Inga operahuliganer

15 september 2010

Regeringsrätten har nu slagit fast att det är ok att servera alkohol i pausen när man sänder digital opera. Tydligen har teatrar och andra scener haft ett undantag från alkohollagen för att kunna servera, och nu inkluderas även biografer i undantaget, men bara i pausen när de sänder opera. Rätten gör bedömningen att målgruppen för operasändningarna är en publik som inte ” ”bedöms förorsaka problem i form av onykterhet eller oordning.”

Annonser

Jussi Björling och Elektra från Kungliga operan

Idag är det 50 år sen Jussi Björling gick bort. Jussi och Birgit Nilsson är nog de största internationella kändisar vi har bland svenska operasångare, även om det finns många fler som har varit stora internationellt.

Här sjunger han Tonerna.

Vi var inte särskilt många som hade tagit oss för att se Elektra från Operan igår. Uppsättningen hade nypremiär för säsongen, och sparkade också igång säsongens digitalsändningar. Jag har aldrig hört något av Richard Strauss, så jag var lite tveksam. Jag fruktade att det skulle bli mycket disharmoni och musik man inte kunde njuta av. Det jag kan säga om musiken är att den var otroligt intensiv, men ändå melodiös. Det är inte en opera jag skulle sätta på min spotify-iista, men när jag satt där och lyssnade rycktes jag ändå med i hela förloppet.

För regin stod Staffan Valdemar Holm, och hela operan utspelas framför en röd väg, i mitten finns det en öppning som leder in i en korridor. Den snåla scenografin gör att det hänger mycket på sångarna att kunna gestalta väl, och de gör de. Katarina Dalayman som Elektra är en strålande skådespelerska, och även om hon var lite blek sångmässigt en bit in i operan, kanske laddade hon bara för slutet, så är det underbart att se henne. Kvällens största behållning var nog ändå Emma Vetters Krysothemis. Jag var ju inte särskilt imponerad av henne som Rosalinda i Läderlappen, men här i en tyngre och mer dramatisk roll är hon betydligt bättre. Hon ska nog koncentrera sig på det och hålla sig borta från komedi i fortsättningen.

Jag var också otroligt förtjust i Bente Lycke Möllers kostymer. Underbara knäkorta, plisserade, lätta och draperade klänningar för alla utom Elektra som gick omkring i en svart långärmad och fotsid klänning, som bara var urläcker i sin enkelhet.

Slutomdömet blir att jag var glad att jag såg den, musiken var medryckande och uppsättningen spännande, men det är kanske inte en opera jag kommer att rusa ut och köpa biljetter till i framtiden.

Betyg 3/5 dysfunktionella famljer

 

humor är svårt

11 september 2010

Satt och letade runt på youtube och hittade ett klipp från Allsång på Skansen där Henrik Dorsin berättar om ett operabesök. Det var skickligt musikaliskt, med ett potpurri på diverse kända stycken. Ärligt talat tyckte jag dock inte att det var ganska roligt, med några få undantag. Det fick mig ändå att tänka på det här med humor och opera, och jag har nog kommit fram till att anledningen att få kan göra bra skämt om opera är att de inte egentligen verkar ha någon djupare relation till ämnet. Det blir bara gamla upprepningar om feta sopraner, överklasspublik och att man inte fattar någonting om vad som händer. Ärligt talat känns det tröttsamt. Det är samma problem jag har när jag läser Terry Pratchett’s Masker, jag älskar Pratchetts böcker, men just där lyckas han inte heller hitta några infallsvinklar som inte bara upprepar det som har sagts om opera under de senaste 50 åren eller så.

Det är synd, det finns ju mycket roligt att driva med i opera. Trots allt handlingen i många operor lämnar en hel del övrigt att önska, och i stället för att driva med feta sopraner, vad sägs om att driva med dessa tenorer som alla rör sig exakt likadant, som om det finns en liten tenorskola i dramatik. Och istället för att hävda att det bara är rikt folk som går på opera, varför inte kolla lite på medelåldern på besökarna, jag brukar väl känna mig sisådär 40 år yngre än övriga besökare. Nej, fram för mer humor, men av personer som faktiskt vet vad som händer på operascenerna.

Måste posta mitt favorit humorinslag.

100 bästa operorna – 46 Friskytten av Weber

7 september 2010

46 – Der Freischütz by Carl Maria von Weber

Der Freischütz is an opera in three acts by Carl Maria von Weber with a libretto by Friedrich Kind. It is considered the first important German Romantic opera.

Synopsis

Act 1

The young gamekeeper Max loves Agathe and is to become the successor to Kuno, the head ranger and Agathe’s father. But a test of skill in marksmanship is required, the trial to be held the following day.

At a target shooting, Max loses to the young peasant Kilian, who is proclaimed ”King of marksmen.

Because Max has had ill luck for several days he easily falls under the influence of Kaspar, who persuades Max to cast seven magic bullets to be used in the contest. Kaspar, whose soul on the morrow is to be forfeited to the devil, hopes to obtain three more years of grace by substituting Max in his place.

Left alone, Max sinks into deep melancholy at the thought of losing Agathe through failure at the shooting contest. Kaspar with weird incantations tries to imbue him with courage.

He hands Max his gun loaded with a magic bullet, and to his own astonishment Max kills an eagle soaring at a great height. He resolves to go with Kaspar at midnight to the terrible Wolf’s Glen to cast the magic bullets, which will kill anything the shooter wants, in order to win the prize. Kaspar, left alone, triumphs.

Act 2

Agathe’s chamber

Agathe is filled with sad forebodings. She sings of her meeting with a hermit in the forest, who told her that in some danger which menaced her, she would be protected by her bridal wreath. At the moment when Max shoots the magic bullet, the picture of Agathe’s ancestor hanging against the wall falls to the floor, slightly wounding her. Agathe’s cousin and companion Ännchen replaces it. Agathe is still more disturbed, but Ännchen endeavours to cheer her with jests.

Agathe left alone awaits Max with the news of his success, which she decides to interpret as a favourable omen.

Max arrives; he acknowledges that he has not been the victor, but explains that he has killed a deer, which he will bring this evening from the Wolf’s Glen. Notwithstanding the prayers of Agathe and Ännchen, Max departs.

The Wolf’s Glen at night

Kaspar calls upon Zamiel, the black ranger, for assistance, and prepares the casting of the magic bullets. Max arrives and is warned by the spirit of his mother to abandon the project. Zamiel conjures up the shape of Agathe, representing her as drowning herself in despair at Max’s ill success, whereupon he plunges into the glen and with demoniacal noise the casting of the bullets is begun.

Act 3

Agathe’s chamber

Agathe is praying. Her doubts have returned, owing to a dream of ill omen, but Ännchen again cheers her with laughter and song. The bridesmaids arrive with the bridal wreath. When Ännchen opens the box, however, she finds within a funeral wreath, which still further increases Agathe’s misgivings. She is somewhat comforted by the memory of the hermit’s promise that she shall be protected by her bridal wreath.

The meeting of the marksmen

Having split the seven bullets between them, Max has used four and Kaspar has used three. Max demands Kaspar give him his last bullet to use in the final shooting contest, but Kaspar refuses. As Max leaves, Kaspar shoots a fox, thus making Max’s bullet the seventh and controlled by the Evil One.

The prize shooting

Duke Ottokar awaits Max at his tent. Max is now to shoot a dove. As he takes aim, Zamiel, the black huntsman, appears to guide the bullet, and causes Max to fire at Agathe, who is apparently wounded. Agathe falls, but her bridal wreath has deflected the bullet, which struck Kaspar. Agathe revives from her faint. Kaspar, seeing a holy hermit by her side, realizes that he has failed. Zamiel grasps him instead of Max, whereupon Kaspar expires with a curse upon his lips. Duke Ottokar orders the corpse to be thrown into the Wolf’s Glen, then demands and receives an explanation from Max. In spite of pleas from Kuno, Agathe, peasants, and huntsman, the infuriated duke pronounces the sentence of banishment. Before this can be carried out, however, the hermit enters into their midst. The duke acknowledges the holy man, and asks for his counsel. The hermit explains that the combined effects of love for Agathe, and fear of losing her should he fail the shooting trial are what caused Max to stray from a life that was formerly without fault. The hermit goes on to condemn the trial shot, suggests a probationary year as penalty, and asks who among the assembled has looked into their own heart and would be willing to cast the first stone. If Max lives a faultless life, he will gain forgiveness and be permitted to marry Agathe. The Duke commends the hermit for his wisdom saying a higher power speaks through him. The duke ends his pronouncement by saying he, himself, will place the hand of Agathe in that of Max when the probation is over. The opera ends with the ensemble singing prayers of thanks.

Roles
Ottokar, duke of Bohemia – tenor
Kuno, head gamekeeper – bass
Agathe, daughter of Kuno – soprano
Ännchen, a cousing of Agathe – soprano
Kaspar, a gamekeepr – bass
Max, gamekeeper – tenor
a hermit – bass
Kilian, a rich peasant – tenor
Zamiel, the dark hunter – spoken

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Der Freischütz is probably most known today as a stepping stone. It is the opera between the Magic Flute and Wagner in German opera history, building upon the same Singspiel tradition, but adding a lot of romantic influences, and not the least letting nature play a large part, just like Wagner would later do. Agathe is also a common ”first” for a dramatic soprano, if singer debuts with a good Agathe it’s quite probable that she will end up as Brünnhilde or Isolde in some years.

The most famous scene is the Wolf’s glen (ok, this is a strange production but I chose it since it had English subtitles) and the Hunters’ chorus

 

100 bästa operorna – 47 Samson et Delila av Saint-Saëns

1 september 2010

47 – Samson et Dalila by Camille Saint-Saëns

Samson and Delilah (French: Samson et Dalila), Op. 47, is a grand opera in three acts and four scenes by Camille Saint-Saëns to a French libretto by Ferdinand Lemaire. It was first performed in Weimar at the Grossherzogliches (Grand Ducal) Theater (now the Staatskapelle Weimar) on 2 December 1877 in a German translation.

Synopsis

    Place: Gaza
    Time: ca. 1150 BC

Act 1 : A square in Gaza at night

In a square outside the temple of Dagon, a group of Hebrews beg Jehovah for relief from their bondage to the Philistines in a melancholy chorus, which leads into a fugue (Nous avons vu nos cités renversées). Samson tries to revive the Israelites’ morale and faith in God in a rousing aria set against the chorus’s continuous prayer. Abimelech, the Philistine governor, appears and taunts the Israelites, saying that they are helpless because their god has abandoned them. He further states that his god, Dagon, is far superior. The Hebrews cower in fear before Abimelech until Samson incites them into defiant action. Enraged, Abimelech attacks an unarmed Samson with his sword. Samson manages to wrest the sword from Abimelech and kills him.

Afraid of what might now happen, the Hebrews flee, abandoning Samson. The High Priest of Dagon comes from the Philistine temple and curses the Hebrews and Samson’s prodigious strength. A messenger arrives and informs the High Priest that the Hebrews are destroying the harvest. He responds with a further curse that alludes to his plot to utilize Delilah’s beauty to outwit Samson’s strength.

As dawn breaks the Hebrews lift up a humble prayer to God in a style reminiscent of plainchant. Out of the temple emerges Dalila along with several priestesses of Dagon. As they walk down the temple steps, they sing of the pleasures of spring. Dalila engages seductively with Samson proclaiming that he has won her heart and bids him to come with her to her home in the valley of Sorek. As she tries to charm him, a trio forms as an old Hebrew warns of the danger this woman presents and Samson prays for God’s protection from Dalila’s charms. In an attempt to seduce Samson away from his leadership of the Israelite uprising, Dalila and the priestesses begin a sexually charged dance for him accompanied by a tambourine. After the dance, Dalila sings how spring is blossoming all around her yet, in her heart, she feels like it is still winter. As Samson struggles with his desire for Dalila, the old Hebrew repeats his cautionary plea. His warning, however, is made in vain and the curtain closes as Samson meets Delilah’s gaze with every intention of going to her nearby dwelling.

Act 2 : Delilah’s retreat in the Valley of Sorek

Dalila knows that Samson is entranced with her and will come to her instead of leading the revolution against the Philistines. Sitting on a rock outside the entrance to her retreat, she sings triumphantly about her power to ensnare Samson. She says that all of his strength is hopeless to withstand love’s onslaught (Amour! viens aider ma faiblesse).

Distant lightning is seen as the High Priest arrives to report that Samson and the Hebrews have conquered the Philistines. He attempts to achieve Samson’s capture by offering Dalila gold, but she refuses saying she cares not for money but only for revenge. Her desire to hurt Samson is motivated solely by her loyalty to her gods and her hatred for the Hebrews. Dalila and the High Priest sing a duet expressing their mutual abhorence for Samson and the Hebrews. Dalila vows to discover the secret of Samson’s strength.

Now alone, Dalila contemplates her chances of success. Samson, intent on taking his place as the leader of the Hebrew revolt, emerges to say his last farewell as distant lightening is once again seen. In an attempt to close the trap which she has set for Samson, Dalila tells Samson seductively that she is completely his if he wants her. She begs him to respond to her caresses, hoping that he will finally let go of all other things and concentrate completely on her. His admission Je t’aime! introduces her main aria. which becomes a duet on the second verse when Samson joins her in song. Now that Dalila has him in her power, she feigns disbelief in his constancy and demands that he show his love by confiding in her the secret of his strength. Samson hears rolling thunder again which now seems like a warning from God and refuses. Dalila weeps and scorns Samson and runs into her dwelling. Samson is momentarily torn but then follows Dalila inside. Not long afterward, having finally learned that the secret of Samson’s strength is his long hair, she calls to hidden Philistine soldiers, who rush in to capture and blind Samson.

Act 3: the City of Gaza

Scene 1: In a dungeon at Gaza

His hair shorn and now blind and shackled, Samson is turning a mill-wheel and praying for his people, who will suffer for his sin. He hears their voices, echoing the Hebrews’ lament from Act I. Overcome with remorse, Samson offers his life in sacrifice, while the Hebrews are heard in the distance lamenting his fate.

Scene 2: In the Temple of Dagon

A musical interlude is played as the scene changes to the temple of Dagon, where the Philistines are preparing a sacrifice to commemorate their victory. The priests and priestesses of Dagon sing softly, reprising the song to spring from Act I. The music turns savage as the priests dance a wild Bacchanale. Following the dance, Samson enters led by a boy. He is ridiculed by the High Priest and the crowd. Dalila taunts Samson further by recounting to him the details of her devious plot in a variant of her love song. When the priests try to force him to kneel before Dagon, he asks the boy to lead him to the two main pillars of the temple. Samson prays to God to restore his strength, and pulls down the pillars and the temple with them, crushing himself and his enemies. The curtain falls

Roles
Dalila – mezzosoprano
Samson – tenor
High priest of Dagon – baritone
Abimélech – bass
first Philistine – tenor
second Philistine – bass
Philistine messenger – tenor
Old Hebrew – bass
Hebrews and Philistines
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Samson et Dalila was not an immediate success, in fact it would take more than 10 years from its creation until it was regularly performed. It is a regular, but not one of the most played operas around the world. It’s also quite the essential French grande opera. Today it’s, of course, pretty popular to set the opera in 20th century Israel/Palestine. The opera has served as a bit of step to fame for many singers. Dalila is also one of the quite few leading roles for a darker female voice, it’s written for a mezzo-soprano but quite a few contraltos have sung it as well.

Both of Dalila’s arias are so beautiful. I usually try to find stage versions of the arias, but this is an exception, since I just love this version of Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix. Here is also Samson’s aria Arrêtez, ô mes frères from the beginning of the first act.

Grattis Malin Byström

29 augusti 2010

Som får SvDs Operapris. Mer att läsa om Malin Byström finns här. Hon håller på och slår igenom ordentligt internationellt och är nu uppbokad för Met, La Scala och Salzburgfestivalen. Det är roligt med ännu en svensk operasångerska som tar för sig på de stora scenerna, och den här gången är det inte en dramatisk utan en i första hand lyrisk sopran.

semester

4 augusti 2010

Så inte riktigt dags än, men en hel del av det jag sysselsatt mig med under fritiden i sommar, och som fått mig att inte uppdatera här så ofta, är nu packat i min resväska. Dit jag ska ser jag små utsikter för att höra någon opera, förutom det jag har i min mobil. Vilket påminner mig om att jag av någon konstig anledning bara har akt 1 och 3 av Valkyrian, men inte akt 2 inlagd där.

Innan jag åkte har jag dock hunnit med och läsa några recensioner av La Bohéme på Opera på Skäret. Dessvärre gör de mig lite tveksam inför framtiden. Sångarna framhålls, men orkestern har krympt från tidigare år, och framförallt är regin för tafflig. En recension nämnde att nu måste Opera på Skäret ta sig i kragen och få upp klassen på uppsättningarna. Det som gör mig lite beklämd är att det känns lite som en repris på Dalhalla. Dalhalla hyllades ju i början, men sen fortsatte det med ett antal ganska tråkiga uppsättningar som köptes in och inte hade mycket med arenan att göra, detta gjorde att intresset för operaföreställningarna där svalnade, och idag är det svårt att locka en nationell för att inte säga internationell publik dit. Jag kan bara hoppas att Opera på Skäret inte går samma väg.

När jag är borta kommer jag nu att missa Trollflöjten i Dalhalla, samt en konsert som Anna Larsson och hennes masterclass-elever håller uppe i Vattnäs. Den förra hade varit rolig att se igen, och den senare hade varit spännande.

När jag är tillbaka så börjar det sen bli dags att blicka fram emot höstens repertoarer, och jag gillar att Folkets Hus redan har affischerna uppe för nästa säsong av digivisningar.