We sat, bewildered, all of us, watching (enduring) Gounod’s sweet little tear jerker as a nasty drug trip. Except for the Australian Marguerite it was an all French cast and they all gamely played along, the sophisticated verse of Offenbach’s librettists Jules Barbier and Michel CarrÈ clearly sailing out over an abrasive pit.
First mounted in 2015 at the OpÈra National de Bordeaux this splendid Don Carlo production took stage just now at the OpÈra de Marseille with a completely different cast and conductor. This Marseille edition achieved an artistic stature rarely found hereabouts, or anywhere.
Napoleon I (Bonaparte) was known as the Aigle (eagle), his son by Marie Louise (of the Hapsburgs) later became called the Aiglon (eaglet). At birth he was dubbed the King of Rome by his father. Unofficially and very briefly he was Napoleon II. Exiled in Austria he was officially titled the Duke of Reichstadt and the Prince of Parma.
Rarely, very rarely does a Tosca come around that you can get excited about. Sure, sometimes there is good singing, less often good conducting but rarely is there a mise en scËne that goes beyond stock opera vocabulary.
There are forces to be reckoned with at l’OpÈra de Marseille — a first class orchestra, a first class chorus, first class casts (with notable exception, see below) who inhabit an extraordinarily fine old opera house.
Marseille woke up this past January 11 stunned to find itself number two on the New York Times list of 46 places you should visit in 2013 (Rio was number one, Paris just made the list at number 46).
Sadistic revenge and sadistic challenge in equal parts. You know the story — if Oreste had not slaughtered his mother Elektra would have. And did over and over in nearly two hours of raving about killing her mother. Elektra is one of the repertory’s more beloved operas.
Once a mainstay of the repertory L’Italiana in Algeri now usually gives way to Il Turco in Italia when an opera company wants to give Il barbiere di Sivigllia and La cenerentola a rest.