So the winter season has started musically here in Roma and I'm looking over the next few months and figure we have a fair smattering of good stuff. And quite a few evenings booked.
First up Ute Lemper the German chantootsie - as Walter Winchell use to say - will be doing her Last Tango in Berlin show at the Parco del Musica on January 20. Lemper is an acquired taste - like many of the singers who specialize in this type of music. I find her very much to my taste and a review of her New York performance - in a somewhat smaller venue - by Squirrel over at Parterre Box has definitely whetted my appetite.
The season at Teatro dell'Opera starts here on January 23rd - we have tickets for all the opening nights this year - with my favorite Verdi: Falstaff. It a "new" production by Franco Zeffirelli, conducted by Asher Fisch. Now Zia Zeff has been in the news here lately for making rude comments about, amongst other people, Daniella Dessi, left-wing politicians and reporters and sadly seems to becoming a bit of a joke. His over bloated La Traviata closed this past season to decidedly mixed notices. I have a sinking feeling that this "new" production will be a retread of the one I saw at the old Met back in 1964 - except we won't have Bernstein in the pit.
The Red Poppy is the first ballet of the new season. This classic of 1920s Soviet ballet was scheduled for November past but replaced at the last minute by more performances of Swan Lake but with big names. It is a real oddity, I'm not even sure its still in the repertory of any of the Russian companies. I'm glad to see that it wasn't canceled altogether as originally thought - its one of those works, like last season's Cleopatra that I've often read about but never thought I'd have a chance to see.
If Bernstein is missing from the new Falstafff, his music will be heard at the Academia Santa Cecilia. Conductor Wayne Marshall will be leading the Orchestra in a mixed programme of suites from West Side Story and Candide but best of all that marvelous chorus will be doing the Chichester Psalms.
The beginning of March brings a trip up to Milan to see the only thing that I found interesting in La Scala's 2010 line-up: Janacek's From the House of the Dead. This is a co-production from several sources including earlier this season at the Met. It was the hottest ticket of the New York opera season so far - the Patrice Chéreau production has been highly praised as has the conducting of Esa-Pekka Salonen. The ensemble work of the cast have made this a must-see piece of great music theatre. Not surprisingly given the audiences in Milan their musty old production of Rigoletto is a sell-out but there are plenty of tickets left for all six performances of this ground breaking piece of music theatre.
The season here will continue with a revival of Boito's Mefistofele in a production using designs from the turn of the last century. As will be the case with the Tosca that is set for April - for some reason the Zeffirelli production from 2008 has been shelved in favour of a reconstruction of the sets and costumes from the premiere back in 1900. I'm not sure what that's all about; it may be an interesting artistic decision though I have a feeling its more about cost cutting. The house owns the designs, the artists are dead and copyright has long since expired so it just may be cheaper. Funny how cynical you become about these things as you watch the political maneuvering that surrounds opera houses here.
The ballet company has another work deferred from last season sandwiched in between revivals of Giselle and Don Chiscotte - L'heure exquise. Based on Sam Beckett's Happy Days it was choreographed by Maurice Béjart for Carla Fracci and Micha van Hoecke. Though I have complained about Fracci inappropriately taking centre stage in so many things here this is one performance of hers I don't want to miss.
March also brings us Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz band. And Martha Argerich and a group of friends are doing two programmes of a Brazilian Getaway - tangos and the like by Piazzolla, Ginastera, Ramirez, Guastavino. Unusual programming but should prove interesting. And spring comes in with Claudio Abbado making a rare appearance at Santa Cecilia with a fairly traditional programme of Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony and Mozart's Jupiter but Abbado's traditional should be worth its weight in gold.
And that's just what we have tickets for in the next three months - there's still the stuff we'll hear about at the last minute. Or those performances that my dear Opera Chic will suddenly mention that have me hustling to Vivaticket and the TrenItalia website for those last minute bookings.
08 gennaio - San Lorenzo Giustiniani