Nina Stemme’s welcome return to the Met in Ariadne auf Naxos.

Dramatic soprano, Nina Stemme has returned to the Met after a decade, which is a testament to her continued contributions to opera and to the Metropolitan opera.  In an age where singing seems to be shifting toward, what I think is, an unnecessary modernization and lack of authenticity, Stemme brings some old-school values to the Met.  A couple of years ago, I heard her at the Vienna Staatsoper in Verdi’s “La Forza del Destino.”  Although I was impressed by the power, quality, and colour of her voice, I did not think it well suited to the Italian repertory.  To her credit, she gave a wonderful interpretation of Leonora’s Act IV Aria, “Pace Pace, mio Dio.”  I walked away rather confused because I had heard Madame Stemme in several recordings of German operas and thought, maybe she should sing Italian opera.  She seems to sing Strauss and Wagner with the type of quality that authentic Italian singing thrives on, but when she does sing the Italian repertoire, she sways from her lyrical singing when really she should just sing the Italian repertoire with the lyricism and legato with which she sings her more familiar German repertoire.

Nina Stemme

In the present production of “Ariadne auf Naxos” at the Met, Madame Stemme, however, has returned to that lyrical quality and full vibrato that drew me to this voice long ago.  I listened to the broadcast of the opera two nights ago and it was full, lush, and very well sung; not to mention the Met’s orchestra handled Strauss’ kaleidoscopic palate with great precision.  Stemme brings something that seems to be lacking at the Met, and received a more than welcome response from the Met’s audience.  To me, this is a hint that we still crave those singers who remain authentic to their fach and their repertoire.  Brava Stemme!

As Ariadne auf Naxos

Reviews:

The Opera in an Opera overcomes illnesses: from the New York Times

Nina Stemme returns to the Metropolitan for a revival of Ariadne auf Naxos: from The Associated Press

Carmen shakes things up, everywhere she goes! And, we LOVE it!

Two major North American companies are simultaneously staging Bizet’s “Carmen”, the Metropolitan Opera and the Canadian Opera Company.  It seems that Carmen, the woman and the opera, generates headlines and shakes things up no matter where she goes.  At both houses, cancellations made headlines and understudies either impressed or didn’t, much to the chagrin or pleasure of devoted Carmenites. Here are some reviews of both productions.

From the Associated Press: Gheorghiu cancels remainder of Carmen at the Met

Angela Gheorghiu

Metropolitan Opera Carmen stars Franco’s thugs and a Latvian Diva: Bloomberg

Elina Garanca

She’s Got Castanets, so let Carmen Dance from the New York Times

A scene from this season’s production of “Carmen”: to dance or not to dance?

Last minute stand in Carmen saves Canadian Opera Company’s Carmen from La Scena Musicale

Rinat Shaham fires up Toronto

Seductive, Sultry Carmen heats up the COC’S 2009/10 Winter Season from La Scena Musicale

COC’S “Carmen”