Category Archives: on the radio
Roberta Invernizzi, two lutes, one viola da gamba and beguiling canzoni (Wigmore Hall, 19 November 2018)
I love these one shot (no interval) lunchtime Wiggy concerts! It’s usually pensioners and music students – and people who eat music on rye for lunch 😉 I try to get the day off for them, because otherwise they are really inconvenient for anyone working shifts but sometimes needs must include good ole’ skiving 😉 Put yourself in my place: 17th century love songs vs. Monday1 at work. I don’t care how much you love your job, music should win or you’re reading the wrong blog.
Anyway, I was only 1 1/2hrs late, so I’m keeping my respectability, especially after looking like I saved the day from a short on staff afternoon! Baroque heroes, you’ve got nothing on me.
Roberta Invernizzi soprano
Rodney Prada viola da gamba
Craig Marchitelli lute
Franco Pavan lute
Giulio Caccini: Dolcissimo sospiro; Dalla porta d’oriente
Johannes Hieronymus Kapsberger: Passacaglia
Claudio Monteverdi: Ecco di dolci raggi; Disprezzata Regina from L’incoronazione di Poppea
Orazio Bassani: Toccata per B quadro
Girolamo Frescobaldi: Canzone a basso solo
Tarquinio Merula: Folle è ben che si crede
Luigi Rossi: La bella più bella
Johannes Hieronymus Kapsberger: Arpeggiata
Sigismondo D’India: Intenerite voi, lagrime mie; Cruda Amarilli
Claudio Monteverdi: Si dolce è’l tormento; Voglio di vita uscir
Giulio Caccini: Amarilli, mia bella from Le nuove musiche
It’s been a couple of weeks or so from Lemieux with nothing – nothing! The upside is you really appreciate the musicians’ efforts after a drought. As soon as Invernizzi spun out the very first trill I was all how I wish I could do that! And when the lutes kicked in I thought this is it, I was born to listen to this 😉 I also, quite unusually, had a seat at the front of the venue, which, with Invernizzi works well as you get all sorts of nice dynamic transitions. This is the kind of concert where there is so little time, you need to be on from the moment you step on stage.
I really enjoyed her in this rep – probably my favourite performance from her. She has the style down pat and she didn’t either force or hold back, she was completely at home. As usual I liked the jaunty songs best (Dalla porta d’oriente has the same tune as Vi ricorda o boschi ombrosi) but Disprezzata regina by a soprano wasn’t a bad idea at all. It was a lot less stark and brutal than the recent one from Salzburg (it seemed like 2 lutes made a lot more noise than Christie’s entire band) but her tone and her investment worked nicely indeed. Voglio di vita uscir, a favourite of Baroque recitalists, with that playful start that belies its glum title, was, unsurprisingly, giddier than usual.
All in all, this is exactly my idea of a Monday lunchtime concert – content and presentation. I don’t know that I have words for how emotionally close I feel to this stuff. Might as well sneak in another Venice picture, though not everything above comes from Venice.
- Mondays and Wednesdays are the busiest for us. ↩
What better way to start the week than a mini-performance of 17th century songs? Luckily, BBC3 agrees and you can too sample Invernizzi and friends’ delightful one hour show from earlier today.
Tune into radio: 18 August at 19:30 CET via the Ö1 channel of ORF radio
Watch livestream: 20 August 2018 at 18:30 CET on medici.tv
Last night, thadieu and I sat through 6 hours of a Rinaldo mashup. The term wild ride applies.
Armida: Carmela Remigio.
Goffredo: Francisco Fernández-Rueda.
Almirena: Loriana Castellano.
Rinaldo: Teresa Iervolino.
Argante: Francesca Ascioti.
Eustazio: Dara Savinova.
Lesbina: Valentina Cardinali.
Nesso: Simone Tangolo.
Araldo di Argante: Dielli Hoxha.
Uno Spirito in forma di Donna: Kim-Lillian Strebel.
Mago Cristiano: Ana Victória Pitts.
La Scintilla Orchestra. Conductor: Fabio Luisi | Martina Franca
Now we know that Rinaldo was Handel’s most revived opera within his lifetime, the first opera he presented when he moved to London from Italy and his first mega hit that immediately established his reputation in London.
He revised it in 1717 and again in 1731:
Revisions, 1717 and 1731
The opera was frequently revised, most particularly in 1717 and in 1731; modern performances are usually a conflation of the versions available. Up to and including 1717, these changes had no significant effect on the plot. In the 1731 version, however, in Act 2 Armida imitates Almirena’s voice rather than assuming her appearance, and Argante declares his love to Almirena’s portrait rather than to her face. In Act 3 the marches and the battle scene are cut; Armida and Argante remain unrepentant and vanish in a chariot drawn by dragons before the conclusion.
The opera was also performed in German in Hamburg to much success. Leo presented it in pasticcio form in Naples:
This is the mashup we heard, though the Italian presenters insisted on calling it “Handel’s Rinaldo“, only occasionally mentioning that it also contained arias by Leo and others. Let me assure you it’s not quite Handel’s Rinaldo so it’s kind of annoying when it’s presented as such. But the whole thing was obviously legit and with Fabio Luisi at the helm so you have to think that we’re starting to see things differently now, especially these old skool operas (though I do remember things have been done to Fidelio recently and the less said about that Currentzis modification to a certain Mozart opera, the better). It looks like a trend, for better or worse. I personally find it’s trying a bit too hard, but I’m not so young anymore so who knows.
I think this was one of those productions where you had to be there. On the radio, sometimes the recits, done by secondary characters buffa-style (I felt like in a Pergolesi comedy), went on so long that when an aria I knew started I was almost startled. Do I care about Lesbina and some guy in Rinaldo? Do we want servants represented? I guess we do, but Rinaldo has a kind of specific focus. This woman Lesbina wasn’t even there in “Handel’s Rinaldo“, so why do we have to hear her mock (I guess – or was that the woman-spirit?) the main characters?
It can be said that Rinaldo‘s plot is problematic in today’s world because mentioning crusades and infidels isn’t done in cosmopolitan company. Well, fair enough, it’s one way of looking at it. For my part, it’s historical through a fantasy lens but if it has to be dropped from the rep because it’s not PC, so be it. We can do concert performances, seeing as how the music is still appreciated. I wouldn’t drop it but I wouldn’t make a big stink either about it if people were so offended by it.
What these people did was chuck the plot altogether and change all the characters to ’80s pop stars. In the main roles we have Freddy Mercury (Rinaldo), that annoying guy from Kiss (Argante), David Bowie and Elton John (don’t know who’s who in the opera and frankly I couldn’t care less) and two unidentified by me women as Almirena and Armida. One is in a big white dress with teased hair and the other is in a black dress, looking vaguely Goth. I leave it to ’80s pop fans to figure out the riddle, because to me it makes no sense. I didn’t even know Queen and Kiss had some sort of feud, if that is supposed to be reflected here. I think Queen was the sophisticated end of mainstream radio and Kiss was lowest common denominator frat party fodder.
So I guess they take the edge out of the plot and place the story in a conspicuously white-Western world cca 1980 – in order to make this cooler for today’s (opera going) public, which must be over 40, because I can’t see anyone under 40 care one way or another about Queen and Kiss, though Elton John is still present enough and David Bowie died cool.
But from the commentary during intervals I gathered thay wanted to make it more Neapolitan, hence I guess the Leo pasticcio. Which is ok and all, but don’t call it “Handel’s Rinaldo“, call it Leo’s Rinaldo pasticcio.
When we get to the actual Rinaldo stuff, that is pretty cool, though so diluted – like I was saying above – that it feels like hours have passed between Vo far’ guerra and Or la tromba, both of which are done with enough gusto (especially Or la tromba = you understand why there are contraltos in this rep; Vo far’ guerra was surprisingly understated, I suppose only the Barbican harpsichordist was let loose, though it would have so made sense to indulge in endless classic rock noodling in this production! Missed opportunity if there was one). Sadly, although I sat through 6 hours of it, I missed both Venti, turbini [edit: they cut it! They WHAT?! They cut Venti, turbini and they’re calling it (Handel’s) Rinaldo?! Dude….] and Sibilar gli angui d’Aletto, which is a real miss, because how often do you hear a contralto Argante?!):
(in singing order)
|Notes||Premiere cast, 24 February 1711
|Goffredo: leader of the First Crusade. 1096–99||contralto (en travesti)||Tenor after 1731 revision||Francesca Vanini-Boschi|||
|Rinaldo: a nobleman of the House of Este||alto castrato||Written in soprano clef, now sung by a contralto, mezzo-soprano or countertenor||Nicolo Grimaldi (“Nicolini”)|||
|Almirena: daughter of Goffredo||soprano||Isabella Girardeau|||
|Eustazio: brother to Goffredo||alto castrato||This part was eliminated before the 1717 revival, and is often omitted from modern productions||Valentino Urbani (“Valentini”)|||
|A herald||tenor||Bass in 1731 revival||“Lawrence”|||
|Argante: Saracen king of Jerusalem||bass||Contralto in 1731 revival, now usually bass||Giuseppe Boschi|||
|Armida: Queen of Damascus, Argante’s mistress||soprano||Contralto in 1731 revival, now usually soprano||Elisabetta Pilotti-Schiavonetti|||
|Two mermaids||sopranos||Not recorded|||
|A woman||soprano||In some productions the woman’s lines are sung by a mermaid||Not recorded|||
|A Christian magician||alto castrato||Bass from 1731 revival||Giuseppe Cassani|||
|Mermaids, spirits, fairies, officers, guards, attendants||Non-singing parts|
I can totally see why you would also have a contralto Armida and how a dramatic soprano does justice to Furie terribili. Remigio (who, if I’m not wrong, has sing Vitellia, which is as dramatic as sopranos in this rep get) did a pretty good job of Armida in general. I might like her better on repeat listens.
So, it’s a trend and to me it’s a very whimsical one (read: hit and miss). But I wasn’t there and on the radio and without 100% Italian a lot was missed. On the other hand, now might be time to present the WS revised Alcina and Der Rosenkavalier.
I’m all for privacy but what is going in in the Rice camp, y’all? This year alone I was supposed to see her three times (January, March and June) and everything ended up cancelled. I hope things are on the mend, for everyone’s sake.
Wiggy presented us with a young upstart instead, namely baritone Julien Van Mallaerts, who is about to go to Bayreuth for some Wagnerian schooling. He did sound like that. The end.
With Rice we were expecting a French programme (La voix humaine) so we at least got that (not La voix humaine – but wouldn’t it be fun to hear a baritone sing it?). You know I like ze French songse. His French diction is good (or I had a very good seat) and he seemed like he really got into it interpretively. Pity we didn’t know what was so funny, though based on the titles I’m sure it was. I need to get a bit more culture (not just about Madama Butterfly). I thought he had a nice, run-of-the-mill baritone but Anna wasn’t so sure it was a bari-tone after all (his low notes were a bit cloudy to me, especially if he wanted to do pp. He was at his best when he could employ bright and loud highs).
Whatever it is, it wasn’t offensive but nothing much to write home about as far as I’m concerned. How about a picture of Camden instead1? It was such a warm and gorgeous day on Monday, Anna and I decided to walk along the Regent Canal (yes, I wanted to take some pictures like I couldn’t after the last Lunchtime Concert when the battery died after two measly shots 😉 ).
Julius Drake was a treat twice within less than 24hours, though I thought he was a lot more interesting (like super cool) in the German programme. I commend that work ethic!
Julien Van Mallaerts baritone
Julius Drake piano
Henri Duparc (1848-1933)
La vie antérieure
Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
Fêtes galantes Book II
Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Don Quichotte à Dulcinée
Chanson a boire
- It has come to my attention that I don’t post enough pictures, so there you go, nautical London. ↩
I parsed the programme and, as far as I’m concerned, there are two Proms I would be interested in:
John Eliot Gardiner conductor | Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Overture ‘Le corsaire’ (8 mins)
La mort de Cléopâtre (21 mins)
The Trojans – Royal Hunt and Storm (10 mins)
The Trojans – Dido’s death scene (7 mins)
Harold in Italy (42 mins)
Handel’s Theodora. I know I said it was boring but Ann Hallenberg is Irene. It will be worth listening to it on the radio 🙂
In contralto news, you can tune in tonight (and most likely listen to later on as well) for some Baroque from Prina and Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin at 19:30 GMT. This is, of course, from Wiggy.
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. Read the rest of this entry
Just a reminder, in case you haven’t had enough Tito this month: tonight the Glyndebourne team will be live at the Proms at 19:00 GMT for a last round of Tito. If you can’t make it tonight, you’ll find the concert archived by the BBC for a while (a month, I think).
ps: since I’m gif happy now (thanks for the relentless push, t 😉 ), I also added the Parto shake to the big WTF Medley post. You know you want to see it.