terça-feira, 29 de janeiro de 2013

MICHAEL SPYRES – Um notável jovem tenor (e uma entrevista exclusiva!) / A remarkable young tenor (and an exclusive interview!)

(text and interview in English below)

Para deleite dos amantes da lírica, vivemos um período em que há um número muito considerável de excelentes tenores. É com grande satisfação que “descobri” mais um, o jovem norte americano Michael Spyres que, prevejo, consolidará um lugar cimeiro nas principais catedrais mundiais da ópera.

Spyres tem um timbre claro e uma bela voz de tenor lírico. Aborda o reportório de belcanto com segurança e eficácia. Mas a versatilidade vocal permite-lhe interpretações de qualidade noutros estilos. Isso mesmo pode constatar-se no seu primeiro CD a solo intitulado A Fool for Love, com a Orquestra de Câmara de Moscovo, sob a direcção de Constantine Orbelian.

 Nele podemos ouvir diversas interpretações de árias conhecidas, em italiano, francês, alemão, russo e inglês. Todo o CD é de audição muito agradável mas destacaria, entre outras, Cessa di più resistere do Barbeiro de Sevilha de Rossini pela qualidade interpretativa superior, Una furtiva lagrima do Elixir do Amor de Donizetti e Kuda. kuda… do Eugene Onegin de Tchaikovsky pela elegância interpretativa, Il mio tesoro do Don Giovanni de Mozart numa interpretação marcante, Je crois entendre encore dos Pescadores de Pérolas de Bizet onde mostra a versatilidade do registo mais agudo e, pela intensidade dramática, Puorquoi me reveiller do Werther de Massenet e È la sólita sortida de L’Arlesiana de Cilea.

Em 2013 teremos a possibilidade de ouvir Spyres em Fevereiro, no Liceu de Barcelona, como Hoffmann na ópera de Offenbach Les Contes d´Hoffmann e em Março, no Porto, onde interpretará a parte de tenor da Missa de Requiem de Verdi na Casa da Música. Eu conto estar presente em ambas.

(fotografia / photo E Carecchio)

A terminar, um raro presente para os leitores deste blogue - Michael Spyres oferece-nos uma curta entrevista exclusiva:

1- Fanáticos: Which opera character do you most admire in the operas you sing?
Michael Spyres: I have to say that I most admire Candide more than any other character. The journey that Candide takes is one that every person needs to take to heart which is the journey from naivety to gnosis. He begins life believing everything that he is told and as he is faced with challenges he learns in order to survive he must adapt and mature yet he always believes in eternal optimism and through his journey from child to mensch he embodies every human beings journey that has ever walked the earth and this is our destiny as a homo-sapien. Throughout the opera Candide as a character goes through what I wish upon myself and every human being which is the journey to enlightenment.

2- Fanáticos:  Are belcanto roles dominant in your career? Why?
Michael Spyres: Bel-canto has become my forte and I could not be happier because there really is no greater challenge in my line of work than the height of the bel canto works such as Les Huguenots, Guillaume Tell, La Muette de Portici, and many many others. When starting my career all I wanted was to sing the un-singable and I would practice day after day for hours and I was obsessed with the idea that if I could sing bel-canto then I can sing anything. This repertoire has been so beneficial for me and for anyone who ever ventures into it because Bel-Canto demands the highest degree of artistry; for example mastery of breath control, phrasing, extreme dynamic contrasts, and the utmost attention to diction. Everyone can learn from this genre and I encourage every singer and music lover to familiarize themselves with the traditions and customs of this most precious and extremely rich era of music.

3- Fanáticos: Who are your references as a tenor?
Michael Spyres: I have so many influences as a tenor and there is no way to choose a favorite but I do have to say that for a lifetime career award Nicolai Gedda would get my vote and with a close second would be Placido Domingo. Both of these men sang well over a 100 roles as well as recitals and concerts. They have both set a precedent for all singers who came after them to become better musicians and they both continue to inspire others worldwide to this day. Mario Lanza was the reason that I became a tenor though to be honest. You just can not find a more beautiful voice than his. I am a huge advocate of early recordings and actually most of my greatest tenor influences come from 1920-1960. Here is a very short list of some of my favorites. Caruso, Miguel Fleta, Aureliano Pertile, Andre D'Arkor, George Thill, and Fritz Wunderlich, but there are to many to name here.

4- Fanáticos: What are the main differences between the public in the USA, southern Europe, and central Europe?
Michael Spyres: I would have to say that the public does not have so many differences except for the fact that since U.S. fans have far less opportunity to hear operas they only seem to be that more excited about it and you will very rarely ever hear anyone booing, also you will almost always have a standing ovation in the U.S. whereas in the E.U. this is a rare occasion and people readily vocalize their position on what they do not like. Really the big difference lies from Festival to House and on the local public. In every country you have a more conservative crowd and also fanatics that are really vocal about their particular love or hate of a singer, director, conductor, etc... This is why I love opera because it allows you to take part in the action and personalize your experience since people are performing live in front of you and not some still art form where only on rare occasions you are allowed to show your immediate joy or disgust with a particular piece of work. 

                                    (fotografia / photo Silvia Lelli)

5- Fanáticos: Do you have a particular message for the readers of the blog “Fanáticos da Ópera / Opera Fanatics”?
Michael Spyres: Yes! Now is a very crucial moment in how opera and in a broader spectrum how all of art will be viewed in the decades to come. I am wanting for people to bond together and rally for the importance of opera and for all of the arts. Public and private funding is being cut worldwide and it is our job to reach out to the public who has never been touched by the incredible medium of art that is Opera. It is our collective duty to raise awareness about why Opera is important and why it is pertinent for everyone. I want all of us opera lovers worldwide to teach the general public about how revolutionary opera and the arts can be and how much it has been tied to social change. Many historians say that spark of the revolution for Belgian independence in the early 19th was the Opera "La Muette de Portici" from Auber. I have been lucky enough to perform this piece and will have the chance again in March in Bari, IT at the Fondazione Petruzelli. Opera at its very core means "Labour", this is not a benign word. Opera means social change and they are moralistic stories that spark controversy and debate about all of life's problems and we can use this massive instrument to bring about a new enlightenment era much as the origins of Western Opera did directly as a result of Monteverdi's works. Let's put aside our pettiness and go out to educate the public about the arts and in turn we can ensure the future of arts and in doing so we will make a better world together.

6- Fanáticos: You will be interpreting the major role of "Les contes d´Hoffmann"  at Liceu de Barcelona. Is this your debut in the role and at Liceu? And what do you have to say about the interpretation of this role?
Michael Spyres:  This is my debut in Barcelona as well as the Liceu and I am so honored to be performing at this historical theatre. Getting the chance to sing in the Liceu is a very important milestone in any opera singer's career and for me to get to perform my dream role in one of the greatest theaters in the world is monumental and I could not be happier. Actually, this will be the second time I have performed Hoffmann. Hoffmann is my favorite role to perform in all of the characters ever written for my voice type. I have only had the chance once but it was in the German translation which actually worked quite well since the historical Hoffmann himself was German/Prussian and the stories all revolve around that part of the world. The life of E.T.A. Hoffman was nothing short of extraordinary and his works have influenced so many people over the years. The interpretation that Laurent Pelly has come up with is extremely effective and for the first time I can see Hoffmann as a real person who weaves a story throughout the entire opera while always keeping the core of the character truthful. This is a very real account of an alcoholic genius who, through all of his tantrums and anger and whimsy, still makes you love him because he is unabashedly himself. Hoffmann is as real a character as ever written and because of the genius of Offenbach you are allowed to go inside his world and see the inner workings of layers upon layers of a human. Through the character of Hoffmann you see fragility, strength, naiveté, idiocy, passion, love, ecstasy, anguish, depression, and truth. This version is very challenging both dramatically and vocally and it is one of the most difficult roles for any voice type ever written. In this version there are four arias, three duets, two trios, and five scenes so it is a massive undertaking being on stage around two hours and thirty minutes of a three hour and ten minute opera. What I love about Laurent's interpretation of this opera is the very real sense of drama and heightened reality that does not allow the audience member to relax for even a second as he weaves scene after scene into a tapestry of emotions that will be what I am sure a very memorable evening for everyone.

                                        (fotografia / photo Silvia Lelli)

7- Fanáticos: And in March you will sing in Porto the tenor part of Verdi's Requiem. This will be your debut in Portugal? Do you have any further plans to sing in this country?
Michael Spyres:  I will be making my debut in Porto in the Verdi Requiem but this will be the second time in Portugal. I was involved in an incredible project in Lisbon in 2011. We revived a completely forgotten Opera that was the last ever performed before the devastating earthquake of 1755. The opera was an exhilarating piece named Antigono and had not been heard by anyone since its debut in 1755. I played the historical figure Antigono with some of the most incredible music ever written for the voice with octave and a half jumps and a total range of three and a half octaves! My colleagues and the public of Portugal were incredible and because of the diligent work of Nicolas McNair, Massimo Mazzeo, Enrico Onofri, and the wonderful Orchestra of Divino Sospiro we really made history with the revival of this piece.  My wife and I fell in love with Lisbon and the people of Portugal. I absolutely would love to work again and again in Portugal and I very much look forwarding to getting to know Porto. I am very excited for the Verdi Requiem with the Casada Músic Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto and the accomplished conductor Michail Jurowski. I am sure if people come to Porto you will not be disappointed! "

Obrigado Michael Spyres e toi, toi, toi!

Aqui ficam os links para o website do Michael Spyres: www.michaelspyres.com
e sua página do facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mspyres

Michael Spyres - A remarkable young tenor

To the delight of opera lovers, in present days we have a considerable number of excellent tenors. It was with great satisfaction that I “discovered” Michael Spyres. I am sure he will occupy a top place in the main cathedrals of the opera world very soon.
Spyres has a clear timbre and a beautiful lyric tenor voice. He sings belcanto repertoire with remarkable facility, but his vocal versatility allows him to interpret other styles also with imposing quality. This can be confirmed in his first solo album entitled A Fool for Love, with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Constantine Orbelian.
In this album we can appreciate different interpretations of well known arias sung in Italian, French, German, Russian and English. The whole CD is very enjoyable to listen but I highlight, among others, Cessa di più resistere from Il barbiere di Siviglia by Rossini, interpreted with a remarkable top quality, Una furtiva lagrima from L’elisir d’amore by Donizetti and Kuda. kuda ... from Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, sung with impressive elegance, Il mio tesoro from Don Giovanni by Mozart in a striking interpretation, Je crois entendre encore from Les pêcheurs de perles by Bizet where he shows the versatility of his top register, and Puorquoi me reveiller from Massenet's Werther and È la sólita sortida from Cilea´s L’Arlesiana, where the dramatic intensity is striking.

In 2013 we will have the opportunity to hear Spyres, in February at the Liceu of Barcelona, as Hoffmann in Offenbach's opera Les Contes d'Hoffmann. And in March in Porto, where will sing the tenor soloist part of Verdi's Requiem at Casa da Música. I plan to be will be present in both.

Finally, a rare gift for the readers of this blog - Michael Spyres offered us an exclusive interview (please read it above as it is written in English)

Thank you Michael Spyres and toi, toi, toi!

And here are the links to both Michael Spyres's website (www.michaelspyres.com) and to his facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/mspyres). 

sábado, 26 de janeiro de 2013

Paul McCreesh na Fundação Gulbenkian, 25 de Janeiro de 2013

(Review in English below)

Paul McCreesh, maestro titular da FCG a partir da próxima temporada, dirigiu a "sua" orquestra num programa variado que incluía a muito esperada interpretação do Requiem de Mozart.

A primeira composição ouvida foi a Sinfonia n.º 8, em Si menor, D.759, "Incompleta", composta por Franz Schubert em 1822. A sua composição foi abandonada em 1823 (apesar de o compositor ter esboçado os restantes dois andamentos) e teve a sua estreia em 1865, 37 anos após a morte do compositor. Embora inacabada, a obra revela elementos dramáticos do período romântico, mantendo-se uma peça frequentemente interpretada e que nos foi apresentada com qualidade.

Seguiu-se música sacra de Igor Stravinsky: Missa. Foi composta entre 1844 e 48 e teve estreia em Milão. Baseada em textos bíblicos católicos, esta obra surge num período em que o compositor já vivia nos Estados Unidos e passava por um novo momento criativo e de particular interesse na obra de Mozart. A obra reforça a originalidade da composição do russo e é de extremo interesse no panorama da música sacra do século XX. Foi composta para coro e orquestra de sopros e a sua interpretação foi regular.

O Requiem em Ré menor, K. 626, de Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, foi composto em 1791, ano em que o compositor viria a falecer. Esta obra é de uma genialidade ímpar, reveladora da inspiração sobrenatral de um compositor que apenas pecou por ter falecido com apenas 35 anos, privando-nos da sua música gloriosa. A sua obra é reveladora de um talento sem igual e o seu Requiem é (e sempre será) o maior marco da música sacra da humanidade. A irrefutabilidade de Deus pode ser argumentada com esta composição, porque é muito provável que seja a sua voz que se ouve.
Mozart concluiu a Sequentia do Requiem com Lacrimosa. A partir daí, apenas deixou esboços para a conclusão de toda a obra, havendo vários compositores que tiveram a "ousadia" de concluir o trabalho do Mestre. A mais conhecida é a de Franz Süssmayr, mas Paul McCreesh optou pela de Robert Levin e justifica-se: " A versão do Requiem de Mozart que hoje melhor conhecemos é de Franz Süssmayr. Não há dúvida de que este compositor era próximo de Mozart, mas numa análise mais cuidadosa, percebemos que o seu trabalho de conclusão é desajeitado no que diz respeito à estrutura composicional e à orquestração. Durante pelo menos um quarto de século os estudiosos disponibilizaram várias conclusões alternativas, baseadas no autógrafo incompleto de Mozart, nos seus esboços, nas cópias sobreviventes, na sua técnica de composição e na sua orquestração original. A versão desta noite, de Robert Levin, é, na minha opinião, a mais bem sucedida até hoje. Em Levin encontramos não só uma mente musicológica brilhante, mas também uma apurada compreensão do estilo mozartiano a partir do seu trabalho como intérprete do pianoforte. Mais percetível para o ouvinte será uma extensa fuga no fim do Lacrimosa (sobre um tema sugerido por Mozart) e substanciais rearranjos do material musical no Lacrimosa, no Sanctus e no Benedictus. A orquestração parece respirar num espírito mais próximo das outras obras de Mozart".

No meu entender, foi uma das minhas maiores desilusões na FCG. O Introitus, Kyrie e toda a Sequentia foram interpretados por Paul McCreesh a uma velocidade alucinante, nada melodiosa ou dramática. Os solistas não estiveram bem: o soprano (Susan Gritton) apresentou-se com uma voz áspera, dificuldades na projecção e dicção; o meio-soprano (Monia Groop) tinha uma voz agradável e teve uma interpretação muito condicionada; o tenor (Andrew Staples) foi o melhor elemento solista com um timbre adequado; e o barítono (Jonathan Lemalu) não tem voz para o papel: o seu Tuba mirum foi péssimo. O coro, sobretudo os elementos femininos, tiveram dificuldades nos agudos e creio ter visto a sua interpretação muito diminuída por uma velocidade inacreditável. Quando começou a Lacrimosa pensei que ia melhorar, mas não. E aqui surge Robert Levin: o Amen final da Sequentia perde em beleza e poder; o Sanctus é menorizado; o Lux aeterna e Cum sanctis tuis são cópias do Introitus e Kyrie. Mozart, nesta versão, foi antiquado, desdramatizado, chocantemente trivializado. Em conversa com um amigo que trazia o filho de 8 ou 9 anos, ele concluiu: “No final, tive de explicar ao meu filho o que era um Requiem...”. Sem mais comentários.

(Review in English)

Paul McCreesh, conductor of the FCG Orchestra from next season, drove "his" orchestra in a varied program that included the awaited interpretation of Mozart's Requiem.

The first composition heard was the Symphony no. 8 in B Minor, D.759, "Incomplete", composed by Franz Schubert in 1822. Its composition was abandoned in 1823 (although the composer outlined the remaining two movements) and had its premiere in 1865, 37 years after the composer's death. Although unfinished, the work reveals dramatic elements of the romantic period, keeping often interpreted. It was presented to us with quality.

It was followed by sacred music of Igor Stravinsky: Missa. It was composed between 1844 and 48, and premiered in Milan. Based on Catholic biblical texts, this book comes at a time when the composer was already living in the United States and was on a new creative moment and of particular interest in the works of Mozart. The work reinforces the composing process originality of Russian and is of extreme interest in the panorama of twentieth-century sacred music. It was composed for chorus and wind orchestra and its interpretation was merely regular.

The Requiem in D minor, K. 626, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was composed in 1791, the year in which the composer died. This work is of unparalleled genius, revealing the divine inspiration of a composer who only sinned by having died with only 35 years, depriving us of its glorious music. His work reveals a unique talent and his Requiem is (and always will be) a major landmark of sacred music of humanity. The cogency of God can be reasoned with this composition, because it is very likely to be God’s voice that we hear.
Mozart finished the Requiem with Sequentia - Lacrimosa. From there, just leave blanks for the completion of the entire work. There were several composers who had the "audacity" to complete the Master's work. The best known is that of Franz Süssmayr, but Paul McCreesh opted by Robert Levin’s and justified himself: "The version of Mozart's Requiem which today is better known is that by Franz Süssmayr. Undoubtedly, this composer was close to Mozart, but with a more careful analysis, we realize that his work is of clumsy conclusion with regard to the compositional structure and orchestration. During at least a quarter-century scholars have provided several alternative conclusions based on incomplete autograph of Mozart, in his sketches and surviving copies in its compositional technique and in its original orchestration. Tonight version by Robert Levin is, in my opinion, the most successful to date. Levin his not only a brilliant musicological mind, but also an accurate understanding of the Mozartian style mostly by his work as a pianoforte interpreter. More perceptive listener will be an extensive trail at the end of the Lacrimosa (on a theme suggested by Mozart) and substantial rearrangements of the musical material in the Lacrimosa, the Sanctus and Benedictus. Orchestration seems to breathe a spirit closer to the other works of Mozart. "
In my view, it was one of my biggest disappointments in FCG. The Introitus, Kyrie and Sequentia were all interpreted by Paul McCreesh at a breakneck speed, nothing dramatic or melodious. The soloists were not well: the soprano (Susan Gritton) presented with a gruff voice, bad diction and projection difficulties; the mezzo-soprano (Monia Groop) had a pleasant voice and had a very conditionated interpretation; tenor (Andrew Staples) was the best soloist element with an appropriate timbre; and baritone (Jonathan Lemalu) has no voice for the role: his Tuba Mirum was terrible. The chorus, especially the feminine elements, struggled in the treble and I have seen its interpretation greatly diminished by an unbelievable speed. When Lacrimosa began I thought it would improve, but it does not occur. And here comes Robert Levin: Amen end of the Sequentia loses in beauty and power, the Sanctus is diminished; Lux aeterna and Cum sanctis Tuis are copies of Introitus and Kyrie. Mozart, in this version, was antiquated, less dramatic, shockingly trivialized. In a conversation with a friend who brought his child of 8 or 9 years old, he commented: "In the end, I had to explain to my son what a Requiem is...". No more comments.

quarta-feira, 23 de janeiro de 2013

Le Nozze di Figaro de W. A. Mozart - 16 de Outubro de 2012, Wiener Staatsoper

(review in English below)

Le Nozze di Figaro é a primeira ópera da triologia Da Ponte. Foi composta e estreada em Viena no ano de 1786 e é uma ópera buffa em 4 actos que espelhava e contestava alguns dos comportamentos da alta sociedade da época.

A encenação de Jean-Louis Martinoty foi simples e baseou os cenários em vários quadros suspensos que nos transportaram para os diversos espaços onde se desenrolava a acção. O vestuário foi, totalmente, de época. Foi, por isso, uma encenação convencional, mas eficaz e que seguiu na perfeição o guião.

A orquestra foi dirigida por Jérémie Rhorer. Não sou de opinião de que tenha sido uma interpretação brilhante, uma vez que faltou alguma vivacidade e brilho, pelo foi apenas uma interpretação de mediana qualidade e que acompanhou bem os intérpretes.

O Coro tem aqui um papel menor, mas esteve bem quando interveio, nomeadamente as vozes femininas.

Figaro foi o barítono Markus Werba. Tem uma voz de timbre bonito que projectou com facilidade, fraseando de forma mozartiana o seu papel. Esteve em bom nível e foi, globalmente, o melhor da récita.

Susana foi o soprano Miah Persson. Apresentou uma voz com um agudo algo áspero, embora quase sempre equilibrado, e uma projecção vocal com algumas falhas. Não foi uma interpretação vocal excepcional - faltou-lhe também a doçura e sageza próprias de Susana -, tendo sido, no nosso entender, um pouco mais segura cenicamente do que vocalmente.

A Condessa d’Almaviva foi o soprano Olga Bezsmertna. Com um timbre bonito e um agudo bem sustentado, esteve tecnicamente bem e foi convincente cenicamente. Apesar de não ter brilhado, foi a melhor interpretação feminina da noite.

O Conde d’Almaviva foi o barítono Pietro Spagnoli. Esteve em bom nível, apresentando uma voz com um timbre bonito e com amplitude, mas com algumas dificuldades na projecção, cumprindo bem cenicamente.

Marcelina foi o soprano Monika Bohinec. Apresentou-se, sobretudo inicialmente, com uma voz algo nasalada que não a favoreceu, mas melhorou ao longo da récita. Do ponto de vista interpretativo esteve bem, embora longe da perfeição.

Bartolo foi o baixo Sorin Coliban. Tem um grave muito bonito e uma voz com muito volume e limpa que projectou bem em toda a sala. Muito seguro interpretativamente, ofereceu-nos um excelente momento na sua ária Tutta Sevilla conosce Bartolo.

O jovem Cherubino foi encarnado pelo soprano Lena Belkina. Esteve em relativo bom plano vocalmente, mas não encantou, faltando-lhe alguma melodiosidade no seu agudo que não é nem particularmente bonito, nem expressivo, o que ficou bem patente nas suas duas árias mais famosas.

Em suma, foi uma récita de qualidade global apenas suficiente, com uma encenação clássica bonita, mas cujas interpretações, ainda que homogéneas, não ficam na memória, nem pela qualidade ímpar, nem pela ímpar falta dela.

(review in English)

Le Nozze di Figaro is the first opera of the Da Ponte trilogy. It was composed and premiered in Vienna in 1786 and it is an opera buffa in four acts that mirrored and challenged some high society behaviours of the time.

The staging of Jean-Louis Martinoty was simple and based on several suspended frames that transported us to the several scenarios where the action evolves. Clothing was totally classic. It was, therefore, a conventional staging, but effective, that perfectly followed the script.

Jérémie Rhorer conducted the orchestra. I am not of the opinion that it was brilliantly performed, since it lacked some energy and shine, so it was only one median quality interpretation that accompanied well the performers.

The Choir has a minor role here, but did well when intervened, including female voices.

Figaro was the baritone Markus Werba. He has a voice with beautiful timbre that he projected easily, and was able to do the Mozartian phrasing his role demands. He was in good level and was, overall, the best male voice performance.

Susana was the soprano Miah Persson. She presented a voice with a something rough sharp, although almost always balanced, and vocal projection with some imperfections. It was not an exceptional vocal performance - it lacked the sweetness and also Susana’s sagacity - and it was, in our view, a bit better scenically.

The Countess d'Almaviva was the soprano Olga Bezsmertna. With a beautiful timbre and a sharp well maintained, she did technically well and was scenically compelling. Despite not having excelled, she was the best female interpretation of the night.

The Count d'Almaviva was baritone Pietro Spagnoli. He was in good level, with a voice with a beautiful timbre and range, but with some difficulties in projection, fulfilling scenically well.

Marcelina was the soprano Monika Bohinec. She introduced herself, especially initially, with a nasal voice, but she improved throughout the recitation. From the point of view of interpretation she was good, although far from perfect.

Bartolo was the bass Sorin Coliban. He has a very beautiful voice with plenty of volume and clean that he projected well. Very safe interpretively, he offered us an excellent moment in his aria Tutta Sevilla conosce Bartolo.

The young Cherubino was incarnate by soprano Lena Belkina. She was in relatively good plan vocally, but not enchanted, lacking melody, and her acute is neither particularly beautiful nor expressive, which was well demonstrated in her two most famous and demanding arias.

In short, it was a recitation of just sufficient overall quality, with pretty classic scenarios, but whose interpretations, though homogeneous not stays in memory, either by the odd quality, nor lack of it by.