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Happy new 12 months! The Metropolitan Opera rang in 2019 with a boffo “Adriana Lecouvreur,” that includes a love triangle of Anna Netrebko, Anita Rachvelishvili and Piotr Beczala with sufficient sizzle to steer some critics to heat to the not-always-respected work. More on that in a second.
I used to be greater than four,000 miles away, celebrating in Vienna with a life-affirming 26-hour musical marathon: Strauss’s ‘’Die Fledermaus” on the State Opera on New Year’s Eve; extra Strauss the following morning on the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Concert within the Musikverein; and the Vienna Symphony enjoying Beethoven’s Ninth that night.
Is there a extra musical metropolis? In the New York of my childhood, aggressive road hawkers provided medicine to passers-by. In Vienna they sound virtually as furtive, however their pitch is: “Concert? Opera? Strauss? Mozart?”
Here are some postcards. MICHAEL COOPER
The New Year’s Concert
I’ve usually questioned: Do the star conductors the Vienna Philharmonic brings in every year for its New Year’s live shows really conduct, on condition that this music is virtually this orchestra’s birthright?
When I entered the largely empty, majestically gilded Musikverein to observe the gamers rehearse with Christian Thielemann, the principal conductor of the Dresden Staatskapelle and music director of the Bayreuth Festival, I bought an inkling. As he took to the rostrum, the shimmering strings introduced that he was starting the rehearsal on the finish, with the normal encore: Strauss’s “Blue Danube” Waltz. It is probably probably the most well-known waltz there may be, and one the orchestra might in all probability play in its sleep.
But Mr. Thielmann was not one to let the gamers set the coordinates to three/four time and go on cruise management. He stopped them fairly a bit, at one level asking the cellos to form certainly one of its most acquainted phrases in a different way, and he continued fine-tuning the piece till he was joyful.
“It is great to work with a powerful associate,” Mr. Thielmann stated in an interview, saying that he prefers orchestras just like the Vienna Philharmonic, with sturdy factors of view, to people who deal with scores as clean slates to be stuffed in by conductors. “The weak companions are tough.”
The New Year’s live performance should be the world’s most generally seen recurrently held classical music occasion: It is televised in 91 nations, and earlier than the month is out, Sony plans to launch it on CD, DVD and Blu-ray. This 12 months there have been 14 cameras within the corridor; a number of the cameramen hid behind the copious floral preparations, like hunters in a duck blind.
A “Fledermaus” Without Second-Guessing
It isn’t straightforward to carry off “Die Fledermaus” lately. Should it’s up to date? Translated? Made “related”? Can it’s carried out with a suitably Viennese sensibility?
Without such second-guessing, the Vienna State Opera’s unapologetically old school Otto Schenk manufacturing, with opulent units by Günther Schneider-Siemssen, nonetheless holds the stage on New Year’s Eve, because it has for years. (Mahler carried out the work when he led the corporate.)
There have been a couple of flash moments — the bass René Pape was the particular visitor within the second act, singing “Some Enchanted Evening” at Prince Orlofsky’s ball — however the night’s chief pleasure was attending to see a manufacturing that took the work neither too severely nor too flippantly. The waltzes lilted, the patter glided by shortly sufficient, and the solid amused — particularly Adrian Eröd, who introduced humorous, straightforward physicality to the function of the duped Eisenstein, and Annette Dasch, who introduced operatic glamour as his spouse, Rosalinde.
And strolling out of the opera home in time for an al fresco mug of sizzling mulled wine, adopted by a chilly glass of champagne, on Kärntner Strasse, as fireworks exploded overhead at midnight, made the night tough to copy.
An “Ode to Joy” for the New Year
For greater than 4 many years, the Vienna Symphony has marked the altering of the 12 months with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. While the Philharmonic’s morning live performance was within the gilded Musikverein — the place golden, topless caryatids appear to carry up the balconies and the richly coffered ceiling is much more dazzling than the crystal chandeliers — the Symphony’s night live performance was within the stately Konzerthaus, with its Secessionist and Art Nouveau touches.
Something about seeing the bodily variations of the 2 halls — the Musikverein opened in 1870, the Konzerthaus in 1913 — introduced residence simply how lengthy Emperor Franz Joseph, who was in energy for each openings, reigned. They evoke completely different eras.
Andrés Orozco-Estrada, who will succeed Philippe Jordan because the orchestra’s music director in 2021, carried out, and managed to carry out the true strangeness of the Ninth. Under his baton Beethoven’s stops and begins and adjustments of route nonetheless startled.
The stars of the Met’s new manufacturing of “Adriana Lecouvreur” couldn’t be higher: the ravishing soprano Anna Netrebko within the title function, the smoldering mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili because the Princess of Bouillon, and the clarion tenor Piotr Beczala as Maurizio, the dashing depend each ladies love. It’s straightforward to miss a number of wonderful singers in supporting roles, particularly the baritone Ambrogio Maestri as Michonnet, the gruff stage supervisor of the Parisian theater firm the place Adriana is a headliner. With his beefy voice and Falstaffian physique, Mr. Maestri usually appears like a sort of basso. And Falstaff, his signature function, which he has sung to acclaim on the Met, has additionally been the province of some main bass-baritones and basses. Still, Mr. Ambrogio is a real baritone, albeit with an exceptionally deep and booming voice, who has excelled as Puccini’s Scarpia and, as this excerpt from an “Aida” in Florence some years in the past makes clear, Verdi’s Amonasro. Here, becoming a member of Hui He within the intense Act III duet, Mr. Ambrogio brings a successful mix of Italianate lyricism and strong energy to his singing. ANTHONY TOMMASINI