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Showing posts from October, 2011

Wiener Staatsoper Review: Beethoven's One and Only "Fidelio"

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Ah, Fidelio. Beethoven's one and only opera. Beethoven's frustration with the art form, expressed in letter form, "I assure you, dear Treitschke, that this opera will win me a martyr's crown. You have by your co-operation saved what is best from the shipwreck. For all this I shall be eternally grateful to you," is fascinating given his status as one of the most renowned composers in history. I had always thought, prior to seeing this opera here for the first time in full, that the music was amazing (as can only be expected from Beethoven), but that the drama was static and not particularly moving throughout most of the work. I, at least in part, attribute this to the libretto, despite the fact that three different operas have been based on the same story. An interesting comparison here is the fact that, if we expect Beethoven to have successful operas to his name due to his status as an all-star composer, we expect Schubert to have them because of his status as o…

Wiener Staatsoper, The Insanity of All: Richard Strauss' "Salome"

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I remember reading Fred Plotkin's book Opera 101 some time ago. The book listed ten operas that would theoretically take a viewer from an easy, very accessible opera that they would (hopefully) like no matter what (Rigoletto was his suggestion). The operas became increasingly less accessible until, at the end, were Wagner operas. Except these were not quite the end. The last of the ten was contained in a chapter called "Psychological Opera: Elektra," or something along those lines. While Elektra is obviously a different Strauss opera than Salome, I found here the elements that might make this opera inaccesible to some, and definitely one to reserve for only the most prepared audience members. I admit this is my first time seeing Salome, but I must say that I was struck, I think particularly by this production, by how it is not just Salome, but essentially all the major characters, who are fraught with psychological problems. Synopsis & General Information (the genera…

Wiener Staatsoper: Natalie Dessay in Verdi's "La Traviata"

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Ah, a starring part of the repertoire starring a star. Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata has always been a beloved work. I will openly say that I personally, however, don't find it to have the most convincing plot. Though it is saved, to some extent, by the fact that Violetta knows she is doomed to die before she even meets Alfredo, it just does not seem particularly compelling to me that she dies from an inevitable sickness. Still, this production was able to bring, at least in its final moments, emotional impact even to someone such as myself. An element of this production divisive to the population as a whole, however, is Natalie Dessay. Dessay is portrayed often as being in vocal decline, and many might object that Violetta is too large for her voice (through experiences with DVDs, I was inclined to say the same). Nonetheless, she is one of the seminal performers of recent years. Tonight, though not without some small warbles, she really impressed me with her singing, but yet …

Wiener Staatsoper's Outstanding Die Zauberflöte

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