Saturday, 5 January 2013

A pleasant January day in the Øresund region

Today we have been enjoying a nice and calm January day here in the Øresund region, with temperatures of about 3 - 4° C. 

This was the view over to Kronborg castle and Helsingør on the Danish side of the Sound, about half an hour before sunset:

It seemed to be a perfect afternoon even for canoing:

Our bathing pier is formally closed during the winter season, but that did not stop this brave young man from taking a swim:  

Friday, 4 January 2013

Ships in Øresund 2011 - 2012

Here is a slideshow with some of the photos of ships in Øresund that I shot during the last two years. I hope you enjoy the pictures. (If you have problems getting the embedded video started, click the "watch on YouTube" button, and yous should be able to watch the slideshow).

Thursday, 3 January 2013

A great performance to LISTEN to: The Salzburg "La Bohème"

If there would be an international award for best radio broadcast of an opera performance, the winner of the 2012 award would without doubt be the Salzburg Festival's „La Bohème“. What a pleasure it was to listen to the great voices of Anna Netrebko as Mimì and Piotr Bezcala as Rodolfo, when the German 3Sat broadcast the opera this week. Beczala particularly showed that he is one of the absolute top tenors in the world right now. (Beczala also excelled in the Semper Operetta Gala last week).

If you look at the pictures below, I think you will understand why the Salzburg „La Bohème“ is a performance to LISTEN to:

The second prize in the radio award competition also goes to Salzburg: The Salzburg Whitsun Festival's production of Georg Friedrich Händel´s opera "Giulio Cesare in Egitto"  (Julius Caesar in Egypt)  had all the winning qualities, except that the rocket artistic director Cecilia Bartoli rode on, was of a somewhat outdated type. 

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

The best 2012/2013 European New Year's concerts

Soprano Olga Peretyatko was the star of the evening in Baden-Baden.

For music lovers the turn of the year - when major  European television channels bring out the big names in classical music and opera in their New Year's gala concerts - is always a time to look forward to. 

The New Year's concerts from Dresden's Semper Oper, the Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden, the Berlin Philharmonie, the Grosser Musikvereinssaal in Vienna and La Fenice in Venice were all pure bliss again this holiday "season". Of course there is some kind of competition going on between the orchestras and broacasters about the largest audiences, but that is of minor interest for an ordinary viewer - what is important is that you get a rare chance to watch and listen to some of the world's best musicians, without having to pay the often exorbitant ticket prices for their concerts. 

Christian Thielemann conducting the outstanding Staatskapelle Dresden.

The New Year concert "season" started on December 30 on German ZDF with the Operetta Gala concert from the Semper Oper, one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world. I have already praised the concert in a previous post, so may it suffice just to state that this concert was my own favorite among the four concerts mentioned above. It was just great - and is bound to become a classic! Above all, it was a great evening for the Polish tenor Piotr Beczala, arguably the best tenor in the world in the operetta repertoire. 

Star tenor Piotr Veczala and soprano Ingeborg Schöpf, who saved the evening by standing in for Diana Damrau, who could not sing because of a sudden illness.

New Year's concerts with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker are always first class events. This year's version was no exception. It was great to see Sir Simon so relaxed and really enjoying the evening in front of his magnificient orchestra. I particularly enjoyed Rameau's dance suite Les Boréades, a work previously unknown to me. And of course Cecilia Bartoli brought additional star appeal to the evening. 

Sir Simon was enjoying the evening together with his magnificent Berliner Philharmoniker.

Mezzo soprano Cecilia Bartoli performing Handel's aria »Scherza in mar la navicella«.

Tenor Roberto Villazon and baritone Thomas Hampson were the big names in the Baden-Baden concert, broadcast by French-German ARTE on new year's eve. However, at least for this "reviewer", the real star of the evening was the young Russian soprano Olga Peretyatko, who brought down the house with her Verdi arias. 

Soprano Olga Peretyatko is also a great actress. 

The New Year's Day concert from the Musikverein in Vienna is of course always a very special event. This year Musical Director Franz Welser-Möst appeared more relaxed in front of the Wiener Philharmoniker than last year. It was nice that he had included a piece of Verdi in this year's program, in order to honor the composer's anniversary. 

The flower decorations donated by the city of San Ramo are an important feature of the annual Vienna New Year's concerts.
The dancers of Vienna State Ballet are always a most welcome addition to the annual Vienna New Year's concerts.
Three female members of the Wiener Philharmoniker in the same picture - a sight you did not see ten years ago. 

The New Year's gala concert from the gorgeous La Fenice opera house in Venice has also become a most welcome tradition for television audiences to enjoy. This year it was particularly nice to see early music specialist Sir John Eliot Gardiner in front of the orchestra in a Verdi program, in honor of the composer's 200-year birth-day anniversary. 

Sir John Eliot Gardiner conducting the La Fenice orchestra.
The La Fenice in Venice is one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world.
This year the La Fenice's New Year's gala concert included a performance by members of the La Scala ballet , which probably had a particular appeal to female television viewers.

Monday, 31 December 2012

Ships in Shanghai on New Year's Eve

The world's busiest port, the port of Shanghai, was full of ships also on New Year's Eve. This was the view about 11 PM on the Marine Traffic map (showing only part of the Shanghai area):

The crew of the Danish owned 318 x 42 m container ship Maersk Kotka - on its way to Pusan new harbor - were among the sailors celebrating the new year far away from home.

Happy New Year to all of you on board the Maersk Kotka, and all other ships in different locations!

An unforgettable New Year's Concert from the Semper Oper in Dresden

Christian Thielemann again created an evening of musical magic.

Last night, German  ZDF was the first television channel to broadcast its New Year's concert. And what a concert it was! 

Television audiences have already been spoiled by several world class performances with the great Christian Thielemann conducting his Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, but last night's gala concert from the beautiful Semper Oper, with music by Emmerich Kálmán, was unforgettable. 

And the fact that soprano Diana Damrau had taken ill and was unable to sing did not matter at all, because she was so ably replaced by Dresden's "own" star soprano Ingeborg Schöpf

Soprano Ingeborg Schöpf excelled in "Heia, heia, in den Bergen ist mein Heimatland".

Schöpf and the Polish tenor Piotr Beczala brought down the house with such  Kálmán favorites as "Höre ich Zigeunergeigen", "KommZigány""Einmal möcht`ich wieder tanzen", "Heia, heia, in den Bergen ist mein Heimatland", "Weiss Du es noch?" and "Zwei Märchenaugen". 

Bezcala and Schöpf enjoyed singing together.

Operetta songs are easy for the ear, but very demanding to perform. It is difficult to imagine that any other active tenor would be better than the great Beczala in this repertoire. 

Piotr Beczala, arguably the best tenor in the world in the operetta repertoire.

This New Year's concert is bound to become a classic! 


The recording of the concert is now available here. Highly recommended!