Posts Tagged ‘royal opera house’

Congratulations to Vitaliy Bilvy..

January 28, 2017

.. on his superb debut at the Royal Opera House as a particularly evil baddie – Count di Luna in Il Trovatore. I hope that he will return to Covent Garden many many times and I will get to listen to his marvellous voice again.

While I am on Il Trovatore, how amazing was Anita Rachvelishvili as Azucena? Very. Mind you, she did have the juiciest bits and got to reveal the most interesting plot twists. Without giving too much away, I would recommend thinking carefully before murdering someone and seeing Il Travatore – still 4 performances left.

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On ‘Un Ballo in Maschera’ by the Royal Opera House.

January 3, 2015

Last night I saw ‘Un Ballo in Maschera’ in the Royal Opera House. I’ve been waiting for this opera for ages as it was my chance to see Dmitri Hvorostovsky, a Russian baritone who I absolutely adore. My whole family in Russia pretty much worship him and there is a real cult of his personality that I grew up with. Hvorostovsky’s fame is not only due to his amazing opera achievements but also his performances of Russian traditional songs and old war songs. Big live concerts on national television, concerts on the Red Square or any kind of family celebrations – he is there, singing and being admired by the whole nation. Needless to say I was very excited. Immediately he had a very strong presence on stage. There could be no mistake of who he is. Well, this time he was Renato, Riccardo’s advisor and a loyal friend. Well, that is until he murders him (oops, spoilers). In short, I was not disappointed in the slightest and left really happy for having seen a legend live.

As for the opera itself, it was very enjoyable. It follows the standard structure: love that is not to be, friendship that is not to last, hope for happiness, then betrayal and death. That has been a formula for centuries and it works. Here the director Kathrina Thoma has added some extras, such as moving statues. While that was awesome in ‘Blink’, Doctor Who, I didn’t entirely get it there. Other additions didn’t spoil the opera but did not enhance it either.

Overall, I will recommend seeing it. There are a few performances left in January. I bought my ticket for 12 pounds, which lacked a seat. This brings me to my conclusion: a strong cast and wonderful music by Verdi make this opera worth standing for.

Quick review of my 2013 – 2014 opera season

May 13, 2014
  1. It started gloriously with Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin at the Met. It had pretty much a dream cast: Anna Netrebko as Tatiana, Piotr Beczala as Lensky and Mariusz Kwiecen as Onegin. You can read more about my praise here
  1. Shostokovich’s The Nose was certainly the most bizzare opera I’ve seen so far. In the end of the opera one of the singers exclaimed: ‘who would write such a thing? This story is implausible!’ It was a good political opera and being a fan of Gogol does help a lot in understanding it. Read more
  1. Verdi’s Falstaff was exactly what you want Falstaff to be – light (well, in one sense of the word), quick and hilarious. Ambarogio Maestri is completely fantastic as Falstaff. He is coming to Covent Garden in 2015 in a different production of Falstaff and I strongly recommend going to see him – it’s a delightful unforgettable experience – buy here
  1. Wagner’s Parsifal from Covent Garden was next – the very opposite of Falstaff – long, difficult and depressing. ‘Death, to die is the only mercy’, etc. read my review of it here  I do need to see more Wagner next season to get to grips with it because at the moment I feel very lost.
  1. After that I travelled home to Russia to see mainly my family but also Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at the Astrakhan State Theatre of Opera and Ballet. There is little need to describe how fantastic and tragic that opera is and I simply can’t wait to see it again!
  1. Next I saw Dvorak’s Rusalka and I took a break from writing reviews at the stage. I wasn’t sure what to write because Renee Flemming is universally loved as a great opera star yet I didn’t like her at all as Rusalka in this production. I think that it’s poor taste to write something bad about someone as talented (particularly when you don’t know what it is exactly you don’t like) just after their show so I chose not to. I do regret not giving a special mention to Dolora Zajiick who was the most brilliant and funny Jezibaba. I also missed the chance to praise my all-time favourite tenor – Piotr Beczala, who was, of course, a great Prince.
  1. Mozart’s Don Giovanni at Covent Garden was absolutely wonderful. It’s no secret that I adore Mariusz Kweicen so to see him in a title role was a real treat. Alex Esposito was a great Leporello. However it was Elizabeth Watts as Zerlina and Dawid Kimberg as Masetto who really stole the show. Their acting skills were of the highest quality and it was a real joy seeing them on stage. I am mainly writing this to remind myself to see any future productions with them and recommend them to others as brilliant young singers.
  1. Puccini’s La Boheme from the Met this year was really really good. I just came back from Paris and walked around the Latin Quarter so I had even stronger feelings for the atmosphere this opera creates. This as well as Eugene Onegin, I think are best operas for introducing people to the genre as it’s impossible not to fall in love with it. Vittorio Grigolo as Rodolfo was very good indeed, interestingly he was trained for this role by Pavarotti himself. Kristine Opolais sang Mimi very well, particularly considering that she only found out that she had to step in for the role only a few hours before the performance. Do read this story here. The most enjoyable parts were the ones with Susanna Phillips playing Musetta. As well as being a fantastic singer she is such a great actress, absolutely hilarious but is also very capable of deep dramatic acting. She looked like she had so much fun performing and her enthusiasm was enthralling.
  1. Luckily I didn’t have to wait long to see Susanna Phillips again as just 3 weeks later she starred in Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte. Again, I got to admire her great talent and gained new respect and love for her. It was also lovely to see James Levine back as the Met’s conductor. Overall, this was the most easy and enjoyable opera I’ve seen so far – a fantastic way for me to end the season!
  2. Not quite the end. Tickets for Manon by the Royal Opera House became available and it was incredible. Kristine Opolais was superb. The end of the season was more dramatic and tearful than expected!

What a fantastic season this was! Viva l’opera!