Minding “Mitridate”: Brussels afoot

[clearly the best use of the ample office monitor yet: screencapping the Mozart “Mitridate” featuring Myrtò Paptanasiu (Sifare) and Jaël Azzaretti (Arbate) and The Shirt in Paris, 2016.]

In light of tonight’s event, the weekly Paris “Mitridate” post is up a little early. The Brussels “EU summit on the Pontexit” Le Lab staging at La Monnaie opens in about two hours, so best of luck to everyone involved, and in particular to the performers familiar to us from the February Paris staging who are adding a new take on their same roles to their repertory in Michael Spyres (Mitridate) and Myrtò Papatanasiu (Sifare).

As of May 24th, the Brussels production will be available for three weeks of free stream-on-demand, thanks to La Monnaie’s generous sharing policy. We (thadieu and myself, and whoever is not mortally embarrassed by our fangirling when it comes to “Mitridate” and certain singers) are planning a shared liveblogging stream-watch for the 25th, someplace around a GMT+1 evening (9 p.m., perhaps?), to compare performances and productions. You’re welcome to join us!

37 thoughts on “Minding “Mitridate”: Brussels afoot”

  1. great to wake up to this 😉
    i lately spend quite a bit of time (while working..) watching hands..
    and i read an interview yesterday where she mentioned keeping Mozart on every-year schedule, singing Baroque + Rossini (i forgot the reason.., it was in Greek!) and esp. Traviata every year because it’s the perfect gym for the voice…
    was checking radio broadcast but no luck, we’ll sit tight 🙂

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  2. back to Paris, and our ongoing contemplation on what constitutes masculinity:
    “Le metteur en scène pointe la puissance supérieure de l’opéra en affirmant la féminité des chanteuses travesties (pour les rôles de Xipharès et d’Arbate), loin de la représentation théâtrale des guerriers qu’elles doivent jouer : « je crois à ce lieu magique où une femme peut dire “je suis un homme” sans que personne ne s’avise d’en douter », explique-t-il d’ailleurs dans sa note d’intention.”
    (quoted from teh review review by Damien Dutilleul linked above, who was not that taken by the staging, particularly by the lacking realisim, it appears, of the trouser roles)

    (but quoting lovely photos, so there’s that)

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    1. One wonders at what time this story would accept a criterion of realistic trousers. 66 BC? 1772? “Ce lieu magique” is an exact and complete refutation.

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      1. people who want “realism” in opera – pffffft. As if things would need to be realistic to be convincing.
        People being unable to cope with blurring gender lines and hiding behind the “Realism” argument? Even more of a pet peeve (and more “pfffft” to that)

        More magic, I say.

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  3. first reviews coming in:
    – the intellectually not very challening one of the BRF, remaining at the surface, but aluding the concept and its realistation as well as the singers: http://brf.be/kultur/musik/988609/ (in German)
    – TLC (French), also sold on the staging and the singing, singling out Spyres, Ruiten, Papatanasiu and “Se viver non degg’io”: http://toutelaculture.com/spectacles/opera/bruxelles-christophe-rousset-dirige-dune-main-de-maitre-un-mitridate-aux-couleurs-de-leurope/

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    1. thanks for the detective work so i just need to click and ingest while waking up, my french comprehension and reading-speed seem to improve significantly since the Paris Mitridate :-).

      That first review you link from Dijon is really lovely with detailed descriptions of the orchestration + deeper discussion of voice + acting! but Anik, that photo following the link was the first one i sent you on alert on 20.feb 😉 , then not seeing your response fast enough so i sent the reinforcement of actual screenshot following. (If we are talking about the same photo, at this point i think we’re thinking about on the same line, in fact that photo was the first thing that jumped out at me when seeing the rehearsal shots via E.Haïm’s fb link, though i didn’t really think too deep at that time.. and it was on the TCE’s photo-voting site, along with a nice shot of MP + PP + JA — i can’t find anymore, it was quite lovely too, will link here if i spot it again)

      We can discuss a bit the booing part re. staging at TCE, as i might have mentioned once in the past.. I think it’s a staging that requires multiple levels of analyses and on the surface is, perhaps to put it relative to La Monnaie, confusing and not simple and straight forward with everything laid out on the first intake.

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      1. I vaguely remember a first… Was it that one? I am sorry. I think your screenshot eclipsed everything else!

        The production was apparently too “modern” for some people and the recurring critique I read is the dressing/undressing, which is actually pretty straightforward? I was confused by the extras in the beginning, but of course none of us needed much convincing.

        >

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          1. Which is the story I predict we will be telling to the White Shirt grandkids around the campfire one day.

            >

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  4. more, as linked on Rousset#s FB page:
    French audio: https://www.rtbf.be/auvio/detail_le-moment-musical?id=2107270
    (sample of the ouverture – no mention of Papatanasiu at all (?), lauding Spyres and Ruiten and everyone else)
    And Forum Opera (also in French): http://www.forumopera.com/mitridate-bruxelles-la-monnaie-sommet-politique-et-belcantiste-a-bruxelles
    by Bernard Schreuders, who starts his singer review with the leading ladies and seems quite taken:
    “Aucune imprécision, en revanche, ne vient ternir la performance, vocalement éblouissante, de Lenneke Ruiten (Aspasia), applaudie in loco la saison dernière en Ophélie. En outre, l’actrice rend palpable l’angoisse qui dévore l’héroïne assaillie par l’adversité et son récitatif accompagné du III (« Ah ben ne fui presaga ! »), intériorisé jusqu’au murmure, couronne une prise de rôle particulièrement fouillée. A l’affiche de la récente production parisienne de Mitridate, Myrtò Papatanasiu campe un Sifare particulièrement juvénile, à la fois combattif et tendre, qui nous fait chavirer dans un « Lungi da te » suspendu, voluptueux et d’un raffinement inouï. Autre ivresse belcantiste, le duo avec Aspasia, au II, où les amants malheureux rivalisent de délicatesse comme d’habileté dans la voltige, le velours du soprano grec offrant un contraste idéal avec le cristal de sa partenaire.”

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    1. ja, i listened to the audio yesterday while dangling off my pull-up bar.. i was hoping to hear more explanations but they just play the overture, i believe from his recording? The reviews seem to have positive things to say about the staging, and positive things to say about Sifare and Aspasia (and an interesting photo of their interaction!)

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        1. no, there seems to be a big lack of stage photos and reviews, i think we’re spoiled by the flood in France.. if i find more i’ll add links here. (woke up w/ Semiramide in head surprisingly, after spending 2 days on Mitridate!)

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    1. yes, i was thinking about that after making my previous comment, all the (hard 😉 ) work done by you! that review talks much more about the staging.. but quite nice singling out the duet quoting the libretto.. am looking forward to that as it seems to make big impressions on all the reviewers! (-1 point to them for calling D.Hansen a contralto 😮 )

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        1. i was just thinking about where each pix was by the facial expressions! and i’m guessing the next one w/ Mitridate holding Sifare + Aspasia hands are at the end? (also judging by facial expressions and even Mitridate’s body language)

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            1. yes, i spotted the “like” bit since a while ago, on C.Rousset’s photo too… but i figure out how to navigate these pix more systematically: on her fb site if you click on “photo”, then “photo of…”, then you see all photos from other agencies + fans who snapped and tagged.. for example i now spotted some really lovely ones from Paris by photographer Danielle Badiano of MP+PP in duet

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            2. I don’t think I will ever quite master FB and all its subsets. I feel I’m still stuck on phones with dials!

              (is this how the kids stalk each other these days? …with all the interconnectivity, it must be a great tool for crime-solving (and a horror if you break up with someone!))

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            3. indeed 🙂 , but i think 1 way to control all this is simply not allowing others to tag you. i also set up some thing (which i forgot now) where i don’t get update feeds from who i “like” either so as to not flood my own space. so even if i “like” them i still need to go to their sites and read up if/when i have time. but as a public figure i think the singers/musicians also have control and most likely allow others to tag them, hence interconnectivity… i was just talking to my friend here yesterday (who really has a flipped phone) that now making a call is so difficult b/c even our phones in the office are connected via internet cable, so no more dialing!

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            4. Public figures have to do brand-building (but i hope they split in public and private accounts, too?), or at least it is a good chance to draw in fans and followers. Still, it looks exhausting. (I’ve basically set everything to no…)

              Then again, niiiice finds. (and I should be sleeping, and for quite a while already, too!)

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  5. no new reviews, but haunting news – I have no idea how Le Lab planned this production, but to have the second night of “Will Pontus exit the union?” tonight against the backdrop of actual riots in Athens (and Thessaloniki) today/tonight over yet more cuts to the social systems to remain inside the EU/financially supported? That’s a scary level of life imitating art imitating life.

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    1. yes, i just saw the news and was thinking about this staging and MP.. but didn’t they just passed the tax law after the riots? (this morning?) Not that I’m informed enough to know anything unfortunately…

      Also saw the review you posted below just now (didn’t see your 2 comments here until now..), the reviewer wasn’t sold on the staging but again praised the singing as you said. You’re right, no reviews have gone in depth about the love story.. But if you think about it the reviews in France didn’t talk much about this either.. I think it’s only us who see things clearly. i’m looking forward to seeing what it’s all about :-).

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      1. I’m beginning to genuinely be more than just curious about the Brussels version. 25th, here we come!

        When I went to bed last night, the debate in Athens was still raging – this morning it headlined the news. The cuts hit the less privileged, as always (pension funds), though much reluctance seems to have been from the establishment about taxing higher incomes more (can you imagine Trump…?). Few rioters, though (we’ve had it last year with a few rioters upending a huge, peaceful protest, and in the end there were random pick-ups and one of my colleagues ended up in jail for the night – crazy).

        In looking at Ernman’s page last night, I kept being reminded how much I appreciate her unapologetic political statements.

        >

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      2. Re: reviews/love story: there was that one comment in the TLC review on “Se viver non degg’io” (“Quelques clins d’œil sexys dans le beau duo Aspasie/Sifare…”), but that’s not really taking about a staging angle, and I Hope to God they refrained from any sweeps week staging.
        Plus private and political, as FF mentioned recently, are more or less mirrors in opera seria so one way or another, there’s got to be some human interaction and growth underneath all the flags.

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