Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hello Met: Domingo & Operas

On the first day of spring, we went to a much anticipated performance of Ernani by Placido Domingo when snow again descended upon this adorable city.

It was in 1981 when the Cockroach Catcher and his wife ventured to the Royal Opera House in London for the performance of Les Contes d'Hoffmann by Domingo with amongst the cast Ileana Cortrubas and Robert Tear. Tear would later in his book describe that as one of the best opera performances ever.

We were a few days back at the latest Met Les Contes d'Hoffmann that was so different from the 1981 Domingo one but still extremely enjoyable. Such is the beauty of opera.

Mention must be made of Manon at the Met. It could turn out to be one of the best operas of this season by a wide margin. One of the best Manon in recent times.

© Am Ang Zhang 2015

This run of "Les Contes d'Hoffmann" could not have ended on a higher note. In all ways, this was a truly masterful portrayal of a work often unfairly overlooked because of its unfinished state.


And Domingo saved his best for the final concertato in which he pardons all, each legato line elegantly sung for all to hear. Even if there was a rugged nature to his sound, there is no denying that Domingo continues to astound even at 74.


As the titular character, soprano Diana Damrau was clearly enjoying herself in every way imaginable. Her Manon was a teenage girl through and through, slowly showing signs of maturity as the drama ramped up but always seeming to regress to her more youthful impulses. Her opening aria "Je suis encore tout etourdie" set up the dazed and unstable nature of the young girl. Damrau's voice was at its most agile, rising to her vocal stratosphere with full volume before unexpectedly quieting down in a hurry. The effect was dizzying, emphasizing the character's effect on those around her. There was a sweetness in her duet with Des Grieux that hinted at some timidity, but by the end of the duet her voice soared matching the potent intensity of her co-star Vittorio Grigolo.


Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe
                                                     Written by George Friedman

With remarkable accuracy, George Friedman has forecasted coming trends in global politics, technology, population, and culture. In Flashpoints, Friedman focuses on Europe—the world’s cultural and power nexus for the past five hundred years . . . until now. Analyzing the most unstable, unexpected, and fascinating borderlands of Europe and Russia—and the fault lines that have existed for centuries and have been ground zero for multiple catastrophic wars—Friedman highlights, in an unprecedentedly personal way, the flashpoints that are smoldering once again.

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