It is 6:00 in the morning and I am in the Vienna Airport waiting for my flight back to Dallas. I came over for three intense days of auditions held at the historic Theater an der Wien, where a panel of my colleagues and I heard almost 100 singers from 34 countries. There were representatives from Florence’s Maggio Musicale, as well as the opera houses in Antwerp, Toulouse, Santiago, and several German opera houses, including Cologne.
Among the singers auditioning there were a number of Americans who are either based in Europe or were here on an audition tour, including soprano Ava Pine, who was dazzling in arias by Handel and Gounod even at 10:30 in the morning !
Perhaps the most exciting auditions for me were a group of singers from the young artist program at Moscow’s famed Bolshoi Theater, and there was one soprano in particular that was really impressive. I expect that she is at the beginning of what promises to be an extraordinary career.
There were so many singers from so many countries that I couldn’t help but be struck by the extraordinary passion shared by all of these artists from around the world who have devoted themselves to a life in music.
I was also able to attend two performances while I was here, which was fascinating. The first was a new production of Verdi’s IL TROVATORE at the Vienna Volksoper (sort of the Viennese equivalent of the late, lamented New York City Opera or London’s English National Opera) which starred tenor Stuart Neill as “Manrico.”
Some of you may remember him in the title role of FAUST in Dallas in 1998, and obviously he has moved on to significantly heavier repertoire.
The following evening I attended a stunning new production at the Theater an der Wien of Mozart’s IDOMENEO, starrring Richard Croft in the title role. It was conducted by Rene Jacobs and staged by Damiano Michieletti, and performed by a superb cast which also included Marlis Peterson as “Elettra.”
The production was somewhat puzzling, but filled with breathtaking imagery and performed with intense commitment. I have not always enjoyed productions of this opera seria, which often seems static, but even with jet lag I was riveted from beginning to end.
It was also wonderful to see Rick Croft, who is on the faculty at the University of North Texas, enjoy such a personal triumph.
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Jonathan Pell, Artistic Director
The Dallas Opera