repost: Vesselina Kasarova in concert in Berlin review

click on photo to go to review

Many thanks to Smorgie who hosted her blog to guest review John Carnegie.
A wonderful read on Vesselina Kasarova’s artistry. ❤



Sorry, i’m waaaay behind in posting my notes for the Juditha Triumphans from last month… but i’ve just learned Vesselina Kasarova has recently joined facebook and is now posting events and classes on her fb site!! ❤

And now, we know how she descends into the low part of Romeo's entrance aria! ❤

ps- there's a video embeded.. in the case you can't see, head over to her facebook site for viewing
ps2- what is there not to love, training another young mezzo to sing Roméo ❤

kasarova radio alert

edit: here’s the unedited version:

today, Sun 31/Jul/2016, 1700GMT , 1900CET, 1300EST , Vesselina is singing in duet with Ricarda Merbeth, here’s the program and link from worldconcerthall. Here’s the direct link at BRKlassik, though i don’t see the “play” button anywhere… (is it my flash block? but i do see the option for “live” so I’m guessing you can click there once it’s time.) I think one of the links on here will work directly from an mp3 player, though i’m not sure if “1” or “2” is what we need..


(oh, now that i see this, it was from an event on 17/jul/2016). She’s singing Mozart!!! and some Strauss, though surprisingly nothing for the role Der Komponist which she’s slated to sing in Japan this October.

I’ll be deeeep in my sleep, and might just barely have 1 eye open to manage the capturing machine… but am quite looking forward! I think she also has enough fans on the fb fansite who hopefully will capture in case my alarm fails… (oh, i know, let me go bribe Stray 😉 )

opera dream/wish list

First, the dream-list as it probably will *never* happen.. but you never know..
1. Emmanuelle Haïm conducding (with her orchestra) Monteverdi L’Orfeo *with* Anna Caterina Antonacci singing the title role!! (or I’ll take anybody conducting with La Antonacci singing Orfeo, even in concert version, but as usual with her stage is a must! She has given interviews saying she wanted to sing it, please, some innovative conductors (E.Haïm!) to take on her ideas!)

[One day she would like to sing the male title-role in Monteverdi’s Orfeo. “Why not? This is music that can be interpreted in so many ways. But when I mention the idea to conductors, they don’t like it. They’re just annoyed because they didn’t think of it first.”] Excerpt from this interview

2. Emmanuelle Haïm re-does the entire 2016 Mitridate *but* with Vesselina Kasarova as Farnace!
3. Vesselina Kasarova sings Agrippina, Ariodante, Orphée, and Sesto again (extreme bonus if E.Haïm conducting!)
4. the pairing of Antonacci and Kasarova as Nerone and Poppea (whichever order!!) in Monteverdi’s “L’incoronazione di Poppea”, extreme bonus if Sara Mingardo is Ottone! (hey, it’s a dream list!)
5. The same pair as Sesto and Vitellia! (I’m fine with transposing the music all down to whoever’s range so we can have switches!!)
6. Anja Harteros sings the countess again in Mozart’s Figaro.

Onto the growing wish-list
1. TV broadcast of Agrippina Paris 2003 . The full 2000 Bruxelles version is just made available on tube last September but I find Antonacci singing/portrayal much different and really love the 2003 version more (also by then she was really rocking those lovely shoulders 😉 )
2. Zürich in-haus recording of Agrippina 2009
3. Munich in-haus recording of Alcina 2007 . We have heard so many rumors they *taped* the video but then only released the cd, boo! Here’s a review.
4. Paris in-haus recording of I Capuleti e i montecchi 1996
5. the entire pocket-recording of La Clemenza di Tito Paris 2006
6. Emmanuelle Haïm’s Une Fête Baroque, the 2.5hr TV version, not the extracts with only French singers
7. TV broadcast of Händel’s “Orest” from Komische Oper Berlin 2006 (primarily because i’m absolutely in love with the ending chorus, and i’d like to see Charlotte Hellekant in the white trench coat swinging to the fan and home-made airplane wing again to the tune (sung in German!) of “Bella sorge la speranza”.)
8. Paris Dec 2014 in-haus recording of Nathalie Stutzmann conducting Händel Messiah with Orfeo55 and Sara Mingardo.
9. radio Ö1 broadcast of Gluck Iphigénie en Aulide Nov 2012 from Theater an der Wien (this is more in-line with the recent soprano obsession; not to be confused with “Iphigénie en Tauride” for which there’s a full ARTE HD broadcast in 2015 with Antonacci that i have!)


More to come…
I just recently re-listened to the Wien 2010 Alcina again and realized how really luckly we are that they taped it! Because when I was there there was no talk of any planning… then all of the sudden huge comotion while we lined up during the 3rd performance (btw, the standing-room wait line is fantastic, pure Wiener opera fans of all ages knowing all about the arts and lining and chatting up) and we overheard that they decided at the very last minute to bring in the cameras because of the huuuuuge success the performance was generating! As I didn’t get to see the Munich Alcina this is indeed a rare and very lucky souvenir. And of all the very rare things I’ve managed to scavenge, 3 stood out that i’m extremely glad to have: the Liceu 2006 “Ariodante”, the Paris 2003 “L’incoronazione di Poppea”, and the Dresden 1998 radio broadcast of “I capuleti e i montecchi”.

Kasarova radio alert

Edit: Here is the entire broadcast. The absolute highlight for me is her very brief Händel. I can not stress enough how well her voice fits .. and it pains me to not hear her enough in it..

From VK’s fb fan site: Thursday 14/Jan/2016 live from Bulgaria, VK’s recital, i believe 1800H central european time (i could be wrong..) at this direct link. Also, she gave an interview in Bulgarian but with a realllllly lovely excerpt from her latest russian arias cd, makes me think we need to see her in one of these operas soon!!!

Edit: oh, here’s the official listing on Worldconcerthall: 17:00 hours GMT (1800h CET, 1200h Boston time, argh!)
(and the program for the concert tomorrow, via 1 of her fan from fb site:
Georges Bizet – “Carmen” – Horus and stage patter, Habanera;
• Gioachino Rossini – “The Italian Girl in Algiers” – chorus, recitative and rondo of Isabella;
• Ambroise Thomas – Overture to the opera “Raymond”;
• Camille Saint Saens – “Samson and Delilah” – Aria of Delilah;
• Giuseppe Verdi – “Don Carlos” – Horus and scene Aria Princess Eboli (Song of the veil)
• Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – “Eugene Onegin” – Waltz;
• Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – “Maid of Orleans” – Aria of Joanna;
• Nikolai Rimsky Korsakov – “Snow White” – Dance of acrobats;
• Modest Musogski – “Hovanshtina” – Aria of Marfa;
• Ruggiero Leoncavallo – “Pagliacci” – Choir;
• Francesco Cilea – “Adriana Lecouvreur” – Aria of princes de Bouillon.)

ps— could someone fire up the capturing machine please!! i might have a meeting, argh argh.

radio alert

now 18.05GMT, 1405 EST, Vesselina Kasarova sings Monteverdi, and other arias composed for Arianne

“Lasciatemi morire”, snif
text + translation.

and, just another take for variety purpose, what i’ve been listening this past week. it’s from a live performance, her only solo disc! (she gave an interview where she said she wants small venue + seeing audience to communicate with them, and prefers not doing studio recording due to disconnection..) i like both. each gives a different feeling.

vintage vk

i set alarm at 1.15pm in an attempt to make *3* talks in the department… and here we are, it’s totally useless rolling back schedule, forward is the way to go. I do listen to more singers than VK :-), though unconsciously she just has her way of creeping back in, case in point my accidental convenient mix up within Rossini’s plots involving power-girl (or not..). Coincidentally I’ve been debating this last whole week of putting up the live radio broadcast from La Scala with her in the titled role.. but this occasion’s mix up is a perfect excuse to re-view some vintage VK, they should have known better who they’re messing with (time-tag 30min40s):

the sound drives me batty, but how about some screen shots on how to stare them boys down.
The girl behind the curtain is concerned for their (boys’) safetyisabela01

wakes of chest notes sending the human wave tumbling backward. The girl behind curtain is now really having fun,

Isabella side-step dancing leading the whiny bass offstage:

a WS is born. Sarà quel che sarà!

music for the weekend

another set of music to “start” an ambitious weekend at work wrestling with “imaginary” signals 🙂

I must thank Smorgie and S. from munich for providing the absolutely fantastic material. I have had it for a long time and most of it was posted on YT.. until last week when *the* one and only fantastic Smorgie channel with 70% or so of VK clips was wiped out by yt.. which gave a chance to address this the dvd again. Please feel free to translate in the 2nd part where she discusses things in between singing :-).

1. händel alcina: mi lusinga il dolce affetto
2. händel solomon, overture
3. händel alcina: sta nell’ircana
4. mozart la clemenza di dito, parto parto, ma tu ben mio
5. rossini tancredi, o patria.. di tanti palpiti
6. gluck ophée et euridyce, amour, viens rendre a mon âme
7. händel ariodante, scherza infida
8. mozart la clemenza di tito, deh per questo instanto solo
9. händel alcina, verdi prati
10.rossini tancredi, Perchè turbar la calma

Some running commentary:
– her voice was realllly in top form during this period!
– i *love* the “B” section in Sta nel’ircana, just *love* it.
– would have muuuch preferred a proper baroque orchestra with a conductor who can really bring out the vivid characters in the music. This one is moving like a mass…
– this is still by far my favorite “scherza infida”… just absolutely heartbreaking..
– i looove her hair 😀 (note resistance on discussion about *the* suit ;-))
– WAAAOO, that “deh per questo..” is great, forgot for a moment i was watching! spent all time thinking of the pooor Sesto… these lingering soft notes she carries… waaaaooo

Some technical details: you might hear *several* (probably 4-6) split-second interuptions.. this is due to what am given, most importantly the fact that it is in dvd format: this format chops up sections according to 1GB cut-off without any regard for what it cuts (middle of aria..) . That and the combination of original video which somehow was rendered differently in dvd-1 vs dvd-2… just took forever to put together hence I’ve been sitting on for a long time.. ANYHOW, IF you hear the interuption and can put down the exact time, i can attempt to fix (cut off 1/10sec perhaps) at a later time and repost…

trip report

some random thing, i had a dream last night staying at my dear friend’s place in Munich, saw Frau Harteros in the exact Leonora dress walking down the street to the place *next door*!!!, then bid goodbye to another good friend who i missed seeing last month due to snow storm.. she’s moving back to Moscow at the end of the month so seems to be entering sub-conciously..

Munich was a very very nice and special trip for many reasons, especially the opportunity to see those who make me happy. Also had an opportunity to visit an art museum which i must admit to really enjoy, it’s always nice to have someone explaining a bit what you’re looking at. This past weekend I spent de-bugging time listening and sending this around to introduce friends to Frau Harteros.

year-2014 report

year-2014 report

If one has a long-lasting memory of a certain event in life, for me it was the jet-lagged afternoon stumbling in sweat into the Bayerische Staatsoper in May 2012 and experiencing VK live singing Romeo. (In case you are curious, a related life-long memory was the moment Frau Harteros opened her phrase in Wien.) Waaaaay back when first discovered opera, I left what must be my first ever comment on dame Purity’s site proclaiming i’d come anytime VK sing in trouser, to which Purity replied the VK-Händel effect on her is such that she would come to *any* VK performance. At the time i thought that was a bit extreme, surely would i care at all if VK sings Helene in a dress… Fast-forward to 2012, witnessing her sing Romeo, and subsequently hearing radio broadcast of la Mort de Cleopatre from Salzburg, followed by video stream of Il pianto di Maria in Helsinki, I reached the same conclusion: when she sings, but especially in baroque, I clear my schedule.
I have the feeling now talking to a few people that there are 2 group-of-opinions, one that relies mostly on her recordings and one that attends many of her live concerts/performances. One of the most rewarding conversations I had this trip in Munich was with S, a devout VK’s fan 🙂 . Of course since we’re devout worshipers, one could say we agree with each other ;-). We talked about everything VK-related, her voice, her repertoire, her schedule, differences between performances 1-day apart, especially why one day it didn’t work and yet suddenly the next it was magic. That is the nature of “live” i supposed. But i really understand her and Purity well, in that we hear deeply what we internally search for when listening to VK live. There are roles we never understand the meaning until when she takes over, arias we never manage to connect until suddenly we hear the point in her expression. My flight back to boston was surprisingly *very* long so i let the playlist flushed without picking/choosing, and inevitably am deeply touched again by the “simple” thing such as this, which really makes you pause and gain the deeper understanding of the phrasing. For me, I don’t know what each of her live performance will be like, hit or miss, who knows, but this feeling is worth searching for (for myself).

(the whole thing is here).
VK is singing a veeeery niiiiice and long list of Händel’s arias at a festival in Karlsruhe this coming 2/March, and i very sad to not be able to attend. Technically i could still attempt to jet from somewhere in middle of the US in middle of a meeting for just 1-day to hear her live singing Händel, perhaps I should.. in the meantime, i thought it’s interesting to have these two in parallel, primarily because when first heard her sing in Helsinki, I thought the section around min 1.20 (1.35 in 2nd clip) was rather strange and self-wondered how other singers would maneuver it. Here, for your entertainment, i quite enjoy both, especially when they took the note and ascend at around minute 02.24 (02.54 in 2nd clip).

Helsinki, 6/jun/2012, radio broadcast, Vesselina Kasarova

Misteria Paschalia Festival, 25/mar/2013, radio broadcast, Sara Mingardo

La damnation de Faust @ Oper Köln

I have an even earlier train to catch tomorrow! but i didn’t like the sloppy post last night as it did absolutely no justice to the wonderful conducting of Nathalie Stutzmann. Will come back and add more comment to that. So, let’s have a proper post here if possible..

This is one of the few works i know by heart (from listening). Usually for these pieces, it’s always great to hear live for the first time as you discover so many things happening in the orchestra and interaction between it and chorus / singers. Roughly you need three good singers for the main characters, a superb chorus, and a conductor’s idea and ability to shape the orchestra. Also, for mezzo-lovers, it’s decisively split into two and a half parts: I=no mezzo, II.1=mezzo , II.2=no mezzo. I’ll discuss the parts in order below.

Let’s start with the best: Samuel Youn as Méphistophélès. I put him above all because he has such a big role, and the moment he stepped on the stage, the ENTIRE concert lit up. Great voice, but most importantly, his phrasing, shaping, and characterization. There’s always a fine line again between over the top (ott!) and just right when it comes to portraying the devil, and he absolutely delivered. Actually while he gestured ordering the chorus to “Amen”, i realize how ironic attending this right after Messiah: small intimate orchestra + chorus versus flamboyant devil with *extravagant* horns + drums + harps and rowdy chorus. No wonder we are all going to hell, such fun!! 😀
If you know this piece at all, it starts with a gorgeous violin line followed by opening line of tenor. Honestly, I would prefer an entirely different Faust. Nothing wrong with the singing, but it’s just singing. I was thinking was it jet-lag again that i don’t digest the start.. which infiltrated into the Hungarian March.. read that again, _into_ the Hungarian March. That’s a third of part I and usually for me one of the most beautiful sections. Luckily the devil arrived just in time!
The chorus is extremely important in this piece, and it’s mixed.. at times they sang like in a flea market completely jumbled up (leading up to Hungarian March), yet at other times very precise and full of power.. While we talk about Hungarian March, this is also a good start to discuss conductor’s take. For the most part, i really like how Markus Poschner shaped the orchestra. At the start somehow everything sounded a bit off (?) in term of sound, could it be that my ears were adjusting to the tent? For the march, I think there’s a “reasonable” tempo somewhere that makes the piece sounds good as opposed to dragging or everyone dropping swords running over others. This version is somewhat a mix-bag, with particularly fast tempo toward the end where i had the feeling the horns + trumpets couldn’t keep up, so they sounded quite out of sync and chaotic. What can I say, everything really came together once Mr. Devil came to the scene :-).
For the orchestra, i need to google the name of the first violinist, an asian, similar haircut to mine, same height, SUPERB!!! 🙂 Again, for this piece, you need a lot of very precise bow movements to accentuate the mood change. The best memory I have is *to* this chorus (which, incidentally is also the best chorus I heard), the precise marching movement of violins are quite eye-opening.

Right, Part II. First, when Vesselina Kasarova is singing, I will always nicely upgrade myself to the best position in the hall if there’s a seat available :-). Already in part I I scanned the scene simply because of a very tall woman sitting right in front blocking my view.. and spotted a smack middle-seat 2 rows in front with absolutely no obstacle (row11seat35 to row9seat29), here’s the view:
My small regret for the evening: that I didn’t book ticket to see her 3 times singing this. But you know the way her schedule is changing by the day, I would go broke switching plane ticket every other day.. Ok, done lamenting. First, a question for the sound in the tent perhaps.. when started she sounded quite truncated. By that I mean you only hear some part of the sound but not the entire word. Second, it’s true her french is a bit strange :-). Marguerite has the opening scene (which if you haven’t heard already i posted almost twenty times here and on my channel) where she made the ascent En songe je l’ai vu… lui… mon futur amant, quite breath taking. I am always so much more in love with “Roi de Thulé” aria than the rest, the music is very melancholy, almost ironic if you realize her fate by the end.. The breathing stopped, for a moment i completely forgot where I was, transported to an external planet, alone to ponder life to the pulsation. Quite an experience. It also occurred to me whoever is discussing about her voice “problems” is not listening to her live singing Marguerite :-). The duet and trio are great, suuuch a pleasure watching her voice piercing through the tenor/bass combo on the side. Their positions in front of the orchestra, with her in the middle, helps greatly with sound balance (clearly after my move).
But I will also admit I don’t always fully digest her “D’amour l’ardente flamme” . For this occasion, again I’m wondering about the “truncation of sound” thing because some of her singing went “missing” even though you can see her movements.. Perhaps this is related to something Anik mentioned once about the timing of some vocal ?? that now takes longer to open and for the sound to come? One striking thing I remember thinking as soon as the opening phrase arrived is “poor Marguerite, she doesn’t know yet what will come..”. That is to say she completely inherited Marguerite you now feel for the character. Just to mention the one part that I love the most in HER version (both here and on weimar radio broadcast): exactly here (you will just have to watch the photos since her singing Marguerite has made it to all my slideshows in 2012)

Absolutely goose-bump inducing, especially in combo with the uplifting violins. Her last part, i will always get, “Il ne vient pas…”, sniff sniff..

So she was gone (no more singing but she remained on stage), the rest was up to Faust (I drifted!) and Méphistophélès (I cheered!). As the male chorus partied to Méphistophélès’ “Je suis vainqueur!” I celebrated! More horns, drums, bells, harps to round out the music. A fantastic evening!
I had the camera setting messed up with only bad photos so decided to switch on the movie function, here it is, the last performance of this run. Big applause. I waited a bit wanting to say hello to Frau K but she bursted out running with this woman-TV interviewer (the show where she sang a Bulgarian folk song as a birthday gift to one of the guests) so I didn’t intrude. That’s about it. I am glad to have made the trip, one which I almost skipped if not for the combo with Stutzmann/Orfeo55/Händel/Mingardo…