Faust sells his soul to the devil in return for youth and the chance to seduce a young girl. Not a story I have ever had much time for, but Gounod’s operatic version is stashed full of wonderful tunes and the Royal Opera house performance that we heard a couple of weeks ago was full of fizz and beautifully sung with a really well-balanced cast (Joseph Calleja, Bryn Terfel, Simon Keenlyside and Sonya Yoncheva). Sonya was new to us and had a charm and her voice was rich and with an ease over the whole range. I could have enjoyed this opera with my eyes shut as the orchestra, under conductor Maurizio Bernini, was in terrific form.
The evening even had its comic moments. The woman behind us, a newcomer to opera, after watching the alluring male ballet dancer behaving badly with a posse of half-dressed nymphs, and then being symbolically shot, uttered a heartfelt “ni…ice”.
A couple of days ago we attend a contrasting evening in the beautiful and more intimate Cadogan Hall in London. This was a Mozart evening featuring the small Kammerorchester of Basel and Rolando Villazon. The orchestra played on early instruments with a leader but no conductor and they stood (except for cellos and a double bass) throughout the evening. Their verve, accuracy and plain enjoyment were a delight. Beyond all this Rolando sang a series of obscure Mozart concert arias giving everyone, musicians and audience, great pleasure. For a taster visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Shi8n1GFj9E . His voice has deepened and darkened over the years. It remains very warm with plenty of ping in the high notes and conveys tenderness, fury and comic bafflement equally well. Above all his total physical and mental engagement with the music and the audience are, as always, utterly engaging.
No photos? A maple in fresh spring growth.
Hilary, your garden is so very lovely to the eyes and the Mozart arias just the right music to nourish the soul.
Thank you. We are in a very lucky phase of our lives right now, with time to garden and enjoy music.
So true. Enjoy your garden…and your music.
You had a lovely evening and what better than sharing it with Mozart? The viridian green spring maple looks so inviting it feels like herb waiting for a salad.
I am totally susceptible to new foliage on maples and have resisted posting them endlessly this year. I just go and talk to them at intervals, but I agree they look almost edible.
Bryn Terfel AND Mozart. What more could you want. Except perhaps to have them together. A Welsh Papageno perhaps?
That’s a brilliant idea, though he is getting a little… majestic … ? for the role.
Ah well, he is Welsh you see, Hilary. We do tend to the majestic as we age and mature.
I don’t know the concert arias at well, but I’ve always liked this one a lot.
What was the great man thinking about, a piano obligato?
But it works well, I think.
Thank you, I didn’t know this piece. It’s lovely though, as you say, the piano is a curiosity. I once went to a concert with four opera singers singing well-known arias to a piano accompaniment by Pappano. It was brilliant because you hear every note – and I love the piano next after the voice.
Gorgeous review I can imagine it through your words, I’d love to see Joseph Callejia live his blog is interesting and has some good tips for trainee singers 🙂
Calleja has an amazingly sweet voice with a surprising vibrato which is almost, but never quite, over the top. He is obviously a nice guy too.