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#29214 - 04/24/14 03:40 PM Re: Opera 8 [Re: Jon]
Barbara Offline
Administrator

Registered: 04/24/99
Posts: 13033
Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
I may have posted this before -- skip it if it sounds familiar. When I was 13 or 14, I read a critical biography of Strauss. The author (name long forgotten) didn't think much of Der Rosenkavalier; he dismissed it as "a glittering, empty shell." I still remember those words. At the time I was shocked. I knew in my bones that that was magic music, and I was stunned by the realization for the first time that books aren't always right. A double whammy. But, alas, my enthusiasm for the opera has waned somewhat over the years, and I don't really know why. Maybe I needed that near-daily exposure to it that Jon had.

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#29223 - 04/27/14 02:18 PM Re: Opera 8 [Re: Barbara]
Barbara Offline
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Registered: 04/24/99
Posts: 13033
Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
A sprightly Così yesterday, with much fun had by all, cast and audiences alike. It left me with an urgent need to hear Susanna Phillips again as soon as possible. The sets (from an earlier production) were just right, and it was good to see James Levine back in the saddle again. Even after conducting hundreds of performances, he hasn't lost one ounce of enthusiasm for what he's doing. The suitors (Matthew Polenzani and Rodion Pogossov) both sounded good together and played together well. All the acting was appropriate to the music, although I felt Danielle de Niese (Despina) needed to tone it down a notch or two. But the opera was a real treat -- graceful music, gracefully sung.

The programs we were handed contained acknowledgements of financial donations that made this production possible. One such came from Dolce & Gabbana. Now I feel much better about spending so much money on a pair of D&G eyeglasses last month.

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#29225 - 04/28/14 04:15 AM Re: Opera 8 [Re: Rita]
Andrew Offline


Registered: 09/27/11
Posts: 425
Loc: York, England
I heard the broadcast and enjoyed it a lot. I was very pleased to hear Polenzani sing "Ah lo veggio quell' anima bella" - it's frequently cut. A few years ago I and Jon went to see Così at Glyndebourne and this aria was cut. If I remember correctly, Jon said that it's quite difficult to sing. Polenzani made it sound easy!

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#29226 - 04/28/14 03:02 PM Re: Opera 8 [Re: Andrew]
Christopher Offline
Member

Registered: 07/02/02
Posts: 3558
Andrew, a question. At what point does an ensemble become a chorus? Così had the smallest chorus I've ever seen in an opera. I didn't count them, but there couldn't have been more than 10 or 12. It was a delightful performance...I think I enjoyed Così more than anything else this season.

Incidentally, I found this in Wiki:
According to William Mann,[6] Mozart disliked prima donna Adriana Ferrarese del Bene, da Ponte's arrogant mistress for whom the role of Fiordiligi had been created. Knowing her idiosyncratic tendency to drop her chin on low notes and throw back her head on high ones, Mozart filled her showpiece aria "Come scoglio" with constant leaps from low to high and high to low in order to make Ferrarese's head "bob like a chicken" onstage.[7]

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#29227 - 04/28/14 08:27 PM Re: Opera 8 [Re: Christopher]
Austin
Unregistered


Ha! Did Susanna Phillips's head bob like a chicken?

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#29228 - 04/29/14 11:04 AM Re: Opera 8 [Re: ]
Barbara Offline
Administrator

Registered: 04/24/99
Posts: 13033
Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
Nope.

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#29230 - 04/29/14 05:20 PM Re: Opera 8 [Re: Rita]
Andrew Offline


Registered: 09/27/11
Posts: 425
Loc: York, England
Chris asks:
"Andrew, a question. At what point does an ensemble become a chorus? Così had the smallest chorus I've ever seen in an opera. I didn't count them, but there couldn't have been more than 10 or 12."

In this opera, the chorus is usually (but not always) offstage. All it does is to sing "Bella vita militar!" twice in Act 1 scene 2, and then only once in the dénouement near the end of the opera. I haven't seen this production, so can't really comment on the number of singers, but this really is an opera in which the chorus has very little to do.

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#29240 - 05/02/14 11:13 PM Re: Opera 8 [Re: Rita]
Jon Offline


Registered: 04/25/99
Posts: 6422
Loc: Newark, Delaware, USA
Getting caught up on several points -- sorry to be late, it's a crazy semester.

Barbara, I'm not quite the Rosenkavlier addict I once was, either. I still like it, the great scenes still send me, the orchestral writing still delights me. But I must admit that Strauss overwrote it, blew it up with too much (and too grandiose) music for the novelette-ish sort of story it is. Very unusually among the operas that I would call favorites, I do think it's better when shortened with cuts.

In many otherwise uncut productions and recordings of Così fan tutte, "Ah! lo veggio" is the only thing to go. The tenor has between 20 and 30 high B flats in it (the note that tenors like Pavarotti make such a big climax of), and he can't heave his way on and off them -- they happen in the middle of phrases, often as the beginning of a descending scale. It's very unusual to encounter the aria in a live performance: bravo to Polenzani. From being a reliable "house tenor" for the Met, he has developed into a rather special artist of top rank. Both his live CD with the Britten Michelangelo sonnets and his Liszt CD are exceptionally fine.

I don't necessarily trust William Mann's relaying of opera anecdotes, or his writing in general. There are a lot of stories about Ferrarese, and they don't all agree.

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#29243 - 05/03/14 10:12 AM Re: Opera 8 [Re: Rita]
Pete Offline


Registered: 01/10/02
Posts: 5177
Loc: Newport News, Virginia, USA
I saw a chamber production of Cosi once. A student production, in English, with only keyboard accompaniment. I don't know if I heard the tenor aria (and I would doubt I did, with students singing). What's the Bass's big aria, complaining about women?
_________________________
Regerds, Pete

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#29244 - 05/04/14 01:46 PM Re: Opera 8 [Re: Rita]
Jon Offline


Registered: 04/25/99
Posts: 6422
Loc: Newark, Delaware, USA
Mozart gave the tenor three arias, of which the second is hair-raisingly difficult (as noted above) and the third quite challenging too. Student performances -- even professional ones, a few decades back -- generally omit the latter two, leaving the tenor with only his Act I aria. (Other numbers were sometimes cut or abbreviated as well; the "standard German performing edition" up through the 1970s was brutally abridged. This is close to what student performances are likely to do now, to ease the strain on their inexperienced performers.)

The bass aria (for the character Guilelmo) about women is "Donne mie, le fate a tanti."

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