About Claire

Claire est passionnée d'art depuis toujours. Elle aime tout particulièrement et depuis toujours aussi, raconter à ses proches, avec liberté et imagination, ce qui lui a plu, que ce soit à l'ecrit comme à l'oral. En particulier, Claire est fana de musique, que ce soit classique (opera, concerts au Philharmonic), ou pop. Mais aussi de danse classique et moderne, et d'expos d'art. D'ailleurs, en plus de sa passion pour l'art, Claire chante (chorale) également depuis 15 ans à New York en l'église de Saint Ignace de Loyola, prend des cours de danse, dès qu'elle le peut, et joue aussi régulierement au tennis. Française depuis toujours, New Yorkaise depuis 15 ans, américaine depuis 5 ans, mariee, deux enfants, Claire est depuis 2014 bloggueuse, après avoir fait du fund raising pendant 4 ans pour l'ecole américaine de ses enfants, et avoir été publicitaire en France et aux Etats Unis avant pendant 15 ans (chez BDDP et Leo Burnett à Paris et chez FCB et Grey à New York). Claire is passionate about art and has always been. She especially likes to share whether in writing or in person, with her loved ones, what art triggers for her, as it unleashes her vivid imagination. In particular, Claire is fanatical about music whether classical (opera, concerts at The Philharmonic) or pop. Adores as well dance whether classical or modern, as well as Art exhibits ( Paintings, Photography...). Besides admiring art, Claire also sings (at Saint Ignatius Loyola for the last 15 years), takes dance classes every chance she gets, and plays tennis regularly. Married with 2 children, Claire has become a blogger since 2014, after having led fund raising events for her children's school for the last 4 years, and having led a previous career in advertising for 15 years in Paris (BDDP, Leo Burnett) and in New York (FCB, Grey).

“La Forza del Destino” by Verdi: or how an unfortunate accidental death, leads to disaster…

MET Opera House building–Lincoln Center/Monday February 26th, 2024.

Welcome back friends, and welcome once again, to the wonderful MET Opera.

Yay!

And welcome to a new, fabulous, exciting, energizing, contemporary (Treliński) production, of classic late 19th century Italian opera, a dramatic and gorgeous iconic “warring” work, (which should be performed more often in my opinion), set originally in Spain and Italy, around the time of the Austrian Succession, in the mid 18th century, including some of the most beautiful, romantic, military, and religious sounding melodies and arias, about an ill fated love, which leads to the accidental death of the heroine’s father, with catastrophic consequences for all her loved ones, herself included.

Wow.

Welcome to Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), and his 1862 (and later revised in 1869), “verismo” (realistic), and incredibly dark, four acts, epic and tragic masterpiece opera: “La Forza Del Destino”.

Yay!

And despite its bleak plot, this opera is absolutely fabulous, thanks to an amazing, and spectacular production, and thanks also, of course, to incredible performers, conductor and musicians included.

Yay!

And from the very start of “La Forza Del Destino”, one is just absolutely enchanted by Verdi’s music.

Yay!

As an overture, “La Forza Del Destino” is not only gorgeous, but some of its haunting melodies, are later heard again, throughout the rest of opera.

Yay!

And “La Forza Del Destino”‘s overture also immediately reminiscent of one of the most famous 20th century movie scores ever, from movie composer icon, Nino Rota (1911-1979), for leading American Director, Francis Ford Coppola (b. 1939), and his 1972 masterpiece “The Godfather”.

Wow.

“La Forza Del Destino” probably inspired Nino Rota’s famous “Love theme” melody. Just listen to the first few bars of “La Forza Del Destino”‘s illustrious “overture” (here performed by a different orchestra), and you will be convinced.

Enjoy! And listen to/for the gorgeous and simple “love” melody. After the first 50 seconds you will hear it.

Yay!

Wow!

So incredibly dark, and perfectly summarizing the drama to come, with such a simple and heart wrenching melody at times.

Wow.

And I especially love the the sense of urgency and inevitability also depicted by the acceleration of the tempo, as the overture progresses.

Wow.

An opera, “La Forza del Destino” based on the 1835 play “Don Alvaro o la Fuerza del Sino” by Ángel de Saavedra, Duke of Rivas (1791-1865), poetically adapted by librettist extraordinaire, Francesco Maria Piave (1810-1876), a regular collaborator of Verdi’s as a librettist, including on the following operas: (1844)”Ernani”, (1851)”Rigoletto” and (1853) “La Traviata”, while also incorporating a scene from “Wallensteins Lager”, a play by Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805), and additional text by Antonio Ghislanzoni (1824-1893), who would also be Verdi’s future librettist of (1871) “Aida”.

Wow.

And be prepared for a few surprises in this new contemporary “warring” setting: non specific European locations in the early 20th century or could even be now, to update this dramatic and “feuding” 18th century opera, originally set in Spain and Italy.

Wow.

How to summarize Verdi’s “La Forza Del Destino”‘s plot?

“La Forza Del Destino” depicts in four acts, the consequences of a tragic accident, the accidental death of Leonora (the heroine)’s father (the Marquis of Calatrava/a powerful general), by her lover (Alvaro), which will lead to disaster, to a stone cold vendetta, from Leonora’s brother (Don Carlo di Vargas), and ultimately, to the death of Leonora’s entire family, herself included, and to a tragic end (on Earth, that is), as well, to her ill fated, and at first, promising love for Alvaro.

Wow. And oh boy.

Never a dull moment with great opera, of course.

Yay!

Specifically, in Act I, at the gorgeous, luxurious, Art Deco looking, Calatrava hotel, we meet a stressed Leonora, pacing through various rooms of the hotel, celebrating (at the end of the night, a heavily attended ball, by government officials and the elite), her birthday, with her father, the Marquis, and a powerful general.

Oh boy.

She meets at one point, in private, her lover, Alvaro, and plans to elope that evening, as she knows her father will not approve of Alvaro, but, before departing, Leonora realizes that she wants to see her father, one last time, that evening.

Oh boy.

She does, as her father walks into one of the hotel’s private room where Leonora has changed and left her ball gown, to wish Leonora a good night, and starts insulting Alvaro (who so far, has behaved as a gentleman towards Leonora), as the general sees Alvaro, and threatens him with arrest.

Oh boy.

To prove to the general that he (Alvaro), is not a threat, Alvaro throws down his gun towards the general, which unfortunately, accidentally fires, fatally wounding the general.

Oh no. And oh boy.

The lovers are separated as Alvaro escapes.

Oh boy.

By Act 2, at an officer’s club, Leonora’s brother, (Don) Carlo di Vargas, assuming the identity of a student, is looking for his sister and her lover Alvaro, to avenge his father’s death.

Oh no.

Leonora, dressed as a man, enters the club, and sees her brother in a drunken state. She of course, hides.

Oh boy.

An entertainer/fortuneteller, Preziosilla, performs for a group of soldiers, telling fortunes and encouraging them to seek glory in battle. She tells (Don) Carlo di Vargas his fortune.

Oh boy.

Pilgrims en route to holy week celebrations, pass by.

The music sang by the pilgrims is absolutely gorgeous of course.

We then, find (Don) Carlo di Vargas back at the bar, who assumes another name “Pereda”, and who tells the bartender of the vendetta of a “friend” of his, who is intending to avenge his father’s death.

Oh boy.

Leonora flees the club eventually, by car, and crashes her car.

Oh no.

Listen to one of the beautiful arias Leonora gets to then, sing.

Enjoy.

So sad and beautiful.

Leonora makes her way to a monastery, and asks the Father Superior (who of course looks like her late father), to be allowed to live in the monastery’s hermitage, to devote herself to God, as she in danger of being killed by her brother, and wants to atone for all her sins.

Oh boy.

Meanwhile, her brother mourns over their father’s grave.

Leonora is given a simple robe, she cuts her hair, her initiation rites start, and soon, she sees an apparition of the Virgin Mary above her.

Wow.

By Act 3, Alvaro, Leonora’s lover, has been conscripted into the army, and sent to the front. He drives away a pack of thieves, attacking a newly arrived soldier, (Don) Carlo (Leonora’s brother), who, as Alvaro, are still both disguising their true identities, and eventually, they become fast friends.

Yay!

Alvaro asks (Don) Carlo later on when he is seriously wounded, to safeguard his private papers and in the event of his death, to burn them.

Oh boy.

Of course, (Don) Carlo can’t resist looking through Alvaro’s papers, as a passing comment from Alvaro, makes (Don) Carlo wonder, if he (Alvaro), may be the one responsible, for (Don) Carlo’s father’s death.

Oh no and oh boy.

Of course, (Don) Carlo finds a portrait of his sister Leonora, and Carlo decides to exact his revenge on Alvaro, at a later time, and pretend first, to still, be his friend.

Oh no and oh boy.

A group of entertainers, including Preziosilla, the fortuneteller, begin a performance for the wounded soldiers, joined by vendors of cheap merchandise.

Oh boy.

A few months later (Don) Carlo confronts a recovered Alvaro, and challenges him to a fight, confessing that he has found out “his” (Alvaro’s) true “identity”. Alvaro tries to pacify him, and tells him they should search for Leonora together. They fight. Alvaro stops himself from delivering a deadly blow, and instead, cuts his own face. Alvaro decides then, to enter a monastery.

Oh boy.

By Act 4, the war is over, but poverty and hunger is widespread. Father Guardiano is asked by (Don) Carlo to see Father Raffaele (a new name for Alvaro since he has joined the monastery). Alvaro appears and pleads peace between them, but again (Don) Carlo wants to fight, while the ghost of his father (the general) looms nearby, right above them. Alvaro eventually, mortally wounds (Don) Carlo.

Oh no and oh boy.

Leonora (known as the hermit), is then, called by Alvaro, to give absolution to (Don) Carlo, who is dying.

Oh boy.

Leonora and Alvaro recognize each other.

Oh boy.

Leonora goes to her brother, who deals her, then and there, a mortal blow, as well, despite his dying state.

Oh no and oh boy.

Alvaro and Leonora say goodbye to each other, and Alvaro then, hears the voice of the ghost of Leonora’s father (the general), admonishing him to accept the will of God.

Oh boy.

As Leonora dies, she proclaims she will wait for Alvaro in heaven.

Oh boy. So sad.

What to say about the production?

That Treliński’ s production was fabulous! I really loved it, and found it, epic, energizing, humorous at times, and incredibly solemn and deep, and even mystical at others, which does not surprise me from a Polish production Director.

Yay!

Loved in particular the idea of changing the “warring” setting to a more contemporary, and yet vague time and place, which I found pretty timeless, and yet striking.

Yay!

Loved the wonderful choreography by Maćko Prusak, who, being Polish as well, knows of course, a thing or two about dance, and about having to deal with warring neighbors, and how it can play out, with clarity and yet humor, in terms of dance/movement.

Yay!

Loved the amazing costumes for all performers (including the dancers), by Moritz Junge, who, as an Englishman, knows of course, a thing or two about Fashion, including having a sense of humor about the clothes or accessories: for example, absolutely chuckled while admiring the very creative “rabbit /death faces” of the dancers in Act 2 at the bar, during the Easter period.

Wow.

Loved the set design by Boris Kudlička, who, of course, knows a thing or two about war sets, as he is from Slovakian descent.

Wow.

Loved the projection design by Bartek Macias, who loves cinema and Francis Ford Coppola, and being from Poland as well, also understands war, and payed homage to many war films in his projections (including Coppola’s 1979 “Apocalypse Now”), and whose photography was pure perfection. Being Polish, he also understands the importance of depicting religious miracles in the most mystical, mysterious, and beautiful way to be moving, and his projection of the Virgin Mary and the holy celestial light above her, were just, breathtaking.

Wow.

Bravo!

What to say about the conductor and performers?

That the orchestra, the choruses, and all the singers, under the expert baton of conductor extraordinaire, the incredibly talented, and Met’s Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer Music Director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin , were wonderfully energized, convincing, and in top form.

Wow!

And one huge star, one singer, particularly stood out for me, and stole the show:

Norwegian statuesque soprano, Lise Davidsen, was wonderfully convincing as the love torn Leonora, later turned hermit. What an incredible and big voice she has, projecting with great ease, both tremendous power and yet, subtlety at times. No one, in her generation, matches her talent, in my opinion. And for her very first Italian opera at the Met (she was terrific also in German operas, as “Ariadne” and “La Marschallin”, at the Met recently), what a feat!

Yay!

And the audience responded with great admiration and thundering applause, to all of her beautiful and heartbreaking arias.

Bravo!

Yet, I must say that, American tenor, Brian Jagde, as Alvaro, the intense and passionate lover, was wonderful, both as a singer and an actor, as was Russian Baritone Igor Golovatenko, as the angry (Don) Carlo, brother of Leonora, and as was the American bass, Soloman Howard, as Leonora’s father: the Marquis de Calatras/a powerful general, and singing as well the role of Padre Guardiano.

Bravo!

So, to sum up my feelings, about Verdi’s “La Forza Del Destino”, admired last Monday, at the Met Opera, in great company: what a grand and epic opera, how musically gorgeous and varied, including terrific arias, and at times, a sense of humor, as well as mostly, a tragic depth, and wonderful dance numbers. And how especially awesome is the towering soprano, Davidsen, a special shout out to her, as “Leonora”, the torn love bird, turned hermit, and to her co-performers. And finally, what a terrific and timeless Treliński production, keeping the action moving, and asking the audience to especially think hard, about the terrible aftermath that war implies, and how we need to help each other in life, respect one another, forgive past mistakes, to find lasting happiness.

Bravo!

Just terrific!

And not to be missed!

Until next time friends!

Soft…

Fluttering…

Sunny…

Joyful…

Happy…

Loving…

Eternal butterflies 😊