Monday, March 27, 2006

Metropolitan Opera National Council Grand Finals Concert

Writing up the Met Council is a rather different assignment, I think, than opera reviewing. Assignment, he says, as if he were Roz Russell and Cary Grant had just said, "Hildy, that Metropolitan Opera has story written all over it!" Anyway I certainly don't go in with my poison pen in hand; everyone that's made it to this stage is an accomplished singer in one way or another, though some will be more succesful than others, and that's the way things go. I find it poignant that this may be what some remember as their moment in the spotlight, and I don't find myself in the world's most critical mood. I will say that this year's slate of singers were more about potential for me than present excitement, compared with last year's singers some of whom seemed a bit more...finished. It occurs to me I wrote about them folks under an entirely different operanym and maybe will try and wrest that text from Nikk over at Trill and print it here.

The concert is really about showing up with friends, comparing notes on who you think should win, affecting some air of shock if they don't, and enjoying the casual air of the event. I guess if I went and thought someone was truly awful, I'd just not mention their particular performance*, and nobody was awful or even bad, so can I please stop hedging now and write about the damned thing?

1. Nikki Einfeld of Canada
Selection I preferred and what I thought about it: The Willow Song from Baby Doe. Warm and distinctive tone, natural stage presence without movements born of nervous agitation.
What I'd like to hear her in: probably Mozart. Maybe more 20th century music.
What I think would add to the Nikki Einfeld Experience: a little clearer diction in English would solidify my impression of a singer very interested in the character behind the notes.

2. Paul Corona of Illinois
Preferred selection: La Calunnia. Nice heft in the middle, youthful comic energy. If he sounds this good at 22, the best is yet to come.
What I'd like to hear him in: More Rossini for now, and there's time to grow into things like Verdi.
What would add to the Paul Corona Experience: Time, and beefing up the lower part of the voice.

3. Holli Harrison of Tennesee
Preferred selection: L'atra notte from Mefistofele. I shall unabashedly call the top "thrilling" because the word popped into my head while she was singing. Sounds like she could be convinced to cut loose and give us some demented.
What I'd like to hear her in: Verismo.
What would add to the Holli Harrison Experience: I'd like to know if there's more dynamic variation available, especially on the high notes.

4. Seth Keeton of Georgia
Preferred selection: hard to choose, because Claggart's aria fit the voice better but it was just such a treat that he chose "Wie schoen ist doch die Musik" from Schweigsame Frau for one of his offerings. "Thoughtful" is a word that came to mind for his delivery, and I hope I don't need to say that's a big deal.
What I'd like to hear him in: lieder, Britten in a jewelbox house like Glimmerglass.
What would add to the Seth Keeton Experience: A hall better matched to the size of the voice.

5. Donovan Singletary of Florida
Preferred selection: Sorge infausta una procella from Orlando. Impeccable articulation without the tinny early music voice that frequently accompanies it. Incidentally, rather striking headshot, I can't help but say.
What I'd like to hear him in: more Handel, please. Bellini?
What would add to the Donovan Singletary Experience: A more introverted approach to things like Figaro that can go a little over the top if you're not careful.

6. Katherine Jolly of California
Preferred selection: Durch Zaertlichkeit from Abduction/Seraglio. No fear or hesitation in the highest range, which is solid and precise in intonation.
What I'd like to hear her in: I'm thinking we might have a very funny and accurate Cunegonde here.
What would add to the Katherine Jolly Experience: a bit more trust in the voice to convey charm without quite so much frenetic physicality.

7. John Michael Moore of Iowa
Preferred selection: Ein Madchen oder Weibchen, which is a shock since normally it makes me want to run screaming from the theater. The little bit of staging at the very end was actually hilarious. If you were there, you'll know what I'm talking about, but it doesn't retell well. Sonically, a well schooled voice in the mold of Nathan Gunn.
What I'd like to hear him in: Less annoying Mozart. I'm betting Guiglielmo would be a dream, funny and vocally suave.
What would add to the John Michael Moore experience: A bit more punch to the voice; don't know if this was a matter of nerves or the basic quality of it.

8. Marjorie Owens of Virginia
Preferred selection: D'oreste, D'ajace from Idomeneo. Sung with guts at no cost to the Mozart line.
What I'd like to hear her in: Donna Anna for sure, possibly Strauss as the voice has some real muscle.
What would add to the Marjorie Owens experience: A bit of abandon, the courage to hurl the more declamatory lines in the Consul aria out a little less prettily.

Hopefully these don't seem cursory. I was a bit of a wreck when I got in.

Simon O'Neill and Margaret Jane Wray did the halftime show. She's got an enviable instrument but I sometimes think what the hell can you do with Dich Teure Halle. And (we all have bad days) she fumbled on the climactic note. He sounded excellent in "In Fernem Land." JSU, who seems to be back from hiatus, speculates that he's covering Lohengrin, and as I am never able to get very revved about Heppner though I kind of recognize objectively he's a high quality tenor, I have to say I wouldn't mind if Hep had a cold one night.

*unfortunately I was riding my bronco back from the Wild West Ring that wasn't and missed Jonathan Beyer, so I can't write about him, but I heard he was one of the best of the bunch, actually. I couldn't really have judged well anyway, since I tend to find Papageno's suicide aria puts ideas in my head.


Anonymous said...

Simon O'Neill!

Maury D'annato said...

Oh crap. Dennis O'Neill may or may not be the lead singer of egregious pop band Styx. Everyone do a shot!

meretrice i. d'oscena said...

I'd like to ask: what makes one feel most like the Marschallin at the end of Act I?
-A younger sibling turns 30?
-An ex adopts a child?
-or Holli Harrison, whom one knew (slightly) in school back here in Tennessee, singing in the Met finals.

Right now, as Meretrice looks forward to a rehearsal of Berlioz's 'Te Deum' at church, she's thinking that last one.

...wie alles ,sich auflöst, wonach wir greifen, alles zergeht wie Dunst und Traum.

sigh.... and I didn't even remember to kiss him goodbye.

Hey, lakai, bring me a drink.

Maury D'annato said...

Oh, to hell with wistfulness and regret. I'll see your "didn't remember to kiss him goodbye" and raise you "I forgot to give him the axe!"

Princess Alpenrose said...

Something about the early part of this post made me briefly think of a group of people getting together in, say Revolution era France with, say, a red & white checkered picnic blanket, a slab of Gruyere, a crusty French loaf and a good Merlot to take in the heady sights, sounds & smells of the carnival atmosphere, whilst laying a few ladylike & gentlemanly bets on ... the day's sacrifices at the Guillotine! Ugh.

But fortunately that brief impression was immediately cancelled out in the mini-reviews. Those are surprisingly easy & good benchmarks to apply to singers in this or any competition, and I'd say (not having been there) you judged them with fairness and your usual & highly entertaining/memorable verbal finesse.

meretrice i. d'oscena said...

Forgive my maudlin post, Maury. I'm over it now.
I'm extremely pleased that Miss Harrison triumphed, and wish she had been singing soprano back when I knew her.
But due to some upheaval in my life, I've had to give up my church gig, which was my last thin connection to professional singing. I was just temporarily indulging in some spiritual Ben & Jerry's.

OperaGuyNY said...

Glad to see someone posted about the finals. Jonathan Beyer was indeed very good, I enjoyed him quite a bit. He sang "Bella siccome un angelo" and Papageno's suicide, he had a free, pleasing, albeit light sound. I fear he suffered from going first. The women were all very good, most of the men left me hitting my forehead and saying "I could've had a V8!" Holly Harrison was really very good, quite polished and I too wanted her to show more top.

Maury D'annato said...

Oh, goodness, Meretrice, I totally didn't mean to make light of something heartfelt. I was just making a little opera joke, for fun. Sincere apologies.

Anonymous said...

I'm also just tickled that someone would sing Morosus' aria. It's not a bad showpiece for a bass, because if you can sing it thoughtfully you must also be showing off your breath control. Oh, Richard knew how to write curtains...

Maury D'annato said...

Operaguyny: I'm not the only one to post about the finals. See also "An Unamplified Voice."

meretrice i. d'oscena said...

No apologies necessary, M, you're the top.

rysanekfreak said...

Exiled as I am out here in Rural Flyoverville, I was thrilled to be able to hear a webcast of the Finals Concert last night.

I found it very strange that of the 18 numbers, there was no Verdi, No Puccini, only one French (the Hamlet), but FIVE Mozart numbers. No Verdi?????

No tenors? No mezzos?

It was great to hear the "Silent Woman" and "Orlando" and "Consul" numbers. Also nice to hear the "Pasquale" and "Sonnambula" this way.

But I was hoping for just one mezzo to belt out "O don fatale" or one tenor to crack-and-croon his way through the "Pearl Fishers" aria.

meretrice i. d'oscena said...

hey, rysanekfreak or maury--
is there anywhere that any of that webcast can still be heard? I'm really dying to hear Holli Harrison sing soprano.
I did not know her well, but unless my memory is bad, she was singing Carmen highlights when I knew her...

Maury D'annato said...

Meretrice (is the diminutive for of this simply Mary, I wonder?), put a discreet post on Opera-L maybe, see if anyone taped it. Or poke around on operacast and see if there's some really delayed b'cast.

JSU said...

There will be many, many delayed webcasts -- however you may have to wait quite a while, as lots of stations hold this until the end of the official Met broadcast season.

meretrice i. d'oscena said...

Ha! I immediately thought of Rhoda Morgenstern addressing me as "Meh-ree".

Thanks guys, I'll do that. The guy singing the Berlioz tenor solo at church knows Miss Harrison from school (much better than I), and could ask her about a possible delayed broadcast.
He told me that HH did the Met audition in Memphis, and was turned down flat, and that she dusted herself off and flew up to NYC.
Talk about sweet revenge--

Miracle said...

To the person that was remembering Holli as a are right. She is now a Soprano and pretty fantastic. You should go hear her sometime. I was moved to tears during the Semi-finals!

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