Revisiting the MET's Lucia January 29 2009

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rich...@gmail.com

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Jan 30, 2009, 12:44:12 AM1/30/09
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If this was not an unalloyed triumph tonight for either Mr. Villazon
or Miss Netrebko, it was certainly not a disaster, and the evening
will only really have disappointed perfectionists or those who enjoy
train wrecks. While neither singer has entirely the goods to be able
to approach their role with emotional abandon or complete vocal
freedom - the two performances were more than creditable enough to
make this an evening of at least cautious pleasure, and the audience
generally - by my rough estimate the so-called sold-out house was
really only about 95% sold, which is a big problem because the
margins are critical- seemed to think it was getting its money's
worth.

Mr. Villazon had none of the disasters which befell him on Monday, but
to be candid about a singer I like very much, and was more than happy
to 'bravo' tonight, it's pretty clear at this point that, going
forward, we are going to be dealing with an artist who is, to some
degree, damaged goods now. There is pretty clearly a strange kind of
bleat in the voice at times - he will undoubtedly do the broadcast,
and so you can judge for yourselves - and in the first act he just
doesn't sound much like a tenor to me. It's not a question of metal in
the voice, but rather of an instrument which just just sits now
strangely low; there are moments around a G when he tends to start
flat, and I do not think he has in the voice a sustained Bb anymore.
He briefly made the note in the Verrano a te, but in the three
opportunities (the unwritten rise in the curse, just before the third
act aria, and at the end of the Tu che) the first two were flat, and
the first of the two broke slighttly, twice, and the second just
wasn't free, and he omited the last Bb all together (although tonight
he did sing the penultimate phrase up to the G, which he'd ducked in
the prima). He also sings the Gs and Ab very open, and while it's
thrillling, it's disturbing. I thought his interpretation of the final
scene very moving, vocally (within his limits) and on stage, but
having sung for a few years with abandon and without vocal discipline,
I think it's harder now for him to really score points with emotional
abandon when he needs to be careful, at the age of thirty-six, with
his resources.

This doesn't mean he's not one of our better artists, and had I time
and money I'd go to his next two performances without feeling cheated
in any way, but he is a diminished artist, at least in this house and
this repertoire, and it's unclear to me where he goes over the next
five years. In my opinion, he'd be ideal still in a Valetti repertoire
- the Mozarts, Ernesto, perhaps Des Grieux in a smaller house, Alfredo
(which he'll do here), but also some operetta and perhaps something
like Jongleur or even Rondine or Pinkerton in a smaller house. But
this probably isn't his career path now, and I wonder if, strangers
coming to him for the first time in a year or two, will ask the same
questions many of us who weren't with Albanese at the beginning asked
about her later on. I would still happier cue for a Villazon evening
than one of Marcello G, frankly, or half a dozen other MET stalwarts,
but ultimately the voice itself holds the emotional keys to an
evening, and we will have to see where Rolando can go from here.


For the bean counters among us, this time Miss Netrebko skipped both
Ebs - the first I thought deliberately, and that was fine, the second
seemed improvised at the last minute....she'd had problems rising on
the phrase "io preghero, preghero per te" past the Bb above the ledger
lines, and didn't carry the line up beyond that. I would still prefer
the second Eb even if flat, but if she's doing to come down, then it's
got to be better prepared for than it was last night. This aside the
tops were much better in tune, I thought, and the performance even
more confident and long-breathed. I found the middle of the voice
quite warm and full, and I think that her interpretation of the role
is quite winnning (for me) and personal. Nebtrbko's Lucy is not really
mad - in this she is perhaps traditionally Russian, in that real
insanity has always been a prerogative of their leaders. Miss Netrebko
is rather a Lucy who is a determined independent girl, fighting her
society (and perhaps mad because of that), but strong in her second
act confrontations, and never really weepy or febrile. I think it's
her own view - maybe there's a bit of her in this - and I find her
completely convincing and gripping, and she matches her voice to the
feelings on stage. You can begin to see why she wants to undertake
Bolena. I am no more sanguine than anyone else about the vocal perils
for her, or her lack of refinement in certain ways in terms of bel
canto, but she is not really, I think, a wallflower or a passive-
suffering type, and I suspect that there's a lot more temperament and
sense of emotional pugalism waiting to get out, to our benefit, if not
to our purer instincts.

One question for those who may recall. In the first season, did the
bass and soprano do both verses of the Cedi, cedi? I seem to think
they did, although this time around it's only one verse. I ask because
the production - which I am beginnning to find tiresome - has a host
of maids and butlers scurrying around in the background to clean up
the premises during the duet, and my recollection is that the house
staff was all working at a much more leisurely tempo last year. In any
event, if they are rushing this year, it's not an illness that the
stagehands have yet caught, and intermissions remain endless.

Beckmesserschmitt

clem

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Jan 30, 2009, 1:09:31 PM1/30/09
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On Jan 30, 12:44 am, "richer...@hotnail.com" <richer...@gmail.com>
wrote:

I was interested in the baritone. Kwiecen? I recall that Robert
Merrill was once asked what his least favorite role was, and it was
Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor. Roberta Peters, in a similar
interview, said that Lucia was her favorite role. Maybe that is why
they divorced.

Seriously, though, what did you think of Kweicen?

Paul

rich...@gmail.com

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Jan 30, 2009, 1:16:41 PM1/30/09
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The sense of him I've read on various groups lately (I mean, I totally
discount the TIMES), is that he still tends to hector and push. I felt
that more last year than this year. I like the basic sound, and
thought he did less of it than he did originally. Now, maybe it's also
becuase in the second act, she (and in the Wolf Crag scene, he
(Rolando) against against him better than their respective
predecessors did, but it was not so intrusive to me.

On a purely personal level, I will say I don't find him terribly
expressive, and I found myself feeling about his singing somewhat like
others, many others, feel about Cappuccilli (although, paradoxically,
I don't feel that about Cappuccilli) - that is to say, I felt that it
was someone wooden and boring, but I am, I suspect, in a minority on
that.

> Paul- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -

rich...@gmail.com

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Jan 30, 2009, 1:21:52 PM1/30/09
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I should have written "played against him", not "against against him."

I do know one or two people who would indeed like to be 'against
against him", though <g>

On Jan 30, 1:16 pm, "richer...@hotnail.com" <richer...@gmail.com>
wrote:

> > - Show quoted text -- Hide quoted text -

ortru...@gmail.com

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Jan 30, 2009, 1:52:13 PM1/30/09
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On Jan 30, 1:21 pm, "richer...@hotnail.com" <richer...@gmail.com>
wrote:

> I should have written "played against him", not "against against him."
>
> I do know one or two people who would indeed like to be 'against
> against him", though <g>
>
>
> > - Show quoted text -

Sho 'nuff!

-OK-J

clem

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Jan 30, 2009, 5:30:10 PM1/30/09
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On Jan 30, 1:16 pm, "richer...@hotnail.com" <richer...@gmail.com>
wrote:

I am about to misspell his name for the third time, I fear, but I am
disappointed to hear that, REG, because we really liked Kwiecien as
Marcello.

Paul

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ortru...@gmail.com

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Jan 30, 2009, 5:53:15 PM1/30/09
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Yes! And looking at these pics, even more so!:

http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/mariusz.JPG

-Ortrud Kwiecien-Jones

rich...@gmail.com

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Jan 30, 2009, 6:10:46 PM1/30/09
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You can't fool me! That's not Marcello's costume!

> http://www.sanfranciscosentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/marius...
>
> -Ortrud Kwiecien-Jones- Hide quoted text -

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ortru...@gmail.com

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Jan 30, 2009, 6:39:03 PM1/30/09
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On Jan 30, 6:10 pm, "richer...@hotnail.com" <richer...@gmail.com>
wrote:

You mean, you didn't see the Calixto Bieito Boheme from Baden-Baden?
Marcello and Rodolfo are Chiapas freedom fighters and pole dance at
the
local Guatemala City male strip joint to make ends meet!
(unfortunately, seeing Bieito's productions that not too outlandish
for him.....)

-OK-J

rich...@gmail.com

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Jan 30, 2009, 7:23:24 PM1/30/09
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I take the liberty of reprinting, from April 1, 2001 (lol) my posting
about Boheme from City Opera, which featured the adorable Rolando
Villazon in bed with the baritone at the beginning of the fourth act,
from the telecast:


"And I really like the Boheme tenor in his bonnet in the fourth act.
He's
kind of cute...It's becoming.

I can't see Marcello in a hat like that, much too much of a top, but
him,
yes...Maybe we could restage it so that, during the duet, a grief-
stricken
Rudolfo turns in his hour of need to his long-time housemate
Marcello...hmmmm.


Then, Colline pawns his coat to go out and buy absinthe, Mimi, who
has made
Rudolfo the beneficiary of her life-insurance ploicy, is poisoned, and
just
as the police are arriving to investigate the crime, Rudolfo gets
smart and
sings out...Mimi Mimi


That way, the boys get out of the draft, and live happily ever after.
"

> -OK-J- Hide quoted text -

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ortru...@gmail.com

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Jan 30, 2009, 7:34:13 PM1/30/09
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On Jan 30, 7:23 pm, "richer...@hotnail.com" <richer...@gmail.com>
wrote:

> I take the liberty of reprinting, from April 1, 2001 (lol) my posting
> about Boheme from City Opera, which featured the adorable Rolando
> Villazon in bed with the baritone at the beginning of the fourth act,
> from the telecast:
>
> "And I really like the Boheme tenor in his bonnet in the fourth act.
> He's
> kind of cute...It's becoming.
>
>  I can't see Marcello in a hat like that, much too much of a top, but
> him,
> yes...Maybe we could restage it so that, during the duet, a grief-
> stricken
> Rudolfo turns in his hour of need to his long-time housemate
> Marcello...hmmmm.
>
> Then, Colline pawns his coat to go out and buy  absinthe, Mimi, who
> has made
> Rudolfo the beneficiary of her life-insurance ploicy, is poisoned, and
> just
> as the police are arriving to investigate the crime, Rudolfo gets
> smart and
> sings out...Mimi Mimi
>
> That way, the boys get out of the draft, and live happily ever after.

>
> read more »

Actually, I recall hearing about a production (forget the location)
many years ago where Colline and Schaunard are portrayed as gay lovers
making a third set of couples in Boheme. I like the idea... ;)

-OK-J

clem

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Jan 31, 2009, 11:22:31 AM1/31/09
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Actually, if not for a single line in act II, that would work for me
as well! ( Schaunard to Colline (loosely translated) "If a pretty
girl like that were to come on to you, you would toss your
philosophical grumbling to the devil." Colline responds that she is
certainly pretty, but that he still prefers his pipe and his
textbooks. So...Schaunard - probably straight. Colline - perhaps
closeted? It is 1848 after all...)

Paul

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