Thread: Opera Small Talk

          
   
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  1. #1681
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Amfortas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAuer View Post
    I don't think I'd include Carmen and Isolde among opera's abused women, though each dies at the end of the opera. Isolde's Liebestod is something very much of her own choosing, and no worse than the way Tristan ends his life. Carmen certainly didn't deserve to be killed, but I view what happened to her as the consequence of a bad choice -- something we see quite often in real life. In her case, the bad choice was not leaving José alone when he showed no interest in her.
    Tristan and Isolde's Schopenhauerian demise is their own choice, but Isolde's situation--a diplomatic pawn in an arranged, political marriage--is certainly oppressive. As for Carmen, I would describe her choice as unfortunate, but not in any way culpable: she couldn't have known how unhinged José would turn out to be.

  2. #1682
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Isolde's situation reflects the fact that throughout much of history, royal and aristocratic children were used by their parents (or other relatives) to establish or reinforce alliances -- and in the case of women, to produce those much-needed male heirs. And it wasn't just fathers/uncles/brothers who were involved in planning strategic marriages of their female relatives: Queen Victoria was a master strategist in this regard, marrying her children into various European royal houses so that today, the Kings of Sweden, Spain, and Norway and the Queen of Denmark are all Victoria's descendants, not to mention Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, the latter descended through Victoria's youngest daughter, Beatrice, who married Prince Heinrich of Battenberg (Anglicized in the 20th century to Mountbatten). In this regard, the manner in which Isolde is used reflects society's treatment of women, not opera's.
    I'm still not inclined to give Carmen a pass. I see the character as fundamentally selfish; it's all about what Carmen wants (or doesn't want). She's no coward, though, and I give her credit for that.

  3. #1683
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Had a lovely evening tonight at Auckland Philharmonic's opera in concert, Otello with Simon O'Neill and Scott Hendricks. It was semi-staged and fully acted, and I've realised that I really like that kind of performance as it's the singing and the acting that really matters to me most.

    Cute fact: the soprano, Maria Luigia Borsi, whom I'd never heard of but who was fantastic, was so overcome at the end that when she got up from her "bed", she was visibly weeping and had to be comforted by Simon. It was indeed a very affecting performance.
    Natalie

  4. #1684
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    Had a lovely evening tonight at Auckland Philharmonic's opera in concert, Otello with Simon O'Neill and Scott Hendricks. It was semi-staged and fully acted, and I've realised that I really like that kind of performance as it's the singing and the acting that really matters to me most.
    Sounds wonderful. I like this kind of performance too. I saw a concert performance of Radamisto and the singers sang from the book and although I enjoyed it, I like the semi-staged ones better.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    Cute fact: the soprano, Maria Luigia Borsi, whom I'd never heard of but who was fantastic, was so overcome at the end that when she got up from her "bed", she was visibly weeping and had to be comforted by Simon. It was indeed a very affecting performance.
    Oh bless!
    "The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and storytellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland."
    Lucy Maud Montgomery

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  6. #1685
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    Cute fact: the soprano, Maria Luigia Borsi, whom I'd never heard of but who was fantastic, was so overcome at the end that when she got up from her "bed", she was visibly weeping and had to be comforted by Simon.
    Here they are at curtain call:

    Natalie

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  8. #1686
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soave_Fanciulla View Post
    Here they are at curtain call:

    She looks quite overwhelmed and the orchestra members look sympathetic too.
    "The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and storytellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland."
    Lucy Maud Montgomery

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  10. #1687
    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    Every year or so there seems to be a young singer that shows up on the reality audition shows that wow the audience with their renditions of one or another "top ten" aria.

    A critic from "The Economist" finally weighed in on the phenomenon and why it's a sham:

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/prosp...nas?fsrc=gnews

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  12. #1688
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoffmann View Post
    Every year or so there seems to be a young singer that shows up on the reality audition shows that wow the audience with their renditions of one or another "top ten" aria.

    A critic from "The Economist" finally weighed in on the phenomenon and why it's a sham:

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/prosp...nas?fsrc=gnews
    One thing. What about the child singers whose roles are written into an opera and who are sometimes performed by children, projecting over an orchestra (eg Oberto in Alcina). I mean, I know they are properly trained, but don't those concerns apply to them?

    Natalie

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  14. #1689
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Festat's Avatar
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    I've seen that a dozen times and I'm still impressed by that Oberto.

    The main difference I'd say is that Alois is not intentionally darkening his voice or simulating a vibrato he doesn't yet have to sound grown-up. The trill in the end is barely there. You can see the coloratura is still tough on him. He is singing like a boy, as skilfully as it probably gets, but like a boy.

    I don't think the problem the voice coach brings is simply projecting over the orchestra. Children can project immensely, anyone who has attended a public event with a crying baby knows that the hard way. That doesn't harm their voices. Other thing entirely is to sound like an adult over an orchestra, which is what is excepted from anyone attending the opera, and requires singing super loudly while straining the voice, faking a full vibrato, pushing for a trill, and so on.

    I guess context also helps a lot in Alcina. It is Handel — not freaking Puccini after all — and Oberto is in fact a child. It is acceptable to sound like a boy. If Alois was to sing Ruggiero it wouldn't be as much of a success.

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  16. #1690
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Mention of Anna Gottlieb made me remember that a number of prominent late 18th/early 19th century opera singers began their careers in their teens and were singing major roles at that age. Mozart’s sister-in-law Aloysia Weber made her debut at 18; Adelina Patti made her debut at 16 singing the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor; Pauline Viardot was 18 when she made her debut, singing Desdemona in Rossini’s Otello; her sister Maria Malibran was in her late teens when she replaced Giuditta Pasta as Rosina in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia; Pasta herself was already singing Mozart’s Donna Elvira at the age of 19; and Anna Milder, who made her debut at 19, created the role of Leonore in the original 1805 version of Fidelio at the “mature” age of 21. Of course, these are the women – though the precocious opera “singers” on the TV talent competitions all seem to be girls. Information on tenors is pretty sparse, but they appear to have launched their careers at an older age than many of the sopranos/mezzos. Rubini made his debut when he was 20; Benedikt Schack, who created the role of Tamino, began his vocal studies at the age of 17, but it’s not clear when he made his professional debut – he spent some time as a court music director in Silesia before joining Emmanuel Schikaneder’s theater troupe at age 28. Manuel Garcia, the father of Malibran and Viardot, was already 33 when he traveled to Paris to perform leading roles; his biography indicates that he previously sang in Madrid and Cadiz, but there’s no indication of how old he was when he made his operatic debut. Giulio (Julius) Radichi, who created the role of Florestan in the 1814 final version of Fidelio, was 30 when he made his first appearance at La Scala, but again, it’s unclear at what age he made his debut.
    By the mid-19th century, the era of the teenage prima donna seems to have ended. I don’t know if women tended to mature at an earlier age in the late 18th/early 19th centuries, or if perhaps singing standards were different at that time. Unfortunately, there’s no way we can find out what any of these ladies actually sounded like.

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  18. #1691
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    I'm watching on PBS the Madama Butterfly from the Met with Opolais and Alagna, in a revival of the 2006 Minghellla production.

    I'm disappointed. This show got some good reviews but I largely do not agree. I found that Opolais was unconvincing and Alagna wasn't in good voice. The other singers were awful, and I can't understand the reviews that said that Maria Zifchak as Suzuki (way past her prime) stole the show. Uh, what? She stole the show, you say? Really?

    They even managed to make this gorgeous woman Kristine Opolais look unattractive.

    Minghella's production is interesting, though. The famous puppet child is neat. The orchestra did well as always. But the singers in this particular show clearly weren't at their best.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  19. #1692
    Senior Member Veteran Member Povero Buoso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) View Post
    I'm watching on PBS the Madama Butterfly from the Met with Opolais and Alagna, in a revival of the 2006 Minghellla production.

    I'm disappointed. This show got some good reviews but I largely do not agree. I found that Opolais was unconvincing and Alagna wasn't in good voice. The other singers were awful, and I can't understand the reviews that said that Maria Zifchak as Suzuki (way past her prime) stole the show. Uh, what? She stole the show, you say? Really?

    They even managed to make this gorgeous woman Kristine Opolais look unattractive.

    Minghella's production is interesting, though. The famous puppet child is neat. The orchestra did well as always. But the singers in this particular show clearly weren't at their best.
    This worries me greatly. If casting rumors and future met wiki is correct Opolais is meant to be attempting the potential folly of all three soprano roles in the 100th anniversary trittico in 2018. If she is having trouble with Butterfly it raises serious doubts with me on whether she can tackle that feat adequately...

  20. #1693
    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    I have to optimistically presume that the Live in HD performance was cursed with bad luck and was a weak day for the production. Alagna must have been sick, and that could have affected Opolais' commitment to her performance. Her Cio-Cio has been praised there and at other production runs.

    Incidentally, that was my first Butterfly, so... yeah... that wasn't a "click" for me... : )

  21. #1694
    Senior Member Veteran Member Povero Buoso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nemorino View Post
    I have to optimistically presume that the Live in HD performance was cursed with bad luck and was a weak day for the production. Alagna must have been sick, and that could have affected Opolais' commitment to her performance. Her Cio-Cio has been praised there and at other production runs.

    Incidentally, that was my first Butterfly, so... yeah... that wasn't a "click" for me... : )
    The version on youtube is actually not terrible for a "movie" version. An excellent listening version is the Scotto, Panerai, Bergonzi with Barbirolli conducting. It is unbeatable and on Itunes! Butterfly was a difficult opera for me to fall in love with in comparison to a lot of the other Puccini operas however it definitely grows on you and is now my favourite after Il Trittico and Tosca.
    "Non sono in vena" Rodolfo summing up P.B's feelings on his dissertation.

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  23. #1695
    Senior Member Involved Member Nemorino's Avatar
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    I'll keep those in mind! I'm sure I will have a good Butterfly at some point. I have listened to it before and since; I don't casually listen to full operas much - preferring highlights most of the time - but I do with Puccini. But the plots to his other operas appeal to me more.

    And I apologize, I'm about to brag... I just got back from Santa Fe, and I adored "La fanciulla". As a movie guy, I was really impressed with how well the libretto integrates Western tropes that would go on to be important in cinema. It's a bit like Tosca with a happy ending isn't it? That hopeful ending got me choked up, I'm not gonna lie.

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