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Berlin Opera Review – Deutsche Oper Berlin – Puccinis ‘Turandot’ s with Conductor Jesús López Cobos-Catherine Foster by OTA-Berlin Constituency contributor Mr Filip v d Plas

November 4th, 2012
Giacomo Puccini - www.foto-face.com

Giacomo Puccini - www.foto-face.com

Giacomo Puccini (1858 – 1924)

T U R A N D O T – first performance  Milano April 1926

Dramma lyrico in three acts; Libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni, after the play by Carlo Gozzi; First performed on 25th April 1929 in Milan; Premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 13th September 2008

Sung In Italian with German sub-titels

Conductor Jesús López Cobos

 Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin

Turandot  – Catherine Foster * [see biography below]

Altoum – Peter Maus

Calaf – Alfred Kim

Liù – Martina Welschenbach

Timur –  Stephen Bronk

Ping  -Simon Pauly

Pang – Jörg Schörner

Pong – Yosep Kang

A mandarin – Seth Carico

1st voice –  Kim-Lillian Strebel

2nd voice – Annie Rosen

Director – Lorenzo Fioroni

Stage design-  Paul Zoller

Costume design – Katharina Gault

Chorus master – William Spaulding

Children’s Chorus – Christian Lindhorst

Chorus Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin

Kinderchor der Deutschen Oper Berlin

Orchestra Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin

For the last time in this Opera season Puccini’s “Turandot” was on stage last evening on the Bismarkstrasse at the Deutsche Oper.

The production was excellent – great singing, orchestra and conducting were superb with an absolutely captivating staging with the audience giving a rousing applaus – especially for Ms Foster, Alfred Kim and Spanish conductor Jesus Lopez Cobos.

Turandot was Puccini’s last work and a highlight of 20th century opera.

He died following an operation in November 1924 in a Brussels hospital, leaving the opera unfinished. His colleague, Franco Alfano presented “Turandot” finally finished as sketches of the master.

Like most Opera stories Turandot is a somewhat unbelievable and completely bizarre story-line ; with a rather tasteless violent side to it thrown in for good measure in this case.

Princess Turandot [in last night’s case Ms Catherine Foster] terrorized society.

Only her marriage can end the violence, but none of the candidates can meet the condition to solve its puzzles – except Calaf [ in this case tenor Alfred Kim]

He in turn promises to relieve her of her royal oath,if by sunrise she can find out his name. So Turandot make sure that no one could sleep that night in Beijing until the name was found – which it duly is.

In the end – well in the end we do not really know what happens because in such a violent society as is portrayed in this story nothing is really certain.

Best performance ever of this work ……….Or my own favorite recording is on RCA with the great Swedes Bjoerling and Birgit Nilsson. Turandot: Birgit Nilsson and Calaf: Jussi Björling and the wonderful  Renata Tebaldi as Liù.

Or perhaps with Mehta / Pavarotti / Puccini / Sutherland  which was released Oct 25, 1990 – to see which are perhaps the best recordings of this great work go to Gramophone magazine – http://www.gramophone.co.uk/features/focus/puccinis-turandot-%E2%80%93-a-survey-of-recordings

or on DVD see – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0220822/reviews



Biography of Ms Foster from her web site – http://www.catherinefostersoprano.com/English-Home.html

Catherine Foster was born in Nottingham Uk where she first qualified and worked as a nurse and Midwife before changing her career. She began her professional studies for singing at the Birmingham Conservatoire between 1995-97 under the guidance and tutelage of Pamela Cook MBE – who remains her teacher to date. Whilst at Birmingham Catherine was the first to win the acclaimed Dame Eva Turner award to continue her studies at the Royal Northern College of Music during 1997/8 where she attracted the attention of Sir Peter Moores. He then went on to sponsor Catherine at the London opera Studio 1998/9.

Her first professional engagement was as Queen of the night with Opera Northern Ireland in 1998, Welsh National Opera 1999, and with English National Opera in 2000. She followed this with Donna Anna (Dartington Festival and WNO) in 1998 & 1999 respectively and Elektra in Idomeneo at the 1999 Dartington festival.

Between 2001 & 2011 Catherine was engaged at the German National Theatre in Weimar as Spinto soprano where she made her debut as Mimi in autumn of the same year. With equal success followed many leading roles such as the two Elizabeths in Wagners Tannhäuser and Verdi’s Don Carlo, the two Leonora’s in Verdi’s Trovatore and Beethoven’s original Leonora (Fidelio), Senta in Flying Dutchman, Elektra in Idomeneo, Abigaille in Nabucco, Tosca, Turandot, Elektra, Isolde & her debut as Brünnhilde in the Weimar Ring Cycle now available on DVD and Blu-Ray published by Arthaus productions. Catherine has also recorded Siegfried Brünnhilde to CD with the Hamburg State Opera

Catherines guest work started with Elisabeth in Don Carlos in Kassel and Abigaille in Nabucco with Opera Bremen. At the beginning of 2006  she made her debut on the stage of Dresden Semperoper in the role of Kaiserin in Die Frau Ohne Schatten to great acclaim and was further invited back to sing Senta in The Flying Dutchman in 2009&10 and Fidelio in 2010

Since 2009 Catherine has made her debut on such stages as Deutsche oper Berlin as Turandot, in Hamburg, Shanghai/Cologne, Budapest, Essen, Helsinki & Riga as Brünnhilde, Copenhagen & Cologne as Elektra & in Frankfurt & Nice as Isolde working with conductors such as Simone Young, Leif Sergastem, Adam Fisher, Marcus Stenz, Stephan Soltas, Sir Donald Runnicles, Sir Richard Armstrong, Cornelius Meister and Sebastian Weigel.

Her venture into the Ring as Brünnhilde, has found her performing the role in such houses as Hamburg, Helsinki, Deutsche oper Berlin, Budapest, Riga, Aalto theater Essen, Weimar & with Cologne opera in Shanghai for the 2010 EXPO.

In summer 2013 Catherine will be making her debut on the Bayreuth festival stage as Brünnhilde in the Bi-Centenary celebration production of the Ring directed by Frank Castorf and conducted by Kirill Petrenko and will also be appearing in the future in  Amsterdam,  Barcelona & Tokyo as Brünnhilde.

In the 2012/13 season you can see Catherine as Turandot at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, as Brünnhilde in Seville & Amsterdam, in Stuttgart as Abigaille in their new production of Nabucco and in the new production of Elektra in Lübeck.



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