Sunday, February 11, 2007

Onegin Vacation

So, in an act of utter disrespect for the statistics midterm I have to take tomorrow afternoon, I spent the weekend taking in some long denied entertainment back east. After all, the shame of a poor showing on the midterm should be forgotten by the final, but the shame of missing out on Mattilla Jenufa would last a lifetime.

Friday's Eugene Onegin opening was the first order of business, though, thanks to a last minute ticket procured by J's near pathological enjoyment of hitting refresh on Met ticket pages. There's no denying this is a classy showing, but I couldn't shake the feeling that it was a tad too smooth.

Maybe my expectations for Tchaikovsky are out of whack thanks to last season's beloved spectacular-spectacular Mazeppa. Maybe it's that the big blank slate set starts out feeling "inventive" but ends up kind of static and annoying. Maybe it's that I didn't find Renaay bothersome and cringe inducing so much as I just found myself distracted when she was on stage (tho decidedly less so in the last act). Props: her pureed diction thing stayed home tonight, and the Beautiful VoiceTM FX were present but doled out tastefully. Demerits: is that really the loudest you can sing? Seriously? Sing out Renaay!!

In sum, there seemed to be a little something missing there, but no biggie. Let it be noted, however, that Hvorostovsky certainly wasn't an accomplice. Lest you have to sit through my clumsy paraphrase, I'll just say "my sentiments exactly" and blockquote Maury:
Hvorostovky is such an obvious choice in this. He's not quite handsome but extremely interesting-looking, and his vocal suavity and the hint of coldness about him are Onegin in a nutshell. Additionally, he sings the fuckity fuck out of Onegin's splendid, introverted, better-than-the-tenor-aria aria.
Fuckity-fuck, indeed.

Rrrramon sounded nice. More importantly, he managed once more to avoid a velour leprachaun costume. With any luck, he will one day live that down.

Thoughts on Saturday's Jenufalicious delights next...


Lisa Hirsch said...

The answer might be "yes" to "is that REALLY the loudest you can sing?" I once heard her on a Gala program where one of the other singers was Swenson, who was significantly louder and bouncier.

Anonymous said...

Holbein and a very "overplayed" Tatiana

I teach Russian language and literature at a major university and have been an opera buff for years. The "Holbein" painting costumes and the 19th century Russians looking like Dutchmen (the checkered skirts, the bedthrow, the washbasin) - this was strange. Lensky sung by Ricardo (Vargas I believe) was *wonderful*, even though his Russian was miserably bad. I couldn't look at Renee Fleming, yes, her upper and mid-range is astounding! However, she just was wrong for this part, too old, too dramatic (the low tones she sung too low, too "velvety" for Tatiana, almost "Lady Macbeth-ian" drama), she performed like a monkey on drugs on stage. I finally had to look away, so I wouldn't throw up. 19th century 16+ year old noblewomen might have ran around beds and ran away as if Nike was paying her to sprint across the stage when they were young, that is true...However, there are years of operatic tradition of how Tatiana should be sung. Tchaikovsky envisioned a noble woman elevated to a pedestal. Renee's over played performance, did not deserve to be even near that pedestal.

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