Don Giovanni (Brussels), Lucia di Lammermoor (Verona), Così fan tutte (Ghent)

don n giovanni1The Don Giovanni in Brussels under the direction of Warlikowski was awful. I recommend  this director to read the libretto the next time. Da Ponte’s libretto offers a multitude of double meaninsg. No need to descends into pornography just for the sake of it. Musically things were not exciting either with a very disappointing Barbara Hannigan as Donna Anna. As much as she is acclaimed in modern music, she didn’t convince me at all in the classical style. I couldn’t find full enjoyment in any of the other singers (Don Giovanni-Jean-Sebastien Bou, Il commendatore-Sir Willard White, Don Ottavio-Topi Lehtipuu, Donna Elvira-Rinat Shaham, Leporello-Andreas Wolf, Masetto-Jean-Luc Balestra, Zerlina-Julie Mathevet) Don Giovanni never seemed such a drag…..


I rather preferred the Lucia di Lammermoor in Verona, which, with its thrifty set, gave a more complete and satisfying reading than the Mozart opera. Musically wonderful with a (to me) unknown Maria Grazia Schiavo who sang with a full deep  and a good upper register. The slightly unpitched top notes from the first two musical pieces didn’t affect the overall thrilling performance. An equally wonderful Piero Pretti as Edgardo and a very good Marco di Felice as Enrico made this a lovely afternoon. The cast was completed by Alessandro Scotto di Luzio as Arturo, Sim Insung as Raimondo, Elisa Balbo as Alisa and Francesco Pittari as Normanno.


cosi1A quite boring night in Gent with Cosi fan tutte followed in January. Musically not very convincing. A very good Dorabella and Guglielmo (Maria Kataeva and Riccardo Novaro), an acceptable Fiordiligi and Despina (Christina Pasaroiu Aylin Sezer) an inadequate Don Alfonso and Ferrando (Umberto Chiummo and Sebastien Droy) and a drab conductor (Jan Schweiger) make this evening rather easy to forget. Was it not for the director… Guy Joosten spoiled yet another Mozart opera. I am totally in the dark when it comes to understand what this amateur is trying to tell us in Mozart (or in any opera for that matter). The scenes are filled with slapstick and inconsistent ideas that could be used (and be equally out of place) in any other opera. Joosten hits the bottom when he made Despina awaken the two lovers by hitting them with the Mesmer stone in the groin. No idea what to do with the singers either when they don’t sing except letting them sit or stand still. The set is lovely (the bar/reception of a hotel) though not consistent (“in casa mia” sings Fiordiligi, which is not translated into subtitles. Are they the hotel owners?)



The 2014/2015 season of De Munt/La Monnaie

The-Homer-Scream-by-meowzaAh, for crying out loud!! The new season of De Munt/La monnaie 2014/2015 is out….. Are they serious???? How does he manage, Peter de Caluwe, to mess up a whole season? I mean… there are always one or two, maybe three things one doesn’t really like in a whole opera season.
1) But although there are a few interesting things, novelties, like Fierrabras and Paisiello’s Barbiere, they are in concert-version. GREAT!!
2) Two World premieres: (Shell Shock and Penthesilea). TWO??Really?? REALLY??? (Shell shock is also listed in the Dance section….so….is it both…Two for the price of one??)
3) Daphne is interesting also, a rarely played opera (which, coincidentally I just saw in Frankfurt), but it is directed by Guy Joosten, who fucked up Lucrezia Borgia with so much trash I wished THAT one was in concert version. Equally bad were Lucia in Brussels a Barbiere in Ghent and a Freischütz in Liege. IMHO
4) Two more 20th century opera’s (Frank Martin and Rachmaninov) out of 9 (not counting the concert versions) result in almost 50%. You GOTTA be kidding me!
5) What is left are two Haendel. Not one Haendel and one Vivaldi slash Monteverdi slash Lully slash Rameau slash Treatta No, no…TWO Haendel and
6) A Don Giovanni, which, if directed by Morlot with equal passion as Cosi and Clemenza, I will leave before the first interval. Door slamming!!
7) Remains a Verdi (Ballo in maschera) directed by Rizzi and Fura dels Baus, which might be quite interesting. But take a good soprano, the mezzo, a fine tenor and the base and they could have mounted Roberto Devereux with the same director. I mean, how many times in a row will we be hearing Verdi in an opera season?
Sorry Mr De Caluwe, with a program like this I will not be renewing my subscription. I will come and see them, sure. But with the least costly places…in case (….) I wanna leave at the interval.

Don Giovanni @ the Opernhaus Zürich


Fountains of ink have been spilled on Don Giovanni, philosophers even have, like Einstein, or Kierkegaard. The music defined as heavenly. But nothing seems to touch the director or this setting, Sebastian Baumgarten. If I understand his concept, it describes a group of religious actors, who perform a play around the licentiousness of Don Giovanni, which eventually leads to a moralizing end by heavenly and Christian righteousness. This all takes place in a church (a wink to Don Giovanni’s creator padre Tirso de Molina?) with 40’s design. The revolving stage brings different props and objects on to the stage, a bath tub, fountains, a facade (of the church?), the graveyard where Anna’s father is buried and who resuscitates at the end of the first act, a bed where Don Giovanni sacrifices a girl (with squirting blood….I tutted in utter disapproval).

All this accompanied by a big screen, describing Don Giovanni’s deeds by means of the deadly sins (as if one would not understand, we are not complete idiots, but thanks anyway…). All looks regurgitated and one doesn’t know whether to accept all this turning eyes to heaven, or to be annoyed by the flat, superficial and distasteful interpretation and the hideous staging. With all the blatant demonstration of eroticism Baugartner completely ignores the underlying, and often not so subtle eroticism of Da Ponte’s libretto.


Robin Ticciati, the musical director supposed to direct all performances, walked out of the production after the first night (as the Operahaus Zurich tells us) as he could not support Baumgarten’s interpretation (although one wonders why he did not leave earlier…did he not see the rehearsals??). Fabio Luisi directed instead and kept a high musical level throughout the evening. The orchestra della scintilla has a dry sound (which i like, but where there some unpitched notes??) and played correctly.

The singing part on the other hand was very good, almost excellent. The overall quality of the singers was very high so that the group effort makes one overlook the (small) flaws of the single singers. Excellent, I thought, was Pavol Breslik and for once I enjoyed both of Ottavio’s aria’s. Julia Kleitner’s Elvira sings with a warm and full middle register. Peter Mattei as Don Giovanni, Marina Rebeka as Donna Anna, Ruben Drole as Leporello all sang well.


For my part I will remember the full bodied voice of Anna Goryachova (although I had bad memories of her Marchesa Melibea in the Viaggio a Reims and her Edoardo in Mathilde di Shabran, both in Pesaro). I am not sure she a soprano as Zerlina would require but her legs are quite beautiful 🙂 (as are Don Ottavio’s – aka hunk Pavol Breslik – as can be seen in his first entrace, dressed in a revealing purple bodysuit).

An preview can be seen on the Opernhaus’ webpage:

Musikalische Leitung-Fabio Luisi, Inszenierung-Sebastian Baumgarten, Bühnenbild-Barbara Ehnes, Kostüme-Tabea Braun, Lichtgestaltung-Franck Evin, Choreografie-Chris Kondek, Don Giovanni-Peter Mattei, Donna Anna-Marina Rebeka, Don Ottavio-Pavol Breslik, Komtur-Rafal Siwek, Donna Elvira-Julia Kleiter, Leporello-Ruben Drole, Zerlina-Anna Goryachova, Masetto-Erik Anstime

Zürich, 9/6/13