Category Archives: mozart

Everything is better with contraltos

Yes, another contralto post this weekend. And it’s Lemieux again:

Isn’t her tone just perfect for this?!

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Masterclass fans: new ROH Masterclass with JDD

Just to make me happy, it starts off with Parto. I haven’t seen it yet but I hope it’s good (almost 2 new hours). If it’s not good we can laugh about it here 😉

After watching/listening to it:

For those who don’t know and would like to before applying yourselves to an 1hr and 46min, this batch is mezzo only and it containts work on three mezzo staples: Parto, Dido’s lament and Non piu mesta (which I always call Non piu messed up). They are all promising singers but the young woman working on Dido’s lament has a particularly beautiful tone (baby contralto? we should be so lucky 😀 ). She is also very cutely star-struck.

The Mozartists (1768) (Wigmore Hall, 23 January 2018)

Classical Opera/The Mozartists
Ian Page conductor
Katy Bircher flute
Chiara Skerath soprano

Classical Opera does, as the name suggests, specialise in music of the Classical period and does it very well. You might remember my and thadieu‘s enthusiastic accounts (as well as Leander‘s) of a Cadogan Hall 2016 performance of Jommelli’s Il Vologeso – it was them that done it.

They’re also going through Mozart’s oeuvre, one year at a time. This time it’s the year 1768, when Wolfie was 12 and, opera-wise, wrote La finta semplice, here presented via its not too shabby overture and the Amoretti aria. It’s not just Mozart but a wider look at his time period as well, with works by other composers from the mid to late 18th century.

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Symphony No. 26 in D minor HI:26 ‘Lamentatione’

Niccolò Jommelli (1714-1774)
Fetonte Ombre che tacite qui sede

Johann Christian Bach (1735-1782)
Flute Concerto in D major WC79

Joseph Haydn
Lo speziale HXXVIII:3
Amore nel mio petto
Salamelica, Semprugna cara

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
La finta semplice K51
Overture
Amoretti, che ascosi qui siete

Johann Adolf Hasse (1699-1783)
Piramo e Tisbe Perderò l’amato bene

Johann Baptist Vanhal (1739-1813)
Symphony in D minor

As expected, Classical Opera were excellent and Ian Page got a very “surround sound” from them, with a deft merging of the different sections of the orchestra whilst at the same time allowing them space to breathe and make themselves heard (quite muscular at times). In other words, the opposite of the porridge-sound.

This was one of the best attended shows at Wiggy, though the troops thinned a bit after the intermission (luckily, the tall chap in front of me was among them). Skerath excelled, I thought, at Hasse’s Perderò l’amato bene, where she used some superb light weight trilling and the aria seemed a perfect fit for her gentle soprano voice.

Ian Page chose his soloists well, the both of them in possession of particularly fine ways with the trills. Being primarily a fan of vocal music I admit I don’t always “get” solo instrumentals but in Bircher’s case something clicked. It is perhaps that all winds are up my alley as opposed to, say, the piano, but I could follow very well, in a similar way to how I would the voice.

A lovely evening that invited the listener to further explore this engaging period of Western classical music, with the last piece hinting at the things to come in further decades.

Bad night for Roschmann?

(it’s one of those old news chez dehggi moments)

From Serenade‘s account of a 2017 performance of Le Nozze at Wiener Staatsoper (the other opera house in Vienna 😉 ):

The Countess was played by Dorothea Roschmann herself an erstwhile Susanna. In my opinion she has not quite graduated yet to the bigger role and she would do well to limit her appearances as the Countess. Her Porgi amor at the beginning of Act Two was sung with beauty of tone and a quick vibrato. But her Act Three Aria Dove sono was disappointing as it lacked breath control and a sense of line. She was unable to take any of the long phrases in a single breath and there were times when the voice just did not carry forward.

She has not quite graduated?! Ehehehe. I think I’d still like to see her as the Countess even on a so-so day. Then again, I’d rather see my fave singers on their good days.

Where no other Tito production has gone

Schade looks like an aging ’70s porn star in the COC production 😀

Sesto and Vitellia in a nutshell

If you love Tito and haven’t seent Double Indemnity, do it now. If you have, revisit, it’s more than worth it 🙂

The capitalism vs. the people Idomeneo Act 3 (Jacobs, 2013)

Remember this one? I posted parts I and II way back when in January 2014. Thanks to this performance I 1) got interested in Idomeneo, 2) realised I quite like Rene Jacobs as a conductor, 3) became interested in the Arnold Schoenberg Choir, 4) Theater an der Wien appeared on my radar in style. So whilst cleaning the cobwebs inside the vault I thought I should to put this last part out, even all this time later.

I care because you do, as Richard D. James would say. Thanks to some interest shown in Act I and II, I took pity on this production and went back to finishing Act III, most of which – you will weep – was already written in January. Yes, that’s right, I had it in my drafts just sitting there, gathering virtual dust. But I couldn’t make up my mind what I wanted to say about Andro ramingo (I’m still not sure) and the ending (dramatically; now I think meh) and I had to also watch it again because my attention drifted away from the extremely exciting production. And then a flurry of Clemenze completely distracted me for many months. We all know it’s game over for everything else when that happens.

  • Idomeneo: Richard Croft
  • Idamante: Gaelle Arquez
  • Ilia: Sophie Karthauser
  • Elettra: Marlis Petersen
  • Arbace: Julien Behr
  • Il Gran Sacerdoto di Nettuno: Mirko Guadagnini

Conductor: Rene Jacobs | Theater an der Wien, Vienna, 2013 | Freiburger Barockorcherster | Arnold Schoenberg Choir

So it’s only been what, 3 years+? Right. Back in January 2014 we left off where Nessie gets angry at the Cretans. But by Act III he’s lost some steam and the weather has improved, because Wolfie needed to shoe in a bit of lovin’. Monsters and storms are fun for a couple of acts. But what’s the use of having two young people of marriageable age in your opera if you won’t make them fall in love?

Act III starts with Zeffiretti lusinghieri. Up to this point I said barely anything about Ilia. SK started quite screechy but maybe that’s how the director wanted it or maybe it was nerves. I gave her time to come into her own but by now I know that I don’t particularly like her voice. It’s sort of run of the mill, her vibrato bothers me and I’m not one to call foul on its use. She’s not that lacking in technique just kind of meh in presentation.

Principessa, a tuoi sguardi… ah, s’io non moro a questi accenti isn’t bad. Arquez is coping very well with Idamante’s transporto. Ilia takes pity on Idamante, who is at the end of his tethers after being rejected by both father and the woman he loves. She admits to her feelings and tells the poor sod she actually shares his love. They launch into the gorgeous duet that is S’io non moro. It’s a sweet moment, where our hitherto doomed lovers are finally getting a bit of respite from all the gloom and mud. Tutto vince il nostro ardor, Arquez and K sound beautiful together – moving and delicate. (But now that I’ve been there a few times it’s really hard to imagine the stage at TADW as muddy as that!) Of course they get interrupted but at least now they know where they stand which is together.

Andro ramingo e solo – an unsual one, this ensemble. Idamante: I’ll go looking for death and I’ll find it (and after that I’ll write a long post about it in my (online) diary). Ilia: Me too, me too! I wanna go with you. Elettra: (mocking Ilia wordlessly) Me too, me too! Then she abuses a lone plant (standing for hope I guess) Ilia later cares for. Idomeneo: Somebody kill me! I can’t watch Nessie chomp on my son! All: I can’t take this anymore! Idamante gives his dad his jacket (to sing to?) and Idomeneo physically abuses him a bit. Hey, mister, you’ve been really tough on the youngster by which we know you mean you really love him. Idamante puts the jacket back on, ready to take on Nessie. Ilia takes off his jacket, because we all know he can’t leave without it.

Arbace mourns Sidon’s fate and goes on a bit of rampage of his own then sings his aria about saving the local royal family. Behr’s voice is pleasant but the aria ain’t all that.

Nice intro to the Gran Sacerdoto, who’s got a pleasantly sacerdotal voice. The chorus swings low and noble then the music goes on like this for quite a while.

Trumpets. The choir gets busy. Idomeneo wonders what’s going on. Arbace rushes in with the news that Idamante put on his power suit to face off with Nessie. Idomeneo isn’t sure his delicate son is cut out for hand-to-tentacle combat. Idamante tries to convince him how noble it is to save his people by handing in a son. They argue over idealism vs. paternal love. Ilia shows up and isn’t keen on this Idamante as sacrificial lamb deal. She offers herself. She and Idamante go back and forth outdoing each other on who’s more ready to die.

Creepy celestial womb rumbles, all stand to attention. Foetus ex machina speakth: Idoemeo’s humanity has been taken on board but as a manager he has failed. He’s fired. Idamante is replacing him as King of Crete effective immediately. Ilia shall marry him and to hell with Elettra’s plans.

She can’t take this dissing and flings herself about in mud with abandon. The wig comes off. No more Miss Ditzygirl, she’s feral now. Marlis Petersen, that was some taking one for the team. The entire crew owes you one for getting mud in your eyes whilst singing the best (known) aria from the opera. Jacobs offers gentle support and she copes (although she bypasses the second set of evil laughter), especially considering what she has to do but it’s not all that grand vocally. I don’t think Petersen holds back as much as she doesn’t have the vocal oomph for this aria. I might be among the few who thought this production was entirely miscast save for this bad motherfucker. I mean, HELL yea, that’s portraying your character. No need for mud there. Harteros is pretty damn good in the Salzburg production but not on that level of losing it. Then again, her timbre is the closest to how I envision Elettra. Good thing nature never tossed Behrens and Harteros together, the earth might cleave and swarms of locusts might obscure the sun. (this paragraph sounds amusing to me now but that’s what I thought at the time…)

All live happily ever after. The end, tnx bi. (By which I mean I don’t get whatever Michieletto is trying to say. If you do, please enlighten me. Some productions seem very hard to break through)

The ballet and chaconne at the end is some of my favourite music in the whole piece, though I can imagine it gives headaches to directors (and is often cut? luckily it was neither here nor at ROH later that year). Conclusion 2017: Jacobs and the Freiburger Barockochester, the Arnold Schoenberg Choir and Richard Croft rock. The tempi are great. The other singers are pretty good. There was another chance to see this in concert performance form at TADW earlier this year but I couldn’t be in two places at the same time 😦 Anyway, it’s really worth listening to.

Tito arias in Masterclasses (Parto)

Ow, ow, check out the chap banging out Parto on the piano 😦 so wrong. The starting tempo is too fast (what will we be doing by the cadenza? Rossini patter? – to be fair, he’s better at that point) and the setup for the initial partos is way too even and decisive. Decisive? Mr Pianoman, what the hell is this aria about? The subsequent lack of legato, the insensitive take on the clarinet line… 😦

To be fair, La Fleming is exclusively talking about sound production here (which is an interesting thing) and we all know what this aria is about so there’s not much loss. Also she thinks he’s good so maybe I’m talking bollocks. Still…

Happy Tito Day to all Tito lovers!

As the banner says, September is normally Tito Month but since we had a very full August this year I think we’re all taking it easy in September 😉 Nonetheless, (this) September 6 marks the 226th anniversary of Mozart’s Tito premiere in Prague. So I’ll leave you with that silly Sesto and Vitellia dance from Sellars’ production:

I think it’s supposed to be erotic? I don’t quite believe Vitellia is trying to ascertain Sesto isn’t armed and ready to off her instead, though they are performing those weird stabbing movements as well… I guess the little dance gives you the gist of the opera and especially the gist of Sellars’ approach to it.

Tito at the Proms tonight (28 August 2017)

 

Tito17G

The bird we all love! 😉

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.