…but the thing is, there’s little to say about the music that I haven’t said already, and the only thing worse than Maury typing is Maury retyping. So first, more idiot musings about the event itself, and then Capriccio, how’s that? Oh I will say one thing about the Traviata, though, which is that it’s kind of a relief they went somewhere awkward with Mr. Hampson’s hair, because nothing could fuck up the dynamic of that act faster than Germont pere being, well, I think the French acronym might mean Germont pere being a PQJVF, but maybe acronym-based humor isn’t the best idea to begin with. Also minor humor in his and John Hancock’s apparent tallness contest with the ever-splended Vargas a very distant runner up, but what of it?
Anyway, the Proceedings. The Fordham plaza jumbotroncast worked out nicely, on the whole. We ended up retreating to the lobby on account of cold winds and lack of sartorial foresight, but it’s a different and somewhat rewarding way to take in a performance. As expected, much in evidence was one of the underreported shortages during the Soviet Era, that being vaccination against inappropriate chatter, but it wasn’t drastically worse in the house with the exception of an ANSWERED cell phone call. If it had happened during “Amami, Alfredo” there was about to be a reverse pogrom starring me, but it didn’t turn out that way.
We lingered by the red carpet for a spell and, as you possibly already read, saw a few starry stars and a number of skeletons draped in fabric who got lots of attention (the way of the world, I’m afraid.) Helen Mirren looked swell and Martha Stewart looked gorgeous. You know, it didn’t have the same giddy air as two years ago, when opening night leapt from being “when they let those people back out onto the streets” to something glamorous, but it’s still fun to feel like you’ve run into your pal Martha at the opera. Call me, Martha! We’ll do Wagner!
By the time we got over to the plaza, Susan Graham was interviewing Nico Muhly who I imagined to be a little frightened by his surroundings, but whose hair had the studied messiness many of us will spend a lifetime striving for. He’s quite a good sport, that one. Later on we’d catch some footage of Voigt talking to Penny Woolcock in Times Square, and Voigt (it will not be so surprising to hear) is the more natural talkshow host. Graham ended up kind of playing Opera-L “what are your five favorite Verdi operas” games with NM at one point. Voigt seems destined or doomed to inherit the mantle of Sills in some non-vocal sense.
Oh, and they have those perverse portraits of a number of the season’s distaff lovelies, and I can only imagine said portraits are deeply unfunny to the subjects. You can’t help but wonder what the same artist would make of, say, Salvatore Licitra.
Wish I could comment more on Manon but by that time we were listening under less than ideal conditions. The Varg did, as far as I could tell, his usual immaculate thing in the St. Sulpice hoedown, maybe the top’s leatherier than it used to be? And then it was time for Capriccio in almost its ideal form. One would love to hear it presented as the sextet, the sonnet as sung by the tenor, and then right to the Schlußszene, but barring that, just the Schluß will do.
I have been underwhelmed by RF in this music on at least one occasion. In this instance, she nailed it. Somehow without the benefit of a whole evening to burrow her way into Madeleine, she nonetheless found in the big number, Madeleine’s Turn if you will, the elusive balance of intelligence and nostalgia to make the character nicht trivial. Text was pointed but not flogged. The line that took me by surprise was “ich will eine Antwort”—just short of melodrama, which at times is exactly the right place for a phrase to land. From my vantage there was actual demented going on, right down to her exit. If her Manon remains a cipher, her Madeleine is as surely a triumph, or was tonight.
In eight short hours, I will be staring down cool Nordic