Monday, January 06, 2014

Why I Need to Move to Europe for a Couple of Years

I have tickets to five concerts during my planned stay in London in May, plus I will likely go to Thebans at ENO. That leaves a few days when I might travel. So I took a look at opera productions for May 15 to 31, and....it's just embarrassing compared to the offerings in the US. As I said in email to Patrick:
....At Deutsch Oper Berlin, Tristan and Fausts Verdammnis, both conducted by a possibly recognizable Scottsman; Die Soldaten, somewhere; a couple of different runs of Die Feen; Frau ohne Schatten in Budapest and someplace else, both, unfortunately, with casts in which between them I  have heard of ONE of the singers; Written on Skin, which everyone says is a masterpiece; Sicilské nešpory in Brno (I wouldn't expect this to be the most idiomatic of performances....); Esclarmonde in Dessau; couple of different productions of Tiefland; Reiman's Lear, which I missed in SF - with Simon Keenlyside; The Passenger (which I probably will not see in Houston this month); Das Lebesverbot; The Love of Three Oranges; Le Roi d'Ys; operas I've never even heard of by Dvorak & Smetana; Persee, by Lully....
I am not even considering productions of The Haunted Mansion and Halka in Wroclaw.


Anonymous said...


High-culture is not native to the culture of America and what we have of it is only by way of import from Europe where it's been native to the culture for
millennia thanks to the European social class system. America's officially classless social system offers no such natural and easy way to high culture but I think we'll get there eventually that notwithstanding. American
culture is still in its infancy having existed for but a mere two-and-a-third centuries and so has lots and lots of growing up to do.

Give it time.


Lisa Hirsch said...

What you're thinking of as high culture goes back maybe to the early 16th century when those crazy Florentines decided to reconstruct Greek theater in the form of something they called "opera." ;-)

I think there are three major reasons these days for the huge amount of opera in Europe: 1) cities that built opera houses in the 18th and 19th centuries 2) government support for the performing arts 3) population density in a smallish area. In the US, opera houses tend to be far apart.

I will be dead before the US reaches the current state of European opera. :)

Michael Strickland said...

I remember being in the Milan train station, a Fascist marble masterpiece, and looking at the schedule on the wall with all the places I could go on a train on a whim, and felt the same way. That doesn't happen to be our life here in California, but there are plenty of compensations.

Daniel Wolf said...


If you pass through Frankfurt in late May, you might consider the new Falstaff under Carlo Franci, the orchesta's favorite Verdi conductor. He knows this repertoire better than anyone and has worked with the orchestra for decades and at 86, doesn't have anything to prove to anyone, for him it's just an opportunity to make great music.

There is also a new production of Telemann's Orpheus -- maybe we can settle our Telemann differences!

Lisa Hirsch said...

Ha! Okay, I will thinking about that Orpheus. :)

Chanterelle said...

Relative cost and logistics of transportation might end up influencing your decisions more than you expect. Eurostar offers the easiest escape to the northern part of the continent; low-cost airlines also stretch the network but flight schedules can be quirky. A new site, Capitainetrain.com, is a great place to book train tickets in Europe--same fares as the national rail sites, you can put a ticket on hold for several days, and best of all, no credit card glitches. And they're in English.

Rigoletto (new Robert Carsen production) may not sound exciting but La Monnaie is a wonderful house, theatrically adventurous and with a public that supports their mission. The German houses I've visited have also given great pleasure. Musical values are usually quite high, and a complicity between audience and presenters creates an opening for interesting theater. And of course the more intimate houses are ideal for wonderful singers whose voices are deemed too small for SFO or the Met.

BTW Munich's DIE SOLDATEN will be webcast live on May 31 so possibly on YouTube for a brief period (though that's a show to experience live IMO, especially with Barbara Hannigan), and WRITTEN ON SKIN--absolutely worth seeing--is out on video.

Differences between European and American culture? Not going there...

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thank you! Yes, the cost and logistics of getting around will be important, also whether I will need a visa to visit France or Germany!

I think I've seen Rigoletto too recently even for a new Carsen production. I would love to hear the singers you mention (not deemed suitable for SFO or the Met).

Chanterelle said...

No visas necessary for US citizens visiting EU, only a valid passport with expiry date 3 months after the end of your trip. Just don't spend more than 90 days out of 180 in Schengen zone without a visa.

Even with all the young artist programs in the State, a good number of promising singers still go the fest contract route in Germany. It's still terrific on-the-job training out of the US limelight.

In your shoes I'd see the Munich Die Soldaten. Hannigan is unlikely to sing at the Met but her role assumption of Lulu in Warlikowski's production in Brussels was phenomenal. Ticket sales for each performance begin exactly 3 months before the performance date; you can "apply" on the web and they'll treat it as a mail order ticket request.