May Madness Mix 2: Cléopâtre take two (Basel, 6 May 2015)
I discovered I can never have enough Cléopâtre, and they all must be experienced in countries known for their chocolate. As you might have gleaned from my Akhnaten post(s), Ancient Egypt related stuff scores high with me (except for Aida, but we’ll talk about Sr Verdi soon enough). Then there’s the music. Throw in a bit of faux-Egyptian sound and I’m yours. What can I say? Neoclassic Berlioz rocks. And how badass are the lyrics:
Grands Pharaons, nobles Lagides,
Verrez-vous entrer sans courroux,
Pour dormir dans vos pyramides,
Une reine indigne de vous?
Non, j’ai d’un époux déshonoré la vie.
Sa cendre est sous mes yeux, son ombre me poursuit.
C’est par moi qu’aux Romains l’Égypte est asservie.
Par moi nos dieux ont fui les murs d’Alexandrie
After the two Röschmann/Uchida shows, thadieu and I embarked for Europe, to, as I explained to my opera-virgin ex-in-laws, “see some women sing some stuff”. You might wonder what my ex-in-laws have to do with anything. We met them because I needed the good camera, of which l’ex and I have joint custody. Here’s what I mean:
As you can see we had excellent weather if a bit treacherous to some. Never having been to Basel (or to Switzerland for that matter) I suddenly became picture crazy and pointed the camera at everything under the sun but I won’t bore you, gentle reader, with all those ivy-covered walls or with Rhein’s fast currents that I just had to capture for
posterity the harddrive. Suffice to say we had a lovely stroll through the centre of Basel at the end of which we went around in circles a bit before being told the venue was just around the corner. I took pictures of everything except for the venue. But it was quite small and felt relaxed and comfy.
György Ligeti (1923-2006)
Concert Românesc (1951)
Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)
La mort de Cléopâtre – Scène lyrique für Sopran und Orchester (1829)
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Sinfonie Nr. 3 F-Dur, op. 90 (1883)
Conductor: Enrique Mazzola | Sinfonieorchester Basel
Concert românesc. This turns out to be an extremely fun piece that makes me want to go on a mad Ligeti binge though I know better (?). Familiarity with the subject matter brings mischieviousness: does the orchestra sound Romanian enough? Does Ligeti know what that means? I think Ligeti did a good job at compiling a medley of traditional Romanian themes which doesn’t sound tossed together. The orchestra, I think, could’ve been even more playful in the fun bits, it felt a bit this-is-classical-music earnest. The Romanian spirit, I’d say, is rather glib and rubato is always a good idea, except you should know where to use it 😉 There’s a lot of chillin’n’gigglin’ and not that much darkness (in spite of what good ol’ Dracula would have the world think). But still fun, especially when the intruments had their solo moments. No one could envy the first violin’s job at the very end. That little finger got a hell of a workout. But she was deteremined, oh yes!
Cléopâtre. Familiarity with a piece also comes in handy when dealing with an unexpectedly mushy brain. By which I mean I could still (kinda) follow the music and appreciate that the conductor went gentler than usual and less dark too from the getgo. We were strategically placed right at the front, just to the left of the conductor (so very clever, I thought, with little concern for the perils ahead…). VK came in, moved the music stand out of the way and got her mad moves going
under above our noses. A few days before, thadieu and I had this short convo:
thadieu: maybe she’ll wear the red dress from Mannheim. Have I shown you the pictures?
dehggi (appreciative but confident): chill, I can cope.
Famous last words. On the one hand woohoo, the red dress from Mannheim! On the other dude… front row view = pictures X 1000. Foggy brain for the rest of the performance:
dehggi: don’t talk to me right now, can’t process words.
thadieu: 😀 what did I tell you!
dehggi: so how was the singing?
So, there you go. It was intense. At some point VK suddenly stepped towards us, did the finger-pointy thing and went OSIRIS! That cleared the brain a bit. Me: whoa! Osiris is in this one too?! I must check the damn lyrics if I like it as much as I claim, because left to VK there are precious few words to understand.
dehggi: this time I understood more than usual!
thadieu: I got maybe three words.
dehggi: exactly 😀
You know what she needs to do? Pair this thing up with Ô ma lyre immortelle and another couple of pieces of that sort and we’ve got a consistent recital in this repertoire. The red dress must be part of it.
Brahms as come down drug. Don’t ask me how things went before the slow movement. That one came out extremely warm and lyrical and surprisingly (or not?) that brought my attention back into focus. Then the allegro ending worked as a re-grouping agent and my hands dried and I was able to grin and think again. The both of us agreed the orchestra sounded tight. We were too low to see the winds but they sounded well. Thadieu liked the first violin a lot, I appreciated the upright bass though he was called to play quite gently throughout. The conductor jumped around a lot – between him and VK it felt like a capoeira convention 😉 I jest. You catch my drift, it was a fun evening though way less coherent than usual for me. Remember, I’m a rational person… most of the time. When low cut dresses and bare shoulders aren’t quite as close. Next time it’s back to the upper slips for me.
Who am I kidding? 😀
Posted on May 15, 2015, in live performances, mezzos & contraltos and tagged hector berlioz, johannes brahms, ligeti györgy, sinfonieorchester basel, vesselina kasarova. Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.