Monday, January 02, 2006

I feel-ya-not (i), take II

So did you ever have that thing happen where you leave after Act II of Lucia too dispirited to even attempt a wee hatchet job on all those implicated? I guess that's rather specific. If you ever had that happen, we are kindred spirits indeed.

Anyway I still don't want to write one of those wretched tantrum-y postings, but I thought it right to be a bit less...oblique, having made my basic pouty disdain relatively clear. What's the opposite of oblique, anyway? In drafting, it's isometric. So here's my isometric take on Lucia:

Dissing a "silver cast" production is a little like dissing a cover. It just seems like bad sportsmanship. So please understand that I am absolutely sincere in saying that Youngok Shin must have had a rather delicious voice once. Sunny in coloration, not at all small for its type. I'm not saying it just to set up the "but." But...it sounds as if it were held together with scotch tape and pipe cleaners at this point. A wand'ring minstrel, she (a thing of shreds and patches.) Phrases worked. They did. Yes, I put my head down on the ol' standing room railing in anticipation of the high notes she seemed to have no intention of dodging.

But you know what, here's how I'll cut her some slack: Lucia is perhaps the first opera recording I ever listened to. Callas, Karajan, you know the rest. It was on one of those cd's where you have to listen one time through with the left speaker on and then again with the right one. I listened to it fairly obsessively, unaware that this dread opera thing wasn't going to be a phase. I think the reason I now basically hate Lucia, other than that it sucks [when did the Met, please, last put on any of the unoverstatably superior Three Queens operas?] and that I listened it into some kind of structuralist paradigm of rote aesthetic experience is that it's only an interesting role if the soprano has absolutely everything.

It helps if the tenor has a lot going on, of course. And this is why I went, having heard that he did. And by gum, I'm not writing a review of the form I Am Right And Everyone Else is a Tin-Eared Lowbrow. Y'know, the ones on opera-l that either end with the statement "The emperor has no clothes!" or a simple cry of "vergogna!" (Coincidentally, both end with me shooting myself.) But, yeah, I'm pretty baffled. What I heard, moi-meme, was a pedestrian performance from a tenor of average quality with a couple of grating tics. And a few let's call them Tuckerisms that (and again, this is just me, just little Maury) I think come off a lot better if you're actually Richard Tucker or something very like. Sobs and growls, in my book, are something you get to do once you've got everything else solidly nailed into place. Else you risk being called, by me, Guelfi on 45 rpm. And god knows nobody would voluntarily endure the slings and arrows that are my formulaic insults. I will certainly give him another shot, but in contrast to howevermany years ago when I left a Swenson/Vargas Lucia at second intermission out of sheer exhaustion, I just don't have heap many regrets about having missed the mad scene or the big tenor scena.

And so, on with the second half of the season say I. Up next at the plate: Katarina Dalayman and Alan Held in Berg's mean little masterpiece.

9 comments:

meretrice i. d'oscena said...

Right on-
any of the 3 Queens beats a Lucia. All of that conjecture a while back on parterre.com that Fleming was going to do 'Lucia' and all I could think was was, Why in God's name would she choose 'Lucia' when she could do 'Maria Stuarda'?
Fine- she did not have good luck with 'Lucrezia' but still; AB/MS/RD are so much meatier dramatically.

With Callas, Scotto and even Sutherland, it's the 'Anna Bolena' I listen to over and over, not the 'Lucia'.

Maury D'annato said...

Oh lord yes. Anna Bolena is one of the reasons I am a card carrying member of the Cult of Callas. I listened to a yellow cassette tape of the studio version of the closing scene until it got magnetized and came unwound in my car tape deck. (And Gencer in MS? Don't get me started!)
Jeez, and there are like forty good candidates for Giovanna Seymour, right?

Brett said...

I love Donizetti, but Lucia is not his best. Also, I'm now all but completely sick of the Mad Scene, with its frightful overrecordedness. I think I prefer her first aria at this point. The choruses are fun to sing and sound better than many of the other ones in opera. And you know there's a problem when a chorus is a major highlight.

Also, Fleming isn't going to do Lucia, I don't think--in fact, the discussion was about who would be singing it, and she was crossed off the list of possibilities from the start. The Interpolator apparently knows who--supposedly a different American superstar.

meretrice i. d'oscena said...

Right again, M.
With AB, MS and RD you have strong, dramatically/vocally grateful roles for a mezzo. And since you can't swing a dead cat over your head without hitting a strong mezzo these days, it's another good reason to choose something other than 'Lucia'.

Can you imagine Zajick as Elisabetta in 'Stuarda'? The Met would need to have the Red Cross standing by to treat the wounded.

Ariadne said...

Do they do this kind of casting, lik, on purpose, just to piss people off and keep them talking? Other than that type of reverse-psychology marketing ploy, I cannot fathom why any company on the planet would cast less than the best they could possibly afford. If YS were in poor vocal health, should she not bow out and let someone competent sing the role, have a chance at the spotlight?

Sheesh, does not one spend enough (or spend enough hours of his/her life studying & practicing this art) that one should be deserving of very, very good, if not excellent performances?

crikey!

ps could really use some informed opinions on Vanessa from y'all, if you've got a few minutes to pop over to my blog (please & thanks)

Nick said...

Oh, hell. I just finished downloading and listening to the Futral-Filianoti performance from November 5. She is gross. He is gross. They are all gross except Relyea. I want to delete this recording from my hard drive.

Henry Holland said...

Nick, where did you download it from? I've looked everywhere for opera BitTorrent sites, with no luck. I mean, if I want the Grateful Dead's entire 1977 tour, no problem!

bella figlia dell'amore said...

I was there the Shin night too. In fairness, she was much better than in the park a few years ago, the only time I've ever left a Lucia before the SECOND act.

However, as a good friend put it, she had decent moments and very, very bad quarters of hours. The mad scene was the best part of the night, but that ain't sayin' much. Where the hell is Laura Claycomb when we need her? I can't understand why the Met refuses to put her onstage.

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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