Airborne string players and choral wizardry in aus LICHT Part 3

Stockhausen: aus LICHT

At the Gashouder, Amsterdam on the 2nd of June, 2019

The final part of aus LICHT is the longest. Working Together and Opening Up Into Space is spread over eight hours, including breaks. It comprises episodes from DIENSTAG (Tuesday), MITTWOCH (Wednesday) and SONNTAG (Sunday). And, for die-hard serialists, there are additional hours of electronic music. Three long operas in three days will test anyone’s endurance, but my wonder at Stockhausen’s inventiveness and exuberant craziness increases after every segment. Also, the cast is beyond wonderful…

Full review on Bachtrack.

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Hypnotic, diabolical and magical: aus LICHT Part 2, Lucifer & Eve

Stockhausen: aus LICHT

At the Gashouder, Amsterdam on the 1st of June, 2019

aus LICHT Part 2 consists of excerpts from two days of the LICHT cycle. In SAMSTAG (Saturday) Michael takes on Lucifer and there’s nothing I love more than an angeological showdown. MONTAG (Monday) is all about Eva and her fecund mother goddessness. And the finale is Stockhausen’s take on the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. It all starts with a bang, or rather a boom, as four brass ensembles greet us with the diabolical, low-pitched fanfare, SAMSTAGS-GRUSS. Stockhausen is so polite, saluting us and seeing us off each time!

Full review on Bachtrack.

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aus LICHT Part 1: Michael only takes flight in the second half

Stockhausen: aus LICHT

At the Gashouder, Amsterdam on the 31st of May, 2019

I’m a bit concerned about my first live encounter with avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007), aus LICHT at the Holland Festival. I’m not that keen on electronic music, a field in which Stockhausen was a pioneer. In his seven-opera cycle LICHT (Light), one opera for each day of the week, there’s even a character called Synthi-Fou, the Synthesizer Maniac. I needn’t have worried. LICHT, composed between 1977 and 2003, is electronic, acoustic, grandiose, intimate, and every combination thereof. 

Full review on Bachtrack.

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Cool beauty in Dutch National Opera’s Madama Butterfly

Puccini: Madama Butterfly

At Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam on the 23rd of April, 2019

It is hard to imagine a more beautifully sung Cio-Cio-San than Elena Stikhina’s. For her, Dutch National Opera has revived Robert Wilson’s ultra-minimalistic Madama Butterfly, first unveiled in 1993 at the Paris Opera, and presented many times since at various houses. The severe beauty of the production has not aged a bit. Yet, despite the satisfaction they give to the senses, both Wilson’s images and Stikhina’s singing leave one wanting more.

Full review on Opera Today.

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Glorious ensembles in Dutch National Opera’s new Tannhäuser

Wagner: Tannhäuser

At Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam on the 6th of April, 2019

The unveiling of Dutch National Opera’s new Tannhäuser was a very good night for Wagner, chiefly thanks to the magnificent orchestra and chorus. Director Christof Loy offered an interesting take on the singing knight torn between carnal rapture with the goddess Venus and his socially acceptable love for Elisabeth, and there was some fine solo singing. But it was the spellbinding colours and three-dimensional splendour of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and the house chorus that swept one away.

Full review on Bachtrack.

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Perfect symbiosis of words and music in Fin de partie at the Opera Forward Festival

Kurtág: Fin de partie

At Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam on the 6th of March, 2019

György Kurtág’s only opera Fin de partie, based on Samuel Beckett’s play, has had a long gestation period. After being announced a number of times without materialising, it received its world premiere at La Scala last November, when it was declared to be a masterpiece. Kurtàg, now in his early nineties, was unable to travel to Milan, or to Amsterdam, where the same cast and conductor have brought the production to the Opera Forward Festival. At the curtain call last Wednesday, conductor Markus Stenz and director Pierre Audi held up the score and accepted the fervent applause on the composer’s behalf.

Full review on Bachtrack.

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Chameleonic new opera featuring Caruso in Amsterdam

Hamel: Caruso a Cuba

At Internationaal Theater Amsterdam on the 3rd of March, 2019

Micha Hamel’s new opera, Caruso a Cuba, is constantly on the move. The chameleonic score takes on a myriad flavours, all with a strong sense of mood or place. 

With 19th century Italian opera tunes flowing into Afro-Cuban percussion and chromatic free falls, there is never a dull moment in this fictionalized account of tenor Enrico Caruso’s 1920 visit to Cuba. It has meaty roles for the lead singers too. 

Full review on Opera Today.

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