From 2015 you can fully follow all the news, information, videos, etc. about Rolando Villazón (and villazonista community) here:

FACEBOOK Rolando Villazón -Villazonistas
https://www.facebook.com/rolandovillazon.villazonistas

TWITTER @villazonistas https://twitter.com/villazonistas

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

15 nov. 2011

In Matters of the Heart, ‘Contes d’Hoffmann’ Skips a Beat - THE NEW YORK TIMES -




THE NEW YORK TIMES

In Matters of the Heart, ‘Contes d’Hoffmann’ Skips a Beat

MUNICH — For those who are curious, Rolando Villazón sounds just fine in the new production of Offenbach’s “Contes d’Hoffmann” at the Bayerische Staatsoper. Engagements last summer reportedly gave encouragement that his vocal problems were behind him, an impression furthered here.  
-
The thought that Mr. Villazón was destined to be the next Plácido Domingo may never have made much sense, but you can’t ignore the similarity of their voices — warm and burnished, with liquid in the tone. Unfortunately, the similarity sets up expectations for a bigger voice, especially when the role is Hoffmann, once a Domingo specialty. Nor does Mr. Villazón compensate with fine points of artistry. Still, it was a pleasure to hear his voice sounding fresh and virile, as the tenor related and enacted episodes involving the poet Hoffmann’s unhappy love life.
-
If the characterization Mr. Villazón offers is rather generalized, this could hardly be said of Diana Damrau’s portrayal of the four women after whom Hoffmann vainly lusts. They could not have been more differentiated from each other. Ms. Damrau’s bright, chirpy, Barbie Doll-ish Olympia — which cleverly keeps the audience guessing if it is she or a puppet on stage — was succeeded by singing of ultra-expressivity as the fragile Antonia, who is doomed by a fatal urge to sing.
-
Since Ms. Damrau is known for impeccable coloratura singing, one assumes she chose the traditional (simpler) version of the courtesan Giulietta’s aria to make the character seem more earthy and floozy-like. Either way, the Hoffmann heroines may be added to Ms. Damrau’s impressive list of accomplishments. It is regrettable, however, that Munich’s performing version did not include music for the opera singer Stella, Hoffmann’s constant love interest and, in a sense, the real-life embodiment of the ones described in the tales. This Stella is seen but not heard.
-
John Relyea is an imposing and mysterious presence as Hoffmann’s four nemeses, although in light of his unremarkable singing of “Scintille, diamant!” this might have been an opportunity to leave out the popular aria, which Offenbach never intended to be part of “Hoffmann.”
-
The peppy American mezzo-soprano Angela Brower sings with handsome, steady tone in the dual role of Hoffmann’s youthful companion Nicklausse and his Muse. One of the virtues of Richard Jones’s production is that not only are these two roles convincingly fused into one (essentially Nicklausse) but, dressed in jacket, vest and trousers similar to Hoffmann’s (costumes by Buki Shiff), he appears as the poet’s doppelgänger, an ingenious idea. Kevin Conners brings personality to the four servant roles.
-
The conductor Constantinos Carydis proves to be an adroit accompanist of the singers, but his work suffers from overemphatic accents, erratic tempos and a lack of French nuance.
-
With this production, Mr. Jones seems to have redeemed himself with the Munich audience after his reviled “Lohengrin” two years ago. Unlike that effort, with its competing, newly invented story line, his “Hoffmann” plays the drama relatively straight, often compellingly so.
-
The whole opera takes place in the same basic room (designed by Giles Cadle), which at the beginning and close of the opera represents Hoffmann’s simple, Biedermeier-like work quarters, thereby emphasizing that his tales are not biographical episodes but products of his artistic genius in which he himself is caught up. To the left is a dreary corridor, but characters also enter and exit through an armoire that sometimes serves as a wine cellar. (This Hoffmann is especially fond of the bottle but is a pipe-smoker, too, as are three students from Luther’s tavern who superfluously serve as constant companions.)
-
The single set ultimately shortchanges the opera’s spectacle, especially in the Giulietta Act, which properly commences in a palazzo overlooking the Grand Canal of Venice, but there is compensation in the inventive staging. The grand apotheosis initiated by Nicklausse/Muse in the Epilogue (Act 5) is especially moving, as the characters from the previous acts — all Hoffmann’s creations, of course — appear on stage to supplant Nicklausse/Muse as a source of inspiration for the poet.
-
The production’s lame rewrite of the Giulietta Act finale is a big disappointment. Apparently to bring the courtesan Giulietta’s fate into line with the dire ends met by Olympia and Antonia, a new scenario provides for her death (she drinks poison intended for Nicklausse). What did Emerson say about “foolish consistency?”
-
People should get over the idea that because of the complex textual history of “Hoffmann” — Offenbach worked on versions for two different theaters and died before establishing a definitive text — it is necessary to include nonauthentic material in performance or the opera won’t work on stage. The critical edition by Michael Kaye and Jean-Christoph Keck (which Munich for the most part uses) has yet to be published, but from all indications it makes possible a continuous, musically authentic performance of the whole opera.
-
The composer’s finale for the Giulietta Act, which Munich chose not to perform, is an exciting sequence that makes sense of the problematic act. Hoffmann, pursued by the police for killing Giulietta’s former lover Schlémil, now turns on her for stealing his reflection and tries to kill her, too, but, deluded by the villain Dapertutto, kills her servant Pitichinaccio instead, thus becoming a double murderer.
-
Let’s hope that the English National Opera, a co-producer of this “Hoffmann,” reconsiders the matter when the production travels to London.
-
Les Contes d'Hoffman. Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich. Through Nov. 25. London Coliseum. Feb. 10 through March 10.
     

7 comentarios:

  1. Startenor Shatters Three World Records in a Single Day

    In a day that will go down in operatic history, charismatic tenor Rolando Villazón has demolished not one, not two, but three world records in one 24-hour period.

    The first occurred in a radio interview this morning when he was questioned for the 1,000th time about the operation to remove a cyst on one of his vocal cords and the state of his voice. The previous record of 43 was held by famed soprano Nathalie Dessay.

    As usual, Mr. Villazón unbelievably maintained a jovial and amiable attitude throughout, and his truly remarkable patience will be celebrated tomorrow when he will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2011.

    The second record-breaker came as the result of a review of the Munich production of Les Contes d’Hoffmann in a respected newspaper, which summarily dismissed the idea that Mr. Villazón could ever be compared to legendary tenor, Plácido Domingo, a remark that has now been made for the truly staggering 10,000th time. Angry mobs gathered on street corners around the globe, growling that anyone who can endure this pointless, tedious, mindless comparison ad nauseum deserves particular recognition: therefore, by popular demand, the tenor has been named the new Dalai Lama.

    In the spirit of shattering records, the article in the aforementioned “respected” newspaper broke its own for uttering inexplicable comments by stating that “Mr. Villazón fails to compensate with fine points of artistry” and presents a “generalized” portrait of Hoffmann, remarks that can only be attributed to the hallucinogens that the journalist was ingesting, no doubt also in record-breaking quantity. These remarks have deservedly won the journalist the “That’s Just Plain Dumb” award for world-class inanity, which he accepted with glee, stating, “Geez, a prize! Just for saying dumb stuff? We do it all the time!”

    Mr. Villazón’s final record came when, by an astonishing total of 7,275,235,741 votes to 0, the tenor was voted the most charismatic person on the planet, beating out the rest of humanity combined. Mr. Villazón topped the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Barak Obama, and Kermit the Frog for this staggering honor, which has prompted the tenor to relinquish his role as Dalai Lama and concentrate on continuing to give new meaning to the word “artistry,” much to the delight of many and the chagrin of a few.

    The tenor’s only comment on today’s historic events: “What, Kermie didn’t get any votes? He was robbed, I tell you!”

    ResponderEliminar
  2. ¡Bravo Joanna!!!Despuea de leer tu comentario, no hace falta decir nada más.

    Tal vez...algo......

    ¡Viva Villazon!

    ResponderEliminar
  3. ¡Estupenda Juana!!!!!!!!!!!

    Divertida y mordaz

    ResponderEliminar
  4. Thank you, Olga and Nilda. That review was just begging for a comment. I was more than happy to oblige.:-)))

    ResponderEliminar
  5. Joanna quel humour et quelle verve !!
    C'est toi qui devrais écrire les articles concernant Rolando dans la presse mondiale !!!

    ResponderEliminar
  6. Ha, ha, thank you, Danièle, even though I cannot guarantee writing such articles with perfect impartiality, I hope they would be more original than we so often see!

    ResponderEliminar
  7. catherine la parisienne16/11/11 19:35

    "Impartiality"???
    Dear Joanna, tes articles pleins d'humour équilibreraient agréablement ce qui est parfois écrit...car les villazonistas gardent (presque) toujours la "tête froide", même si leur "corazon" est bouillant....
    Une très belle critique, en tous cas, du N.Y. Times pour Rolando dans Hoffmann. Comment pourrait-il en être autrement ?

    ResponderEliminar