Saturday, November 03, 2007

The best at their worst

There's some small, sad fascination in hearing our favorites do things they can't, I'm going to say. This Clemenza currently on Sirius features Troyanos as Sesto, and she just barely made it through "Parto, parto" with her life. A moment of true desperation. Levine could have tossed her a life preserver but for some reason instead chose to barrel along with his hapless star bouncing along on the road behind. It's not a fun listen; you can hear the distress of this famously nervous singer as she approximates the ruthless triplets and gets a breath wherever the hell she can. Just the same I think it enriches one's love of Madame T., the shade that makes the painted apple rounder.

ETA: of course she's wonderful in the rest. And Roberta Alexander is maybe even better. Why was this her last performance at the Met?

Next up in real life: Vanessa! Tomorrow!

11 comments:

Mark said...

Enjoy the Vanessa. It is such a great opera. I saw it in Seattle a few years back and it is one of the best things I ever saw. The canon at the end is such a pretty thing. I play the Steber et al version all the time.

Straussmonster said...

I eagerly await your comments on the Vanessa. I'm looking forward to (hopefully) seeing it again.

Maury D'annato said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maury D'annato said...

Thanks, mark. I am a bit of a fanatic. I have three recordings with Steber! (Studio, Met b'cast, and something from...Salzburg or somewhere? I don't have it right here)

armerjaquino said...

Have you read Steber's autobiography? Quite the broad.

I'm glad to hear someone bigging up Roberta Alexander. I never heard her as Vitellia, but she did some great stuff with Harnoncourt- eg Elvira, Cleopatra, and an extraordinary performance in a Salieri opera called 'Prima la musica, poi le parole' which contains an aria so low-lying it makes 'Non piu di fiori' sound like Zerbinetta.

Maury D'annato said...

Amer: I read it once upon a time. It is a half serious intention of mine to go through Wheeling sometime and send a pilgrimage postcard to the person who converted me to Steberism.

I heard Alexander once, in Act II of Jenufa w/ the Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie. Unfortunately I didn't know the opera very well then and mostly what I remember is the intensity of Silja.

alex said...

Ooo, do share the story of your Steber conversion!

Maury D'annato said...

Alex: it wasn't a conversion per se. I had listened to her Nuits d'Ete at the university (LP!) listening room and liked her, decided the voice was "silvery" long before I largely swore off that kind of talk, and then I kind of didn't think any more about her. My friend, though, was a bit of a fanatic and played other things for me, from a private recording of a long concert in Waco--if I'm remembering correctly, a program much like the Carnegie Hall one--to the bitterly, riotiously tragicomic recital at, y'know, the shvitz. It may or may not have been the same friend who played for me the thing that made me love her maybe most, the Frau Ohne Schatten scenes. It's a story I tell to the point of severe annoyance, I'm sure, but years later, working for one of the least pleasant people on earth, I found a card in my rolodex for Madame Steber. I always kick myself that I didn't swipe it for a souvenir.

stewball said...

I was at a Clemenza di Tito performance in that run, maybe a week before the broadcast, and Troyanos actually turned upstage and coughed in the middle of "Parto, parto", which was kind of harrowing but also sent up a little red flag about the impending triplets. But, as you say, she was perfect everywhere else. I remember particularly the fermata before the restatement of "Deh, per questo" - an example of that special accord she and James Levine had and the sort of moment when you realize every single member of the audience is paying attention to the same thing in the same way. (An apt subject for My Favorite Intermissions I suppose- My Favorite Rests- well that's definitely mine.) Hong created pretty much the same effect in Servilia's little aria. Roberta Alexander was really terrific live- great low notes and just a tiny bit hilarious, as Vitellia must surely always be. I think this was my favorite evening at the Met.

Maury D'annato said...

Stewball: I'm not sure I knew you had heard Troyanos in vivo. Thanks for a glimpse of it.

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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