ARThound

Geneva Anderson digs into art

“Maria Stuarda,” Donizetti’s powerful Tudor queen opera, never before performed at the Met, screens on “Met Live in HD” this Saturday, January 19, 2013

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

While history informs us that that Mary, Queen of Scotts never actually met Queen Elizabeth I, Donizetti couldn’t resist putting the two rival queens together to clash it out in his dramatic 1834 opera, “Maria Stuarda.”  The Metropolitan Opera premiered this fiercely dramatic opera—the second opera from Donizetti’s bel canto trilogy about the Tudor queens—on New Year’s Eve. With Joyce DiDonato as Mary Queen of Scotts and the debut of the remarkable San Francisco-trained South African soprano Elza van den Heever as Elisabetta, the power struggle between the two queens with two sets of religious beliefs and only one possible, bloody outcome couldn’t have been better cast.  This David McVicar production will be transmitted live around the world on Saturday, January 19, 2013 as part of The Met: Live in HD series and will play at 10 a.m. PST in Sonoma County at Sebastopol’s Rialto Cinemas.   Encore performances will play on Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.  Approximate running time: 166 minutes

 Those lucky enough to have experienced Joyce DiDonato’s rapturous “Drama Queens” performance in November at the Green Music Center’s Weill Hall know what magic this Grammy Award winning mezzo is capable of—channeling the very soul of her composers.  While the role of Mary is normally a soprano role, it’s been transposed for diDonato’s rich and expressive mezzo.  Here’s a taste of the passion DiDonato delivered while practicing the role. Deborah Voight’s interview was part of the Met Live in HD transmission of “Un Ballo in Maschera” on December 8, 2012 and speaks to the wonderful extras that are part and parcel of every Met: Live in HD experience—

Elza van den Heever went to extraordinary lengths to portray the legendary Queen, who is vividly developed in this production.  She even shaved her head in order to better suit the elaborate wigs and high forehead depicted in portraits of the Monarch.  The Wall Street Journal’s Heidi Waleson noted that her “big, well-controlled soprano” was “steely and assertive, with the flexibility to pull off Elizabeth’s vengeful, vitriolic cabalettas.”  And I can’t wait to see her in a wide red skirt by John Macfarlane that opens like curtains to reveal pants. Van den Heever is a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Merola Opera Program and San Francisco Opera’s (SFO) Adler Fellowship Program.  At SFO, she last portrayed Mary Curtis Lee (general Lee’s wife) in the 2007 world premiere of Philip Glass’s Appomattox and Donna Anna in the Company’s 2007 Don Giovanni. She has also partnered with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, notably in their triple Grammy Award winning 2009 release of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8.

Originally premiered in 1835, Maria Stuarda is based on the German writer, Friedrich Schiller’s play Mary Stuart, which depicts the final days of Mary, Queen of Scots, who was viewed as a challenger to Elizabeth I’s throne and beheaded in 1587. 

“In this mid-point opera we are really focusing on the relationship between two queens in the same moment and the political impossibility of these two women co-existing on the same small island,” said Mr. McVicar.  “It’s based on the Schiller dramatization of Mary’s story which contains the great, mythical scene – which never actually happened in history – when the two queens meet and have a cataclysmic showdown.  It crackles with drama, it crackles with romance and it’s a very, very powerful mid-point in the trilogy of these three operas.”

For Maria Stuarda, Mr. McVicar works with fellow Scotsman, John Macfarlane on set and costume designs. Mr. Macfarlane’s previous work at the Met has included the much-loved fantastical sets and costumes for Hansel and Gretel. Mr. McVicar says that this new production embraces the romance of Maria Stuarda, rather than realism: “When we did the production of Anna Bolena last season at the Met, we went for the ’nth-degree of historical accuracy, particularly in the costuming. With Maria Stuarda being a different type of opera, we’ve gone for a visual style that is free-er, that is more romantic and which somehow, rather than reflecting history, reflects the romantic nature of this retelling of the story and the sweeping romantic nature of Donizetti’s music.”

Cast: Joyce DiDonato, Maria Stuarda; Elza van den Heever, Elisabetta; Matthew Polenzani, Leicester; Joshua Hopkins, Cecil; Matthew Rose, Talbot

Artistic and Production Team: Conductor, Maurizio Benini; Production, David McVicar; Set & Costume Design, John Macfarlane; Lighting Design, Jennifer Tipton; Choreographer, Leah Hausman

Details:  “Maria Stuarda” is Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 10 a.m. (PST), with encore (re-broadcast) performances on Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. (PST).  .  Purchase tickets, $23, for Sebastopol’s Rialto Cinemas and select your seat here.   A list of participating Bay Area cinemas and online ticket purchase is available at www.FathomEvents.com.  For a complete list of cinema locations nationwide and schedule, please visit The Met: Live in HD.  Ticket prices vary by location.  NO ONE cares what you wear or what you eat or drink but please be kind enough to elbow your snoring partners to consciousness.

Sonoma County:
Rialto Cinemas Lakeside
551 Summerfield Road
Santa Rosa, CA 95405

Questions: opera@rialtocinemas.com

Napa County:
Cinemark Napa 8
825 Pearl Street
Napa, CA 94559

Marin County:
The Lark Theater
549 Magnolia Avenue
Larkspur, CA 94939

Cinemark Century Northgate 15
7000 Northgate Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903

Cinemark Cinearts Sequoia 2
25 Throckmorton Avenue
Mill Valley, CA 94941

Advertisements

January 17, 2013 Posted by | Opera | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No hassle Opera! The Met’s new “Live in HD” season kicks off this Saturday, October 13, at Sebastopol’s Rialto Cinemas, with a new production of “L’Elisir d’Amore” starring Anna Netrebko

The Metropolitan Opera’s “Live in HD” 2012-2013 season kicks off Saturday, October 13, 2012 with a new production of Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amore.” Opera superstar, Anna Netrebko, is Adina and Ambrogio Maestri is Dr. Dulcamara. Photo: Nick Heavican/Metropolitan Opera

When it comes to opera, it’s hard to beat the enduring popularity of Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore—a whacky travelling salesman, fake love potions, rich girl, poor boy, botched communication and LOVE.  The 7th season of The Met: Live in HD opens this Saturday, October 13, in Sonoma County at Sebastopol’s Rialto Cinemas, and at select theatres across the country, with this comic gem. The series runs through the end of April 2013 with a selection of 11 other top Metropolitan Opera productions, including seven new productions, two of which are Met premieres. Each live performance is broadcast through National CineMedia’s (NCM®) to participating local theatres in real time on a Saturday with a Wednesday “encore,” a re-screening of Saturday’s captured performance. Encore performances are always shown on Wednesday afternoons and evenings by the Rialto Cinemas.

HD productions offer those of us in the extended northern Bay Area, the opportunity to sample a rich menu of almost live opera for $25, without crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and all the time and expense that entails.   The immersive screen experience offers exacting close-ups of the performances—facial expressions, costumes, scenery—and informative specially produced features—generally interviews—hosted by Met opera stars such as Renée Fleming, Natalie Dessay, Plácido Domingo, Susan Graham, Thomas Hampson, Patricia Racette, and Deborah Voigt.  These backstage chats with cast, crew, and production teams give an unprecedented look at what goes into the staging of an opera at one of the world’s great houses.  All transmissions have on-screen English subtitles, the same ones used in live performances at the opera house.

In fact, the popularity of the Emmy® and Peabody award-winning series has skyrocketed, reaching over 3 million people in more than 1900 theaters in 64 countries, making the Met the only arts institution with an ongoing global art series of this scale.  The 2012-13 season will be broadcast in over 660 select U.S. cinemas and in 100 additional independent venues worldwide.

Johan Botha as the title character and Renée Fleming as Desdemona in Verdi’s “Otello,” the second of twelve operas in the Metropolitan Opera’s popular “Live in HD” series. Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

A rare occurrence, last year’s Metropolitan opera season opened with Donizetti’s tragic Anna Bolena, with Netrebko in the title role, and its new season also opens with Donizetti and Netrebko …again.   This is the first time in 20 years that the Met season has featured a comedy for opening night and the first time ever that The Met: Live in HD opens with a comedy.  Anna Netrebko, starring as Adina, and Matthew Polenzani, as Nemorino—both making their Met debut in these roles—received rapturous reviews the first night and the production has been praised for its insightful new staging.  The opera co-stars Mariusz Kwiecien as the soldier Belcore, Adina’s swaggering fiancé, and Ambrogio Maestri as the potion-peddling traveling salesman Doctor Dulcamara.  (Run time: 125 minutes including 2 intermissions) Encore: Wednesday, November 7 at 1 and 7 pm.

On October 27, Verdi’s Otello, the first opera to be televised from the Met nearly 65 years ago, comes to HD.  The Shakespearean masterpiece returns with an exciting cast that includes South African tenor Johan Botha singing the title role opposite the star soprano Renée Fleming as Desdemona, with Symyon Bychkov conducting.

2012-2013 Season

Donizetti’s L’ELISIR D’AMORE
NEW PRODUCTION Saturday, October 13 at 10am and Wednesday, October 17 at 1 & 7pm

Verdi’s OTELLO
Saturday, October 27 at 10am
and Wednesday, November 7 at 1 & 7pm

 

Ades’ THE TEMPEST
MET PREMIERE Saturday, November 10 at 10am
and Wednesday, November 14 at 1 & 7pm

 

Mozart’s LA CLEMENZA DI TITO
Saturday, December 1 at 10am
and Wednesday, December 5 at 1 & 7pm

 

Verdi’s UN BALLO IN MASCHERA
NEW PRODUCTION Saturday, December 8 at 10am
and Wednesday, December 12 at 1 & 7pm

 

Verdi’s AIDA
Saturday, December 15 at 10am
and Wednesday, December 19 at 1 & 7pm

 

Berlioz’s LES TROYENS
Saturday, January 5 at 9am
and Wednesday, January 9 at Noon & 6pm

 

Donizetti’s MARIA STUARDA
MET PREMIERE Saturday, January 19 at 10am
and Wednesday, January 23 at 1 & 7pm

 

Verdi’s RIGOLETTO
NEW PRODUCTION Saturday, February 16 at 10am
and Wednesday, February 20 at 1 & 7pm

 

Wagner’s PARSIFAL
NEW PRODUCTION Saturday, March 2 at 9am
and Wednesday, March 6 at Noon & 6pm

 

Zandonai’s FRANCESCA DA RIMINI
Saturday, March 16 at 9am
and Wednesday, March 20 at Noon & 6pm

 

Handel’s GIULIO CESARE
NEW PRODUCTION Saturday, April 27 at 9am
and Wednesday, May 1 at Noon & 6pm

Details:    Tickets are available at participating cinema box offices and online at www.FathomEvents.com . For a complete list of cinema locations and schedule, please visit The Met: Live in HDTicket prices vary by location.   Tickets at the Rialto Cinemas are $25 and season subscriptions are available, allowing you to choose your seat.  NO ONE cares what you wear or what you eat or drink but ladies please curb check your snoring partners, or be kind enough to elbow them to consciousness.

Sonoma County:
Rialto Cinemas Lakeside
551 Summerfield Road
Santa Rosa, CA 95405

Questions: opera@rialtocinemas.com

Napa County:
Cinemark Napa 8
825 Pearl Street
Napa, CA 94559

Marin County:
The Lark Theater
549 Magnolia Avenue
Larkspur, CA 94939

Cinemark Century Northgate 15
7000 Northgate Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903

Cinemark Cinearts Sequoia 2
25 Throckmorton Avenue
Mill Valley, CA 94941

October 11, 2012 Posted by | Opera | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

review–“The Beautiful Person” (“La Belle Personne”) even the angst of teen love plays better in French, San Francisco Film Society, Sept 4-10, 2009

Lea Seydoux as "Junie," the new girl in class in "La Belle Personne"

Léa Seydoux as "Junie," the new girl in class in Christophe Honoré's "La Belle Personne"

 “The Beautiful Person,” set in Paris, in an upscale high-school, made me contemplate the unthinkable—if I ever had to do high-school over again, how would it go?  How would I react to the various opportunities—amorous and otherwise– that unfold?  Loosely inspired by the scandalous 17th century novel La Princesse de Cleves by Madame de La Fayette, director Christophe Honoré (“Ma mère,” “Love Songs”) continues his exploration of French romantic intrigue.  Instead of Parisian aristocracy in the court of Henry II, Honoré and co-writer Gilles Taurand set their action in contemporary Paris in an upscale high school.  The students are interesting, beautiful, and unkempt– the teachers too–and they explore love and passion while trying to stay engaged with what seems a very loosely regimented but awesome program of poetry, humanities, Italian, English and math.  Junie (Léa Seydoux, “The Last Mistress”) is the new girl at school, a transfer student, who has come to live with her cousin Matthias just after the death of her mother.  Voluptuous, alabaster-skinned, with a tragic air, she becomes the object of male attention and is quickly welcomed into Matthias’ clique of school friends.  

Mild-mannered Otto (Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet), falls hard for her and their first conversation sets up a loose plot.  Otto tells her that Junie is also Néron’s tormentor in Racine’s 17th  century tragic play “Brittancus” and they discuss how it ends badly for Junie who takes vows and never marries.  Later, egged on by his friends, Otto professes his love to Junie.  She tells him what she needs “Don’t lie to me and look after me, always.”   Otto agrees.  Junie French kisses him publicly in the school hall and the two become an item.   Junie is bursting with magnetic mystique ..she is photographed in the hallway by a student who is an amateur photographer; she is noticed by women as well.   At one point in the film, an evocative song on a jukebox plays lyrics that compliment what is going on throughout the film–  “She was so pretty that I didn’t dare love her.”

 When newbie Junie arrives in Italian class, a student is in the midst of a presentation about Donizetti’s opera Lucia di Lammermoor.   Junie sits down by the teacher Mr. Nemour (Louis Garrel) and the two eye each other nervously.  She abruptly walks out, in tears, during Maria Callas’ spellbinding aria, leaving her books behind.  After this brief encounter, Mr. Nemour too falls hard for Junie and even steals a picture of her from her notebook.  Nemour, a dark-eyed dreamy lothario, who barely looks like he is out of high school, is in the midst of two affairs–one with a colleague (Florence Perin) and the other with a student Catherine (Anaïs Demoustier).   Nemours breaks it off with both women and confesses his love for Junie to his colleague who advises him that “loving a student is too easy.”  “Not this one” Nemours replies “I’m a total love-sick mess.”  To which his friend insighftfully replies “You seem more disappointed in love than in the concept of love at first sight.”   Indeed the complexity, no mess, that ensues is overwhelming.

Louis Garrel and Lea Seydoux in Christophe Honore's "La Belle Personne"

Louis Garrel and Léa Seydoux in Christophe Honoré's "La Belle Personne"

 We get subtle hints that stalwart Junie is falling for Nemour but trying hard not to.  She is terribly afraid of giving in to what she assumes will be a grand, once in a life-time love and  denies herself Nemour but snacks on safe love with endearing Otto.  Meanwhile, a subplot emerges involving a love letter that is passed around and mistakenly thought to be Nemour’s but really involves Junie’s cousin Matthias (Esteban Carvajal-Alegria) and his affair with fellow student Martin (Martin Siméon).  Mathias has hidden his homosexuality and, in addition to Martin, has carried on with another student Henri (Simon Truxillo) who is in love with him and very vindictive.  The letter threatens to expose everything if the correct author and intended recipient are revealed.   But it’s all a mess.  The letter changes hands several times and when Junie reads it, she assumes that Nemour has written it to her and takes actions that push this volatile group into certain doom.

 This has all the makings of a great drama but falls short.  The performances of the lead characters lack real depth and it’s very hard to get inside their heads, with the exception of Otto.  Léa Seydoux and Louis Garrel are enthralling to look at…and, based on looks alone, we can certainly envision them in bed together, but how would that happen?  Their conversation is basically flat and they fail to connect naturally or with any tenderness…time after time.  Junie is cold or indifferent, sending Nemour into confusion after confusion.  By the time they finally come to an understanding, it is too late.  And even when it is too late, we don’t get any feeling of implosion.  Junie’s constraint, fear of succumbing to her passion, is what needs to be further explored.  The potential is there but there’s no spark.  Nicole (Chantal Neuwirth), a maternal and wise older woman who works at the local café where they all hang-out, takes a shine to Junie, and delivers one of the most authentic, but too brief, performances in the film.   The cinematography is marvelous, capturing gray, drizzly Paris and some candid close-ups.  The sountrack ranges from opera to Nick Drake , the lyrics tracking or accentuating the action in the film.  

Screens Sundance Kabuki Theatre, September 4-10, 2009: 2:05 pm, 4:05 pm, 7:15 pm, 9:35 pm. Saturday and Sunday matinees at 11:40 am.

August 30, 2009 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment