KVT – The Germans Do Opera

KVT – The Germans Do Opera

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KVT from Mozart thru Wagner

Saturday was a lovely Opera Night at the Opera House with a German program that started with Mozart and wended its way to Wagner and ended with a Mozartian encore. German because it was presented courtesy of the German Government through the Goethe institute.

They reunited very personable German conductor, Jonas Alber, with the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra and co-opted the services of David Miller, répétiteur and conductor at the Théàtre de la Monnaie in Brussels to run intense workshops with eight of the VNOB’s soloists.

And it all paid off. The Orchestra easily slipped into top gear, particularly with the overture to ‘Fidelio’ and was always sympatico with the singers who sounded the best I’ve ever heard them.

Anh Vu, Manh Dung and Thang Long sailed through the 3 pieces from Mozart’s ‘Magic Flute’ with panache, assisted in one by Miller joining the orchestra on the harpsichord. Soprano To Loan was pushed to the limits (and most singers would be) and succeeded very well in a difficult coloratura aria from ‘The Abduction from The Seraglio the Serail’ (thanks to Huy Truong for the comment below!).

Best thing about the night was that we weren’t given a recital of well known pieces, the sort of stuff you recognize and hum along with. Nope, we sat through a program that tested the singers and allowed the orchestra to prove itself as well and so tightly did Alber have the players and singers in hand that they coalesced beautifully with nary an histrionic note and I was surprised how really receptive the audience was.

We didn’t really need the lady in the orange dress and black high heels tripping up the stairs onto the stage to tell audience the various synopses as it sort of ruined a beautiful musical flow. Perhaps the powers that be may realize that the Vietnamese audience is as capable of reading as is an English speaking one.

Overall a night worth getting along to and end up whisking homewards with ‘Pa Pa Pa Pa Pa Pa Papagena/Papageno’ echoing pleasantly between your ears after the encores.

Kiem Van Tim is a keen observer of life in general and the Hanoi cultural scene in particular and offers some of these observations to the Grapevine. KVT insists that these observations and opinion pieces are not critical reviews. Please see our Comment Guidelines / Moderation Policy and add your thoughts in the comment field below.


  1. Dear KVT
    Interesting piece about the German opera evening – but doesn’t your opening rather miss the point? It was a GERMAN opera evening because all the extracts were originally written and on this occasion SUNG in German.

    You say you liked the fact that this was a programme of unfamiliar works – agreed – but you also went home happily hummming the Papageno/Papagena duet. Aren’t the best programmes thus a mixture of both familiar and unfamiliar?

    I don’t want to be too pedantic – but a couple of small points:
    David Miller joined the orchestra on CEMBALO not harpsichord – imitating Papageno’s magic bells.
    And Mozart’s other German language Opera is called “The Abduction from the Serail” (English title) or “Il Seraglio” (Italian title) – but I see this was wrong in the printed programme too!

  2. Sorry Sorry…
    I also slipped up. I meant to say David Miller joined the orchestra on CELESTA (not cembalo – which of course is another name for Harpsichord!). Celesta has the Glockenspiel sound which imitates bells.
    Sorry …

  3. Good points Anh Huy Truong from a person who is a specialist and not just an interested theater goer with a rudimentary background like me who just loves to give an opinion that others will hopefully tackle.

    Many thanks, especially about the Celesta.

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