Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Don't drink the poison

Tonight I headed over to the other opera house here in Berlin, the Deutche Oper, to see a concert performance of Bellini's Capuletti ed i Montecchi - otherwise known as Romeo and Juliet. I wanted to see this particular production for several reasons; First of all, the star, Romeo, is a mezzo, and it's a role I'd love to sing one day. Second, the mezzo singing Romeo tonight was Elina Garanca, who is now a superstar and I'd never seen her in person, and third I just wanted to see what the Deutsche Oper looked like.

The D.O. (as the locals call it) is sorta the opposite of the Staatsoper (maybe the locals call it the S.O. but I haven't heard anybody do that so I'm sticking with the whole name so as not to seem like too big of a poser). While the Staatsoper is smaller, more intimate, older and more ornate, the D.O. is a big modern building without a lot of personality. I couldn't tell about the acoustics because the orchestra was onstage with the singers instead of in the pit, and it was a pretty giant orchestra with lots of winds and brass. The singing was excellent, especially Garanca and the soprano singing Juliet, whose name is now escaping me because you had to buy a program if you wanted one, so I refrained.

I actually arrived a little bit late because I miscalculated how long it was going to take me to get there on the subway, and I had to enter after the overture was finished. I had never been in the theater before, and I had to find my seat, and it was dark, so I went to the row I thought was mine and the seat I thought was mine, and it was one seat in, so I pointed at it to the woman who was sitting on the end. She kind of moved her legs a little to let me get by, but when I started sitting down, she started whisper-yelling at me in German that I was going to sit on her jacket. I kind of looked at her like, "why don't you move it, then" and she yanked it up and glared at me. I realized at intermission that I was actually in the wrong seat, so maybe she paid for that ticket as a seat for her jacket, and that's why she was mad, although I think she was just generally a very cheerless person. She was another non-clapper, like the guy who sat next to me at the Staatsoper, but unlike him, she refused to clap at all. She just sat there glaring at the stage with her hands folded on her precious jacket, and then she left just before the intermission and never came back. What is up with the not clapping, Berlin people?? It must just be a strange coincidence that I got next to two non-clappers, because the audience went wild at the end, as they should have.

Funny coincidence about the soprano; I didn't know the names of any of the singers besides Garanca, but when the soprano came out onto the stage I recognized her instantly - not from her face, but from her dress! I actually saw the same soprano sing a concert in Miami with Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and she was wearing the exact same dress as she was tonight. She probably thought - what are the odds of the same person being at a random concert in Miami in January and this concert in Berlin tonight? - about a million to one -except I was the one. And the dress was very unusual, which is why I remembered it - it looked almost tie-died, with these cut outs on the side so it was almost like a bikini top attached to a skirt. I'm not describing it well, but it was unique enough that I remembered it immediately. Not that I minded - I have like two concert dresses and I wear them in rotation for everything, so I have no shame about repeats whatsoever. But I thought it was really a crazy coincidence that I would see both concerts. I'm apparently following this woman around the globe. I don't mind, she's a really beautiful singer - if only I knew her name!! It's Ekaterina something I think. Garanca is killer, man -she's like an incredible barbie doll singing robot. What I mean by that is that she's really beautiful and blond like a barbie, and she sings everything so well and so consistently, it's like someone made a perfect opera singing robot who makes no mistakes and never has a bad note. Like not one. Amazing!

Earlier today I went and took a look at Checkpoint Charlie - the one entrance and exit point between East and West when the Wall went up. Between that and the WWII movie I saw yesterday, I've had about all the upsetting German history I can handle for this week. For the rest of the week, nothing but puppies and daffodils, please.


Unknown said...

Very satisfying post with lots of new information, thanks for the great experiential reporting. Love reading it.

Amy said...

I enjoy reading your blog and had to comment (my 1st!). The soprano is Ekaterina Siurina! I had to google for the answer and then to hear her - she has a beautiful voice!

Anonymous said...

Yes it's Ekaterina Siurina and she's amazing too. She appears on the new Elina's CD "Belcanto"; she sings Gilda beautifully; was a remarkable Zerlina in the Guth's "Don Giovanni" last year in Salzburg; is married to a wonderful american tenor from NYC who you might even know (?) - Charles Castronovo... So now you DO know her :-)

Very glad you liked Elina. Love her too!

Don't worry about the non-clapping a*holes. You can find them EVERYWHERE -- you were just lucky enough not to cross them more often before.

How was the direction by Chicon (who FYI is Elina's hubby)?

Cheers and good luck!

ken said...

Here's something interesting. I just received a copy of Manon with Netrebko and Villazon that was recorded at the Staatsoper in 2007 So I will be able to see where you are working. Amazing. I'll let you know how Netrebko does.

mamascarlatti said...

Thanks for a great post.

My heart swells with envy, I thought Garanca was amazing the the Met HD cinema broadcast of Cenerentola, and love your Barbie robot description, I know exactly what you mean, too good to be true. No chance for me of ever seeing her live, though, I live in NZ at the end of the world.

As for the non-clappers, I reckon you have to feel sorry for them, they are actually shortening their own lives by being miserable and disagreeable and petty-spirited. Everyone who puts themselves up there on stage deserves recognition.

Karina said...

I have to agree with you how fabulous Elina is..I saw her as Adalgisa in Norma in Vienna, and she was amazing! And so beautiful.