Started to manufacture a thorough opinion on the Costello debut (not debut, but y'know) heard only on Sirius by me, but I think it's been soundly dished at Parterre. I suppose my opinion in briefest brief is that it sounded like a little bit of a stretch but as a one-off I enjoyed his performance very much indeed.
I ought to say something about Massis, though, having heard her now once on air and once in house. The only interesting thing I have to say (and by interesting I mean "slightly fucked") is about the mad scene with and without flute. Oh and it's not about the singing, so whoops. So here's my crackpot theory: one of the great successes of Dessay's mad scene was the absence of flute. "And why is that so great?" you fail to ask, which I ignore. Because by doing this, she pulled a fast one and made 90% of the audience know what it's like to hear things that aren't actually there to be heard, which is to say she shared with us in the smallest way the experience of madness. Didn't you kind of feel unsettled during the blank spots? And feel like you were hearing the old flute line, and then feel for a moment like singing it back at her? And maybe stabbing someone? So it was an operatic folie-a-douzaines.
No but Massis did a commendable turn, and created a wholly different interpretation without being what I imagined she would be, the other half of a "demented, but the voice is fraying" duality in which she's "pretty chirping, but doesn't this thing have a plot?" None of that. She's a good actress, particularly adept at the backward cower, and some of the acting (in a distinction I find increasingly central to my enjoyment of the art) takes place in the voice. And for all you Stimmhounds out there, she hangs on to the high notes 'til the crazy Scottish cows come home. Covered in blood. Whoops, runaway figure of speech. It's not so substantial an instrument as to be heard clearly in ensembles, but she doesn't sound lost in the Big House, either. Um, the Met I mean. Not jail. If they had lots of money to lose (because I don't think that many people like Lakme much, but I've ruined the surprise of where this sentence is going) they ought to put on, uh huh, Lakme for her, though as my kind host at the Lucia said: over Dessay's dead body.
Your moment of Podles: Madame was, one hears, applauded after her first note in rehearsal for Ballo by the HGO orchestra. Fortunate Houston to hear her twice this season while we in New York hear her only in fond memory of concerts past.
In news of the operoblogosphere, JSU is back from a few weeks of quiet with the unavoidable truth, and the opera blog called Opera Blog is tentatively scheduled to come back on the air. Me, I don't have much coming up until Aida, and if the Radames turns out to be Farina, I can only honor my opera-going partner-in-crime's resolution:
1) I will never again be in the same opera house as Franco Farina.