Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Not exactly a bang, but not quite a wimper, either

Well, it's a little sad. With the end of the riddle scene this evening, the season drew to a close for me (that's right, notably the season I left after more second acts than ever before...sometimes I think my love for opera is tightening in some way. It's harder to sit through something I never felt even a little bit giddy anticipating.)

Yes, I love the Met's Turandot. Shit like that is why Zefirelli will coast to the grave on rehashings, because once he dazzled us. The big "Holy Fuck!" set on which the opera's best music is delivered remains, I'm sorry, the biggest visual wallop I've ever been on the business end of; not just an overload but a real thrill.

I'd love it even more if the singing more often really matched the wallpaper. Tonight was actually fine. I was pleasantly surprised in a number of ways, the biggest of which was that Margison, who over the radio sounds like what you'd scrape into the sink, has a lot left in-house. The act II interpolated C, it is true, absolutely must go. I'm neither joking nor exaggerating when I say it sounds for all the world like a 1983 Chrysler on a January morn in Chicago, and you should really only pull that note out of your holster if you're planning on killing with it. Up to that point, though, the guy just sounds remarkably solid. It's what I remember about his Bacchus: the sweet relief of no worries.

Hey I'm going to write a version of Turandot from the point of view of Ping, Pang and Pong. It'll be just like Wicked, only with a higher suicide rate among the audience I guess. Don't Ping, Pang, and Pong kind of make you want to end it? Anyway it'll be called Pwng, and nobody will know how to pronounce it.

Actually, know what the other nice surprise was? It was an unsurprising surprise, because basically any time someone starts singing these days in a small role and you think to yourself "why isn't he in a much bigger role?" it's Patrick Carfizzi. I'm giving him his own paragraph, that's how much I like him, and it was a bit of a blind tasting because I didn't look at the program to see who was going to be singing the Mandarin. (Who does?) For once I'm not playing "Let's Pretend We're Agents" and don't have roles in mind. I just think he's underused.

Liping "Lizards" Zhang didn't make a huge impression on me but I've never gotten as weepy about Liu as a lot of folks. If you can float a b flat, you do it, and everyone puts a checkmark in the blank. The rest is about trying to make us believe that pathetic devotion to a guy who's really no prize is a romantic virtue. It might make sense for some not particularly sentimental director some day to stage Turandot with the corpse of Liu left onstage for the remainder of the opera for everyone to step over since for Pete's sake, she killed herself ten minutes ago and you, Calaf, you big brute, are already halfway through the love duet, such as it is. Anyway she sounded pretty, despite an "almost" at the beginning of said b-flat, and that's all I have prepared on that topic.

And so, with that...oh, the Turandot, you say? That would be Erika Sunnegardh, she of the healthy top and almost nothing else, I'm genuinely sorry to say. Still, it's a pleasure to hear someone not struggle with the riddles, albeit a limited pleasure.

I hate to end on that note, so I'll probably review the weekend's DC excursion and pretend it happened here. So,

Next Up: Macbeth


Lisa Hirsch said...

Patrick Carfizzi nearly stole the show in SF a few years ago. Paolo Gavanelli was supposed to sing Boccanegra; he got sick and Nicolai Putilin, who was singing...um...Paolo...got bumped up to Boccanegra. Carfizzi was covering Paolo and got to actually sing. He was over the top, to tell the truth, but it was nice to see someone so vivid and willing to take chances in a sadly inert production (overparted Vaness, wobbly Ramey, no Gavanelli, etc.).

I join you in wanting to see him in a bigger role.

Grrg said...

The Salzburg production from 2002, directed by David Pountney and available on DVD, totally leaves Liu's corpse onstage for the rest of the opera (on a gurney, no less!), and it really works. Although the production uses the Berio completion, which sort of... helps.

Also, I would totally, totally pay to see your production of Ping, Pang, and Pong are Dead.

Anonymous said...

Carfizzi's Mandarin was stellar!

What I liked about Sunnegardh's Turandot was her physical presence and grace. Instead of a lumbering, overstuffed diva, Sunnegardh was attractive enough to warrant the desires of foreign princes. I loved the way she rushed up the stairs after getting Calaf to tell her his name.

Sunnegardh's voice may be all top but it falls more pleasantly on the ear than does Gruber's at this point.

I have my own staging of the end of TURANDOT in mind and it includes Turandot being left in the lurch.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I have my own staging in mind too and it includes Turandot committing suicide.

Maury D'annato said...

Lisa: let's think emphatic thoughts in the direction of Gockley and Gelb: carfizzicarfizzicarfizzi.

Greg: I'm wondering if you told me that about the Poutney production and I'm not nearly so full of ideas as I'd like to think. p.s. we sat around one day listening to the Berio ending and wondering why the hell it doesn't get more airplay when it's just so much more enjoyable.

Oberon/Lisa: I actually find Turandot's horribleness is something I can dig my teeth into, so much more compelling that Calaf's, so my imaginary endings aren't aimed at her as much as him.

Grrg said...

Since you asked, the Berio doesn't get played more, I think, because it is comparatively very expensive to rent from Ricordi. In fact, the expiring of the copyright of the Alfano was one of the factors (if not the factor) in deciding to give the commission in the first place. Follow the money!

Anonymous said...

I was really impressed with Margison's O'Brien in "1984." He should sing more in English. (Captain Vere, maybe?)

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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