Sunday, February 26, 2017
Filarmonica della Scala/Chailly (Decca)Riccardo Chailly has had a recording contract with Decca for 30 years, which has followed him through his association with four orchestras. It began with the Berlin Radio Symphony in the 1980s, then 16 years with the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Leipzig Gewandhaus from 2005 and 2015, and now the orchestra at La Scala, Milan, where he took over formally as music director in January. Chailly no doubt intends to raise the profile of the orchestra in the concert hall as well as in the opera house itself. His first recording with them makes a neat bridge between the two, as well as signalling his determination to promote a much wider range of Italian music than the house has programmed in recent years.The 16 orchestral pieces included here are taken from operas that received their premieres in Milan; all except the two by Leoncavallo were first performed at La Scala. Chailly has resisted the temptation to present them chronologically, preferring to vary and contrast the mood of the numbers, but it’s still a fascinating forage through almost 100 years of Italian music, from the earliest, the overture to Rossini’s La Pietra del Paragone, first performed in 1812 (and later reused to begin his better known Tancredi), up to Puccini’s Madama Butterfly of 1904. The intermezzo from Butterfly is one of only four pieces on the disc that could be described as well known, together with the overture to Bellini’s Norma, the intermezzo from Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci and the Dance of the Hours from Ponchielli’s La Gioconda. Continue reading...
Music director Riccardo Chailly has announced that the 2018 season with open with Andrea Chénier, starring Anna Netrebko and her husband Yusif Eyvazov. When was a major-house opera season last launched by a married pair of singers? Quiz fiends, here’s your chance.
The BBC were offered a Proms visit last summer by the Bavarian State Orchestra conducted by Kirill Petrenko. The Proms team declined on the grounds that the conductor was unknown in this country. Petrenko had recently been elected music director of the Berlin Philharmonic. Now the Barbican has announced a visit next season by Petrenko and his orchestra. Good for them. Sad for the BBC. Sir Nicholas Kenyon, the Barbican’s director, is a former head of the BBC Proms. Other orchs visiting the Barb next season are: Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel; Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mariss Jansons; Orchestra of La Scala conducted by Riccardo Chailly; Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra conducted by Herbert Blomstedt.
Puccini Madama Butterfly at Teatro alla Scala, Milan, but not in the famous version, but the original so reviled at its premiere that it was immediately revised by its composer for a second premiere four months later on 28 May 1904, in Brescia, not Milan, the modern "standard" being the score published in 1907. The original Madama has never been lost, but has remained in the archives of Ricordi ever since. Puccini continued revising the opera until 1920 : Riccardo Chailly included parts of that last revision when he conducted the opera ar La Scala in 1996. The February 1904 version, which Chailly conducted this month at La Scala with Bryan Hymel, the Pinkerton of choice these days, was broadcast live all over the world. Alas! I missed it having endured the appallingly awful Magic Flute (Adam Fischer/Peter Stein) but this "new" Madama Butterfly is available audio only on BR Klassik HERE. Hymel is, of course, outstanding, especially since, in the original, Pinkerton is unsympathetic, a callous cad, with no "regret" aria to redeem him and soften the narrative. He also mocks the locals and calls them scum. The beauty of Hymel's singing underlines the venality of the character he portrays. The "love duet" is thoroughly creepy. Such glorious music, such depraved morals. This is infinitely closer to the way things were in an era when imperialism and racism went unchallenged. All the more respect to Puccini for seeing past the "romantic" surface and through to the fundamental brutality in the story. Please read my other pieces on Madama Butterfly, on Asian stereotypes and race issues by using the buttons at right and below. Maria José Siri sings Cio-cio San. (Full cast list here)
The annual opening has been pronounced a triumph. Riccardo Chailly’s insistence on performing Puccini’s original Madam Butterfly, the one that bombed in 1904, was acclaimed both inside then opera house and outside by watchers on a giant television screen. The Uruguayan Maria José Siri stole the show as Cio-Cio-san. Annalisa Stroppa was Suzuki, Bryan Hymel sang Pinkerton, Carlos Alvarez appeared as Sharpless. The director was the controversial Latvian, Alvis Hermanis.