Monday, September 29, 2008

La Gioconda at the Met 9/27/08

La Gioconda- Deborah Voigt
Laura- Olga Borodina
La Cieca- Ewa Podles
Enzo- Aquiles Machado
Barnaba- Jason Stearns ****
Alvise- Orlin Anastassov
Solo Dancers: Angel Corella and Letizia Giuliani

****replacing a sick Carlo Guelfi

Saturday was my first time seeing Deborah Voigt live and boy was I excited!!!! Despite the fact that I was dead tired and my dad could barely keep his eyes open it was a thrilling night!!! (Note: It was not the opera that made us sleepy!)

I was so pumped. Beyond excited. Here was a performance of an opera I had seen before, but not with as much knowledge as I have now. Two of my favorite singers, Olga Borodina and Deborah Voigt, and one of my favorite dancers, Angel Corella, all on one stage. It's almost too much!
Here's the low down:

I'll start with the men. Tenor Aquiles Machado was not my choice Enzo. Let's just put it that way, nicely. His "Cielo e mar" was, in my opinion, less than thrilling. He can hit the notes, just not in the nicest ways. Am I a spoiled opera-goer? Yes. Do I hide it? No. I want the best tenors all the time. =) His entrance was better than the rest of the night, which is weird. Usually it's the other way around.
The Alvise of Orlin Anastassov was so creepy. He went towards the curtain with the "dead" Laura behind it and I got chills up my spine! He sang very well, too. His Act III aria was evil and yet moving. That whole "I'm killing my wife, but only for the sake of family pride" works every time...but it never does (see also Un Ballo in Maschera).
Mr. Not-Peter-Gelb (you can tell I'm terrific with names) came in front of the curtain, to many boos and scoffs, before the performance to announce that baritone Carlo Guelfi (Barnaba) had a bad cold. Not catastrophic! At least Debbie Voigt doesn't have a throat infection! His cover, Jason Stearns, was a very very good baritone. Despite some severe rushing in the act II "Pescator" which caused him to be way ahead of the orchestra, he was quite amazing. His Barnaba was so evil he was almost Iago-like. In the act I "O Monumento" especially. He has a great future ahead of him I can tell, at the Met or not.

Now to the highly commendable ladies:
The best singers of the evening were by far the women.
Deborah Voigt was, in my humble and probably insignificant opinion, amazing! Granted, I have heard her better (ie. last year's Tristan, when she wasn't dying of consumption, etc.), but for the first time hearing her in the house it was fantastic. Might I add, if it's not too much, that she is looking stunning these days. Not that she needs to hear it from me, but she's gorgeous and is looking super healthy and what EVERYONE should aim to look like. I didn't even mind the brown wig so much. =) Back to her singing... Her "Enzo adorato, come t'aaammmooo" was really beautiful. A taaddd pinchy on the high, high note, but I, and I think a few other people, had to consciously stop myself from clapping. "Oh right, this isn't Zinka at the old house, just kidding!" The "Suicidio" was fantastic as well, of course!
Olga Borodina, an original member of the Cool Mezzo List, was amazing last night. I saw her two years ago in the same role and I can't decide which was better. She had a little trouble with the last note of her act II aria, but other than that her voice rang with beauty. She looked radiant as always and her booming voice magnifies her presence by 100%. That's adding to her already apparent stage presence. She's just a BEAST. She's amazing. I love her.
EWA PODLES! Where have you been all my life???? NEWEST MEMBER OF THE COOL MEZZO LIST. She got the longest ovation (of the singers) all night, and rightfully! She sang the heck out of La Cieca!!!!! Not to mention I seriously wondered whether she actually could see or not. She's perfect! Gorgeous voice and very natural acting. Legend.

I'd also like to say that I was not disappointed with any of the supporting roles. Namely David Crawford as Zuane, Tony Stevenson as Isepo, and Ricardo Lugo as a Monk. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of singers the Met got for these roles. Bravi!

The dancers were heavenly. Letizia Giuliani is an Italian ballerina. She was absolutely stunning; her feet are beyond words! I have this thing about dancers' feet, maybe it's because I'm a dancer too, I don't know. She has amazing feet, her arches go up to her eyes! She danced beautifully and she was equally matched in her partner, Angel Corella. Star of the American Ballet Theatre, Angel Corella is, in my opinion, one of the best danseurs currently dancing in the world.

Side Note: The chandeliers looking glorious. They sparkle like nothing else I've ever seen. It looks like it's shooting out rainbows! I noticed chandeliers that I think I had never seen before. They were so bright and beautiful. One thing.... That wonderful affect we all love when the lights come down and they raise the chandeliers: it's gone. Gone. I don't know why, but I guess someone decided that the lights should go down and the chandeliers be brought up in darkness. An eerie effect for the opening cello solo of La Gioconda, but I hope it will not be continued!
I demand old-fashioned pre-curtain routines! I shall not stand for it!

Happy Listening!!! =)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

La Gioconda Tonight!!!!

I'm really excited. This was my first live opera ever when I saw it two years ago. It's like reliving that exciting day when I saw opera on the stage for the first time. What beautiful memories....

La Gioconda
by Amilcare Ponchielli
Gioconda- Deborah Voigt
Enzo- Aquiles Machado
Laura- Olga Borodina
La Cieca- Ewa Podles
Barnaba - Carlo Guelfi
Alvise- Orlin Anastassov

Happy Listening!!! =)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Divas Take Over New York, Bloomberg Jealous (Part II)

Welcome to part two!!!! This was probably the worst week to have opening night (for me anyway) because all of a sudden I have all this school work and no time to do it! In the midst of all this I want to write this review and be done with it!!!!
Reminder: This part is about the actual performance.

I noticed that since she did not have all of act one to warm up, she sounded a bit rough for the first few minutes of Traviata. By the time she was up to "Dite alla govine" and certainly by the aaamaaazing "Ah m'ami Alfredo" she was in tip top shape. Sopranos are noted for always wanting to dddrrraaagggg those bars out, but why not? Beautiful voice, beautiful music, impassioned situation. Who's complaining?!?! In Scene Two the "Alfredo, Alfredo" was, as she always does it, long and drawn out. If she has the breath capacity then I say go for it! It sounded stunning and she sang it sitting on the ground! That can't be easy.
Now, while Renee isn't exactly a coloratura expert, I think she handled Manon very very very nicely. She approached the bravura a little differently than most sopranos, to be sure, but I think it sounded fine. Okay, okay, yes I do prefer Beverly Sills, but Sills was the queen of Manons, so I have to give everyone else a break. The St. Sulpice scene was, in my opinion, a better scene for Renee. The "N'est ce plus ma main" was gorgeous and was sung with such feeling! The "pole dancing" on the prie dieu was not my favorite moment of the evening, but it added a bit of controversy (and adamant muttering in the movie theaters).
Capriccio was the real highlight of the evening. I feel bad for those who did not stay through to the end due to the lateness of the evening. This was my favorite and probably the best of the three acts for Ms. Fleming. This is said to be one of her favorite scenes in all of opera, and there's a reason for it. The metaphorical significance is obvious, and the music is enchanting. The soprano has a choice to move around and really use the stage or to stand in one place and sing to her "reflection." (Which I think is another metaphor. The soprano looks for herself in the audience. The reflection of herself comes from the audience, the spectators. Ah ha!) Renee chose the former course of action. She really moved around the stage and used the set. It wasn't exactly a chew-and-swallow kind of using the set, but she got around. Some awkward motions at the end almost (ALMOST) ruined it a tiny bit. However, her singing more than made up for it and the little laugh she gave at the end. Woof. It makes you want to know who she picked SO BADLY.
I have one more thing to say about Renee and the whole experience: BEAST.

Ramon Vargas:
The secondary, but very front and center (oxymoron?), star of the evening was Ramon Vargas. After a very beautiful, but cut, Alfredo in Traviata Ramon banged out a beautiful performance of Des Grieux in Manon. "O mio rimorso" is one of my favorite parts of Traviata and although I had this feeling that they were going to cut it I was still sad that they did. *Sigh* What we do for Renee.... Anyway, as usual Ramon Vargas knocked his roles out of the ball park. The Des Grieux (by the way, this was his first time singing it on stage!) was absolutely perfect! I loved the "Ah, fuyez!" even though he was gasped for breath during the applause. Everything was spot on. I'm always so happy when he comes on the stage. He has such an uplifting presence.

Thomas Hampson:
I never realized how well Thomas Hampson could play an old man. Now, while he would probably say "It's not really acting" or "Well, it's not that much of a stretch" (or other such jokes on himself) we also have to give him some real credit for looking so completely arthritis ridden during the Traviata. I bet that was hard. Shoulders all the way up, stiff movements, and he even shook his hands sometimes while he was singing to make himself look older. That takes some serious talent, and my gosh Thomas Hampson has enough talent to feed an army. His arias sounded great and his voice was, from what I know of his voice, in excellent shape. I also just loved the way he stood over Violetta at the very end of Act II like "Oh my gosh, I'm really sorry about what just happened, but don't expect me to give my son back!" and the way she looked at him. Ah! What a great moment! I know I've beat this into the ground, but I want to say it again: For a very good looking man he sure does play a mean old guy!

Robert Lloyd:
Well, Robert Lloyd. Older timer Robert Lloyd. What is there to say? Magnificent as always. I love the sound of his voice and the deep sonorous tones he produces. His acting is spot on, too. When he begins to mock clap for his "son" Des Grieux (not a realistic match visually...) you just sit there like "Ouch. That one's gotta hurt." He embodies the character perfectly. For the short period he was on stage he really stood out for me. Bravo!

All the conductors (James Levine, Marco Armiliato, Patrick Summers) were fabulous. One thing about Patrick Summers. I think he did the best job out of all of them, though I do adore James Levine. He conducted Capriccio so beautifully and so perfectly. It was wonderful.
The chorus is sounded so fantastic these days! I can hardly believe it! It seems like just a season ago I was complaining about the chorus women! Now look, I can't stop raving about them!
Orchestra. Nothing to say. Perfection. (Look perfection up in the dictionary. It says "per-fec-tion. noun. see Metropolitan Opera Orchestra")

I have one closing question for the world....
I sincerely hope so. This is a historic opening night. Get on that one, Gelb. =)

Happy Listening!!!! =)
Happy 2008-2009 Season!!!!! =)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Divas Take Over New York, Bloomberg Jealous (Part I?)

I think I may do this in two parts, one for the performance and one for the extra fluff. (Not that we don't love fluff) This first part is for, as Jane Austen puts it, the "all important nothings."

Quick little blip: We didn't have subtitles until "Pura siccome" which was slightly annoying, although I'm sure everyone in the movie theater knew at least the gist of what was happening. Also, for the first few seconds of Susan Graham's opening statement my theater didn't have sound. I was so worried that I accidentally let a little swear word pass my lips, followed by an ardent "Sorry!" We got sound after a few seconds and had no audio problems (or subtitle problems!) after that.
(I've heard that other theaters had the same problems, so it must have been the Met or the satellite, not the theater.)

Susan Graham was so adorable as the hostess! I think she did a wonderful job considering she problem didn't have much rehearsal or prep. I thought she looked stunning, but personally I think she's better as a brunette.

All the interviews went wonderfully. Christine Baranski and her daughter were funny and Nico Muhly was very articulate and cute! I'm looking forward to his new opera which is coming out "in the next million years" even though online stalking is not exactly my favorite topic. =) I always feel so artistic and intelligent when I see someone like Francesco Clementi speak. He's so informative and I feel like he knows so much. His portraits are so beautiful and I can't wait to get to the Met to see them. Diana Damrau looked beautiful, as usual. She's such a cutie and I can't wait to see her in Lucia, which she was very reluctant to talk about. Obviously she's very nervous???
I liked the montages of Renee Fleming's life story and the opening night designer costumes. The interview with the costume and wig designers had some fun little trivia in there, like all of the REAL jewels in Renee's jewelry for the evening. You heard some whispers as you saw in the background shoe boxes that said things like "Great Gastby, Upshaw" "Frittoli, Fiordiligi."

Deborah Voigt, looking very slim and healthy, really enjoyed her time in Times Square! I had to laugh at the faces she made at Paulo Szot (although he did deserve those fluttering eye-lashes). She's such a ham! Those few lines from "Some Enchanted Evening" were amazing, by the way. He got me! =) Debbie got some other cute interviews with the opera-goers, some of them unsuspecting spectators.
I'm a tad miffed that in no way shape or form can Martha Stewart's "Grande Dame" cocktail be made "virgin." What like some underage kiddies don't want to drink an operatic cocktail? How about a Diva Daiquiri? That's easy to take the alcohol out of!
I find it amusing that Susan Graham suggested Mister Mayor Michael Bloomberg appear in an opera at the Met! He even said "I can't sing a note!" However, Susan's right he wouldn't have to say a word. That would be a funny cameo!
The guy who took Joe Clark's job (gosh I can't recall the job title or the new guy's name!) seems extremely competent. Everything ran smoothly and I wish him luck in this extremely difficult job!
Hated the first Traviata gown. Renee can wear a dress, let me tell you, but this wouldn't look good on Grace Kelly. It's like they ripped apart an ugly sofa and made a dress out of it. The dress for scene II was SO MUCH BETTER. I thought it was beautiful. That red was gorgeous and I love the acres and acres of fabric!
I was not happy to notice that someone tampered with the Manon dress, aka attacked it with a Bedazzler. What was with the rhinestones? It looked almost like a copy of the dress in Vogue (seen above). Having said that, I did adore the cape for the St. Sulpice scene. I want it, I want to own it, I want to wear it. I love capes like that, I love them!!!!! The glorious Capriccio gown was my favorite. It was many people's favorite as well, from what I hear. That coat really made the dress, even though one lone feather stuck to La Fleming's back and irked me considerably. I almost (ALMOST) wanted Renee to wear the feather in her hair like in the above photo, but the at first horrifying bob wig grew on me and by the end of the act I didn't mind it very much. The only gowns that actually lived up to the Vogue hype were the Act II Scene II Traviata and the Capriccio. I would give A LOT to be able to wear those gowns just for a few minutes.
More on the actually singing later...
Happy Listening!!! =)
HAPPY 2008-2009 SEASON!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

As if i have to say it: RENEE FLEMING IS A BEAST. More on this story and more [tomorrow]

************************UPDATED: will have review up ASAP. lots of homework tonight (plus college fair, etc.), I'm sorry!!!!! as soon as humanly possible, I promise!

As expected manon was sublime!!!!!! Renee is workin it!!! That ''n'est c'est plus'' was off the wall. She looks exhausted tho, lets see if she can make it through capriccio. =)

OPENING NIGHT!!!! Okay so this is so beast. Renee took a few minutes to warm up but by ''dite alla giovine'' and ''alfredo, alfredo'' she was divine. Thomas hampson and ramon vargas were amazing. I cant wait for manon!!!! Ill keep in touch!! =)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

For What's The Sound of the World Out There? Those Opera Noises Pervading the Air.

As if you couldn't tell, I am beyond excited for the spectacle that is Opening Night at the Metropolitan Opera. Although I will not be in the actual opera house, I will be diligently reporting from my local movie theater. I think it's almost cooler to be in the movie theater for this season's opening night. It's historical! History in the making! Don't you want to be a part of that? Plus, you get to see those gorgeous couture gowns up close! Maybe they'll even spray in some of "La Voce Renee Fleming" into the theaters. They could if they really wanted to. It's the Met! They can do anything!
I will be "mobile blogging" periodically (meaning at every pause or catastrophic event) and then maybe one mass review on Tuesday?

I'm so excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Listening!!! =)

When In The Course Of Operatic Events it Becomes Necessary for One People to Dissolve the Bands That Disconnect Them From OPENING NIGHT!!!!!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

So As Not To Confuse The Allens...

Since I have become SO bad at remembering to post on people's birthdays I sincerely apologize to all my readers and the singers who have their amazingness neglected. I'm very very sorry.

Yesterday was the birthday of one of my (I only say that because I have a "top two" for each vocal category) favorite baritones of all time, Sir Thomas Allen. This brilliant British baritone first "won my heart", so to speak, when I saw him on youtube singing the role of the Count in Le Nozze di Figaro. That caused me to buy the Solti recording and needless to say hilarity ensued. He has since then become one of my favorite Don Giovanni's, Onegin's, Count's, and, well, Count Danilo Danilowitsch's ever. He's just fabulous! A beautiful singer and an amazingly convincing actor.

I would also like the take this opportunity to touch lightly on the subject of Woody Allen's Gianni Schicci. For clarity's sake we will call Thomas Allen "Sir Thomas" and Woody Allen "Mr. Allen."
I was perfectly alright even a little excited that Woody Allen was going to direct an opera, especially a short comic opera like Schicci. However, I am not okay with any director, no matter how famous or cinematic, changing the ending of an opera. I'm not mad exactly, just a little irked. Sure, maybe it's funny, but that kind of defeats the whole comedy of Schicci just getting away with everything. I hear the rest of the opera was a riot, though, but maybe those were just my sources? I wish Mr. Allen good luck on his other operatic endeavors, should he choose to pursue any. I have no doubt that Sir Thomas was an utterly enchanting Gianni Schicci. With his comic timing there's no question that he owned the part of the great schemer.
I just want to make a point that I don't care if you are Steven Spielberg! You don't have Scarpia whisk Tosca off her feet at the last minute or Carmen and Don Jose get married! It's not right. Respect the opera. Respect the composer.

Happy Listening!!!! =)

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Tribute to Antonin Dvorak and Karita Mattila...

...Both of whom have a birthday this week. Karita Mattila's birthday was on Sunday, and Dvorak's is today. I thought this would be an appropriate tribute...

How gorgeous is that music? How gorgeous is she?
Happy Birthday!!!!! =)

Happy Listening!!! =)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Congratulations, Schrebko!!!!!!!!!

We already knew, but... IT'S A BOY!!!!!!

Erwin Schrott and Anna Netrebko's long awaited baby arrived on Friday in Vienna, Austria. He weighs 7 pounds and thirteen ounces and his name is Tiago Arua Schrott.
I've heard a couple of things about the baby's name. La Cieca said Tiago is the Portugese form of "Santiago," but someone on opera-l said that Tiago and Arua are Guarani words for Treasure and Handsome. Maybe Schrebko will make a statement about the "Schrott tot"''s tongue-twister name.

Best wishes to Mommy, Daddy, and Baby!!!!!!!!

Happy Listening!!! =)