Monday, May 15, 2006

An imaginary Parsifal you won't want to miss [...and other loose ends from my brain]

The nice thing about sitemeter is you can see what odd queries brought people to your blog (well, most of them actually aren't odd. To be honest, most of them are the names of Met Council Audition finalists. Dear Holli Harrison, thanks for all the hits! xo, Maury) and then you can see what other stuff came up on the same searches. Which landed me at this really funny Parsifal coming soon to a theater near you, or more likely not. Ok, usually, the word "this" would be a clicky link, only and my computer are having a fight, so I'll just show you the URL:

This in particular kind of killed me:

The Holy Spring will be on stage. Preferably, a deep pool with a small waterfall. Whenever anyone is baptized, they will be dumped into it. None of this "few drops of imaginary water on the top of the head" crap. In Act I, the trainee knights dump Amfortas right off his litter and into it as well. All must make a reappearance a few bars later, soaking wet and gasping for air.
I've been back on a Gencer bender, me. In my spare time. And also grooving on Lisitsian, yesiree Bob. And I stumbled upon a cheap-enough-I-couldn't-not copy of the Cigna/Olivero/Merli Turandot at Academy. I'd always wanted to hear it. In fact, it's...flawed but compelling. What's with Cigna anyway? I knew her first from a "Suicidio!" from I believe sometime around the same year as the Turandot, only she sounds rock solid there. In the Norma I have, she's a bit of a spaz, likewise the Turandot. Not unenjoyably so, but I wish it sounded more like the Suicidio. Ah well. Also just downloaded Neko Case's "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood" but that's neither here nor opera.


ACB said...

OMG, I'm in love with Neko Case. She has the widest vocal color range I've heard in a long time! I can't have that CD on in the car on my way to rehearsals, though, 'cuz I sing along at full blast and totally wreck my voice... =]

Maury D'annato said...

You know, I always miss her for some reason. She sells out extremely quickly.

maeve66 said...

Dear Maury -- I have a semi-quasi irrelevent question for you. I mean, irrelevent for this entry (or any other entry I've read, and I read them mostly all, and love your writing). But relevent to the larger idea of Opera.

So. I have been showing the 1981 French movie Diva for what seems like a month to various of my classes, in small parts. Leaving aside the fact that it has cemented my rep as "the teacher who shows French movies about hookers", or "the hooker teacher", for short, since the movie I showed LAST semester (that Omar Sharif 1960s Jewish orphan/Turkish/sufi/mentor movie) also had many scenes of hookers with hearts of gold and beehive hairdos... anyway, as I said, leaving that aside... Diva is about a diva, right? Do you know the movie? Fréderic Andrei, who I thought was the most handsome male on the planet for years afterwards... I like a nice Adam's apple... as a postman who's obsessed with the fictional "Cynthia Hawkins".

The movie opens with the diva singing at the Paris Opéra. The real woman who is singing is also an opera singer, Wilhelmina Wiggins Fernandez.

So here's the question. Has she done ANYTHING else? Anything? In googling her, all I get are soundtracks for the movie and video store descriptions of the movie, some hilariously wrong.

Was she a one-trick pony? I loved her voice, ignorant as I am of this arena, apart from the CD you sent me. Basically, I like Kiri Te Kanawa, and Wilhelmina Wiggins Fernandez, for equally idiosyncratic reasons.

Please tell me you know something about the diva from the movie. Is there an Imdb for opera singers?

Thank you, a fan, M66

Maury D'annato said...

Well, there's no IMDB except for the Met there kind of is, the Metropolitan Opera Database, which is a few years old and really nice to have around. But that's just one house. It would be a huge task otherwise since unlike movies, operas are performed several times a run, often with different casts.

I saw Diva a million years ago and am due for a re-watching, but my impression is that Wilhelmina Wiggins Fernandez, no, didn't do much after the movie. It seems to me, fishing around in my murky memory, there may be one disc of her. I couldn't say why, but can probably find out fairly easily and will get back to you. (If you're dying to see the whole issue discussed in endless detail with varying degrees of sanity, what I'm probably going to do is search the opera-L archives for her name.)

The interesting thing to note is that the aria she sings over and over again in the film is from an opera nobody ever puts on, in which the heroine dies in an avalanche.

Anonymous said...

La Wally gets done in Italy once in a while. Of course, to think that American companies would do anything remotely interesting in terms of choosing rep and not just dragging out more boring beyond words Handel snooze-fests and third-rate Verdi that should be entombed forever and saying "See! We're refereshing the standard rep!" is asking too much, I'm afraid.

Re: Wilhelmenia Fernandez, as she is now. The invaluable Operabase reveals two management companies. My French reading comprehension is awful, but it appears that she's doing musicals and Porgy and Bess.

Info here, if you're interested:

Anonymous said...

You say the Parsifal libretto is "mystical crap". Gee, you must be a big fan of "The Da Vinci Code".

Maury D'annato said...

Howdy anonymous. If you're really asking what I think of the Da Vinci Code, I think it's poorly written but highly diverting fluff. And right or wrong, if it gets people to question religion and patriarchy, I think it's served an important purpose regardless of its quality. If you're new to these pages, you should probably know I am unapologetically not a fan of christianity or pretty much any other system of belief that of the form "my god is bigger than your god" and if that rubs you wrong, I would like to suggest with no particular spite or sarcasm that you find more wholesome reading material. Life's too short, you know?

Anonymous said...

Hi maeve66. dont know when you asked about Wilhelmena Fernandez but about 10 years ago I did alot of digging around on her. I had the same thought as you did. I called the met in New York since that is where I was finding her work at the time. They told me she had a problem with her mgnt company and distribution here in the states. She did alot of standard song stuff but not alot of opera releases here in the states. I just love her. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I also have been looking for any recording by Wilhelmena Fernandez. I found a Google reference to an album, Dive 20th Anniversary Edito, but have been unable to actually FIND that album. Though the local music store did have a gospel album by Fernandez. Still looking for an opera recording!

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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