Thursday, December 23, 2004

Sam Takes a Vacation (from Wagner...)

Here is the third and final installment of Sam H. Shirakawa's review of some operatic performances he saw last month in Chemnitz and Eisenach, Germany:

Evangelimann
20 November

Sandwiched between Siegfried and Götterdämmerung was a performance of Wilhelm Kienzl's rarely heard Evangelimann, a melodrama about star-crossed love and false imprisonment. It was a success at its 1895 premiere in Berlin, but the work had to wait until the years between the world wars before it became an international hit. Between 1914 and 1941 over 3,500 productions are said to have been mounted throughout the world. Hardly a leading tenor active during those years failed to perform or record the principal aria "Selig sind die Verfolgung leiden," including Chemnitz's own Richard Tauber.

The British might term the story's material "Victorian claptrap." Two brothers Matthias and Johannes are in love with Martha, who is the ward of her uncle, the village notary. When she rejects Johannes in favor of Matthias, the rejected brother promptly sets fire to the village church.

Scene with Edward Rendall, as Mathias Freudhofer, and the chorus of Chemnitz Opera
Scene with Edward Rendall, as Mathias Freudhofer, and the chorus of Chemnitz Opera
Photo © Dieter Wuschanski

Hardly 32 bars go by before the innocent Matthias is branded the arsonist and sent to prison. 30 years later, the falsely accused Matthias returns as a journeyman pastor. In a scene full of nodding references to Tannhäuser and Parsifal, we learn that his beloved took her own life shortly after his sentencing. Matthias then confronts his guilt-stricken brother, who now lies on his deathbed, and forgives him. It's heady stuff, if you're into soap operas.

Dietrich Greve, as Johannes Freufhofer, and Edward Rendall, as Mathias Freudhofer
Dietrich Greve, as Johannes Freufhofer, and Edward Rendall, as Mathias Freudhofer
Photo © Dieter Wuschanski

The cast of Stefan Piontek's highly stylized production lunges around Mike Hahne's over-lit comic book sets, lurching and leering as the moment requires. But his heavy-handed send-up shies away from reflecting why the work once touched a sensitive nerve among the opera-going public, and why it may still be of seething relevance to a post-DDR public. After all, the hero of Evangelimann is a scapegoat. Maybe it's all still too painful to approach in any other way but burlesque.

Despite Piontek's determination to send up its dramatic shortcomings, the work is filled with some wonderful music, especially the duet between the lovers and the deathbed reconciliation between the brothers. Under Eckehard Stier's committed, idiomatic direction, the cast seemed more convinced than Piontek of the opera's worth. Edward Rendall and Dietrich Greve were well-suited for each other's vocal thrust and parry as the Brothers Freudhofer, both yielding fully to the unabashed romanticism of Kienzl's score.

Nancy Gibson had radiant moments as their fatal love object. Regine Köbler, a contralto with an exciting upper extension, was darkly sympathetic as Martha's friend, who reunites the estranged brothers.

Edward Rendall, as Mathias Freudhofer, and Nancy Gibson, as Martha
Edward Rendall, as Mathias Freudhofer, and Nancy Gibson, as Martha
Photo © Dieter Wuschanski

After spending an evening exposed to such a mirthless muse, I was dying for some good old-fashioned deli. Fat chance. Lo and behold - a Jewish restaurant almost directly across the street from the Opera House that's open until midnight! Schalom, as it is named, doesn't do pastrami, but the chicken soup, matzo balls and Israeli salad filled the need to nosh.
a piping hot bowl of matzo ball soup!
Sam's Soup?
The owner Ariel Dzubilla tells me, there are just over 700 Jews in Chemnitz, but hungry local Goyim, thank you, have kept his place going for four years, and it's "doing well." The lively Klezmer music was a nice antidote to Kienzl's negativity.

Wiener Blut
Eisenach 18 November

Even inveterate Wagnerites can use a break from a week-long diet of mega-drama, diminished sevenths and endless suspensions, so why not a little operetta? But I had to train nearly 260 miles over to J.S. Bach's birthplace Eisenach to tank up on some ear candy. Of course, Wagner is inescapable even here: the second act of Tannhäuser takes place on the Wartburg, which overlooks the city. (An apartment in the castle was also home to Martin Luther, while he translated the Bible into German.) Last season, the Municipal Theater of Eisenach presented a remarkable production of Tannhäuser in its charming 19th-century opera house. Concert performances of the Dresden Version will be presented in the Wartburg castle later this season.

When Wiener Blut had its premiere in Vienna, it might well have been sub-titled the „new" Johann Strauss operetta. Victor Leon and Leo Stein literally rummaged through the ailing Waltz King's music trunk for discarded or little known tunes and patched up a formula libretto to tie them together.

Since Strauss died just before its first performance in the autumn of 1899, we'll never know what he thought of it. Even though the score was chock full of Strauss melodies, the first performance at the Carl Theater was a failure. Perhaps the Viennese were still in mourning. A few years later, the Theater an der Wien revived it on short notice, when another work failed to materialize. The piece became an international success and remains in the repertory of German-speaking theaters to this day.

Budget constraints now afflicting state-subsidized theaters in Germany have struck Eisenach especially hard. The cutbacks not only prevented Hans-Hermann Krug from mounting a more opulent production, belt-tightening measures also deprived the theatre of of its chorus - which was disbanded last June. Nonetheless, his bright sets and elegant costumes evoke a period of 19th-century Vienna, when sparkling wine, witty women and hummable music answered every prayer.

Wiener Blut
Photo © Inka Lotz

This performance could hardly be described as exemplary, but it had something frequently missing from performances in major houses: teamwork and a palpable sense of "the show must go on." The cast -- drawn entirely from the resident ensemble -- caught the effervescence of Strauss' Vienna. Helmut Kleinen, François Soons, Suzanne Beyer and Sabina Martin thankfully made no effort to dig deeper into their airhead Schlagsahne characters and played off each other with snappy timing.


Wiener Blut - Ensemble
Wiener Blut - Ensemble
Photo © Inka Lotz

Rainer Eichhorn led a tightly-paced string of Strauss pearls from the pit. This was champagne on a near-beer budget, but pleasantly intoxicating all the same.

Landestheater Eisenach  Eisenach
Landestheater Eisenach Eisenach
Photo © Inka Lotz

With the exception of Tristan, further performances of all these operas will be presented throughout the season.

www.theater-chemnitz.de - This site has additional pictures from the Ring production, Tristan und Isolde and Evangelimann

http://www.theater-eisenach.de/

Thank you, Sam, for providing us with these reviews. Please let me know when your next trip is!

We would like to know if our readers found these reviews helpful and of interest. We plan to continue featuring reviews and other articles on operatic matters.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Chemnitz Ring - Part Two

Here is the second installment of Sam H. Shirakawa's review of the Chemnitz Ring. Today we hear about Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, as well as about a performance of Tristan und Isolde Sam also attended in Chemnitz:

Siegfried
19 November

Superior voices and sufficient rehearsal time not withstanding - and there was plenty of both in evidence in Chemnitz - Siegfried simply has too many men yelling at each other for far too long. The sheer volume of story-telling can also become tiring. But the 8th Chemnitz cycle had some bodacious barking between Heikki Siukola making his local debut in the eponymous role and Jürgen Mutze as Mime. At six-foot plus, Siukola towered over the diminutive Mutze and made him look like a real dwarf. Mutze is also an accomplished gymnast, darting and rolling around the stage like a hyperactive caterpillar.


Jürgen Mutze as Mime
Jürgen Mutze as Mime
Photo © Dieter Wuschanski


Over the past 20 years, Siukola has appeared rarely in the United States, even though he made a sensational impression in a concert version of Tristan at Carnegie Hall several years ago. Despite performing Tristan, Tannhäuser and Siegfried steadily all these years, his heldentenor remains well rounded at the bottom, strong in the middle, and clarion at the top. But he also has failed to overcome a distressing habit of singing under the note - not quite flat, but hardly on the button. His glory lies in the upper register, trumpeting out that soulful cry that Caruso once called the „sound of a wounded beast." Siukola’s Siegfried had few subtleties, but when he was focused and sang on pitch, he was simply thrilling.

Hans-Peter Scheiddeger again appeared to be having some vocal difficulties as Wotan/Wanderer, but he managed to conserve his resources for the decisive encounters with Erda and Siegfried. Susan Marie Pierson proved to be more satisfactory than exhilarating in her awakening as the human Brünnhilde, negotiating rather than commanding the music above the staff.

For some reason, Jürgen Freier as Alberich lost his hair somewhere between his malevolent departure in Rheingold and his reappearance in the second act of Siegfried, but the loss hardly trimmed his force as the nasty Nibelung. Jana Büchner, Monika Straube and James Moellenhoff were respectively strong as the Woodbird, Erda and Fafner.

Jürgen Freier as Alberich & Hans-Peter Scheidegger as Der Wanderer
Jürgen Freier as Alberich & Hans-Peter Scheidegger as Der Wanderer
Photo © Dieter Wuschanski


Time and again, Wolfgang Bellach’s sets emphasized the fantastical story-book elements of the story, spinning and sliding to yield furnaces, forests, and a snake-like dragon, complete with a full set of solid gold choppers.

Götterdämmerung
21 November

Goetterdaemmerung Ensemble
Götterdämmerung Ensemble
Photo © Dieter Wuschanski


Despite a funeral pyre with a lot of smoke, Michael Heinicke’s apocalyptic finale to the Ring had no visible fire. Never mind -- some of the vocal pyrotechnics were spectacular. Susan Marie Pierson became a confident, often incandescent Brünnhilde. She was at her best in taking the oath in the second act. Neither Nancy Gibson as Gutrune nor Dietrich Greve as Gunther showed any sign of weariness following a strenuous evening as Martha and Johannes less than 24 hours earlier in Kienzl’s Evangelimann. They were a handsomely sounding pair and even looked like siblings. Donna Morein had a busy evening, changing costumes from the Second Norn in the prologue to Waltraute in the first act to a Rhine maiden at the beginning of act three. Heiki Siukola looked lost on stage at times and missed several cues. His tendency to sing under the note marred an otherwise excellent performance. But he was especially moving in Siegfried’s death scene.

Jürgen Freier as Alberich
Jürgen Freier as Alberich
Photo © Dieter Wuschanski


Jürgen Freier was delectably spiteful as Alberich, appearing to have the final say in Heineke’s ultimately pejoristic view of the Ring - marching off with Brünnhilde’s spear, after the flood waters of the Rhine devour Valhalla. The theater’s superb chorus made an all-too brief appearance - barely enough to show the capabilities it displayed several years ago in an impressive production of Meistersinger.

Tristan und Isolde
17 November

If Bette Davis had become an opera singer instead of a screen legend, how would she have interpreted Isolde? Ask Evelyn Herlitzius. An accident of nature gave this ascending Bayreuth star those large expressive eyes and that broad rounded forehead. If her angular gestures, caged animal stride and those sharp turns to reveal her profile to best advantage have been rehearsed by Michael Heinicke for his striking production, they certainly worked. Hers was a smoky, penetrating Isolde, puncturing the mark unerringly with wounding recriminations, unalterably obsessed in hate and love. Her strong suit as an actress is rage; her narrative was more effective than her "Mild und leise".

Evelyn Herlitzius as Isolde & Donna Morein as Brangäne
Evelyn Herlitzius as Isolde and Donna Morein as Brangaene
Photo © Dieter Wuschanski


Her Tristan at this we-must sing-every-bleeding-note performance (even at "provincial" houses these days, un-abridged is de rigeur) was the veteran American tenor Ronald Hamilton. Why he has not won wider recognition is also one of the mysteries of contemporary opera politics. Hamilton has been around since the 1970s, and he has kept his ample voice in good shape. Unlike a number of younger Wagner tenors making the rounds these days, Hamilton has a pleasing dark timbre that remains evenly distributed from register to register. Despite occasional lapses in diction, he articulates the text clearly without resorting to lip contortion. His Tristan was somewhat Suthaus-driven and satisfyingly so. His third-act fever scene was especially moving.

Ronald Hamilton as Tristan & Evelyn Herlitzius as Isolde
Ronald Hamilton as Tristan & Evelyn Herlitzius as Isolde
Photo © Dieter Wuschanski


Herlitzius and Hamilton had consistently reliable companions. Donna Morein’s Brangaene revealed a pragmatic companion, who knows how to mix an effective cocktail. She was at her best in reasoning with her mistress in the first act. Jürgen Freier transformed Kurvenal into a coolly protective butler.

Playing two cuckolds within a week can be stressful for any husband, but Yue Liu appeared comfortable dealing with sexual betrayal. Given a choice between performing Hunding or King Mark, Liu should probably opt for Mark. The lyric qualities in his bass are better tailored for expressing the aging monarch’s self-pity without sacrificing the role’s dignity.

Following his short stint as the Steersman, Andre Riemer made a welcome reappearance as the shepherd in the last act. His bright lyric tenor sounds promising.

Heinicke’s production is no metaphysical treatise. The action takes place in various parts of King Mark’s estate, the voyage of the first act occurring as a kind of flashback-prologue. The settings, shrewdly arranged on the hydraulic turntable, encase a drama clearly defined by plush 19th-century furniture. Mathilde Wesendonk would certainly have felt at home in such surroundings…

Ronald Hamilton as Tristan & Evelyn Herlitzius as Isolde
Ronald Hamilton as Tristan & Evelyn Herlitzius as Isolde
Photo © Dieter Wuschanski




Stop by tomorrow when Sam takes a vacation (from Wagner, that is).

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Sam Shirakawa Reviews the Chemnitz Ring

We plan to start featuring reviews of opera performances from around the world. As a first step, we have offered this forum to our friend Sam H. Shirakawa, who recently returned from a trip to Germany to see Wagner's Ring in Chemnitz, Germany. You may know of Sam as the author of The Devil's Music Master: the Life and Times of Wilhelm Furtwängler. I will be posting his review of the Ring, as well performances he attended of Tristan und Isolde and Kienzl's Evangelimann in Chemnitz, and (by way of palate freshener) a performance of Strauss's Wiener Blut in Eisenach. What follows is the first of four installments. All four installments will be posted here by Christmas. Enjoy!

Chemnitz (population: 247,000), in case you don’t know, is located about 80 miles southeast of Dresden. Before World War II it was a bustling industrial city with a rich cultural life. It suffered extensive damage from Allied bombing and fared poorly under the exploitations of the Soviet occupation. Throughout it all, the cultural life of Chemnitz managed to survive, even flourish. Despite severe cutbacks in state support for the arts in the years following Reunification, the Chemnitz Municipal Theater continues presenting formidable repertory season after season.

Chemnitz is hardly one of Germany’s garden spots, but she, like Brünnhilde, is awakening from a long sleep. Despite Germany’s sluggish economy, extensive construction projects are underway, and one of the nation’s leading department store chains, Kaufhof, has recently opened a full-service store in the city’s gradually reviving downtown area.

Chemnitz Opera House
Chemnitz Opera House from the Plaza Photo © Dieter Wuschanski

The Opera House, built in 1909, and most recently renovated in the early `90s, dominates a huge sunken plaza a short walk from the main train station. The Municipal Museum borders one side of the square, a 19th-century church and a ritzy hotel line the other side. One of the streets marking off the plaza is named after Richard Tauber, the renowned tenor who made his debut in Chemnitz in 1913, while his father was the theater’s general manager. From September through June, the 714-seat house plays more than 250 performances of operas, operettas, musicals, plays, ballet, children’s events and concerts. While few evenings are complete sellouts, paying patrons occupied up to 95 percent of the house at the performances I attended -- even the Ring at hiked ticket prices, ranging from $22 to about $64 (Euros 18.75 - 48.00).

Chemnitz Opera House interior
Inside the Chemnitz Opera House Photo © Dieter Wuschanski

Performance practices at Chemnitz are typical of German provincial houses. Casts are drawn almost entirely from the house ensemble, and Chemnitz has the good fortune of having enough high-octane singers to produce Wagner and Richard Strauss largely from its own ranks.

Over nine days in November 2004, several contract artists worked hard for their money, some of them appearing in five significant roles during that period. Such practices were once common, even at major opera houses, but today, few theaters have such solid bench strength at their disposal. The Theater presented a complete Ring, plus Tristan and Kienzl’s Evangelimann thrown in between - irresistible temptations for a Wagnerite. But an enticement loaded with risks. Let’s face it, even the prospect of hearing Wagner performed at the musical meccas of Europe and America is becoming a sobering thought these days: wretched singing, awful productions, etc. How much worse must it be in the hinterlands? Since all five performances of Wagner in Chemnitz had the same producer (Opera Chief Michael Heinicke) and conductor (Music Director Niksa Bareza), neither of whom are were familiar to me, and the same Brand-X singers appearing from one opera to the next, my journey to one of the remote corners of the former DDR threatened to provide over 22 hours of sheer torture. But it turned out to be quite different from what I was fearing.

The legendary Wagner conductor Reginald Goodall once said he really didn’t feel qualified to interpret Wagner’s mature works until he was nearly 70 and cautioned conductors to wait until they are ready. At age 68, Niksa Bareza is indeed ready. The basic tempo of his Ring and Tristan is swift, measuring out the broad sweep of the storyboards in bold strokes. But he relaxes the pace in moments of intimacy without sacrificing tension - notably in the first act of Walküre, the final scene of Siegfried, and the love duet in Tristan- culling delicately turned phrases out of the instrumentation, while cutting enough slack for singers to articulate subtle details. Bareza is one of the former Eastern Bloc’s hidden treasures. Born in Split, he’s made stops at a long line of stations including St. Petersburg, Zagreb and Zurich, before becoming Music Director at Chemnitz. As far as I know, he has never appeared in the United States. Perhaps the time has come.

Despite some rough-edged playing here and there, Bareza is well served by the Robert Schumann Orchestra, which is becoming one of Germany’s most versatile ensembles. The strings and brass lack the luster of some better known opera house orchestras, but the players never go wanting in discipline and vigor, producing exhilarating moments in the final scene of Walküre and Siegfried’s Funeral March.

Rheingold
13 November 2004

The performance on November 13 began the eighth cycle of Michael Heinicke’s production and showed no sign of attrition since its premiere in 1998. Designer Wolfgang Beilach’s sets rise and fall on a revolving platform, whirling the eddies of the Rhine, as the Maidens taunt Alberich; opening out to reveal the expanses of Valhalla, turning in on itself to expose Nibelheim. The Giants emerge from the mouths of two menacing cranes, lowered from the wings. No social commentary or political overlays here. The production team views the Ring as an adult fairy tale full of grim wonders. It’s a fluid production that’s fun to watch.

All four operas were also a good listen. In Rheingold, with the possible exception of Nancy Gibson (Freia), who appears often in the States, who, outside greater Germania has heard of, let alone heard, Hans-Peter Scheidiger (Wotan), Piotr Bednarski (Loge), Jürgen Mutze (Mime), Peter Lobert (Fafner), Donna Morein (Fricka), or Regine Köbler (Erda)? There was no weak link among them, and they deserve to be heard everywhere, but the politics of current hiring procedures may condemn most of them, sadly, to shuttling from one fine performance to another without arriving at international renown.

Confronted with such uniform strength, it’s tough to pick a stand-out, but pares-inter-pares is surely Jürgen Freier as Alberich. Huge, sonorous and coal-black, there was enough worsted grey in his voice to canvas the depths of the pathetic creature’s agony. Freier’s deadly blessing on the snatched ring is was as chilling as I’ve heard from the likes of Otakar Kraus and Gustav Neidlinger.

Jurgen Freier (Alberich) & Hans-Peter Scheidegger (Wotan)
Jürgen Freier (Alberich) and Hans-Peter Scheidegger (Wotan) Photo © Dieter Wuschanski


Die Walküre

14 November

The cast of Walküre sported at least one brand name. Endrik Wottrich scored impressively with his first Parsifal at last summer’s Bayreuth Festival and confirmed his credentials in his Chemnitz debut as Siegmund. Wottrich turned to singing professionally after completing his musical training as a violist at Juilliard. His baritonal tenor is beefy from bottom to upper middle register, bursting out into a ringing top. While his solid musicality made his portrayal compelling, Wottrich rarely sings softer than mezzo-forte, which ultimately enervates the ear. He is blessed with good looks and an attractive presence, and he is well-advised to develop his formidable package of gifts with care.

Astrid Weber, an up-and-coming mezzo-Sieglinde, and also a compelling stage personality, maintained vocal stability, while assuming some awkward-looking postures. Weber has some shallow spots at the lower end of her range, but she has youth and time on her side to fill them in.

Astrid Weber (Sieglinde)
Astrid Weber (Sieglinde) Photo © Dieter Wuschanski

The American soprano Susan Marie Pierson started off her Brünnhilde with a thrilling war-cry, whooping up to the top notes and sitting on them. She sustained the rest of the part with requisite verve, but she needs to think carefully about what she wants to do with the role. Her inflections follow the score to the letter, but still ahead is the task of transforming them into the conflict of a goddess caught between the rock of human compassion and the hard place of divine command. The voice is oddly reminiscent of Eva Marton in her prime - large, lithe and loud. The potential for a major career is already evident.

Susan Marie Pierson (Brünnhilde)
Susan Marie Pierson (Brünnhilde) Photo © Dieter Wuschanski

Hans-Peter Scheidegger portrayed Wotan as a young chief executive, stoically facing the overwhelming repercussions of the fatal choices the god of gods makes in Rheingold. He encountered some alarming vocal problems on November 14 in the final scene, but he kept his cool and recovered fully just in time to invoke Loge’s magic fire.

Hans-Peter Scheidegger (Wotan)
Hans-Peter Scheidegger (Wotan) Photo © Dieter Wuschanski

Donna Morein at first seemed a rather placid Fricka, but it soon became clear that hers was a passive-agressive goddess, quietly prosecuting offenses against her domain. Morein’s Fricka was pitiless, rejoicing grimly in painting her feckless husband into a corner. She made a welcome encore as Waltraute in the final act.

It’s hard to imagine a sympathetic portrayal of Hunding, but that’s what Yue Liu managed to evince in a role for which he is less than ideally suited. Endowed with an essentially a lyric and warm voice, Liu played a stolid cuckold, who somehow sadly knows that brute strength will ultimately prove impotent in seeking justice for being doubly duped by his wife and brother-in-law.

The Valkyrie Sisters Scene - often a scream fest even in major opera houses - was carried off in admirably disciplined fashion by Kerstin Randall, Nancy Gibson, Heidrun Göpfert, Regine Köbler, Britta Jacobus, Sylvia Schramm-Heilfort and Monika Straube. They are all members of the Chemnitz ensemble and sing major roles in other operas throughout the season. Certainly, there is more than one future Wagner star in this group.
_______________________________________

Sam H. Shirakawa has written for the New York Times and other periodicals in the United States and in Germany. He is the author of The Devil's Music Master: the Life and Times of Wilhelm Furtwängler, which is being released in a Japanese translation this winter. He wrote the libretto for Sam Belich's opera Laius and Chrysippus and recently completed the text and lyrics for Kanga: a fable for children. His work in film documentaries has earned him two Individual Craft Emmy nominations.

Thanks to Sam for giving us all a fascinating window into the current state (healthy apparently) of "provincial" opera houses in Germany. Watch this space later this week for the continuation of Sam's review of the Ring, Tristan and Evangelimann, all from Chemnitz and the Wiener Blut from Eisenach.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Met Broadcast Season Opens; Berlioz's Birthday

I am finally back in the saddle after several weeks being too busy to post here....

Today marks the opening of a new era of Metropolitan Opera broadcasts. It has been a very busy week for the OperaCast elves, putting the list of stations carrying the Met to bed. We won't know how accurate our list is until today's broadcast begins. Please let us know if you hear a station we have listed for NPR's World of Opera carrying the Met or vice versa. The Met has been surprisingly casual in updating (NOT) the list of stations in its network. We would have thought that they would have at least removed all mention of ChevronTexaco from their website pages devoted to the broadcasts, but some pages with the old sponsor's corporate logo still linger!

The Met will be broadcasting Verdi's I Vespri Siciliani (in Italian) with Sondra Rodvanovsky, Francisco Casanova, Leo Nucci and Samual Ramey.

NPR World of Opera is rebroadcasting Der Fliegende Hollander from this past summer's Bayreuth Festival.

Other broadcasts of interest today:

RADIO CLASICA DE ESPANA - the La Scala opening night broadcast of Salieri"s L’Europa riconosciuta (originally aired last Tuesday, December 7th.

MUSIQ3 - Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, live from Theatre de la Monnaie, featuring Mia Persson, Michael Chance, Laurent Naouri, Ivor bolton conducting.

MDR KULTUR - a live performance of Joseph Schuster's Amor e Psiche from last spring's Dresdener Musikfestpiele.

SVERIGES RADIO P2 - a performance of Thomas Jannefelt's Sport och fritid, with a cast of singers unknwon to us, from Kungliga Hovkapellet, Stockholm.

ESPACE 2 - a February 2004 performance of Thomas Corneille's Der lächerliche Prinz Jodelet, from Hambourg Opera.

And now to Hector Berlioz.... HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

I'm delighted to let everyone here know that, immediately following today's Met broadcast of Vespri Siciliani,, KCSC will be celebrating two of my favorite people (!): Hector Berlioz and Giacomo Lauri-Volpi. I hope to be able to catch some of it, since I'll be off relatively early thsi evening. But I trust there will be a few here who can catch it all. And drat...the Met has run long by about ten minutes, so I hope they have time to play everything planned....

And so, three cheers for Berlioz and Lauri-Volpi!