Monday, October 23, 2006

Regina per un Giorno

For years I went around saying I had heard Voigt's first and last Salome, that being her unstaged reading at Tanglewood, so I assumed. Seriously, people simply started dropping dead from how tiresome I was about it. I did consider myself lucky, for though it had lacked some of the gleeful, icky intensity of her perfs of the closing scene with the Philharmonic, it had made up for it by 1) being the whole opera, and 2) having that wonderful supporting cast of Heldencreep Kenneth Riegel (demented, brilliant) and laser-voiced Jane Henschel, whose failure to appear more stateside is a continuing source of disappointment.

Salome, it seemed to me, addressed exactly what was lacking in certain Voigt-abends. She really wasn't kidding, maybe, when she sang that novelty song in her recitals about the drudgery of singing noble, suffering Wagner heroines. It's a knack you either have or don't, and despite the great fit of the voice in many of those roles, there really was a little something missing, a kind of failure to crawl into the role. It's not Ms. Voigt's fault she's more fun than tragic. And it's no more her fault than yours or mine that there are no comic roles written for her voice type.

Barring comic heroines, it has always seemed to me, the next best fit for her would be characters who are to some greater or lesser extent fucked in the head. Elektra one day, maybe? I had hoped. In the days when the internet was slightly less filled with mouth-breathers and Voigt, the first online diva, was able to answer her own email, I actually asked her about Elektra and she said: probably not. I'm still kind of hoping. Her Chrysothemis remains on my obsessively maintained list of the five or so assumptions of any role I heard in the house that I consider without flaw and don't hope to hear bettered. (Play your cards right and I won't list the others.)

And then there's Salome, who is in fact here and there funny, if you're listening for it. Maybe it's me; I always get a chuckle out of the line "So, this prophet, is he...old?" She has a better list of qualities for DV than all those sob-sister spintos. Compare it to the Forza Leonora, essentially a musical episode of Queen for a Day. As Salome you get to be flirtatious, deranged, imperious, homicidal, and so on, and then you get to be crushed to death under a bunch of shields. This last one just doesn't happen in Italian opera, though I wish it would in Forza, actually, long about Act I, to every single character. Rataplan, rataplan, Mann tooooooote dieses Weib! [squish!]

And here's the part where I admit I'm not about to review her Salome because I didn't see it. I'm just flapping my gums. Reviews are starting to roll in, though, and they're unanimously full of praise for the Debster. I know the Wellsungs went, so you can bet one or both will blog it up. All I'm really saying is I hope they'll split the next Met run between her and Mattila.

Unrelated:

Dear itunes,

Your classical listings are a fucking disaster. Did it occur to you I might want to know the name of more than one singer per track? Like maybe if you have this album full of tracks of Melchior in Wagner, maybe I'd be curious who the soprano singing the Dawn Duet with good old Lauritz is? Because, oh I don't know, it's a duet?

No love,
Maury

6 comments:

Willym said...

Maury - you want to know how dumb I-Tunes can really be?

On the track listing for the new South Pacific they have a song called: C**k Eyed Optomist.

Guess some little bible thumbing twink does know that cockeyed is a) one word b) a perfectly innocent word c) their ass from a cock in the eye!

Paul said...

Maury - Examples abound in broadcast music where information is sadly lacking, or wrong. The audio opera channel on Comcast Cable TV often describes impossible pairings - like the "Otello" love duet supposedly sung by Price and Berganza. Ummm, no.

And Willym: I laughed about your "Bible-thumping twink" comment for many minutes after I read it, although I'm pretty sure it's "optimist." Those are the same sort of people who stupidly get offended when you use the word "niggardly" to mean cheap, which it does.

b. said...

The bible thumping twink of iTunes runs on autopilot, it seems, off a preset list of keywords. I refer you to the Mass in B Minor, and the C*m Sancto Spiritu. Now there's a curious axis of signifiers...

Maury D'annato said...

All sort of hilarious. Does it have the little "explicit lyrics" warning by these items?

Willym said...

sorry Paul I knew it was optimist just the fingers weren't typing what the brain should know...

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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