Of the traditional, 100% representational productions at the Met, I must say Battlestaria Galacticana and Pagliacci are two of my faves. Yes, they indulge in the livestock fetish that has become one of opera's hoary cliches, but they evoke a real sense of place (says me who was in Italy exactly once, at the age of 13, or twice if you count that we flew out of Milan. Fool that I was, I didn't insist on a pilgrimage to weep at the steps of La Scala.) Well, Italy aside, they're nicely lit/lighted and the way the sets hold a crowd avoids some of the "Hi, we're extras. Watch us move our hands" effect. It's one of those productions it's hard to imagine them bothering or indeed having any good reason to replace for a long time. As opposed to things like their Gioconda, which they just won't replace since they practically never do it and in some sense, a new production of Gioconda (and I say this as one much devoted) is like buying a nice new silver chalice to serve Yoo-Hoo in.
The only quasi-substantial comment I have on the performances is that it's difficult to watch Krasimira Stoyanova and fully understand the marketing campaign behind Anna Netrebko. See, she has this neat, somewhat hootily Viennese voice that is pretty malleable, an lively stage manner that, no, doesn't really have the electricity of A.N.*, and she's not bad looking. I know, it sounds like I've just tried to compliment someone's dorky sister, but what I'm trying to say is this is a good, capable, well-endowed, watchable singer who you won't see on a poster in the lobby that says "Stoyanova is Habit-Forming!" which by the way, wasn't that the ad campaign for Nunsense? It's meaningless to compliment her by detracting from someone else, but it popped into my head, and that usually means it's coming to a screen near you pretty soon, unless my internal editor is having a rare sober day.
Licitra was Licitra and much better than in Verdi, at that. The Siciliana, sure, can be sung more prettily, but he's not lacking in heft, and besides, he gets a furlong's handicap for volunteering last minute for an indisposed colleague. The big Pagliacci to-do was dramatic and blustery and, well, better in tune. Zajick remains an extremely gifted singer I can't quite love, but I'm always grateful to a Santuzza who shouts her "Bada!" and "Mala pasqua!" rather than making that uniquely operatic noise that is meant to convey rage but sounds like a vocal warmup of some sort. And the low notes, my god, are not going anywhere. Alfio found Delavan in good voice but somehow out of his element. It's an awkward role...More and more I wonder if that Chicago Parsifal was his zenith or if he just needs to be singing more Wagner. We'll find out, as I think I saw he's on for Wotan somewhere, and soon.
Um, what do you guys think of Ataneli? The theme of today's posting is: I can't make up my mind. Either he's variable or I am. The house received him kindly. Russell Braun gets a pass this time around because I dug him but don't have any useful adjectives for him.
*Yeah, I feel like I'm blowing hot and cold vis-a-vis the Trebazoid as well. That's what you were going to say, right?
In continuing news of always-the-blogmaid-never-the-blogger, I once again was not quoted on the radio!