Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Audition

Maybe I'll do a little liveblogging of this screening copy of The Audition I was kindly sent.

Granted, I'm the ideal audience for this. The auditions are a highlight of my year, and the year documented in the film was probably the best I've attended.

Ok amusingly they just showed one of the singers, I didn't see which, reading The Power of Positive Thinking, because it is 1957. I'm not sure why that makes me laugh, but it's also an extra glimpse of how terrifying it must be to be 25 and see the house from the stage.

Some reasons to watch:

-attaching a face not only to singers you may remember watching in competition, but also to behind-the-scenes Met folks who serve as blank screens onto which crazy opera fans project their frustrations. Like oh hey, there's Peter Gelb and he's not rubbing his hands together going "Who's the skinniest?! I don't CARE who can sing!" as he apparently does in the collective feverish hallucination of many opera loons.

-attaching a non-long-distance face to singers I still recall hearing from fam circ, seeing how they sing in detail (wow Disella Larusdottir's lips shake when she sings high notes! Jesus, Alek Shrader doesn't just have a great headshot and really is that cute!) Getting to hear the traces of regional accents they haven't tamed is also fun.

-Oh, probably a great glimpse at the bowels of the Met if you live far away or just never had that autograph-hound moment in your life where you saw it in person. Also maybe a glimpse of, not to be a dick, that fakey thing singers do around each other where their niceness doesn't always cover their mutual mistrust. [ETA: which Fabiano just acknowledged. He actually spends the least energy of any of the pretending to care heaps and heaps about the others, based on this film, and he comes off a tiny bit unsympathetic for it, but perhaps his honesty ought to earn him some points. Anyway he's 22.]

-Getting to watch singers watch and react to each other's performances. The first time they show Alek Shrader singing the C's, they pan immediately to the other singers, which is hilarious.

It's sort of awful to watch Ryan Smith, of course. If you don't know, he died of lymphoma not too long ago.

Whoops, a Met dramatic coach just said "Opera is moving away from the idea that a voice is all that really that is not to say that voice is not (perhaps) the most important thing," and now the gnashing of teeth begins again. It is poignant, then, to watch Angela Meade, between clips of singing "Casta diva' and talking about her love of Callas and Caballe also acknowledging her own fear of the what are we calling it, new focus on visuals.

Did one female singer just say "go back to a drag bar and learn more"? Because that would make me laugh and maybe slightly want to buy her a drink. But I'm guessing that's not what she said.

Heh, I wonder if they should have done a little subtitle explaining lip trills. It's making me laugh. The first time I saw singers doing lip trills I was very WTF.

Ok they're completely saving "Pour mon ame" as the money shot, though some of that is just where it happened in the program. As much fun as it is to watch A.S. realize he is going to nail the Cs, it's also perhaps a little sad to see the documentary not focus at all on a couple of the other singers. Only so much time and all.

Total voyeurism to watch the judging.

And we get a "One Year Later" postlude, which is exactly what you don't get at the auditions or even after unless you're obsessive and track these folks. They're a little bit press-packety, but gratifying nonetheless. And of course by now they're another year old, leaving up to you and me and Google to figure out Where They Are Now.

You know, it would have made a lot more sense to post this yesterday. Because the theatrical presentation was today. But presumably it will be released on DVD. In which case, yeah, I recommend it.

Ok since this is the least substantial thing ever, I'll do a little of the footwork on Where Are They Now, how's that?

From the CAMI website, "The brilliant lyric tenor Alek Shrader made his San Francisco Opera mainstage debut this season, replacing an indisposed Ramon Vargas as Nemorino in two performances of L’Elisir d’Amore." From my neurotic skull: I wish he still had the floppy bangs no longer in evidence on his head shot.

From Laifer Artist Management, Michael Fabiano sang Rinnuccio at La Scala (as alluded to in the film), sang Rodolfo in Kansas City and Pinkerton in Colorado and Jesus Christ must be 24 now or 25. I don't like to play favorites at the auditions but I would really like to hear him. He impressed me a lot.

Angela Meade's website says she was scheduled to sing Elisabetta in Devereux in Dallas but I'm wondering if that happened since Dallas Opera's website lists Papian and I'm having trouble finding other reference to it. She's at Caramoor this summer in Semiramide and she did make her real Met debut in Ernani when, er, what was the story? Did Radvan cancel? "Our own" Hans Lick wrote it up as a fairly bumpy start but by the end, says he, "suddenly we’re across the border into Verdiland: a full-sized deep and even spinto of great beauty with good top and great passion."

Amber Wagner seems to be in Chicago's young artist program still? I'm having a little trouble telling. Her Myspace page has a "Tacea la notte" I think from Lyric's summer concert in Grant Park that reminds me what an impression her voice made at the auditions concert. It sounds like maybe she's going to be short on top and then she isn't. It's live and really quite good.

Hey doesn't Kiera Duffy remind you of the girl who calls Mena Suvari "a total prostitute" in American Beauty? Anyway she's with IMG which is kind of a big deal, right? And she seems to have done some interesting stuff like Boulez and Elliot Carter.

Matthew Plenk you heard from offstage if you went to Tristan last season. He's in Lindemann, and you know what? I think I am now crossing the line from "skimpy write-up" to "someone shut him up," so I'm going to trail off here. I'm sure the singers I skipped will somehow bear the ignominy of not being mentioned on My Favorite Intermissions. If you know something fabulous one of the singers has gone on to do, drop me a line. All I've got left to write about this season is Gotterdammerung.


alex said...

Mmm, thanks for blogging your thoughts on this. I have a lot of difficulty getting into this sort of thing as it hits certain nerves that became exposed at some point while being a singer and voice student.

I've missed your blogging. More please :)

Maury D'annato said...

Thanks, Alex. I just never feel much like it anymore, plus I haven't been going to as much, I think. Am I right about the really superficial collegiality among young singers?

Aaron said...

check out kiera singing the pants off some salonen in NY:

alex said...

Hey, Maury -- I know how that goes. Just know that when you do blog, people read and like it.

I'm led to believe that about young singers too, but I haven't seen it much (if at all) at Peabody, which I think is by design through efforts of the voice faculty. It certainly wouldn't surprise me of the general truth of the statement because the violin department is completely that way.

Anonymous said...

"Fabiano just acknowledged. He actually spends the least energy of any of the pretending to care heaps and heaps about the others"apparently, Fabiano is not here to make friends.