Concerto Vocale, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, René Jacobs, Choeur de la Staatsoper de Berlin : La représentation de l’âme et du corps d’Emilio de’ Cavalieri

I see that WordPress still does not do Flash videos. Go and see this amazing concert here.

Salle des concerts
Emilio de’ Cavalieri
Rappresentatione di Anima e di Corpo
[La Représentation de l’Âme et du Corps]

Livret : Agostino Manni
Réalisation musicale : René Jacobs, d’après l’édition établie par Murray Bradshow (American Institute of  Musicology, 2011) Continue reading

Handel Will Be Back (Soon)

Yes, I know about the umlaut but Handel was, after all, a British composer by geographical fate. I have listened to more Handel lately than anything else and I think my rediscovered enthusiasm for his operas is shared by others:

Since this is promo for Alcina, his my favorite Alcina aria (“Tornami a vagheggiar”) is included on Patricia Petibon’s new CD, a must-have for all the snobs.

And here’s the making of Petibon’s CD video (in French): Continue reading

More Special Effects, Please: (L’Objet Danse)

Watching this rather amusing (and spectacular) period film about Louis XIV and Lully (and other things) called Le Roi Danse. Whoever claimed that it is only in the twentieth century that we have become addicted to special effects (and 3D glasses, and the spectacle) is only correct to a certain extend – this looks pretty “in-your-face” sort of ballet de la nuit – I wish there was more spectacular stuff in philosophy (for example, objects could dance and sing, as opposed to boringly withdraw or vicariously allure) – just saying…

Orpheus Musings (I)

Having solved a puzzle this morning – concerning Jacopo Peri and Giulio Caccini’s production of L’Euridice in 1600 – I started to wonder how many operas since then were based on the story of Orpheus and Eurydice and the wonderful internets gave me an answer in the form of this page. Now all I have to do is listen to all of these and make some glorious conclusions about the Orphean leitmotifs in philosophy. Something along the lines of Gary Tomlinson’s excellent Metaphysical Song but funnier and with pictures…

Just quickly glancing at the list, it’s clear that the story was very popular. If I recall correctly though, there are two versions of the end in the operatic tradition: the traditional sad ending (Eurydice is gone forever, Orpheus is bummed out, goes mad) and the happy ending (Apollo comes and saves the day).

The philosophical significance of the story is easy to grasp, or so it seems. Plato complained that Orpheus was a coward, or I should say, The Speech of Phaedrus in Symposium mentioned that Orpheus was a coward – regular heroes die for their love, not try to sneak into Hades with a nice tune. According to this version, Orpheus does not get to see his wife, just an angry image: Continue reading

Met In HD: Aida (A Quick Reaction)

Just a quick note on today’s broadcast of Aida from the Met: it was good but not great (wife nods in agreement). No, it was not due to the lack of elephants, though the three main characters were admittedly quite large. I am not against opera body types by any means, I’m all for voluptuousness and vastness, it’s just that this particular casting decision had often brought unnecessary attention to the singers’ physical proportions (and camera angles often did not help but only accentuate certain features). All throughout this long (even if very tuneful) opera I couldn’t help but think about how there must be a book about it somewhere, a book that looks at the size of operatic personnel and analyzes its ups and downs. (And then there’s Deborah Voigt’s dismissal from Royal Opera House in 2004 for being too fat – makes you think…)

The performance was quite solid, I think, and it’s almost impossible to screw up Aida, especially in such a traditional production with all that gold and Egyptian costumes stuff everywhere. I think everyone sang quite beautifully, but then again I’m no expert and as soon as I hear a familiar tune, I’m quite satisfied (unless the singer gets of rhythm or screws up a note here and there which often happened to the high priest fellow).