Matt Boehler (Leporello) and catalogue girls
Yes we had a bit of a to-do over Don Giovanni, the last of our Da Ponte cycle, because Diane Paulus, predictably, brought a bit of bare flesh into the production. Not that this is inappropriate given the subject matter. But one man's apt is another's disgraceful. But there were enough people to judge this production as the finest that they had seen in recent years to put my mind at rest........
The thing is this - we also had a superb cast and a fine Mozartian (Jane Glover) in the pit. Iain Paterson, later a fine Don at ENO, gave us some magnificent singing, there was a new star in Isabel Leonard (Zerlina), Matt Boehler a spectacular Leporello, and singing and acting from the rest of the cast that brought this to a high level. Sorry about the sex though! You can see a gallery of pictures at my photo site.
Iain Paterson (Don Giovanni)
In December of 2006 I had been in Vienna for the world premiere of John Adams's new opera A Flowering Tree. John and I had spoken about this when he was in Chicago that summer for our performances of Nixon in China. I had promised him that I would be there, and so I was. We lunched the next day and he agreed to come to Chicago to conduct what turned out to be a new production rather than our taking the Peter Sellars's staging that Peter had devised for the available space in Vienna. And so we did it in 2008 - and we had a glorious success with this extremely beautiful piece.
John Adams rehearasing A Flowering Tree - Harris Theater Chicago 2008
With a most beautiful production by Nicola Raab, designed by George Souglides, and a cast of just three - Natasha Jouhl, Noah Stewart, and Sanford Sylvan - it was the happiest of occasions. There was a large chorus and group of dancers completing the picture. I felt that this was one of the events that I was most proud of at COT up to this poiint. This opera should be seen in England.
Noah Steward and Natasha Jouhl - A Flowering Tree COT 2008
We completed our 2008 season with another fine production from Justin Way who had been responsible for the beautiful Entführing in 2006. This was Handel's Orlando. Raymond Leppard, a great Handelian of the old school, returned to COT to conduct - and I was delighted that we were able to bring back Justin's brilliant design team of Kimm Kovac and Andrew Hays.
Tim Mead, then emerging as a fine new counter tenor sang the title role. He was clearly destined for the successful career that he is now immersed in. His passionate commitment, marvellous musicianship, and boundless energy ensured that he was the central focus of the performance in spite of the poor boy suffering from a bout of 'flu during the run. This was another fine contribution to COT's record of serving Handel.
Tim Mead (Orlando) and Andriana Chuchman (Dorinda) - COT 2008
And so in the autumn of 2008 things got really messy around the world and we at COT entered our own mini age of austerity from 2009 onwards.......more next week!