Egklecticism, well-framed: “Peer Gynt” at Theater an der Wien

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Usually, neither Peer Gynt (#ExtensiveWhiteAble-BodiedManpain) nor Werner Egk – whose behavior during the NS regime had a decidedly brown tinge  – would make me want to go to the opera, but the staging in this is case is by Peter Konwitschny, and has Bo Skovhus and Maria Bengtsson in the leads. It also features Natascha Petrinsky, who left a lasting impression on me as Amneris in the Konwitschny staging of “Aida” back in 2008 – enough, in fact, to have me mark this production in my calendar as soon as it was announced. (#WillShowUpForTheMezzos)

“Peer Gynt” – not that removed from Faust in that regard – asks the core question of what life’s purpose can be, especially if a person defies convention, and how to find absolution when all intents have failed. In both cases, the answer is in finding purpose: having something left to do, recognizing something as fruitful (nevermind the predominantly female body count racked up on the side).

Konwitschny manages to turn the question into something timeless and more universal in his trademark, alert personenregie and his keen eye for the intersection of individual and overarching narratives. There is a serene mastery to this evening that creates moments both gutting and fun, and never needs to show off or rely on smoke and mirrors.
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Resonating: Handel’s “Lucio Cornelio Silla” at Konzerthaus Wien

To close out January, I managed to catch the final concert of this year’s “Resonanzen” (the Early Music festival  at Konzerthaus Wien). Others do ball season at this time of year, I do Baroque. On the menu: “Lucio Cornelio Silla”, a Handel I was not familiar with. I initially booked it (and thanks again to Agathe for pointing it out to me) for Biondi and L’Europa Galante, but the cast was plenty swoon-inducing: Sonia Prina! Vivica Genaux! Roberta Invernizzi!

The evening is, as I write this, still available as stream-on-demand over at OE1. Get it while you can (though it does not quite capture the live atmosphere), and don’t miss the introduction that tries to find five different polite ways in describing the volatile womanizing character of Silla (Prina) as “trying to approach *cough* this and that lady”. It also loses the gender overview when it comes to the female-studded cast: “As Claudia, Martina Belli. Oh, sorry, that should be Claudio, Martina Belli.” (I would have accepted ‘Claudia’, too. Wouldn’t we all.)

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Watteau, gaily: Vivaldi’s “Juditha triumphans” at Theater an der Wien

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[Curtain Call for Vivaldi’s “Juditha Triumphans” at Theater an der Wien, Jan 25th 2017: Hilary Summers, Gaia Petrone, Marianne Beate Kielland, Julia Doyle, Emilie Renard, Robert King, Choir of The King’s Consort, The King’s Consort]

Do you know  the Twitter account that pairs every word in the dictionary with ‘gay’?
For reviewing this “Juditha Triumphans”, it was either posting that, or writing an actual review out of my notes. I’ve decided to go with option two, though I am not sure you will be able to tell the difference.

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On a Glossy Lake of Ice

On listening, reviewing, and the Currentzis “Giovanni”

Listening to this has been an interesting experience, and the discussion has already begun – we hijacked the Adriano post in the comments, and we also talked a bit over at thadieu’s (comment thread warmly recommended for all the Anna meta!), but I wanted to write a separate post about it.

I am standing on a frozen lake of ice, black water visible underneath the glossy surface. The air, and the light, are cold and sharp, brilliant. There is a distant pull downwards, into the blackness, yet it does not reach my body: I only feel the ice and its surface.

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Pergolesi’s “Adriano in Siria” at Theater an der Wien

If the renaissance ideal was purist clarity, boiled down to shapes like square and circle, Baroque sweeps in with a penchant for drama for drama’s sake: the squares turn to trapezoids, the circles to ovals. Add some waves that rush forward to nearly reach the ankles of Mozart, some 35 years later, and you’re all set for a night with Pergolesi’s “Adriano in Siria”, with a cast that covers a range from Baroque affect to pre-classicist lyricism.

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Communion: Joyce DiDonato’s “In War and Peace” at Konzerthaus Wien

I’ve been thinking back and forth how to approach a review for this show because just writing about arias and how they were sung and played doesn’t cut it in this case. So I will walk you through the experience to my best ability instead.

Initially, I hadn’t even planned to attend the concert, as my 2016 opera budget is gone, but after the U.S. election results and with so much hateful rhetoric making the rounds (the country where I live will quite possibly elect a neo-nazi for President come Sunday), I decided that I needed to hear this concert more than I needed the occasional coffee to go for a month or two. Budget question solved.

(when I walked out today with colleagues for coffee break, without having coffee, I was smiling and thinking “it was so worth it”, and that is perhaps the must succinct feedback I can give for “In War and Peace: Harmony through Music”)

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