December is a busy month but one low on substance. It starts off well, but by Christmastime you’ll be hard-pressed to find something that isn’t in triple time. If you’re up for some waltzes (with or without a Fledermaus attached), you’ll be all set. The 100th anniversary of the premiere of that most Viennese and triple-timed of operas by German composers, Der Rosenkavalier, is coming up in January. Never mind that it premiered in Dresden, this month it receives a spiffing-up at the Staatsoper and an exhibit at the National Library. (I’ll be seeing the Staatsoper production, but I’m more excited about my January trip to Stuttgart, where I will see Stefan Herheim’s production.) But there’s more than just that….
Before the Vienna run-down: I’m going to be in Berlin later this week, where I will be seeing a new production of Les Troyens at the Deutsche Oper, surely one of December’s most exciting premieres. (I think whoever took the publicity photos was under the impression that the opera was about a different kind of Trojan, though.) And I’m seeing Adriana Lecouvreur in London before that, as you probably know well by now.
Our Big Operatic Event of the month in Vienna will be the Wiener Staatsoper’s new production of Don Giovanni, directed by Jean-Louis Martinoty and conducted by music director Franz Welser-Möst. The cast includes Ildebrando d’Arcangelo, Alex Esposito, Sally Matthews, and Roxana Constantinescu. Vienna takes its Mozart seriously and this will be the biggest test so far for new intendant Dominique Meyer. There is already a rehearsal video, but it isn’t giving away very much. The HMS Plácido Domingo will also be sailing into the Theater an der Wien with Daniel Catán’s Il Postino, already seen at the Los Angeles Opera. I wasn’t looking forward to this much, given my recent Plácido experience and general indifference to middlebrow-sounding new opera, but the word from LA is really good (such as that of Out West Arts here), so I think I’ll go out for it.
Further potential operatic highlights include the return of Aribert Reimann’s Medea with Claudia Barainsky and that re-spiffified Otto Schenk Rosenkavalier with Adrianne Pieczonka at the Staatsoper. For the Edita Gruberova Cult, she is doing her Last Ever Violetta (she says), in concert on December 21 at the Musikerein. And William Christie brings Les Arts Florissants, this time with his usual singers, to the Theater an der Wien for a concert performance of Rameau’s ballets Anacréon and Pygmalion (Dec. 19).
The Big Orchestral Event of the month is next weekend: Valery Gergiev and the Mraiinsky pack an unholy number of Shostakovich symphonies into three days of concerts at the Konzerthaus between Friday and Sunday. The programs includes the Symphonies 7-8, 10-12, and 14-15. This would be exciting but exhausting, but I will be out of town! Once again, we only get one program out of the Philharmoniker this month, but at least they’re playing it three times in two different venues. Esa-Pekka Salonen will conduct Sibelius and his own piano concerto (Musikverein, Dec. 11 and 12, Konzerthaus Dec. 13).
For my money the best orchestral program of the month comes from the ORF RSO Wien, conducted by music director Cornelius Meister including Janacek, Chopin, Martinu (the Symphony No. 1) and a world premiere by Joanna Wozny (Dec. 10, Konzerthaus). The Symphoniker is hawking something called Klassik-Hits, as well as Manfred Honeck conducting Bruckner (No. 7, Musikverein, Dec. 16-17). The Concentus Musicus Wien and Harnoncourt also have Monteverdi’s glorious Vespro della beate Virgine (Musikverein, Dec. 11-12).
I’m not sure whether I should include Ian Bostridge’s apparently orchestrated version of Winterreise in chamber music and recital highlights, but there it is. Helmut Deutsch again proves he’s really the only piano option if you’re German or Austrian and sing lieder, playing for Adrian Eröd (Musikverein, Dec. 17) and Michael Volle (Konzerthaus, Dec. 15). Piano-wise we have the Goldberg Variations from András Schiff at the Konzerthaus (Dec. 9) and reclusive Grigorij Sokolov making a rare appearance on December 11, also at the Konzerthaus.
These lists are shorter on links than usual because those take forever to put in and I have to pack…
Manon Lescaut c. Auguin d. Carsen. Guryakova, Cura. (2, 5 December)
Medea c. Boder d. Marelli Barainsky, Kulman, Eröd. (3, 7 December)
Il barbiere di Siviglia c. Güttler d. Rennert*. Camarena, Werba, Tro Santafé (4, 10 16, 19 December)
Un ballo in maschera c. Carignani d. Bosio* Carosi, Krasteva, Vargas, Petean (8, 12, 15, 19 December)
L’elisir d’amore c. Abel d. Schenk. Reinprecht, Németi, Caria, Sramek. (9, 16 December)
NP Don Giovanni c. Welser-Möst d. Martinoty. Matthews, Constantinescu, Schwartz, Pirgu, D’Arcangelo, Esposito. (11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 27 December)
Der Rosenkavalier c. Fisch d. Schenk*. Pieczonka, Houtzeel, Tonca, Muff. (14, 18, 22, 26 December)
*R.O.P. (Really Old Production)
Theater an der Wien
Il Postino c. López-Cobos d. Daniels. Domingo, Gallardo-Domâs, Lozano with the Wiener Symphoniker. (9, 11, 14, 18, 21 December)
Pygmalion/Anacéron in concert, Les Arts Florissants c. William Chrstie (19 December)
NP Rusalka (1 December)
Die Entführung aus dem Serail (2, 4 December)
Der Vogelhändler (5, 13, 16, 20, 30 December)
Häuptling Abendwind (6, 9 December)
Antonia und der Reißteufel (8, 22 December)
Die Fledermaus (11, 31 December)
Das Land des Lächelns (17, 28 December)
NP Die lustige Weiber von Windsor (18, 21, 27 December)
Hänsel und Gretel (23, 25, 29 December)
I will see you from London, or Berlin, or somewhere once I get over my permanent Christmas punch hangover. They have that in London too, right?