Jazzy Sonia Prina (Wigmore Hall, 10 September 2017)

Sonia Prina contralto
Paolo Spadaro Munitto piano

Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
Voglio di vita uscir
Lamento d’Arianna
Béla Bartók (1881-1945)
Three Hungarian Folksongs from Csík BB45b
Henri Duparc (1848-1933)
Au pays où se fait la guerre
L’invitation au voyage
Chanson triste
A piece from Feuilles volantes Op. 1
Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)
7 canciones populares españolas

Interval

Mátyás Seiber (1905-1960)
4 French Folk Songs
Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849)
Chanson lithuanienne Op. 74 No. 16
Lamento Op. 74 No. 9
Madrigal Op. 74 No. 12
La jeune fille et le fleuve Op. 74 No. 3
George Gershwin (1898-1937)
The Man I Love
3 Preludes
No. 2 Prelude in C sharp minor
Erroll Garner (1923-1977)
Misty

Encore:

Bella Asteria Tamerlano

Don’t we all want to hear our favourite singers occasionally step out of the same old, same old?

No?

No?

😉

Regardless of what we want, they sometimes do. In this case Prina put on a dress and spent most of the evening crooning. One’s personality comes out well rounded in recitals and so there were still enough fist pumping moments as well as humour (the Bartók songs). Mostly, though, it was an evening that quite naturally lead into Bella Asteria.

Perhaps it was a logical response to unfamiliar sounds (though the songs in themselves were entertaining), but I’ve never heard a more beautiful rendition of Andronico’s serenata. This isn’t an aria that normally makes me purr, plus when she was in London for Ariodante she’d sung it in her BBC interview and I was quite unconvinced. But though she herself admitted she was tired, this time it came out really pretty. Her ppps were on fire all night, as was her phrasing.

The Duparc set seemed to me the most suited to her voice – she did it very low and velvety so now that I heard the songs that way I don’t want to hear them any other way. Her “vocal meandering” in L’invitation au voyage was exquisite.

The least suited was the de Falla stuff, which seemed to me like, in spite of her dramatic involvement, never quite bloomed. I kept thinking it needs ping, but aside from the tartness her voice gets at the very top when she’s loud, there’s no ping in her voice.

Baroque Bird joined me at the show at least in part because I managed to misplace all my Autumn Wiggy tickets and needed a reprint :o! She knows more about music than I do and she gave me some pointers regarding the piano, which is an instrument I don’t quite get (as in, I don’t normally know what I’m supposed to be looking for).

According to her, Spadaro has a particular feel for jazz so the second part came out more naturally to him. I was seated on his side and all I could say was that he was too loud in general. After she mentioned it, I could follow that he tends to finish songs quite abruptly, which on occasion I thought hampered Prina when was going for a dreamy atmosphere. But she likes him and she obviously teamed up with him for that jazzy feel she was after all night.

The jazz stuff sounded very well – Baroque Bird had come especially for that and was so happy with the result she said she’s all for Prina singing/recording more of that – and it got me thinking that Baroque specialists have the advantage of that more relaxed style of singing when it comes to song in general. It never felt like there was a break in styles, the show just flowed very naturally, though Prina did get into the spirit of things (I can tell you she had the right temper and timing for the Bartók stuff).

It left me in a very mellow mood, basking in her pps and tangy frutti di bosco gelato tone and wondering how things would’ve been if she went the jazz route instead.

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Happy Tito Day to all Tito lovers!

As the banner says, September is normally Tito Month but since we had a very full August this year I think we’re all taking it easy in September 😉 Nonetheless, (this) September 6 marks the 226th anniversary of Mozart’s Tito premiere in Prague. So I’ll leave you with that silly Sesto and Vitellia dance from Sellars’ production:

I think it’s supposed to be erotic? I don’t quite believe Vitellia is trying to ascertain Sesto isn’t armed and ready to off her instead, though they are performing those weird stabbing movements as well… I guess the little dance gives you the gist of the opera and especially the gist of Sellars’ approach to it.

Why is Trekkie Nerone singing Ottone’s entrance aria?

😀 look at those moves1! What formidable Ottavia can play this space-conquering Ottone?

ps: ever tried having your Ottone duet with himself on this? I accidentally opened two similar windows a few seconds apart and let me tell you = twice the fun.


  1. on second thought, forget Nerone, that’s Space Cesare right there! 

Sealed with a gif

I think Giulia will especially appreciate this 😉 I saw it years ago but it never gets old.

Speaking of opera gifs, it’s not only been Tito August chez dehggi but also gif August. This was one of the very first scenes I wanted to gif:

that sneaky manteau keeps coming back 😉

ps: …since we’re in gif-land and it would be a bit weird to keep making overly silly posts this side of tumblr, also check out the hysterical Musical Notation (with Cats) post.

ps2: how cool is THAT for an animated gif?! Brings me closer to (gif) deities etc.

ps3: haha! Ohttone…!

ps4: Romeo

Prom 59 2017: La clemenza di Tito (28 August 2017)

The usual thoughts on arias, recits etc. I’ll put this behind a cut because at this point I think it’s mostly of interest to me. Let’s look at it again when the DVD comes out next year. I’m curious how it’s going to feel from a few months’ distance. Read the rest of this entry

Tito at the Proms tonight (28 August 2017)

 

Tito17G

The bird we all love! 😉

Just a reminder, in case you haven’t had enough Tito this month: tonight the Glyndebourne team will be live at the Proms at 19:00 GMT for a last round of Tito. If you can’t make it tonight, you’ll find the concert archived by the BBC for a while (a month, I think).

ps: since I’m gif happy now (thanks for the relentless push, t 😉 ), I also added the Parto shake to the big WTF Medley post. You know you want to see it.

If that opera thing didn’t work out…

Did you know today was Say unPC Things About Opera Day? No? Now you do.

Latonella started it way back in August last year, in her Ciro from Polonia post:

The formidable Ewa Podles looks like “an elderly Polish lady.” Haha! She so does.

I was ruthlessly inspired, so here we go:

Susan Graham = running your middle school’s carpool scheme and organising Soccer practice since 1996

Edita Gruberova = Auntie Ditta from Bratislava will teach you how to make belcanto-style preserves from the peach crop in her own orchard

Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, loved by many opera devoted ladies, looks to me like your surprisingly well intentioned car mechanic

Dorothea Roschmann = teaching middleschool German to exasperating pre teens (a few with secret crushes on her)

Sara Mingardo = that mild mannered Librarian in charge of the Italian Renaissance Poetry Section on your campus’ Main Library

Alex Esposito = wait, wasn’t that the footie coach?!

 

More coherent thoughts on Sellars’ and Currentzis’ Salzburg Tito

Spending a couple of hours on a flight with an impressive number of rambunctious children under 10 offers a good opportunity to sit through this unecessary bloated production. At several moments I wanted to skip the extraneous music but faced with the joy of the child next to me playing with the tray I went back to Sellars et all 😉

Well, hohum. Quite the letdown. It’s got enough visual chutzpah to give an initial impression of thought out but there doesn’t seem to be any coherence at all due to the lack of strong relationships. The drama is pushed back behind the chutzpah and the endless choir action. I would under no circumstances show this to a Tito novice. But I think Tito veterans should see it for many reasons, none of which, sadly, have to do with the story of Tito – except in the general Tito context. It’s unusual but it’s not illuminating, unless you really wanted to know more about the MusicAeterna choir.

Let me start with what I liked:

  • whatever is going on during the overture. It’s enegetic and interesting, it hits you and it feels refreshing that you don’t quite know what’s going on.
  • I liked the idea behind the choreography on Non piu di fiori. The development was thin.
  • Servilia and Sesto have a lovely sisterly relationship the likes of which you’ve never seen in a Tito production.
  • the black/white/ethnic thing. It’s unusual (though not for Sellars) and it says something. An interesting conversation could be had regarding what exactly it does say. I am not entirely sure.

What I didn’t get:

  • the development was thin in general. I never got the important relationships, aside from Annio and Servilia, who look like a real couple and the nice revelation of Servilia and Sesto.
  • who is Sesto, really? What is his motivation, really? It’s never explained and you need that – there can’t be Tito without it laid out clearly. If any of you get it, please enlighten me. I am stumped. She looks like a student who hangs out with people of a radical bent, though the same people seem to really like Tito. She doesn’t look like a proper fanatic, especially when she starts feeling really remorseful. Again, if you saw something I didn’t, please argue your point. I would love to see more meaning that I could so far.
  • Vitellia! She reminds me of the one we know but, again, her relationship with Tito and, especially, Sesto, is unclear to me. The upshot is I loved Schultz’s musically. She needs a proper Tito production, I hope she gets to sing in one somewhere we (I) can see.
  • Tito dying lessens the drama and the message. In fact
  • the lack of proper relationships dilutes the message to the point where it’s hard to care about what is going on.
  • The MusicAeterna choir and their neverending closeups: yea, they’re good but I don’t see why Tito has to be used as a vehicle to push their agenda to the point where it’s more MusicAeterna choir than Tito.

I am still undecided on Currentzis yet. Some good stuff, some overdone, meddlesome. Whover advocated the extra music needs to be spanked with a wooden paddle (unless they particularly like it).

Why is Tito usually so much older than Sesto? and other musings

Yesterday I had a short exchange on this subject with Kate V. and it seems it got stuck in my head before the performance 😉 Here are some things that occurred to me only whilst seeing it again in the house (says something about my usual attention span):

on the subject of age: it works for Sesto to be/look significantly younger, especially when the production is based on the angle of Tito missing those more innocent times. In this case = absolutely. I was thinking about Sesto’s rock, too, which is located right under Tito’s chair/throne. There is a reason why it’s there and not across the stage, which would also make sense.

burying the magpie (during Del piu sublime soglio):

  • shows us that Tito and Sesto are working on their issues together
  • Tito hasn’t forgotten but has forgiven Sesto, so he’s not faking his goodness
  • Sesto is aware of his own nature and is actively trying to become a better person

amicitia vs il primo amor: Glyndebourne translated il primo amor in Deh, per questo as “the first friendship”. During the opera (ie, other than in this aria) their relationship is called amicitia, whereas Annio and Servilia always refer to theirs as il primo amor. What I take from this is that Tito and Sesto’s friendship is of a more intense kind than usual friendship (though not necessary gay as we understand it today). Also considering it’s only called amor during an aria, it’s probably not something that’s so much put into words as felt.

questo cor and altro cor: Sesto refers to questo cor in Deh, per questo (not cor 😉 ) and immediately on its heels Tito asks for (un) altro cor in Se all’impero. I like that link of ideas and I also like how at the end all the people who turn out to share questo cor are downstairs in the reeds whereas the bureaucrats are upstairs in the manmade structure1.

ah, sventurato!: says Publio, upon hearing from Tito that Sesto’s fate is decided (right before Se all’impero). I’ve always taken it to refer to Sesto but after yesterday’s performance it hit me that Publio is talking about Tito because he knows Tito2 and he also knows what the mob wants (not merciful leaders, despite professing otherwise).

the reeds: they pop right out of their stands, if you look closely when Tito is harvesting them (Tu fosti tradito).


  1. I like designer Christian Schmidt’s comments on how the structure seems to have dropped from the sky in that originally idyllic landscape. It’s a good metaphor for adult life, with its inherent rigidity and hypocrisy invading the simpler, more direct and more imaginative world of childhood. 
  2. isn’t he singing what Tito feels during Quello di Tito e il volto? He’s clearly aware of Tito’s struggles. 

Tito under the mulberry tree (more Glyndebourne)

Intermission notes:

This time I cried during Del piu sublime soglio. Awesome performance from Croft.

Everybody is more relaxed by now, the acting flows beautifully. There are no more cameras.

Rookie audience:

Young woman at intermission: is Sesto sung by a woman? I kept wondering…
Other ladies in the loo queue: Yes, yes, he is. There was a cast change. But the reviews are about the one we’re seeing.
Young woman: oh, wow! Sesto is the star of the evening!
Other ladies: YES!

The only applause came after Parto. I was confused as it had been so beautifully performed, light and gentle, with some swoony ppp along the way (really moving) but also funny (Vitellia putting the moves on Sesto).

Especially in the wake of the Currentzis Tito I want to commend Ticci and Gupta on the fortepiano continuo for a very light, unfussy touch.

It’s raining. I took refuge under a very friendly mulberry tree with a cute little sleepy bird. How appropriate!

We had a weird incident on the way here, that held up the trains for almost an hour and a half. Luckily I was on a train ahead of the suggested train. The shuttle waited for the stragglers 🙂 but we only had 20min to settle and have a bite before curtain up.

Loud thunder was overheard in the auditorium just as the insurrection started on stage.

Staff offered umbrellas but I like my tree. Too bad I couldn’t visit with the sheep properly (now grazing on the adjacent meadow) ❤

Gent next to me in the auditorium: nobody dies! Not very operatic.
Dehggi: nobody should die. It’s all about the search for a better, more forgiving society.

the mulberry is split in two and the side on the right is propped up.

After the intermission:

This was an all around emotional day, as it was my last time at Glyndebourne this year, the end of “my” season (though I really would’ve liked to come back again a couple of times, but you have to observe life-opera balance). Also going to the opera on your own makes for a very different atmosphere, perhaps even moreso when it’s your favourite opera. Even so, a few conversations happened:

Lady who sat next to me for act 2: I saw you talking to the usher about those free seats up there.
dehggi: yes, I want to possibly upgrade because this is my favourite opera.
Lady: …of all operas?!
dehggi: YES! I really like the ideals, forgiveness… and the music is beautiful.
Lady: well, someone is always forgiven at the end of Mozart operas.
(dehggi: someone, even some ones but not everyone.) I didn’t actually say it, because I didn’t particularly want to chat, I was in my own world and cried again during Eterni dei. After the curtain calls I dashed out for fear somebody would notice how tearful I was. Also to be first in line at the loo.

On the bus there were two French people behind me. The woman thought the production was too “brutalist” and concluded “this was the new tendency”. I wanted to turn around and ask where she had been for the past 20 years. She did think the voices very good, though this opera was “by no means” one of her favourites (dehggi: eyeroll). Then she went on to wax lyrical about some wonderful production of Giselle at Opera Garnier.

At 21:30 the train station was almost deserted and the train board let us know the 19:30 was delayed. Some ladies started to make plans in case the trains were still disrupted. I said I’d help them split the taxi bill to London if it came to that. We co-opted some very excited Japanese ladies, so all in all, we would’ve been 5 to split that bill.

The train was on time. I’ve never heard the Glyndebourne crowd whoop so freely outside the opera house before 😀

Everybody said they liked the performance, very good voices. One of the “taxi planning” ladies explained trousers roles to me 😀 Then I somehow got to talking about the earlier Hamlet production/opera with the other taxi lady. She, like the gent sat next to me at that performance, loved it (the actual music)! She also thought the production was “more modern” than this one. (dehggi: head scratching moment. Maybe we were thinking of different things?).

In the end, there were three arias that received applause: Sesto’s and Se all’impero (<- a lot more than for the livestreamed performance). However, there was very loud thumping at curtain calls. I guess this audience is more used to lieder? Heh. I’m not quite sure why they kept their appreciation to the end if they actually liked it this much. There was, however, a lot of laughter, even during Vengo…! Aspetatte! I agree, it’s a funny moment.