I was just thinking about that time I was blogging Mazeppa (and they say there are no original utterances!) and requested a new rule whereby I get a dollar for every minute the scrim is down during an opera production. Kind of a refund from the lyric muse or the universe more generally for making me experience my art as if through a giant pair of nylons--say what you will about my effete prose style; I was only in hose one ill advised Halloween and I did not wear them over my head. It just doesn't make for a good view. Actually in retrospect I wish I had known that Halloween to kindly phrased suggestions that I'm a little horsey looking in drag by saying the look I was going for was Simionato by way of Theda Bara. That would have made me seem cunning instead of just fugly.
Where the hell was I?
Scrims. Right. Well if I had made that particular financial arrangement with the right people I'd say drinks are on me, but it was only in my head. Like so much else, you will be thinking. There is in fact not a moment when the veil is lifted from City Opera's venerable and somewhat likeable production of Die Tote Stadt. Much beloved production, I should say. So I've heard, and I kind of get it. It's fanciful and has a point of view. It's also pretty liberal with the gouda, I must opine. It is of its era in the way Lincoln Center is; you kind of have to love it as a mother would. All the film footage is pretty while entirely ham-fisted, etc. And there's something about a scrim, beyond my visual testiness about the way it makes me feel removed from the experience, that seems to justify other vagueness. Like the way the production gets called Freudian in that meaningless way, and nobody says, "what exactly is Freudian about it?" Or the fact that that isn't a lute but a mandolin, I don't know.
It's a wonderful opera, and I'm glad to have gotten to see it, and I'm puzzled that the Met (unless this is my blunder-of-the-day) hasn't done it since Jeritza asked for it. Jonathan suggested Mattila might be wonderful as Marietta, and I agree.* Susan B. Anthony fell short ofwonderful, somewhere in the fine to good range. Does her voice remind anyone else a little of Behrens? Without the temperament, I'm afraid, but some of that interesting craggy quality around the edges that I do genuinely value in a time of many processed and homogenized sounding soprano voices. Dan Chamandy was about on par, warming up toward the end into quite a ballsy, indelicate sound. I think his could be a useful voice. Seriously, truly, I am not being cunty when I say he'd be outstanding in heldensqueak stuff like Mime. Weston Hurt was in fine form indeed until the went and shot him. (Other scrim issue: as in Mazeppa, there was a moment where he was supposed to appear, an apparition, with a bullet hole in his forehead, as if to announce that death is "Schlechter als die Hahnchen bei Kreskes." Yes, that's right, we here at My Favorite Intermissions occasionally crack idiotic inside jokes for the benefit of exactly one person. Anyway you could hardly see the deadly wound from our stage-near seats, so I'm guessing elsewhere it was invisible.)
On another level altogether there was the exciting debut (?) of Keith Phares. Shut up, I'm totally talking about his voice. Fine, yes, he's also dreamy. But even so, I'm sure I'm not hearing with my loins when I say his reading of Pierrot's Tanzlied was exemplary. I meant to tell you what he has coming up, only I can't for the life me find my program.
This is the problem with reviewing a couple of days later: things fade and disappear. I'm going to have to stop there, and feel my account is sketchy. Next up: as the Magic 8 ball used to say, ask again later. Maybe Gioconda. Here at the beginning of the season it's harder to go to opening nights because they're all kind of piled up and you'd have to quit your job. If you know any dowagers looking for an heir, I'll consider it, but barring dowagers, I gots to make the donuts. Time to look around the blogroll and see if there's much news of Gioconda or Idomeneo--though I'm waiting for the other cast for that one.
*my first asterisk of the season and surely not my last: we had a tougher time casting Paul. Klaus Florian Vogt perhaps?
current listening: Callas as Ifigenia in 1957. It's heaven, actually.