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75° Festival del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

75° Festival del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

Florence, Italy,  4th may – 10th june 2012

“Il Viaggio – Dalla Mitteleuropa al Sudamerica”

“The Travel – From Mitteleurope to South America”

By Fabio Bardelli

translation from italian to english Bruno Tredicine

The Rosecavallier by Richard Strauss will be back at the repertoire, conducted by Zubin Mehta.

FLORENCE: This year the prestigious Festival del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, still one of the most important musical events in Italy, reaches its 75th edition. It was founded in 1933, so it’s the oldest Italian Festival and surely one of the most important worldwide.

Florence is internationally viewed as the cradle of culture; here Opera was born, thanks to Giulio Caccini and Jacopo Peri, between the 16th and 17th centuries. Music and culture are deeply rooted in this town, so it was almost a natural process that gave birth in 1933 to this Festival, thanks to Luigi Ridolfi, Vittorio Gui and their farsightedness.

Over the years the Festival del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino added other “side events” of extra-musical nature, while operas and concert were still the core of the manifestation.

This year, checking the program, it seems that these “side events” have taken more space, leaving almost music on the background, as if – being impossible to organize musical performances of the highest interest – they had preferred to fill the season with any kind of events.

This year the title “From Mitteleurope to South America” is the fil rouge of the Festival, which is dedicated to Amerigo Vespucci, on the 500th  anniversary of his death. He was a Florentine, a great navigator whose name is tied to the discovery of faraway lands in South America.

Zubin Mehta

So this Festival is almost a prologue of next tournée of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra under Zubin Metha, next August in South America.

Regarding the operas, the Management has to fight against the economical crisis, something that affects the whole cultural world in Italy. Anyway, the good new is that Richard Strauss opera Der Rosenkavalier is back to Florence after 23 years. Strauss’ masterwork will be conducted by Zubin Mehta always beloved by the local audience, so much that in 2006 he was nominated Honorary Life Conductor of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra. Der Rosenkavalier will be staged by Eike Gramss and the vocal cast will be first class.

A contemporary opera, commissioned by the Theatre, is La Metamorfosi, based upon Franz Kafka, composed by the young italian componist Silvia Colasanti.

Two works by Bela Bartòk in one evening will follow, the ballet The miraculous Mandarin (choreography by Jo Kanamori) and the opera Bluebeard’s Castle.

Still in the ballet field, there will be Hindemith’s The four Temperaments with the historic choreography by George Balanchine, and Schönberg’s Verklärte Nacht (choreography by Susanne Linke). The Bartòk evening should have had Seiji Ozawa on the podium, but unfortunately he had to cancel for health reasons, so in his place we will see the Hungarian conductor Zsolt Hamar.

Radu Lupu, piano Photo: Mary Robert, Decca

Then, there will be symphonic concerts and solo recitals; among others, pianist Radu Lupu, a concert under Zubin Mehta and the final evening with Georg Friedrich Händel’s oratory “Israel in Egypt” under Fabio Biondi.

Many concerts will take place in the old Teatro Comunale, but some of the others in the Sala Grande of New Florence Opera House, where works are still in progress and that will be completed unfortunately with some delay on the program. But the Sala Grande is ready, at least for concerts; it was inaugurated last December, so it’s beautiful and important to see some of the performances there, almost as a sign of change for the future.

John Cage

For the rest, there are many concerts, also of contemporary music, tributes to John Cage and Messiaen, Rihm and Debussy, plays, movies, meetings, art exhibits and so on, in many of Florence’s most important locations, such as Teatro della Pergola or Chiostro di San Lorenzo.

A musical evening with soprano Angela Gheorghiu and tenor Saimir Pirgu will be the link with Tuscan Sun Festival, that this year will move from Cortona to Florence from 11th to 18th June.


DAVID AND JONATHAN, highlight at Aix en Provence

Marc-Antoine Charpentier


AIX EN PROVENCE: Biblical tragedy in five acts with and a prologue
Libretto by Père François de Paule Bretonneau
Created on 28 February 1688 at the Collège Louis-le-Grand in Paris

Musical direction William Christie
Stage direction Andreas Homoki
Set designer Paul Zoller
Costumes designer Gideon Davey
Light designer Franck Evin
David Pascal Charbonneau*
Jonathas Ana Quintans
Saul Neal Davies
Achis Frédéric Caton
Joadab Krešimir Špicer*
La Pythonisse (Witch of Endor) Dominique Visse
Ghost of Samuel Pierre Bessière
Chorus Les Arts Florissants
Orchestra Les Arts Florissants

William Christie. Foto: Ana Bloom, Virgin Classics

David and Jonathan by Marc-Antoine Charpentier with Les Arts Florentine and William Christie is one of the festivals highlights summer 2012.

Production / Coproduction

Festival d’Aix-en-Provence new production
In coproduction with  the Opéra Comique in Paris, the Théâtre de Caen and the Teatro Real in Madrid

6 performances between 6-19th July 2012. 

“And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son, and he said it should be taught to the people of Judah […]:
Ye mountains of Gilboa,
Let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you,
Nor fields of offerings:
For there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away,
The shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil. […]
O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places.
I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan:
Very pleasant hast thou been unto me:
Thy love to me was wonderful,
Passing the love of women.
How are the mighty fallen,
And the weapons of war perished!”

Old Testament, Samuel, Book 2, I, 17-27.

The Old Testament tells how the young David, victor over Goliath, calmed King Saul’s dreams with his psalms and how he developed a deep friendship with the King’s son. Inspired by this deep affection, Charpentier composed an opera for a boys’ school: David and Jonathan, a biblical tragedy which, beneath its edifying veneer, displays vibrant scenes that are as passionate as those of the great French lyric tragedy of the time. The opera freed the French composer from comparison with Lully, in whose shadow he remained while the latter was still alive. Since its premiere at the Louis-le-Grand Jesuit College in 1688 and its modern revival in 1981 at the Lyon Opera, David and Jonathan has been played in concert, recorded on a few occasions but rarely staged. William Christie, who already produced a seminal recording of the opera, will conduct the first staged version of Charpentier’s masterpiece at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence summer 2012.

Eugene Onegin in Amsterdam.

PARIS: In Stefan Herheims regi of Eugene Onegin in Amsterdam Onegin is really the titelroleholder, Bo Boje Skovhus, as he is present on stage a lot of the time, even, when he is only thought about, speaking about or been writing to,  as for exempel in Tatjanas letter scene, where he is reading her letterand replying on it in writing when she sings it. This gives an unexpected affect, but it works very well.

Review from Mezzo live HD by Henning Høholt

Bo Skovhus as Eugene Onegin (center), Amsterdam.. Photo Forster

Stefan Herheim commencement of Eugene Onegin in Amsterdam with the title role holder, played and sung by the outstanding Danish baryton Bo Boje Skovhus, in retrospect, experiencing the story accompanied by important parts of the music, which is formed like an overture.

Alexander Meier-Dörzenbach is as often in the connection with Stefan Herheim responsible for the dramaturgie. This cooperation is working well.

From Eugene Onegin in Amsterdam. Bo Skovhus in the Titelrole. Photo: Forster

Eugene Onegin is also already present in the first pictures and find Tatjana and Olga’sinitial duet, and mother and Filipievna´s quartet with them, and that farmers arrival and autumn celebration with song and dance, while also includes guest from Prince Gremins bal in the third act of participating and he is with and participate in the dance. An interesting approach, but when you eventually are used to Stefan Herheim lively Fantasy, it works quit understandable and feels right.

Although I am in the first act missing “peasant romanticism” “from the Russian countryside,even though farmers are acting in their national style costumes, but before EugenOnegin and Lenskijs official entrance in the history we have come back in history,as we well basically used to it.

In Tatjanas letter scene, Krassimira Stoyanova is doing it wonderful, and with her Onegin in the stage , like she is singing the letter to him, it is being a fantastic experience, he is like a secretary writing Tatjanas letter to him self, and just running out of the scene just before the aria is ending. WOW.  However it needs an Onegin who is also a good actor together with a good regissør who know how to form this, and a singer (and actor) who can play the role, in this Skovhus as Onegin and Herheimas the instructor is perfect.

Andrej Dunaev as Lenskij, Bo Skovhus as Onegin and Elena Maximova as Olga. Photo Forster

When Onegin returns to reply for the letter, Herheim is letting a young actress appear as Tatjana, when the real Tatjana, Stoyanova, in her last act outfit is watching their appearance, as she is now the one looking backwords and remembering her self as young and innocent. And the Prince Gremin is entering leading her back to the last act party.

Onegin, in the center, Guy de Mey as Monsieur Triquet. Photo: Forster

Tatjanas birthday party is opened with a Russian bear on stage, but after the introduction tunes we are at the big ball. Where Onegin doesn´t feel at home, as every body is looking at him and speaking about him as Tatjanas fiancée. Then he deside to irritate Lenskij by flirting and dancing with Lenskijs girlfriend Olga. But during Monsieur Triquets (Guy de Mey)  gratulation sung to Tatjana, Onegin is trying to stretch out a hand to Lenskij, like to tell him, taht I am only joking, byt Lenskij has been jalous, and refuses to take Onegins hand.

The duel scene follows, surronded by people, and Onegin is again attending and trying to square oup with Lenskij, wo again refuses it

The Polonaise opening of the last act is showing Omlympic acrobats, and the Prince from Swan Lake enters with both the Blanck and the White Swan, but the Prince is make courting  to Onegin,  and folcloristic  dancing detalis and costumes. When Tatjana and Prince Gremin (Mikhail Petrenko) enters the Prince Gremin is in Uniform and Tatjana a beatiful imperial outfit with diadem. Petrenko performs Prince Gremins famous aria in a splendid way. But honestly i prefer a voice with an even deeper sound in that special demanding aria.

Krassimira Stoyanova as Tatjana and Bo Skovhus as Onegin in the letter scene! Photo: Forster

Elena Maximova (Olga) has a very beautiful voice, and Krassimira Stoyanova (Tatiana) and Andrej Dunaev (Lenski) are both wonderful.

The scenographcs solution by Philipp Fürhofer is working, and is i one way ok. But it is not the best scenographic solution that I have seen.

The costumes by Gesine Völlm are not good, but they are in a way following up the wishes in the ideas for the production. But it is a mixture of fantasifull combinations of different periodes, folcloristic, Empire, uniforms from different periodes, evening dresses and outfits. Sometimes I am feeling the costumes are too much, and not really tastefully. In other productions from other Stefan Herheim team, that I have seen, the scenography and costumes has been more successfully than this. The read dress for Tatjana, that she is using a lot of times during this production was not nice. Many of the others she wear is much better.

Why the production is good is because of the outstanding cast, and the wonderful singers, headed by Bo Skovhus. Furthermore the Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Operachoir is playing and singing absolutely wonderful and the musically leadership is in the best hands by Mariss Jansons.

Eugène Onéguine, by Piotr Ilitch Tchaïkovski
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Koor van De Nederlandse Opera
Mariss Jansons (direction), Stefan Herheim (mise en scène),

Krassimira Stoyanova (Tatiana),

Elena Maximova (Olga),

Nina Romanova (Filipievna),

Olga Savova (Madame Larina)

Andrej Dunaev (Lenski),

Bo Skovhus (Eugène Onéguine),

Mikhail Petrenko (Gremine), Guy de Mey (Monsieur Triquet), Roger Smeets (Zaretsky), Peter Arink (Petrovich), Richard Prada (Zapevalo).

ConductorMariss Jansons.  Regie: Stefan Herheim. Decor: Philipp Fürhofer. Costumes: Gesine Völlm. Light: Olaf Freese. Dramaturgie: Alexander Meier-Dörzenbach. 

Enregistré au Het Muziektheater d’Amsterdam le 23 juin 2011 – 2h30
TV regi by Misjel Vermeiren

Permit me in this special connecting to remember experiences that I personally have had with the opera Eugène Onéguine:

The world famuus russian soprano Galina Wishnevskaya made her debut at the Opera de Paris, Palace Garnier as Tatjana. Many years later she had her goodbye there also as Tatjana. This evening was conducted by Genadij Rostropowich, her husband, and was send in TV. The Danish Queen Ingrid and her daughter Princess Benedikte attended the peformance and was welcomed by the operaentrance by mr Rostropowich who followed them to their seat at the first Balcony range. After that he came out from there, and came directly to me and asked. “Please, could you help me to find the door to go behind stage?”  “With pleasure mr. Rostropowich” I replyed, and I assisted him to the stage door.

My first Onegin was with the outstanding mezzosoprano Edith Thallaug as Tatjana  around 1980 at the Norwegian Opera in Oslo, she was then the big mezzo soprano at the Stockholm opera.

Extraordinary ORLANDO PALADINO at Chatelet.

PARIS: Orlando Paladino (Haydn) at Theatre du Chatelet, was extraordinay good. I have never seen so good a combination between scenography, costumes, dancers, acrobats, singers, musicians. WOW. And the applause wouldnt stop, so they had to give two enchored, the last was definitely not prepared or planned, and became like a happening on stage. Wonderful.

Review by Henning Høholt

Alcina, the fairy, landing from the "heaven": Anna Goryachova n the center, right Ekaterina Bakanova as Angelica. Left Alcinas guard. Photo: Foto; Marie-Noëlle Robert. Scenography, costume: Nicolas Buffe.

Joseph Haydn: New production from the Théâtre du Châtelet: Orlando Paladino.

Following in the footsteps of some illustrious predecessors, not least Händel with his celebrated Orlando, Joseph Haydn and librettist Nunziato Porta were the next to relate the embroiled adventures of Ariosto’s hero.

In a piece combining elements of comedy, magic and heroism, the two authors conduct the action at a devil’s pace, its virtuoso delivery being not without its similarities to Rossini.

Orlando paldino, first act. In the tower: Ekaterina Bakanova as Angelica, the Princess. Foto; Marie-Noëlle Robert. Scenography, costume: Nicolas Buffe.

It seems that it has been a very playfull and fruitfull cooperation between the three outstanding “players”, Kamel Ouali, regi and choreography, Nicolas Buffe, scenography, costumes and the visuall conception, and last, but not least, Jean-Christophe Spinosi, musicality in making this production. Very well helped by the brilliant and playfull light by Renaud Corler.

Pasquale, (Bruno Taddia) is entering in this transport "monster" . The person here is a model.

I enjoyed the very many, but not too many, creasy ideas on stage, inclusive the different transportation bicycles, scooters, cars, and the twisting transparent tower in the first act. Furthermore the sea in the second act, which reminds me of old days scenery at Drottningholm Court Theatre by Stockholm, Sweden. And even with the same type of “sound”.

Furthermore the ballet and the acrobatic events, which only entertained, lifted up some parts of the “entertainments” and didn´t disturbe.  – In this playfull cooperation, notthing was too much. (But I hate, when I see in other performances notice that the stage director don´t trust in the music, and are starting putting in effects to make the stage alive). Here the good action was underlining the playfull production.

Krešimir Špicer´s long and beautifull aria in the last act was a hit.

Sincerelly I do hope that Theatre du Chatelet will put this production back on stage again, so an even much larger audience would get the possibility to enjoy it.

A very good art book presenting  Nicolas Buffe´s art is awailable in the bookshops. Buy it. It is good!!!

In the outstanding cast we enjoyed:

Direction musicale: Jean-Christophe Spinosi

Orlando Paladino, first scene second act. On the bridge: Kresimir Spicer as Orlando paladino. Photo: Marie-Noëlle Robert

Mise en scène et chorégraphie: Kamel Ouali
Conception visuelle et costumes: Nicolas Buffe
Lumières: Renaud Corler

Orlando: ( alternating ) Krešimir Špicer, at the Sunday performance that i attended. /David Curry

Kresimir Spicer was singing the part of Orlando on March 17, 21 & 25.
David Curry was singing the part of Orlando on March 19 & 23.

Angelica: Ekaterina Bakanova
Rodomonte: Joan Martín-Royo
Medoro: Pascal Charbonneau
Licone: ( en alternance ) David Curry on my performance /Krešimir Špicer
Eurilla: Raquel Camarinha

Anegelica and Medoro: Ekaterina Bakanova and Pascal Charbonneau. Photo: Marie-Noëlle Robert

Pasquale: Bruno Taddia
Alcina: Anna Goryachova
Caronte: Adam Palka

I also want to mention the names of the acrobates, dancers, and the jumping wader:

Acrobates: Compagnie des Farfadais – outstanding.

Danseurs: Marjorie Ascione, Delphine Attal, Cécile Chaduteau, Iskai Davis, David Drouard, Fly, France Hervé, Medhi Ouacheck, Geoffrey Ploquin, Gaëtan Renaudin, Salem Sobihi, Nadine Timas, Alexandre Zounoun.

The jumping wader: Louis Fait.

Wild with desire for the princess Angelica, the paladin Orlando is intent on thwarting the love of the young woman for her betrothed, Medoro. His squire, Pasquale, seizes on the opportunity to woo the shepherdess, Eurilla, while the boastful knight, Rodomonte, becomes Angelica’s protector and the sorceress, Alcina, watches over the lovers’ happiness.

The work:

Rodomonte: Joan-Martin Royo, surrounded by left David Curry as Licone and right raquel Camarinha as Eurilla. Photo: Marie-Noëlle Robert

Composed by Joseph Haydn and staged in 1782 after the libretto by Nunziato Porta, his usual librettist, this comic heroic drama inspired by Ariosto’s work was already part of the particularly “comic” opera repertory in 18th century musical theatre.

Intended to celebrate the visit of the Grand Duke Paul of Russia to Eszterháza in 1782, and staged for the festival of St. Nicholas (Patron Saint of Prince Eszterházy), Orlando Paladino was staged 30 times after its creation before becoming Haydn’s most popular opera, thereby taking him across Europe between 1791 and 1798.

As testimony to its widespread circulation, thirteen German copies and eight Italian copies of the score still remain in existence. But it was the publication of the critical edition, in 1972, which marked its big come-back to the international stage, in the early 80s.

It provides for irresistible entertainment, whose virtuosity and happy combination of serious and comedic, magic and heroic, is somewhat reminiscent of Rossini…

Ncolas Buffe´s oriental phantasy world is the surrounding around Orlando paladino. Photo: Antoine Piechaud.

Nicolas Buffe describes his world:

Ornament, grotesques
My work inherits its structure from the Roman grotesques, those ornaments rediscovered during the Renaissance in the ruins of Emperor Nero’s Golden Villa. Grotesques permit great freedom of work: improbable encounters, cumulative imagery, negation of spaces and fusion of species, the manipulation of weightiness of form and an insolent proliferation of hybrids. Far from being senseless, these juxtapositions permit great depth of iconological and iconographical debate.

Discoveries, DIY and a mix of erudite culture and pop culture
Joining, sticking, combining figures taken from popular and erudite culture, I proceed by producing the most eloquent associations according to whim. The dialogue between past and present, which is deeply ingrained in my work, is tantamount to entertainment. However, as during the Renaissance, it is a serious game that I strive to produce, one that questions and stimulates thought.

Nicolas Buffe is represented by galerie Schirman & de Beaucé.

Jean-Christophe Spinosi is conducting the playfull performance. Photo: Genestier.

Jean-Christophe Spinosi reacquaints himself here with some characters who are familiar to him, thanks to his having directed and recorded them in the Vivaldi version for his Orlando furioso. He forms a team with choreographer, Kamel Ouali,

Kamel Ouli, stage director and choreographer. Photo: DR

to whom Le Châtelet has already played host for the stage production of Gérard Pesson’s Pastorale, and Kamel Ouali is this time also responsible for stage direction. Combining comics, cartoons and manga with the unbridled energy of Renaissance grotesqueries and other ornamental exuberances, visual artist, Nicolas Buffe, transports us into a world where pop and classical culture merge to become one.


PARIS: Musically is the modern production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart´s opera Don Giovanni a victory for the chief conductor Philippe Jordan and for Petter Mattei in the titelrole as Don Giovanni at Opera Bastille. Visually a scandal.

Review by Henning Høholt. Photos by:  Charles Duprat , Opera de Paris.

à gauche :
David Bizic (Masetto)
Aleksandra Zamojska (Zerlina)
Peter Mattei (Don Giovanni). Photo: Charles Duprat

It is a privillige for a stage director and an operachief that they can make productions of good operas from the worlds most famouse composers, and then change it away from the original history, spite in often trying to keep the libretto, which then, unfortunately often is coming in conflict with what we do see on stage. But it has to be done with musicality, and intelligencce. Furthermore. To renew and modernice needs talent.

Such as for exempel the outstanding young Norwegian regissoer Stefan Herheim and his staff is doing, with their modernizing of operas, latest La Boheme,  Lulu, Tannhäuser, Julius Cæsar, Salome. And hopefully with the coming Die Meistersinger in Nürnberg in Paris. This group is working with talent and musicality.

Don Giovanni: Petter Mattei is kissing David Bizic (Leporello) when he wants him to continue working for him. Modern nice detail. Photo: Charles Duprat, Opera de Paris.

The case in this renewed production of Don Giovanni at Opera de Bastille, which is a revival from a production at Palais Garnier is, seen with my eyes, that it lacks of talent. It doesn´t has a good idea for wh y it is renewed, and therefore no mission, than just to make soemthing completely strange, or to try to update it to our day.s I looks like the history could be hoing in in our days, and like forexempel Rome ond Juliet it could, but then the music and the libretto is wrong. Critic colleagues of mine tells that it was working better at Palais Garnier, when it was premiered there in 2006. It was for the first time presented in this production at Opera Bastille in 2007.

Scenography. Photo: Charles Duprat, Opera de Paris.
Performances until 21 avril 2012

In this production I feel like being in a cold foyer of a hospital, or an office building, with a large all round window wall in the right side, giving us a look out to other  modern houses a cross an open place. In this scenography all the performance is going on,

The scenography by Christopher Kanter  is  NEVER functioning, so we understand what it is all about. Furthermore, as it often happens by opera productions at Opera de Paris the light, responsible André Didot,  is bad. It was not possible to see the faces and get an idea of the mimic, and in Don Giovanni and many other productions, mimic is importent, and specially, when it is in this very large operahall Bastille. The bad lighting is a seriouse complain, and the management will hopefully notice that for further productions, as this is not functioning.

If I see this production with other eyes, it has been a strong dramatically history about a young man, Don Giovanni, with too good a position in life, too much money, and a position,  and a  hunger for sex with girls, which does that he is non stop using his position to get what he wants. – With this point of view, I do observe that it has an idea. But then it would have been better to ask a contemporary composer to write a new opera, with music, whioch is uppdated, to the picture we see for our eyes. But then they would probobly not have got the posibility to get full houses, because in this case, it is Mozarts music, who are selling the tickets, not the new idea.  i dislike the missuse and spoiling of a beautiful opera.

However, as often mentioned. Musically it is of the very highest class at Opera de Paris. Petter Mattei has the most beautiful voice for Don Giovanni, and he looks good. I was not so happy for Patricia Petibon as Donna Anna, but her Don Ottavio, Bernard Richter was extraordinary good. Donna Elvira, sung by Vérinique Gens was best of the female roles. She has the little extra in her voice that Donna Elvira needs. Leporello was very well sung and played by David Bizic, and Il Coommendatire was in the best hands  by Paata Burchuladze, Zerlina was Gaëlle Arquez and Masetto Nahuel di Pierro.

Véronique Gens (Donna Elvira), Le Commandeur et à l'extrême droite : Patricia Petibon (Donna Anna). Photo: Charles Duprat.

As mentioned the scenography by Christoph Kanter was wrong, as it doesn´t give the right surroundings so the audience can understand the history. the costumes by Annette Beaufays, ordinary daily suits. Nothing to write home about. and hopeless light.  Furthermore the music is wrong for the modern outfit.

Some details were good. Staginng y the acting singers was made as a good theater production staged by Michael Haneke. When we try to see it as a modern history, which could have been from our days. Don Giovanni, Petter Mattei is kissing David Bizic (Leporello) when he wants him to continue working for him. It could have happend to day. A modern nice detail. The orchestra on stage in the final scene, how it came in, and shouldplay for the dinner, functioned well.  The funny details with Leporello eating discretely behind, was lost. But the backstage orchestra didn´t have any reason for being there, as we were not in such surroundings  where such events are going on. The wedding preparations for Masetto and Zerlina was not clear in the history, and the washing/cleaning people celebrating them didn´twork out. The funeral of the Commandant was lost, and to let it look like he was in a  sideroom, when he should arrive in the last act, didn´t work out. The party where DOn Giovanni shall run away with Zerlina didn´t function.

Specailly during the first act I was feeling that this was a scandal. However, during the second act I started to understand the history better, and in the end it became understandable from a modern view. And i Liked the last picture, with all the choire and the singers sitting around the window, and together singing the Epilogue,

Philippe Jordan has the right musically feeling, and together with his outstanding orchestra it works well, and with outstanding soloists in the orchestra.

ANNA BOLENA in Florence

Anna Bolena: Mariella Devia. Foto: Opera di Florenze.

ANNA BOLENA by Gaetano Donizetti

FLORENZE: It is truly surprising that such a Belcanto milestone like Gaetano Donizetti’s Anna Bolena had never been performed in Florence in modern times. On the other hand, the fortune of this work started in 1957, with the historical revival at La Scala with Maria Callas in a production by Luchino Visconti.

From the 1960s on, important primadonnas have included this opera in their repertoire, but none of them was called to perform it in Florence.  Old nineteenth century Florentine chronicles report only a handful of performances, beginning in 1832.

Thus this staging in Florence is an authentic event, something not to be missed, not least because the protagonist is one of the most important interpreters of Donizetti’s operas in the last decades, soprano Mariella Devia.

Henrik VIII: Roberto Scandiuzzi. Foto: Opera di Florenze

I am hard pressed to detect Graham Vicks hand in this production, set in the gloomy and steely scenes by Paul Brown, who also designed the beautiful and rich costumes, reminiscent of the Northern European painting in their shapes and colours; Henry VIII’s costumes stood out for their lavishness, with Roberto Scandiuzzi looking as if her has jumped off one of Hans Holbein’s well-known portraits.

The hunting scene was highly effective: Bolena and the King were on fake horses recalling images from British paintings, but whoever is familiar with

Florentine art could think also of Paolo Uccello and Andrea del Castagno.

Vick’s staging has been reprised by Stefano Trespidi: the main characters’ acting was well thought of, but the same can not be said about the chorus, generally too static and with some moments when the movements were puppet-like almost like a parody.

From a mere musical point of view, the performance had a rather sleepy start, but caught life as it progressed. The score was played almost in its integrity, opening many pages that traditionally are cut, so that the opera acquired nearly Wagnerian proportions (about three hours and ten minutes of music).  In order to sustain such length (and notoriously not all Bolena’s music stays at the same high quality level), the opera would have needed better conducting than Roberto Abbado‘s slow and sleepy approach. The conductor proved to be able to follow the singers quite well, but failed to give a decisive imprint to this arduous score, which – deprived of theatrical vitality – at times sounded even boring.

From Anna Bolena in Florenze. To the left: Mariella Devia in the titelrole. Foto: Opera di Florenze

The protagonist, Mariella Devia, is a highly experienced Italian soprano, who knows quite well how to pace herself. She saved her energy in the first act, while showing all her strengths in the second, with an excellent duet with Seymour and an exhilarating finale, where she gave all of herself literally spellbinding the audience filled to capacity.

Rightly so, Ms. Devia, keeping into consideration her vocal characteristics, highlights the pathetic and sorrowful side of Anna Bolena, to the detriment of her regalness.  As a whole, her performance tended to emphasize the most lyrical moments – albeit at times with a certain lack of expressive pathos – over moments when a more vibrant vocal and declamatory presence would have been desirable.

Unfortunately she did not pay too much attention to the regal and incisive recitatives or some key phrases of this magnificent Donizetti role (one for all: the famous Giudici…ad Anna! ) which went totally unnoticed, even though perhaps a character such as the unfortunate Queen is not after all ideal to completely highlight her interpretative gifts.  One might rhetorically wonder who, in the current international scene, could sing this role with a better stylistic propriety.  The answer would be similarly rhetorical: nobody.

Next to her stood mezzo-soprano Sonia Ganassi as Giovanna Seymour. A highly skilled and intelligent singer. Ms. Ganassi has nevertheless lost some security and richness of timbre over the years.  Her ligne du chant was however quite accurate, which allowed her to achieve several truly felicitous moments, particularly in Act II.

Josè Maria Lo Monaco was quite convincing in the difficult role of the page Smeton, and created a more than acceptable character acting-wise.

Unfortunately the male cast was not even remotely on the same level.  Percy was Shlava Mukeria, a Georgian tenor with a tiny and unpleasant voice; inaudible in the low register, it acquires a certain security above the stave.  His vocal delivery is exactly the opposite of the typically Italian expansiveness that Donizetti requires from a tenor.  The quality of his timbre being truly poor, what emerged was rather a caricature of the character of Percy, who in theory should be an ardent and disappointed young lover.

Roberto Scandiuzzi was an unacceptable Enrico VIII, his voice having lost colour, support, shine and even a good pitch.  Barely adequate was Luca Casalin as Sir Hervey, while Konstantin Gorny’s Lord Rochefort was several notches below any acceptable level.

The performance was in the whole very warmly greeted by the audience, with a triumphal ovation for Mariella Devia.

Review by Fabio Bardelli, translation from italian to english Nicola Lischi

ANNA BOLENA by Gaetano Donizetti

Florence, Italy. Teatro Comunale. 15th march, 2012

Direttore: Roberto Abbado

Regia: Graham Vick,  (ripresa da Stefano Trespidi). Scene e costumi: Paul Brown, (ripresi da Elena Cicorella)

Luci: Giuseppe di Iorio, (riprese da Gianni Paolo Mirenda)

The cast:

Enrico VIII: Roberto Scandiuzzi

Anna Bolena: Mariella Devia

Giovanna Seymour: Sonia Ganassi

Lord Rochefort: Konstantin Gorny

Lord Riccardo Percy: Shalva Mukeria

Smeton: José Maria Lo Monaco

Sir Hervey: Luca Casalin

Orchestra e Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. Maestro del Coro: Piero Monti

THANKS TO MY EYES – Opera at Le Monnaie

OPERA by Oscar Bianchi (1975)
Belgian première

Thanks to my eyes. Photo: Elisabeth Carrecchio

BRUXELLES: After the earlier creations of House of the sleeping beauties in May 2009 and Matsukaze in May 2011, La Monnaie presents for the first time a work by Oscar Bianchi, one of the most promising composers of his generation. Thanks to my eyes is a “chamber opera” for twelve musicians, commissioned by the T&M in Paris and the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, and created in July 2011 in Aix. The libretto, in English, is taken from a theatre text by Joël PommeratGrâce à mes yeux, created in 2003. This is the first collaboration in the world of opera of the composer and the man of theatre who will also be producing the work. Joël Pommerat is presently writing a new opera with the Belgium composer Philippe Boesmans, and commissioned by La Monnaie for 2014.

“In Joël Pommerat’s theatre the words search for one another, the sentences thrust themselves, break and curl up, until they emerge from the depth of silence, unspoken feelings and unconfessed secrets.” When one reads Didier Méreuze’s commentary on the work of this playwright, one understands why the composer, Oscar Bianchi, was seduced by the sophistication of this text whose fierceness and depth fit easily into the dense fabric, the resounding subtlety and the sharp sense of dramaturgy of Bianchi’s music. Not at all surprising that from the encounter between these two great artists of the 21st century, rose a work of such magnitude.

Oscar Bianchi

After the creation in Aix-en-Provence, the French conductor Franck Ollu leads for the first time the Orchestre symphonique de la Monnaie for the creation in Brussels.  At La Monnaie, in 2009, he conducted the concert Com que Voz, a composition by Stefano Gervasoni inspired by the Portuguese Fado.

The cast is composed of the world creation’s performers. We will hear the German baritone Hagen Matzeit in the role ofAymar, the Scottish bass Brian Bannatyne-Scott in the role of The Father, the English soprano Fflur Wyn in A Young Blonde Woman, the Israeli soprano Keren Motseri in the role of A Young Woman in the Night and two actors in the roles of The Mother and The Man with Long Hair, the French Anne Rotger and Antoine Rigot.

Working alongside Joël Pommerat, we will find Eric Soyer for the scenography and the lighting, and Isabelle Deffin for the costumes.


1 April 2012 (avant-première) – 15 :00

3, 5, 6, 10 & 11 April 2012 – 20:15

Théâtre National

Commissioned by T&M-Paris / Réseau Varèse & Festival d’Aix-en-Provence

Production Festival d’Aix-en-Provence

In co-production with La Monnaie ¦ De Munt, Théâtre National, T&M-Paris / Théâtre de Gennevilliers CDNCC & Musica – Festival International des musiques d’aujourd’hui de Strasbourg

Co-presentation Théâtre National