Monday, May 14, 2007

A better way to end the season

It wouldn't have done to have the season sputter out with two acts of Turandot or a a misbegotten Orfeo, though everyone's sincere love for the latter is beginning to make me wonder if I'm guilty of excessive fuddy-duddery. Be that as it may, the season should end on a note of mad opera-lust, or what's to get us through the summer, other than the sincere desire to stay home for a few evenings in a row or occasionally breathe the air of the outdoors?

Anyway, the question is now an academic one, as I did in fact leave the auditorium for the last time this season with that unique sensation of having been pounded with a meat tenderizer then doused in Listerine that comes so rare. And who do you think was weilding said kitchen implement? I'll give you a hint: I've expressed ambivalence about her before, in particular when she was trussed up in regal garb and making out with Johan Botha.

That's right, it's Patricia Racette. We've had a long journey, she and I, not that she is aware of this fact. We are now pals. She's not aware of that either. Nay, not pals, rather I bow my head in the presence of she who may no longer be regarded as only a singer. Patricia Racette is an artist, which lots of you apparently already knew. Jenufa is something she's sung a lot, and familiarity in this case has bred foremost an absolute dramatic commitment to the role.

Now, there is no reason to compare Racette's Jenufa to Mattila's, at least not in that scorecard way. I will say, though, that Racette's is in no way a lesser achievement, and as you can probably guess from my having heard Mattila sing it five times, that's a compliment. Much as I've loved on the Met production, Racette had the advantage of singing her Jenufa surrounded by a more character-driven one, that of David Alden for ENO. It's bleak and shrill and nearly perfect, though I remain agnostic about the staging of the "Let's Get Jenufa!" scene in the last act with everyone breaking in the windows.

Hey, guess what happened. Nah, I'll tell you. I sort of forgot the rest of what I was going to say because first we had to drive back and then I got the most vicious flu and then suddenly it was today (no more suddenly than usual, I guess) and who can remember anything they were going to say for more than a day or so? It doubtless had something to do with Malfitano and my high level of satisfaction therewith. In a different way than Silja, she ate up the stage, and was in good voice besides. I'm beginning to think the Regina from Lyric a few years ago, where I thought she'd reached the end of the line, was just an off night.

Oh, you're probably used to me doing this, this bit where I imagine what some idiotic directorial idea would look like, but just for sport, what if Kostelnicka forewent (is that a word?) her stern black wardrobe in some production and instead was a sort of hot older gal, a FILF if you will (Fostermother I'd Like know the rest)? I'm not saying anyone should do it, just it popped into my head, and generally when that happens, you're subjected to it. Besides which someone probably has done it.

So that's my season. If there were a weepy film montage right here, it would probably feature the love duet from Minghella's Butterfly (um, with audio from some other production), Florez singing "Cessa di piu resistere," the Tristan Project with me standing outside looking sad, one of each Jenufa, Podlektra, DV's "Zweite Brautnacht," Dmitri telling Renee thanks but no thanks, and doubtless a couple of things I loved but can't think of just now. I think the end of the season also merits a tip of the hat to La Juntwait, whose intermission interviews were done in just the right way.

There will be things to write about over the summer, I assume.


jondrytay said...

The greatest piece of operatic direction I've ever seen came in a production of Jenufa. It was somewhere in the late eighties, so I guess I was fourteen or fifteen, and it was the Yuri Lyubimov production at the Garden. Ashley Putnam was Jenufa and Randova was the Kostelnicka.

The set had some big, big flats as masking for the wings, and looked dull to start with. There was also a little crucifix, no bigger than a foot tall, extreme downstage, right by the pit.

Come the Kostelnicka's decision to do away with the baby, the flats started spinning and, from nowhere, a very, very tight spotlight hit the cross- so Randova was stood there while the world whirled around her, framed in the shadow of a massive cross. The hairs are standing up on my arms thinking about it.

If I may be presumptuous, there's something I'd like to add to your farewell to this Met season. In November I paid my first visit to New York (and indeed the states) and couldn't quite believe that I could sit in a comfortable seat with a full view of the stage to see a Millo Tosca. I'm not on the breadline, but I simply cannot afford to see opera at the Garden. The seat I had at the Met, had I been at CG, would have cost- what- the equivalent of $150? I think front Amphitheatre is 70 quid these days.

So keep blogging for the vicarious Brits among us... but also bear in mind that there are a lot of things that the Met is doing dead right.

Chalkenteros said...

Racette slayed me twice this season. Nedda & Elisabetta. I am sorta glad that my first Minghella b'fly will be w/ Racette next season. That's right. I missed the much ado about much that heralded the beginning of teh Gelb era.

Maury D'annato said...

Amer: I'm thrilled the Millo came through for you and is in your nostalgic season farewell. As the lady is a bit of a punching bag around these parts, I will have to leave the fond words to you.

Maury D'annato said...

Chalkorama: I can't say why the Elisabetta didn't kick me in the groin, but I'm sure as hell looking forward to her Butterfly. Really it's much better that you'll hear it with the new cast, I think.

jondrytay said...

Maury- I don't hold a particular torch for Millo either, but it seemed kind of appropriate that I see her on what could be my only ever visit to the Met.

Anonymous said...

I much preferred the ending of Onegin, with Renee telling Dmitri thanks, but no thanks. Powerful acting and singing by both singers.