The Munich 2017 “Semiramide” Liveblogging Thread Reloaded, pt. 2

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Welcome to the reloaded White Shirt live comment thread for Rossini‘s “Semiramide” (2017. Actually LIVE!) from Bayerische Staatsoper Munich, staged by David Alden, with Michele Mariotti conducting. This time, without hiccups and tech glitches!

Cast Listing (*AAAAAAAaaaaaaaah!*)

Semiramide – Joyce DiDonato
Arsace – Daniela Barcellona
Assur – Alex Esposito
Idreno – Lawrence Brownlee
Azema – Elsa Benoit
Oroe – Simone Alberghini
Mitrane – Galeano Salas
The Ghost of Nino – Igor Tsarkov

The production is not available visa the BSO any longer, but has seeped into circulation thanks some valiant captures at first hour (you know who you are!) and the weekend re-stream on demand, which likely everyone else will have captured and filed away for frequent enjoyment. (If you would like to liveblog along and do not have watching access, drop us a comment below or write us a private message)

Today’s liveblog continues on form yesterday and will only cover pt. 2 (starting after the intermission) to assure work capability of assorted White Shirts who, after a four-hour Rossini night, might have problems with office performance tomorrow.

Libretto: Italian (pdf), English/Italian (pdf)

359 thoughts on “The Munich 2017 “Semiramide” Liveblogging Thread Reloaded, pt. 2”

    1. as does the decor of that bedroom. Are those at least mirrors on the ceiling?

      (Semiramide, however, needs no upgrade.)

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      1. yes, like a gimmick on sale.
        same with Mitrane disappearing into the prompter’s box. Why, beyond the laugh? It should never just be for a laugh.

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        1. But often clueless audience seems so glad to be given something easily understood, an opportunity to shift a bit in the uncomfortable seats (while inwardly wishing the opera wouldn’t be sooo long), the same audience for whom Idreno’s arias were cut. Why did they get the precious tickets?

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          1. …they were a gift?
            …or, well, it takes some money and energy to stage oneeself as culturally apt and educated, so you suffer through 3+ hours of Rossini once in a while?

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    1. meanwhile, Semiramide is mentally on another planet.

      JDD’s performance and that nightgown are definitely arguments for #StepmomPlot.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Is the Stepmom plot a fixed thing you made up for lime green? I can well imagine however how that one would work out, had something like that on my mind already as well.

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        1. that’s the general Semiramide libretto fix-it! But we may have come up with it during the Lime Green Liveblog? Oh, a good excuse to read that one again.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Her suspicion he has killed the son is not addressed enough I think, quite important. Also, I wonder if Nino wanted her “out of his bed” as the translation was, would that have meant separation from her son?

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    1. oh, good point – cheating wife must be punished, children taken away, morally unsafe? (towanda! I found a Carol reference!!)
      I wanted to say something else but I am somewhat distracted by Semiramide (and it’s so cool how JDD does the whole slinky evil glamor queen just as well as the swaggering guys – kind of kills all the arguments of singers who are afraid of singing cross-gender parts because of typecasting)

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    1. but want to return to say that his heft is light so in that duet one hears Joyce’s voice more prominent.
      but this duet is suuuuch an earworm.. first set of goosebumps was when Joyce switch from her parallel line to singing that ascending tune while the bass was still singing same line.. i’ll have libretto later.. coz now sword has come out.. that is how we’re used to seeing Joyce! now she’ll rip off the gown to revreal nice tanktop + trousers under..

      Liked by 2 people

      1. as if I weren’t distracted enough already. That duet had such a catching drive, too.
        Gown or trousers: both go great with that attitude.

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  2. Overall, though, there is so much power issues and anger here and Assur is a bit more cartoon villain and Semiramide just short of freaking out that one does not get the impression (as with mustard and lime) that these are two people who once were in love and who still have a kind of link they cannot shake.

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      1. I had the impression Ghent went deeper there psychologically (granted, this Munich one is almost fun and musically a lot less melancholy)

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Actually, our whole dramatic Rossini stint here makes me want to go see the new TADW Elisabetta, if I can find a night without paper grading and meetings.

            >

            Liked by 1 person

    1. I forgot who said that in which interview, but it was along the lines of Semiramide needing that prompt to suddenly remind herself again of her imminent happiness while before being drawn in by Assurs dark world

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      1. so Semiramide and Assur were staged as different worlds, then. I wonder where Arsace fell – into a third?

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        1. I’m afraid with that focus Arsace probably wouldn’t have much agency on his own, merely acting as the reason for Semiramide to want a change to a new, happy life like any “normal”woman? Alden did not talk about Arsace as a person, only about Semiramide if I remember correctly. But, I noticed again how big that role is music-wise and how much stage-time Arsace is given, so Rossini apparently did find him very important as a character.

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          1. yes, Arsace tends to fall through in modern reception, not just hear – probably because it is easier for many to relate to the ongoing pattern of the villain or the kind-of-shady tragic queen, instead of the hero warrior sung by a woman?

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            1. Easier to relate to people who have murdered someone than to a warrior played by a woman? Absurd, but I guess you may sadly be right. I noticed again, even in own, presumably informed company, who did value the vocal performance, a slight uneasiness showing in polite curiosity on the very concept of trouser roles and even commenting on graciousness (or perceived lack thereof), WHAT, are we talking about the same person? (I’m joking here but am actually disappointed).
              But, I hope this will change with the next generation, more used to female heroes from TV and movies.

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            2. Ugh, yes THOSE comments. But I also meant the vocal type, independent of gender (though the vocal profile has a lot to do with power, which tends to be gendered, so it is hard to separate)

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            3. power contraltos as a timbre, yes – sadly it has gone somewhat out fo fashion since Rossini’s heyday. But not completely!

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            4. apropos, am in the process of mp4-ing the Barcellona/Tankova Tancredi from my DVD for next weekend, but with Agathe now having the DVD, perhaps that’s not even necessary – thadieu (who will see this after the weekend because right now ACA), do you have the Tankova in full or would you need it? I don’t think it’s on YT.

              Liked by 1 person

            5. Well, it’s a Pizzi production, so some fastforwarding over chauvinist posturing is to be excused 😉

              >

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            6. ja, thanks. really nice video, am working and listening to how her explaining how to approach a role :-).
              i’ll take the opportunity to drop off this photo now, from a ACA’s fansite, i’ve been wanting to share for a long time.

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            7. and wanted to ask it was from that one that i went searching for Barcellona in the role.. because she’s singing it everywhere for a while with ACA (sadly not in a duet). check it out, right out of the 5th element! 😀 (wait until the aria, very lovely…)

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            8. Just the morning boost I need – the thesis I’m grading right now also seems to come right out of the Fifth Element.

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            9. we almost have to find this for a liveblog just to find out who has the mothership.. may be Cassandra took all the women there first, then sent down Didon to deal with earthly things.

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            10. And she probably meant to drop her in Themyscira, but the GPS was off and then she had to send Anna after her to rescue her from Enée. And now she sends in JDD as Didon since THAT has to change the ending of the opera, right?

              Liked by 1 person

            11. because guys with nice hair on an opera stage always end up killed by the mezzo? …is that it? I don’t get it. Or is it that ncie hair is marked as feminine? In which case I’d point to Lady Kaufmann, so that can’t be it, either.

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            12. Chuckle, which opera is that? To be fair, the mullet style (and the kilt) in La Donna del Lago looks kind of cool on John Osborn.

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            13. Troyens is underrepresneted as a Whtie Shirt opera. there’s a trouser role and clearly a central f/f romance in addition 😉

              Liked by 1 person

            14. sadly i don’t think there’s video of them.. in that performance there was also P.Gardina in the trouser role. let me check up who the “sister” was… yes, it was Maria Radner, who died in that German plane crash in Southern France mountains..

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            15. Oh, now I finally found out whom DB reminds me of in the Mira o Norma with J. Anderson that was featured in the clip: Bully Herbig as Winnetouch!
              https://goo.gl/images/waTrgz
              (but that is a really cool version musically, works even better if regarded out of context of that abstruse storyline).

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  3. No, but seriously why didn’t she throw him out immediately? If she thinks he has killed Nino it really shouldn’t matter how hot he may look

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        1. yes.
          Again the Alden thing of going for scenes/moments and pushing things over the top to make unconnected dot points, instead of continuous psychological plausibility?

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  4. Man, JDD is really taking no prisoners in acting here. She really takes that high-charge level and is about the only one who gets it away from camp, in between Rasputin and Assur.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I can’t believe how the “well-renowned” critic in that r bb sh Südeutsche article could state JDD was the only one capable of transporting emotional diversity here. (But the same guy also complained about Arsace’s beard shadow). Still I overheard conversations before opera start of people claiming not to expect much, having read that article and people taking that opinion during breaks.

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  5. If someone had told me over those stifling sappy Immenhof movies all those years ago that plots with ponies could mean THIS instead of the pimply city boy… *sigh*

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    1. but it’s supposed to be his childhood toy, right?
      And yes. I guess she must be tall. How convenient that I do not at all have concentration issues when it comes to tall, dark and handsome.

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    1. 😀
      good question. Because that is his uniform, because he likes peacocks, or because he stole one of Semiramide’s gala hats?

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  6. okay, this scene – the fanatics on one-side, and then the suddenly more severely dressed (niqab, I think?) ladies in now black on the other side… yes, the Alden kind of subtle, but it is a good moment because Brownlees manage that bit of lowkey violence in Idreno while showing him as fancying himself a lover who has been raised to believe that he of course has every right to the woman like to a prop.

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  7. so why is.. what’s his character’s name? Brownlee is now threatening the fan-on-head guard.. and sends in his slave-females to demonstrate to Azema what she dance to if she comes with him?
    ah, well she has no chance there? or she really decided it was better in this cage than the last? i didn’t notice until now she’s switching gears..
    except she got carried again, as they assumed she can’t walk..

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    1. From the facial impression, she looks panicked, but has no agency an is sold off to Idreno? (didn’t get why Idreno was threatening Mitrane, either)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. second duet, full strings, Semiramide cuddling up to Arsace and finally trusting herself to be more approachable emotionally — where’s my tissue box.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. that actually works for me, the fanatics gave him that job, he believes it is his calling, he has to avenge his father, he’s mad at her, and then he can’t do it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yah, but she took hold of his arm, preventing the strike, then getting in the ung, how to call it “getting killed from behind” (flinch) position, like it was more her choice and then he couldn’t do it?

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        1. oh, I need to watch that again with that angle in mind – that would make it a cooperation of sorts, him caving in, and her makign the decision? Would be a good call on their power balance.

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  9. JDD is not even in the vicinity of kidding around in her portrayal.

    (makes me wonder how someone so committed to that kind of acting balances the moments approach of Alden)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. this entire duet is so much involved portrayals that make sense psychologically, no overdoing it for effect or symbolism, and it is immediately so much more gripping.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. she really pulled out alllll the shades so well.
            Perhaps she’s in her upper range, so she has more room to shade/color? she masked out DB’s voice often but i think that’s the trouble for mezzo’s in general?

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            1. I think upper middle is her best range for color depth, the very top has a metallic ring that she cannot very that much, a bit of strain there.

              Liked by 2 people

            2. yes, that go for broke is something you have to respect, whether you ultimately like her tone (like we do) or don’t.

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  10. and now the barely 30 seconds she gets to act in the clarinet opening to Assur’s Lady Macbeth scene, and how she kind of manages to everything into that, with the reminiscing mother and the caught monarch and the desillusioned lover…

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    1. *snort*
      And here you have Esposito being scenically great, but he remains at the popcorn movie villain stage in this staging, and here you can clearly see that he could do more.
      I mean this is great fun to watch, and he does a tremendous job, but of you compare it with how moving the previous duet was, this is simply on a different narrative plane.

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      1. i still think it’s also in his vocal limitation: the voice is a bit thin and uniform with not a lot of dynamics. I see him acting/grimacing more than vocal expressing / vocal acting.

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          1. can’t say, I really wasn’t focusing on him and in this scene still overwhelmed from previous. But I’m increasingly enjoying his voice now, still don’t have the impression he is near the same level as JDD.

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  11. i think i got it: Assur was more into the husband, but killed him by accident instead of Semiramide.. so he took out his whole life frustration on her by threatening to blackmail her, b/c she foolished hired him to off the husband.. that triangle would fit well with this madness staging

    Liked by 1 person

      1. oh God the Nino Smoths are MARCHING IN RHYTHM?
        Someone make it stop, just make it stop even the axe-murdering butchers aren’t as off-putting, they would at least qualify as some kind of fetish. Whereas Lagerfeld there…

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    1. yes, I don’t care it’s actual French Foreign legion gala dress (and why now suddenly French colonialist reference? Too little, too late, too blunt!) – butchers. And those creepy dwarf/hipster beards?!! Why? Doesn’t tell me anything – why would they be Assur’s nightmare? He isn’t French, or French-Algerian—

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  12. Rasputin is getting on my nerves, but it’s interesting that the on consistent parallel between Ghent and this is the scheming fanatical religious figure on the sidelines.

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      1. remember how with lime green, it was the same role who was shown as the fanatic person who orchestrates the whole plot for a political/religious agenda?

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I maintain that Semiramide knows that she is going to die here, in this version.
    (whereas in the other one, I maintain that she came to tell Arsace that she was only his stepmom since she clearly was too young to be his mother)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. yes, just thinking the same thing. Because I wouldn’t need anyone else to sing now and much of sets doesn’t win be over, either.

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        1. I actually got annoyed about the logical flaw here, because this boy is seven or eight at least and should be able to remember his origins (yes I know, you can’t put a three year old on stage, but still….)

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          1. I don’t see an eight-year-old with that pony, either (Ninja Knights!!), but except for that htey certainly did not think about that angle, an excuse might be trauma/suppressed memories? Would that work?

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            1. I don’t think so in reality, not with Arsace being an apparently quite settled personality (in the beginning) without any hints of dissociative disorder. But, it’s a story, so yes, probably a director can take that freedom of interpretation, while in fact I think it was more a practical choice without thinking much about the boys’ age.

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            2. yes, probably simply a choice due to ages/child actors. Again, not a focus on things adding up logically/psychologically…

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      1. OH.
        I should have thought of that sooner.
        Yes, it does.
        Whcih also makes it patrarchy surviving and we kill Mom, not Dad, and in the end, Semiramide didn’t kill his father to begin with?!!

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        1. It quite nicely underlines the senselessness of Arsace having to murder, or/but does that maybe also imply it would have been justified otherwise?

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          1. or does it shed a light onto the revenge/honor scheme at large, making it absurd here, and painting it as absurd in general?

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  14. and I maintain Arsace here deep down knows he is killing Semiramide and Assur watches it, has wanted to do it for years, has never had the guts, and now can’t even watch it happen.

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  15. Another Alden ending I’ll have to block out.
    Now Arsace seems sorry but still not so much that he wouldn’t go away while she reaches for him??

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  16. and that not very maternal finally hand reach up to him, copying he duet… and he walks away first without even looking at her again – having traded in his humanity with fulfilling his “duty and committing the murder, and now being the next dictator?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ja, i don’t get why he got cut! unless they’re under strict order to keep it under 3.5hr? Zedda’s version was mentioned as “keeping it all” in several reviews.

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      1. Sigh, Zedda.

        (I read the show moves on to London and they want to get it under 3:20, since more Rossini would be impossible to impose upon modern, sensitive audiences?!)

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  17. Mariotti conducted the Donna del Lago, too?
    Which is something else we could watch… just to have the mezzo get the mezzo in this combo for once, and to see JDD’s character swoon over another Barcellona warrior because that never gets old.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. there is Covent Garden with JDD/Barcellona, and MET with JDD/Barcellona. Lots of kilts that look ironic, but aren’t intended to do so, but some great singing. And oh, guess who has both videos in HD.

        Liked by 2 people

          1. I think so. Duet between a huge closing light-clored wall they walk through (as you can see, I remember the really important details).

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            1. it’s a broadcast download, I think – will put it in the list next to the Scarlatti. this week has been crazy, traveling, and then nothign but classes and conferences.

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            2. oh, Agathe. Look what I found for you – most of the things, I keep talking about, they’re all on EyeBags already:

              I knew I had blogged it once in WSM – this is the MET 2015: https://aniklachev.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/white-shirt-monday-double-bill-trill-thrill/

              The ROH2013 was part of the 12 White Shirt of Christmas! (Day 2)
              https://aniklachev.wordpress.com/2016/12/26/the-twelve-white-shirts-of-christmas-2/
              (and I just scheduled you one more for next WSM.)

              And this is the Sigismondo (at 11GB) from Wildbad I also have in the archive:
              https://aniklachev.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/white-shirt-monday-was-kann-der-sigismund-dafur/

              Liked by 1 person

            3. Thanks for the reading material! (but hey, my favourite moment of the kilt show is missing in the screenshots, we really need to put that on our list, though I agree it doesn’t reach Semiramide levels).

              RE Barcellona fangirling, you do know this interview I suppose?

              (Good thing she didn’t become a carabiniera or I would be tempted to commit random acts of vandalism)

              Liked by 1 person

            4. Btw, the Sigismondo is on YT in several parts in case any one is interested (haha, as if anyone else would read through all of this, thadieu, I hope we’re not getting on your nerves already)

              Liked by 1 person

            5. no no, i’m enjoying it :-). though i have to admit it’s difficult to follow because i don’t get notification and it’s very hidden 😉
              Thanks to you (and also hugely to Dehggi) i got into S.Prina..

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            6. While you’re on the road, I’ll try to comment on the post above which is empty, so it’s easier to follow.

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            7. PS. Never be it said I wouldn’t have a sufficient amount of Barcellona in my archives, ever since that red shirt Tancredi (which would be the perfect palce for a Star Trek quip, since Red Shirts always die, though never as heartbreakingly as Tancredi):

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            8. PS. on Baroque, but other mezzos and did I mention Baroque: Crébassa has just gone on record saying she wants to sing Handel. We may need very softly padded floors (also, I do not want to talk about the fact that she is apparently 29 and I am turning into Blanche Deveraux)

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            9. We won’t miss that! Wasn’t she 29 last year already? But yes, fangirling Barcellona, who is 10 years my senior, somehow feels more excusable.

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          2. all of which just serves to remind me that in all these DB roles I just think (besides, whoa gorgeous singing): can’t someone tailor her clothes properly already?

            and anyway I’m pretty sure all this was just a ruse to get Anik to post the Pining Prince again. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

    1. 🙂 probably a good thing they decided against most of the props in that picture in the end (what are those hats on the floor, and this breastplate…).

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      1. rehearsal props: the thing you get used to for 6 weeks and then in the final week, it’s something else entirely.

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  18. always fun to read through the liveblogs afterwards even when i missed them (sigh). I’ll be watching this again with y’all’s comments in mind. 🙂

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  19. ack, i’m losing track of this thread so quickly :-), and i must admit there’s not a good way i’ve found yet to find out where the convo are. I like it from the main page but you can’t reply there , and this reader mode is a bit more of a jungle… but dont mind me, i’m on travel… t-3hr ahhhhh

    but, there was a question somewhere regarding Tancredi… yes, i have a blurry version which should be ok unless the sound is messed up… but i’ve taken to update the ffmpeg tutorial so that Example 0 and 1 are what you both need (if Agathe also install ffmpeg on her ubuntu). Do try it sometimes, because it is that simple once you get a hang of it and it would solve many of our fiddling around between dvd and other formats + sizes problems.

    greetings from san francisco!

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    1. Thank you for the update! and I’ll use ffmpeg if we need to make a working copy for others wishing to join in. I’ve got a working pt. 1 already extracted from my DVD

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      1. ps- more updates on the tutorial. feel free to send me question if you hit any issues.. as likely i might have typo. but now should be much easier to digest for any beginner, compared to the version i claimed was “easy” few hours ago, that even myself in sleepy state can not understand :-). good night..

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    2. Thanks, thadieu, I’ll try to install it a soon as I have some time. MPlayer is working great, thanks, but I still have to find out how to fast forward and stuff, it only works via keycodes.

      Liked by 1 person

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