Lawrence Zazzo Masterclass (RCM, 29 October 2014)

Following a chat about masterclasses with thadieu, I realised the next one I was going to was in April, 100 years away. A quick search revealed LZ was doing one at the Royal College of Music today. This is why I live in London. The crowds in the Museum area are another thing. Tip: if you’re visiting, don’t go to the museums in Knightsbridge on a weekday. It’s murder. Do go to Knightsbridge at other times, you’re likely to see a lot of vintage cars and some badass Lamborghinis, such as this.

I recommend these Royal College of Music Masterclasses to “civilians” because 1) they are dirt cheap (£2), 2) they appear to be very informal. At least this one was. And you get just as much info as you’d get if you went to a more hyped one1. For musicians I think you need to be a student at the RCM to get into one. The one possible downside today was that LZ zoomed through 3 hours without a break. True, you can come in and out as you please but that’s not the point. By the end of it my stomach’s growls carried further than my voice.

Another thing is you get to see the next generation of singers “at work”. Today’s batch were lovely and LZ seemed to have a great time working with them – so much so that eventually he regaled us with his “growly” voice and even poked fun at “the countertenor moment”. His main advise was not to be afraid to take risks (and go for the less obvious choice) for the sake of emotion or to play with the text a bit in order to get maximum expression, which I thought was a particularly interesting idea.

Among the pieces to be worked on there was a lot of Handel and early Mozart but also some interesting art songs I had not known but which I will investigate further. Two songs were particularly striking for me, Finzi’s The Clock of the Years and Poulenc’s A sa guitare. LZ’s interpretation of these two pieces was also interesting: he told the chap singing the Clock... (which involves a summoned ghost) to think of a more subtle kind of ghost, not just the Death figure it appears at face value. In regards to A sa guitare, he thought that although it was in a minor key it wasn’t sad as such, but rather sensual with just a drop of perhaps unexpected melancholy at the end. Cool stuff.


  1. There seems to be less stuff that goes over your head here. Or maybe LZ was really focused on working on interpretation. For me that’s the meat of the matter anyway. 
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About dehggial

opera lover with a predilection for Mozart and Baroque

Posted on October 29, 2014, in countertenors and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Gah!!! And this is why I need to be more plugged in to… well, goodness knows where, but it certainly isn’t where I’m plugged at the moment. Probably couldn’t have got to this anyway as I was at work, but I’ve just bought Zazzo’s “Royal Trio” album and despite the faint snorts of mirth about the cover, I’ve really enjoyed it. I had no idea what to expect and his voice was a very pleasant surprise; I really like his tone. And the really galling thing is that, just now, coming home on the Tube, I was listening to his version of “Va tacito” and wondering whether I might ever get the chance to see him live. And there it was. Gone. Headdesk

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    • Don’t worry, he’ll be back – he’s a RCM alumnus so he’s bound to do more Masterclasses there. Slowly you’ll find out all the good places in town as I am finding them now. Btw, he’s singing Farnace on the “new and improved” Mitridate recording. One of the students sang Gia dagli occhi… and LZ made it all really funny.

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      • he’s also ottone in agrippina (with antonacci and rene jacobs), and i saw him live singing orfeo, very nice voice. there’s also a version of him singing Pergolesi’s stabat mater that i really love (used to be on tube, not sure if still there, super nice sound balance with the wonderful soprano.., oh, found, this one.) I also like his cesare, better than scholl’s version actually! (but nobody can compete with sarah connolly!)

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        • Sweet, I’ll check it out when I get home. I’ve never heard Scholl’s Cesare, only Daniels’ (among CTs).

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          • huh? i swear i read here you mentioned him singing “Va tacito e nascosto”?! in fact after reading the post i now have this tune in my head! (how could it be?? i must be interpolating between reading-lines :D). the staging is also a bit fun with him being some statue in the museum (or mummy…) after discovering andreas scholl i went through his stuff.. which nicely led me to Connolly’s and LZ’s interpretations of the role.. and i sat through them all and must say DD’s version is the one i couldn’t handle the most.. but i think we squeezed this in in our 1-hr speed chat at tube station.. that one can handle some CT’s sound better than others.. altogether, Sarah Connolly beat them all in swagger.. w/ LZ coming 2nd on my list, followed by the timid Scholl.. and i pained myself through DD’s version 😀

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            • That was Leander up thread who mentioned Va tacito. I’m not even the biggest Giulio Cesare fan, I’ve only seen it a few times. I think I know which production you mean, it looks like a Museum and reminds me of Indiana Jones. I’m also not much of a DD (or Scholl) fan. I do really like DD’s Foribondo spira il vento, though.

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          • ps- i meant swagger + expressiveness. in fact i covered my eyes so as not to be bias and she handeled everything with vocal expression, the way none of the others came close i found.. (but i could be very biased)

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            • I think pretty much everyone who’s seen that DVD agrees she owns. Bias shmias 😉

              It makes me think of acting strengths: men who sing strong men better, men who sing weak men better, women who sing women better, women who sing men better – also men who sing Arnalta better than women. Plus what our expectations are based on our backgrounds.

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  2. Yep, sorry, that was me infecting everyone with my playlists. Oops. I’d like to see Zazzo do Cesare, definitely; though at the moment I definitely concur with the prevailing opinion that Sarah Connolly owns that role, based on clips of other singers I’ve seen on YouTube (maybe I’ll change my mind when Fagioli does it). 😉 And exciting news about Mitridate. I wonder if there might be any chance of him singing Farnace in the new ROH production that’s going to be on next year?

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  3. No further details on Mitridate yet – I heard about it on the grapevine and had assumed it was just another one of those things that everyone knew about but me. All I know is that it’s meant to be a new production rather than a revival…

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    • no oversized hoops and Levantine kabuki then 😉

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      • Personally I’ll most miss Jochen Kowalski’s forward-looking Loki-from-the-Thor-movies cosplay, but that’s probably just me. No, in fact, there’s nothing ‘probably’ about it. That is just me. I found that Mitridate desperately odd and stiff, despite my affection for the crazy costumes… still trying to figure out what to think about it.

        Mind you, having dipped into Twitter this evening post-Idomeneo, to find a rather divided reaction to it all, maybe we shouldn’t be too hopeful about the new approach to Mitridate? Very much looking forward to your Idomeneo thoughts, incidentally, as I think you were there tonight…

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        • Hold on, I’m writing about Idomeneo right now. But I’d like to extend a hearty “fuck off” to the provincial ROH audiences.

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        • All right, going back to Mitridate. I think I will make some time to post my thoughts on the 1993 production as I really liked it. I’m not saying it wasn’t stiff and odd but I saw that as a strength rather than as a weakness.

          I am hopeful about the new one but we can never know. Holten is a trickster all right, bringing all sorts of “different” productions to ROH. I think this is very refreshing but I am worried the “pillars” might want to get rid of him and bring back the gowns and wigs. People huffed about the Maria Stuarda production, which, to me, was as mild as it gets without being safe. I don’t know about others but I want a bit of pizzazz with my opera.

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