It’s a story for our times – read Paul Daley’s reflections on Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick or The Whale. But if you don’t have enough isolation time to read the novel, you can watch the extraordinary opera by Jake Heggie as produced by San Francisco Opera and co-produced by State Opera of South Australia for the Adelaide Festival in 2011. It's on this Sunday.
The link will be https://sfopera.com/opera-is-on/ and our times (AEST) are 03:00 (3 am) Sunday 24 May to 16:59 (5 pm) Monday 25 May. So make it your Sunday Night at the Opera!
SFOpera describe it as ‘a high-octane operatic thriller’. Watch a trailer here.
They have – as did Adelaide - the triumphant heldentenor Jay Hunter Morris as Ahab, ‘the tormented soul whose quest for vengeance against a monstrous white whale is bought in human lives.’ Fascinating interview with the "blue collar tenor" here. Read a review of the Adelaide production here, and an account of the journey of the librettist from book to opera.
Could it be better on film than on stage? Interesting comments here.
Best of British
Back in Britain, there are brilliant offerings this week from Glyndebourne, Opera North and Royal Opera House.
From Glyndebourne: that mad modern Marriage of Figaro
As flagged in last week’s blog, coming up next week with Glyndebourne is their thoroughly modern version of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro –much praised – and streaming free from 2am Monday 25th May (our time) for 7 days. Watch it on their YouTube channel.
Their 1960’s setting for The Marriage of Figaro is a gem for debating updating of operas, placing 'beautiful people of the late 1960's' in Moorish architecture (it's in Seville, right?) and gardens.
From Opera North, Bernstein takes off into opera
Opera North is screening their performance of Trouble in Tahiti, Leonard Bernstein's satire on the American dream. It was his first opera and the only work for which Bernstein wrote the music and the words. Watch on YouTube (only 52 minutes) available till June 1st.
“Gently satirical but also wryly sympathetic about a marriage that has gone dead in the water, it is clothed in music of jazzy lyricism not many miles from West Side Story, which followed a few years later.” (more from the Telegraph). More about the opera with synopsis, here and here. Review from the Guardian. and one by Bachtrack of a Boston production.
Needing Tradition? Here’s the Royal Opera House offerings
Covent Garden is offering a free programme of curated online broadcasts as part of their #OurHousetoYourHouse series. Watch them on their Facebook or YouTube channels. Their long running production of La Traviata is live streaming 8 May – 8 June. Go back to last week’s blog for details and reviews of this very special production with Renee Fleming at her peak performance.
Also very special, and much funnier, is their utterly delightful version of Massenet’s Cendrillon, with Joyce di Donato. We watched this version earlier this year, in our days of yore. It features the best dressed ugly sisters and the wickedest bel canto athletics for the stunning godmother, and Joyce is superlative. Read all about it and about Joyce di Donato on our blog from when we covered Massenet last year. Streaming from here 22 May – 4 June.
Manon week at the Met
It’s a week for Manon Lescaut operas at the Met. Read on our blog earlier this year about the classic and scandalous novel that inspired Massenet and Puccini to write rival operas, and the great moments in both operas. The Met screens the Massenet version Monday our time, and Puccini’s on Thursday our time with Renata Scotto. More about the Puccini opera in modern times on our earlier blog.
To watch the current Met screening you go to their website here. There are many comment articles and synopses there to follow.
The week starts for us on Monday, May 25 with Massenet’s Manon(2012). Anna Netrebko is Manon, and her Chevalier des Grieux is Piotr Beczala. NYTimes review here. Here's a clip of Anna’s Manon briefly enjoying the pinnacle of wealth.
Tuesday, May 26 Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust (2008). Starring Susan Graham, Marcello Giordani, and John Relyea. A great gallop to hell (left).
Wednesday, May 27 Verdi’s Ernani (2012). Starring Angela Meade, Marcello Giordani, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and Ferruccio Furlanetto.
Thursday, May 28 - the other Manon: Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, (1980). Starring the great Renata Scotto, with Plácido Domingo, and Pablo Elvira,
Friday, May 29 Berlioz’s Les Troyens (2013). Start early for this one – like the war, it goes on and on! Wonderful music. Starring Deborah Voigt, Susan Graham, Bryan Hymel, and Dwayne Croft, conducted by Fabio Luisi.
Sunday, May 31 Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore (2018). Starring Pretty Yende, Matthew Polenzani, Davide Luciano, and Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, conducted by Domingo Hindoyan.