Ten years into the new millennium! Yet it seems like only yesterday. Since then we've had 9/11 and the War on Terror with all the wars, terrorism and hyper-security that's followed. The economy nosedived worse than anyone could have imagined. The last Great Depression took ten years, ended only with a war. This one started with a war and won't end unless fundamental structural changes are made. Won't happen soon. In 2008 I saw it coming and made predictions no-one then believed. Most have come true, unfortunately. But as Heinrich Herine put it 200 years ago:
Wenn die Kinder sind im Dunkeln, Wird beklommen ihr Gemüt, Und um ihre Angst zu bannen, Singen sie ein lautes Lied.(When children are in the dark, they sing to chase away their fears)
New Year's Eve BBC TV 4 extravaganza is Verdi Rigoletto, yes, the famous one from RAI Mantua with Placido Domingo, Ruggerio Raimondi and Vittorio Grigolo, the one that was filmed live on location. This is the one that proves blind adherence to stage directions means squat without dramatic vision. The ultimate "traditional" that proves traditional alone means zilch. On the other hand, the sense of occasion, and the sheer presence of Placido : I'm watching again, gladly. Click on the link to see what I wrote originally. This time it seems to be compressed into 2 hours, which maybe means no chatty bits. If you really, really like chatter there's another week of the repeat of "The Best of European Opera 2010" from 2nd Jan but you might want to be fully tanked to watch that.
Still available on BBC i-player are Don Giovanni from Glyndebourne and Tannhäuser. from the Royal Opera house, both of which I've written lots about and much more than reviews. Both will be discussed for years pro and con, so you need to know them. On Saturday (New Year's Day), though, there's an alternative Mozart Don Giovanni. Franz Welser-Möst in Vienna with Ildebrando D'Arcangelo as Don G. Audio only but this should be sparky - it's Vienna after all
Earlier in the morning on New Year's Day, the traditional all-Strauss extravaganza, also conducted by Welser-Möst, who has proved his real worth despite years of abuse from smalltime bullies. This programme wil also be broadcast live on BBC TV2 at 11.30 which might be better as we'll get the colour and sense of occasion That's the medicine that makes the spoonful of sugar go down. (The Sound of Music is also on TV)
With the New Year, an unprecedented Mozart Marathon on the BBC, with every single scrap Mozart ever wrote, even the discards and juvenilia. Normally blockbusters like this are overkill, but looking analytically at this series, it might actually be worth doing. It seems coherently put together, the focus being on learning and exploration. Some of the presenters are good, some borderline worthless, so we shall hear. If marathons like this are worth doing, they're worth doing well and only a big organization like the BBC can carry it off properly. Kings Place is holding a Mozart Unwrapped series which sounds interesting but is of necessity limited to what can be done in a small venue. Mozart Total Immersion, full steam ahead!