100 bästa operrna – 69 Guillaume Tell av Rossini

8 september 2009

69 – Guillaume Tell by Gioachino Rossini

Guillaume Tell is an opera in four acts by Gioachino Rossini to a French libretto by Etienne de Jouy and Hippolyte Bis, based on Friedrich Schiller’s play Wilhelm Tell. It was first performed at the Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique on August 3, 1829. Based on the legend of William Tell, this opera was Rossini’s last, even though the composer lived for nearly forty more years.

Synopsis
Place: Switzerland
Time: fourteenth century

Prior to the start of the opera, Arnold, son of the Swiss leader Melcthal, has rescued Mathilde, an Austrian princess, from drowning. In spite of the political situation, Arnold and Mathilde have fallen in love.

Act 1

It is the day of the Shepherd Festival, in May, near Lake Lucerne. Per tradition, Melchtal blesses the couples at the celebration. However, Arnold excludes himself from this privilege, as he is torn between his love for his country and his love for Mathilde. Horn fanfares interrupt the festival, and herald the arrival of Gesler, the Austrian Governor, whom the Swiss detest. Leuthold then enters, pursued by Gesler’s forces. One of Gesler’s soldiers has attempted to assault Leuthold’s daughter, and Leuthold killed the soldier to defend her. He wishes to escape, and the lake is the only route. William Tell offers his assistance. Gesler’s guards arrive, led by Rodolphe. Leuthold manages to escape with the help of Tell, but as reprisal, Gesler’s guards take Melchtal prisoner.

Act 2

In a valley by a lake, Arnold and Mathilde meet and again pledge their love. Tell and Walter arrive, and inform Arnold that Gesler has ordered the execution of Melcthal. Arnold vows vengeance. Arnold, Tell and Walter swear an oath to liberate Switzerland. They inspire the cantons to unite in this quest.

Act 3

At the market-place in Altdorf, the day is the hundredth anniversary of Austrian rule in Switzerland. In commemoration, Gesler has had his hat placed on top of a pole and the Swiss are ordered to pay homage to the hat. Tell arrives with his son Jemmy. Tell refuses to honour the hat. Gesler recognises Tell as the man who saved Leuthold, and wants to punish him somehow. He orders Tell to shoot an apple from Jemmy’s head, in the hope that Tell will harm his son. Tell is successful in piercing the apple, and tells Gesler that had the shot failed, he would have used his next arrow against him. Gesler orders Tell to be arrested.

Act 4

A Swiss rebel army arrives, and battle ensues. Tell kills Gesler with an arrow through the heart. The Swiss emerge victorious. Mathilde and Arnold, secure in their love, reunite at the close.

Roles
Guillaume Tell – Baritone
Hedwige, his wife – mezzo-soprano
Jemmy, his son – soprano
Mathilde, a Habsburg princess – soprano
Arnold Melcthal – tenor
Melcthal, his father – bass
Gesler, the Austrian governor of Uri and Schwyz – bass
Walther Furst – bass
Ruodi, a fisherman – tenor
Leuthold, a shepherd – bass
Rodolphe, captain of Gesler’s guard – tenor
a hunter – baritone
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The full opera is rarely performed, it’s loooong and the role of Arnold requires a tenor with a great range. I would actually say that the reason why the opera is on this list is mostly because of the very famous ouverture, or rather the last part of the ouverture. This is what I’m talking about. I can almost guarantee that you have heard it. There are some nice arias in the opera as well though, here is Arnold’s aria Asile hereditaire, sung by Marcello Giordano, and Mathilde’s sombre forêt, sung by Hasmik Papian.

Barberaren i Sevila, Metropolitan 2007

6 augusti 2009

Den här uppsättningen är en vad jag börjar kalla typisk Met-föreställning. Traditionell, men väldigt välregisserad. Det är inte frågan om att omtolka några delar, utan man följer originalet till punkt och pricka. Man gör det väldigt bra också. Själva operan är ju en av de mest kända komedierna i operavärlden, och här får man anledning till att skratta ett flertal gånger. Scenen har förlängts med spångar förbi orkesterdiket, och det utnyttjar man till fullo för att få sångarna att ta kontakt med publiken, och även dölja en del scenförändringar.

 

Sångarmässigt är det ypperliga insatser från alla håll. Juan Diego Florez som greve Almaviva gör en underbar tolkning, både musikaliskt och skådespelarmässigt. Han är nog en av mina favorit-tenorer just nu, det verkar som om det inte finns några omöjliga toner när han sätter igång med sin koloratur. Det var också roligt att för första gången se Peter Mattei i en riktig operaroll, har bara sett korta konsertbitar av honom förut. Han beter sig precis som Figaro ska, och hans presentations-largo är helt enkelt storartat. Joyce DiDonat är en ny bekantskap, men ojojojoj vilken röst. Varje gång hon är på scenen är hon den klart lysande stjärnan. Tydligen blev publiken väldigt entusiastisk över henne när den spelades, och det med all rätta.

 

Uppsättningen är inte nyskapande eller originell på något sätt, men den är en bra och genomregisserad föreställning där ingenting lämnats åt slumpen, det blir inte ”stå rakt upp och ner och sjunga” någonstans.

 

Slutbetyget blir 3,5 av 5 kärleksbrev.

 

100 bästa operorna – 77 Semiramide av Rossini

21 juli 2009

77 – Semiramide by Gioacchino Rossini

Semiramide is an opera in two acts by Gioacchino Rossini. After making his mark with a number of brilliant comic operas (most notably Il barbiere di Siviglia, La Cenerentola, Il Turco in Italia, and L’Italiana in Algieri), Rossini turned more and more to serious opera, and during the years 1816-1822 he wrote a considerable series of them. Semiramide is his final Italian opera.

Synopsis
At a public ceremony, Queen Semiramide of Babylon intends to announce the successor to her throne. As she is about to disclose the name, the sacred flame is extinguished, signifying divine displeasure. Oroe, the High priest, proclaims that the murder of Semiramide’s husband, King Nino, continues to disturb the gods. An oracle will soon arrive naming the hero who shall bring the return of order. General Arsace has been recalled to Babylon not only by a private note from his queen but in accordance with the dying wishes of the man he believes to have been his father. Arsace has brought to Oroe a casket – the contents of which remain secret. Prince Assur is angered by Arsace’s presence and his intention to wed Princess Azema, since he also wants her hand in marriage to strengthen his political position. Prince Idreno also wishes to marry Azema, but she reacts coolly to his ardor.

Once in possession of the oracle, Semiramide learns that peace will be restored by Arsace’s return and marriage. As she secretly loves Arsace, the wedding shall be her own. Arsace misunderstands her words, believing Azema is intended as his bride. At a public gathering Semiramide announces that Arsace will be both her successor and her husband. As she orders Oroe to unite them, a frightful sound is heard deep within Nino’s mausoleum. The shade of Nino appears and demands a sacrifice – Arsace will be king, but he must first descend into the depths of the tomb and offer a victim to the dead king’s ashes, thus avenging his unjust murder.
Assur corners Semiramide and during a bitter exchange, the details of their plot are revealed – Assur might have killed Nino, but it was Semiramide who prepared the poison. The situation is complicated by the disappearance of her son, Ninia. Semiramide hopes Arsace will save her from the consequences of the terrible deed. Oroe shares with Arsace the secret of his past – he is in fact Prince Ninia. The appalling realization that his intended bride is really his mother – who now must be killed – is too much, and Arsace hopes that Assur’s murder alone will satisfy Nino’s spirit.

Idreno renews his suit and Azema reluctantly agrees to marry him. Arsace confronts Semiramide with the awful truth. She is consumed with self-loathing and commands Arsace to strike her dead, but Arsace is moved by filial love and weeps in her arms. Assur prepares to enter Nino’s tomb, intent on killing Arsace but is momentarily blocked by unearthly visions. Arsace searches for the sacrificial victim within the tomb. Semiramide lurks in the shadows, hoping to protect him. She pleads to be spared from her dead husband’s vengeance. Oroe commands Arsace/Ninia to strike and Arsace believes he has slain Assur, but has actually murdered Semiramide. With great remorse, Arsace attempts to take his own life but is prevented by Oroe. Assur is taken into custody and Ninia is proclaimed the rightful king, with Azema his queen.

Roles
Semiramide, Queen of Babylon, widow of King Nino – soprano
Arsace, Commander of the Assyrian army – contralto
Assur, a prince, descendant of Baal – bass
Idreno, an Indian king – tenor
Oroe, high priest of the Magi – bass
Azema, a princess, descendant of Baal – soprano
Mitrane, Captain of the Guard – tenor
King Nino, ghost – bass
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I’ve never heard the opera, but the ouverture is quite well known. The opera is rarely performed today, when Rossini is almost only remembered for his comic operas. Here’s a taste of the music with what seems to be the two most famous pieces from the opera: Marilyn Horne as Arsace and Montserat Caballe as Semiramide.

 

100 bästa operorna – La Cenerentola av Rossini

2 juli 2009

80 – La Cenerentola by Gioachino Rossini

La Cenerentola, ossia La bontà in trionfo (Cinderella, or Goodness Triumphant) is an operatic dramma giocoso in two acts by Gioachino Rossini. The libretto was written by Jacopo Ferretti, based on the fairy tale Cinderella. The opera was first performed in Rome’s Teatro Valle on 25 January 1817.

Synopsis

In this variation of the traditional Cinderella story, the wicked stepmother is replaced by a stepfather, Don Magnifico. The Fairy Godmother is replaced by Alidoro, a philosopher and the Prince’s tutor. Cinderella is identified not by her glass slipper but by her bracelet.

    Time: Late 18th century – early 19th century
    Place: Italy

 Act 1

Angelina (”Cenerentola”) is forced to work as the maid in the run-down house of her stepfather Don Magnifico. While his two daughters, Clorinda and Tisbe, try on their gowns and jewelry, Cenerentola sings a ballad about a king who found his wife among common folk. A beggar appears. Clorinda and Tisbe want to send him away, but Cenerentola offers him bread and coffee. Courtiers arrive to announce that Prince Ramiro is looking for the most beautiful girl in the land to be his bride and will soon pay them a visit. Prince Ramiro arrives, disguised as his own valet in order to observe the women without them knowing. He is immediately struck with admiration for Cenerentola and she for him. Cenerentola leaves when her stepsisters call her. Don Magnifico enters and Ramiro tells him the Prince will arrive shortly. The ”prince” is actually Dandini, Ramiro’s valet in disguise. The stepsisters arrive and fawn over Dandini, who invites them to a ball at the royal country palace. Don Magnifico tells Cenerentola that she cannot accompany them to the ball. Before leaving, Ramiro notes how badly Cenerentola is treated. His tutor, Alidoro, who had been at the house earlier disguised as the beggar, arrives still wearing his rags and asks for Don Magnifico’s third daughter. Magnifico denies she is still alive, but when Alidoro is left alone with Cenerentola, he tells her that she will accompany him to the ball. He throws off his beggar’s clothes and identifies himself as a member of Prince Ramiro’s court, telling her that heaven will reward her pure heart.

The stepsisters and Don Magnifico arrive at Prince Ramiro’s palace with Dandini, still posing as the prince. Dandini offers Magnifico a tour of the wine cellar, hoping to get him drunk. He then disentangles himself from the family and tells Ramiro how stupid the two sisters are. Ramiro is confused since Alidoro had spoken well of one of Magnifico’s daughters. Clorinda and Tisbe enter, and Dandini offers Ramiro as an escort for one of them. Believing him to be a mere valet, they reject him. Alidoro announces the arrival of an unknown veiled lady (Cenerentola). All sense something familiar about her and feel they are in a dream but on the verge of being awakened with a shock.

 Act 2

Don Magnifico, Clorinda, and Tisbe are in a room of Ramiro’s palace. Magnifico frets over the unknown woman who threatens the chance for one of his daughters to marry Prince Ramiro. The three leave and Ramiro enters, smitten with the unknown woman who resembles the girl he had met that morning. He conceals himself as Dandini arrives with Cenerentola and tries to court her. She turns Dandini down politely, telling him that she is in love with his valet. Ramiro steps forth, reveals himself as the prince and declares his love for her. She then leaves giving him one of a pair of matching bracelets and saying that if he really cares for her, he will find her. Encouraged by Alidoro, Ramiro calls his men together to begin searching for her. Meanwhile, Dandini confesses to Don Magnifico that he is really Prince Ramiro’s valet. Magnifico becomes highly indignant, and Dandini orders him out of the palace.

At Magnifico’s house, Cenerentola, once again dressed in rags, is tending the fire and singing her ballad. Magnifico and his daughters return from the ball in a vile mood, and order Cenerentola to prepare their supper. A thunderstorm rages. Dandini suddenly appears at the door to say that Prince Ramiro’s carriage has overturned outside and brings him into the house. Cenerentola fetches a chair for the prince and realizes he is Ramiro. He recognizes her bracelet and the couple are reunited. Don Magnifico, Clorinda and Tisbe are furious. Angered by their meanness to Cenerentola, Ramiro threatens to punish them, but Cenerentola asks him to be merciful. As Cenerentola leaves with her prince, Alidoro thanks heaven for the happy outcome.

In the throne room of Ramiro’s palace, Magnifico tries to curry favour with his stepdaughter, the new princess, but she only wants to be acknowledged as his daughter. Cenerentola asks the prince to forgive Magnifico and the two stepsisters. Her father and stepsisters embrace her as she declares that her days of toiling by the fire are over.

Roles

Angelina, La Cenerentola – coloratura mezzo-soprano/coloratura contralto
Prince Ramiro – tenor
Dandini – coloratura baritone
Don Magnifico – basso buffo
Alidoro – bass
Clorina, don Magnifico’s daughter – soprano
Tisbe, don Magnifico’s daughter – mezzo-soprano
courtiers – tenors, basses

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

This is an opera that I got to see this spring, and it flew straight into my top 5 list of operas. The music is light and wonderful, without really any boring parts, the story is also fun, and filled with a few twists. Sure Angelina is a bit of a Mary Sue, but really which Cinderella isn’t. The opera itself was almost forgotten for a while, until the last 30 years when there’s been a comeback for the coloratura mezzosoprano on the world stages. Cecilia Bartoli is one singer who is really famous for her Angelina. Other contemporary singers with great Angelinas are Elina Garanca and Malena Ernman. Since it is my favourite I had a bit of a problem picking which pieces to present here, but I’ll go from the beginning.

Ouverture
the Ouverture from La Cenerentola is a standard concerto piece in itself. I really like this production that was made as well, just see how easy it is to dance disco to Rossini, and that way make it funny but also taking it away from the 19th century.

Don Magnifico’s aria this is another standard concerto repertoire piece for bass-baritones. It was a bit hard to find a stage version of it, there are a lot of concert versions with a lot of different singers on it. Don Magnifico sings about how he will be able to marry off his daughters with the prince and then life will be good. This production is a film from 1981.

Ramiro’s aria then we jump to the final act, where the prince vows to go and find Angelina.

Now comes the final end, and it’s one of the true masterpieces for a coloratura mezzo-soprano. Angelina sings about how her life was sad, but now she will never sit in the ashes again. I can’t help but wanting to show you some different takes on it, in chronological order.

Frederica von Stade This is the film version from 1981. In a way Frederica von Stade was probably one of the forerunners for the comeback of the mezzo-soprano as an operatic star.
Cecilia Bartoli Met 1997 – this is the same staging that it still used today, but with Elina Garanca instead.
Malena Ernman Stockholm 2009

Här kan man dessutom hitta min mycket korta recension från Stockholms-uppsättningen.

 

Askungen (Kungliga Operan 2009)

31 maj 2009

Äntligen har jag då fått se Askungen från Kungliga Operan. Det var tv-sändningen av den livesändning som gjordes i början av mars. Jag satt verkligen och njöt i två timmar. Det är lätt och underbar Rossini-opera, allt bara flyter på och recitativen är verkligen minimala, istället bjuds vi på riktiga koloraturfyrverkerier. Handlingen är lite annorlunda från den klassiska versionen, här är det ingen ond styvmor utan istället en elak styvfar och den goda fen har fått basröst och skägg. Inga glasskor är inblandande heller, utan istället är det ett armband som prinsen ger sig ut på jakt efter.

Hela uppsättningen har en underbar scenografi och regi. Allt är flyttat i en modern tid, och det är inga problem för sångarna att stå och göra klassiska discorörelser och danser (inklusive en del rörelser från La Voix) i takt med Rossinis noter. En av de roligaste scenerna är när prinsen och hans vänd Dandini, som är utklädd till prins, står och pratar i hemlighet med varandra – vid ett mixerbord samtidigt som de dj:ar. Kostymerna är också strålande, prinsen bär exempelvis en stor likhet med en viss Ockelbo-son när han försöker springa runt och vara inkognito i jakt på sin maka.

Sångar- (och skådespelar)-mässigt är det Malena Ernmans Askungen, Daniel Behles prins, Aris Argiris Dandini och Lennart Forséns Alidoro (”fen”) som sticker ut rejält. Kanske är det faktiskt så att det är Lennart Forsén och Aris Argiris som är de riktigt höjdpunkterna under föreställningen. De ser ut att stortrivas i sina roller, och särskilt Forsén som till stora delar har en tyst roll och springer runt och bara njuter samtidigt som han har en direkt kontakt med publiken. Lite svagare är Bruno Patrico, den elake styvfadern. Han får ändå en chans att glänsa när han lite oväntat får ett litet sammanbrott och börjar sjunga ”Volare” i skön allsång med publiken. Katarina Leoson och Karin Ingebäck som det två styvsystrarna gör en stabil insats. Inget spektakulärt, men inte heller dåligt på något sätt.

Slutligen kan sägas att det här var en höjdaruppsättning så jag ger den lätt
5/5 försvunna glasskor