Tag Archives: Metropolitan Opera

A Really Special Sunday

The Supper Club

Click to read about the Supper Club

It was a very wet, cold and miserable Sunday night.  I really would have preferred to stay in my nice warm house, with a book and a cup of coffee.  But I had agreed to attend “An Evening With Simon O’Neill” a Supper Club fundraiser.  The event was hosted in a private house and parking in these winding, hillside streets of Wellington is not easy,  So we parked illegally in a Residents’ only parking area (and we got away with it!).

About 40 people turned up to be entertained by this singer and regally entertained we were.  Simon is here to perform in the NZ Symphony Orchestra’s Die Walküre and we were lucky that he gave his time for this fundraiser.  We are told that “Simon O’Neill has rapidly established himself as one of the finest helden-tenors on the international stage. A native of New Zealand, he is a principal artist with the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, La Scala and both the Bayreuth and Salzburg Festivals, appearing with a number of illustrious conductors including James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Valery Gergiev, Antonio Pappano, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Sir Charles Mackerras, Daniele Gatti, Edo de Waart, Bertrand de Billy, Donald Runnicles and Pietari Inkinen.” Source http://www.thearts.co.nz/artist_page.php&aid=39&type=bio.  WOW!!

Not only did Simon sing for us, but he generously answered Aidan’s questions on a variety of interesting things. (Aidan Lang is the General Director of NZ Opera and another interesting person with whom to speak)  Simon spoke reverently of Mr Pavarotti and told us of understudying  Placido Domingo on several occasions.  He made us laugh with a few light-hearted moments on the stage and in all showed what a truly nice person he is.

He told of his rise to fame and agreed that much of it was being in the right place at the right time.  For instance he was in New York shortly after leaving New Zealand and landed a role at the Met.

In response to one of Aidan’s questions he talked about his role as Mao Tse-tung in the opera Nixon in China.  This is one of the roles that he likes to talk about.

Throughout his performance Simon was accompanied by Bruce Springfield, the Head of Music Staff at NZ Opera.  What a fantastic pianist is Bruce.  In conversation later, he gave all the credit to Simon and the wonderful grand piano owned by the host.  What a truly generous and self-effacing this man is.

Simon has just celebrated his 40th birthday so there will be many more occasions on which to see him and hear his wonderful voice.

So there you have it – More Opera.  And we are so lucky to have the opportunity to see these first class opera Stars in close proximity.  Simon and Bruce mingled amongst the guest after the performance and delighted each of us in turn once again.

Bouquet of roses

For the organisers of such a fantastic evening.


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A Night at The Met

Last night I went to the opera at The Met and it only cost $NZ25 (approx $9.50).  OK OK so I didn’t travel to New York City but I did see a production of Don Pasquale.  This is part of The Met’s enormously successful Peabody and Emmy Award-winning series of transmissions into movie theatres, which enters its sixth season in 2011-12.  It currently reaches more than 1,500 theaters in 53 countries.

It was almost like being there, with the added bonus of seeing what went on behind the curtains when the scenes changed.  We were entertained with various shots of the audience, settling down before the performance began and then during the breaks for scene changes.  And we saw the principals talking backstage with other cast members.

The music was fantastic as was the singing.   This performance featured Anna Netrebko, Matthew Polenzani, Mariusz Kwiecien, and John Del Carlo in the title role.  The Musical Director was  James Levine. When this production premiered in 2006, the New York Times called it “brilliant” and “wonderful.”

Unfortunately I have since learned that Levine slipped while vacationing recently and has had to withdraw from all commitments with The Met.

The main benefactors are the Neubauer Family Foundation and Bloombergs and those of us who can’t get to The Met thank them for their generosity.  This was an encore performance from the 2010 series and the 2011 series will screen from November.  I am certainly looking forward to that.

We are told “The Metropolitan Opera’s 2011-12 stage season will feature the world’s leading singers, conductors, and stage directors in seven new productions and nineteen revivals, including a world premiere, a Met premiere, and the first complete performances of a new Der Ring des Nibelungen cycle directed by Robert Lepage.
The season includes the Met premiere of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, conducted by Marco Armiliato and directed by David McVicar (the beginning of an ambitious multiseason project to produce all three of Donizetti’s famous “Queen” operas directed by McVicar); The Enchanted Island, the world premiere of a Baroque pastiche with an original welcome… libretto by Jeremy Sams and set to the music of Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau, and others, conducted by William Christie and directed by Phelim McDermott; the Met debuts of Tony Award winning directors Michael Grandage and Des McAnuff with new productions of Don Giovanni, led by Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi, and Faust, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin; a new production of Massenet’s Manon conducted Fabio Luisi and directed by Laurent Pelly; and Robert Lepage’s productions of Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, the third and fourth installments of Wagner’s Ring cycle.”

These performances are being shown in bijoux cinemas around New Zealand.  another added bonus is that in these cinemas one may take their wine into the theatre and at intermission, one may have a meal.  We ordered ours before the performance as did most others, so the 25 minute interval was just enough time to eat our soup – Leek and potato and freshly baked bread.  Yummy.

Bowl of soup

Soup via Wikipedia