Sunday, April 13, 2008

Quick, to the catafalque!

So, my cousin was in town and I was trying to explain my evening plans to someone with absolutely no interest in OONY or opera in general and I said: think "Star Trek convention" plus opera. Actually though, the other keynote besides internal preoccupation--what I noticed, given the privilege of not sitting in what we might term the Belfry, was women in their golden years laboring under the assumption that henna looks natural. It was like Russia that way.

This was only my second time at OONY, the first being that occasion when I heard one dragocious diva's culty fans, I kid you not, shoosh the bravos for another singer. The offering that evening was Fanciulla. Tonight we were given Edgar, which to my surprise turns out to be rather a lot of fun as long as you don't mind a libretto that uses words like "catafalque". Hey, spellcheck knew catafalque. Geh weiss. Spellcheck does not know "spellcheck." Order of Meta, table 2.

I understand OONY has like three minutes to stage things, which is part of their scruffy charm, but I have to say, I have never seen anything so funny as the "everything but voguing" war between Ms. Larmore as Tigrana and Latonia Moore as Fidelia (the character was named thusly by her parents after a viewing of Fidelio. They had a hunch she'd turn out a little bit boring.) It was, seriously, the kind of antics usually reserved for the Rossini cat duet. It might be noted that Madames Larmore and Moore were clothed in dramatic red and blue, respectively, giving the proceedings an air of political allegory.

Ms. Larmore, who is looking almost scarily svelte, changed at the interval to a fetching black number, with, uh, wavy things. What, I got the opera badge, not the fashion one. Without being one of those rotters who uses "inaudible beyond row K" as an all-purpose take-down, I will note that the role of Tigrana is a size large for JL, though the state of the voice is fresh and healthy. Her reception at the end struck me as a touch on the polite side, comparatively, which made one feel bad for her...I suspect the go-for-broke nature of her acting struck some as de trop around the edges, in a concert performance. I'm not sure--Tigrana isn't exactly the Marschallin.

As her love interest, Ms. Moore [well fine you caught me lying. It isn't about lesbians. I just thought it'd be kind of a hilarious love square if it were] was simply fantastic. She's got a metric shitload of voice, and a solid grasp of verismo style. I know I get overly enthusiastic sometimes, but I think and hope you will be hearing more of her. She graciously mouthed "thank you" over and over again at her extremely warm ovation. And, not for nothing, she seemed to be singing the role without a glance at the music stand, which is class.

Wait, there were men in this opera. I may have discounted Marcello Giordani in that count because he sang not like a man, but like a god! Uh-huh, I used an exclamation point. I have dissed Giordani as recently as Thursday, but I suppose it's a matter of rep. Let him never sing anything so early as early Verdi again, say I. All I had to compare him to, going in, was a recording of Bergonzi, I assume also from OONY and I assume past prime, but Giordani's reading was certainly the more persuasive. He was in big, ballsy voice and I'd say he knew it, and rode it.

The medium thankful role of Bert--it is my new habit to improvise when I can't remember--the brother of Fidelia, or some such, was taken by Stephen Gaertner, and his voice is substantial and responsive and I think I am developing a small crush on him so I'll just shut the hell up before I embarrass either of us. Wait, Frank, not Bert. They sound equally silly in an Italian sentence, so I say he's Bert.

Ms. Queler found every unsubtlety in the score, which is precisely what is called for.

Next up: I'm not sure. It was a long few days of constant opera-going.


Paul said...

Back in her college days (early 1970s), my wife sang in the OONY chorus for a performance of "I Lombardi" with Jose Carreras. [We all need our claims to fame. Sadly, mine is being stuck in an elevator at Bally's Las Vegas with Don King.] I've never attended one of Eve Queler's productions, living out here in the boonies (or "Chayatsville," as my bubbe used to say), but it seems to me that concert versions of operas are a good way to bring lesser-known works back to public attention. The only extant recording of "Edgar" (the OONY/Bergonzi version you cite) shows off a mildly interesting work, where portentous flashes of Puccini brilliance are mixed in with drudgery. I'm not sure why Madame Queler felt compelled to perform this opera a second time -- perhaps it was because they already owned the scores, given OONY's ongoing financial difficulties -- but I'm pleased to hear that Giordani comported himself well.

Speaking of operas-in-concert, Opera Colorado is taking its first plunge in that direction with two performances of "Fliegender Hollander," featuring James Morris. Then they finish the season with a fully staged version of "Nixon in China." Compelling choices for a non-major company, and much more interesting than their standard fare of "Boheme" and "Traviata," ad nauseum. Next season they're doing "Pearl Fishers."

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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