Prom 59 2017: La clemenza di Tito (28 August 2017)

The usual thoughts on arias, recits etc. I’ll put this behind a cut because at this point I think it’s mostly of interest to me. Let’s look at it again when the DVD comes out next year. I’m curious how it’s going to feel from a few months’ distance.

Tito: Richard Croft
Vitellia: Alice Coote
Sesto: Anna Stéphany
Annio: Michèle Losier
Publio: Clive Bayley
Servilia: Joélle Harvey
Conductor: Robin Ticciati
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and The Glyndebourne Chorus

Overture: tbc

Come ti piace imponi: tbc

Deh se piacer mi vuoi: I like the balance between the orchestra and Coote’s voice/phrasing. This public isn’t afraid to applaud.

Deh prendi: friendl(ier) than in the video version.

Serbate dei custodi: very brisk and martial; orchestra bounce = optimal; orchestra also matching in lightness, rhythmical on di-no-stra-eta.

Arse kissing: Publio’s weasly phrasing comes off better without all the visuals. I wonder how the set up was at the Proms, there are all sorts of sounds that make it appear as if Tito is descending a long staircase.

Sesto is very low key, the darkness comes through. Annio sounds rather masochistic.

Del piu sublime soglio: Tito is walking around. Colour, phrasing etc. Applause.

Annio is particularly overwrought.

Ah perdona: the low strings = very nice touch. Harvey has a solid and pleasant top, would like a bit of a smile, though I can see it without too. The lovebirds’ gentle ardor is reprised once again. Keyword for this aria = gentle. The audience likes it a lot.

Servilia… Augusta – Tito surprises himself. Servilia is very serious but I think that works with the very friendly Tito.

Ah se fosse: it’s good to hear the bassoon again. Tito walks around, perhaps with Servilia. I love how Croft picks up a non tolerar after the pause after si grave affanno. Again – colour, phrasing = the works. More applause than for ‘soglio.

Coote likes these sarcastic few lines, eh? Heh, heh. Sesto is so dark here that Vitellia can be a lot of things – annoyed, sexy, sarcastic, theatrical. Perche non (whispers) parti?

Parto: death sentence into. Sesto starts very strong, like he’s decided to jump off the cliff, knows it’s mad but will do it regardless because of the death sentence intro. The clarinet is so beautiful and elegant as to warn us do you think you know everything about Sesto? Mozart spoils us here – who do we want to take home and nurture – Sesto or the clarinet? The clarinet won’t try to kill us 😉 unless it falls off the shelf (I used to have one of those beds that was part of the bookcase so I went to bed with a shelf above my head every night for years – and often thought what if…). Cadenza = Stephany has kind of a nice voice, after all, and good attitude, though this Sesto won’t smile even once (except in his clarinet heart). The public knows this is the big number 😉 lots and lots of applause.

Vitellia stomps about, shaking her fist. Annio and Publio: Good news! Mahaha.

Vengo…! Aspetatte…! OMG: thank you mixing booth, we can properly hear Vitellia’s backing singers. This can be done as a Motown trio, complete with yarn ball hand spinning. Must’ve been fun seeing her run around the stage and there’s even a bit of applause.

Act I finale

Dark (voiced) Sesto does run around. Very solid support from the orchestra, you can feel the contrasts clearly. If Stephany had more volume she’d be really good. Did Sesto stumble for inghiottimi? Someone needs to do a version where a trapdoor swallows him and then we see just his hands for the next few lines. I like how Vitellia defends herself with taci, forsennato!

Intermission: the intermission chat was rather lively, about the socio-political background of the opera.

Act II

Sesto and Annio: Annio is very protective. Sounds like Sesto brought his stick and Swiss knife. His addio! is really depressed.

Torna di Tito a lato: the orchestra has some soft touches that work very well here (and elsewhere), nicely matched by Losier.

Partir…?: Sesto entertains the thought at least. Vitellia is there to cut that line of thought. Sesto is bleak again when he says he’ll take the secret to his grave. Vitellia isn’t happy yet. The Star Wars-ish cello continuo introduces Publio. Sesto doesn’t put up much of a fight.

Se al volto: this (elegantly) sad trio really works with the bleak Sesto and Stephany’s mournful tone. Lovely little trill on sospiri. Then we have Vitellia’s earthy angst and self involved incursions among the high notes. The public liked it.

Ah grazie: we know what happens in the production and I wonder how it was done semi-staged but here it sounds like Tito is out of it.

Creepy Publio bothers poor (thoug not poor) Tito.

Tardi s’avvede: I admit I’m not much into Bayley’s voice (destined for sleazy bad guys?) but there’s something to his rendition. Something deliberately unpleasant.

Tu fosti tradito: I wonder if they still did the scythe dance 😉 the low strings are badass again. Losier shows deft vocal handling and there’s no strain. Sounds like Tito is harvesting reeds all right.

Publio presses on and sounds really pleased to see that Tito is too tired. I always liked how this Annio lingered and tried to snatch the death sentence and then stood up to the much taller/bigger Publio.

future Tito (reminiscing): the hardest thing I ever had to do was decide Sesto’s fate that time he tried to kill me…

Quello di Tito e il volto: Tito is very delicate here.

Tito and Sesto’s heart to heart: some people apparently didn’t like the breaks in pace but I did and enjoy that they were kept for this concert performance. A real conversation (especially one of this sort) will have some lengthy breaks. As usual, good acting, credible theatre. The chaps in the intermission chat wished this were an accompagnato but I think Mozart’s instinct was correct: this should be raw (and the singers good actors).

Deh per questo: starts faraway. Never thought how the repeated high arpeggios in the strings represent reoccuring tormenting thoughts; lots of applause.

Tito: what’s a friendly emperor to do? I like how Croft did the taccia per ora quite differently every time. Now he went sort of Golum-ish; ma dunque faccio was good, too. How can he work it out? His decision is already making him feel much better by the time Publio shows up. When these recits are done right you/I do want them to go on.

Se all’impero: the connection was iffy during this act and picked Tito’s big aria as one of the moments to show its unreliability. Lots of applause.

The Save Sesto! Brigade corners Vitellia. She’s not happy but not as ready to tell them to piss off as she would’ve at the beginning of Act I. She realises Sesto’s loyalty. Oops. He’s not flaky, after all. We know she gets all girly and cries on Servilia’s shoulder.

S’altro che lagrime: the gioveras and the their little trills are really very neat. Whoever came up with the idea of little trills in this production has my backing. Delicate touches like that go a long way with this kind of orchestra/singers.

Ecco il punto… Non piu di fiori: now that she’s fudged the royal path, I think Vitellia should open a take-away joint. On the menu tonight (and every night): humble pie with a side order of remorse. Earthy, sarcastic and full of vanity, our chain smoking heroine is searching for her depths and apparently she even has some, as told by the jazzy basset horn (jazzy? is that her glib side?). She gets applause! Mozart defeated 😀 good one, Prom audience, I like you. Good Vitellias deserve applause.

Act II finale

The choir returns for the rousing finale. Tito – remember him? He of the reed pie – he’s trying to make a bit of a cliffhanger when announcing his decision but Vitellia beats him to it: Guess what, everyone? I was the big baddie all along! Women can do it too. All are stunned into silence. Oh…, says Tito, well, what was I just saying? everyone is trying to off me. Alas! I don’t… care. And you, Sesto, I like that you keep me guessing, buddy. Let’s release the magpie! And run off into the sunset…

(Publio: mahahaha!)

Applause and shouts 🙂 Always brings a tear to the eye when you hear people enjoying your favourite opera. The general conclusion remains that although Ticci doesn’t bring any particular revelation with his conducting, it’s clean and engaging and (very) singer-centred; he also gets a very phat sound out of his orchestra. Considering the concurrent Currentzis debacle I find this as satisfying as anything.

…and thus we wrap up the Titoest month around here.

About dehggial

Mozart/Baroque loving red dragon

Posted on August 30, 2017, in 1001 musings on la clemenza di tito, audio only, mezzos & contraltos, on the radio, tenors and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. (sorry, i havnt read your post yet, but i want that gif of the bird to be the dvd cover!! you know they can make these types of images where as you tilt you see stuf moving? jeah! tilt the dvd! )

  2. the Vitellia Motown Trio.
    I am so here for that.
    (also, for the rest of this write-up. Certainly of interest to me!)

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