Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Wagner in Europe: The Liceu and the Bastille

While the major opera venues of New York City are currently dormant when it comes to Richard Wagner, the composer's music is thriving in Europe. This season's last performance of Parsifal, at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, was on St. Valentine's Day. A co-production of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, The San Francisco Opera, and the English National Opera, the cast included Plácido Domingo in the title role, Violeta Urmana as Kundry, Matti Salminen as Gurnemanz, and Sergei Leiferkus as Klingsor. Sebastian Weigle conducted. The production is visually very interesting, with furniture defying the laws of gravity and stark lighting providing a mysterious mood. Great pictures of this production can currently be found at the Liceu website by clicking here. The opera was broadcast on Internet radio on February 13. As of yet, I have not heard a recording of it, I am hoping that somebody did record the performance.

Meanwhile over in Paris, at the Bastille, the French National Opera is getting ready for Peter Sellars' new production of Tristan und Isolde. Its premiere on April 12 will be conducted by Esa Pekka Salonen, and the cast will include Ben Heppner and Waltraud Meier in the title roles. Sellars' production, with sets by Bill Viola and costumes by Martin Pakledinaz is bound to raise eyebrows and create its own healthy brand of controversy. More information about this production can be found here. The Bastille Opera House website indicates that this production will be broadcast on May 7.

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