What separates the giants from the ants
So now that I kicked off the year with something pleasant, let’s unleash the grumpy side as follows.
Every once in a while something comes along that is just wrong. Cue in a moment from Salzburg M22, quite rightly famous for its unevenness.
I recently waxed lyrical about that wonderful expression of personal streangth that is Biancheggia in mar lo scoglio. Coming across a clip of this aria from the Salzburg M22 series, I had a facepalm moment. Bless her heart, Louise Fribo tries her best with this mofo and with the silliness the director has given her to act whilst wading through the aria. But it’s still wrong. I couldn’t help comparing the two, even though Popp’s is a studio recording and I know it’s not entirely fair1. But I’ve heard opera singers in the house and I know a full, secure voice is full and secure live as much as it is in the studio. The puny quality of the voice is what bothered me first and foremost. I don’t care that the director is a moron who told you to sweep the hero’s bedroom, you still need to do your best with that you can (ie, the music).
This is a heroic aria and needs to be delivered as such. It doesn’t help that the director doesn’t seem to understand the characters. I’m all for bringing an opera in actuality2 but you still need to keep the ethos of the characters. There is no way Scipione is some easily manipulated Joe Schmoe and neither is Costanza some sort of kittenish homemaker on a diet. Wtf is Costanza not able to stand her ground (you know, as her name implies) when facing off with Fortuna)? I mean, god… There is no reason why Fortuna left the room when Costanza started sweeping. I get “sweeping” but considering how literal the direction is otherwise, that is so lame. The logical thing for Costanza would have been to stand tall in front of Fortuna, not to scurry off to the broom. Don’t get me started on all the jumping on the bed malarkey. What’s Costanza, some ’80s rock’n’roll teenager, about to trash her hotel room?
- For fairness’ sake, check out Gladys Mayo singing it live in 1985. See what I’m saying? That’s the attitude and that’s a proper voice. ↩
- Especially one with such a pompous libretto, complete with dedication to Wolfie’s BFF, Archbishop Colloredo. As much as I like history I was bored stiff by all the 1700s cliched talk of virtue. ↩