Monday, August 4, 2008

Letters from Ancient Corinth

The venue

Dear diary,

On Saturday I drove to Ancient Corinth in order to watch a performance of "L'Incoronazione di Poppea" that would take place at the Temple of Octavia (sister of Emperor Augustus) for 2 consequent nights.

The Ancient Corinth Opera Festival was founded in 2003 after an idea of Mary-Ellen Nesi and since then has presented 5 productions that were highly acclaimed by critics. Even if the budget is quite reduced, even if the mediums that these kids have at their disposal are quite a few, they always give very good performances.

George Petrou

I don't think I have to repeat anything regarding George Petrou's artistic merits. Together with the Monteverdi Ensemble, Petrou delivered a great reading of Monteverdi's partitura but the -inevitable in a venue like that- usage of microphones was definitely deteriorating the pleasure of listening to period instruments.

If I could give a subtitle to the performance, i would use "What happens when a stubborn veteran diva gets in the way of a bunch of young, talented singers?".

Well, the answer I think you already know.

Jenny Drivala (Poppea) might have been a great Lucia, Amina, Violetta, Armide etc in the 80's and early 90's, having sung in many of the major opera houses (Sonnambula at La Scala for example) but what I heard was a shadow of the voice she once had. Her singing and acting was definitely old school, using all kind of manierisms in order to get away with the difficult parts of Poppea and totally destroying the fresh, lustrous performances of the others.

Petros Magoulas & Florin Cezar Ouatu

Special kudos to Florin Cezar Ouatu, the young Romanian countertenor for his Nerone. What an interesting voice! I'm glad to have heard a rising star! Beautiful voice, great high notes and a bartolian coloratura.

Mary-Ellen Nesi

Kudos to Mary-Ellen Nesi for singing Octavia with such class! Her hypnotic "Addio Roma" might have been the peak moment of the whole evening.

Kudos also to Irini Karaianni (Ottone) and Petros Magoulas (Seneca), Myrsini Margariti (Drusilla and Virtú), Mina Polychronou (Amore), Kassandra Dimopoulou (Valletto&Fortuna), Yannis Filias (Lucano&Soldato), Dimitris Nalbantis and Andreas Papagrigoriadis.

I can't say I enjoyed the performance of countertenor (?) Paul Zachariadis as an idiomatic, caricature Arnalda.

Maria Gyparaki (stage director) + Paul Thanopoulos (sets, costumes) did their best considering the mediocre budget of the Festival.

Curtain calls


Hariclea said...

Thanks Parsi for sharing the experience, it is wounderful to be able to experience opera with joung singers, in an unusual surrounding, this is what music is about, enthusiasm and joy, not always about the "grand teatre" :-)

Anonymous said...

ena exw na pw...drivala 4 ever!...ante!kake parsi!:P

Willym said...

Poppea is such an exciting work - particularly when sung by young singers... you certainly having a wonderful opera-going summer with some wonderful experiences and a big hug and a thank you for sharing. Again I'll just say I envy you... and wish we were in Macerata this weekend ... bastards.... but don't forget Otello in December....

mahler76 said...

Δυστυχώς δεν μπόρεσα να πάω ούτε φέτος. Θα βάλω να ακούσω καμιά ηχογράφηση της όπερας να μπώ στο κλίμα.

bb said...

Βεβαια να πουμε οτι ηταν Monteverdi abridged - θετικο για την περισταση, αλλα...Τωρα θα μου πεις και ο Gluck στην Επιδαυρο ηταν μαζεμενος - ισως και να ειναι καλυτερα. Θεατρικα τρεχει καλυτερα, τα καθισματα δεν ειναι και για πολλα πολλα, ΟΚ... Χωρις να διαφωνω εν γενει με αυτα που γραφεις, πρεπει να πω οτι το τελευταιο ντουετο μου ακουστηκε συμπαθεστατο... Επισης, στην αρχη, μικροφωνα και τριξιματα σκηνης οποτε καποιος πατουσε στο λαθος μερος (μικροφωνικα ενισχυμενα, διοτι διπλα στο μικροφωνο που ηταν χαμηλα ...) με ενοχλησαν ιδιατερως. Στο δευτερο μερος - ξερεις τωρα... Το αυτι προσαρμοζεται και τ' ακουει ολα καλυτερα. Το λαθος ηταν οτι επιστρεφοντας με το αυτοκινητο βαλαμε το cd του Harnoncourt. Ενταξει - αδικο και για τους τραγουδιστες που ειχαμε μολις ακουσει υπο αυτες τις συνθηκες, αδικο και για την εμπειρια μας. Σκηνοθετικα, μια χαρα μου φανηκε δεδομενων των δεδομενων...
Επιπλεον, μια χαρα σουβλακια!

Parsifal said...

Εύλογα abridged νομίζω...Ασε που εμένα δε μου 'λειψαν κ πολύ τα κομμάτια που αφαιρέθηκαν. Το τελευταιο ντουέτο? Nerone&Poppea? Μου άρεσε ο Νέρωνας όπως γράφω αλλά όχι η Τζένυ...εκανα απόπειρα να ακούσω κ την ηχογράφηση αλλά είπα να το αφήσω... Άσε που όλοι κατάλαβαν ποιό ήταν το σημείο της σκηνής που έτριζε και δεν πλησίαζαν ενώ η Τζένυ ήταν εκεί, σταθερή, στο προσκήνιο για να ακούγεται καλύτερα, έτριζε δεν έτριζε το σανίδι.

Τα σουβλάκια τέλεια, να το ξανακάνουμε (όπως και η μπύρα με το όνομα ΖΕΟΣ που καταναλώσαμε καθώς κ τα λικέρ μαστίχας που μας κέρασε το καταστημα μετά....κ αφου τα ήπια όλα αυτά οδήγησα για Αθήνα...χοχο).

Anonymous said...

Fuck, my password :-0 !
Not anonumous: derwanderer!

I will write down a small review of the second performance I assisted to tomorrow, although there is not much to add to our host's excellent and pertinent post .

Just a word: Jenny's Poppea was worse than bad: I was a complete and perfect ERROR from start to finish. The final duet is supposed to be raptuous: She was utterly unapalatable ( and I keep my mouth) in that, off pitch (YES! a singer of that calibre) and off mesure. Ouatu was looking as he would assasinate her on the spot, before even the coronation! She came back in the 6th or 7th verse only. Sad, sad and silly: she didn't LOOK the part (of course not, among such a young cast!) and she was unable to SING it decently. The only part I can see her singing now is some comprimaria nun from Poulenc "Carmelites", or - even more fitting - the Countess in "Pique Dame"! (to be continued)...