Monday, October 30, 2006

Reason #463 why opera is not to be taken literally

A: so, I had a big "only weird for opera people" moment the other night
J: what was that?
A: choir sang at this nice community Halloween concert that the university orchestra does
A: and the theme was "Dangerous Women" with fun orchestral excerpts from the usual suspects
J: hah
A: we sang the carmen entrance sequence
A: but, they also did the dance of the seven veils from Salome
J: oh sweet
A: which was all well and good, and the orchestra did a good job, but the community involvement part involved dancers from the Hyde Park Ballet academy
A: who were ACTUAL 15 year old girls
J: ahhhh!!
J: that's so genius
J: and did they go all the way?
A: dude
A: it was really uncomfortable
J: what were they thinking?
J: it was like at the 4th grade talent show when Ariel Whiting Simons sang "She's Like the Wind" a capella and she replaced all the "She's" with "He's" so it was "He's like the wind through my tree..." etc
J: and also she was 9
A: haha
J: "I feel his breath on my face...his body close to me"
A: amazing

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Da Voigt

'Twas really spectacular, as J notes below. Hearing that woman plow through Salome with an intensity and accuracy one pretty much resigns for another age, one feels like a bit of a heel for being part of the world that kept her from bringing it to the universe short of massive surgery. I mean, who really gives a fuck in the presence of artistry like that, right? For shame.

The supporting cast as otherwise noted, was without weak links. Orchestra deserves a very substantial mention. This was the Salome score as it should be, where each moment brings new grand, erotic or terrifying delights from the pit.

The design leaves a good amount to be desired, IMHO. The set looks like nothing so much as a nondescript lobby centerpiece from the Luxor, the kind of thing you ooh and ahh over for the benefit of your traveling companions but secretly wonder whether this is really the best Vegas can do. I mean, it's Salome. The opera is always going to outdo you, so why not kick it up a notch?

But whatevs. The point is Debbie V, singing the hell out of a role she was placed on this earth to sing. The rest is gravy.

Deborah Voigt

I'm not sure why it's taken us a good four days to post anything about Saturday evening. I think it may have something to do with Voigt's First Staged Salome (the VFSS, if you will) being a huge relief, in a way. It was a thrilling achievement. Somehow, though, I found myself ever so slightly removed from the moment--a tad plagaued by an overwhelming sense of "Thank God it was good."

Does this make sense? I wanted so badly for it to be wonderful--not just because it was also *my* first staged Salome (which I flew Southwest out of Islip to make happen), but because I really found myself wanting it for Deborah Voigt. The woman deserves an inarguable triumph--let's face it: being shamed into horribly invasive and painful surgery followed by a surprisingly protracted period of potentially scary vocal readjustment and long term career rethinking (read: cancellation of Vienna Brunnhildes) makes for a pretty shitty couple of years.

Whether it was all worth it is something only one person can answer. But one thing is unquestionable. Deborah Voigt's Salome on Saturday evening was first class. I can't imagine a more vocally beautiful, musically precise, and emotionally brave performance. And when the curtain came back up after the piece's wrenching final moments, the audience gave as powerful an ovation as I have experienced as she tilted her head back in a much deserved moment of exhaustion and relief. Congratulations to her.

Quick notes on the supporting cast: Alan Held's Jokanaan was generally excellent, but lacked the same sharp resonances I remember from his Wozzeck. Kim Begley turned in an appropriately lecherous and easy sounding Herod. Judith Forst's Herodias made me giggle in anticipation of her one-off Kostelnicka in February...

I don't have much to say about the production. I found it a bit drab and without cohesive vision. But frankly, I could not have cared less...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

R&J and Fledermouse can suck a nut

J: dude there was just a centipede in my office
J: I screamed and made my intern kill it
A: sick!
A: how long?
J: oh man!
J: we lost it
J: and are now in a fight with this tree hugger girl in the office
J: though PS she eats meat and wears leather
J: but is mad that we killed a 'pede
A: whatever
A: those things are like animals
A: they are not to be allowed inside
A: the new cubs manager is giving a press conference, and just said something like "I'd like to have the success Joe Torre's had with the Yankees over here"
A: and there was an audible beat of silence from the reporters
J: hah
J: is idle at 1:13:06 PM.
J: is no longer idle at 1:27:55 PM.
J: is idle at 1:57:58 PM.
J: is away at 2:32:58 PM.
J: returned at 2:36:51 PM.
J: signed off at 6:54:58 PM.
J: signed on at 9:14:46 PM.
A: dude
A: I just *swam*
J: wow!
J: that is awesome
A: It basically killed me
A: more or less
J: well right
J: but it feels good
A: and in some way I feel there is more potential for going back than with running
A: where you're all "I feel great! I'm doing this every other day! (not)"
J: yeah that makes sense
A: also, the cat is apparently really intrigued by chlorine
A: he's going crazy on everything I brought back
J: oh awesome
J: Cristina Gallardo-Domas is such ass
J: it
J: is so retarded
A: you went again?
J: I am listening
A: oh right
A: where the hell did she come from anyhow?
A: this was her debut, right?
J: no
J: she did some Mimis and stuff before
A: there was no alternate cho-cho san night, right?
J: no!
J: I hope she falls ill when my parents are here
A: when are your parents coming?
J: Veteran's Day weekend
A: nice
A: anything besides budderfly on the agenda?
J: they are joining the Barbiere premiere
A: oh cool
J: hah Juntwait is hilarious about the puppet
J: she just said "now the entire company is in a line...along with the puppet boy...who is the way."
A: hahaha
A: awesome
J: I have done a total 180 on that woman
A: I want it so bad
A: I am on ebay now
J: wait wait
J: don't buy one
A: k
A: ?
J: just don't ;-)
A: oh you...
A: Sports radio is discussing whether it is valid to be happy about the Bears' win last night.
J: a win is always good, I think
A: people here are very self-critical
J: right
A: it was pretty awesome at the time though
A: they were down like 13 five minutes from the end of the game and made it all back
J: yeah that is neat
A: people in Jimmy's were like shrieking with joy
J: I mean, I maintain football is sort of retarded and boring
J: haha
J: like, I am not one to rag on sports or anything
J: but football I just can't engage with
A: I mean, just to be clear, I still haven't watched a complete game
J: I suppose I haven't really tried
J: hah
J: whew
A: the third quarter of monday night football starts about when I get out of choir
J: haha
J: my parents are going to Tristan in SF this weekend
J: I am jealous
A: oooh
A: awesome
A: Brewer?
J: yeah
J: I like her
A: who is the 'stan?
J: Moser
A: he seems like the go to tristan, but no one is very happy about it
J: is he bad?
J: well it's kinda like how Linda Watson is the go to Brunnhilde...but have you ever met a LInda Watson fan?
A: the one thing I really remember him from is this Frau Ohne Schatten video
A: where he was really great
J: oh neat
A: I am back and forth re: Watson
J: I have never really heard her
J: I never really heard much of the Bayreuth b'casts
A: Re-Listening through those Bayreuth b'casts there were times when I thought she had pitch and stridency issues, and times when I thought she was interesting and right on
J: oh cool
A: it's way on the gym-teacher end of the Brunnhilde spectrum
A: which isn't necessarily bad
J: well she is the B-hilds in the DC Walküre this season
A: oh--Vincent from choir has podcasts with the highlights
A: I'm sure they are still on his site
J: oh swell
J: I'll listen
J: but I think right now since I am not prepared to sit entirely still with headphone I am going to put on the Tristan with Meier and Jerusalem
A: I still need to hear her Isolde
J: he sounds a little assy on it
A: that is Barenboim?
J: but she is good
A: he is assy all over
A: the Siegfried on those Bayreuth 'casts is neat
J: it is B-boim
A: He has to noticeably change his tone to hit some stuff, but it may really be the most secure Siegfried one can find these days, and he is very musical
A: he spent like 6 years in the "Phantom" nat'l tour before returning to opera
A: it is a neat story
J: oh wow
J: like, AS the Phantom?
J: I am so glad he came back
A: yeah...THE phantom
J: huh
J: I have been wondering if Forbis could ever sing the more serious Wagner stuff
A: right?
A: he totally does the 'stan
J: oh man I would LOVE to hear his 'stan
J: oh and he sings Parsifal
A: dude, they need to give him that shit at the Met
A: nothing against Hep B
A: but they need to mix it
A: up
A: fuck
A: no more rib tips left
J: oh crud
J: and PS
J: totally fine to diss the Hep B
J: the guy has great moments but if often a disappointment
J: is often
J: ok hm
J: maybe I should switch over to the Bayreuth Tristan from 1953 with Nilsson
J: the Barenboim is sort of bumming me out
A: who's the conductor on that '53 bayreuth?
J: oh sorry
J: I was getting it confused with a '53 Krauss Ring
J: it is '66
J: and Böhm
A: ah
A: I was about to comment on how ridiculously long that woman's career was
J: have you seen this M-A trailer?
J: they are side by side on the shelf
A: arg
A: I am missing a plugin
J: urg
A: I don't know why it hates me
A: everything seemed to be going so well
A: I need a laptop
J: it's just a quicktime, so that is weird
A: when does it open everywhere?
J: friday
A: I was in this funny dance club on the North Side on Friday called "Berlin" and it was plastered with Marie Antoinette posters
J: oh awesome
A: clifton forbis has a nice big Wagner face
J: he does
J: I like the CF
A: I bet he has a really funny deep speaking voice
J: and maybe a souther accent
A: yeah...I want to hear him talk
A: barber premiere is the 10th, right?
A: maybe I will get my sister tix to that
A: it is her birthday thursday
A: but all the cav/pags look kind of dumb
A: so much Farina
J: is idle at 11:55:03 PM.
J: is no longer idle at 12:04:55 AM.
J: I know it
J: it gets better in the January ones
J: Guleghina is replaced by Zajick and Farina is replaced by someone who is not Farina
A: score
A: it is too bad all the DZ trovatores here are right after you'll be here
J: hrm
J: yeah
J: I think my next Chicago opera trip will be Carmelites
A:'s S-rad too
J: I know!
A: barring the DZ and S-rad, tho, that's really the only other interesting thing on the schedule
A: I'll go to the Cosi, but R&J and Fledermouse can suck a nut
J: yeah
J: oh but it's lovely Matthew Polenzani
J: in R&J
A: oh!
A: hm
A: I am so turned off by that opera after last year
J: yeah
A: I guess the chances are pretty slim that the Lyric would come up with something as retarded as the Met
J: it's true

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Why would he play football like that, Murph?

A: there is great discontent in Chicago this evening
J: oh did the Bears lose that game after coming back?
A: no, they came back and did win
J: oh swell
A: but it did not negate the shitty playing
A: and everyone is upset
J: ah
J: weird
J: I like it here where no one cares
A: right
J: people care some about the baseball, but I feel sort of distanced from it
A: people are like committing suicide on 670 "The Score" right now
A: even though they actually won
J: hah
A: the guy on right now can barely speak he is so concerned
J: hah
J: that is retarded
J: and sort of great
A: "I mean, Murph, he, like, he, I mean, how could he fumble? Like, why would he play football like that? Why Murph?"
J: evidently the Lyric is going to start broadcasting now?
A: ?
A: where did you see this? JFerrantel: Greg told me
A: I feel like they do some broadcasts, but nothing regular
J: well, the are broadcasting the Salome this Saturday
A: oh sweet
A: Windows media player is f'd up on this @#$)(#$ computer and I can't get sirius yet
A: I want it oh so bad
J: ok I would suggest doing what I did
J: which is buying a receiver and Sirius boombox online
J: and just plug it in
J: and go nuts
J: like used on ebay I mean
J: mine was a floor model and just had a subscription active on it that could stay active forever
J: or not
A: huh
A: I thought the units were relatively kind of expensive
J: I got a boombox online for $10, an receiver for $10, paid about $40 for shipping and $25 for an adapter
A: dang
J: so I paid about $75 all-in
A: does it make you happy?
J: it makes me pretty happy
J: the sound quality is really good
J: and when they are playing Bel Canto bullshit, there's always the Martha Stewart channel
A: good thing
A: literally
J: I wonder what she has on now
A: Martha After Hours
J: the one bad thing is that when they are not broadcasting opera
J: they play really random and often sort of lame stuff
J: like random period recordings of random movements from concerto grossi
A: um
A: boo
A: I thought the filler was all historical stuff?
J: they play the historical stuff all day
J: but there is space between them
J: and then from like midnight to 6AM is all the lame stuff
A: ah
J: there is also the showtunes channel
A: oh right
A: is that good?
J: yeah
A: that seemed like a good alternative
J: the mix of stuff is really amusing
J: like, "What's the Use of Wonderin" from Carousel will be followed by "Defying Gravity"
A: haha
A: that sounds like my kind of station
J: totally
A: p.s. I just realized I had two diet cokes in the fridge when I thought I had none
A: *bonus*
J: oh sweet!
A: they are going to help me as I try to graph demand functions
J: on a similar note, I just remembered I had some delicious ice cream in the freezer I had forgotten about
A: also *bonus*
J: oh btw
J: Juntwait is so much cooler on the nightly broadcasts
J: it's not as scripted
J: and her intermission banter is sort of sweet
A: arg
A: I want it so bad
A: I literally spent all of saturday fucking with my computer and not doing homework trying to make it work
J: darn
A: there is some weird Microsoft thing, comme toujours, that is fucking up the process
J: hah they are playing "Comfort ye" from the Messiah
J: which, btw, I really love even though it is October and an opera station
A: that is nice
A: I am enjoying learning Messiah for reals for the first time
A: the conductor we have is kind of sarcastic but in a good way
A: like, he does these imitations of the sopranos but in good fun
A: no passive aggression
J: oh that is nice
A: today he was all "you're giving me kind of a speaker feedback sound, when I really want distant cicadas"
J: haha

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


A: dude
A: Tower is closing
J: I know
A: crazy!
J: it is sad
A: my mother and I were just in the lincoln park one talking to the old guy who runs the classical section
A: he said 8 to 10 weeks
J: it is depressing
J: but should result in some sweet sales
A: he said there was a sign in the back that said *80 % off*
J: holy crap
A: today was only 10
A: but I found a complete Knapperbutsch Ring for 55
A: so, perils of drinking #156
A: this morning I couldn't get "Grease" out of my head
A: like, for hours
A: and I kept thinking how odd it was
A: I just opened the CD player and found, sure enough, that I had dug up a Grease CD and put it in there
J: hahah
J: that is awesome
A: whoa
A: is that Mattilla Strauss Four Last Songs on the schedule?
J: wait
J: when??
A: jfmurray mentioned it on the date
J: oh my holy god
J: it's on Nov. 3rd!!!
J: god damn it
J: I have tickets to that Stoppard play that night
J: maybe we can sell them
A: fuk
A: is the stoppard open-ended?
J: no but I am sure I could unload them or trade with someone
A: one must not forsake Karita lightly
J: and the four last songs!!
A: it sounds awfully hott
J: shit
J: what am I going to do?


J: I get to see you in like 10 days. sweet!
A: total sweet!
J: schweet even
A: we ran into a Lyric cellist my mother knows
J: oh rad
J: and?
A: he says the principles are coming on Saturday
A: he is very excited
J: oh man
J: that is so awesome
A: truly
J: it's going to be so great
J: even if it's not great it will be great
J: because no matter what, it's live Salome
A: two hotttest non-genital related words in the english language: live Salome

Monday, October 09, 2006

CSO Round 1

Considering Chicago's terrible stinginess with teh opera (Lyric takes 3 WEEKS to cycle in a new show!!) I have been pursuing some contingency measures to get that sweet, sweet, fix...most recently Matthias Goerne in a program with the CSO this past Saturday, doing selections from Des Knaben Wunderhorn (translation, courtesy J: "The Boy's Wondrous Horn").

First, the remarkable: that dreamboat baritone does not disappoint in public--it's all the chocalatey goodness I had come to expect from the records, and I was actually a bit taken aback by the power he can bring to bear where appropriate (despite confirming that this is essentially a Euro rather than Met-sized instrument). The readings were sensitive, thoughtful, introspective, seamless, etc., etc.

The small quibbles: So, I'll admit it. There were moments when I had that creeping sense that this is what they mean by a CD-voice. As noted above, it is a marvelously beautiful sound, like, ballpark platonic-baritone beautiful--but I found myself a bit distracted. Not that he's a cold interpreter by any means, but just that rough edges are actually something of a boon to effective live performance.

The Woundrous Boy-Horn Songs: Is anyone else just not that into these? I mean, yeah, there are gems, but I can't shake the sense that there's a bunch of filler too. And I like Mahler's songs! Hook me up with the Lieds of the Earth or the Dead Kid Songs and I'm in heaven. But the Wunderhorns? So sue much of it just feels like Mahler phoning it in.

And oh yes. The non-opera-related-program-activities of the second half. Maybe I just didn't give the NY Phil a chance, maybe it was Avery Fisher, or maybe they just really aren't that interesting a band--but boy am I psyched to be back in a town with a marquee orchestra I can really root for. The CSO under Paavo Jarvi (Neeme's brother?) turned in a simply bitchin' Shostakovich 10 which I'm still giddy about 48 hours later.

I am generally of the opinion that Shostakovich is poorly served on headphones, so this was an extra super lucky treat for me. The brilliant ecstatic clarity of the orchestra, the commitment of the soloists, the sheer noise deployed. It was a breathless, bravura performance from start to finish. In contrast to my (slight) misgivings about the time with Goerne, Shostakovich as heard here simply can't be reproduced on disk.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Call me an A-Hole, But I Love This...

From GAY CITY NEWS, courtesy of one James Jorden:

"Unfortunately, the gaping hole in the center of this “Butterfly” is soprano Cristina Gallardo-Domâs, whose threadbare lyric soprano could do little more than sketch in the rich Puccini vocal lines. As heard on September 30, the middle of the voice wavered constantly out of focus, and the top, though powerful enough, failed to land solidly on pitch.

These technical shortcomings might count for less if the soprano could muster consistently interesting and musical phrasing, but line after line emerged shapeless and self-indulgently slow. True, Gallardo-Domâs is an imaginative and fiercely physical actress in the Teresa Stratas mold, but all the emoting in the world is moot if the soprano can’t sing the music."

Excuse me while I go bathe in these words.

Violeta o' my Heart

I promised myself I'd find a way to begin this post with something other than the obligatory mention of how completely retarded the libretto is for La Gioconda.

But let's face it folks. It's retarded. Like, really really retarded. It's also really long--partially because of the 3rd act ballet featuring man-with-ass-of-chiseled-stone spinning very swiftly to the rousing tune of "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh"

Remember on METropolitan OPERA's Opening Night® how you could hit the button on the Met Titles™ a second time and read the translation auf deutsch? I was a little bummed that feature was not active for last night's performance. I guess that was just part of the pizazzerie. It would have been fairly sweet to try to figure out Gioconda in German. I actually went in last night having spent only a marginal amount of time with the music, and clearly NO time with the libretto. Consequently, I spent most of Act III giggling (what with Gioconda astutely anticipating Laura's demise, and showing up with some of Juliet's leftover "deathlike slumber" potion).

Speaking of deathlike slumber--The Tylenol PM are kicking in. I really should say something of some substance pretty quickly here so I can get to bed.

So here goes. Violeta Urmana is completely genius. Her performance was basically flawless vocally--and surprisingly impassioned: reports from rehearsals led me to anticipate a perfectly sung, but potentially dry reading. Not so at all--she managed, pointless libretto and all, to evoke full sympathy, while never giving up her position as the absolute and only master of her own voice. I guess that is what most impressed me--there was never any worry that a/"the" note wouldn't be there, or that a phrase would end abruptly. She may be the reigning mistress of reliable excellence. The R.M.R.E.(?)

That said, I have been debating whether to say this...and this is coming from someone (me) who is flying to Chicago in a couple of weeks to see the Voigt Salome, but...based on last season's Forza, Tosca, Volpe ('member him?)Gala, and a couple shaky reports from San Francisco's Ballo, I am beginning to wonder if Urmana is in fact the one to beat. Not that such comparisons or musings are totally worth our energy--but seeing as Voigt is singing Gioconda chez Met in a couple years, it was on my mind last night.

As for the rest--Chilaquiles Machado's Enzo was less exciting than I had hoped. He sort of falls into the category for me of "acceptable-plump-italian-opera-singing-tenor". His voice has moments of exceptional focus, but it tends to spread a bit in the upper registers. His phrasing is largely mechanical and his stage persona very much of the "stand and sing" variety.

Olga Borodina, as expected, was totally wonderful. This is only my second time hearing her live (the first being her Dalila last season). She is such an impressive singer. And the sexy, rich tones in that voice...she's rapidly becoming one of my favorites.

Rounding out the ladies was Irina Mishura's Cieca. While it was most fun indeed to imagine Podles(!) singing the role, one could not help but be distracted from one's big Polish fantasy by the fact that Mishura was actually totally fantastic.

As Barnaba, baritone Zeljko Lucic was showing signs of wear and generally not my favorite. And Paata Burchaladze, whose massive bass never fails to impress, despite an increasingly wide vibrato, turned in an appropriately sinister and vocally solid Alvise. Not knowing the score all that well, I am going to decline to comment in any substantial manner on Bertrand de Billy and the orch...but I will say that I was impressed with his energy--even having conducted the season prima of Faust the previous evening, he was among the most alert and lively in the room come curtain call.

Next up--possible Faust tomorrow, tonight.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Pity the cat

A: so
A: the bears won this big game on Sunday and I am kind of into the football
A: and have been listening to the funny call in shows
A: and it dawned on me that with the Met broadcasts, an opera call-in show is now technically possible
J: it's true
J: I mean
J: they have a whole station
J: I sort of can't deal with football
A: I like that it is so manageable
A: only 16 games
J: that is a good point
A: lord knows I have tried to like baseball...but there are just too many other things to do with one's time than watch it for four hours like EVERY day
J: seriously
A: the smaller number of games makes each one kind of consequential, which is also a pro
J: true
J: who would host the opera call-in shows?
J: Juntwait?
A: not
A: it would have to be kind of mean and boisterous
J: "OK, calling from Des Moines Iowa, we have Andrrrrrea Johnzon"
A: yeah
A: no way
A: more like "Gary on west 26th street, you're on the air"
J: yeah totally
J: it would be like the worst case of "you need to turn your radio down"
A: haha
J: "Sir....SIR you have got to turn Vissi D'arte down"
A: haha
A: "Sorry Bill, yeah, I got a question about Idomeneo last night...uh, who does Heppner think he's fooling in this Mozart rep?"
J: "Gary, I know what you're saying. No one's going to argue his moments of clarion brilliance, but you know and I know it is 2006. We can't keep resting on a successful 1992 outing"
A: oh man
A: it would be fun
A: and then there would be all these freaks who fool the producer and then start going on about some obscure singer once they get on the air
J: totally or are like
J: "I love you Renee Fleming. I love you and I know where you live."
A: it would probably need a pretty good lawyer
J: on a different note, they are selling "limited edition" sticks of Secret™ which evidently celebrate "50 Years of Strong Women"
J: Is this the most retarded thing you have ever heard of in your life?
J: Because it is for me.
A: wow
A: that is really, really, f'ing retarded
A: dozens if not hundreds of people had to sit in meetings about that with a straight face
J: "Celebrating 50 Years of Strong Women Not Reeking to High Heaven®"
A: haha
A: “A Half Century of Fighting Woman Stank”
J: haha
J: I think I'm gonna see Gioconda tomorrow
A: nice
J: I am gonna try those ruch tix
A: I am intrigued
A: oh yeah
J: er, rush
A: that is sweet
A: yay gelb
J: yay indeed
J: yay that nice rich lady who is paying for the rush tickets
J: it's like a program sponsored by a board member
J: she and her husband gave $2million specifically to offer the rush tix
J: which is neat
A: yeah
A: I officially invite them to my house for dinner and opera, should they be in Chicago
A: and if they somehow read this
J: well, here's hoping they like cats.
A: my mother was trying to push a kitten on me
J: oh man
A: she's kitten crazy these days
J: she has a problem
J: she is like me and opera tickets
A: totally
A: a surefire way to depress the fuck out of yourself is visiting adoption sites
J: i would want every damn cat
J: I would love to have a kitten
A: look at this female andrew style cat who no one will take:
J: so much amazing in this:
J: "She has been with us for a very long time, only because of her age. She is suck a loving cat...Ask about our Senior Feline reduced prices."
A: yes
J: suck a loving cat
A: won't you today?
J: haha
J: A loving cat. Suck it.
A: ha
A: the punk adoption agency slogan
A: "Get your face smashed...with a sweet kitten"
J: hah
J: that is sad about that Andrew cat
J: we'll call her Andrea
A: ok
A: she has that nice big face
J: did you visit her in person?
A: no, that's actually in Colorado
A: I typed in the wrong thing
J: oh hah
J: I may go into work a little late tomorrow so I can watch Mr. T on Martha
A: that seems valid
A: has something happened with Mr. T recently?
J: he has a new show
J: titled "Pity the Fool"
A: what does that entail?
J: I have no idea
A: perhaps him saying that
A: alot
A: before
J: no doubt
A: today
A: he is aging
J: hahah
J: oh Mr. T
J: I hope his real first name is Vernon
J: Vernon T
J: Mr. Vernon J. T
A: haha
A: it is Laurence Tureaud
A: not bad
J: not bad
J: Mr. T should come do a stint in Chicago the Musical
A: oh man
A: that is gold
J: as Billy Flynn
A: that would be the hottest irony ticket on broadway in a second
J: no kidding
J: Rev. Billy Flynn
A: according to imdb, "Stopped wearing his trademark gold chains as of last year (2005) because of the Katrina devastation."
J: hahaha
A: I kind of feel that "donating" his trademark chains would have been more of a statement
J: you are dissing the T
A: only because I love

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Lots of folks with lots to say this week: JSU and Sieglinde give the rundown on Thursday's season premiere of the Idomeneo revival. Sounds like Jepson was a little more solid last night than at the prima.

Maury bemoans the scrim at Stadt. We are in agreement on pretty much all aspects of his assessment of this production.

Alex Ross on the Met's opening night pizazzerie. Thankfully, A. Ross took a moment, with his characteristic graciousness, to note the vocal shortcomings of one Cristina Gallardo-Domas.

Chalkenteros, a long time Wellsung friend and commenter, has started his own blog. Make sure to drop by!

More Sieglinde: Sieglinde is trying SO hard to like Cristina, though I think the lady is slowly coming around to the fact that C kinda.

La Cieca has been an incredible resource and sort of clearing house for all the new procedures and offerings at Gelb's Met.

Steve Smith remains awesome.

I am not totally certain what this post was about---more a way to say hello to everyone and get the juices flowing nice and early in the season.

Idomeneo and Friends

Interesting note about the Met's 24 year old production of Idomeneo--it seems that someone forgot to paint the set. Oops!

It is the most drab, lifeless, stilted production of all time. Ever.

There isn't much more to say about that, but I do have one other big concern:

WHAT is going on with the Met curtain?? Where is it? There was this hideous, velour-like mustard yellow crap hanging there in its place. Is it being cleaned? I am really attached to that curtain. So, if anyone has any insight as to where the hell it may be, do let me know. It did lead to the enjoyable theory, though, that the mouth of the massive head of Neptune, which hovers for 4 hours over the blandness of this production, was sitting agape at its ugliness (see photo above).

This incarnation of Mozart's underappreciated opera seria thoroughly overcomes the confines of its craptastic production. Mozart with Levine is always an ear-opening experience. In fact, I think I can safely say Levine is teaching me, one opera at a time, to love Mozart. Idomeneo, an opera often slighted as being a bit dry and inaccessible, is instead here filled with emotion and lyricism. Sitting in the house last night, I felt a little bummed out it has taken me so long to spend any serious time with this piece (with that in mind, recording recommendations are hugely appreciated).

Hep B (Ben Heppner, for the uninitiated), was actually one of the weaker links. His voice had its characteristic moments of brilliance and strength, but is no longer fluid enough--14 years after his met debut in this role--to deliver the consistent accuracy and clean lines that are imperative to successful Mozart-singin'.

Totally disappointing was Olga Makarina's Elettra. Her more lyrical moments came off well--truly beautifully, in fact, in a couple of cases. But the real meat of this role is in her fury-driven Act I and Act III arias (a bit more the Ele(k)tra we know and love...) These, sadly, came off timid and musically uncertain. Unfortunately, these moments were really palatable anti-climaxes.

Now that I have my griping out the way...

Mezzo Kristine Jepson, as Idamante, balanced emotional vocal freedom with total Mozartean accuracy. Her first entrance was not her strongest, but it didn't take much time for her to warm right up into mezzo-tastic greatness. Oddly enough, I think the fact that her interpretation of the role really made me fall in love with it led to me spend much of the evening looking forward to Kozena singing it later in the run. Considering my love for Kozena, we'll call this distraction a compliment.

I am going to wait before I declare this officially--but I am thinking Dorothea Röschmann may be one of my new favorite singers (I know, SUCH a distinction). Her Ilia was flawless from the moment she took the stage. Her performance was marked by ease and clarity, backed up with consistent power and solidity. I think I need to start a wish list of roles I want to hear her sing.


Monday, October 02, 2006


So a quick note on NYCO's revival of Die Tote Stadt:

It's a bit like that one day in film class where they make you watch Maya Deren movies and a Stan Brakhage reel.

Meaning, it's interesting to look at and consider how it was probably relevant and provocative in the 70's.

Anyway, the impressionistic film images were fun for a good chuckle, even though it necessitated the ever-aggravating scenario in which an entire opera takes place behind a scrim.

More importantly, I guess, is that this opera is being performed at all. Listening to it live, I find it curious as to why more houses don't take advantage of its two major vehicles for soprano and tenor (sung here by Susan B. Anthony and Dan Chamandy, who I will only mention brielfy because their performances were adequate but for the most part underwhelming), and one of the more accessible and heartbreaking scores in the rep.

In the interest of brevity, I only have one more observation. The highlight of the evening, without a doubt, was opera hot baritone Keith Phares' gorgeous reading of "Mein Sehnen, Mein Wahnen" in the middle of the second act. Truly, the evening weas worth it for him. I guess he is best described as Nathan Gunn with a bit more vocal heft.

I am off to Idomeneo, Re of Sunshine. And I am running late.