I feel like I should post about things that feel like a steal on itunes--this one time (at band camp) someone, maybe Chalkers, posted that they had put up the entire Italian-language studio William Tell for $9.99, and though I've never listened to it, it felt great buying it. It's a four disc-er.
So, there are two complete Zerbinetta scenes you can get for a buck even though the scene is usually 11+ minutes and so "see album." And they're both old and scritchy, which means good, right?
#1: Lea Piltti, a Finn, I think. Pretty average, weak and vibratoless at the very top, better trill than most Zerbinetten. Charm factor: more the tweety-bird Zerb than the, yeah, some proponents are alluring and even complex. Dessay, it is said, gave meaning to each little trill and roulade, though I missed her in the role--the run I showed up for, she did not, and we got the perfectly ok and, the heterosexuals tell me, way cute Lubov Petrova, who does a lot of utility duty at the Met these does, doesn't she? Piltti is rhythmically pert, but not memorable. The list of her conquests is delivered more like casual 6th grade gossip than the self-amused confession of a world-class coquette. Still, hey, a dollar. What costs a dollar these days, other than [mean, mean, mean. deleted.]
#2: Joanna Kern. Wait, that's the mom on Growing Pains. Adele Kern. That's better. Well above average. Fuller tone, more variety of expression. It's a little effortful in the acuti, and the voice catches a bit here and there, trill is maybe fakey, but this is unquestionably a better sing. There are notes she leans into like an Italian lyric, and they're much appreciated. The highest arpeggio, just before "als ein Gott" is the only place she truly shows her hand, effort-wise. The D in the rondo is sort of crappy, then she rescues it for the second syllable, so to speak, and it's brilliant. The C then fails to spin, but "stumm, stumm" is sung with a curtsey and a shrug, as it ought to be always.
Now when will coat-pocket live recordings start popping up on itunes? Probably never. It's just I really want bits of the Mesple-Troyanos-(Crespin).* My god, have you heard Mesple in the role? Put aside the fact that she sounds like she could sing it up an octave and you are left with the dumbfounding fact that une francaise feels this role of an Italian character singing in German as librettified by an Austrian better than anyone, including the Slovak and the African-American. See, Zerbinetta is yet another character who can be sung as just a minx, but it's far better when she's not. As embodied by Mady, she's smart and laughs at herself a little. Combined with Troyanos' transparently high strung Komponist, and it's just about ideal. I'm pretty sure you can see it on youtube, actually. Flickery, but divine.
*Sorry NYC Opera Fanatic, if you're reading. She's just falling-apart bad on this one.