Sunday, July 23, 2006

Tancredible! (And other desperate compromises in the art of the subject line)

...and then my browser crashed, taking with it my entire Podliad. Which is fine, really, considering especially that nobody likes a broken record. Here are fragments, rescued like the works of Sappho, minus the poetry, the historical significance, and the love of a good softball game.

First pararaph entirely gone. Blah blah have heard her in better voice blah. Wait, no. That's not where I started. Probably something about how not dying on the flooded Sawmill Parkway was the first thrill of the evening. Not dying: always a treat. You probably don't want to hear about the picnic in a car in a parking lot in Pleasantville, New York, where one may exit from the Sawmill in order not to perish. It has little to do with the music and there's no such thing as a vicarious picnic.

After much stomping through the mud, we Podled. Imagine here reconstructed some faint concern about lost agility and a top that sounds about as sure as tech stocks, at least compared to its former stentor, mitigated by the usual awe about the way she plunges right on through it nonetheless. Nothing tentative, nothing cut or cut short. Just a little quaver, a few thicky constructed but/and muscular runs going up or down.

So, some of her Tancredi was the stuff of greatness as usual and some of it worried me a little, but on the whole, am I going to complain? I am not. As noted by Alex on the ride home, she was having none of this semi-staged business and fretted and strutted her hour upon the stage, making her wonderful silent movie sized gestures from her entrance to her death in a folding chair. (What a death has Tancredi: scarcely time to breath his last before the chord resolves.)

Still I wish she were offered more Erdas and Lied von der Erdas I mean Erdes and Klytamnestras and you know I just downloaded some clips of the Verdi outings and they're weird but fascinating. The Azucena, to my surprise, is an unqualified success. Anyway I just don’t know why she’s been singing largely the same tune in the same gold sequins for such a long while. I saw her Orfeo in 2001 and again in 2005. I’d see it again in 2009 if she did it, maybe go every four years instead of the World Cup (which does not interest me, for I have no passion for golf or tennis or polo or whatever it is everyone was screaming about the last few months.) It’s just that she’s not, I’d like the opera world to acknowledge, a one-trick Polack. [Hey, it’s one of those insider words you’re allowed to use if you are one. And when the D’annatos were wandering around the Pale of Settlement dodging cossack bullets like the Jewish peasant James Bonds we doubtless were, some of us settled in Poland. Ewa P is my paisan.]

A brief aside: one doesn't know quite how to feel about the world's bluntest blind item--which I nonetheless didn't get, because I'm like that sometimes--in which La Cieca revealed to us all what is also disclosed over at Vilaine Fille: that Podles will make a very overdue return to the a comprimaria role, essentially. Or so it seems to me, who only ever listens to disc 1 of Gioconda.

High quality colleagues never hurt, even on cult diva abends. Georgia Jarman I'm filing next to Sills, Beverly. Not that she sounds like her so much as I need a category for singers who (not quite in Anna Russell's great artistry/no voice fach) have a sort of ordinary sound but deploy it with not only excellent technique, but flair. I note with Satisfaction that she will be Cinncinati's Madame Mao, a role that sits right where Jarman's voice blooms. I won't try to evaluate her acting from this viewing, though she's awfully pretty for what that's worth. Daniel Mobbs put in another good bid to be the next hot young baritone, though he had less music to work with than two weeks ago.

I'm increasingly excited about City Opera's mounting of La Donna del Lago, in which he will sing alongside Pendatchanska, Banks, and Laura Vlasak Nolen who I am now glad I reserved judgment about in Puritani, because she had a few more notes here than there to show off a nice shimmery instrument. Yeghishe Manucharyan was not entirely my cup of tenor, but I think if I hadn't heard so many incredible tenors in the last year I might feel otherwise. The high notes are shocking, certainly. I just don't find his singing deeply musical, so maybe I'm lying about if I hadn't heard the other tenors. It's hard to get past a pedestrian sensibility about how the notes go together.

A good time was had by all, especially annoying people, who seem to be well represented at Caramoor. Oh, or maybe Podles' fans are just nuts, but I hate to admit it. Cult followings don't tend to be quite who you'd want to hang out with outside the kool-aid tent, now do they?

I'm fresh out of fodder unti the Met fires up its engines, but maybe I'll write about some of these recordings I've bought in moments of financial recklessness...


Anonymous said...

Well said, Maury. Podles certainly gave her considerable all. As you know, I don't care for the particular sounds that she makes but I found myself moved by the spectacle of an artist moving an audience with her conviction and glorying in her abilities. I might wish for a singer with better-knit registers or an unhooded middle range, but so what?

The presence of Georgia Jarman was, I think, instructive. Here's a young woman, gorgeous in a beauty-pageant sort of way, who is familiar with the ways of bel canto (excellent trill, two messe-di-voce that didn't quite work out). She has a conventional voice of a type heard in conservatories throughout the U.S.A.... and absolutely no sense of what is supposed to happen when one note becomes another, what phrasing can convey, how to express the architecture of an aria, not just the individual notes.

Manucharyan I found simply too soft-grained. Everything was spotlessly sung but seemed to be behind a deadeaning blanket. Give the guy some Ping™ pills!

And the crazies! I don't know if it's the Podles cult members or cranky Westchester types who don't like being out at 11:00 at night. Tales of our eccentric seatmates will have to wait for another forum but, believe me, your blood will freeze when you hear the details!

JSU said...

Seriously, even you might hesitate to ask for Das Lied if you'd heard her do it. Her "German" is total garble, I'm afraid, and it makes nonsense of the piece.

Maury D'annato said...

Burns, messa di voce #1 upon entrance you didn't like? Messa #2, I'll agree, was a partial misfire (no disaster, just not quite what was wanted.) I liked her better than you did, clearly, but I sort of see what you're saying. Anyway, I'm glad you meta-liked Podles in any case. I have something of an evangelical spirit about her, much as I try not to be one of those people.

Now make with the email and tell me about your hideous seat-mates!

Maury D'annato said...

JSU: Well, her French is not so comme il faut, but I love her Orphee (in fact better than her Orfeo.) Language geek status notwithstanding, I'll forgive a certain amount of bad phonetics if I like the rest of the singing enough. I mean, for god's sake, I listen to Sutherland...

Princess Alpenrose said...

I see we've moved from food analogies to needlework analogies, Burns. Something about knitting and hoods? I tremble to think what this group would make of my performances, should you ever (figure out who I am), hear me and do a review! Oh, well, it's all in good fun. uh ... right?

Maury, dahling, don't be in such a hurry to "forgive a certain amount of phonetics", because (a) better vowel and consonant production in any language make for better voice quality (b) it only gets worse with time, impacting the voice more and more, and besides (c) why bother to have words at all if you can't understand them? In that case, why not just let all of us singers sing happily and comfortably on our favorite oo or ah vowel all the time and have done with it!

So, stand up for your (our) language geek status, man! We'll make bumpers stickers saying: "Demand decent diction!" And decent supertitles, but I digress. [ariadne goes off into la la land ranting and raving under her breath/off-line about her #17 pet peeve of all time...)

ps Maury, If I had to give up reading all blogs on the internet, save one, I would choose yours as my "desert island blog." Hands down, no question, punto finito.

Maury D'annato said...

Always there to pet my ego, Ariadne!!

So, the diction thing. Certainly one would prefer good diction, and I get in an abstract (non-experiential) way (as I am nobody's idea of a polished singer) that good vowels lead to good singing. But it does seem like there are singers who get around that second part, and if they're good enough, I'll forgive the mush. The obvious example is Sutherland. She wrung a pretty long career out of two vowels, you know? And it didn't make for the world's most gripping characterizations maybe, but it was a beautiful thing in a different way. So yeah, I'm still willing to compromise.

Paul said...

Loved the "one-trick Polack" line although, as with most Poles who were not Jews, I seriously doubt that Podles' ancestors would have considered yours to be their paisans or, more accurately, their "mishpoche."

Maury D'annato said...

Paul: That occured to me as I was writing it and of course you're right. They would have considered us something like....oh, what's Yiddish for "target"?

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