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Anna Netrebko

Thursday, December 8, 2016

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December 6

The naked truth

parterre boxHighlights of the Metropolitan Opera’s 2019-2020 season will include the company premiere of Glass’s Akhnaten featuring Anthony Roth Costanzo and first local Turandot of Anna Netrebko (not pictured), according the always intriguing Met Future Wiki. More recently added data includes, in 2017-2018: Ekaterina Semenchuk as Santuzza; debuts of Etienne Dupuis and Luis Chapa; returns of Markus Werba, Elchin Azizov and Elena Manistina and possibly Doris Soffel as Klytamnestra. In 2018-2019 we an expect a centenary Trittico in late fall featuring Marcelo Alvarez as Luigi; Edith Haller‘s debut as Gutrune; the return of Karel Mark Chichon and the debuts of Cornelius Meister and Omar Meir Wellber. Further plans for 2019-2020 (previously revealed) include new productions of Porgy and Bess with Eric Owens, Aida (Anna Netrebko), The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh (Dmitri Tcherniakov), Der Fliegende Holländer (François Girard) and Wozzeck (William Kentridge.) Photo: Craig T. Mathew / LA Opera

The Well-Tempered Ear

December 2

Classical music: Broadcasts of operas from the Met and string quartets by the UW-Madison’s Pro Arte Quartet are featured on old media and new media this Saturday and Sunday. Plus, the 89th Edgewood college Christmas Concert is tonight and tomorrow afternoon.

ALERT: Edgewood College will present its 89th Annual Christmas Concerts tonight at 7 p.m. and Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. in the St. Joseph Chapel, 1000 Edgewood College Drive. Now expanded to two performances, the holiday concert features the Edgewood College choirs and Concert Band, along with audience sing-alongs, prelude music by the Guitar Ensemble, and a post-concert reception featuring the Jazz Ensemble. Tickets are $10, and seating is limited for this very popular annual event. Tickets should be purchased online in advance. By Jacob Stockinger Classical music meets old media and new media this weekend through opera and chamber music. SATURDAY This Saturday marks the beginning of the LIVE RADIO broadcasts of operas from the Metropolitan Opera (below) in New York City. This will be the 86th season for the radio broadcasts, which educated and entertained generations of opera lovers before there were DVDs, streaming and the “Live in HD From the Met” broadcasts to movie theaters. The performances will be carried locally on Wisconsin Public Radio, WERN-FM 88.7. This Saturday, the starting time for Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut” with Russian superstar soprano Anna Netrebko (below, in a photo by Richard Termine for The New York Times), is 11:30 CST. Other operas will have different starting times, depending their length. This season runs from Dec. 3-May 15. Radio has certain strengths, The Ear thinks. For one, it allows the listeners to focus on the music, to be less distracted or less enriched – depending on your point of view – by sets, costumes, lighting, the physicality of the acting and other stagecraft that is left to the imagination. This season, there will be lots of standard fare including: Verdi’s “La Traviata” and “Aida”; Puccini’s “La Boheme”; Bizet’s “Carmen”; Beethoven’s “Fidelio”; Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” and “The Flying Dutchman”; Richard Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavalier” and “Salome”; and Mozart’s “Idomeneo.” But you can also hear the new music and less frequently staged operas. They include the 2000 opera “L’amour de loin” (Love From Afar) by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, which will receive its Metropolitan Opera premiere next week, on Dec. 10. Here is a link to the complete season along with links to information about the various productions. Starting times are Eastern Standard Time, so deduct an hour for Central Standard Time or a different amount for your time zone: SUNDAY On this Sunday afternoon, the Pro Arte Quartet (below, in a photo by Rick Langer), longtime artists-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, will wrap up the first semester of “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen,” which used to air weekly on Wisconsin Public Radio but now is presented once a month, on the first Sunday of the month, directly by the museum. The program this Sunday features the “Italian Serenade” by Hugo Wolf; the String Quartet No. 3 in F Major by Dmitri Shostakovich; and the String Quartet in A-Flat Major, Op. 105, by Antonin Dvorak. The FREE concert takes place from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in Brittingham Gallery No. 3 of the Chazen Museum of Art and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Donors to the museum can reserve seats. Concerts by the Pro Arte Quartet, kind of the house quartet of the museum, are usually “sold out.” But the concert can also be streamed live via computer or smart phone by clicking on the arrow in the photo and using the portal on the following website: You might also want to arrive early or stay late to see the historic and rare First Folio edition (below) of the plays by William Shakespeare that is on display at the Chazen Museum through Dec. 11 to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of the Bard. Tagged: acting , Aida , Anna Netrebko , Arts , band , Beethoven , Bizet , Carmen , Cello , Chamber music , chapel , Chazen Museum of Art , Choir , choral music , Christmas , Classical music , computer , Concert , costume , DVD , Dvorak , Edgewood College , Finland , First Folio , guitar , Holiday , Hugo Wolf , Italian Serenade , Jacob Stockinger , Jazz , Kaija Saariaho , La bohème , La Traviata , lighting , Live From The Met in HD , Ludwig van Beethoven , Madison , Met , Metropolitan Opera , Metropolitan Opera Live in HD , movie , Mozart , Music , new media , New Music , New York City , New York Times , old media , opera , Orchestra , Prelude , premiere , Pro Arte Quartet , Puccini , Radio , Richard Strauss , Richard Wagner , Russia , Salome , sets , Shakespeare , Shostakovich , sing-along , smart phone , soprano , St. Joseph , stagecraft , streaming , String quartet , Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen , theater , Tristan und Isolde , United States , University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music , University of Wisconsin–Madison , Verdi , Viola , Violin , vocal music , Wisconsin , wisconsin public radio , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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November 15

Gone girl

Sir Richard Eyre’s puzzling production of Manon Lescaut returned to the Met last night, following last season’s premiere in February. Its concept, which updates the novel’s 18th century time frame to 1940s France, continues to remain elusive and frustrating. And yet, despite this unsatisfying aspect, the evening was redeemed through the sheer star wattage of Anna Netrebko—whose Manon was deeply unforgettable for its wide scope, control, and incredible virtuosity. A role like Manon requires keen flexibility—the soprano must manage the fantastic leaps the character undertakes between parochial innocence, urbane sophistication, and despair. In the past, I have loved Netrebko’s conviction and fearlessness—sometimes verging on the edge of a campy dream, singular in personality, bombastic, and indulgent in the best possible way. However, her Manon revealed a musician and actress whose technique is as formidable as her heart. Emotional, vocally resplendent, and committed dramatically, Netrebko brought her unique vitality to the role. In fact, Netrebko’s undertaking of Manon felt historic, full-throttled and gutsy, with her trademark old-school voluptuousness. Manon Lescaut’s narrative investigates the pressures of patriarchy on female subjectivity. Not exactly a feminist text, the opera nevertheless makes a case for liberation politics through its depiction of female objectivity and suppression. And yet, the opera fails to offer (thankfully) any prescriptive agenda. The result is an experience that troubles through its ambivalence, enacting on its protagonist the lose-lose constraints of patriarchy. Manon careens wildly between the feminine archetypes favored by patriarchy—beginning as a young, fresh county girl (the virgin), morphing into to a femme fatale of Parisian society (the whore), and expiring in desperation, exiled and forgotten (the martyr—“Sola, perduta, abbandonata” indeed). It’s likely Puccini did not intend for his opera to be read in such a manner—in fact, the novel by Abbé Prévost upon which the piece is based, has been widely interpreted as a warning to the young women of his period. However, where Manon Lescaut works so wonderfully is in the moments in which it undermines its own sense of morality, highlighting the systemic misogyny that both elevates and shatters women. Marcello Álvarez served a consistent counterpoint to Netrebko’s versatile Manon, as Des Grieux, though his role calls for far less variation. His interpretation of the character seemed relatively naïve—a brave little fool, overwhelmed in the face of such epic sadness. But what other kind of man follows his lover into the despair of Louisiana? While much is made of Manon’s fresh-faced innocence within the opera, the key to Des Grieux’s tragedy is that he is just as unworldly as Manon, unsophisticated regarding the extent of suffering one might bear for love. The tenor’s aggressive singing amplified this mock-heroism, with a robust, romantic, and secure performance, especially during the famous “Donna non vidi mai.” As Lescaut, Manon’s passive brother, the intelligent baritone Christopher Maltman provided a perspective beyond the lovers’ cocoon of obsession, desire, and grief. In the past, I have often found the character dispensable, a mere function within the plot’s machinery. But Maltman brought genuine warmth to the role. Brindley Sherratt was appropriately menacing as Geronte di Ravoir, cold and reptilian in his depiction of moneyed sexism. While other singers might force a bumbling silliness on the character (almost like a lighted-hearted version of Death in Venice’s Aschenbach) Sherratt allowed the character to embody a dangerous guile. Whether or not these thoughtful performances redeem the scattered, detached effects of the production’s staging is a difficult conclusion to determine. So much of Eyre’s direction seems thoughtless. Most saliently, I spent much of the evening trying to figure out why the plot has been updated to 1941, though there seem to be no overt references to occupied France. Perhaps the soldiers are meant to be Nazis? And yet, there are no Swastikas or other Nazi references to make this idea explicit. In the third act, as the various women are called forward to be deported, they are dressed like hopefuls at an open call for a regional production of Gypsy. Moreover, they are directed into various sight gags that play uncomfortably into caricatures of sex workers. Besides being distasteful and completely uninteresting, this business is insulting to the historical realities of women. This moment, one of the most disturbing within the opera, has the potential to complicate and broaden Manon’s pathos. Instead, it was utilized for laughs. In retrospect, the production in general seems a lost opportunity. Our national community (not to mention our Global one as well) is currently embroiled in the rhetoric and discourse of alterity—specious accusations towards certain populations (by elected officials, nonetheless) regarding their supposedly noxious effects on the economic and cultural health of our troubled country; not to mention, there have been a large rash of awful hate crimes within the last week. Indeed, I would be remiss if I were to forget that Manon is deported as an undesirable. With this thought in mind—why remove the tragedy of Manon Lescaut to the 1940s? It almost seems irresponsible to distance these experiences so pointlessly, when it would be more effective to update the opera to a contemporary setting; the truth is that we are living these terrifying notions today. Photos: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Anna Netrebko (unofficial by Carlos in Barcelona)

November 14

Passion and Death--"Manon Lescaut" (final dress rehearsal) in MET, Nov. 10, 2016

Text and Photo by Yige This is a report of the final dress of Manon Lescaut in MET on Nov. 10, a general impression of Anya's characterization of Puccini's Manon, and a preview of what to expect in the performance. Once again Anna Netrebko surprised me. It was not the singing which, of course, was the top tier one could find around. What so inspiring was that she, as a complete artist, bring up every resource, with first and most importantly, her singing, to shape a character. When Anya canceled the performance in Munich, reports from different sources seemed to suggest the major problem between them was that the director's idea was that Manon needed to choose between love and money, she chose money but regretted later, while Anya felt Manon just wanted both and refused to choose. Some asked whether this difference of idea is something that can make a visual difference on stage. I don't know. But at least it would make a huge difference in singing. That's to say, Anya's singing here was always sincere and passionate. Never was one moment of cold calculation. This is, how I feel at least, exactly what Puccini composed into music. I say "always" meaning this attitude was throughout the whole opera, toward anything beautiful, both love and money (or more precisely, spiritual beauty and material beauty). Thus, when she sang the beauty of countryside of past in act one, it was gray but sweet. Then, in the beginning of act two, one could hear some unusual childish joy when Manon was singing about the hairstyle, the clothes. Later during the dancing class and singing, the colorful singing clearly suggested this Manon was enjoying it. With all these "preparation" for the audience, when it came the time that Manon naively wanted to collect jewels to take with her in the end of act two, one just cannot blame her. These beautiful things mean something to her. Such is the key to bridge the first two acts and last two acts. On the surface, (most of) the first two acts are light-hearted while the last two are heavy-hearted. If not played well, it would be hard to gain audience's empathy of the heroine--we can certainly say it was Manon's own decision that led her to the fateful result. The common wisdom to answer why we should feel empathy for Manon is that she's a victim of a man dominated society. Not denying this element in the plot, I doubt how much of PUCCINI's Manon has this victim property. And Anya didn't play the victim. The real tragedy here is not seeing a victim's death, but the death of a person with so much passion on the beauty of life. With this in mind, we can understand the "problem" of this opera regarded by some--not having a coherent plot--is not a problem at all. It's not telling the story of Manon Lescaut but describing the character of her. The first two acts is to build up the character, and the later two is to destroy the character. (It's interesting to compare between the last lines of Massenet's "Manon"--"Et c’est là l’histoire de Manon Lescaut", and Puccini's "Manon Lescaut"--"Ma l'amor mio--non muor".) Anya understands this tragedy. Her largest success was, of course, in the last act which can break the heart of a stone, though I think it was because she put so much effort to build up the character earlier. To make a dying scene beautiful is not that hard, but how many times when you hear Manon keeping repeating she doesn't want to die in a dark voice horror, you cannot help but remember the earlier time when it was bright and joyful? With her singing, this opera was a complete whole. Clip from rehearsal by MET:

The Well-Tempered Ear

November 1

Classical music: Madison Opera stages Charles Gounod’s opera “Romeo and Juliet” this Friday night and Sunday afternoon to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare

By Jacob Stockinger Madison Opera will present Charles Gounod ’s “Romeo & Juliet” on this Friday night at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. in Overture Hall of the Overture Center . It will be sung in French with English subtitles and will last about three hours with one intermission. Tickets are $18-$130. With soaring arias, impassioned scenes and plenty of sword fights, Gounod’s gorgeous opera brings the famous tragic tale of young love to vivid life. Set in 14th century Verona, Italy, the opera follows the story of Shakespeare’s legendary star-crossed lovers. The Montague and Capulet families are caught in a centuries-old feud. One evening, Romeo Montague and his friends attend a Capulet ball in disguise. The moment Romeo spots Juliet Capulet, he falls in love, and she returns his feelings. Believing they are meant for one another, they proclaim their love, setting in motion a chain of events that will change both their families. “Romeo and Juliet is one of the most famous love stories in Western literature,” says Kathryn Smith (below, in a photo by James Gill), the general director of Madison Opera. “Gounod’s operatic version of it is equally beloved, and it’s exciting to present an amazing cast that brings such vocal and dramatic depth to their story. “I’m also delighted that we are performing the opera the same weekend that Shakespeare’s First Folio goes on display at the University of Wisconsin-Madison ‘s Chazen Museum of Art, enabling our community to enjoy a very Shakespearean weekend.” Gounod’s operatic adaption of the tragedy of “Romeo & Juliet” premiered in 1867 at the Théâtre Lyrique in Paris. While Gounod is now better known for “Faust,” “Romeo and Juliet” was a bigger success at its premiere, and has stayed in the repertoire for 150 years due to its beautiful music, genuine passion mingled with wit, and exciting fight scenes. “Having conducted Gounod’s Faust so often, I’m thrilled to finally have the opportunity to conduct his romantic masterpiece,” says John DeMain (below, in a photo by Prasad), the artistic director of Madison Opera who will conduct the two performances. “The vocal and orchestral writing is lyrical and downright gorgeous,” DeMain adds. “We have a glorious cast, the Madison Opera Chorus and the Madison Symphony. What more could a conductor ask for!” (You can hear Anna Netrebko sing Juliet’s famous aria “Je veux vivre” — “I want to live” – in the popular YouTube video at the bottom.) Madison Opera’s cast features both returning artists and debuts. John Irvin (below top) and Emily Birsan (below bottom) return to sing the titles role of Romeo and Juliet. Irvin sang Count Almaviva in the 2015 production of The Barber of Seville, while Birsan returns from singing at Opera in the Park 2016 and Musetta in last season’s La Bohème. Sidney Outlaw, who sang at this past summer’s Opera in the Park, makes his mainstage debut as Romeo’s friend, Mercutio. Liam Moran, who sang Colline in last season’s La Bohème, sings Frère Laurent, who unites the two lovers in the hope of uniting their families. Madisonian Allisanne Apple (below) returns as Gertrude, Juliet’s nurse. Making their debuts are Stephanie Lauricella as Romeo’s page, Stephano; Chris Carr as Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin; Philip Skinner as Lord Capulet ; and Benjamin Sieverding as the Duke of Verona. Former Madison Opera Studio Artist Nathaniel Hill returns as Gregorio, while current Studio Artist James Held sings the role of Paris. Directing this traditional staging is Doug Scholz-Carlson (below), who directed Gioaccchino Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville,” Aaron Copland’s “The Tender Land” and Benjamin Britten ‘s “The Turn of the Screw” for Madison Opera. Scholz-Carlson is the artistic director of the Great River Shakespeare Festival and has directed the original “Romeo and Juliet,” among many Shakespeare plays. He will discuss the differences between staging “Romeo and Juliet” as a play and as an opera in another posting tomorrow. For more information about the production, the cast and tickets, go to: Tagged: Aaron Copland , Allisanne Apple , Anna Netrebko , aria , Artistic director , Arts , Benjamin Britten , blog , Capulet , Chazen Museum of Art , choral music , Classical music , conductor , Doug Scholz-Carlson , drama , Emily Birsan , English , Faust , fight , fighting , First Folio , French , Gioacchino Rossini , Gounod , Great River Shakespeare Festival , Italy , Jacob Stockinger , John DeMain , John Irvin , Kathryn Smith , La bohème , Love , love story , Madison , Madison Opera , Madison Opera Chorus , Madison Symphony Orchestra , Mercutio , Montague , Musetta , Music , nurse , opera , Opera in the Park , Orchestra , Overture Center , Paris , Passion , play , Romantic , Romeo and Juliet , Shakespeare , stage director , surtitles , sword fights , The Barber of Seville , The Tender Land , tragedy , Turn of the Screw , United States , University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music , University of Wisconsin–Madison , Verona , vocal music , Wisconsin , wit , YouTube

Anna Netrebko

Anna Netrebko (18 September 1971) is an operatic soprano. She now holds dual Russian and Austrian citizenship and currently resides in Vienna. She has been nicknamed "La Bellissima" by fans.

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