Friday, April 13, 2007

Flotsam (I hardly know 'em!)

Item: Has the Gelb lovefest ended so quickly? The peanut gallery at Parterre is already filled with talk of how his policy of hiring flashy young singers is (in the most hysterical instances) going to be the end of opera. Hey remember that time everybody was happy PG was shaking things up? O idyllic, innocent, bygone era of last September!

Overheard: NYCOQ on Netrebko in selfsame gallery of peanuts--"Time will tell if she is the Neely O'Hara of opera." Most amusing. Let's try to picture her all pilled up, moaning into a mirror, "Anna Netrebko!!! Anna Netrebko!!!" If we're thinking about possible candidates for Helen Lawson (and I can't speak for you, but I as a homosexual am required by law to do so) Ruth Ann Swenson seems to have gone and nominated herself in a stunning blow to Aprile Millo.*

Plain old heard: Have y'all been listening to Sirius much? Because there's been some good stuff. JSU tipped me off to the Price/Bergonzi Ernani and now I am 1) much more excited than I was that they're putting it on with Sondra R. next seez 2) adding two stars to the Constellation of Luv and Sycophancy that is any opera blog's inner organizing principle. Those would be Madame Price who I've always adored but am beginning to think of in the same half-crazed way I think about Gencer et al., and Giorgio Tozzi.

Tozzi I have admired since being indoctrinated into adoration of Vanessa, but then last weekend I heard his Orest in a Borkh Elektra from Carnegie. Well. The words that come to mind are Virginia Woolf's, from "Slater's Pins Have no Points." "Out of the night [he] burnt like a dead white star."

Don't you think of these blogs a little bit in terms of their animating diva? Parterre sprung from the screaming mouth of Callas (as many of us did to some extent, but Parterre has the tattoo to prove it); AUV has a Della-Casian reserve and refinement of expression; actually I have no idea what I'm talking about since there's nothing particularly Borkhig or Gencerific, not to speak of Podlesian--pronounced pod-LEE-zhun--about this here blerg. I have written myself into a corner. I think I was just feeling self-conscious about not having posted in a while and so had to clear my throat and sing a verse of "I'm Still Here."

Anyway now I'm listening to a Bumbry Orfeo and remembering that great singers in the wrong role can be sort of not all that appealing.

ETA: Okay this is actually fascinating...I'm sort of glancing around Opera-L which is all I can do before my eyes start to cross, and it appears there is lengthy debate about whether or not Villazon cracked during the Big Netrebazonko Whoop-de-do a few weeks back. This is just...nuts. I mean, there appears to be some interesting discussion of the comparative authenticity (scare quotes? eh.) of in-house vs. broadcast hearings. But I'm just truly shocked to read that there's any discussion of whether or not he cracked. I'm a big, big fan of RV, and just the same at intermission fired off a text message to a friend that said, more or less, I just heard the most spectacular vocal misfire I've ever heard live. Or, apparently, I maybe didn't...!

Next up: it's possible I'm not going to anything until Podles-Klytamenstra, and god only knows if I'll post anything after that since life will have no meaning once it's over.

*take this in the spirit of slightly indifferent ribbing. I was very taken with Swenson's Marguerite, on the one hand, and nearly fell asleep during her Lucia in 1998ish, on the other.** I don't have that much of an opinion on the article except it was somehow like watching a ship crash slowly into a glacier, if you had basically positive feelings about both the ship and the glacier.

**which led to me unknowingly dissing her to someone she's related to. Awkward! Actually it wasn't that big a deal, but I mention it because two people who were there occasionally read and might get a laugh out of the reference.


Will said...

I'm always amused at how quick opera-lovers can be to declare the end of or death of opera. It's like the decline in singing. As a newly-minted opera fanatic in my early teens, I was assured that Callas and Tebaldi and Siepi and Nilsson and so very many others were NOT A PATCH on Ponselle and Flagstad and Pinza, et al. Now they're the stick that's being used to beat the current generation.

By my calculations, singing has been in serious decline and opera has been dying since the morning after the premiere of Jacopo Peri's "Eurydice"--the very first opera-- in the late sixteenth century.

Mark said...

It is amazing how Spring flowers have yielded to a Winter blizzard. The opera fans are like the mob in Wagner's Rienzi--- all we so so "heart" u R one moment, and then, a mere three or so hours later, we burn da house dwn & ur sis 2!! Rowr!!

Chalkenteros said...

So you caught that Sirius Ernani too, eh? As an antidote to your exposé on Pricean kitsch, I was gonna post on waddafriggingoddessPriceis based solely on my headphone encounter with her "Tutto sprezzo che d'Ernani" yesterday morning. But did I post? No. And now you've scooped me. Siriusly, I was, like, jEsus this is amazing, and I went right to the Met webpage to confirm my suspicion that -- yes -- they are doing Ernani and -- OH! -- Rad! Price has got nothing on Sutherland's flawless execution of that aria, but still, it worked.

Anonymous said...

Off topic, but how is Susan Bullock appearing as Elektra in two places at the same time?

JSU said...

Voigtean comic flair?

jondrytay said...

Or indeed, why is Susan Bullock playing Elektra anywhere?

Maury D'annato said...

tah: note the year--Toronto is this year; DC, next.

armerjaquino: uh oh, is she bad news? Maybe the answer is "who else did you have in mind?"

Grrg said...

Darling Maury. This blog is like unto Podles's voice because both feature sudden and dramatic shifts in register.

Compare Podles doing a run where she's all "mezzomezzomezzomezzo BARITONE!" to your writing "Tenor X displayed smooth coloratura, but a little stridency around the passaggio, and his wig looked like my aunt Ruth's pet chinchilla died on his head." See the connection?

And that's why we love both!

jondrytay said...

Maury- she's just very, very meh. Nothing remarkable about the voice and not an actor to speak of. And she sounded tired at ENO in the late 80s, so Elektra gives me the major fear.

To realign my karma after such a nasty sniping post, I'd just like to add that lots of other singers are really quite good and make noises that I like.

Anonymous said...

What Greg said. I am on the far Left Coast, missing all the great singers and performances, having to make do with recordings, but revelling -- well, more like rolling around -- in Maury's sly prose.