Moscow Alcina (January earrings in April ears)
Alcina turns 280 (she wishes!) on the 16th, a good time to revisit this performance now that it’s easily accessible. The first time around the sum of its parts added to more than met the eye (well… the earring contest was festive) but does it hold its magic on repeated hearings?
Overture – too fast and clipped – it heralds the way the orch plays the fast (and sometimes sarcastic) bits
O s’apre al riso – harder to sing than it seems
(chorus seems to think Handel singing = oratorio singing)
Oberto’s first aria (the one I usually think is boring but not here) – nice, yes (and nice singing too)
Di te mi rido – not sure the orch understands this is a funny moment; the rendition is very lyrical and beautiful but it lacks snappiness
E gelosia! – the orchestra plows on beautifully and must be thinking why is the singer getting all worked up? Dear orch, please look up aria di bravura.
Semplicetto, a donna crede – needs more bite
Si son quella – the orch is finally vindicated. More like the Baroque they know and love.
La bocca vaga – I know this is not a Baroque orch but what it sorely needs in arias like this is a phat arse/low end such as the orchestra here.
[insert a bunch of arias about which I don’t have extra comments this time around]
Mi lusinga il dolce affetto – the sounds coming out of VG’s mouth are beguiling, though I think her (interesting) trills occasionally wander away from the character
I missed this chunk back in January:
Ama, sospira – the violin leads the way but still I think there’s too much lyricism, though a case can be made that Morgana isn’t used to standing up to big sis
Mio bel tesoro – this one’s really missing the recorders, it’s nowhere near as poignant and dark with the flutes. I also think it needs more viariation in dynamics from the orch, it’s a very intimate, half internal monologue kind of piece
Oberto’s Act II aria – quite lovely
Ah, cor mio, schernito sei – Kalna is doing a hell of a job but the voice lacks the personal zing to make it an all around great interpretation
Oronte’s second aria – the first time around I couldn’t focus, now I feel I didn’t miss much. Rather pale and laborious.
Ω and now for the most important moment in the opera:
Verdi prati – is preceded by Ruggiero and Bradamante being rudely interrupted by a very pissed off Morgana. I’m telling!!!! she screams and runs off in a huff. Ruggiero muses on the subject of impermanence. It’s pretty but not heartbreaking (to paraphrase Bellini: it should make me cry).
Ombre pallide – the fact that this aria lay dormant for almost 200 years baffles me. I’m more shattered by this than by the entire Act III of La traviata. It’s not for nothing I’m mentioning La traviata: here we have two people who obviously love each other but can’t be together for rather similar reasons having to do with duty and social standing. I love that these arias are back to back. Perhaps the two characters should be on stage at the same time though not “together”.
Anyway, this rendition holds my attention on repeated listens. There’s just a little bit of vocal effervescence separating IK from greatness. Ω
I like the instrumental intro this time too.
This Oronte is very serious.
Credete al mio dolore – the violin is beautiful and very serious, more serious than I ever imagine Morgana can get.
Ma quando tornerai – the low end of the orchestra comes through rather well here.
Sta nell’Ircana – ready, steady, horns!
me: ready for take off, VG?
VG: oops, forgot to pack my dualjet engine. Let me launch a nice trill instead.
All’alma fedel – Bardon is cool.
Non e amor ne gelosia – interesting hesitant instrumental intro. The three ladies sound just as lovely now together as they did in January and the trills starting here and continuing for about 30s are fabulous.
In conclusion, it’s still highly enjoyable.