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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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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