Kasarova Handel recital (Karlsruhe Handel Fest, 2 March 2015)
Why do people fix what ain’t broken? In this case, why’d VK ever decide to sing in another rep? I enjoyed both times I’d seen her before but this one was a whole other level of fun. No wonder she likes singing in Germany: these people love her like she’s their own child. It was like an old folk’s rave 😉
„Frondi tenere“ (Serse)
„Ombra mai fù“ (Serse)
„Se bramate d’amar chi vi sdegna“ (Serse)
Ballet from Rodrigo (Act III)
„Cara sposa, amante cara, dove sei? “ (Rinaldo)
Battaglia from Act III (Rinaldo)
„Or la tromba in suon festante mi richiamo a trionfar“ (Rinaldo)
„Con rauco mormorio piangono al pianto mio“ (Bertarido)
„Vivi, tiranno!“ (Bertarido)
Ballet from Alcina (Act I)
„Mi lusinga il dolce affetto“ (Ruggiero)
„Sta nell’Ircana, pietrosa tana“ (Ruggiero)
Ombra mai fu
Conductor: Paul Goodwin | Badische Staatskapelle
I guess once you’ve admitted to yourself that you’re on opera fan you have to also get used to the fact that you’re going to cheer for the same things people your grandparents’ age and habits do. I’m not saying there were no young people – there are always some – more that the feel of the Badisches Staatstheater was very old school opera-like, complete with pearls and plastic roses on coffee tables. But to my surprise this stuffy audience really could cheer and support a singer who’s dubbed rather unusual (especially in this rep). Obviously not unusual enough for German audiences (but then they eat regie for breakfast so I guess nothing can faze them).
When I said it was another level of fun I meant you could tell right away that she was having fun. I don’t know that I felt that specifically when I saw her before. Of course, singing to your own fans is bound to relax you. She even talked to the public in her soft and girly voice, which I took as a bonus. It never fails to crack me up – it’s so incongruous with her “you talkin’ to me” stage persona. Speaking of which, sometimes I think she can come off as serious and perhaps a bit remote but last night she was downright playful. As a consequence she specifically rocked the bravura arias. Yours truly still teared up almost as soon as Mi lusinga il dolce affetto started.
dehggi’s first take: OMG, we’re already there! Noooooo, more!
dehggi’s second take: OMG, Mi lusinga sung live by VK! Like OMG totallyewyruhfjsdbfsdgfusfw384hf.
Seriously, I am that crazy about her version. Listen to it; how can you not desintegrate emotionally? Jesus. In fact, every time in the past two weeks I had doubts about attending the concert it was always the thought of Mi lusinga that refocused me:
dehggi’s inner lazy arse: More international travel hassle (ie, £££), I just saw her in November…
dehggi’s inner Mi lusinga fan: But Mi lusinga…
dehggi’s inner lazy arse: It’s cold…
dehggi’s inner Mi lusinga fan: ooooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh…
dehggi’s inner lazy arse: Shift swapping madness…
dehggi’s inner Mi lusinga fan: …che m’inga(ah ah-ah-ah-AH-AH…)nni amando ancor.
Yea, I love it how Ruggiero gets thoughtful and gentle and worried all of a sudden. Except that’s how he should’ve felt about Alcina. Anyway.
Remember I said the bravura arias were the hot diggity and I think the reason for that was her own cheerful mood. Let me set this straight: no mezzo does bravura like VK. I was convinced Rinaldo, Bertarido and Ruggiero were going to kick major arse specifically in those high heels and no other way could have possibly worked (Serse simply would wear high heels). It’s the menacing prowl (the woman doesn’t just “walk” on stage). Somewhere in the middle of all the showing off in Or la tromba I started cracking myself up with images of VK wielding a giant sword. You know the vocals go along with the trumpets so naturally VK worked her ornaments to mimic those because her colours allow her to do just that kind of stuff. VK + winds = the enemy has no chance.
Ok, not everybody was mesmerised. These two ladies sat next to me sniggered through VK’s mad stage antics and left at the interval. It’s true that she’s a very impatient person. From my spot I could see her right off the bat (Serse overture) just barely inside the wing, obviously itching to get on stage and kick some arse. Eventually, as she felt the crowd firmly on her side, she just prowled in whenever it suited her 😉 I’m not complaining, in fact I’d rather have the singers there throughout but I guess others like a bit of a break or something. Impatience aside, she’s very chivalrous (shook the first violin’s hand repeatedly and in the end gave him her bouquet – then the conductor gave her his and she hugged him in a cute manner. She can do cute right after wielding that huge sword…).
Most of the crowd were fans and weren’t satisfied and clapped madly until she came back with Verdi prati (I kinda had a feeling and was very glad for it; Zen Ruggiero = ftw) then a reprise of Ombra mai fu. She went (very cutely) something like Ok, you guys, we’ve run out of arias, you say what you want to hear. I was thinking how about the other 5 Ruggiero arias? but the adoring fans went easy on her and only asked for the short Ombra. Or I think they did. I was sat too far to properly hear her speak and it was in German. My German stretches only as far as Der Zug nur bei bitten halt – which itself might be wrong but at least I know what it means (and I heartily approve! We need that kind of thinking for our overground trains). Anyway, whatever the dialogue, Ombra returned. I’m not a fan of this one no matter who’s singing it but I wasn’t going to complain. She did a bit of messa di voce on the long note at the beginning but didn’t go oveboard, just enough for a nice ring, which I appreciated. It’s a simple aria and should stay that way.
You might ask yourself ok, she fronted like she meant to scare the bad guys but was she any good vocally?She sounded like she sounds in Baroque (which you either like or you don’t, especially if her iffy passaggio bothers you too much) and was up for some daring moves (like her nunchuk squillo which just about seared my ears in Sta nell’Ircana; I hope those in the first rows were insured) and also for a number of striking ornaments. Now her ornaments aren’t the elaborate kind Baroque specialists do, they are more about the mood of the text or in response to the orchestra, as I mentioned above. Organic, perhaps. I have long been intrigued by her very personal take on Baroque and by her always intense and interesting interpretations. I didn’t go there to hear a canary string pretty notes on air and it certainly wasn’t that. But I was surprised by just how much good natured fun it turned out to be.