Dan Ettinger

Bye bye Bohème

Rooftops of Paris [(c) Mark Tyson]

Rooftops of Paris [(c) Mark Tyson]

So, it begins: the last run of Covent Garden’s production of La Bohème by John Copley, originally premiered during the period of electricity cuts and the 3-day week in 1974 – in fact, on the eve of Edward Heath asking for a dissolution of Parliament for the February 1974 General Election. In contrast 2015’s final revival saw ample full-on star-wattage blazing, albeit distractingly at times, from the two lead performers. In the meantime, the production showed its steadfast muted colours by carrying the the story with convincing straightforwardness. Nice though it was to see it a last time, I confess myself ready for something with rather more insight.

Given my lack of success in seeing her on the Covent Garden stage in the past, it was pleasing to note that Anna Netrebko was indeed present – and then some. As the evening progressed the celebrity sheen was slowly dimmed in favour of her genuine acting talents. Vocally as well, she seemed to ‘free up’ as the performance went on, after a first act in which her vocal voluptuousness threatened to tip over into an excessively mezzo-ish tone with stodgy consonants. Nonetheless, she won me back over as she stood behind the tumbril in act 3 and reacted most movingly to Rodolfo’s changing explanations of why he had left her. At the close, she anchored the death scene with her stillness, matching her vocal beauty to the failing health of the character. (more…)

Damrau rules

After a week in New York, with five performances at the Met (andfor which I still haven’t processed all my notes to write it up – that will follow!), it was nice to be back at ‘home’ (aka Covent Garden) for a revival of the nigh-on 20-year old production of La Traviata. Particularly nice, because from the soprano point of view I can’t recall being quite so completely dumbstruck by a performance. (more…)

Rigoletto at the Royal Opera

Not going to labour this one. I, and the group I was with, had a rollicking good time.

True, the production could benefit from a little bit of oomph.  The opener is a bit of an unpromising start.  There’s something dispiriting about the Royal Opera Chorus doing ‘filthy’, which somehow always drifts in the direction of ‘bawdy’, and ends up looking like a 197os sitcom romp.  Those two that get stripped naked and pushed at each other are rather surplus to requirements, especially if they are just going to lie flopped on each other… (more…)