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July 2002

Beaune, France - 6 July / 13 July
Handel: Arianna in Creta/Vivaldi - L'Olimpiade



Montpellier - 23 July
Rossini:
La Donna del Lago

  • Rossini's Donna del Lago was noteworthy for the participation of Daniela Barcellona (Malcolm) and Juan Diego Florez (Giacomo), the latter even surpassing his reputation. Ms. Barcellona sings with total ease, though she misses the fire of some of her predecessors in this perilous repertory. Gregory Kunde's Rodrigo lacked ease, but he did get out all the notes and just about held his own against Florez in their encounters. Nicola Ulivieri's Douglas shone in his few opportunities. Unfortunately Brigitte Hahn in the title role lacks any notion of Rossinian style, the line lacking souplesse, the tone too cloudy. Riccardo Frizza's matter-of-fact approach did not encourage the Orchestre National to indulge in subtlety.



Montpellier - 30 July
Offenbach: Die Rheinnixen

  • Offenbach's Die Rheinnixen was finally receiving its world premiere (performances in 1864 in Vienna at the Hofoperntheater were severely truncated). This concert offered three and a half hours of music, plus two intervals; were it to be staged, some judicious cutting might be in order, but at least we heard what the composer intended. The music, despite later borrowings from its score for Hoffmann, or its own borrowings from earlier works, justifies its appellation of "grand opéra romantique". The work is through-composed, and there is none of the light relief to which we are accustomed. The echoes are more of Weber and Mendelssohn, while the story is a combination ofGiselle (maiden who dies because she sings, despite her mother's pleas not to) and heroic patriotism, as symbolized by the oft-repeated Vaterlandlied. Friedemann Layer and the Orchestre National de Montpellier revelled in the colourful score, while Regina Schörg as the heroine, Armgard, who does not die although every one seems to think she has thrilled us with her powerful high notes while at the same time able to caress a musical line where necessary. Her mad scene at the end of Act One had the audience on the edge of their seats. Nora Gubisch as the mother, Hedwig, was sufficiently emphatic, but the role would seem to be written more for a cross between Azucena and Fricka. Piotr Beczala as the amnesiac hero Franz has lots to sing, to most of which he brought honeyed tone occasionally disfigured by sobs. Dalibor Jenis as the villain, Conrad, who is brought face to face with his evil deeds (he has betrayed the mother of his child - one guess who they are - and will destroy everything in his path towards armed victory) finally joins the side of the "good". Peter Klaveness as the faithful Gottfried revealed a nicely-schooled bass baritone. A final acclamation is due to Jean-Christophe Keck, editor of the Offenbach Edition Keck published jointly by Boosey and Hawkes and Bote & Bock, for his labours allowing us to participate in this discovery of a hitherto unknown Offenbach.



Montpellier - 31 July
Handel: Rinaldo



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