Friday, February 22, 2013

Ratpack Rigoletto

Oh man, my life is as crazy as crazy gets! Back from Orlando now since Saturday and trying to organize my life and things. As promised I did go to the Live in HD Broadcast of Rigoletto on Saturday after flying 10 hours and being unable to sleep during all of those hours. But as it always is for opera and me, it was worth it! Let’s start from the beginning shall we?
Arrived in São Paulo from Orlando about 7 in the morning and waited a while for my parents to shop at DutyFree and then at 10 am I was FREE! They left me in the subway and for the first time in 3 weeks I was completely alone and I couldn’t be happier! I went to McDonalds for coffee and there I sat sipping my latte for a very long time reading my beloved The Inner Voice by Renée Fleming. Around one I met my friend Caio (one of those friends that watched Joyce DiDonato’s Master Class with me) and we had lunch at a fantastic Japanese food restaurant. After that we went to the movies to watch Rigoletto, I always seem to arrive at the Live in HD at the nick of time, this makes me nervous. I don’t like missing anything, especially the introduction given by the host.
When we walked inside the movie theatre I couldn’t help but be totally astounded. It was packed! It was almost full! I couldn’t believe my eyes! Was this the same movie theatre that only a month ago contained 10 people who were watching Maria Stuarda? Hello? I was delighted! Just as we took our seats the “5 minutes until curtain” started popping up! I love those; I always already know all the information about performers that they give!
First scene of the opera in the Duke's 'Castle', his empire is the Casino
Creative Team:
Production: Michael Mayer
Set Designer: Christine Jones
Costume Designer: Susan Hilferty
Lighting Designer: Kevin Adams
Choreographer: Steven Hogget
Live in HD Host: Renee Fleming

Rigoletto: Željko Lučić
Gilda: Diana Damrau
The Duke: Piotr Beczala
Maddalena Oksana Volkova
Sparafucile Štefan Kocan

Well, it starts, and who better to host than our beloved Renée Fleming! I was so excited, I kept showing my friend the book and saying, “It’s her! It’s her!”. And then the Rigoletto Sixties Vegas Party began. I was quite astounded by the sets. WOW, oh my Lord! Genius, my friend thought it looked like a musical, but then again this is the first opera Michael Mayer’s directed, and he is a musical theatre guy. But to my taste it was amazing. The most important thing was there, the story and the music; it was faithful to the plot. This is what I keep saying about modern productions, they work! Of course you can’t have a Planet of the Apes Rigoletto, that’s just wrong (Diana Damrau did one, she’s embarrassed to this day), but with a Las Vegas setting, what could be more appropriate if you want to bring the action to modern times?

Piotr Beczala as the Duke performing Questa o Quella
It was very much to my liking, Piotr Beczala was amazing. He was my first tenor crush, after I saw him as the De Chevalier in Manon last year, oh God. He owns this character, I had already seen him playing the Duke and he’s probably my favorite tenor to portray him. He was sporting a Frank Sinatra swagger I didn’t know he had, very charming and with a voice that just fits the role perfectly. His “Questa o Quella” was just very well executed and fun to watch.
Another absolute star was Diana Damrau, apart from being an amazing singer, she’s a terrific actress. She made it so believable that she actually was a 17 year old teenager eager to love and be loved. She’s so gracious and her Caro Nome BLEW ME AWAY! By the end of the aria I was holding my breath and so was the entire audience in the movie theatre!
Diana Damrau as Gilda performing Caro Nome
The ending of the first act was super cool with the use of the elevators and concluding with a kidnapped Gilda being put inside a huge sarcophagus! One of my favorite parts of the live in HD I must admit is the interview part. Renée was very sassy while interviewing the singers and production team. I particularly loved it when she was talking to the director and he said he was a huge fan of hers and she said she was flattered and felt a high note coming. Oddly enough me and my buddy were the only ones in the movie theatre that laughed at her jokes. Even weirder since there were people there talking in German, others in French, and others in English, and must I remind you that I was in a middle-low class shopping mall in which the movie theatre was in, in Brasil. This isn’t very normal, but then again, what is normal when it comes to art?
Amazing set in which the Second Act takes place, and yes, the chandeliers are replicas of the Met’s famous chandeliers!
Second act, amazing, the opening with the Duke’s aria, you think he might have a change of heart. I remember the first time I saw Rigoletto I was so happy he seemed to be changing, but then he just didn’t, disappointing. But the plot must go on and he can’t be nice now if we want to have a true tragedy! Then there was one of the most amazing moments in the whole opera, Rigoletto’s aria asking the man to free his daughter. It was absolutely heart breaking, Željko Lučić is the best Rigoletto I’ve ever seen, just like Piotr, his voice fits the role quite perfectly. They free Gilda but Rigoletto wants vengeance.
 Piotr Beczala as the Duke (left) Željko Lučić as Rigoletto and Diana Damrau as Gilda (right) 

Another intermission and we are back with sassy interviews, this time with Diana, who is such a sweet, sweet person! She talked about the role and how she recreated it as a sixties teenager. But the highlight for the interview was her little boy, so cute! Both her sons were there that day, which I think it’s pretty awesome, and I’m almost sure she takes them to rehearsals as well, operas singer/mother of the year!
Final act opens with a quite shocking topless pool dancer, and I’m like “Oh my God, he didn’t!”, there was some clapping coming from the audience and if I’m not mistaken some boos as well. Boos make me nervous and make me feel bad for everyone, I would never like to be booed, which must be awful!
Piotr Beczala as the Duke, Oksana Volkova as Maddalena, Željko Lučić as Rigoletto and Diana Damrau as Gilda 
Well when I hear Final Rigoletto act I automatically think of two things I love, “La Donna è Mobile” and my all time favorite quartet “Bella Figlia Dell’Amore”. Both were very nicely done, I liked way too much the fact Piotr did a bit o pool dancing himself, that was quite fun! Having a car on stage was pretty cool, but putting the leading lady inside the trunk after rightly assassinating her was the cherry on top of a fantastic Vegas journey! Diana sang quite angelically her last piece of music that tore me to pieces, and by the end of the opera I was crying, as I do in most operas I go to.  
Željko Lučić as Rigoletto and Diana Damrau as Gilda in the last scene of Rigoletto
I loved it! It’s such a shame I didn’t get to see it live! But I will be there for the next season! If my sources are correct next week they’ll announce the next season and I’ll be able to plan my trip! Have a good one peeps!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Confessions of a Shopaholic!

Where do I start? First by saying, holy cow, I haven’t posted in a while hun… I’m still in my never ending Orlando trip here in the US. But I’m getting back to Brasil tomorrow and actually getting there on Saturday and going straight to the movie theatre to watch Rigoletto. Everything you can imagine went wrong in regards to my dreamy trip to NY this weekend, as you may know, it didn’t happen. Yeah, damn snow that cancelled my flight on Friday and made me lose my Rigoletto and my mum’s mind. She got real upset about it, and I decided that for her sake I wouldn’t go, I was sure that she would get real sick if I went. So as you may imagine, I’m very upset and have been compulsively shopping ever since (in Amazon and Macy’s, oh credit card bill).
I have never been this upset before; I’m seriously feeling very broken. I had been planning and paying for this trip to NY myself for months now and I was so looking forward to meeting some of the terrific people I’ve befriended on twitter. What really got to me the most apart from not seeing my friends was not being able to watch Rigoletto. You see, two of my favorite opera singers are in this production. Piotr Beczala was my first tenor crush and it was in last year’s production of Manon, in which he was playing De Chevalier de Griex, that I feel in love with opera. And Diana Damrau is hands down my favorite soprano, I could listen to her sing any part, do anything, she’s the coloratura light of my life (SOPRANO coloratura light of my life, the coloratura light of my life is Joyce!). And plus I was gonna get to meet them on Monday, actually talk to them and have Diana sign all my cds! That I think was what I was most looking forward to.
And of course seeing the HOT Mariusz in Elisir wouldn’t be bad eighter, all of the cast of Elisir is very dear to me, Matthew Polenzani, Anna Netrebko and Erwin Shrott all hold a very dear place in my heart. So yeah, I was very and continue to be UTTERLY upset about everything that happened.

THANK GOD I decided to order on Amazon most of the things I planned to buy at the Met store! And that was actually what I wanted to talk about, I’m sorry if the beginning of this post is sort of depressing but I had to let it out somehow.

Well I got in total 16 cds, 4 books and 1 DVD! Yeah, a lot of stuff, but all very much necessary, let’s start with the cds, shall we?

So Joyce DiDonato is like my idol and favorite singer of all time, so I bought 5 of her CDS! I was most craving to get my hands on the so well acclaimed Drama Queens and Furore. I was most hooked on Diva Divo, the idea is already very intriguing but the different colors she brings to the table with this recording is just out of this world! I also got Rossini: Colbran, the muse, because well, I love Rossini and the Songs by Fauré, Hahn and Head Arias by Rossini and Handel. Very pleased with all of them for sure!

Then my second diva, I got 2 Diana Damrau CDS. Coloraturas for obvious reasons that have already been brought up in this post and the Mozart Arias one, because Mozart rocks my world and so does Diana!

I also got stuff from my favorite barihunks ;) Simon Keenlyside’s Tales of Opera and Erwin Schrott’s Opera Arias cds. Alongside with the baritones I also got some things from some of my favorite tenors, Juan Diego Florez’s Rossini Arias for again obvious reasons and Joseph Calleja’s The Maltese Tenor because I find his voice’s color so different and intriguing I can’t get enough of it!

Other two sopranos that hold a very dear place in my heart and in my opera CD collection have completely different voices. First we have Danielle DeNiece’s Handel Arias cd that is Dani doing what does best, baroque, baroque, baroque! And then we have Sondra Radvanovsky also doing what she does best, Verdi in her Verdi Arias cd.

And to end my perfect cd collection, at least for now, the amazing recording of Don Giovanni with Ildebrando D’Arcangelo as Don Giovanni, Diana Damrau as Donna Anna, Joyce DiDonato as Donna Elvira, Luca Pisaroni as Leporello, Rolando Villazon as Don Ottavio, Konstantin Wolff as Masetto and Vitalij Kowaljow as Zerlina. This is truly an opera treasure and a dream cast, although I would have picked another Ottavio, but that’s another story.
Then on to the books I didn’t get all the one I wanted but elas!

These three books give you an idea of how the opera singer life is, from three very different points of view with three very different enphasis, the point of view of a successful opera singer, the point of view of a jornalist and the point of view of a teacher

This one I actually started reading yesterday, right after I opened the box containing it. It’s Renée Fleming’s The Inner Voice that is absolutely amazing and it is a MUST have for anyone who is aspiring to be an opera singer. I’m not gonna talk a lot about it right now because when I finish reading it I want to do post only on it. But it’s GOOOOOOD!

Then I got something I thought I would enjoy reading thoroughly, Joshua Jampol’s Living Opera, a series of interviews with many opera singers, young ones and old in many stages of their operatic careers.

This one I got because of Joyce’s first or second vlog in which she recommends this said book that was written by her vocal instructor called The Naked Voice by W. Stephen Smith.
Something that I saw in a book store in Brasil last year that got me salivating with Mozart hunger but was like R$150,00, which would be $70,00, I got on Amazon for $30! The Seven Mozart Librettos: A Verse Translation, this is every Mozart fan’s dream come true! And the pages are all aged and the ends are made as if they’ve been sort of eaten by time, it’s a gorgeous gigantic book and I LOVE IT!

And finally a book one of my good friend and most faithful silent reader of this blog recommended to have as a quick answer go to book The Eyewitness Companion of Opera by Alan Riding and Leslie Dunton Downer.

Now finally, for the one and only DVD I got. CENDRILLON my all time favorite French opera EVER, the Royal Opera House production with Joyce DiDonato as Cendrillon, Alice Coote as Prince Charmant, Eglise Gutirrrez as La Fée and Ewa Podles as Madame de la Haltiere. Just bliss!

Apart from the fact I bought so many clothes I had to buy myself an extra bag to take them back home with me to Brasil, and I spend the little that was left of my money in Slytherin themed stuff in the Harry Potter park (where I cried, a lot). But in my own defense, the things here are so much cheaper than in Brasil, I had to make to most of it ;)
Ok, I’m gonna stop now! You all have a good one and wish me a safe journey back to my culturally undeveloped country! ;) Cheers! Oh and Happy Valantines Day everyone, it's not Valentine's Day in Brasil though, ours is on the 12th of June.