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  1. #141

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    Opera lovers: Do you know what really happens in rehearsals?
    Susan Graham shows you what happens if you put composer Jake Heggie, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (and her dog) and tributee Frederica "Flicka" von Stade in the same room just as Joyce DiDonato is firing off Cinderella's coloratura:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVUSk58r7FY

    You're welcome.
    Last edited by SaSherka; 12-06-2011 at 05:39 AM. Reason: why do I always misspell Flicka's name?
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  2. #142

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    That was seriously funny; thanks for posting.

  3. #143
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    Thank you so much for posting that!!! (Joyce Di Donato is the very top of my girl crush list.)

    I just came back from an Encore broadcast of the Met HD "Don Giovanni", and it was all kinds of wonderful. Of course the vocal balance of a recorded performance is rarely replicated in the house, and the sound is generally much richer bouncing off the ceiling in the Family Circle, but all of the singers sounded wonderful in the HD.

    Michael Grandige's direction was so specific, and during arias where other characters were onstage, he gave measured responses that made sense of the text and relieved the singers of the typical escalate-that-angsty-expression-for-the-next-five-minutes-while-I-yell-in-your-face/at-your-back stage time.

    My favorite moment of the interview -- apart from every moment Renee Fleming is speaking -- was when gracious, elegant maestro Fabio Luisi said that he admired Mariusz Kwiecien because he was always vocally elegant (true) and elegant as a actor (not sure he saw any of the opening or the Supper-to-Hell scenes).

    It was pretty amazing that Kwiecien was able to do the role two weeks after back surgery, especially the scene where the Commendatore grabs his hand and won't let go until DG's dragged to Hell. Those who had never seen him before might have thought he moved really well and wouldn't have noticed that he was a bit physically guarded: he usually moves like a panther.

    My favorite Politically Correct moment was when Barbara Frittoli answered why she chose to sing Donna Elvira over Donna Anna -- of course they both have great music, blah, blah -- was because she has so much acting time, and it's hard to play someone in mourning all the time.

    The real answer is that Donna Elvira gets by Mariusz Kwiecien and Luca Pisaroni, while Donna Anna only gets to torture Don Ottavio, the only person onstage who gets none of any kind, by telling him not to touch her. Lorenzo Da Ponte was an eville genius: in the last scene, after Donna Anna tells him once again to wait (until her heart heals) -- the woman next to me remarked to her friend, "His timing is awful" -- he sings something like "True love is doing what the beloved wants", and she repeats it back to him. Not because she's willing to do what he wants, but because she is the beloved, and he is not, and the conversation is, in essence, He: "I love you." She: "You love me."
    "The team doesn't get automatic capacity because management is mad" -- Greg Smith, agile guy

  4. #144

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    Joyce Di Donato is my second fave mezzo of the moment (after the incomparable Stephanie Blythe) and I'm hearing her Thursday night in The Enchanted Island. I shall report.

    It sounds like the HD version was better than what I saw/heard in the house. The night I went Frittoli was absolutely awful; she sounded like a cat in heat the entire night. The set is ghastly, looking like a Neopolitan slum, not a nice neighborhood in Seville. Plus side - Luca Pisaroni. He was the hit of the night for me.

  5. #145
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    Blythe is a goddess. Seattle is very lucky that Speight Jenkins brought her in early, and that she seems happy to return. She did one of the most interviews during one of the all-day symposiums on "The Ring".

    I was wondering on the way out whether the sets might look bad in the house, another of the stark vertical sets the Met has been bringing in. So many buildings in Seville are light, at least now, but I've never seen a light production of "Don Giovanni". (Hard to say what they looked like in the 17th century with dirt roads and horses.) I saw one on a revolving turntable in Estonia, where they ended the opera after DG was dragged to Hell that allowed the company to switch scenes without pause, which the Met sets also accomplished, aided by conductor/harpsichordist Luisi's decision not to pause between recitative and set pieces.

    I've also been amazed at the differences in sound over Sirius vs. the HD's -- I would think the miking would be similar -- and I think that's partially because of how much of the total experience is visual. It was a pretty cast and the costumes were wonderful, apart from Don Giovanni's shirt in the last scene that looked a bit hippie-esque and the awful, gaudy necklace that Donna Anna wore.

    Pisaroni is a stage animal, and while he does want Don Giovanni in his future, I can see why Leporello is such a draw for him, with so much stage and ensemble action.
    Last edited by kwanfan1818; 01-10-2012 at 05:23 PM.
    "The team doesn't get automatic capacity because management is mad" -- Greg Smith, agile guy

  6. #146

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    The sets look awful in the house; all that was missing was laundry strung on a line between the buildings. They do not say sunny Seville, they say impoverished Naples. I believe I posted somewhere upthread also about the fact that the scenery shifted very noisily during the catalogue area and if I were Pisaroni I would demand double pay for that outrage. My view wasn't terribly good; I was too low down in the Family Circle and my view was blocked by railings and whatnot. I saw more of Pisaroni than of Kwiecien and I think that contributed to my like of Pisaroni over Kwiecien, although I certainly do want to hear Kwiecien again in something else.

    Blythe is a goddess, no doubt about it. I saw the Met Giulio Cesare that made stars of Blythe and David Daniels back in the late 90s and I have never looked back in my adoration of Blythe. From the moment she drew herself up and announced she was 'alta Cornelia' I was hooked. She delivered then and continues to deliver now in spades.

  7. #147
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    I had to miss the December 3 Rodelinda because of surgery but I got out last week and saw the encore. Stephanie Blythe is just fantastic! I'm dying to see her again.
    Congratulations 2014 World Ice Dance Champions Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte!!!

  8. #148

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    The now-defunct Opera Boston did a production of Offenbach's La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein 2 years ago specifically for Stephanie Blythe and she was an absolute rock star in it. I haven't seen/heard her much, and I only vaguely remember her from the Il Trittico and Orfeo ed Euridice HDs. She does such a variety of roles (from Handel to Wagner) that I can't figure her out yet =) I missed Rodelinda encore as I wasn't in the mood for Fleming and long Handel... Will wait for the PBS broadcast. Btw, schedule is here: 2011-2012 Great Performances at the Met

    I am going to the Faust HD encore tomorrow and will be at the Met this weekend for Faust and The Enchanted Island. I spoiled myself with all the previews, reviews and interviews of the EI, but from what I gathered, it's a really crowd-pleasing production. Super-excited for the weekend!
    Kwanfan, JDD is my #1 girl crush (but you know that already)
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  9. #149

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    Attention Joyce Di Donato fans: she rocked the house last night in The Enchanted Island. A triumph - she was superb, both her singing and her acting. What a character she has brought to light in Sycorax.

    David Daniels did not sound in good voice and what do you know, Anthony Roth Costanzo took over for him in the second act and some poor unknown named Jeffrey Mandelbaum had to step into Costanzo's role of Ferdinand. ARC gets thumbs up from me; the only time I have previously seen him was in City Opera's production of Partenope as Armindo and he did not impress at all on that occasion. Last night was something else altogether; he was great and I will certainly consider giving him another chance now.

  10. #150
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaSherka View Post
    Kwanfan, JDD is my #1 girl crush (but you know that already)
    JDD, dressed as a man in a huge bed sandwiched between Juan Diego Florez pretending to be Sister Collette, but dressed in black leather, and Diana Damrau in an off-the-shoulder giant poof of a pink silk dress =
    "The team doesn't get automatic capacity because management is mad" -- Greg Smith, agile guy

  11. #151

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    Quote Originally Posted by kwanfan1818 View Post
    JDD, dressed as a man in a huge bed sandwiched between Juan Diego Florez pretending to be Sister Collette, but dressed in black leather, and Diana Damrau in an off-the-shoulder giant poof of a pink silk dress =
    This and this

    Getting back to the weekend at the Met, though.
    I did post a little blurb about Faust, but it must've gotten lost in the interwebs.
    Having watched the Faust HD on Wednesday, the text, staging, and 1st cast singing were fresh in my mind. Imho, Joseph Calleja had a better chemistry with Ms. Poplavskaya than Mr. Kaufmann, but both were vocally splendid. I still prefer Calleja's voice, though. Rene Pape vs Ferruccio Furlanetto - two very different Mephistos, and FF took a while to warm up. I preferred RP and his rolling R's Oh, I was sitting next to an audio engineer for the last act, who had the control board for the crying baby, off-stage organ and off-stage chorus. Wonder what exactly he was controlling though as I couldn't hear any difference when he was adjusting the sound.

    I was prepared to be enchanted () by The Enchanted Island and I sure was by the sets, animation and gorgeous singing. Anthony Roth Costanzo played Prospero the whole evening, substituting for ailing David Daniels and he got the biggest ovation of the night after his "Forgive Me" aria from Handel's Partenope. I wish I could say you could hear a pin drop, but we had an ailing audience as well. I took note of Mr. Costanzo last season in Handel's Agrippina at Boston Lyric Opera and, boy, he brought it down at the Met! I also liked his beautifully sung Act I ending aria. He did look a bit funny playing the old Prospero, but I was far enough in the balcony not to have this fact distract me from his voice.
    Joyce DiDonato has an astonishing breath control in "Maybe here, maybe soon" from Handel's Teseo. She also has the most transforming role in this pastiche. My only quibble was why Sycorax couldn't use the newly returned powers to prettify Caliban?
    Danielle deNiese's Ariel seemed to be on stage for most of the show and she was the comic relief. 3rd time hearing her opening aria and I still don't think she has enough breath to get through it... The rest was pretty.
    SPOILER? I also really disliked the dance sequence to Rameau. The storyline supposedly related to Caliban summoning Island's help, but the music and movements seemed really out of place there. I felt sorry for whoever was singing before/after the Great Neptune Entrance as I could hear the moving set up in the balcony and I can only imagine how loud it was on stage.

    Overall, it was a very pleasant night at the opera as a showcase of artists singing arias, but I don't see a future potential, unless some arias can be cut and story reworked.
    ETA: Joyce added some photos! Facebook and Flickr set

    I had an amazing time @ the Met (and @ Follies on Broadway!), but I came down with a random food poisoning today, so the high of the weekend has, sadly, passed very quickly
    I have tickets to the opening night of Götterdämmerung, so I may come and see The Enchanted Island again.
    Last edited by SaSherka; 01-17-2012 at 04:44 AM. Reason: JDD posted some pics on Flickr and Facebook!
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  12. #152
    I <3 Kozuka
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    And this

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Hx3_Wc6erw#t=7m56s

    I've been listening to "Enchanted Island" on Sirius, and JDD and Pisaroni have sounded wonderful.

    I love Calleja's voice, even if Kaufmann is prettier. I've also had a crush on Furlanetto ever since I heard him interviewed, and he started almost every sentence with "Therefore..." I'm hoping to get to San Francisco for his Atilla next June, with Nixon in China and The Magic Flute.
    "The team doesn't get automatic capacity because management is mad" -- Greg Smith, agile guy

  13. #153

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    Quote Originally Posted by SaSherka View Post
    This and this


    Danielle deNiese's Ariel seemed to be on stage for most of the show and she was the comic relief. 3rd time hearing her opening aria and I still don't think she has enough breath to get through it... The rest was pretty.

    Overall, it was a very pleasant night at the opera as a showcase of artists singing arias, but I don't see a future potential, unless some arias can be cut and story reworked.
    deNiese is batting one for three with me. I heard her Cleopatra in Chicago and thought she was fab, but then I heard her Susanna at the Met - meh, and now this which I also thought was meh. I guess the Cleopatra is going to be the highlight for me and that was 4 years ago.

    As to the arias and story, I think the story is fine, and I don't think any arias need to be cut exactly, but I do think they came across as limited in variety.
    After awhile they all started to sound alike; not enough highs and lows, but everything all of a piece if you know what I mean.

    I enjoyed the evening, but I'm not giving it the rave most everyone else is and even my desire for a closeup look at the costumes is not enough to get me to see the HD broadcast. Once was enough, at least for now.

  14. #154
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    I heard a fantastic bass for the first time this afternoon: 33-year-old Finnish bass Mika Kares sang a single performance of Verdi's "Attila" for Seattle Opera. In Seattle Opera's blog, he said people referred to him as "baby bass".

    He has remarkably clean and agile technique and the vocal quality within his range is amazingly consistent. He doesn't have a distinctive timbre yet, which will probably come when his voice matures over the next 7-10 years -- basses tend to mature late -- but I would love to hear him in recital, and I can't wait to hear his Wagner sometime.

    The Odabella this afternoon was Susan Neves, who was a powerhouse. I looked her up on the (Met Opera-centric) Opera-L list, and the latest reference to her is from 2003, when she subbed in something, and people were using all caps in their posts wondering where she had been hidden. She covers a lot of roles, which limits the amount of performances, but 9 years is a long time not to be noted at all on an opera forum

    It is nice to see another strong tenor (Russell Thomas) a decade out of the Young Artists Program.
    "The team doesn't get automatic capacity because management is mad" -- Greg Smith, agile guy

  15. #155

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    It has always seemed to me that good basses are few and far between so this is exciting. Thanks for the report.

  16. #156

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    I am on my way to NYC for the opening night of Gotterdammerung, armed with a 100+ year old vocal score. I hope the English translations have been updated since!
    emason, any chance you're coming to the Met too?
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  17. #157

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    Quote Originally Posted by SaSherka View Post
    I am on my way to NYC for the opening night of Gotterdammerung, armed with a 100+ year old vocal score. I hope the English translations have been updated since!
    emason, any chance you're coming to the Met too?
    Alas, no, not for this. I only have one performance left and it's for Aida in early February. Enjoy and be sure to post a review.

    ETA: Thanks for asking though.
    Last edited by emason; 01-28-2012 at 12:54 AM.

  18. #158

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    I'll be on the other side of the plaza on Saturday.

  19. #159

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    Quote Originally Posted by emason View Post
    Alas, no, not for this. I only have one performance left and it's for Aida in early February. Enjoy and be sure to post a review.

    ETA: Thanks for asking though.
    No Aida for me. I still haven't watched last year's HD / PBS broadcast.

    It was my 1st Gotterdammerung and I fully expected to doze off, but the singing and orchestra were sooo good! Once the audience finally calmed down with all the coughing and sneezing by the end of Act 1, the rest of the night was a delight. Voigt and JH Morris got overpowered by the orchestra a few times, but not being familiar with any other interpretations, I don't know if it is common. Waltraud Meier got the most out of her stage time and the only one that acted out her role on top of superb singing. (I'm now a fan!)
    I was able to move from my Balcony Box seat to almost center Balcony's last row, so I had a great sound spot for Acts II and III. I had empty seats on both sides for the 2nd Act and it was a pure bliss with no neighborly distractions. Sadly, it wasn't the case for Act 3, when a young couple showed up from nowhere and the guy, who sat next to me, clearly didn't want to be there. He kept making annoying sounds, moving in his seat, looking at his watch and was generally stealing my concentration. I was nervous the whole act afraid that he'd get up and leave. Le sigh.
    Despite that, I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and the almost-6 hours flew by faster than some of the 3-hour operas. Glad I went!

    Quote Originally Posted by Marge_Simpson View Post
    I'll be on the other side of the plaza on Saturday.
    I was back home on Saturday already, although probably should've stayed until Sunday. Saw Esta at the Met on Fri though =)
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  20. #160

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    Thanks for the review. I always thought I didn't like Wagner until a friend took me to Valkyrie last season. I was hooked from note #1 and, like you, thought the opera flew by faster than a lot of shorter ones I've been to.

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