Tag: Janková

Purcell – The Fairy Queen / Styriarte Festival 6-21-14

The recent production of Purcell’s The Fairy Queen broadcast live from the Styriarte Festival reminded me again how much I enjoy Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s conducting. This came to mind during the overture, at various little moments of transition from one mood to the next – and just in general at many points throughout the performance. It’s something about the pacing, or the rhythm – hard to pin down in words, but Harnoncourt conveys just the right amount of energy with this music, so it’s engaging to listen to, but not in a way that sounds unidiomatic for Baroque music. (It feels not like “baroque music” but just simply “music”.) For me, watching this was essentially a very pleasant two and a half hours of well-executed Purcell, punctuated at intervals with “hey, there’s Dorothea Röschmann again!” (and Florian Boesch and Martina Jankova and a number of other people whose names I did not recognize, including a tenor, Joshua Ellicott, who gave a very lovely rendition of the autumn song in the ‘four seasons’ section in the second half.)

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Mozart – Don Giovanni / Zurich Opera 2007 (2)

(Previous section here.)

The concept of this production is used to really interesting effect at several points. One of my favorite partes is “batti, batti, bel Masetto,” which Zerlina (Martina Janková) sings not to Masetto, but alone. She’s at the bar and looks genuinely sad – the aria is not a wheedling “you’re not really mad, baby, are you?” number but rather an expression of frustration.

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Mozart – Don Giovanni / Zurich Opera 2007 (1)

I was tempted to begin by saying that someone who had never seen Don Giovanni before would find this production confusing, but on reflection I don’t actually think that this is the case. There are some moderately confusing elements – I will make an attempt at explaining  the woman in white and the three plum-sized rocks of compassion later on – but these are not obtrusive or disruptive.

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Handel – Orlando / Zurich Opera 2007 (3)

(Previous section here.)

Orlando here is Marijana Mijanovic, who takes a little while to warm up, but once she’s on, she is on. Orlando’s long tormented recitatives/ariosos at the end of Act II and towards the end of Act III are wonderful – and those low notes sound fantastic! This performance in general seems to hit its stride toward the end of Act II.

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Handel – Orlando / Zurich Opera 2007 (2)

(Previous section here.)

This is where the undercutting of Zoroastro as the voice of reason comes in. As noted, this guy looks a little sinister. And not only does he look sinister, but he’s got help. Zoroastro is the head doctor and Dorinda is a nurse; there are several other doctors and nurses, silent parts, who follow him around and attend to his every word, often jotting down notes. Orlando appears to be some kind of ‘interesting case’ or experiment as far as Zoroastro is concerned. He’s always lurking, often with notepad in hand. In Act I, when Angelica is provoking Orlando’s jealousy to buy herself and Medoro some time, it seems that Zoroastro has set up the encounter on purpose and is stage-managing it as it unfolds. He even chloroforms and drags away the unfortunate Medoro, who is about to burst in and interrupt at the wrong moment.

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