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Dmitry

I think it was just one of the more recent golden ages. Golden ages have a tendency to keep moving with each generation, for each generation. I saw an old Opera News from the 1960s that decried the death of Wagner performances because there were no decent Wagner singers around. But this does sound like an exciting performance. Although Philip Creech would not be golden in any age and wouldn't have had

Philip

I might have said 'the end of the most recent golden age' although I do not honestly foresee another one in my lifetime.

Of course it was annoying when I was first going to the opera to have the older generation of fans constantly telling me that I should have heard Flagstad or Warren. But nowadays I find the opposite is true and younger opera-goers often express jealousy that I saw people like Tebaldi, Corelli, Nilsson, Rysanek, Vickers, Ludwig et al at their peak. And those are just the most prominent names. While there are lots of very good singers today that I enjoy there is not a comparable international roster who not only have memorable voices - voices you instantly recognize when you hear a recorded snippet - but also the grand style, stamina and personal aura which give them legendary status.

Why malign Philip Creech? He sang for the most part roles which suited his talents - they never tried to foist him off as a Tamino or Alfredo - and he was good-looking. I heard him once in a Handel piece at Avery Fisher and he sang very sweetly. Every era, golden or not, has to have comprimarios and cover types and that's all he ever was. In the ELEKTRA that I wrote about he played only a small part.

Dmitry

Divas and divos today aren't allowed to act like brats. Back in the day they were worshipped for it. That great "Don Carlo" with Corelli and Caballe trying to outsing one another by holding on to every other note as it was the last note of their life is thrilling. But a singer that "disrespectful" to the composer and the rest of the cast today would be bashed and bashed again in the countless on-line blogs and chat rooms. When Bartoli and Levine had the gall to substitute two Mozart arias in "Figaro" with other authentic Mozart arias from "Figaro" - critics and countless fans drove Bartoli out of town. She hasn't been back to the Met since. My point is that the personalities of the past were allowed to act as if the world revolved around them, but today would be driven out of town for that kind of behavior.

One thing that has changed today is that there may not be many voices suited for Wagner (there never were) and Verdi, but they sing Handel and Rossini like they haven't since those composers died. Even Mozart - I'll take any Mozart performance today over any Mozart of of 30-50 years ago. Ditto the more lyrical Strauss.

Our life of instant gratification forces many singers to take on roles they're not ready for much too young. They're famous before they should be - and are burned out before they otherwise might have. Then again, we just don't remember that many singers of the past who burned out young. Time sweeps those under the carpet. Who knows what future generations will think of today.

I never quite got Philip Creech, even as a comprimario. To me, hearing him and seeing a few telecasts, he doesn't even make a decent comprimario.

Philip

Perhaps everything today has become too packaged, too controlled. What singers today could inspire the frantic ovations and legions of fans that Caballe & Corelli did? We didn't consider them brats. Caballe today of course would be expected to have her stomach stapled.

I agree that there are some very good Handel and Rossini singers today, but once you get past the top echelon you are stuck with nights like that GIULIO CESARE we walked out of last Spring. Florez sings rings around Luigi Alva, but will people still treasure the memory of Joyce di Donato's Rosina in 30 years as we who saw them in the role still recall Berganza, Flicka or Reri Grist today?

There are wonderful Mozart ensemble performances these days, but I wouldn't want to have missed Siepi's Don & Figaro, Popp's Pamina, Flicka's Cherubino, Pilar's Contessa or Tatiana's Sesto.

I've always heard that Bartoli simply prefers staying in Europe. Isn't she supposed to be back at the Met for Cleopatra in a year or two?

Will people be seeking "les introuvables de..." Angela Gheorghiu, Anna Netrebko or Renee Fleming in 50 years?


Dmitry

I wonder what people in 50 years will be looking for. I think there are many reasons for the lack of lengthy standing ovations. Our hurried lives are a bit part of it. We have to catch our subways back home because we have to be at work at 9am. Or because the singers weren't as loud as they are on our headphones and televisions. Or because the Met turns on the house lights after one bow for each singer and a full cast, telling us all: leave, we're paying a lot of people in this place for every minute you applaud. I think, for example, Mattila's Salome was as stunning as any previous Met soprano's, but her applause - though hardy - did not last as long as for Rysanek. I loved the "Rosenkavalier" a few years back with Denoke and Jepson - I think it was as good as any of the previous ones the Met offered. But their ovation didn't last more than 4 minutes.

I never liked Siepi.

Philip

Mattila seemed vocally to be at the very edge of her possibilities as Salome...it was very good but without that last level of vocal dynamite that Rysanek, Behrens & Marton delivered. They, of course, were not nude. I really hated having Salome drunk in the Mattila version...weakened the whole evening for me, totally destroying the tension of the Salome/Jochanaan scene.

And I'm really sorry they ditched the previous SALOME set...especially in the initial season (Marton) it was so visually engrossing: mossy green/decaying walls,
the wings-of-death black curtains, the decadent costumes of the guests, the corpses being removed after the prior night's debauchery, Narraboth as a leather boy and his ghastly suicide, the sexual ambiguity of the page, and the famous clinch of Herodias and the executioner. I hate that hokey mineshaft elevator for Jochanaan in the new setting.

Denoke was a lovely Marschallin on the radio but since then I heard her in something else - I forget what - and thought she sounded really bad.

You might have enjoyed Siepi more in the house than just knowing him from broadcasts & recordings.

Dmitry

I loved everything about the new production except the black Angels - who appeared a few times too many. I think the fact that Mattila was at the edge of her vocal ability added so much excitement to it - she was going for broke without ever actually losing it. She paced herself beautifully. I don't think any of the 3 singers you mentioned can be compared to her because they are all so different: Behrens didn't have the beauty of voice, Marton is a bit too matronly in everything she does, and Rysanek's tone could be so hollow and her pitch questionable. But they certainly had their virtues - I'm not questioning their interpretations (certainly not having seen them.) But to me Mattila combined so many wonderful qualities in her interpretation that made her near-ideal for the role. The drunkeness seemed right to me in that production.

That performance with Denoke and Jepson was one of a kind - Susan Graham sang Octavian in all other performances. The one with Jepson was just wonderful. I remember the usher in Family Circle, Max, who's been working at the Met for decades, also complained about the lack of a big ovation that night. He said that 20 years ago they would have been cheering for half-an-hour. Everything changes - audiences more than anything else.

Philip

I kind of liked the angels because they might also have been vultures.

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