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.