert Carsen's decade-old production of Haendel's Alcina, to celebrate the 250th anniversary to Handel's death was dusted off from Opéra National de Paris (which also traveled to Chicago Lyric Opera in the Fall of 1999 and starred Natalie Dessay as Morgana and Renee Fleming as Alcina) but should have probably been kept under lock & key, left to gather mold. OC is on the record as being an ardent Robert Carsen fan & devotee, having seen half-a-dozen Carsen productions since her three years in Milan -- his Scala Candide was brilliant but hammy-handed, his Teatro Regio Torino Salomewas earth-shattering in its emotional and artistic impact, his Wiener Staatsoper Manon Lescaut was kind of meeeh, his Scala Kát'a Kabanová was completely off-the-hook, and his Opernhaus Zürich Semele was elegance squared -- and OC's DVD of Carsen's Dialogue des Carmelites is a prized possession of a perfect -- yes, perfect -- staging, but the production we saw last night was Carsen in derivative form, action distilled to a meager slice of remembrance, static, tenuous shadows of his Semele without most of the wit or tongue-in-cheek social commentary that Carsen has perfected like a rebellious teenager. He is not Ingmar Bergman, thank goodness, and he shouldn't pretend to be -- he's usually not bashful about being an opera director.
Seen at Milan's Piermarini for the first time last night, la prima was dampened by two meager, tepid curtain calls, mercifully abbreviated to spare poor Patricia Petibon's Scala debut further scorn from the thorny logginonisti who hurled boos at her (in addition to a conflagration of booing at the end of Act I).
Heavy cuts (at least half-a-dozen arias, the chorus -- Maestro Casoni's peerless chorus -- reduced
to a much smaller role, no ballet, and Oberto chillingly mutilated) peppered this almost-4-hour (including scene changes) production. Carsen used the desaturated, ivory walls of a
palace to cage-in the action (ripped off by Claus Guth for his 2006 Nozze, with mold added here and there, and that unwritten Cupid), doors that slid open to reveal a garden -- touchingly Rousseauian in its dashing greens.
The furniture consisted of, like, four Chippendale chairs, and a wheeled dinner cart. Lights -- very beautifully designed, obviously -- can not always compensate for that kind of spareness.
Act I opened to the all-male chorus in various states of undress
slumbering on the floor (we had full-on frank n' beans -- photo above NOT from la Scala but from the same production in 2004 at Opéra Garnier)...a Spencer
Tunick opening move by chess master Carsen that made us hope for much better things to come. The director chose to make the corps literally into corpses, men-turned-zombies from Alcina's charms, the ghosts of her past, the Furies of love past, and we like to consider that a Sam Raimi/Evil Dead homage -- without putrefaction -- even if it wasn't. Although there was lots of nudity, there was no sensual, sexual energy. The production, on purpose, was cold and stripped of any eroticism by that big Canadian tease.
Petibon, whose thin voice -- with less than perfect coloratura -- is more viable in a tiny Baroque opera house environment or recording studio, and was swallowed in the crevasses of Scala despite possible ~audio enhancement~ [last night at a certain interval of the opera, there was the clear, unmistakeable high-pitched whining of classic audio feedback which was obviously amped from the Scala stage...we're dying with this one because clearly there was some sort of amplification audio system being used; we knew Berlin's Staatsoper already used electronic sound enhancement, we didn't know la Scala had followed through], struggled from the beginning of her Scala debut last night. Act II's "Ama, sospira" was a rough embark despite the ethereal violin solo, Petibon labored through the grueling aria, struggling to keep up with Maestro Antonini's speed, appearing almost as pained as she looked in her (not-so-high) heels and tight French-maid costume.
Petibon was too sporty, too distracted, and too frivolous to be
effective -- she was following stage directions, O.K., but you need different acting skills to pull it off -- she probably couldn't. She hobbled around in kitten heels that could have been
8-inch stilettos considering the way she plodded across the stage. Opera Chic felt bad for Petibon, and we're still fans of the lovely redhead...this was simply the wrong production for her.
It was at the end of Act I after Morgana's Tornami a vagheggiar that
the Scala audience first voiced their disapproval. Roundly booed as the
curtain went down, the boos fell onto an empty stage, but there was no
doubt they were meant for Petibon, whose weak phrasing and underwhelming
interpretation were an easy target for the *serious businessman*
loggioni. Petibon's accuti were decent with her fluttering technique,
but she lacked focus.
And in Tornami we have one of the very, very few truly outstanding monents in Carsen's staging -- Morgana serving dinner to an empty jacket -- those men, aren't they just empty suits? -- and dancing a little happy dance... The problem being that Nathalie Dessay (in a production that William Christie led beautifully as always) pulled it off with humor and her sweetness and vulnerability and gusto (see video below); Petibon couldn't.
Continue reading after the jump by clicking the link below...
Thanks to a kind reader who had the presence of mind to take digital notes, Opera Chic can offer the recorded audio evidence of poor Patricia Petibon's treatment at the hands of Scala's loggione last night at curtain call for Alcina.
Opera Chic is just back from la Scala where she just witnessed the premiere of Robert Carsen's staging of Haendel's "Alcina" (the old Opéra de Paris staging) where the loggione has mercilessly booed (at the end of Act I, then massively at the end of the opera) Patricia Petibon -- an underwhelming Morgana, OK, especially in Act I, but in Opera Chic's opinion not deserving of the fury unleashed on her by the peanut gallery (she took it quite proudly, smiling all the way through her exit from the wings -- that's an A for grace, at least: her singing was indeed problematic, as Opera Chic will explain in her review tomorrow).
Very weirdly, Robert Carsen, the director, got a few boos, also -- maybe for the frequent male nudity displayed on stage? Hard to say. The staging is not Carsen's best -- not sheer explosive genius as his Salome from Teatro Regio di Torino was last year, OK, but very few stagings can achieve that kind of awesomeness -- and there were a few moments that were really too static for Carsen's standards, but seriously, it's understandable that Petibon -- whose tiny, tiny, not particularly beautiful voice doesn't sound right for a theater as big as la Scala, she's probably more at home in smaller houses or, sadly, in the recording studio -- got booed. It's really quite strange that Carsen, of all people, a director whose talent is on a level not exactly seen many times in a Scala season (he's interesting even when he badly flunks a staging, and this isn't the case anyway), had to taste some of the loggione's crankiness.
Anja Harteros, as Alcina, started out very underwhelmingly in Act I -- she had OC worried that it would be a very, very long four hours -- but then recovered in Act II and ended very impressively (and she got applauded heartily at the end by the whole theater).
In Opera Chic's view the show was almost stolen by Monica Bacelli as Ruggiero -- maybe Opera Chic is lucky, but every time she witnessed a Bacelli performance, she always, always rocked.
Teatro alla Scala unveils a new Robert Carsen production of Georg Friedrich Händel's Alcina tomorrow night, and Opera Chic will be there (you won't -- except maybe for that dude over there) to bask in the glory of the sovereign, man-eating women-folk.
Our favorite pants-lady -- Monica Bacelli in a tie with Angelika Kirchschlager -- will be singing Ruggiero much to our delight. The black-magik seductress Alcina will be shared by Anja Harteros & Inga Kalna. We're expecting great things also from French coloratura & Baroque specialist, Patricia Petibon, who will be making her Scala debut in the role of Morgana. The ethereal soprano spoke to ~io Donna~ in a small interview (photo above), where she ruminated about la Scala (she's psyched to be singing there lol), the characteristics of Morgana (she's not a bad person per se...rather motivated out of jealousy and competition with her sister), and about being a diva (c'mon...just look at her! Raawwwr!)
Giovanni Antonini conducts this secksy Carsen production (last seen at Palais Garnier, 'tho he's made a few adjustment). We're expecting lots of seduction, naked man-butts, and gyrating o' plenty, as any Carsen without secks is naught a Carsen production. We will accept no imitations...it's ok, we can haendel it.
"Beethoven said: "Handel is the greatest composer that ever lived."
He was wrong: he deserved that epithet himself. Handel can't hold a candle
to Bach, let alone Beethoven. A one-man baroque-and-roll hit factory, he
compromised his art by selling out. Even if he did move to Britain".
Kicking off the Georg Friedrich Händel celebration year of 2009 (the 250th anniversary of Händel's death), it was pretty easy to pick the revival of Semele at the Opernhaus Zürich however wedged between a bevy of current Italian superstar productions (mainly, Teatro Comunale di Bologna's I Puritani with our two favorite leading men, Ildebrando D'Arcangelo and Juan Diego Florez). But after running a few linear algebraic equations, where la Ceci + La Scintilla + Carsen + Händel x Starbucks = EPIC, Zürich it the clear winner.
Next time under the dry, biting, ruthless winds of wintertime Zürich, O.C. will wrap herself in a few more layers of cashmere. This time, her Celine patent leather black booties, Jil Sander black pod cashmere dress, and Prada cropped black jacket just weren't enough to lock out the chill. We consider ourselves duly warned for next time...but at least this time we warmed-up with endless cups of (ummm, seriously marked-up) Starbucks.
We've already gushed about William Christie's elegant and gratifying sound with period-piece ensemble, La Scintilla -- and 48 hours later, those stripped-down tones still haunt us. La Scintilla, which principal concertmaster of the Orchester der Oper Zürich's Ada Pesch founded together with Oper Zürich, is an ensemble of young musicians who finger and blow (omg) gorgeously historical instruments, coloring a catalog of mainly Baroque works. We were reeling under their enchanting, purified sound of understated woodwinds, precise strings, and a smattering of buffered horns. Maestro Christie conducted with such sparkle and enthusiasm and elegance that even boring old George H. would have clapped his hands like crazy, and forgiven director Carsen for that scene with Juno brandishing a giant glitter dildo. O hai! La Scintilla will perform Händel's Agrippina in May -- we're soooo there (and before that, Carsen's Alcina comes to la Scala).
We had high expectations of hearing la Bartoli on the opera stage, after falling under her spell a few months ago when we caught her in live recital (also with la Scintilla) at Torino's Auditorium Giovanni Agnelli @ Lingotto. And we have a weakness for Semele, that beautiful work of compelling drama -- the cautionary tale of the bad things that will happen to you, mere human, if you decide to mingle with the gods -- a most British tale of the steely nature of social order that premiered, appropriately, in Haendel's adoptive city, London.
Director Robert Carsen painted the priestess in particularly human shades, tainted with vices and weakness shared by mortals -- mainly vanity, which was fully executed during her memorable aria, "Myself I shall adore." Bartoli made it easy work convincing us of Semele's giddy vanity, completely overcome with her own bejeweled reflection. She suffused key parts of William Congreve's English libretto with her delicious, light humor and brought a bit of spark to Robert Carsen's toned-down direction. "Endless pleasure, endless love" was a highlight, as la Ceci pranced around the stage weightless, barefoot, and wrapped temptingly in a bed sheet -- she just soars. Her trademark coloratura set the house on fire and provoked a few spontaneous applause sessions throughout the evening. Gorgeous ornaments and agile passages having no problems projecting through the small shoebox that is the Opernhaus, la Ceci, as always, melded with the orchestra as easily as a spoken dialogue -- her good humor is infectious.
Canadian director Robert Carsen's send-up of the British royal family was overt and gleeful, although it has been apparently toned down since the death of Princess Diana (Carsen's Semele production has been around since 1996, where it premiered at the Festival d'Aix en Provence). Our former love/hate (more love than hate) relationship with the monstrously talented Carsen has expanded into a new gray mousy areas, as we were impressed by his direction of Semele (the merciless grabbybutt habits of Jupiter a humorous high point of the evening), but not blown away as we were in March 2008 with his Salome in Torino. When he's on point, Carsen's witty and biting and perfectly sarcastic, pulling in classic pop icons and lambasting them appropriately. Not to mention his unabashed and unflinching, well, eroticism that breathes so much s3xiness into his visions. We can always count on Carsen to shake it up and make us sweat.
Friday night at Zurich we were slightly crushing on Carsen again...his simple sets and clever direction left us appropriately breathless (especially the scene with twinkling stars and twilight, la Ceci balancing an illuminated globe -- Chaplin-like --in her outstretched arms). And we understand how hard it is to compete with the Zurich opera house's gilded rococo cream and gold interior, gorgeous oils depicting pastoral scenes painted on the ceiling. This historic theater -- which hosted the premiere of Berg's Lulu in 1937 and Arnold Schoenberg's Moses und Aron in 1957 -- is endearingly intimate and refreshingly historic (you almost expect the incandescent glow of limelight illuminating the singers), and the theater retains a miniature dollhouse feel (the orchestra is really just so tiny, even compared to Scala's moderate layout).
Semele's sister, Ino, was sung convincingly and expertley as Liliana Nikiteanu. But more captivating was Birgit Remmert's Juno. In homage to Queen Elizabeth II (to la Ceci's Diana), Remmert's zest was inertia, a zaftig goddess straight from Mel Brooks's casting genius. Delightful comic relief was extended by Rebeca Olvera's Iris, a pint-sized messenger depicted as a bumbling, nebbish secretary who experienced her own s3xual awakening when she was lustily ambushed by Anton Scharinger's Somnus. We were awed by Charles Workman's Jupiter, who exhibited well against la Ceci, peppered with believable chemistry and passion. Thomas Michael Allen as Athamas also held his role well on stage. We also applauded perfect English diction from the entire cast. Chor der Oper Zürich sang brilliantly and adhered to Carsen's always-entertaining expectations of the chorus as an organic, high-visibility element.
What remains with you, in the end, is the way Carsen's concept -- his satire on celebrity culture and on the inherently heartless laws of high society -- you just can't win with those people can you -- and his biting wit and talent for little clever sight gags -- mixed beautifully with Christie's delicately nuanced reading of the score; and it's interesting to note how you basically need two geniuses to stop Bartoli from running away with the show, she's generally so unstoppable.
(Above: Opernhaus Zürich puts out trays of free Ricola cough drops! How sweet is that?)
The only possible way for Opera Chic to begin this Haendel year in an appropriate manner was to go to Zurich. Not simply to Starbucks -- even if the Swiss town flaunts the closest Starbucks to OC's adoptive city of Milan, an uneasy 200 miles away (and OC necessarily supports Starbucks as a show of patriotism -- freedom coffee!). Not simply to Starbucks for gallons of gingerbread latte, but on to the Opernhaus -- that pretty little mousetrap of a theater -- amid the usual paparazzi frenzy -- where Opera Chic checked out Robert Carsen's already classic production of Haendel's "Semele", with the sparkling Scintilla orchestra conducted by Uncle Bill, aka Maestro William Christie, Membre de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, honorary French citizen with a cool Legion d'Honneur to show for it, helluva guy.
That's what Opera Chic did last night. A full review is forthcoming, if you behave.
But since Semele was Cecilia Bartoli (the DVD of this production, recorded in 2007 during its first run in Zurich, is coming out next month: but the cool kids -- OC among them -- had already watched the satellite broadcast on Arte TV last year) la Ceci, having the pop-art tendency to paint everything around her in the brilliant rainbow of her coloratura -- and the review will have to be mostly about her and her explosion of talent -- that's what divas do, face it -- the least we can do now is to dedicate a small separate post to the musical engine of the evening: Maestro Christie, la Scintilla's Konzertmeister aka the flawless Ada Pesch, and the professori of Scintilla's period instrument orchestra.
Christie's greatness -- what makes him so radically, even anthropologically different from so many unworthy prophets of the HIP movement, peddler of a scorched sound -- is that he's not only a scholar -- he knows Rameau better than old Jean Philippe knew his own stuff -- but that he infuses every work he tackles with a delicate, elegant sound, as natural as breathing. Nothing to do with the hard strings, jarring brass, unsubtle phrasing and threadbare sound of so many HIP conductors. Christie's magic lies in the fact that he can be witty or sad, but he's always so elegant, and deeply human.
Beethoven studied Haendel -- the greatest composer who ever lived, he said -- respectfully trying to "unravel" his mysteries. Maestro Christie (in the photo below, his workstation in the pit at the Opernhaus last night) attacks Haendel's secrets with a smile: and we thank him, and la Scintilla, for this.