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They are twins — Sieglinde, bittersweetly sung by the soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek, and Siegmund, the leonine tenor Stuart Skelton — separated in childhood. It is their combustible, transgressive love, sparked over that first sip of water, that plants the seeds for the end of a world built on rules, power and greed. Mr. Skelton and Ms. Westbroek were bright stars in a cast led by the blazing soprano Christine Goerke as Brünnhilde. The conductor Philippe Jordan presided over the orchestra, where he whipped up voluptuously sulfurous playing from the Met players.
Corinna da Fonseca-Woll
The libretto is very much a work of fiction, based on his poems rather than his life. The opera’s vision of the French Revolution can stand side by side with Georg Büchner, Charles Dickens and Baroness Orczy. David McVicar’s handsome production, richly designed by Robert Jones and costumed by Jenny Tiramani, was seen at the Royal Opera House in 2015. Jonas Kaufmann starred. Antonio Pappano conducted. A memorable occasion. Chenier is strongly critical of the ancien regime and stands up for the rights of the people. With four great arias and two major duets, it is a great role for Kaufmann who sings and acts with romantic fervour in a thrilling performance. Three of the arias are based on Chenier’s poems. Eva-Maria Westbroek plays the woman he loves (pure fiction) and they take an ecstatic lyrical farewell (“Long live death!”) whilst the tumbril waits to take them to the guillotine. There is a strong performance from Zeljko Lucic as the disaffected servant who turns revolutionary and leads an angry mob into the chateau where he used to work. The aristocrats with incredible froideur take the riot in their stride and dance a gavotte, as if nothing serious had happened. There is a neat let-them-eat-cake cameo from Rosalind Plowright. I am surprised Andrea Chenier is not performed more often.
Robert Tanitch
This is a truly memorable staging: Philipp Fürhofer’s floor-to-ceiling sets are glorious, conjuring illuminated streets and bustling crowds as if by magic, thanks to huge black mirrors and Bernd Purkrabek’s sleight-of-hand lighting. The chorus and orchestra, lush and lyrical in response to Antonio Pappano’s propulsive conducting, will leave you yearning to hear them in more Tchaikovsky. It might also leave you with the desire to see a real, actual staging of The Queen of Spades.
Erica Jeal
Eva-Maria Westbroek's Liza is similarly compelled to shout and occasionally squawk through her lines, though overall her execution more closely conforms to the music. Burdened with his dual role of Yeletsky and Tchaikovsky, Vladimir Stoyanov struggles - with no change of costume or setting - to unjustly have to play two characters, switching from singer to actor and back again. Most lyrical of all is mezzo-soprano Felicity Palmer, the only singer here to execute piano and diminuendi with both grace and subtle gradations of volume. Her nostalgic aria, "Je crains de lui parler la nuit", effuses both portentousness in her dark, cavernous register and the rickety frailty and intermittent breathlessness of a woman of the Countess's age. Antonio Pappano's conducting remains in the realm of his less frequent subpar performances. With persistently muffled brass and the clangour of woodwind in strife, the music is most often loud and intense without purity. With this extremely misguided attempt to explore the man behind the music, Stefan Herheim's production violates the art of the composer in an anti-lyrical and oversaturated mishmash.
Sophia Lambton
The first production of the Greek National Opera's tribute programme to the bicentennial of the Greek Revolution comes to GNO TV from 31/3 to 31/7. Umberto Giordano's opera Andrea Chénier is conducted by Philippe Auguin, directed and with sets, costumes and lighting by Nikos Petropoulos, and with a world-class starry cast including Marcelo Alvarez, Dimitri Platanias, Maria Agresta, and more. The life of the famous French poet André Chénier (1762-1794) was the subject of the most successful opera (set to a libretto by Luigi Illica) of Umberto Giordano ̶ one of the most representative exponents of operatic verismo, and in particular of the Giovane Scuola. The opera premiered at La Scala, Milan, on 28 March 1896, a century after the French Revolution ̶ which is also when the action is set- whose ideas decisively affected the developments in Greece that gave rise to the 1821 Revolution. The timeless values portrayed in the opera -the French Revolution motto for Liberty, Equality, Fraternity-, combined with the intense erotic and dramatic elements highlighted through Giordano's enchanting music, is the reason why Andrea Chénier has been so appealing to opera audiences to this day.
Stephi Wild
The refounded National Opera in Athens celebrates this year the Bicentenary of the Greek Revolution of 1821 , a Revolution which was greatly inspired by the French Revolution of 1789. The Lyric Festivities therefore naturally began with Andrea Chénier , opera of 1896 composed by Umberto Giordano on a libretto by Luigi Illica (famous librettist by Puccini ) set during the French Revolution. The Revolutions and their celebrations unfortunately inevitably have their wanderings and periods of terror, this story is that of a guillotined poet and this production which went well in January, could only be made available by streaming on the last day. Of March. The staging of Nikos Petropoulos, taken over by Ion Kessoulis, affirms his classical vision, delighting the eye (and showing all the rich diversity of the artistic project of this National Opera of Greece , which offered just before this aristocratic Andrea Chénier a modern-sulfurous Don Giovanni , and even before that a Madame Butterfly combining modernity and tradition or a Lucia Gore). The classic palace decorations are lit with chandeliers loaded with candles that the servants in liveries (wigged like their masters but also like the hairy revolutionaries) come - pretend to blow their noses with long poles-snuffers then revive to signify the changes of weather and magnify elegant ballets in colorful outfits. The confrontation is all the more intense in the face of the revolutionaries, the leadership of the actor relying on the opposition of gestures and aristocratic movements and popular crowds, reinforced by plays of shadows and lights (regulated by Christos Tziogkas) . The House Orchestra also offers a very distinguished performance, of great accuracy and noble balance, while the sound capture very close to the instrumentalists allows them to deploy the personality of their timbres. The orchestral ensemble conducted by Philippe Auguin thus brings together classicism and a romantic character, literally translating the spirit of this work, this story and this poet André Chénier. The House Choirs (prepared by Agathangelos Georgakatos ) offer the same rich characters, associated with the respective social classes (especially as they participate fully in the action and without a mask), in a harmony that symbolically recalls the project of concord carried by music and culture. The National Opera of Greece honors its national singers, especially during this period of closed borders. This is again the case for this production which also invites two renowned international soloists. Camping the title role Andréa Chénier, the Argentinian tenor Marcelo Álvarez seems immediately tested by the intensity and the dimensions of the role (certainly trying). All the medium-high and the corresponding resonances offer more breath than sound and the line remains tight overall. However, the singer is never discouraged, he projects - in a gestural frenzy - intense accents, even delayed and abbreviated, and generally translates the ardor as much as the threats weighing on this tragic poet. Maria Agresta embodies Maddalena di Coigny through her aristocratic vocal qualities, in the richness of the timbre and the time that she takes at her convenience on the tempo. The bass easily crosses the orchestra and the recording, much more than the medium. The singer conserves her energy in particular for powerful climbs to the treble, a little sudden but fair and ample. The voice of Marissia Papalexiou (Bersi) is even more marked by this defect in the center of the ambiguity, in particular with her lines skipping from low to high, which she assumes in the outfits and character, even in the face of strong orchestral very brassy, ​​but before disappearing drowned in the melodic quote from Ah ça ira, the artistocrats with the lantern . As valet Carlo Gérard, Dimitri Platanias assumes the intense air that opens the opera (just after the short processional intervention of the Butler Marinos Tarnanas), with his ample and robust voice when it launches its accents but sometimes a little too broadly seated, although always with great ease. Likewise and to compensate, the song and the lyrics are very articulate but a few syllables are thrown out and beyond the lines. However, his rise (with the revolutionaries) is as much political as vocal, his singing qualities coordinating more and more to reinforce the bravery of his performance. Roucher, the Friend of Chénier, has the ample vibrato of Yanni Yannissis . His simple playing is remote-controlled: his reactions are not anticipated but always simultaneous with the action, his voice being in fact impeccably rhythmic. The Abbot ( Nicholas Stefanou ) has a processional voice, a little rough in tone and phrasing but well in the character. The diabolical Fouquier-Tinville is played by George Mattheakakis with the intensity and accusatory violence of this historical character, deployed notwithstanding with a voice still anchored. Kostis Rassidakis has fun in his role of Mathieu, sans-culotte full of nerve, offering with delight a black humor, squeaky and sharp like the guillotine, while smiling (but in a word much more recitative than sung). In the role of the Incredible, Christos Kechris betrays and clearly translates his identity and character of spy by short sentences and an intense vibrato. Vangelis Maniatis (Pietro Fléville & Schmidt) has a rather distant and muffled voice yet nourished by musicality and carefree pleasure. Dumas has the very muffled voice of Konstantinos Mavrogenis. Julia Souglakou embodies the role of the touching "old woman" Madelon, adding more sobs to the vibrato that her years of experience on stage have amply dug in her voice, without removing its highs and resonances. Ines Zikou also blossoms fully in a Comtesse de Coigny admired by her guests, but the voice only emerges in striated highs. The drama culminates in a crescendo of emotion and darkness on the set: the last fires of the lovers reunited just in time to go up together to the scaffold, the climax of their great ultimate duo cut off, like the life of their characters, by a stroke of the cymbal and the guillotine (the only object illuminated in all this finale). The terrible silence that follows this moment and continues throughout the bows and resonates with all the more force, offering a chilling echo and reminder of this historical drama and the current situation with its empty theaters.
On March 25, Greece celebrated the bicentenary of the start of its War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire. The 2021 program of the National Opera of Greece is in line with these commemorations by offering throughout the year works celebrating Greek composers such as Paolo Carrer, featuring works in which the dominations switch ( The Wedding of Figaro , Lady Macbeth de Mzensk …) or even rediscovering figures involved in the Greek Revolution, like Lord Byron. First insurrectionary operatic stop on the stage of the GNO Stavros Niarchos Hall: Andrea Chénier, the great success of Umberto Giordano anchored in the French Revolution and the Terror, filmed at the end of January. The three main performers are still expected at the turn; mission superbly accomplished for Marcelo Álvarez , Maria Agresta and Dimitri Platanias ! The Argentinian tenor has the crystal-clear diction and crisp, radiant timbre in the title role. He plays leapfrog on clouds of sentences that he manages to make last while waiting languidly for the next ones. These clear touches are the declamative and passionate convictions of the poet, which he covers with majestic beauty. The engaging projection structures robust lines, but devoid of force. He gains a kind of mysticism thanks to his vocal oxymorons: in the same shade, he is able to sing the grandiose in the intimate, sometimes from one second to the next. He firmly believes in it, and inevitably so do we! Maria Agrestais shivering, enveloped in love in the guise of Maddalena di Coigny. Determined, she goes straight to the point in eddies springing up in velvet combativeness. Woman of values, woman of truth, she carries the insurrection of her feelings as high as the verve of the barricade. She hints at her elation, but does not show it off, which makes it all the more overwhelming. If the song of Marcelo Álvarez sees , that of the soprano looks. She imagines being responsible for the misfortunes that afflict her, she is aware of everything that happens to her, and yet she keeps her head held high, she writes the course her own story thanks to an almost methodological distance, an elasticity and an elegance to foolproof. Carlo Gérard's sleight of hand is provided by Dimitri Platanias , who only knows the beautiful in his broadcasts. As at the Royal Opera House in 2019, the Greek baritone breathes the comfort of veristic impulses where the force produces its sap in the orientation of the voice rather than in its density. The longevity of the breath actually makes all the difference: the roundness of the approach to the sound sculpts a series of notes which find their place perfectly one after the other, without hatching, without angles. The “hindered” humanity and the guilty bitterness of the character are illustrated for the best at every moment. He seems to pull a bit more on the end, but isn't that in the character's mind? Among the supporting roles, we appreciate the friendly rigor of Yanni Yannissis in a Roucher containing the dramatic tension, and the smiling worldliness of Ines Zikou in Contessa. Marissia Papalexiou skilfully surfs between the phrases of Bersi and Christos Kechris (although not very sound) imbues her Incredible with well-found colors. The Choir of the Greek National Opera share on bases some mollassonnes to emancipate more later, and to feel the adrenaline of the popular fervor of the late eighteenth th century. Chef Philippe Auguinilluminates the score as a set of musical moments. He sometimes succeeds in carrying off in masterful orchestral whirlwinds, where love becomes acme (as in the duo Chénier-Madeleine at the end of the second act), but can at other times give the impression of stringing together miniatures without great bond to each other. This is perhaps due to the somewhat clumsy strings, too "militant" we would say, or to the sound recording, which creates an astonishing gap between the strings and the winds ... This classic production by Nikos Petropoulos , taken over by Ion Kessoulis , stands out with its loose aesthetic and sumptuous costumes. Despite the little movement, the paintings surprisingly do not call for boredom, and it is rather willingly that we immerse ourselves in this wiggly and gently rebellious universe.
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