Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Truth about Cats and Dogs

Groucho Marx is said to have reviewed a performance by tenor Guido Nazzo saying "Guido Nazzo is nazzo guido." You don't get a chance like that in every lifetime, folks. So I was sort of hoping a few of you would be drunk and not notice if I tried to pawn off "Barasorda is sorda bad-a" on you, but as things turned out, I don't have to, because he was perfectly alright, and got a nice ovation for surviving the world's meanest sentence in a review.*

I mean, it's a shopworn voice, apparently the worse for many years of use, and did I think wistfully about Domingo, a singer I hold in high esteem but do not dote on? Of course I did. I'd like to hear him do it and am the more curious whether he'll get on his pogo stick and hop to it for the broadcast. If not, I've promised to start nasty rumors about vocal crisis among those half-wits on opera-l and usenet who start salivating at the mention of his name, cutting and pasting old posts about how he's never sung a C in his career. Where was I? Barasorda was not Domingo and that's that. I'm not disappointed I heard and saw his take on the role, though it wasn't world class.

Meanwhile, on the same stage, Sondra Radvanovsky made a case for the immediate Fedexing of Joe Volpe's soul to hell for putting her only in three performances of this and then that high school musical about the birds and the bees and the Viennese, and as far as I can tell from the Met Futures page, nothing next season, or was there an Ernani or something? Let's pause a moment for moral outrage. If there were an Oscar for best high note, she could go ahead and thank the academy because that baby was out of the ballpark. (And the Oscar for most egregiously mixed metaphor...) This being only the olive in the martini, really: I won't pretend to know the role at all but I'm having a hard time imagining a better run through it. If I got to design voices, there would be lots like hers, and the thing that knocked me out in the last act is that it's so present down around where you'd think it might fade from hearing.

I'd have a hard time going into much detail about the other singers, who were all dressed as Burger King. It was a little confusing. The set, though, I rather liked. Yes, it falls into that sort of watery category of not entirely traditional but not particularly daring. I just found it thoughtful and consistent and so I suppose stopped worrying about where to file it.

And the work itself? Delightful, conspicuously so: it's a mystery to me why it's not done more often, really. Well paced, imaginative though conservative in its language, maybe better written for the orchestra than the voice. But I had a short, frank talk with Mr. Gelb and any time someone suggests putting on, say, Tales of Hoffman he has been instructed to program this instead.

And then Maury woke up and it had all been a dream.

*"For with all respect, no one wanted him there." and yes, there's more positive context there but I'd still hate to read that about myself. And no, I'm not really jumping into the Tomassini Wars; I read his reviews, find them more or less helpful, and am not really in any position to correct him on things, being something of a dullard.

p.s. I thought so, but I had to google it after I got home: there is a certain adolescent humor in having a character named DeGuiche prancing around your opera, because in America a guiche is also the name of a body piercing in a pretty hilarious/agonizing place.


Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, the Guido Nazzo quote came from Dorothy Parker.

You're right about Barasorda, though, so you're forgiven.

Maury D'annato said...

Howdy Max.
Oh, you see it attributed to various folks, George S. Kaufman also. I imagine it's one of those Round Table witticisms whose provenance we may never know.

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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