– Oedipus Rex at the New Zealand International Arts Festival went very, very well. It's two years (I think) since I last heard it – at the Sydney Festival, again paired with the Symphony of Psalms and again conducted by Joana Carneiro – and I admit I'd forgotten just how cool the music is. Particularly Jocaste's. It's been earworming me ever since. Not a bad thing. Oedipus himself obviously has some pretty neat stuff to sing and it turns out the tenor in my life sings it quite well. (For quite well, read: wow.) Was also nice to see Daniel Sumegi again, of course, to meet Virgilio Marino and Margaret Medlyn for the first time and to finally meet Dunedin's Own Martin Snell. Martin was the first famous opera singer whose name I ever knew – even before I knew Kiri's, I think. He was our Dunedin Boy Who Made Good. Who knew, when I was five, that twenty-three years later, I'd be drinking pear cider with him? (NB: Mac's Pear Cider is really good.)
– After an abortive attempt in Dunedin, I managed to see The Adventures of Tintin on the plane from Auckland to San Francisco. As an enthusiastic but not slavish fan of the books, it was faithful enough (certainly to the spirit, if not always to the letter) to keep me happy, and in fact was worth watching just for the opening credits and for the first scene (no spoilers here). But I was especially curious to hear Renée Fleming as the singing voice of the Milanese Nightingale, the magnificent Bianca Castafiore, whose image (in keyring form) I carry with me always. I assume they just lifted her recording of "Ah! je ris..." from the aria disc in which it was included years ago, but it was somewhat disconcerting to hear the aria so nonsensically arranged in the interests of the plot. Castafiore's voice itself plays a key role in the scene, and needs to be doing certain things at certain times, so the aria lurches accordingly back and forth and then UP to a note pulled in from somewhere and somebody completely different. Maybe even computer generated. But at least they used the right aria. When her entrance was accompanied by the introduction to "Una voce poco fa" I was worried.
– Happy to say I'm London-bound again, much sooner than expected. Sadly not for the best possible reasons. Julian Gavin has unfortunately had to withdraw from the ENO's new production of The Flying Dutchman due to ill health. As a result, and thanks to the ENO and the MET kindly agreeing to share him, Stuart will now sing the role of Erik. It will be lovely to have another long stay in one of my favourite cities on earth, but obviously I wish the circumstances were happier. Here's to a speedy recovery for the wonderful Julian.
– But right now I'm in Chicago, where the CSO is about to do Das Lied von der Erde with You-Know-Who and the AWESOME Michelle DeYoung. I know. How lucky am I to keep running into her like this? There's still nobody – and clearly there never will be anybody – I'd rather hear in Das Lied. Adding to the excitement: it's the Chicago Symphony! The concerts were even supposed to be conducted by Pierre Boulez – just to throw a bit of legendariness into the mix – but alas, he's had to cancel on the advice of his ophthalmologist. I would have loved to have seen him in action. Jonathan Nott, however, is a more than admirable substitute. Plus there's Michelle! And Stuart! And the CSO! I think this will work out well.
– Véronique Gens's new(ish) CD is fantastic. But it deserves a blog post, not a bullet point. Watch this space. (Or, more accurately, I guess, the theoretical future space above this space. Or something.)