Monday, August 23, 2010

In which Cosi Fan Tutte is reviewed - or The Germany Chronicles 5

Most of you already know the cause of my long silence on the blog lately. Indeed, it is because I have been working double shifts for several days (thus completely exhausting myself) in order to get the 21st and the 22nd of August as days off. Why are these dates so important to me? Because Michael starred as the lead in his first Opera on Sunday August 22nd. However, it is not like the show was easily accessible... I had to head to Weimar, Germany, in order to show Michael my support and see his show. So on the 19th in the evening, I flew to Frankfurt, landed on the 20th in the morning, and then took a three hour train ride to Weimar. I have only just come back from said trip a few hours ago.

Before I review Michael's opera, allow me to say how wonderful a city Weimar is. When I got off the train, I thought I had somehow time-travelled back to the 1800s. Except for the modern cars and a monument to the Buchenwald victims (which dates to the late 1940s, I think), most of the city is enormously old. Indeed, Schiller and Goethe, famous German authors, both spent much time there, and the city still looks like it may have been back in their day. Among other things, most of the city (I would say 95 percent of it) is covered in cobblestones. No ashphalt. Usually, that would have been fine, except that I had made the trip in my work heels, and for those who have tried it, you know that heels on cobblestone are a nightmare! I do not want to know what women's feet were like back in the Victorian age, when cobblestones and high-heels ruled and one had no choice but to circulate in them! The cobblestones would not have been so bad if I had not gotten completely lost trying to find Michael's opera studio. I ended up with bleeding ankles due to my confused wanderings. However, I ended up successfully finding Michael's opera studio, called the Lyric Opera Studio Weimar. The reason it was so hard to find is that, in old European cities like Weimar, people had little consideration for parallel streets when the city was built. Unlike North American cities, where a system of parallel streets and squares was divised, Weimar is more like a huge Celtic Knot of Strassen (streets), Plaetze (plazas), and Gassen (alleys). It was really hard to figure out where I was going and I think I went in circles a few times, only barely missing Michael's opera studio, before I finally found it. But the whole city was really gorgeous and worth seeing! And the weather was great! I think I will go back there sometime, but for a longer period of time (and with better shoes).

Michael was really happy to see me. I was very elated to see him too. Apparently, my visiting him provided great moral support at a very opportune moment. The manager of the programme, a certain Greek bass-baritone Damon Nestor Ploumis, is probably the most flamboyant individual I have ever encountered, along with my high-school math teacher, Mr. Tarakdjian. Indeed, he was the type of person who wore custom-made waist-coats from his "tailor in Cypress" (I asked him, this is all true!). Despite his over-the-top persona, though, Damon was a very nice man and I think he was a great help to Michael in his musical progress, along with several others of the wonderful and great people I have met there, in Weimar. I think Michael did have a great experience there, no matter how difficult it was.

And now to the review...

I saw Cosi Fan Tutte, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, performed by no less than three casts while I was in Weimar. All of them were phenomenal performances! One of them was particularly fun, as we all went to a castle from the 1600s called Schloss Kochberg (where Goethe also spent some time) and the opera was performed in the tiny adjacent theater dating back to the days of Mozart himself. The other performances were in the Volkshaus of Weimar, basically in the "people's playhouse."

But that's all beside the point. I will only review Michael's perfomance (the Sunday evening) as reviewing them all would take me forever. But I can tell you they are all brilliant perfomers and I hope they all have great success in their later careers.

So, in the Opera, it all started out with a really funny fight-scene, in which Michael (as Ferrando) was basically taunting a fellow soldier, all with regards to how honest and faithful their respective fiancées are. Michael opened the opera with the very first line "La Mia Dorabella" setting a very good energy for the play. The baritone and bass characters, Guglielmo (performed by the baritone Bryan) and Don Alfonso (performed by a bass from Montreal named Alain) were also phenomenal. I thought Alain was absolutely hilarious as Don Alfonso, especially because he has, as Michael put it so well, "a fifty-year-old bass wobble" to his voice. It was absolutely epic. Bryan, the baritone, was very good too and sounded great, but I believe he may have had more experience than the others in the Sunday cast, as he had performed in the Castle performance as well.

Anyhow, Michael's great moment of glory came when he sang his aria: Un'aura amorosa—"A loving breath." I was speechless with the beauty of the song. So speechless I could barely find the strength to clap, while in the back, many girls cheered loud "bravos" for Michael. I think he did the aria beautifully, probably best than all the other tenors in the other casts. I think he made every woman in the audience swoon when he sang. He sang it so beautifully, and, more than once, he looked directly at me while singing. He told me later he was singing it for me. I guess it helped him sound so in love during the song! ^_^ His acting during the number was also phenomenal. You could SEE the love pouring out of his pores, just like it poured out of his voice. And, in the words of some fellow singers of Michael's; "it was a really difficult aria, and Michael nailed it!" I was so proud of him!

Most of the Opera was comedy, and it was wonderfully and hilariously stages, with funny little dance moves that can only be shown, and, sadly, not described. But just picture Michael in a faux-beard-moustache (because he was disguised as an Albanian) and shaking his booty in an attempt to woo a pretty soprano. It was epic and hilarious! I loved watching it. It is too bad it was only on for a very short time, otherwise, I would advise all to go and watch it. It is a great opera, fantastic music, fantastic staging and fantastic performances. I hope there will be videos, because every one should see it!

I know, this is an odd review, but it is difficult to review a piece like Cosi when performed by new up-and-coming singers. But I can guarantee that the whole thing was absolutely amazing!

Back to the post...

The unfortunate thing was that, while spending some time with me after a rehearsal, Michael's laptop was stolen from his room. I feel really guilty because, had we not spent some time together, Michael might still have his computer. And there are many things of value to the two of us on that laptop, such as all the pictures from Germany in May (of which we have no copies and not nearly half of them were uploaded to Facebook yet!). I do hope it turns up. It really put a damper on Michael's amazing performance that such a stupid thing had to happen!

Okay - I will go and get some shut-eye, seeing as I was up by four in the morning, German time, in order to take a train back to Franfurt airport and fly home. I am completely exhausted. But, before I go, I wish to say that, other than Michael's amazing performance, one of the best things in Weimar is that most of the town is "Fussgaengerzone," i.e. "pedestrians only zone." It makes it a great city to visit!

* Edit: Due to popular demand, some of the wording in this post was changed! ^_^ Cheers!

1 comment:

  1. What a great write-up of your trip to Weimar. It made us feel like we were there enjoying the city and Michael's performance. While not Michal's first opera performance it probably feels like his most important performance to date.
    Robert Loewen - father of the tenor