Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Hold on to your Nuts - Wotan's heading your way with Verdi!

Photo nabbed from WMC

It's not often that the WMC plays host to visiting opera companies, so it's a bit like Cardiff bus station over the next two weeks with visits from the Mariinsky and Cape Town operas. Actually, I'd like to ditch the Cardiff bus station analogy as it's a mess of a place that seems to have been in a state of "improvement" for many, many months now and is in danger of being in a "permanent" state of "improvement"...someone fix the place as it's becoming an eyesore!

Okay, non-opera related rant over with – on to the enjoyable stuff.

Now that WNO is off on its bus it's a rare opportunity to hear other companies in the Donald Gordon Theatre (in case you're wondering that's the honest and proper name of the main stage at the Armadillo). This weekend the Mariinsky visit with home grown (big) boy Bryn Terfel singing the role of Wotan in a concert performance of Act III of Die Walküre on Friday evening. His Brünnhilde is Larisa Gogolevskaya, who was the third, and by far the best, Brünnhilde during the recent disas...disappointing Ring Cycle at Covent Garden. The rest of the evening will be filled in with bits and pieces starring soloists from the Mariinsky led by their workaholic boss man Valery Gergiev.

Saturday evening is a Tchaikovsky extravaganza with the original pairing of The Nutcracker and the "rarely" performed one act opera Iolanta. Why the 66's and 99's around rarely? It's a piece that is very familiar to the Mariinsky and is foreign only to audiences outside of Russia. Taking up the role of Iolanta is Viktoria Yastrebova, a singer who has graduated through the Mariinsky's Young Singers Academy to become a full member of the opera company. Despite the obviously flashing star exclamation marks of the Friday and Sunday offerings the Saturday could be the gem of the weekend with Gergiev at home in Russian repertoire. It's a shame that Iolanta is only to be a concert performance as it would have been enjoyable to have seen the new staged production that was toured to Baden Baden recently – but it's currently playing in St Petersburg and I'm guessing air freighting the set doesn't make much sense.

Closing the weekend out sees Bryn Terfel return and join forces with Mariinsky soloists Yastrebova, Ekaterina Gubanova (guest soloist) and Sergei Semishkur in a performance of Verdi's Requiem. Hopefully it will prove to be a fitting end to a great weekend of music making. Tickets are still available for the first two evenings with the Sunday being a returns only event - so why don't you pop on down to the Wales Millennium Centre this weekend?

For homework you can visit this very handy page set up by the folks at the Armadillo that includes, among other goodies, an English libretto of Iolanta – get it while you can as I've been hunting high and low for one for some time.

And lovers of Cape Town opera, don't fret – I'll be previewing the company next week.

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