Monday, February 13, 2006

Well, dog my cats!

DOGME 2006 Manifesto of Opera Blogging

1) I shall not describe voices in terms of food, unless in a spirit of blatant absurdism. "Ms. Mentzer's mezzo is a heady mix of starfruit and bliny, her top redolent of ham hocks and Big Red soda." Yeah, no idea why I picked Mentzer except in mentioning her name I get to think about her singing.

2) I shall not describe voices in terms of jewelry, precious metals, semi-precious stones. Nobody sounds like diamonds set in steel any more than she sounds like orthoclase set in ruthenium. It occurs to me I read "diamonds set in steel" somewhere recently so if it's yours, sorry for the potshot.

ETA: I begin to think the reason people read me in such, ehm, medium-sized numbers is to watch me be humorously wrong, sort of like why we watch the State of the Union Address only without the body count. The apologies here are due to Stephen Holden, and the phrase is "diamonds set in silver."

3) I shall not confuse an exacting, quasi-religious epistemology of fach for having something to say about a voice. One of you out there knows exactly what example I'm going to use in my theoretical non-DOGME-compliant review: "Norman should not have sung the role of Salome even on record, as she is not a jugendlich-dramatisch but quite obviously a Falcon."

Oh gosh, that's all I've come up with so far. Am I leaving out any clunkers? We've all seen the threads on opera-l about staging trends that must die--if memory serves, some deservedly popular choices were staging the overture, sopranos spinning around as they pop out a high note, and my own contribution: Big Tall Menacing Shadows. So I'm just saying there are some reviewing trends that make me a little nutsy. That's all. If anyone needs me, I'll be in my room.

Oh but before I go, have you checked out the little sister to Unnatural Acts of Opera? Our hostess sports yet another operanym I find awfully funny in its excess: Stella Maria Krazelberg von und zu Brabant, and the latest podcast is here. Meanwhile did you read Alex's rather gratifying tirade against the "let's dress it up as pop music and see if anyone comes" trend that looks likely to dominate the first years of the Gelb regime?


Anonymous said...

When all Tommassini hears are shining sopranos, dusky mezzos, robust baritones, and stentorian basses, and Bernard Holland just rates singers as "excellent" and "good" I'm grateful for the more evocative adjectives I'm able to read elsewhere. My personal favorite, deliciously understated, occurs in Irving Kolodin's A Guide to Recorded Music (1941). He is not familiar with the soprano whose recording he listened to but "her voice suggests that its owner might be pretty."

Maury D'annato said...

Well, don't get me wrong, anonymous, I like adjectives other than dusky and robust, and I hope I use plenty. Some just strike me as over the top and inaccessibly abstract. Also I'm not going to the opera for at least a week and needed some shit to write about.

rysanekfreak said...

I find nothing wrong with reading something like "Verrett was a soaring Falcon with strips of bleeding Domingo flesh clinging to her diamond-sharp beak as she ripped the rotten purple Meyerbeer drapes with her once-bel canto talons, which were, of course, the easy victors over Placido's caramel pudding high notes."

I'm sure I read that somewhere.

Ariadne said...

"Ms. Mentzer's mezzo is a heady mix of starfruit and bliny, her top redolent of ham hocks and Big Red soda." That had me laughing so hard I couldn't make a sound, I just laughed for DAYS!

Nobody, but nobody on this planet writes like you, Maury, and that's a great thing! Besides, look what you've started. [rysanekfreak's genius whole bleeding Domingo flesh, rotten purple Meyerbeer drapes and the carmel pudding high notes!]

Then again, there's always the car-voice analogy route to explore. For instance, I once had my singing voice described as "a Mack truck made by Porsche!" [the speaker supplied the exclamation mark, not me]. SOmeone please tell us singers, now, what in God's name am I supposed to do with THAT?

[ps don't look now but la cieca ripped into Tommassini for his use of adjectives, one in particular, i think it was ... oh yes, "strapping". They got alotta mileage out of counting how many times he used that word!]