July 2009 Archives

It was one of those cinematic nights at the opera. The soprano is ill; her understudy gets, and makes the most of, her chance of a lifetime - and a star is born. In this case she wasn't the cover; in fact she was on holiday in Leipzig (Leipzig?) when the call came that Ekaterina Siurina had a throat infection, and would she come to Glyndebourne and sing the lead role of Adina in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore that very evening? She was good - very good. How did she do it? 
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(photo of Peter Auty by  Simon Annand)
July 27, 2009 4:22 PM | | Comments (0)


I confess I've only paid flying visits to Manchester -  though I think of it as England's second city - and both of those were for purposes of plugging a book. Indeed, prior to last week I had seen nothing of Manchester save the large office building housing the  TV and radio studios of BBC Manchester. Though I saw these again, making fleeting appearances on both media, I also managed to see something of this half-dilapidated, half-modernised city, its centre full of pompous Victorian municipal buildings, of which most seemed to have been converted into night-clubs, though the famous Free Trade Hall is now a Radisson luxury hotel.

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July 22, 2009 10:28 AM | | Comments (0)
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Bill Cooper

The opera at Glyndebourne on a warm summer evening is one life's big and unfailing pleasures. The air-conditioned auditorium with its good acoustic and excellent sightlines is always comfortable; and you can reduce the considerable cost of the evening by bringing your own picnic and drink. All this means that the general director, David Pritchard and his team can take a box office risk or two each season. This year's gamble is Rusalka, the tale of the water nymph who wants to be human, the first opera they've staged by Dvořák, and director Melly Still's opera début. Also making her house début is Rae Smith, who designed the great production of Warhorse now playing in London. So we knew we were in for something good.
In fact, it's as good a production as I can imagine (having seen this strange fairy-tale piece once before at the Edinburgh Festival in a slightly cheesy Russian production). As in Warhorse Ms Rae has roles for dancers/acrobat/handlers/stagehands. Dressed in very dark colours, with only their hands showing, they tumble and cartwheel around a sunken pit in the centre of the stage, acting as waves that lift and transport the singers in the underwater scenes. Rusalka's sister nymphs are flown in from the tower, scary, white 20-foot-long tails dangling and coiling.  Ana María Martínez, the Puerto Rican soprano, whom we've seen at Covent Garden as Donna Elvira and Violetta, makes her house début in the title role, lustrous and convincing- despite having to shed the lengthy mermaid tail in order to develop legs. It's to her and Ms Still's credit that though this metamorphosis is obviously a metaphor for developing female genitalia, it's done with delicacy and aplomb.
July 9, 2009 6:13 PM | | Comments (0)

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