La Bohème, Bayerische Staatsoper, München 28. Mai 2009
La Bohème, Bayerische Staatsoper, München 31. Mai 2009
The performance was sold out, of course, but today there were not so many people of the "high society" in the audience as last Thursday, but "ordinary" opera lovers who showed their feelings at the end of the performance. I saw some ladies wiping tears out of their eyes after Mimi had died and Rodolfo had broken down at her deathbed. There was a storm or even a tornado of applause - people were stamping their feet and cheering and applauding like hell. The German President Horst Köhler and his wife were also present, and they stood up like anybody else and kept applauding at curtain calls.
There was a large crowd of fans at the stage door again. Joseph Calleja had to sign many autographs before he came out to get some fresh air. He said that tomorrow (!) he had rehearsals in London!
Then Anna came, in a short white coat. She was clever and promised that she would sign everything - but PLEASE outside where she would get some fresh air. So everybody went out with her and then she spent at least 20 minutes or more in front of the stage door and signed programmes, answered questions, talked about President Köhler who visited her backstage and was photographed many many times. She also accepted to be photpgraphed side by side with her fans. Finally, when everybody was happy, she waved and said good-bye and then she walked down the street, I guess she went to the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten.
Anna Netrebreko expects to sing Trovatore in 2012.
Mingling with fans at the stage door after the third successful performance of La Boheme in Munich, Anna gave a date for when she expects to sing the role of Leonora in Verdi's Il Trovatore - in 3 years time. She made the comment after dismissing my suggestion that she should sing Madame Butterfly. "Oh, no! Not Butterfly!" she said scrunching up her face "But I will sing Trovatore." When? "In three years."
Anna looked like a star; fresh and visibly relieved that the short run of Boheme's was finished. Anna stood with people in the street outside the stagedoor; chatting to everyone in turn, standing for photographs, making jokes, accepting expensive presents. Someone suggested she had been even better tonight than the previous performance on Thursday. She made a face dismissing the compliment "Really?? Nooooo!" This was not the same Anna we had seen in a post-performance trance on Thursday. Tonight's show had been more like a working evening for her.
Tonight's performance was indeed different because it wasn't the simple intuitive vocal approach but instead more of an interpretive performance, one which she made happen, rather than one of those evenings which just happen on their own. I think the relatively weak cast and conductor was a factor in making Anna pull out all the stops in this Boheme - aided and abetted by Calleja who was again fantastic this evening.
From the very beginning Anna sang with a noticeably richer voice, spinning the tone rather than just floating it; a slightly more Bellini-esque way of singing. It seemed that now she has fully regained the flexibility and ease of the upper voice, she is putting back into it more of its characteristic dark richness. For me it gave her interpretation more of a sense of forboding, certain passages - particularly the last act really benefitting from the extra body in the lower part of the voice.
Interpretation-wise, her themes were a little easier to read. In the first act, her fear of isolation was palpable; when Rodolfo is calling down to his friends in the street telling them he will follow, you could see the fear in Anna's face at the prospect of yet another evening alone. When Rudolfo invites her to join them for the Christmas Eve festivities, the invitation is a dream come true for her. She is seduced not just by his charm, but by the possibility of the kind of wonderful partying bohemian social life she probably envisaged when sher first arrived in Paris but which had so far elluded her.
In act two, Anna shows Mimi entering a whole new vagabond lifestyle with her new friends; I particularly liked the touch where Mimi steals a bottle of wine from the table and puts it under her shawl, passing it to Rudolfo who hides in his jacket.
The third act became one long extended duet for Anna and Calleja, as the fears of both of them - her fear of loneliness, and his fear of her imminent death -- turn miraculously into the warmest possible love duet. Calleja's envelopping arms were even more sensual this evening, turning the lovers' togetherness into a protective shelter from the harsh cold snowy winter. When Marcello and Musetta are having their comic squabble, Mimi and Rudolfo are totally oblivious to a world of arguments and bitterness; locked in an unending embrace - an eternal kiss.
In the final act, Mimi is back in her adoptive world with her beloved group of friends, oblivious to her own illness - but she is not the usual delirious Mimi who doesn't understand what's going on around her. This Mimi has made a journey from the 'nobody' she was when she first appeared on the stage, conquering all her fears through love and through her proximity to death. Unlike her Vienna Traviata who dies disconnected from the people and the world around her, this Mimi can face death easily because she has achieved a connectedness. Her added vocal richness and her earthbound quality made this evening's death seen much more real and human.
Calleja was great, especially in Acts 3 and 4. His fear of Mimi's worsening illness in Act 3 becomes a trauma in Act 4 when Mimi is brought in. He is absolutely devastated, finally breaking down in tears when Shaunard and Colline leave the two of them alone. It's this emotional devastation he suffers which stops him realising Mimi has died, his suffering isolates him from the reality going on around him. So when he does realise she has died, it brings him crashing back down to earth. An earth in which Mimi is no longer alive.
The second performance of La Bohème was a FANTASTIC night again!The second review comes from Attila who, after being at one of the performances of La Traviata in Wien, he did attend this performance of La Bohème in München.
I think there must have been a rehearsal since Sunday because the performance was a little bit more fluent than last time. But the difference was not too big. Anna Netrebko and Joseph Calleja were in top form again, both vocally and as actors. There were many curtain calls (for about 15 minutes) and the audience was enthusiastic.
I think there must have been a party or a reception of the sponsors after the show, because a) I saw the BIG BOSS of LINDE, the main sponsor of the Munich opera, and b) both Anna and Calleja came to the stage door and signed lots of autographs, but then they did not go out into the street, but returned to the opera house, where the director was already waiting for them. And Anna wore a beautiful blue, short dress as if she went to a party. It was raining outside, so this would have been the wrong dress for going home...
Anna was in a very good mood at the stage door, better than last time where the crowd of people seemed to be too much for her. Today she was smiling all the time and spoke to the people. I told her that I had got a SMS message that at the same evening Erwin Schrott had a big success as Don Giovanni in Wiesbaden, and when she said that her colleagues were fantastic I asked her what she thought about the audience. She smiled and said: "The Munich audience is very cold....." - of course this was a joke.
This was an amazing performance. These are great days when we finally have a singer whose Mimi can bring to mind great sopranos such as Tebaldi and Caballe. I say to people see Anna now, don't leave it until tomorrow.
This Munich Boheme was a totally different experience from Anna's Traviata in Vienna. Instead of an intelligently thought out performance full of ideas and deliberate use of different vocal colours and styles, we had here in La Boheme an intuitive artist simply living the character without any apparent 'art'. From her first aria the voice was perfectly placed, the phrasing ecstatic. She left no room for thoughts of how she could do it better.
This Mimi was a total innocent rather that a calculating flirt, ill from the very beginning rather than a wilting flower in slow decline. She was lucky (or unlucky) enough to fall into the spider's web of Calleja's Rodolfo who showed himself to be a congenial sexual predator doing all he could to enmesh his new neighbour.
The most miraculous singing from Anna was in the third act, the voice soaring with no effort, plenty of subtle phrasing and beauty of tone. Plenty of genuine emotion, never overblown of histrionic. It's hard to believe that the Met Lucias were only a few months ago - I feel sorry for anyone whose vocal image of Anna was formed by her singing at that time.
I thought at some points in the evening that Calleja would not find the incredible range of emotion which he had shown in his Alfredo in the Vienna Traviata, but I think he was deliberately saving it for the end of the opera. The moment when he understands Mimi has died was devasting, suddenly he was overcome by a violent grief that went from a total refusal to accept her death to the sudden realisation of the extent of his loss - all in a matter of seconds. The voice is amazing; it's strange these days to listen to a tenor who does not force. I must admit that I wasn't impressed when I had listened to recordings even of his live performances. But when you see him live you are completely transported by his lack of tension, both vocally and in his stage presence. He makes the audience feel relaxed. But at the same time he has a warm and deeply sensual side which he uses very subtley to make scenes progress emotionally. I am beginning to think - having only seen him sing with Anna twice - that it's this relaxed warm emotional quality which is bringing out the best singing we have ever heard from Anna.
At the curtain calls Calleja was still in tears from Mimi's death, but he cheered up when he appeared to sign autographs at the stage door. Anna finally appeared in her blue dress, and literally looked like she was still in a trance. After her Vienna performance she had been tired but charming. This time she appeared to have come from another world; she looked at people quizzically like a new born fawn assessing a totally unfamiliar world. I walked up and told her that tonight she had been even better than in Vienna - she momentarily woke from her trance, her eyes lit up and she seemed to connect with me, "Really? You think so?" I told her I thought Tebaldi and Caballe could not have sung Mimi better. She smiled broadly, almost embarassed and seemed reassured. I think she agreed it had been a fantastic performance.
The rest of the cast were a bit weak. Anna and Calleja were like giants in a land of small people - with the notable exception of John Relyea who was a youthful, charismatic and very well sung Colline. The weakness of the other cast members meant the group ensembles didn't work for me, and the production of Act 2 was disappointing with Musetta going off with street boys instead of focusing her alternate passion on her old rich admirer. After Vienna, the Munich orchestra is a disappointment and the acoustic here is very dry.
I have just come home from this very interesting talk with Joseph Calleja. I asked him how he liked the performance last night. His answer: "Judging from the reaction of the audience I liked it very much. It was a magical night, although it is really difficult to perform almost without a rehearsal. But when you play with Anna you don't have to act a lot - she does everything and she is so believable."
He even confessed that he really wept in the end when Mimi had died - "the people in the first rows must have seen that it were real tears."
And he said that it was unbelievably hot on stage - "the warmest 'cold winter' you can imagine." The singers had to change their shirts after each scene because they were totally wet. - After his first aria he heard somebody shout something - and he (mis)understood: "Art, bitte" - "(more) art, please", and he thought: "Was I really that bad?". But his colleagues told him backstage that a woman had called for an "Arzt", a doctor!, because she was fainting. In fact two people in the audience collapsed because of the heat in the theatre!
Finally the interpreter revealed that Calleja will sing Hoffman at the MET instead of Villazon. Calleja didn't agree to it, but he said with a smile that the MET is going to inform the public of a big surprise... and that he had to change his schedule from October to January 2010.
We are sorry to announce that Anna Netrebko is suffering from influenza and has today withdrawn from the concert at the Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday 19 May 2009. At such short notice, it has not been possible to offer an alternative programme with Dmitri Hvorostovsky, the Philharmonia Orchestra and Ion Marin, and so regretfully, the performance tomorrow will not take place. We are working to identify an alternative date for the concert in the future months and patrons will have been notified of any rescheduled date by Friday 29 May. Patrons will be offered the option of transferring their ticket, in the event of a rescheduled date, or obtaining a full refund. Patrons wishing to obtain an immediate refund may also do so. Please contact Southbank Centre’s Ticket Office on 0871 663 2500. Raymond Gubbay Limited and Southbank Centre apologise for any inconvenience caused.
We are writing to inform you of the arrangements for ticketholders following the recent cancellation of the performance by Anna Netrebko, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, the Philharmonia Orchestra and Ion Marin on 19 May 2009.
We are as yet unable to confirm a rescheduled date for the performance and as a result we will now be refunding all ticket holders via their original method of payment, refunds should be with you in the next 14 days. Please note, tickets will be refunded to the original purchaser only. If the tickets were purchased by credit or debit card, the refund will be made directly to this account. If tickets were purchased using cash or cheque, a refund will be made by cheque.
You do not need to return any tickets to us. Southbank Centre will retain your details on file and provide all original ticketholders with advance on-sale notice regarding any rescheduled date for this performance within the 2009/10 Season. Priority booking for Southbank Centre Members will still apply.
The "Volkswagenhalle" seemed to be sold out yesterday - I heard that about 6.000 people were there.
The programme was a bit different from Anna's former "big" concerts in arenas etc., but it had obviously to do with her partner, baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky. They both were a good match. Dmitri looked and sang like a "Siberian Ice Tiger", and Anna offered a mix of German, Italian, French and Russian arias and duets. During the evening the audience were getting more and more enthusiastic, especially after the final duet from Eugen Onegin.
I liked her aria "Regnava nel silenzio" (Lucia di Lammermoor) best, especially when she stepped aside and sang the final lines without the microphone - and there was almost no difference!
After the official end of the concert the audience stood up and didn't finish their standing ovations until Anna and Dmitri added some encores.
When Dmitri sang a Russion folk song, "Orchie Chornye" (Dark Eyes), Anna entered the stage from the left side with no shoes on and a tambourine in her hands. She accompanied him and danced like a gipsy queen - throwing herself on her knees in front of Dmitri. What an effective finale! (see photo 7 and videoclip 3).