This review covers the recent Beethoven night, December 19th.
The billing in the program and on advertising in general, had us believe that we would be treated to some of the singing from Beethoven's only opera, Fidelio. Unfortunately we just got the overture and the featured opera singers were no where to be seen.
Without a break, the program moved into the 9th Symphony in which the large choir was required to arrive and sit through the first three movements and some of them were trying to stay awake.
While purists will say that the 9th is a great symphony, I am not one of them. It is a bit tedious and when this is combined with a lack lustre performance of musicians going through the motions under a conductor who has yet to drag a first class performance out of them in the past season, it is no wonder that the overall effect was one of 'enduring' the three movements in order to arrive at the 4th, the Ode to Joy. This was done well, largely in part because the choirs were in good form and actually seemed to be feeling the majesty of this movement. It was the best part of the evening despite the four singing soloists from the Hanoi Opera being underwhelming in their minor solo parts.
The opera house has been home to a few very good performances this season, but this was not one of them. The house conductor and the orchestra just don't seem to blend and both lack enthusiasm for most concerts. Only with foreign guest conductors and musicians does the real feel for music come through. Seems technical ability is more highly prized than passion and this orchestra really needs the passion to show up in every performance instead of the few.
No idea about next season, will have to wait for the 2013 program schedule.