Saturday, 14 December 2013

First of May in Vienna in the late 19th century

First of May in Vienna
Early 1890s woodcut by Rousseau after a watercolour by Myrbach

Thursday, 12 December 2013

ARTE's broadcast of Puccini's "spaghetti western" La fanciulla del West from the Saatsoper in Vienna

The final scene in Marelli's production of La fanciulla del West: Nina Stemme and Jonas Kaufmann take off
 in a hot air balloon.

Last night the ARTE television channel showed Giacomo Puccini's "spaghetti western" La fanciulla del West from the Staatsoper in Vienna. Puccini, who himself ranked this opera as his best, wrote the piece for the Metropolitan, where it was premiered in 1910.

Emmy Destinn as Minnie and Pasquale Amato as Rance
in the Metropolitan 1910 production. The man "asleep" in
the middle is Enrico Caruso (Dick Johson).
(image by Wikipedia)

Musically La fanciulla del West is clearly Puccini at his best, but the libretto, which is based on  David Belasco’s play, “The Girl of the Golden West”, is not quite on the same level as those by Giacosa and Illica in previous operas. (Personally I have always had difficulties with a 19th century opera set in the Wild West, but that may of course be a prejudice).

Wonderful singing by Nina Stemme, but maybe she "could do with a touch of glamour".

The audience and the critics rightly praised this production by Marco Arturo Marelli, not least because of the stellar cast. Nina Stemme - widely considered to be the world’s reigning dramatic soprano - gave a powerful performance as Minnie, and Jonas Kaufmann - widely considered to be the leading dramatic tenor in the world - was equally convincing as Dick Johnson (Ramerrez).

Tenor Jonas Kaufmann as Dick Johnson.

However, I agree with Financial Times critic Richard Fairman, who in his otherwise extremely positive review added, that "Maybe Stemme’s tomboy portrayal of Minnie, not helped by a frizzy red wig and jeans, could do with a touch of glamour".

A strong performance by baritone Tomasz Koniezny.

Baritone Tomasz Konieczny also produced some fabulous singing in the third main role as the embittered sheriff  Rance. And, as always, the Staatsoper orchestra (whose members also constitute the Vienna Philharmonic) led by Generalmusikdirektor Franz Welser-Möst was a joy to listen to.

An enthusiastic audience at the Staatsoper.

Tanker OW Copenhagen and General Cargo Ship Wladyslaw Orkan in the Sound

Late this afternoon, just when the sun was setting, the Danish tanker OW Copenhagen (90 m x 14 m) was on its way to Copenhagen, and the Cyprus registry general cargo ship Wladyslaw Orkan (200 m x 28 m) was going to Hamburg

OW Copenhagen going to Copenhagen.
Wladyslaw Orkan, here seen in the background, with destination Hamburg.

Hittarp in the afternoon on December 12

Three December 12 afternoon pictures from Hittarp:  

The view from the Hittarp bathing pier towards Helsingborg.
Men at work.
Walking the dog.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

A Palace and a Harem in Alexandria in the Late 19th Century

The brief caption to this late 19th century photograph gives this information: "A palace and a harem in Alexandria". Presumably the low buildings in the foreground were the harem "department" of the palace. The architecture looks surprisingly modern.

The Nobel Banquet - A Spectacular Culinary Achievement

The entrance of the altogether 260 waiters serving the over 1300 guests is always a spectacular sight.

December 10 is always the day for the great Nobel Banquet, which takes place in the Stockholm City Hall after the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony. As the Nobel prizes are regarded as the most prestigious prizes in the world, also the Banquets have become major international events.

Chef Andreas Hedlund interviewed on Swedish television last night. Hedlund was in
charge of the menu also last year.

Last night's Nobel Banquet was again a spectacular culinary achievement. The man in charge of the "army" of 43 cooks (!) was Andreas Hedlund (2002 Swedish Chef of the Year) along with Fredrik Björlin (former captain of the Swedish Culinary Team) as well as Pastry Chefs Conrad Tyrsén (2009 Swedish Pastry Chef of the Year) and Ted Johansson of Dessert&Choklad Stockholm.

The Guinea hen mosaic starter.

The menu last night:

Guinea hen mosaic, carrot variation with Gotland truffle and chanterelle duxelle with truffle mayonnaise
Turbot cupola stuffed with Norwegian lobster, tartelette with lobster on a bed of cream cheese and spinach, pointed cabbage terrine, lobster sauce and almond potato purée
Chocolate silhouette with nougat and sea buckthorn explosion

The wines:

Champagne Gaston Chiquet Cuvée Tradition
Brut Premier Cru

Château l’Hospitalet La Reserve Rouge 2011
Coteaux du Languedoc la Clape

Nivole Moscato d’Asti 2012
Michele Chiarlo

Monday, 9 December 2013

The Lund University Helsingborg Campus Main Entrance

This is the main entrance to the Helsingborg Campus of the Lund University:

This is how the Campus Helsingborg describes itself:
"Campus Helsingborg is a young and important part of Lund University, where you will find the best of two worlds united under one roof. On the one hand, Lund University, with its natural position among the very best European universities, and on the other hand a young environment full of innovation, dynamism and creativity."

The main road to the Helsingborg city centre late this afternoon

This is the main road from the south into the Helsingborg city centre late this afternoon:
On the far left you can se the silhouettes of two of the Helsingborg - Helsingør ferries. The trains, to to right of the ferries, are the next means of communication. And in the middle the main street from the south. The building site on the right side, is where a new hotel is about to be built.

A Tribute to the Great Operatic Bass-baritone Tom Krause (1934 − 2013)

The Finnish bass-baritone Tom Krause passed away on December 6. He was one of the truly great international vocal artists and - during his later years - a dedicated and much sought after teacher.

This excerpt from Tom Krause's homepage (written before his death) gives you an idea of his achievements as a singer:

Equally successful in the fields of opera, recital, oratorio and recording, Finnish baritone Tom Krause is internationally recognized as one of the greatest vocal artists today.

He is fluent in seven languages: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Swedish and Finnish. During a career spanning over fifty roles in the Italian, German, French, English, Finnish, Czech, Russian, and Swedish repertory including the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern, Mr. Krause has performed in most of the great opera houses of the world. He has appeared in leading roles with Milan's La Scala; Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires; Berlin Opera; Vienna State Opera; Munich State Opera; Paris Operas (theatres Garnier and Bastille); Bruxelles Opera Monnaie; Finnish National Opera; Rome Opera; Naples' San Carlo Opera; Barcelona’s Teatro Liceo; Geneva Opera; Metropolitan Opera House; Lyric Opera of Chicago; San Francisco Opera and Houston Grand Opera, as well as with the festivals of Bayreuth, Salzburg, Edinburgh, Glyndebourne, Savonlinna, Tanglewood, etc.

A frequent guest soloist in concert, the baritone has been heard regularly with the Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Montreal Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, Amsterdam Concertgebow, and others.

Mr. Krause has regularly shared the stage and recorded with such great singers as Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Jessye Norman, Kiri Te Kanawa, Joan Sutherland, Birgit Nilsson, Marilyn Horne, Margeret Price, Teresa Berganza, and Nicolai Gedda, as well worked under the briliant conductors of our time, including Bernstein, Stravinsky, Solti, Von Karajan, Mehta, Ormandy, Shaw, Osawa, Rostropovich, Eschenbach, Conlon, Salonen, Harnoncourt and Giulini. He has worked with stage directors such as Ponnelle, Strehler, Faggioni, Sellars, Dresen, Everding, Lieberman, Menotti, and Chereau.

Listen to Tom Krause sing Schubert's Ständschen and Abschied:

Views from my balcony (22): Early December morning before sunrise

This was the view over to the Danish side of the Sound early this morning: