Tag: Kušej

Mozart – Don Giovanni / Salzburg 2006 (3)

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There are a lot of really interesting performances in this. I don’t know if it’s my favorite Giovanni musically – I am not sure I have one of those – but there’s plenty to like about it. Melanie Diener as Donna Elvira has a lovely ringing resonant sound to her voice; the last high notes in “taci, ingiusto core” were really pretty. There is something solid, even at times careful about the interpretation.

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Mozart – Don Giovanni / Salzburg 2006 (2)

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That a production of Don Giovanni might contain some scantily clad women is not going to surprise anyone. (Well, with some exceptions.) But the women in this are not necessarily there to be ogled. There are the women in fur coats who appear during “madamina, e catologo e questo” – but then there are the women cleaning, and later on a little girl. (This reminded me of the Peter Sellars version, which also had a little girl, but she appeared later. Also, come to think of it, that version also played with the question of whether Leporello and Giovanni were different people, like this one.)

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Mozart – Don Giovanni / Salzburg 2006 (1)

Martin Kusej’s production of Don Giovanni is alternately buzzing white light and blue dimness. The thing begins with a large flat image of a group of women in nothing but stockings, lounging on the floor with their backs to the audience. There is a door in this image, and during the overture we see women in trench coats and heels approaching the door, opening it, and stepping inside.

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Mozart – Die Zauberflöte / Zurich Opera 2007 (2)

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The action in this production takes place in an interior space with gray, windowless walls and heavy steel doors. It looks like how you might imagine the basement of a nuclear power plant. The serpent that Tamino encounters in the first scene is not one big snake, but rather a plague of normal-sized ones, attacking not just him but a bunch of other people. They are all dressed in very ordinary every-day clothing.

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Mozart – Die Zauberflöte / Zurich Opera 2007 (1)

Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte is sometimes presented as the “Nutcracker” of his operas – a fairy story for children. Other productions play up all the Masonic stuff in it and make an effort to offer it as an opera about the quest for enlightenment. This version from the Zurich Opera just a few years ago does not fall into either of those categories. It is definitely not for children. If you show this video to small humans, they will either get bored and wander out of the room, or they will have nightmares. Unless you’re Martin Kusej. I imagine Kusej’s children, if he has any, all wear matching black turtlenecks and spend their after-school hours deconstructing “Dora the Explorer.”

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Wagner – Der Fliegende Holländer / De Nederlandse Opera 2010 (2)

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When Daland’s crew first encounter the Dutchman and his sailors, the latter – after the light in the back has turned a strange yellow – come through those doors. In Act II, as Senta sings her ballad, it’s as if the music invokes whatever is on the other side of the doors. Members of the Dutchman’s crew appears and vanish on the other side of the glass, and eventually reappear again, trailing blood. When the Dutchman arrives, he and Senta initially see one another through the doors. She wants out, and he wants in. The boundary is intensified during the revelry that begins Act III. Here, the partiers are all at the rear of the stage, and there is an additional metal screen between them and the Dutchman’s crew, who are seated in the front. As they call to the ghostly crew it’s fairly clear that they are doing something rather dangerous: attempting to penetrate the boundary between the living and the dead.

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Wagner – Der Fliegende Holländer / De Nederlandse Opera 2010 (1)

I think Richard Wagner must have been a difficult man to live with. Have you ever noticed that his solution to most relationship problems is the death of both parties? (Wouldn’t it be fun to have an “Ask Richard Wagner” advice column? People could write in about their personal problems and . . .actually never mind; this would be a terrible idea.)

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La Clemenza di Tito / Salzburg 2003 / Kasarova, Röschmann, Schade, et al. (3)

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I said earlier that one of the reasons this performance works so well dramatically is that the interpretations of the three central roles fit together so well. We have a mad emperor, a Vitellia who is on the edge of we know not what and/or tearing off her clothes most of the time — and then there is Sesto (Vesselina Kasarova) who seems to be the only sane person in the room.

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La Clemenza di Tito / Salzburg 2003 / Kasarova, Röschmann, Schade, et al. (2)

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I did something a little different this time. A while back, I ripped the audio from this DVD so that I could put it on my iPod. So, rather than watching the DVD over again to write this, I merely listened to it. There isn’t anything distracting about the way this is staged or anything like that, but sometimes a change of approach is worthwhile.

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La Clemenza di Tito / Salzburg 2003 / Kasarova, Röschmann, Schade et al. (1)

I realized the other day that I had never sat down and collected my thoughts about this production of La Clemenza di Tito. I’ve seen it many times. And I am fairly sure that I am not the only one. Some of us love this production because we love Dorothea Röschmann’s voice and think that Kasarova is kind of awesome too. Others of us love this production because Vesselina Kasarova is the best thing ever and hey, the soprano ain’t bad neither. Still others of us are made of stone and like it merely because it’s a very good production of one of the finest operas ever written.

So, I will attempt to explain this production as if to someone who had never seen it.

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