Mahler and Donizetti to balance the Handel
Yesterday I listened to Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde because I had never done it before and thought I should (must bring back Thursday’s something else). Today I listened to the 2014 Roberto Devereux from COC so I don’t get some part of Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno stuck in my head again.
With Lied my conclusion was that I can see why anyone bothers with it but I’m in no hurry to hear it again for at least a few good months. The length alarmed me in the beginning but it turned out to be less of a difficult listen than I thought. I don’t know that I actually liked some parts or rather that I enjoyed what Christa Ludwig did with the music. Perhaps a bit of both. Generally I have a hard time relating to the music of that period.
Devereux isn’t Maria Stuarda. It’s ok, less flashy (negligeable amound of trills), more Verdian maybe. There’s nothing wrong with Radvanovsky but I wasn’t overcome with mad passion and she had plenty of time to wow me. I think she and the chaps were expressive for what the music is, I just wasn’t invested enough (I don’t know the plot). It felt old school but I had this feeling even when attending performances of Donizetti operas. I guess we associate old school opera with this repertoire?
After predictibly getting very friendly with this Il trionfo I thought about a feeling I’ve had in recent months – that of having gone off belcanto a bit. Namely, I don’t think trills are well integrated within works of the 19th century. Now I know trills aren’t done the same way in Baroque as in belcanto. Even so, in 19th century works they seem superfluous (to me) though they don’t do so in Baroque. Maybe it feels more natural for Tempo or Bellezza to trill and less for some random human? I’m not sure, I think it’s more to do with the amount and the quality. After 1800 they just seem to be there for (often trashy) ornamentation, perhaps quantitative restraint would’ve worked better. How cool is it to have two grown up characters do the singing equivalent of cooing at each other?
Along the same thought, I was thinking how I feel that in Verdi the music and the ethos of the libretto don’t mesh. The feelings are modern (for his time) whilst the music seems old school. With Wagner I think things mesh well again, I just don’t like either the ethos or the music 😉