Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Faute de mieu

Latest purchase: (With What Money??)

1) I Troiani. That's right, not Les Troyens. Highlights disc, actually, but it has the parts one is curious to hear. I'm trying to remember my Mario del Monaco timeline and whether 1960 is after his car wreck/goiter/whatever but I would guess not. I mean he ditches the C in "inutiles regrets" and we all hate that, but the final B (?) is so long and fearless as to make up for it. The crowd agrees. Simionato as Didone isn't quite what I imagined...I think the grandeur of her big scena is all tied up in its Frenchness and even an artist of her caliber can't really make it sound right in translation. I'm trying to imagine Janet Baker doing it in English, which seems likely to have happened. It just doesn't make me want to rev up the time machine. I haven't given Nell Rankin's Cassandra a fair listen; cursorily I'd say the goods are there.

2) Cebotari Sings This and That in Really Good Sound. Can someone clear up for me whether she was or was not Hitler's little darling? I'd swear I read it somewhere but it's hard to wrap my head around since she's from Kishinev, ancestral home of the D'annato family and so many other shtetl Jews. Anyway if she was in fact the songbird of Sobibor maybe I'd actually rather not know it, because she made some irresistable records. While we're on her, che-bo-TA-ri? Because it's a semi-made up name anyway, from Cebutaru. And while I have no idea what a "c" represents in Romanian, it's not impossible she was aiming for something with more of an Italian ring to it like, y'know, Rossellini or Buccatini or, oh, Millo. Herein are featured excerpts from Puccini, Verdi, etc and Cebotari's second to none Es Gibt ein Reich, complete with Ferrieresque mythology that she knew she was dying when she sang it. It could be true.

Honestly, I haven't stopped going to the opera. I'm bound to go to Forza sooner or later, especially since I got an intriguing text message about it from JSU. Go click on his page until he's forced to review it. (Actually I haven't checked today--he may have done so already. All I've seen lately though was Walk the Line, which I secretly suspect was just the negatives from last year's Ray.

Over at The Rest is Noise, Alex Ross outlines a Ring set in an American high school, which made me laugh, in part because I have at times daydreamed about other operas set in high schools (they being the last place it is socially acceptable to indulge in high drama/operatically sized emotion all the livelong day.) Is the Duke of Mantua really just the captain of the football team? Is Der Komponist really just the faggiest kid in the drama club? Watch your back, Calixto Bieito--here I come!


Burns said...

Simionato loved the role and later recalled the pleasure of singing "Adieu, beau ciel d'Afrique, astres que j'admirais"... or whatever it is in Italian.

Yes, Baker recorded Didon's scenes from "Va, ma sœur…" to the end of the opera in the late 1960s. Very grand in line and conception and, perhaps surprisingly, rather fiery in execution. The conductor, though, pays no attention to the changing tempo indications in the "Je vais mourir" section and so undoes its Berliozian bizarrerie.

I don't care what anyone says, for sheer sonic grandeur, textual punch, and tragic majesty, no one delivers this scene more completely than Jessye Norman.

Maury D'annato said...

Not even LHL? On the latter two counts, in any case?

mezzogregory said...

And all this time, I thought it was Der Komponist...

Chalk it up to the many things I am so wrong about in opera.

I want Purcell's Dildo in Anus set in High School. Belinda is so the not quite popular enough Best Friend. The Witch is so Dido's once upon a time best friend who was replaced by Belinda. And Aeneas is so the hot new transfer.


Burns said...

Argh, I was afraid you were going to ask that! LHL's Didon is seared in my memory and fills me with wonder. I don't know how she made this role work for her, in the Met of all places. I knew it would be interesting but never imagined it could be as satisfying and complete as it was. Her Didon had a simplicity and unadorned honesty, an essential quality that is just not achievable by mere mortal singers. Her performance and Jessye's are kind of polar opposites, not just Stimm v. Kunst, since they both really have plenty of both. Just utterly different artistic approaches that together point to an ideal.

My ideal has just slightly more Jessye in it than Lorraine. Jessye has more in her arsenal in terms of vocal gesture and the means to convey the heroine's range of moods.

Her way with phrases like "tu prépares ta fuite" or "les membres de son fils en un hideux festin" or "je ne vous verrai plus, ma carrière est finie" or "Vénus, rends-moi ton fils" or "J'entends déjà tonner son nom vainqueur! Hannibal! Hannibal!" ... well, it's not just opera, it's classical tragédie in the grand manner. And anyone who only knows her latter-day persona really must hear her Didon b'cast to understand what she could achieve when she was able to bring all her gifts to bear.

Maury D'annato said...

Mezzo: d'oh!! Russian occasionally wrecks me that way. Kompozitor. I swear, you'd think I didn't edit this thing, largely because I don't.

NYCOF said...

Re: Cebotari. I "think" u may be thinking of Tiana Lemnitz. She's the one I've always heard thrown about as THE Nazi diva. There's a wild Tosca from Berlin 1944 or 1945 with Lemnitz and u can practically hear the bombs falling, and the desperation in all of their voices. Chilling in so many ways.

mezzogregory said...

Maury, it wouldn't have mattered, because I thought you were talking about Ariadne, which isn't in Russian. Once more I show my ignorace. Doesn't anyone have a dollar to stuff in a girl's g-string when she shows that?

Maury D'annato said...

MezzoG: then I should be the richest of all. No, but really, the mistake was mine. The role, as you said, is der Komponist. Because my Russian is thirty times better than my German, I mentally plunked in the Russian word instead.

Ariadne said...

I have too too many comments for this one, just have to say (1) Lorraine wins (2) I didn't even notice the Russian/ German switcheroo and (3) I guess Sieglinde would have to be ... what? the class slut?

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