Friday Treat: Renee Fleming

This is still fluctuating inside me since two nights ago.


Renee Fleming / Eschenbach / London Philharmonic Orchestra

Beautiful – despite the jet lag (a clear sign of ageing it must be, after just a long weekend in NY) the Royal Philarmonic completely absorbed me yesterday with a passionate and loving Tannhäuser Overture. Passionate and loving in particular were the winds at the beginning, while I was expecting something more solemn, which I am probably more used to. And then Renee Fleming arrived wearing a huge black chiffon dress which did not overpower her endearing image. Her round, warm voice was perfect for Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs. She held the long melodic lines graciously and I did find myself holding breath while being lifted and moved around by the melody. “Comforting”, I thought. You wish you had her around all the time.

The photo is the Royal Festival Hall organ, now all cramped up under restauration.

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Friday Treat: Luciana Serra

Perfect for today! This is an amazing documentary / interview / masterclass / everything of a great singer. All in Italian.

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The Phantom of the Sonnambula

La Sonnambula di Bellini, 5 November 2011

I never got around to uploading this photo which I took (I STOLE!) at the ROH a few weeks ago. The orchestra started playing but the curtain got stuck and did not open at all. Despite a great desperate attempt to open it by hand (during the performance) they had to stop and start again – without the curtain and 45 minutes later. It was definitely quite heartbreaking event to assist to, like watching a stranded whale or something. Also any attempt to solve the problem was more and more cringing, especially with the audience there between amused and supportive. It makes me think how ephemeral and tenuous the theatrical spell is and how easy it is to break it and transform the whole affair into an old heavy wreck.

I thought that they still pulled it out pretty well, despite the accident. From reading the reviews, one could think that Dame Sutherland and Pavarotti held the curtain down, that night. However, I did find Gutiérrez almost impeccable and perfect for the role, but also the other singers I found very appropriate, for the right or wrong reasons. And yes, the staging is irritatingly wrong. My favourite review is by George who talks about an Exquisite Eglise.

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Danse Serpentine

Yesterday I went to see Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement at the Royal Academy of Arts. There are many reasons to like this exhibition – certainly the catalogue is pretty amazing and the focus on the work and intellectual research by Degas behind the artworks is very well presented. One major highlight is the collection of 26 sketches for the Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans which he drew while rotating around her.

However, in this dissection of the study and thought process, I found that the simple beauty of the artworks got a bit lost, and so the balance between the effort to understand and represent the movement (the dynamic tension and all that) and the ability to catch the fragility, femininity and concentration of the girls at the same time. I completely agree with the review by the Independent (which obviously explains everything much better than I do). I would rather spend my 20 pounds (!) for the ticket to read all that in a good essay but then enjoy the works without this strict guidance.

There is a section which compares Degas’ work with pioneering contemporary photographers. This includes the film above by the Lumière Brothers which was coloured ‘in post-production’, as we would say. It’s pretty amazing and I’d like to share it.

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The late hours, the short day light and November rainy weather made me feel a little inspired and wanting to go back to my September holiday to Corfu, so I made this.

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Coming across this video today, I thought: “Please please please don’t!”. I love Angela Gheorghiu and it is undeniable that she is one of the most influential sopranos of her generation. I also like her outdated Diva personality and her being a perfect gay opera lover (melomane as we say in Italian) icon. Said this, I’ll be boring. I wasn’t sure wether this was a bit of camp fun or simply delirium of a Diva, but I am now inclined towards the second one and I think this is simply another, probably a bit desperate, tacky commercial operation feeding off her vanity.

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Bottega Veneta Espresso Intrecciato etc. etc. Bag

Surely a good place to look for inspiration for my new blog would be among those things which I have in my heart at the moment, just to sound a touch superficial. So – I want this bag.

I have seen it and it’s perfect size, perfect colour, perfect Bottega ‘intrecciato’ leather which has been my fetish for a while. It looks and feels incredibly relaxed and smart at the same time.

The price, around 2k GBP, is unsurprisingly the only barrier standing between me and this adoption…

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This is the Callas spot

Andrew Clark of the FT treats us all with a magical night at the Opera, all around Europe.

You can read it and love it here.