Friday, 1 June 2018

Flaming June - Lohengrin and more!

Summer is at last upon us !  The big, big event is Lohengrin at the Royal Opera House starting Thursday 7th.  Klaus Florian Vogt is the Lohengrin of choice these days.  He and Andris Nelsons have done Lohengrin in the past, including at Bayreuth.  Word from those who have been in on things suggests that they're on top form. This should be memorable ! Nelsons could have been a cert for Bayreuth, Berlin and Lucerne but missed out by leaving Birmingham too early.  Fortunately for us, and him, Lucerne and Leipzig are hardly small time.  Luckily, conductors have a long shelf life so good things lie ahead.  Kristine Opolais was to have sung Eva, but she and Nelsons are getting divorced, so Elsa von Brabant will now be taken by Jennifer Davis, a member of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme 2015–17. But Christine Goerke is making her role debut as Ortrud, which is thrilling. Every performance brings out something new in an opera. A very strong and dynamic Ortrud could bring out the demonic levels in this opera. Ortrud is the Klingsor of Lohengrin ! and the part is much bigger. Thomas  Mayer sings Telramund, and   Georg Zeppenfeld - another reliable Wagner stalwart - sings Heinrich der Vögler.  This is a new production, directed by David Alden with a set by Paul Steinberg, so expect strong lines.  There is a lot more to Lohengrin than kitsch ! The costumes for the last production were a joke, so heavy and dalek-like that they must have been torture to move around in : singers need to feel comfortable to do their best, so treating them as props instead of people is not conducive to art.

At the Barbican on Monday 4th June, Franco Fagioli sings Vivaldi with the Venice Baroque Orchestra (Gianpiero Zannoco), which should be splendid, and on Friday 8th  Paul Agnew  conducts Le Jardin des Voix and Les Arts Florissants in a programme devised to "paint the whole landscape of English song, from the Tudor court to the Georgian era. Music by Dowland, Gibbons, Purcell, Handel and Boyce". Major Bach weekend coming up 15th to 17th June with John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists. Bach cantatas, motets, sonatas and more, with soloists Isabelle Faust, Jean Rondeau and Jean Guihen-Queyras.

At the Wigmore Hall, Sunday 3rd June, Shakespeare and Music with Anna Prohaska and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin (Georg Kallweit) - settings of Shakespeare by Purcell, Dowland, John Blow and Matthew Locke. On Tuesday 5th June, Stéphane Degout sings Fauré, Brahms and Schumann (Kernerlieder).  On Monday 11th, Collegium Vocale Gent bring an all de Lassus programme.  Ian Bostridge, Christine Rice and the interesting young cellist Edgar Moreau coming up, too.  He's doing Franck, Poulenc and Strohl.  And of course, Imogen Cooper on 26th June.

At the South Bank. standard warhorses, Fauré Requiem, Symphonie Fantastique etc with reliable conductors like Jarvi and Dohnanyi.  The real star events are at the end of the month. On 26th, Dangerous Liaisons with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment - " the sounds of Versailles, blending elegant French dance from the court of Louis XIV with greatest hits of French music from the era." in semi staged,  performances with DANCE of music by Lully, Charpentier, Clérambault, Destouyches and Rameau.  Then on 28th Schoenberg Gurrelieder with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia, which was brilliant when they did it in 2007 and should be even better now. This I booked a year in advance.  Seats still available in the rear stalls, but that's OK. Gurrelieder is loud, sound won't get sucked away under the balcony overhang.

In previous years the month of June meant, for me, Garsington Opera and the Aldeburgh Festival. Garsington is still going strong but Aldeburgh has become as stale as BBC Radio 3. What's the point of going any more, especially if the music is better in London ?

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