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!!!!! =)

1 comment:

American Symphony Orchestra said...


Leon Botstein, Music Director

Celebrates its 46th Season with:

A tale of passion, scorn and redemption.
A city faced with watery annihilation.
And the King's daughter behind it all.

Friday, October 3rd at 8PM
Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center


Join Maestro Leon Botstein 75 minutes prior to performance for an illuminating pre-concert discussion. Located at the Avery Fisher Hall Mainstage.