I saw a large part of the Gala staged at the Vienna Staatsoper to celebrate the last year of Ioan Hollander after 19 years at his head.
Hollander will go into history. These 19 years were great. He ran the place magnificently and God knows that this is an unbelievable tough job. For those who doubt it, I recommend that you read Joseph Volpe's memories reviewed here by yours truly.
This gala showed the breath of artists which have been performing at the Staatsoper. I am no fan of galas but this one was unusual. It would be long to name all of them but Anna Netrebko did a little too much in the Gavotte of Manon which is superb music and what a voice. Krissmaya Stoyanova who did such a great Amelia in Boccanegra earlier in Geneva was superb, Vienna's current tenor Piotr Beczala has charisma, excellent French pronunciation and looks the parts he sings, Johan Bohta's Lohengrin declamation was special, the duo of Genia Kunhmeier and Adrienne Piezoncka at the end of act 1 of Arabella did not quite work out because the singers were not so well balanced, Falk Struckmann missed a few parts in the Iago declamation but compensated with characterisation, Simon Keenleyside was understandbly tired as he appeared after midnight, so was Ramon Vargas who is usually in better shape, Thomas Hampson was back in Austria where I thought he did not wanted to come back. It was also unique to see the smiles and looks of the musicians of the Orchestra when the singing was really special.
Hollander himself presented the program and highlighted Elina Garanca's (who was singing 2 days ago and three days after) "diplomatische Grippe" ... but it was a fitting tribute for Natalie Dessay to take the trouble to come from Paris and sing as the Staatsoper was where her career took off.
Hollander leaves a house in good shape and the new team will have a hard act to follow through but those who have lived in Paris and have seen what Dominique Meyer has done at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées know that he has done some great stuff.