Monday, January 09, 2012

To be or not to be...

Well, my leg healed fast, fortunately. I'd like to say I watched a couple movies while I was keeping it immobile on the couch, but, well, I've been in too much of an opera mood for movies (I'm listening to Butterfly as I type this). I received the DVD of the Barcelona 2003 production of Thomas' Hamlet, an opera I've never seen or even heard all the way through before, so that was my viewing pleasure over the New Year's holiday. Simon Keenlyside sings the title role, and that meant I was grinning and loving every minute he was on stage. But then, I am thoroughly in love with Simon Keenlyside and his voice. He's the first baritone in... well, ever... who can actually compete with Sherill Milnes for number one position in my heart. And they're different enough that I can love them both for different things without them ever really overlapping, and that just makes life full of win-win.

Hamlet the opera was almost three hours long. Only a couple arias are truly memorable, but the rest of the music is pleasant enough, and the story of Hamlet is always entertaining. The opera changes quite a few things from Shakespeare, but that just made it more fun, when the plot deviated and went new directions. The ghost has a much expanded role, and I think those changes were probably my favorite differences.

The staging, alas, was very minimalist. I don't mind operas updated to modern or different settings, but I do prefer a bit of awesome spectacle in my opera sets. I don't find bare walls at all appealing. Of course, on the other hand, it means I can focus entirely on Simon Keenlyside, and that's not a bad thing... I think my favorite part of the whole operas is this one tiny little bit after he feigns total madness and then, when everyone has fled the stage and he's alone, his stance and expression instantly sobers to this rather resolute, satisfied grimness. Almost gave me chills.

The following aria has been one of my favorite baritone arias for years and years, so it was nice to finally see it in context with the whole opera. This clip is from the Met's 2010 version, which I'd really love to see, but alas it's not on DVD yet. Sigh.

I also finished watching Scaramouche, which I will review shortly!

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