Wednesday, November 16, 2005

in which I am pushy and not a little sentimental

So here's what I command you to do.

(Because we're such close friends and all.)

What I command you to do is go get a recording you haven't listened to in five years or so and give it a spin.

What has inspired me to such heights of chutzpah? Callas' studio Norma for EMI, that's what. (You asked, or rather, more accurately, you didn't.) The one from some year rather too late to be prime Callas. Which is probably why I haven't listened to it many times since I got my hands on it probably late in high school.* There has always been the thought: why listen to Callas in '61 when there's the Scala w/ del Monaco and Simionato, my overall fave hands down. (Yeah I guess if the Trieste existed in better form I might be into that. It's been so long since I heard it at all I'm not sure.) And really for the last four or five years I've always turned up my nose at studio if there's live to be had. Can I get an amen?

Also I've never been the ardent Ludwig fan everyone else with any taste is, though certain roles are almost unarguably fine. Such as Adalgisa, I must say. (Don't start with me, JSU. There are plenty of perfectly stellar mezzo Adalgise.) But I mean, who knew? A great Ariadne is hardly where you look for your Adalgisa. But there she is, caught on record, singing an exemplary turn in a not wholly grateful role. It's full bodied, distinctive in its plangent tone, reaches the highs and the lows. You'll pardon me while I hope in a time machine and give the 18 year old me a good thorough shake for not getting it.

Corelli, of course, is godhead. I'm not very objective about him, but here in particular, in the recording that made me like dramatic tenor singing, he is peerless.

I haven't listened to the Callas bits yet, really. I'm afraid the microphone may have been particularly unkind to her at this stage in the game, in one of those recordings that seats the listener somewhere around her soft palate. I'm neither afraid of an ugly voice, though, nor a total Callas necrophiliac, sending out bounty hunters to find the "Stormy Weather" from Elsa Maxwell's party. I'll get to her tracks eventually.

So off with you. Go pick up that Olivero Iris that's gathering dust because you could no longer stomach the tenors that squandered the honor of singing with her. Break out the old Czech Jenufa with the hilariously translated libretto but uniformly idiomatic singing that was naturally enough eclipsed by Soderstrom's. You loved them once, and in the words of Pushkin, love may still be there, not quite extinguished in your heart.

*Modesty prevents me from saying what year that was.

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