Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A moment of live-blog agony

Oh, that c sharp. That did not bode well. We here at My Favorite Intermissions are, in the spirit of daring inspired by Parterre's call on Levine, going to lay good odds on Kunde bowing out at intermission. Is there a cover for the cover? [D'oh! Wrong as usual!]

Also I'm ready to declare this not Netrebko's rep because the passagework is not entirely working out and the first high note of the evening was definitely iffy, but she sure sounds pretty in the simple lyric moments.

Ok and the bass singing Ah per sempre (if I'm not mixing up my wholly interchangeable bel canto arias): that was a lesson in what bel canto style is not. That is to say, I Puritani is not by Mascagni.

Not heart-broken about not having gone to this. Will update later, no doubt. Having a bit of a compulsive writing day.

Ok and Son Vergin is sounding perfectly adequate, and no high note. Hm. Yeah, sorry, it sounds idiotic to yelp "No e flat! No e flat!" except it's I Puritani, so it's kind of part of the package.

And then John Relyea shows up to save the day, singing a very pretty "Cinta di Fiori"...

Qui la voce: droopy in that pretty, dreamy late Sutherland way. Vien diletto: a little bit droopy in the not so good way, i.e. approximate, but very pleasant to listen to. E flat? Long, solid, and perhaps a shade flatter than intended? Someone tell me if I'm wrong, Netrebko always sounds pitchy to me. Crowd: loving her.

A bunch of what leads up to Vieni was quite heart-breaking. It seemed like Kunde was trying super-hard to sound younger and prettier, and it wasn't happening. And then the duet itself was sort of ok, and the f was weird, as it must be, but not bad and not wholly falsetto.

And then, I just can't put sugar on it, there was a howl of desperation from Netrebko to end the opera that just, ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Blekh. What can I say to convey the wrongness of that note? But you know what? I'm giving her points for trying it. Without that kind of chutzpah we wouldn't have had the e flat in the Callas Mexico City Aida. It could have been a triumph, if it hadn't been a fiery freeway accident.

Is it time to put Puritani back into the crate for another twenty years, or fifty?

17 comments:

leonora, la bella voce said...

No showcase for Netrebko. Kunde seems to struggle. ah well...

Oberon said...

Pathetic. The opera is cut to shreds. The singing is graceless. Kunde should sing Canio. Netrebko has no dynamics, is off-pitch, snatches unwanted breaths. She screamed her way thru "Vieni al tempio" and got a sort of mini-ovation for her 'can belto' style. I guess the audience is falling for the hype and not really listening...

Burns said...

Yes, the fioritura is very casual. But I love the way she sounds when she soars over the ensembles (something that happens rather a lot in Puritani). Kunde started off pretty good, I thought, but seems to have lost all confidence.

Burns said...

Ah, for once we disagree. Relyea's a big bore in my book. And that aria's a bore unless the singer is able to invest that barcarolle feeling into the melody (listen to Pinza!)

Maury D'annato said...

Fair enough. Relyea is extremely tasteful, and tasteful is a word that can skew to the good or the bad.

Oberon said...

E-flat was flat; the crowd is trying desperatly to turn this into the 'big night' that the hype is telling us it's supposed to be.

Anya veers from sharp to flat, sometimes in the same phrase.

Crowd loving her? Russian Mafia?

FRCohn said...

I don't think it's quite fair to take Netrebko to task for leaving out the high e-flat in "son vergin." To give her the benefit of the doubt, you could even argue that she sang it that way out of a sense of historical correctness. The practice of ending a bel canto aria on the tonic in alt is strictly a latter-day accretion: No singer of Bellini's time would ever have countenanced it. Too often, today's singers regard these notes as integral to a role--viz, Swenson's Puritani of a few years back, with screamed out acuti that did nothing for Bellini, and only revealed the soprano's shredded top.

PietB said...

I vote for fifty . . .

Maury D'annato said...

frcohn: fair enough, and I meant to acknowledge that. I guess I was primed to notice because Netrebko mentioned the acuti in her interview. That's my excuse, anyway. Certainly the note at the very end was something I'd have happily done without. The whole thing just felt disappointing, but a very large building full of people disagreed with me, so...what can I say?

FRCohn said...

Listening on my kitchen boombox (while frying bacon), it didn't do much for me either, I gotta say. But before you put down Puritani altogether, I recommend some quality time with the Callas recording. Or (much as I hate to say it!) the 2nd Sutherland. I really think it's a beautiful opera.

Stewball said...

I thought Relyea's aria lovely as well. In retrospect it may be because this was the five minutes where I wasn't feeling just a little bit nervous, and that's surprising given his announced indisposition. We're taught that works of this sort are meant to provoke pity and terror, but I think maybe that's supposed to be exclusively for the characters.

meretrice i. d'oscena said...

Maury-
Thanks for taking the baritone to task for barking 'Ah per sempre'.
Back when Callas and Sutherland and the rest were reviving these things, it may have been near impossible to find men schooled in bel canto technique (the Rossini Figaros back then-- gag).
But what excuse is there today?
At the Met?
If someone says "We just don't have the voices to do Tristan or Forza anymore" everyone nods in sad agreement, but why the hell can't the Met do top to bottom good Bellini/Donizetti?

Of course, no one cares if the baritone has to bark his cavatina and omit the cabaletta-- the only thing anyone wants to hear from the men is "Suoni la tromba" and it better be sung by Aida-sized voices.

All of these comments about razkrasavitsa Netrebochka make me wonder why she didn't ask for a Faust instead.

Maury D'annato said...

Yeah, actually before the Caramoor Puritani I thought of it as an opera I kind of liked because of the Callas recording. Not that I ever knew it back and forth, but I had fond thoughts. Even the generally enjoyable performance at Caramoor with its excellent tenor (Banks), marvellous bass-baritone (Mobbs), and basically very good soprano (Jo) left me feeling like it was mostly filler around the few good arias. I'll revisit it at some point. Different music has different seasons for me.

Stewball: I know where you're coming from about the nervousness...

meretrice i. d'oscena said...

Filler around a few good arias-- you may have described half the cannon.

Poor Mr. Kunde-- I have the Lakme that he's on, as well as the Rossini 'Armida' with you-know-who early-ish in her carrer. He sang just fine then-- was he sick last night or did the big room freak him out (I've heard that happens a lot at the Met)?

rysanekfreak said...

It was dreadful. The opera was cut to shreds. The tenor, soprano, and baritone let loose with high notes that sent my cats hiding in terror behind the hot water heater.

Just because Kunde hit something loudly in the "Credeasi misera" does not make it Art. Entertainment, perhaps, but not Art. I wonder if Missy even listened to a recording of the Freni performance to see how one can sing the role without possessing stratospheric high notes or rapid accurate coloratura skills. Naw...she was probably too busy at the fashion emporia trying to score free rags.

I hope Cutler shows up for next week's webcast.

The word verification thingy is making me type in "oofbitzi." That sort of sums up the performance, doesn't it? "Some of those high notes they tried were just a little too oofbitzi for my taste."

Oberon said...

On the posters outside the Met, Cutler's name is covered up. Or at least it was yesterday.

Anonymous said...

by accident, I went looking on the internets for a crazy italo-argentine lady by the name of Maria Malatesta CalabrĂ² because I had seen an equally crazy youtube of this 80+ year old soprano barreling through Ah, dirais-je, maman.

wouldn't you know she has her own website and a gorgeously and suavely sung Qui la voce and vien diletto. It's sadly with piano accompaniment, but it's pretty great listening.

http://www.mariamalatestacalabro.it/mc-ascolti.html