maanantai, 8. lokakuu 2018

A Little about A French Soiree

Last Thursday I went to the ballet with some doubts. A French soiree with Pneuma by Carolyn Carlson and Suite en blanc by Serge Lifar was on the menu. What I had seen earlier of Carolyn Carlson's work I had found soporific, and the neo-classical ballets I had seen I had found vacuous. Apparently others had shared my doubts as the house was half-empty.

However, Pneuma, shown before the intermission, was beautiful and fascinating, while the shorter Suite en blanc was both fun and energetic. The dancers and the music left nothing to complain about, but in particular I liked the lightning of Pneuma by Rémi Nicolas; I've never before seen yellow shadows!

On the whole, a worthwhile evening.




perjantai, 14. syyskuu 2018

Tosca, the Second Gap Filled

At last I filled a major gap in my education, one which had actually troubled me: I saw Tosca, a new version by Christof Loy. It may sound incredible, but I had failed to see the older one although it ran for twenty years at the Finnish National Opera, in spite of having occasionally planned to go to see it.

It has had fairly good reviews, although I mostly agree with a Finnish music blogger who calls it colourless and sterile. As a whole there was nothing wrong, and it had its moments, but somehow it didn't quite take flight. Apparently Aušrinė Stundytė, Floria Tosca, wasn't at her best at the opening night, but yesterday there was nothing wrong with her voice, and all the others were good as well.

I wondered about the costumes; in the first act they are sort of everyday 1950s style, then Scarpia and his men appear in early 19th century style, and finally there are some people in mid-18th century dress interspersed. It is partly explained by Christoph Loy who says that Cavaradossi represents the timeless and free non-feudal system and Scarpia, played by the excellent Tuomas Pursio, the feudal and aristocratic way of life, although not quite... And does Tosca represent the hysterical female, as she seems, in this interpretation?

Fortunately the music was enjoyable, and E lucevan le stelle (sung by Andrea Caré) was lovely as always.

maanantai, 16. heinäkuu 2018

Waiting for Trumputin: Photos

An inefficient first day at work, an hour and a quarter wasted waiting outdoors for the presidents to pass. According to the media the delay was caused by Putin's plane being late..






Putin's car...




Trump's cars.

And back to work.

perjantai, 20. huhtikuu 2018

A Gap in Education Filled

I had looked forward to filling a gap in my education this year - at last a chance to see Il Trovatore! But then the reviews started appearing, and I became apprehensive. They were less than enthusiastic about this co-production by Gran Teatre de Liceu of Barcelona and Teatro Campoamor of Oviedo from last year, and to start it with a gratuitous rape scene seemed less than appropriate these days. But it wasn't too bad at all, not The Disasters of War by Goya projected on the walls, or even the Goya character himself wandering about and observing, with candles on the rim of his hat. Elena Stikhina was a very good Leonora, otherwise the singers were competent enough.

It occurs to me that this opera was selected for this spring season just for it's civil war setting as in Finland we are just looking back on our own civil war of 1918.

In any case, one gap in my education has been patched up, and another one, even more incredible, will be next autumn.

perjantai, 2. maaliskuu 2018


I saw my third Giselle yesterday. The first one was in the old opera house in the 1980s, the second one in this one twenty years ago. Mostly my memories of them consist of an intense boredom.

Since last spring I've anticipated this Giselle with the attitude that nobody should be inflicted with it three times; it can be seen once for education, but anything more is too much. However, this production rented from the Oslo Ballet was delightful, even the music sounded better than I had remembered.

It was in every respect very traditional from the choreography to the sets and costumes, for which one must be grateful to David Walker. The backdrop was painted with a romantic scenery in brownish hues, there were cottages with doors and windows, the men's costumes were in renaissance style, ladies' more reminiscent of renaissance revival, just right. There was nothing that the opening-night audience in 1841 would have found strange, except maybe the apparently solid curtain that melted away - a commonplace today. Yet it was all fresh.

The painted backdrop produced, however, a bit of unintentional comedy in the second act in the form of a strange astronomical phenomenon: the full moon stood round and still in the same place through all the night till the sunrise!

I went home happy with the real full moon shining bright in the sky.