Archive for the ‘Ivor’s blog’ Category

Tamerlano Blog 10 (24 Feb 2010)

1st Stage and Orchestra.  This is the moment where everything comes together; cast, orchestra and staging. Even though we are a relatively small orchestra, we have not so much space in the ROH pit due to  having to fit in two harpsichords, an organ, two chitarrones. A further element  is the ‘health and safety’ net which is legally immoveable and effectively renders a huge area of space unuseable with pit settings above a certain height. (All baroque pieces for example). We work through the 1st Act. Kurt Streit (now singing all performances of ‘Bajazet’ due to Domingo’s cancellation) is remarkable- having...

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Tamerlano Blog 9 (22 Feb 2010)

Orchestra reading rehearsals with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightment. (Linbury Theatre). This terrific ensemble (Britain’s 1st self-governing period-instrument orchestra) appears regularly at ROH. This is my third show with them at the Garden. We work fast and attack details straight away. Alison Bury is a dynamic leader and Tony Robson a plangent and feisty 1st oboe! The viola group is particularly strong and characterful, having remained remarkably stable since the early days of the orchestra. Annette Isserlis, Jan Schlapp, Martin Kelly and Nick Logie make a formidable team. For me it’s great to reconnect with Nick-who with me built...

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Tamerlano Blog 8 (21 Feb 2010)

11.00am- Salzburg Grosses Festspielhaus Brahms’ 2nd Piano Concerto and Beethoven’s 5th Symphony- the former magnificently played by Emanuel Ax and the orchestra is my Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra. It is thrilling to conduct this piece with this masterful pianist, who delivers the extreme technical difficulties of this piece with a chamber-music like intimacy. My orchestra is on great form. We had a scare just before the concert when our 1st trumpet has succumbed to the ‘flu. Fortunately our other principal trumpet steps in and also at almost no notice agrees to play natural trumpet in the Beethoven. The whole ensemble is on fire...

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Tamerlano Blog 7 (17 Feb 2010)

The day is spent working through a lot of Asteria’s scenes with Christine Schäfer. The end of the opera is becoming more fluent and I organise some decorations for the Duets in Act 2 and 3. Then I head for Heathrow and eventually Salzburg for Sunday’s Matinee concert with my wonderful Mozarteum Orchestra in the Grosses Festspielhaus. Emanuel Ax will play Brahm’s 2nd Piano Concerto and the concert ends with Beethoven 5. I spend the night in my Munich apartment and will take the train over to Salzburg early...

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Tamerlano Blog 6 (16 Feb 2010)

The day starts with an interview followed by a long production call covering a lot of the elaborate recitatives in preparation for the evening’s continuo call. For this call we are joined for the first time by our continuo group from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. The excellent Rob Howarth (harpsichord), who has played for me extensively in Salzburg, Munich, Florence, Paris, Amsterdam and numerous other places over the last ten years, is partnered by Dai Miller and Bill Carter on archlute and chitarrone. Jonathan Manson is a fluent cellist and Chi-Chi Nwanoku (well known not only as...

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Tamerlano Blog 5 (15 Feb 2010)

After a full Sunday catching up with friends in London, today is a day primarily for coaching. I start with Kurt Streit who is as ever totally engaged and committed and we work particularly on ornamentation. Afterwards I work with Vito Priante, the very talented young Italian bass-baritone from Naples. His character Leone, only has one Aria in Handel’s original version, but Vito is impressive and makes the most of it. I finish the session with Renata Pokupic, singing the role of the princess Irene. Irene’s three Arias exist in two versions. Handel originally wrote for a higher voiced Irene...

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Tamerlano Blog 4 (13 Feb 2010)

Christianne and I come in early to continue our coaching. She has a passion for her work. Afterwards we join Graham’s rehearsal and work on until lunchtime. I go to see the excellent ROH physio as my knee is hurting after a recent meniscus operation. He is helpful and straight to the point. I then return to my London flat where I have not spent a weekend for 15 months! My wife Tess and son Sam have come down from Cambridge to join...

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Tamerlano Blog 3 (12 Feb 2010)

Detailed work with Sara Mingardo on Andronico’s beautiful Act I and Act II arias. Both in E flat major. Senesino must have been vocally impressive in this key! I coach Christianne Stotijn and Christine Schäfer privately in their roles, and improve my transposition skills! Not all rooms have harpsichords (or pianos tunes to A=415) of course. Quiet evening rereading Winton Dean’s masterly opus on Handel’s operas and studying Brahms for next week’s Salzburg concert with Emanuel...

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Tamerlano Blog 2 (11 Feb 2010)

We start with the famous scene towards the end of Act II where Tamerlano sadistically humiliates Bajazet in front of his own daughter. This is one of the longest recitatives in all Handel and is followed by an equally surprising terse trio, the brevity of which leaves the drama poised on a knife-edge. Kurt Streit (who shares the role of Bajazet with Plácido Domingo) catches Bajazet’s pride and stubbornness, and finally his tenderness, with great conviction. This scene has taken all of the day and in the evening I go along to the ROH premiere of Prokofiev’s The Gambler. This...

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Tamerlano Blog 1 (10 Feb 2010)

Today I start rehearsals for Tamerlano, one of the greatest operas Handel ever wrote. Its premiere was in 1724 and took place less than a mile away from today’s Royal Opera House. It was preceded and followed by two masterworks, in the first case Giulio Cesare and the latter Rodelinda, both operas now well known to British audiences. This trilogy was written within twelve months and constitutes an achievement described ‘as without parallel in operatic history’!  Quite a claim. One which I happily go along with, being crazy about Handel and having conducted all three of these operas in recent years. The ROH production...

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