vendredi 9 mars 2012

Kleiber experiences

This is a follow-up to a post about Charles Barber about Carlos Kleiber.

1) Tom Service of the Guardian has a review of Mr Barber's book. Hidden in it is a YouTube interrview of Kleiber himself which I did not knew.

My limited German enabled me to understand the interview. Kleiber does not speak too fast and has a certain foreign accent I cannot totally place. The interviewer was certainly unaware that he was asking too many questions about his father.

2) The Scala pefrormance of Bohème reviewed here in French in its DVD format is available in full on YouTube.

If you have not heard it, this is an absolute must:


3) Finally, as I refered earlier, I thought I would quickly write about the all too rare performances I heard Kleiber. All were at the Opera, twice in Munich, twice in London, once in New York and twice in Vienna.

  • I first heard him in the Summer of 1981 in Der Rosenkavalier. Cast was G Jones, B Fassbeander, L Popp, K Moll. At this time, I did not knew the work as I now do but vividly remember Kleiber starting the act 1 introduction without waiting for applaudes to stop, the dancing rubato at the end of act 2 (I had a standing seat and the entire row was following Kleiber's beat), the floating woodwinds in act 3 and the singers.
  • I heard the same production in the Summer of 1984, again at the Munich Festival. Jones and Popp were replaced by J Beckmann and B Booney doing what should have been her first Sophie with Kleiber. Her stage presence and quality of voice was stunning. I knew the work much more and could appreciate the subleties of tempis as well as the wonderful texture Kleiber got from his orchestra). 
  • In 1987, Kleiber conducted Otello with Domingo - Ricciareli - Diaz in London at Covent Garden. My first ticket application was rejected. I send them a letter saying that I was going anyway to be in London for my work, that I had been a junior friend of Covent Garden while studying at Imperial College and that I would appreciate to be on a waiting list. I also added that I was aware of the massive demand and of the efforts they were doing to accomodate as many as possible. They send me a ticket at the edge of the orchestra pit which got freed when the staging was modified. I was at one meter of Domingo when he entered with his Exultate but more importantly was seeing 3/4 of Kleiber. I cannot find interest on the stage, I was mesmerised by Kleiber who just knew when to step in and when to let the music go. At this day, this remains one of my top 5 performances at the Opera. I wrote a letter to thank Covent Garden.
  • This performance was revived in January 1990. An announcement was done that Domingo was not in the best health and I was not seated in front of Kleiber but remember being really moved by the evening and enjoying the stage.
  • I spend two years in the US back to studies at the Harvard Business School from 1990 to 1992. During my first week-end, I remember opening the New York Times and seeing that Kleiber was conducting Rosenkavalier. I called the box-office, asked wether the C Kleiber mentioned in the newspaper was a Carlos. I then asked if they had a ticket and there were indeed a few outstanding. I then asked if this was really Kleiber as normally there would be a sold-out house, the lady at the phone laughed and confirmed this was the case ... I went there. Cast had now F Lott, AS Von Otter, B Booney and A Haugland. Great singers although I started missing my first Rosenkavalier cast, maybe my memory made it better and better, ..., and was impressed by Haugland. Kleiber conducting was still magestrial but had an Automnal feeling as if the center of gravity of the work had moved from say Sophie to the Marschallin.
  • I went to Vienna in 1994 for two performances of the Rosenkavalier. These are the ones that are available on the DG DVD. The Automnal feeling was more pronounced this time. The orchestra played just amazingly. This was special and I have to add that in between the two performances, I met my wife. We had our second date at the second performance. Videos of this have been available including some with both stage and conductor:

I have been after to a few Rosenkavaliers in the theater. I have the various DVDs and some pirate recordings.  It is a masterpiece but I just cannot hear it again after these amazing live performances. I consider myself unbelievably lucky for these rare events.

Post-Scriptum: I have ommited one thing. In the early days of Internet, Toru Hirasawa compiled tons of information on Kleiber, son and father. We exchanged some mails and gave hime some informations on the casting of the Rosenkavalier I had heard in Munich. He very kindly put my name on a list of people who helped. The point here is that I would recommend any Kleiber fans to rush to his web site which is a gold mine of great information.

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