Saturday night seems to be Berlioz-Shakespeare night. After last week’s new production of BÈatrice and BÈnÈdict at Glyndebourne, yesterday evening it was the turn of the Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s Orchestre RÈvolutionnaire et Romantique and Monteverdi Choir, with the National Youth Choir of Scotland, to tell us a Shakespearean tale ‡ la franÁaise. Not a ‘merry war’ this time, but the star-crossed strife and fatal misunderstandings of Romeo and Juliet.
Bernard Haitink has what is absolutely necessary, yet more often than not lacking, to conduct a Mahler symphony, indeed to conduct any symphony worthy of the name: the ability to hear it in a single span and to communicate in performance that ability. That is not, of course, in itself enough to ensure a successful, let alone a great, performance, but its absence will be fatal.
In many respects, this second ‘Festspiel-Barockkonzert’ made for an intriguing pendant to the previous night’s premiere of Les Indes galantes. All of the music was earlier than Rameau’s opÈra-ballet, some of that in the first half – the programme was broadly but not pedantically chronological – considerably earlier.
Baroque opera has long been an important part of the Bavarian State Opera’s programming. And beyond the company itself, Munich’s tradition stretches back many years indeed: KubelÌk’s Handel with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, for instance.
All told, this was probably the best Don Giovanni I have seen and heard. Judging opera performances – perhaps we should not be ‘judging’ at all, but let us leave that on one side – is a difficult task: there are so many variables, at least as many as in a play and a concert combined, but then there is the issue of that ‘combination’ too.
Can one justly “review” a streamed performance? Probably not.
But however different or diminished such a performance, one can—and
must—bear witness to such an event when it represents a landmark in the
evolution of an art form.
For its annual visit to the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, Glyndebourne brought its new production of Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, an opera which premiered 200 years ago.
‘A caprice written with the point of a needle’: so Berlioz described his opera BÈatrice and BÈnÈdict, which pares down Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing to its comic quintessence, shorn of the sub-plots, destroyed reputations and near-bloodshed of Shakespeare’s original.
‘This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.’ It is, perhaps, a line quoted too often; yet, even though it may not have been entirely accurate on this occasion, it came to my mind. Its accuracy might be questioned in several respects.
Central City Opera celebrated the 60th anniversary of The Ballad of Baby Doe with a hip, canny, multi-faceted new production.