Dutch National Opera revives deliciously dark A Dog’s Heart

Raskatov: A Dog’s Heart

Dutch National Opera, 22nd April 2017

Mikhail Bulgakov (1891-1940)

Is A Dog’s Heart even an opera? It is sung by opera singers to live music. Alexander Raskatov’s score, however, is secondary to the incredible stage visuals. Whatever it is, actor/director Simon McBurney’s first stab at opera is fantastic theatre. Its revival at Dutch National Opera, where it premiered in 2010, is hugely welcome.

Full review on Opera Today.

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra premieres Easter Passions

Debussy/Ali-Zadeh/Živković: RCO/Brabbins

Concertgebouw, 7th April 2017

SaintSebastianPretiSarriaChurch.jpg

Saint Sebastian by Mattia Preti (1613-1699), Sarria Church, Floriana, Malta

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra continues its recent tradition of commissioning a new Eastertide passion every four years. This year they commissioned two new works, Mystical Sacrifice by Djuro Živković and Nasimi-Passion by Franghiz Ali-Zadeh. Symphonic fragments from Debussy’s incidental music for a mystery play about Saint Sebastian completed the programme.

Full review on Bachtrack.

New opera Caliban banal and wearisome

Eggert: Caliban

Compagnietheater, Amsterdam, 30th March 2017

CalibanByFranzMarc

Caliban by Franz Marc (1880-1916), courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Listening to Moritz Eggert’s Caliban is the equivalent of watching a flea-ridden dog chasing its own tail for one-and-half hours. It scratches, twitches and yelps. Occasionally, it blinks pleadingly, but you can’t bring yourself to care for such a foolish animal and its less-than-tragic plight.

Full review on Opera Today.

Brave but flawed world premiere: Fortress Europe

Tsoupaki: Fortress Europe

Stadsschouwburg, Amsterdam, 22nd March 2017

Refugees_on_a_boat_crossing_the_Mediterranean_sea,_heading_from_Turkish_coast_to_the_northeastern_Greek_island_of_Lesbos,_29_January_2016

Refugees heading for Lesbos, January 2016 (Courtesy of Mstyslav Chernov via Wikimedia Commons

Calliope Tsoupaki’s latest opera, Fortress Europe, premiered as spring began taming the winter storms in the Mediterranean. The number of migrants trying to reach Europe by sea is already picking up, as it does every year. Putting their lives in the hands of unscrupulous smugglers, scores of them will drown.

Full review on Opera Today.

Ugly and brilliant: Wozzeck at Dutch National Opera

Berg: Wozzeck

Dutch National Opera, 18th March 2017

Unknown

Johann Christian Woyzeck, excecuted in 1824 for the murder of Johanna Woost

This new Wozzeck at Dutch National Opera is ugly, and disturbingly brilliant. Krzysztof Warlikowski’s staging distills the desperation of trying to scramble up from the lowest rung of society. Changing certain details of the plot, Warlikowski nevertheless stays true to the grimy realism of Georg Büchner’s play.

Full review on Bachtrack.

SaveSave

The Rigoletto Ticket Price Comparison

Much debate goes on about the cost of going to the opera, but ticket prices vary widely by theatre and price band. Here’s a quick comparison between eleven opera houses that are staging Rigoletto between now and the end of June, 2017. Verdi’s violent drama is a popular staple, of average length, and accessible to a wide audience, and I think it’s a good candidate for comparing admission prices.

First, the performances in ascending order by the Cheapest Ticket price:

RigCheapestTicketAscending.png

In ascending order by the price of a Mid-Price Ticket:RigMidPriceTicketAscedning.png

And in ascending order by the price of the Most Expensive Ticket:RigTopPriceTicketAscending.png

When possible, I’ve chosen a weekend performance (Friday, Saturday or Sunday) that is not a premiere, and I’ve left out (student) discounts and festival prices. A “mid-price” ticket is difficult to define in houses where price bands are determined by seating sections with widely divergent prices. In such cases, I picked the cheapest price in the mid-range section.

A couple of observations:

  • It will surprise no-one that Eastern European prices are the cheapest and American houses the most expensive.
  • Some A-list theatres, such as the Vienna State Opera and the Bastille, sell some of the most expensive Rigoletto tickets in Europe, but also cater for tight budgets with 15-euro tickets. Whereas Dutch National Opera and Dresden choose to rob less from the rich to give to the poor. The gap between their bottom and top prices is much smaller. Which is the more democratic price structure?
  • It can cost you as little as 5 euros (Paris) and as much as 417 euros (New York) to hear Željko Lučić as Rigoletto.

Over-the-top Elgar and hushed Mahler from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Elgar/Mahler: RCO/Gardiner

Concertgebouw, 2nd March 2017

CockaigneOvertureCover.png

Mahler and Elgar are not two composers one would automatically associate with each other. For the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra the former is an intrinsic part of their tradition, the latter only sporadically on their music stands. So much so that on Thursday evening it was the first time ever that they performed his Cockaigne Overture.

Full review on Bachtrack.