almaviva90: (TA 1980s)
THOMAS ALLEN'S GOING TO COME TO HONG KONG ON AN OPERA TOUR WITH THE BAVARIAN STATE OPERA IN FEBRUARY 2012!

*coughs* Excuse me...I usually don't write in capitals but yeah, HE'S GOING TO COME TO HONG KONG AND SING DON ALFONSO IN COSI FAN TUTTE! After all, I was so annoyed with myself that I didn't know about him when he last came here to do his little recital/concert in March 2006.

I am sooooooo definitely buying tickets for this opera when it comes...he's only going to do two performances on the 23rd (Thursday) and 25th (Saturday) February but I'm ready to fight if I have to to get a pair of tickets! *prays that he really does come and that the tour doesn't get cancelled or something...*
almaviva90: (the merry widow)
Woot, my opera DVDs have arrived from the US. Finally. After like a month and a week after I ordered them. (And I seriously don't get why shipping from the US takes 2-3 weeks while stuff from the UK can take only a week or so to get here...odd)

But thankfully the copy of Le nozze di Figaro they sent me is different from the one that I have. Although the picture quality isn't as sharp or clear, I admit, as the one posted on Youtube (which is seriously of excellent quality), it's definitely an improvement of my previous version where one couldn't see the bottom half of the screen and therefore couldn't see the floor of the stage which was really disorientating. I'm more than happy with the Onegin as well since I will be finally able to watch the whole production rather than just snippets of it although there is slightly irritating high pitched noise in the background as the video is being played. But I think that's all due to the fact that it's been ripped from old videos which basically must be nearly 20 to 30 years old. As long as the video and sound are in sync and the picture is clear enough to see the singers' faces (and most importantly, TA XDDD), I'm definitely satisfied.

And while I'm on the subject of opera,  I think I won't be able to see Cosi fan tutte this year...*sad sigh*

Guess I'll have to watch these as consolation until I can find the time/money to see a Mozart opera with TA in it. *crosses fingers that he won't be retiring any time soon and that he'll play Don Alfonso at the ROH in the near future again*
almaviva90: (don alfonso)
Gah, this trailer is making me so wish that I can make it to see this in London this coming month!


But since this trailer is being released by OpusArte, does that mean that they'll be recording a DVD and releasing it sometime in the future just like what they did with the 2008 production of Hansel und Gretel? I certainly hope so, especially if I can't go this time =/

*desperately wishes to see a Mozart opera with TA in it*
almaviva90: (Default)
I can't sleep...AGAIN.

So what am I doing now? Well, the title pretty much says it all...as for what or who I'm drawing -- at the moment, I really have no idea.

And who knew that opera could be so funny? If you told me a year ago that opera could be comedic, I would have thought you mad. But I'm proved wrong yet again when one watches operas like Le Nozze di Figaro or Cosi and operettas like Die Fledermaus and Die lustige Witwe.

Here I am trying to sketch and listen to Mozart's Cosi fan tutte at the same time and then I get slightly bored and play my copy of the 1996 MET Cosi with TA, Mentzer, Vaness and Hadley (I'm sorry I can't remember the baritone who played Guglielmo...oops). I get to the scene where the two officers are saying farewell to their lady-loves...and I'm giggling non-stop at the the antics the singers get up to. Guglielmo is overacting his 'despair' at leaving, Hadley's body language (he plays Ferrando) clearly tells Guglielmo to get a move on and isn't too keen to deal with his hyperactive and overemotional fiancee (played wonderfully by Susanne Mentzer; definitely one of the most prettiest Cherubinos, Zerlinas and Dorabellas around. Von Stade obviously gets first place over Mentzer for singing but acting-wise, I simply adore Mentzer who is simply adorable when she gets into character). Vaness as Fiordiligi is trying her best to play older sister but also is frightened at the news of her fiancee going away to war while TA, as usual, plays Don Alfonso with all the sly cynicism and charm. What always makes me laugh is when the two couples are tearfully saying their farewells, he's more interested in pouring the sand out of his shoe (the set does indeed have sand since it's set on a pier/beach) XD

And the Allen/Vaness/Mentzer trio of Soave sia il vento is sublime...so is Francisco Araiza's Un' aura amorosa on my Cosi CD. Sometimes I really prefer Araiza to great tenors like Pavarotti or Domingo for some reason. Domingo was basically the first tenor I listened to (when I bought a highlights CD of  Bizet's Carmen during QBS...we were listening to the darn thing in music lessons for some weird reason) but I wasn't really impressed with a tenor's voice until the first time I saw Araiza sing Dalla sua pace on the 1987 Don Giovanni. I liked Jose van Dam (the Belgian bass-baritone) as Escamillo but again, my mind didn't click with baritone voices till the introduction of a particular British baritone as Count Danilo on Youtube. Really, it's all Jeremy Brett's fault for getting me into opera since it was his singing of the English translations of the songs in Die lustige Witwe that got me looking for other singers singing the same thing. XD

Ah, but I've rambled too long...back to sketching!

almaviva90: (don alfonso)
I think I've gone a LITTLE bit crazy with the uploading of TA vids on my Youtube account...47 directly related to him so far.

www.youtube.com/user/schweitzer006325

Gah, I think my favourite Mozart opera is quickly becoming 'Cosi fan tutte' after seeing TA do it in the 1970s...I've been listening/watching it more times than I expected myself to do since it really wasn't my favourite Mozart opera compared to 'Figaro'.

almaviva90: (TA Guglielmo 1981)
Gah...just finished watching the 1975 version of 'Cosi fan tutte'. Certainly it's not the most action-packed opera of all of the Mozart ones I've seen so far (at the moment, I'm thinking that there were too many songs being sung by the two sopranos playing the sisters and not enough solos for the men, particularly Guglielmo [yes, I'm biased since that's the baritone part =P]).

Overall, it ended up being approximately 2 hrs and 40 minutes long...perhaps a little too long for a relatively simple storyline and ONLY six characters....three men and three women. To put the story briefly - basically the philosopher Don Alfonso declares that all women are the same and are ultimately unfaithful and incapable of being otherwise. His two soldier friends, Ferrando and Guglielmo challenge him to a duel since he has launched a direct attack on their beloved fiancees and he is given two choices: either to prove their infidelity or face their over-amorous and confident lovers in a duel. 100 pieces of gold is placed as a bet on the part of the two soldiers and Don Alfonso takes up the challenge. He concocts a devilish plan - pretend to get rid of the two soldiers by giving them false orders condemning them to battle and trick the two women by dragging the soldiers back again...in disguise as Albanians. Ferrando and Guglielmo end up doing all kinds of things to 'seduce' the sisters; mocking death by arsenic, getting cured by a magnet for the latter, sighing and despairing in their 'anguish' as the sisters initially ignore them. It seems that their confidence in their betrothed is not misplaced. Don Alfonso has other plans...while he deals with the men and orders them what to do, he pays the sisters' maid, Despina to do her bit with the ladies and urging them to amuse themselves with their new admirers. What happens? The sisters give in...one by one - to the point that they're getting married to them the next day. You can imagine the mens' reaction...PLUS the fact that each other's fiancee is now getting married to the other... -____- However, at the end, all is revealed and the lovers are seemingly reconciled - slightly bruised and battered emotionally - but wisened nonetheless.

Normally if the acting was 80% good, 2 hrs 40 minutes might not be so bad. In fact, it might even pass away so quickly if you were really captivated by the singing and acting. Unfortunately, not all opera singers possess imagination and acting skills. In this production, what probably saved me from falling asleep during mostly the soprano parts/arias was Frantz Petri as Don Alfonso and of course, TA as Guglielmo. Petri as Alfonso was a delight...a smug but charming characterisation that kept reminding the audience of the ludicrousness of the comedy being played out before us and that HE really was the puppet-master around here. His singing was confident, his intonation excellent and his voice strong. TA as Guglielmo...he could literally act everyone (Petri excepted) off the stage. Even at such an early stage in his career (only about 6 years into his professional career), he could seriously act. Facial expressions - perfect. Body language - perfect. Charm - as always sublime and that too goes for his voice. I can see why people call him a gifted comedian since he was the main source of comedy during otherwise dull and uninteresting moments. The tenor playing Ferrando seemed to have a little trouble keeping his high notes strong...his voice seemed thin and barely audible at higher registers. The sopranos playing the sisters had the irritating habit of staring rather absently into space as they sang...even when their betrothed were dragged off to 'war', their faces didn't particuarly strike me as being grief-stricken. Despina had a slight tendency to overact. There were scenes when literally everyone was SITTING DOWN during a rather unnecessarily long aria by one of them saying that she will not betray her love for her beloved, etc, etc. Where are they in that scene? Ferrando sitting on a box, Guglielmo sitting cross-legged (!) on the floor since there's no place to sit, Despina and Don Alfonso are leaning rather boredly against the wall and the other sister looks as if she wants the song to end as soon as possible. Ha, and I thought only the audience was bored...

The costumes could have been better...bright shades of red and blue for the soldiers was not entirely flattering but I don't know whether that was due to 70s era film cameras or the costume design. But they weren't too bad (at least they were better than the 2006 Salzburg version I watched with TA as Don Alfonso...seriously, I wanted to kill the costume designer there for making him look as unattractive as possible which is a shame because he really isn't bad looking in real life. How bad, you say? Well, his costume strongly reminded me of the Penguin in the older Batman film with Danny DeVito...it was NOT helped by the fact that the tailcoat (and trousers) he was wearing were made of leather AND the fact that he had to wear a wig which made him look bald AND he had to wear lipstick...O____o...and yes, I was repeatingly bashing my head against the table when I was watching that version.) However, the staging was small and rather cozy as befitting the storyline, giving me quite a different feeling I got when I watched the 1987 'Don Giovanni' where basically the stage seemed too big and empty for the characters.

The production simply cries out that is comes from the 70s though...the slightly unnatural tinge of film colour and the hair especially. Particularly TA's...see...





I still don't get why on earth that particular hairstyle was so popular during the 70s. But thank goodness, it isn't an afro...XDDDDD
I was discussing with my mum that at this stage in 1975, he looked too young and naive to play the ultimate baritone 'scroundrel' Don Giovanni (he did end up playing his first Don two years later also at this same venue, I think) but weirdly, with a beard or moustache he suddenly looks entirely suitable for that part. It instantly makes him look more mature...even when it's not even a real one.



Yeah, his outrageous 'Albanian' disguise...but that expression there is a very signature Allen look seen in almost every opera production I've seen of him, particularly when he's playing the Don. And as you can see, the addition of a fake set of beard and moustache instantly changes his impression. Strange.

Will I watch this DVD again? Most probably. But probably just for the sake of TA and Petri...



almaviva90: (maestro)
It's weird how things really pop up when you're LEAST expecting them...

Gah, went to look around HK Records in Admiralty yesterday...not really expecting much since I've basically bought/seen nearly every TA related thing I could get my hands on. But I *was* looking for the 1975 version of 'Cosi fan tutte' for the longest of times and had given up hope on ever finding it there - probably I had to order it.

Ha, then I looked at the discounted DVD section in the Classical Music area...whaddya know? TWO TA related DVDs just right in front of me...one of them was even the first DVD in the row. XDDDD

And the other JUST had to be the version of 'Cosi fan tutte' I was looking for...O.O

And you can guess my reaction then...lol

Weird how life turns up REALLY unexpecting things...

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January 2012

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