Sunday, December 30, 2007

To Do List: (1) Get stabbed at a Masked Ball, (2) Sing a long aria, (3) Then die

Un Ballo in Maschera
by Giuseppe Verdi

Amelia- Michele Crider
Gustavo- Salvatore Licitra
Anckarstrom (Renato)- Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Ulrica- Stephanie Blythe
Oscar- Kathleen Kim
Ribbing (Samuel)- Hao Jiang Tian
de Horn (Tom)- Andrew Gangestad
Conductor- Gianandrea Noseda

With a production that is nearly 20 years old it's usually difficult to add freshness to it. However, when you have three great, world class singers singing in one place at the same time, it does add a sort of lightness and vivacity to an old set.
The three real stars of the evening sadly didn't include the soprano, which is usually the case. Michele Crider held her own, and with her huge voice it's hard to forget her, but she was slightly out done by her peers despite her soaring second act aria and touching portrayal of the distraught Amelia. It's a little something called "star power" that just didn't shine through. Of course, I'm thoroughly spoiled by sopranos such as Aprile Millo and Birgit Nilsson who can not be outdone in this role. Salvatore Licitra, who plays Amelia's "lover", is a different story. He had a magnificent presence and his voice crystal clear, which makes him one of the three real stars of the evening. By some confusing and unimportant turn of events my mother ended up in the Family Circle Standing Room for the first act. She came down at intermission and the first thing she said was "Oh my gosh, you can hear every syllable the tenor sings all the way up there!" And every high note, too. Every wonderful high note that came almost effortlessly and filled the house with sound.
Stephanie Blythe is another singer that can fill the house with sound. I could hardly believe the size of her voice! Her low notes were so exciting and I couldn't stop myself from whispering "Ooooo yes, chest voice!" The curtain opened on her lair and you knew immediately which one was the power horse mezzo! It's called star power, it's called stage presence, call it what ever you like, but Stephanie Blythe had it! She was chilling as the fortune-teller and her singing hardly required her to open her mouth! She'd open it a crack and you could hear her voice from the nose bleed seats!
My personal favorite highlight of the entire evening was Dmitri Hvorostovsky's Renato (You say potato-or Anckerstrom- and I say Renato) or, more specifically, his "Eri tu." I was slightly surprised because his voice was not as large in the house as I imagined it. Or maybe I was imagining it wasn't big? Surrounded by all those huge voices maybe it just sounded small. I'm convinced that he only took one breath each act and man he could hold those notes forever! My mother and I were rather upset that this wasn't such a "romantic" role because this guy really deserves it. It's sort of like "Well, what's the soprano doing with the other guy if she can have him? Oh well... maybe I can have him instead?" With a baritone who is so extremely handsome, it's hard to believe that he could become so unlikeable in the end. But that's how the opera goes, the baritones never win. Dmitri Hvorostovsky was so sinister yet calm as Renato, it was almost scary. When he discovered that Amelia was...well... Amelia in the second act he sings "Ameeeeeeeeliaaaaa!" Oh my GOODNESS did it sound EVIL. And yet... it was SO GORGEOUS. Evil has never looked or sounded so good. Speaking of sounding good, I waited the entire performance for "Eri tu" and was not disappointed. It's such a wonderful aria and Dmitri pulls it off so so SO well. =)
Kathleen Kim as Oscar was a dream. She's so cute and light. She flies all over the stage and her voice is very ring-y. She got better as the night went on and by the end of the evening she proved herself to be a wonderful singer-actress who I would definitely like to see more often.
One note on the conducting... I felt that some arias, particularly Oscar's two little arias and "Di tu se fedele", were taken a little too slowly. They're both supposed to be light, fluffy arias and are not supposed to be dragged out. The singers tried to sing as slowly as Maestro Noseda was conducting, but I'm sure it was a tad difficult.
Over all, great show. I left with little wings on my heals and I sighed all the way home, hoping to see more performances that were that exciting.

Happy Listening!!! =) (Sorry this was so long! So many feelings for one performance!)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

From all of us at ScoreDesk... Have a happy holiday season and a happy and healthy new year!!!!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

And Suddenly I've Found How Wonderful A Sound Can Be!!

Today we celebrate the birthday of one of the most beloved opera composers to ever live, Giacomo Puccini. He is the man whose music changed my life and I am forever indebted to him. He is also the man on my pin that I wear on my uniform blazer every day to school. My friends scrunch their faces to try and figure out who that is. “A dead guy, right?” They ask, knowing my love of history and…well…dead music people. “Yeah, a dead music guy.” They nod, “Who is he?” I don’t want to explain the whole Boheme/Rent connection for the billionth time so I just smile and say “Giacomo Puccini, which in Italian means ‘the man who changed my life.’” Suddenly they don’t seem so interested, but I don’t care because when I wear that blazer I know the whole world can see that me, a high school student, loves Puccini and loves opera. I don’t just love him for La Boheme; I love him because his aria “Nessun Dorma” made me catch the opera bug.
Puccini showed me that opera isn’t about snotty old people and fat Italian singers who break glasses with their high notes and wear breast plates, so now I’m here to show my peers that opera isn’t about any of that. Maybe if they see me with that pin they’ll see that young people can like opera also and they don’t have to be embarrassed about it. Well… that probably won’t happen, but I can try can’t I?
At one family dinner I was talking to my grandfather about “Turandot” and my aunt laughs and says “Don’t worry, dear, it’s just a phase!” I smiled at her and said “Oh, I’m not worried.” I wouldn’t say this is a phase, but a life-long passion that I’m desperate to share with others. Since my friends don’t seem interested, I made a blog instead. I think it’s been pretty successful so far. I’ve gotten the point across that I love opera, haven’t I?
So thank you, Puccini, for everything you have done for me and probably for so many other people. Oh yeah, and happy birthday! =)

Happy Listening!!! =)

Monday, December 17, 2007

ROFLOL He said "Pottarotti!"

The Best and Worst of Opera: 2007

from England, or else the Met would take up the entire "best" column. =P Just kidding, other people can get some room, too.
I like the descriptions of the "Pottarotti"s of the world (i.e. Paul Potts, Katherine Jenkins, etc.) who warble an aria into a microphone and start saying things like "I would like to sing Madama Butterfly." Sorry, dearies, the opera houses' doors are CLOSED, even if you will bring in 3274892374892384792348230 more fans to the houses. It makes no difference, we don't like mikes at the Met or at any other beautiful opera house in the world (and there are a lot of those!).

Happy Listening!!! (and i know of some cool things to listen to)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rumor Patrol Part II: The Truth Revealed!!!

It was announced yesterday (and today by the New York Times) that the New York State Theater will remain dark for the 2008-2009 season of the New York City Opera. The NY Times article says that allllll those singers will NOT be unemployed for a whole year, there will be various concert performances at different locations, rather than full scale productions.

Renovations for the City Opera (courtesy of the NY Times):

  • a larger and movable orchestra pit (said to improve acoustics??)
  • new stage lighting
  • an audiovisual system
  • refurbished seats and new carpeting
  • upgraded box office and lobby
  • removable sound system: acoustical paneling

Okay, sounds good to me, but will it all sound good in the end? We have yet to find out!!!

Happy Listening!!!!! =)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Sliced Bread and the New York City Opera

Metropolitan Opera On Demand... it's the coolest thing since the Metropolitan Opera Live on Rhapsody.... which is the coolest thing since the Metropolitan Opera Live Saturday Matinee Broadcasts... which is the coolest thing since sliced bread. Basically, the Metropolitan Opera is kick arse cool. I'm sorry, there's no other way to put it.

RUMOR PATROL: There's a little rumor that could create a huge problem. The New York City Opera might decide to leave the New York State Theater dark in 2008 and 2009. They might wait until Gerald Mortier comes in the fall of 2009 to start their 20th century themed season. The matter might be decided this week at a meeting for the opera board members. If they don't decide then, the answer will come soon.

Happy Listening!! =)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Norma "wasn't a fit" for Renee Fleming

To my disappointment Renee Fleming decided that she will never ever sing Bellini's Norma. Ever. Did I mention she said never? The BSO concert version at Tanglewood has no been replaced by "Eugene Onegin" and the Met will have to find someone else for their 2011 new production. The people at Score Desk are rather upset.
HOWEVER, (and there is always a "however") we are super duper proud of Renee for not becoming one of those sopranos who decides "I can sing whatever I want and it doesn't matter that I can't sing it properly!" We live in a world where Mimis sing Toscas and Adinas become Violettas. It's really nice to know that we have people like Renee Fleming who know when enough is enough and a role just isn't right. If Renee keeps up the good judgement she could be singing in her prime for the next ten years at least! Now that she dropped Norma she can move on to other things we would like to hear her in... say Anna Bolena or Marie in "Die Tote Stadt"?? Well, we will see what happens.

Happy Listening!! =)