Biljetter till Bryn

29 september 2010

Sådär nu har jag biljett till att gå och lyssna på Bryn Terfel i Konserthuset den 23 februari!!! Konserten heter att det är en hyllning till Jussi Björling, så det ska bli intressant att höra hur en baryton kan hylla en lyrisk tenor. Roligt ska det bli i alla fall. Jag har också för en gångs skulle köpt biljetter i fonden, andra balkongen, istället för att som tidigare ha suttit på sidan så att man knappt har sett något.

 

100 bästa operorna – 44 Orfeo ed Euridice av Gluck

28 september 2010

44 -Orfeo ed Euridice by Christoph Willibald Gluck

Orfeo ed Euridice (French version: Orphée et Eurydice; English translation: Orpheus and Eurydice) is an opera composed by Christoph Willibald Gluck based on the myth of Orpheus, set to a libretto by Ranieri de’ Calzabigi.

Synopsis

Act 1

A chorus of nymphs and shepherds join Orfeo around the tomb of his wife Euridice in a solemn chorus of mourning; Orfeo is only able to utter Euridice’s name. Orfeo sends the others away and sings of his grief. Amore (Cupid) appears, telling Orfeo that he may go to the Underworld and return with his wife on the condition that he not look at her until they are back on earth. As encouragement, Amore informs Orfeo that his present suffering shall be short-lived. Orfeo resolves to take on the quest.

Act 2

In a rocky landscape, the Furies refuse to admit Orfeo to the Underworld, and sing of Cerberus, its canine guardian. When Orfeo, accompanied by his lyre (represented in the opera by a harp), begs for pity he is at first interrupted by cries of ”No!” from the Furies, but they are eventually softened by the sweetness of his singing in the arias and let him in.

The second scene opens in Elysium with the four-movement ”Dance of the Blessed Spirits” (with a prominent part for solo flute. This is followed by a solo which celebrates happiness in eternal bliss, sung by either an unnamed Spirit or Euridice, and repeated by the chorus. Orfeo arrives and marvels at the purity of the air in an arioso. But he finds no solace in the beauty of the surroundings, for Euridice is not yet with him. He implores the spirits to bring her to him, which they do.

Act 3

On the way out of Hades, Euridice is delighted to be returning to earth, but Orfeo, remembering the condition related by Amore in Act I, lets go of her hand and refuses to look at her, does not explain anything to her. She does not understand his action and reproaches him, but he must suffer in silence. Euridice takes this to be a sign that he no longer loves her, and refuses to continue, concluding that death would be preferable. She sings of her grief at Orfeo’s supposed infidelity. Unable to take any more, Orfeo turns and looks at Euridice; again, she dies. Orfeo sings of his grief.

Orfeo decides he will kill himself to join Euridice in Hades, but Amore returns to stop him. In reward for Orfeo’s continued love, Amore returns Euridice to life, and she and Orfeo are reunited. After a four-movement ballet, all sing in praise of Amore.

Roles
Orfeo – castrato/mezzo-soprano/counter tenor
Euridice – Soprano
Amore – Soprano
****************************************

**************

Gluck basically reinvented the opera in the middle of the 18th century. Up until this opera the opera seria had basically petrified into a formualic and pretty boring thing. With Orfeo ed Euridice Gluck tried to make the drama once more the important part of the opera, instead of the singers. His work with tying everything together without clear breaks between arias and recitatives points the way towards the German opera, and especially Wagner. Now to be honest though many consider Gluck’s later opera Iphigénie en Tauride to be a better opera, but I guess Orfeo is being helped by having a musical piece that is more well known. I’m thinking about the Dance of the Blessed Spirits]. Otherwise one of the more famous arias is Orfeo’s Che faro senza Euridice.

I also must say that I think Euridice is stupid that thinks that Orfeo doesn’t love her anymore, when he’s just walked to Hades to get her back to earth.

 

historiska personer i opera

23 september 2010

Min senaste post om Don Carlos fick mig att tänka en del på hur historiska skeenden har använts i operor. Det har ju alltid varit populärt att ta berättelser i historien och tonsätta dem. Än häftigare tycker jag att det är med historiska personer som om de inte blivit odödliggjorda i konsten knappast skulle ha haft många som var medvetna om dem. Eller medvetna och medvetna, i bland är det bara namnet som har överlevt. Ta Brünnhilde ur Ringen till exempel. Hon återfinns i den germanska sagovärlden, här i Norden som Brynhildr, men hur många känner egentligen till att hon faktiskt var en verklig person. Brünnhilde kan ledas tillbaka till den visigotiska prinsessan Brunnhilda, som gifta sig med den merovingiske Sigibert. Brunnhilda och Sigibert var omskrivna redan från början, det finns en fantastisk saga bara om hennes resa till över Pyrenéerna för deras bröllop. Att Brunnhilda efter Sigiberts död kom att påverka stora delar av Europas historia, genom att träda in som förmyndare för både son och sonson, samt att hon låg i närmast ständig konflikt med sin svägerska Fredegund, gör henne inte mindre intressant. Brunnhilda hade många vänner och fiender under sin livsstid, och var alltså så ryktbar att hon slutligen skrevs in mytologin som valkyria, fast där senare gift med Siegfried/Sigurd.

Andra personer som fortfarande kan kännas igen till namnet i Ringen är Guntchram kung av Burgund, som naturligtvis har blivit Gunther. Överlag så handlar Niebelungenlied till stora delar om just Burgunds undergång under 500-talet. Se där, det kanske är något att tänka på nästa gång man ser Ragnarök.

100 bästa operorna – 45 Don Carlos av Verdi

22 september 2010

44 – Don Carlos by Giuseppe Verdi

Don Carlos is a five-act Grand Opera composed by Giuseppe Verdi to a French language libretto by Camille du Locle and Joseph Méry, based on the dramatic play Don Carlos, Infant von Spanien (”Don Carlos, Infante of Spain”) by Friedrich Schiller.

Synopsis
[This synopsis is based on the original five-act version composed for Paris and completed in 1866. Important changes for subsequent versions are noted in indented brackets]

Act 1

[This Act was omitted in the 1883 revision]

The Forest of Fontainebleau, France in winter

A prelude and chorus of woodcutters and their wives is heard. They complain of their hard life, made worse by war with Spain. Elisabeth, daughter of the King of France, arrives with her attendants. She reassures the people that her impending marriage to Don Carlos, son of the King of Spain, will bring the war to an end, and departs

[This was cut before the Paris première and replaced by a short scene in which Elisabeth crosses the stage and hands out money to the woodcutters]

Carlos, coming out from hiding, has seen Elisabeth and fallen in love with her. When she reappears, he initially pretends to be a member of the Count of Lerma’s delegation, but then reveals his identity and his feelings, which she reciprocates. A cannon-shot signifies that peace has been declared between Spain and France, and Thibault informs Elisabeth that her hand is to be claimed not by Carlos but by his father, Philip II. Lerma and his followers confirm this, and Elisabeth feels bound to accept, in order to consolidate the peace. She departs for Spain, leaving Carlos devastated.

Act 2

[This Act is Act 1 in the 1883 revision]

Scene 1: The monastery of Saint-Just (San Jerónimo de Yuste) in Spain

Monks pray for the soul of the Emperor Charles V. His grandson Don Carlos enters, anguished that the woman he loves is now married to his father.

[In the 1883 revision, he sings an aria, salvaged from the omitted first Act]

A monk resembling the former emperor offers him eventual consolation of peace through God. Carlos’s friend Rodrigue, Marquis of Posa, has just come from the oppressed land of Flanders.

[This was cut during the pre-première rehearsals]

He asks for the Infante’s aid on behalf of the suffering people there. Carlos reveals that he loves his stepmother. Posa encourages him to leave Spain and go to Flanders. The two men swear eternal friendship. King Philip and his new wife, with their attendants, enter to do homage at Charles V’s tomb, while Don Carlos laments his lost love.

Scene 2: A garden near Saint-Just

Princess Eboli sings the Veil Song about a Moorish King and an alluring veiled beauty that turned out to be his neglected wife. Elisabeth enters. Posa delivers a letter from France (and secretly a note from Don Carlos). At his urging, Elisabeth agrees to see the Infante alone. Eboli notices Don Carlos’ agitation and infers that she, Eboli, is the one Don Carlos loves.

When they are alone, Don Carlos tells Elisabeth that he is miserable, and asks her to request Philip to send him to Flanders. She promptly agrees, provoking Carlos to renew his declarations of love, which she piously rejects. Don Carlos exits in a frenzy, shouting that he must be under a curse. The King enters and becomes angry because the Queen is alone and unattended. He orders her lady-in-waiting, the Countess of Aremberg, to return to France, prompting Elizabeth to sing a sorrowful goodbye-aria. The King approaches Posa, whose character and activism have impressed him favorably. Posa begs the King to stop oppressing the people of Flanders. The King calls Posa’s idealistic request unrealistic, and warns him that the Grand Inquisitor is watching him.

[This duologue was revised three times by Verdi]

Act 3

[This Act is Act 2 in the 1883 revision]

Scene 1: Evening in the Queen’s garden in Madrid

Elisabeth is tired, and wishes to concentrate on the following days’s coronation of the King. To avoid the divertissement planned for the evening, she exchanges masks with Eboli, assuming that thereby her absence will not be noticed, and leaves

[This scene was omitted from the 1883 revision]

[The ballet, (choreographed by Lucien Petipa and entitled ”La Peregrina”) took place at this point in the première]

Don Carlos enters. He has received a note suggesting a tryst in the gardens, which he thinks is from Elisabeth, but which is really from Eboli, to whom he mistakenly declares his love. The disguised Eboli realizes that he thinks that she is the Queen, and Carlos is horrified that she now knows his secret. When Posa enters, she threatens to tell the King that Elisabeth and Carlos are lovers. Carlos prevents Posa from stabbing her, and she exits in a vengeful rage. Posa asks Carlos to entrust to him any sensitive political documents that he may have, and, when Carlos agrees, they reaffirm their friendship.

Scene 2: In front of the Cathedral of Valladolid

Preparations are being made an ”Auto-da-fé”, the public parade and burning of condemned heretics. While the people celebrate, monks drag the condemned to the woodpile. The royal procession follows, and the King addresses the populace, but Don Carlos brings forward six Flemish deputies, who plead with the King for their country’s freedom. The people and the court are sympathetic, but the King, supported by the monks, orders the deputies’ arrest. Carlos draws his sword against the King. The King calls for help but the guards will not attack Don Carlos. Posa steps in, and persuades Carlos to surrender his sword. The King then promotes Posa to Duke, the woodpile is fired, and, as the flames start to rise, a heavenly voice can be heard promising peace to the condemned souls.

Act 4

[This Act is Act 3 in the 1883 revision]

Scene 1: Dawn in King Philip’s study in Madrid

Alone, the King, in a reverie, laments that Elisabeth has never loved him, that his position means that he has to be eternally vigilant, and that he will only sleep properly when he is in his tomb in the Escorial. The blind, ninety-year-old Grand Inquisitor is announced. The King asks if the Church will object to his putting his own son to death, and the Inquisitor replies that the King will be in good company: God sacrificed His own son. In return, the Inquisitor demands that the King have Posa killed. The King refuses to kill his friend, whom he admires and likes, but the Inquisitor reminds the King that the Inquisition can take down any king; he has destroyed other kings before. The King admits that he is powerless to save his friend and begs the Grand Inquisitor to forget about the whole discussion. The Grand Inqusitor replies ”We’ll see,” and leaves. Elisabeth enters, alarmed at the apparent theft of her jewel casket, but the King produces it and points to the portrait of Don Carlos which it contains, and accuses her of adultery. She protests her innocence, and, when the King threatens her, she faints. He calls for help. Eboli and Posa appear, and a quartet develops. The King realises that he has wronged his wife. Posa resolves to save Carlos, though it may mean his own death. Eboli feels remorse for betraying Elisabeth; the latter, recovering, expresses her despair.

[This quartet was revised by Verdi in 1883]

The two women are left together. A duet was cut before the première. Eboli confesses not only that she stole the casket because she loved Carlos and he rejected her, but, worse, she has also been the mistress of the King. Elisabeth tells her that she must go into exile or enter a convent, and exits. Eboli, alone, curses the fatal pride that her beauty has bestowed on her, chooses the convent over exile, and resolves to try to save Carlos from the Inquisition.

Scene 2: A prison

Don Carlos has been imprisoned. Posa arrives to tell him that he will be saved but that he himself will have to die, incriminated by the politically sensitive documents which Carlos had entrusted to him. A shadowy figure shoots Posa in the chest. As he dies, Posa tells Carlos that Elisabeth will meet him at Saint-Just on the following day, and says that he is content to die if his friend can save Flanders and rule over a happier Spain. After his death, Philip enters, offering his son freedom. Carlos repulses him for having murdered Posa. The King sees that Posa has been killed, and cries out in his sorrow.

[A duet included at this point for Carlos and the King, cut before the première, was later re-used by Verdi for the Lacrimosa in his Requiem]

Bells ring, and Elisabeth, Eboli and the Grand Inquisitor arrive, while a crowd demands the release of Carlos and threatens the King. In the confusion, Eboli escapes with Carlos. The people are brave enough to threaten the King, but they are terrified by the Grand Inquisitor, and they instantly obey his angry command to quiet down and bow to the King.

[After the première, some productions ended this Act with the death of Posa; however, in 1883 Verdi provided a much shortened version of the insurrection, as he felt that otherwise it would not be clear how Eboli had fulfilled her promise to rescue Carlos]

Act 5

[This Act is Act 4 in the 1883 revision]

The moonlit monastery of Saint-Just

Elisabeth kneels before the tomb of Charles V. She is committed to help Don Carlos on his way to fulfil his destiny in Flanders, but she herself longs only for death. Carlos appears and they say a final farewell, promising to meet again in Heaven.

[This duet was twice revised by Verdi]

Philip and the Grand Inquisitor enter: the King declares that there will be a double sacrifice, and the Inquisitor confirms that the Inquisition will do its duty. A short summary trial follows.

[The trial was omitted in 1883]

Carlos, calling on God, draws his sword to defend himself against the Inquisitor’s guards, when suddenly, the Monk emerges from the tomb of Charles V. He grabs Carlos by the shoulder, and loudly proclaims that the turbulence of the world persists even in the Church; we cannot rest except in Heaven. Philip and the Inquisitor recognize the Monk’s voice as that of the King’s father, former-Emperor Charles V himself. Everyone screams in shock and terror, and the Monk/former-Emperor drags Carlos forcefully into the tomb and closes the outlet. The curtain falls.

Roles
Philip II, (Filippo) King of Spain – bass
Don Carlos (Don Carlo), Infante of Spain – tenor
Rodrigue (Rodrigo), Marquis of Posa – baritone
The Grand Inquisitor – bass
Elisabeth of Valois – soprano
Princess Eboli – mezzo-soprano
A monk (Charles V) – bass
Thibault (Tebaldo) page – soparno
A voice from heaven – soprano
The count of Lerma – tenor
Royal Herald – tenor
Countess of Aremberg – silent
****************************************

********

As noted when reading the synopsis there are very many versions of this opera, in both French and Italian. I haven’t seen it, but it seems to have one of the strangest endings I’ve heard about, not exactly logical. The opera has been pretty popular the last few years, I’ve heard of quite a few productions of it, and for example it’s going to be digicast by the Met in December. Here’s a clip of the Grand Inquisitor, a bit unexpected, but not surprised.

 

blir nästan lite knäsvag

18 september 2010

Senaste nyhetsbrevet från Metropolitan damp ner i inkorgen häromdagen, med en del promo-bilder från deras nya Ring. Wowowowow, säger jag bara.

Nog är det lite svårt att känna igen Bryn Terfel och Deborah Voigt som Wotan och Brünnhilde. Äntligen är det kanske dags för en häftig fantasyinspirerad uppsättning.

Inte långt kvar nu till den 9 oktober, då kommer jag att vara bänkad för digivisningen.

 

100 bästa operorna – 46 l’Orfeo av Monteverdi

15 september 2010

46 – l’Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi

L’Orfeo (L’Orfeo, favola in musica, SV 318, or La Favola d’Orfeo, or The Legend of Orpheus) is one of the earliest works recognized as an opera, composed by Claudio Monteverdi with text by Alessandro Striggio.

Synopsis

The actions take place in two contrasting locations: the fields of Thrace (Acts 1, 2 and 5) and the Underworld (Acts 3 and 4). An instrumental toccata (English: ”tucket”, meaning a flourish on trumpets)[41]  precedes the entrance of La Musica, who sings a prologue of five stanzas of verse. After a graceful welcome to the audience she announces herself as the spirit of music who can, through sweet sounds, ”calm every troubled heart.” She sings a further paean to the power of music, before introducing the drama’s main protagonist, Orfeo, who ”held the wild beasts spellbound with his song”.

Act 1

After La Musica’s final request for silence, the curtain rises on Act 1 to reveal a pastoral scene. Orfeo and Euridice enter together with a chorus of nymphs and shepherds, who act in the manner of a Greek chorus, commenting on the action both as a group and as individuals. A shepherd announces that this this the couple’s wedding day, and the chorus celebrates, first in a stately invocation and then in a a joyful dance. Orfeo and Euridice sing of their love for each other, before leaving with most of the group for the wedding ceremony in the temple. Those left on stage perform a brief chorus, commenting on how Orfeo has been changed by love from one ”for whom sighs were food and weeping was drink” to a state of sublime happiness.

Act 2

Orfeo returns with the main chorus, and together they sing of the beauties of nature. In a reflective four-verse aria Orfeo muses on his former unhappiness, but proclaims: ”After grief one is more content, after pain one is happier”. The mood of contentment is abruptly ended when the Messagiera enters, bringing the news that, while gathering flowers, Euridice has receved a fatal snakebite. The chorus expresses its anguish, while the Messagiera castigates herself as the bearing of bad tidings. Orfeo, after venting his grief and incredulity, declares his intention of descending to the Underworld and persuading its ruler to to allow Euridice to return to life. Otherwise ”I shall remain with thee in the company of death”. He departs, and the chorus resumes its lament.

Act 3

Orfeo is guided by Speranza to the gates of Hades. Having pointed out the words inscribed on the gate Speranza leaves. Orfeo is now confronted with the ferryman Caronte, who addresses Orfeo harshly and refuses to take him across the River Styx. Orfeo attempts to persuade Caronte by singing a flattering song to him, but the ferryman is unmoved. However, when Orfeo takes up his lyre and plays, Caronte is soothed into sleep. Seizing his chance, Orfeo steals the ferryman’s boat and crosses the river, to enter the Underworld while a chorus of spirits reflects that nature cannot defend herself against man: ”He has tamed the sea with fragile wood, and disdained the rage of the winds.”

Act 4

In the Underworld Proserpina, Queen of Hades, pleads with Plutone, her husband the King. She has been deeply affected by Orfeo’s singing, and petitions the king for Euridice’s release. Plutone is moved by her pleas, and agrees, subject to the condition that, in leading Euridice back to the world, Orfeo must not look back. If he does, ”a single glance will condemn him to eternal loss”. Proserpina expresses her gratitude, blessing the day that she was abducted by Plutone and brought to Hades. Orfeo now enters, leading Euridice and singing that on his wife’s white bosom he will rest that day. But a note of doubt creeps in: ”Who will assure me that she is following?”. Perhaps Plutone, driven by envy, has imposed the condition through spite? Suddenly distracted by an off-stage commotion, Orfeo looks round; immediately, the image of Euridice begins to fade. She sings, despairingly: ”Losest thou me through too much love?” and disappears. Orfeo attempts to follow her but is drawn away by an unseen force. The chorus of spirits sings that Orfeo, having overcome Hades, was in turn overcome by his passions.

Act 5

Back in the fields of Thrace Orfeo, in a long soliloquy, laments his loss, praises Euridice’s beauty and resolves that his heart will never again be pierced by Cupid’s arrow. An echo repeats his final phrases. Suddenly, in a cloud, Apollo descends from the heavens and chastises him: ”Why dost thou give thyself up as prey to rage and grief?” He invites Orfeo to leave the world and join him in the heavens, where he will recognise Euridice’s likeness in the stars. Orfeo replies that it would be unworthy not to follow the counsel of such a wise father, and together they ascend. A sheperds’ chorus sings and dances a brief finale, which concludes that ”he who sows in suffering shall reap the fruit of every grace”.

Roles
La Musica (Music)- soprano, originally castrato
Orfeo (Orpheus)- tenor
Euridice (Eurydice)- soprano, originally castrato
Mesaggiera (Messenger) – soprano
Speranza (Hope) – soprano
Caronte (Charon)- bass
Proserpina (Proserpine)- soprano
Plutone (Pluto)- bass
Apollo – tenor
Ninfa (Nymph)-     soprano
Eco (Echo) – tenor

*****************************

This is the first ”real” opera, combining music and acting into the format we know still today. As the first one it differs a bit from later baroque operas as well, the recitatives are much more interesting, they haven’t settled into the formula so to say. I’ve seen the opera many years ago in a TV broadcast from the [link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drott

ningholm_Palace_Theatre]Drottningholm Palace theatre[/link], meaning that it was all done just as it would have been perfomed in the 17th century. This performance, as well as what I know of the operas of the time period, makes me wary of the voice list here. Orfeo for example I’ve found more performances by a mezzo-soprano or baritone, indicating that it was a castrato originally. Also tenors were mostly used as old women in those days, not as heroes or gods.

Anyway I’ve picked two pieces from the opera. The first one is the wedding of Orfeo and Eurydice in a very classical production, the second one is the finale between Orfeo and Apollo, in a totally contrasting modern production. Apollo can’t have had an easy time singing in that costume.