Monday, February 25, 2008

The Concert with the Long Name

Spring is here, Spring is here.
Life is skittles and life is beer.
I think the loveliest time of the year
Is the spring! I do - Don't you? 'Course you do.
But there's one thing that makes spring complete for me...

...and that is not, Mr. Lehrer, poisoning pidgeons in the park, but rather the Met Council Final Auditions Concert Gala How Many More Words Are There in the Title of This Event? Actually it doesn't feel like Spring yet, but the Finals do help when it is damp, drizzly February in my soul and it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off. Or just excessively quoting actual writers instead of putting words of my own on the page.

I don't wish to go singer-by-singer this year, I don't think. There was nothing shabby going on up there, lots of fine craft such as you'd be glad to hear. I will pause for a moment to note my surprise that Carolina Castells was not among the winners, not so much on the basis of her "Klange der Heimat" which I can't imagine anyone making anything other than a bore, as her elegant, perfectly met-sized bel canto in "Ah, quante volte!"

Mostly, though, I'd just like to express my excitement at the young but not green talent that is baritone Edward Parks. Mr. Parks chose a big scena from The Pearl Fishers, or perhaps more accurately it was chosen for him, but nobody could argue it wasn't a fine choice, sure as he was of style and solid as he was of tone. In the second half, he sang "Mein Sehnen, Mein Wahnen" from Die Tote Scrim to a wildly enthusiastic ovation, of which I was an ovator. More than anything else we heard, this was star material. It wasn't about the diction or the high notes, both of which passed muster quite securely, but more generally about budding artistry. And jesus, he's probably like 23, as there was only one person over 25 on the whole program. Someone who sat nearer can confirm, but I think he might also be kind of dishy.

No huge surprises in rep. We got to hear "No Word from Tom," and "A woman is a sometime thing," along with the requisite "Ah, mes high C" and "Parto, parto" (go already! alright, I'll admit it, I am developing partopartophobia...though in this instance the obstacle course part of the aria was sung with much flair) oh and yes there was one nutty selection, which was "O pretres de Baal!" (punctuation possibly mine, not sure) from Meyerbeer's Le Proph├Ęte. Well also I suppose it is unusual to hear "Amour, viens aidez ma faiblesse" in the original Polish, as we were given it by Ms. DeYoung, if I may be so rotten. In "Du bist der Lenz," she sounded swell.

It might be fun to go back to the first year I went to this event and see what those folks are doing. I believe my favorite was Lisette Oropesa, who's doing quite well for herself. I hope Sundays young'uns are similarly on top in a few years' time. Best of luck to all of them.


jondrytay said...

Some of the UK drama schools ban certain Shakespeare speeches as audition pieces. Maybe the time has come to have a similar moratorium on competitions etc. I would like to nominate 'Leise, Leise' 'E sogno... O realta?' 'Come Scoglio' and the Sogno di Doretta.

Although I suppose young singers need to sing young singer things, I guess. But wouldn't it be fab for a competition bill to be 'Niun mi Tema' followed by 'Die Zeit, die ist ein sonderbar ding' followed by 'Non piu di fiori'?

jondrytay said...

Oh, and 'Largo al Factotum' can go, too. Make them do 'Rivolgete a lui lo sguardo' instead.

Unknown said...

Make mine "Must the Winter Come so Soon". Why is this depressing aria so ubiquitous in audition circles? If you're a mezzo with no top, better to trot out "Va Laisse Coulez Mes Larmes" - at least it's got some drama.

And by the way, that aria from Le Prophete is "O Georges Pretres de Baal". One of my favorite gut busters.

Maury D'annato said...

amer: yes, by all means no more Largo al Factotum EVER. And if you sing the last "Figaro" of "Figaro, Figaro, Figaro" in falsetto, you should be catapulted from the stage out into the street.

Stella: well I do love Vansesa but you're quite right about that aria as an audition piece. Out of context it's just bland.

Anonymous said...

"Klange der Heimat" can be a bore indeed. But not when sung like this:

JSU said...

"Make mine "Must the Winter Come so Soon". Why is this depressing aria so ubiquitous in audition circles?"

I think they want to sing something in English... I wish some would pick "New York Has Changed Me" instead.

(Hey, it looks like the Studer stalker is lurking here.)

Maury D'annato said...

JSU: there must be other interesting mezzo choices in English (other than the Purcell) but just at this moment I'm having trouble thinking what they would be.

Not sure if that's the Studertroll or just someone else who likes her. As long as it's comments and links and stuff, I'm down with it. If he starts posting those psychotic poems, I'll just delete them, because they creep me out.

Anonymous said...

Rosalind Elias once recorded Totem Tom Tom from Rose Marie. I think this qualifies it as a bonafide mezzo audition piece.

"Late at night, all tired and sleepy
They would return to the tee-pee.
Totem tom tom. Totem tom tom"

A true test of elequence, narrative ability, and especially imagination, when dealing with the repeats of the last line.

Baby said...

Thanks for the encouragement- I plan to trot out "Must the Winter" this weekend. Let's hope I don't bore everyone to tears.