The NZ Opera announces its 2006 season on Wednesday. Think we might manage more than two operas this time? Probably not. (Yes, yes, I know, technically they've done three this year, but that assumes you count their single concert performance of The Death of Klinghoffer, and I'm sorry, but I don't.) I do understand that it's not out of spite that they stage so few operas in year, but still, it infuriates me. However, I figure in any case that with that announcement imminent, there can be no superstitious harm now in dreaming a little...
I'd like an Otello. Or possibly a Macbeth. But preferably an Otello. Preferably an Otello with Simon O'Neill in the title role; though this seems unlikely given that 1) he's already coming here for Parsifal this year and 2) it's not even in his repertoire (yet). Lord knows why I of all people am hankering for such a boy-heavy opera, but there it is.
Some Handel would be nice, I think. The last Handel the NZ Opera did was Acis and Galatea, of all things. It was also " the first Handel opera ever to be performed by a professional opera company in this country." That was 2003, and as far as I'm aware there hasn't been much more Baroque opera anywhere since. It also had a very limited season - if you can call one semi-staged night each in Auckland and Wellington a season. Well then, about time for something big. Alcina? Rinaldo? Perhaps don't tell the Nessun Dorma crowd about all the counter-tenors until after you've got 'em inside and locked the doors. And since I'm wishing on stars, put Graham Pushee in there somewhere because I adore the man. Now there's an idea - import Opera Australia's Rinaldo, complete with Graham and the beautiful Michael Chance.
We seem about due some Puccini also. The last was Tosca, in 2003. Personally I'd fancy Fanciulla, mostly because I've never heard it, except for a couple of excerpts on radio from time to time, when it always sounds wonderful. Though I understand Minnie's a bit of a challenge to cast. But, hey, Aprile Millo, now that you're not doing that Carnegie Hall concert... Seriously, though, there's bound to be somebody hanging around this hemisphere who'd do it. As I write I'm listening to Manon Lescaut with Mirella & co - this one also would do nicely. Not Bohème though, thanks all the same.
Rosenkavalier I'd love, but I cherish absolutely no hopes of. The NZ Arts Festival did it not so very long ago, so there's not much chance the NZ Opera would do it again. But do you know the worst thing? The Arts Festival production's Marschallin was...well, you figure it out. Suffice it to say, it breaks my heart to think I was so close (not only geographically, but also heading towards my opera revelation) and yet so far away. She sang it in Australia last year too. So I'll probably never see her as the Marschallin; the Opera in English highlights will have to do. Speaking of Richard Strauss, however - I'm longing to hear Patricia Wright, my other adored Antipodean, in anything, but Strauss seems particularly ideal. As I say, I daren't hope for a Rosenkavalier - though I think she'd make a magnificent Marie Therese - but Arabella, maybe, or Capriccio. Actually what I'd like to see more than anything is Ariadne auf Naxos, which probably isn't a Patricia Wright vehicle. Which means looking elsewhere for one of those... oh hell, let them just do Figaro again, it's really too unfair that I missed her Contessa in the first place. (Or even second place. She's done it for Canterbury Opera too, which is even more gallingly close.) Or something else. Anything else. After all, I went to Christchurch for a five minute wordless (and invisible!) solo; just put that name somewhere on the cast list and I'll Be There.
Not sure whether to wish for any Mozart or not. The NZSO is having a Mozart Festival in August to celebrate the 250th anniversary of his birth, so there's that in any case. Die Entführung might be fun, however. I also wouldn't mind a Clemenza, provided it was brilliantly staged.
There are other things I'd like to hear of course, old and new. Ainadamar interests me greatly, not just because I love Golijov's Three Songs for soprano & orchestra to distraction, but also because of the lovely Anne-Carolyn's eloquent posts on the subject. Funnily enough, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, who conducted Ainadamar in Santa Fe, and will again at Lincoln Center next year,
was is musical director of the Auckland Philharmonia until the end of this year. I'd love the chance to indulge in love of the French Baroque; and then there's William Walton's Troilus and Cressida. But that's really dreaming...
Elsewhere, Canterbury Opera is filling our annual Donizetti quota, with a Lucia di Lammermoor I'm planning to attend. (Tell me, are there any American readers out there with experience of Amanda Pabyan?) They're also doing Rusalka, for which I may or may not make the trip. When I watched the ENO production on TV I found it indescribably boring which surely can't be the case - but all the same I don't know whether I'm willing to take the risk. I am interested, however, in the 21st birthday gala they have planned - " artists from CO’s past and present " no doubt includes a few people I'd like to hear. The International Arts Festival, along with its Parsifal, is producing Tan Dun's Tea as well. Here in Dunedin we'll have some nice obscurity, with Salieri's Falstaff (provided it isn't postponed again) and possibly - I've only seen it mentioned on Anna Leese's website, nowhere else - the ultimate chestnut, Carmen.
So, roll on Wednesday. Go on, NZ Opera, surprise and delight me.