'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

15 September 2012

Bluebeard's Castle

Two great stars of opera Daniel Sumegi and Lisa Gasteen together with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Johannes Fritzsch spectacularly performed Hungarian composer Bela Bartok's "Bluebeard's Castle" last night. 100 years old it tells chilling tale of the eloped couple of Bluebeard and Judith coming to the Castle for the first time and passing through 7 doors to reveal the shocking truth. The drama is intense, the lighting was superb for a concert version which is appropriate for a two singer opera (from pitch black to subdued colours), and the singing was sublime.
The evening began with Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov and what an opening that was. 55 minutes of the most electrifying and sparkling playing that I have heard since I attended a Shostakovich Symphony on the South Bank in London back in 1975. The room was electric and the sound was like a fireworks display. Perhaps it is the Russion orchestration that brings this out, but the surround sound I was immersed in in the centre of the third row was unbelievable. It was also a thrill to see once again on the platform Warwick Adeney as the concertmaster. I recall Warwick as a just graduated student who we thought a huge talent and a little eccentric as he often played barefoot about 3 decades ago. Now his curly hair is a little grey and apparently he no longer objects to wearing shoes. His brilliant playing (including solo spots) elicited such a huge cheering response from the crowd. I am sure many recall this bright young artist from years ago. He was another graduate from The Qld. Conservatorium which produced the outstanding Lisa Gasteen who went on to be the great Brunhilda throughout the world and is currently Professor Gasteen at the same Conservatorium. Her gradual return to the stage in the last few weeks after a neck problem 4 years ago is such a welcome joy as shown by the excited cheers she received as she walked on stage and the thunderous applause at the conclusion. She is a voice to be treasured. 

The evening was also blessed by the huge, and I do mean huge booming voice of Daniel Sumegi. What a thrill it is to hear such a rich and powerful instrument from this Australian born international star now based in New York. Perfection. It was a dark story and the drama was gripping as the commanding presence of both singers expressed their story with the formidable orchestration which also included the grand organ.

The young sweet looking Hungarian composer, Bela Bartok.

Extract of Bluebeard's Castle with Jessye Norman and Samuel Ramey from the Met.

The Queensland Symphony in the Concert Hall
Yes I had another phenomenal evening of music.
Below is a fun piece from Treemonisha by Scott Joplin performed by Jessye Norman and Lisa Gasteen for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth back in 1986.

Just a snippet of Daniel Sumegi about to lose his head in Salome by Richard Strauss

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