Tag: Pieczonka

Strauss: Elektra / Met Opera 4-23-16


I have been to not one but two live performances of Strauss’s Elektra in the past six months or so. Each time, I come out of it feeling stunned and unable to articulate any particular opinion about the performance. But stunned is good. And sometimes the opinions trickle in later on. (I think part of it might be Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s fault – I find that operas for which he has written the libretto take me a while to absorb, because I keep getting distracted by the quality of the text and occasionally miss music that I have to catch the next time around.)

When I glanced at the program last night, I was startled – the casting for this was pretty much incredible: Nina Stemme (Elektra), Adrienne Pieczonka (Chrysothemis), Waltraud Meier (Klytämnestra) and Eric Owens (Orestes). I bought the ticket to hear Stemme, who I’d never heard live before, but this is one of quadruple-bonus type evenings that you sometimes get in large cities with big opera houses.

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Verdi – Simon Boccanegra / Metropolitan Opera 2011 (2)

(Previous section here.)

I don’t know what it is, but costumes and sets from productions after about 2000 always look so much nicer, and more realistic in terms of fabric and lighting and such than older ones. Perhaps it’s the increase in the video quality? Or are they making opera costumes out of different things now? I really have no idea.

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Verdi – Simon Boccanegra / Metropolitan Opera 2011 (1)

This is one of those operas that Verdi revised decades after writing it, so there are two versions. The Met’s performance is of the later one, from 1881. As I understand it, the opera was revised because it was a repeated flop and everyone agreed there was something wrong with the plot. I am not exactly leaping up and down and shrieking with excitement as far as the plot is concerned even in this version, so I really do wonder what the first version was like.

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Strauss, Der Rosenkavalier / Pieczonka, Kirchschlager, Persson et al.

This is a production from Salzburg in 2004. The action has been moved up to the early twentieth century, probably the 1920s to guess from the costumes. I’m not sure what the production designers were going for with this. I don’t mean that there’s anything wrong about the concept – just that I’m not sure what if anything specific is communicated thereby. Certainly it makes the Marschallin’s religious language in Act I (and Sophie’s in Act II) jump out far more than it would in a production staged in the eighteenth century (which is what I think Strauss and Hofmannsthal originally imagined). But again, I’m not sure whether this is deliberate, or even important.

Act I takes place, of course, in the Marschallin’s room, which in this instance is a very boudoiry boudoir. The walls, covers and upholstery are all deep red, and there are two plates of what looks like half-eaten pie on the floor and the bench at the end of the Marschallin’s bed. We can all probably figure out what the pie is doing there.

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