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Subject: Some other Stratas movies
From: "Wolman, Kenneth" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Wolman, Kenneth
Date:Wed, 30 May 2001 09:14:37 -0400

text/plain (235 lines)

Re: Stratas on stage and on film, I forgot three things.  One, of course, is what I suppose is a benchmark performance of the 1982 Boheme with Carreras.  Princess Leia hairdo aside, Stratas set a standard for Mimi in that performance that defined heartbreak.  She was magnificent.

The second...I hope people will adjust the details I have based on rumor her in a film of Salome.  I believe this was made in about 1974 with Bohm, and featured Astrid Varnay as Herodias, Hans Beirer as Herod, Bernd Weikl as Jokanaan, and Wieslaw Ochmann as Narraboth.  Reportedly, Stratas learned the role strictly for the film because she had no intentions of singing it onstage (has she ever anywhere?).  It is not a Ewing bachelor party version: that is, Stratas stays clothed, and she can't dance to save herself.  But--the impression you take away from this thing is of one sick little nymphet, an amoral monster whose essence Stratas located from the inside so she doesn't need to rip her clothes off and move around.  Her face and vocalisms tell the story, and it's one you don't want to hear or see too often because I find it even more sickening than Hampson's great performance in Dangerous Liaisons.  The effect she projects also registers in the reactions of the ot!
her characters, especially Weikl's Jokanaan...a mixture that seems about 90% revulsion and 10% lust (where did I get those numbers? I made them up).

And there is also the Zeffirelli Traviata.  Controversial?  Probably.  The triumph of mise en scene if nothing else: lovely to look at, views of Paris and the 'burbs that fit the music.  Stratas looks consumptive and, except when she's reaching for top notes that she doesn't have, sounds wonderful, characterizes the desperation and absolute loss of this woman who knows she's dying and is looking for something in her life to compensate at the last for living in a "populated desert."  I'm not even going to bring up the "illusory ending."  Beyond her, the casting choices are interesting, to say the least.  Domingo could still do Alfredo, though he projects too much of the grown man to make me believe he's as big a schmuck as Alfredo needs to be; but Cornell MacNeil is simply dreadful as Germont Pere, and it's merciful that the music is cut.  Double negative: he didn't have NOTHING left in his toolbox because when Francesca da Rimini was revived around the same time he was in st!
upendous form in a far more declamatory role that was kinder to his voice and those still-in-place tenorish high notes; and a year later could play a "bad cop" Scarpia for all it was worth.  But to stick him in a film as Germont that late in his career was absurd.


Kenneth Wolman
Merrill Lynch/DCSS
570 Washington Street
New York, N.Y. 10014
(212) 647-2496

> -----Original Message-----
> From: [log in to unmask] [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Tuesday, May 29, 2001 4:56 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> In a message dated 5/29/01 8:35:25 AM, [log in to unmask] writes:
> << Since I was not able to post this on 5/26, and no one else
> has remembered
> this great artist, I want to remember the birthday of one of Canada's
> greatest and most beloved singers, the great Lyric Soprano,
> Teresa Stratas,
> born May 26, 1939.  It seems incredible that she is already
> 62.  Of the
> singers of her generation, she was certainly one of the most
> committed and
> moving singing actresses, who could portray the very essence
> of the character
> in a fleeting moment, and break your heart.  I have never
> seen a more moving
> Mimi in La Boheme (preserved on film in 1982).  Stratas was
> an extremely
> versatile singer, who excelled in several languages, and left
> an indelible
> stamp in many different roles, as diverse as, Cherubino and Susanna in
> Mozart's Le Nozze, the Composer in Strauss' Ariadne, Puccini's Tosca,
> Butterfly and Mimi, all three roles in Puccini's Il Trittico,
> Violetta in
> Verdi's La Traviata, and Tatiana in Tchaikovsky's Eugene
> Onegin.  Also, one
> of the very few opera singers (Horne, Verrett and Von Stade,
> are amongst the
> very few others) who could sing American classic standards
> effortlessly,
> portrayed a heartbreaking Julie in the wonderful complete recording of
> Showboat with Von Stade. Despite her diminuitive stature she
> was a riveting
> dramatic presence on stage and could tear your heart out,
> whether it was as
> Mimi, Butterfly, Tatiana or Violetta.  Sadly, I am too young
> to have seen her
> live and when I tried, she had cancelled due to her frail
> health.  How lucky
> we were to have her unique artistry grace our stages and our
> lives.  It would
> be wonderful to hear from people who were privileged to see
> this great artist
> live at her peak in opera, concert or recital.
>  >>
> Hello Jerry and List:
> "Not A Day Goes By," as Sondheim's great song from MERRILY WE
> states it for me, that I don't think and thrill at the
> thought of Stratas in
> the performances I heard her in. I and others on the list,
> such as Rinda
> Kramme, are devoted FOS (Fans of Stratas) and cherish
> everything about this
> great singer, actress, artist, and humanitarian.
> I missed citing her birthday because I too was not able. I
> thank you Jerry
> for mentioning it, as I believe you did last year. But my
> sources (I thought
> it was 1938 and then checked the Almanac just now and it also
> reads 38)
> indicate her birthday as May 26, 1938, which makes her 63.
> I can say, next to Callas, no other artist in opera has moved
> me as greatly
> in my 50 years of opera going. While her voice itself did not
> reach the
> Callas range and dramatic force, Stratas was the greatest
> stage actress I've
> heard and seen. No one has convinced me so dramatically in
> the same way
> except perhaps Callas in Traviata.
> I first saw Stratas on a cold and wintery afternoon in a
> recital at Orchestra
> Hall in 63 or 64. I knew absolutely nothing about her but she gave a
> wonderful recital in which she seemed young, very beautiful,
> and charming.
> She talked between the arias and discussed the text and
> meaning of the aria,
> which I found unusual but also revealing she was deeply
> involved in the
> emotional and dramatic core of the aria and character. It was
> more than music
> alone.
> I thought nothing of her after that and in June 1969 attended
> the Salzburg
> Festival and one of the productions I saw was a somewhat
> controversial
> Ponnelle (for the time) Cosi Fan Tutte. It was musically
> superb and as far as
> I and the audience was concerned Despina stole the show; it
> was not until a
> few days later that I realized on a train to Munich it was
> that same "girl" I
> heard in recital a few years earlier.
> I didn't really follow her career but, by then I moved to San
> Francisco, and
> in 76 Adler announced that this new tenor, Carreras, was
> going to be singing
> in Boheme and was being hailed as the next great tenor (he
> had sung a few
> performances at the NYCO to noteworthy reviews). The Mimi remained
> unannounced for some time and finally a press release
> announced that it would
> be Stratas.
> Adler had engaged her in several roles before I moved here so
> I knew nothing
> of the Madame Butterfly that she had sung here to great
> reviews. Adler, to
> those who don't know his particular talents, had an uncanny
> ability to match
> personas and voices of singers in specific productions. By
> that time, I
> really hated Boheme because I had seen it too many times
> (including with
> Tebaldi) and it was always unconvincing
> to me unless I closed my eyes.
> I went to the Boheme in an unenthused state but wanted to
> hear the new
> Spanish tenor. Little did I know that this Boheme would
> change my life and
> opinion of opera forever; it was as engaging dramatically as
> any play I'd
> ever seen and as sexy as any French cin??ma of the era. I fell
> in love with
> Boheme and more importantly I fell in love with Stratas and
> Carreras, going
> back again with friends (I have only revisited the same opera
> in a single run
> 3 times in my life).
> They were both young, sexy, and engagingly perfect for their
> roles (the Met
> broadcast some years later missed the sexiness, youth, and
> exuberance of that
> first pairing of S and C). The two took their curtain calls
> together, kissing
> and hugging as they did with great frequency in the performance.
> There was absolutely no doubt in my?~@~Tor the audience's?~@~Tmind
> that there was
> real PASSION and SEX between these two. The line of art and
> reality was
> blurred. This was the production Bruce Yarnell was the
> youthful and exuberant
> Marcello. It was the seminal (double-entendre intended!)
> production of Boheme
> for me.
> This production made me a raving Stratas fan and I agree with
> Ken Wolman's
> assessment of that great meeting of Stratas and Vickers in
> the first telecast
> in the 70s of Pagliacci. It was the same production as the
> later filmed one
> with Domingo and the more recent telecast with Pavarotti but
> the original had
> a rawness and intensity that was one of the most compelling
> opera productions
> ever televised.
> It has to be seen to be appreciated, and I hope someday it is
> available. The
> film especially disappoints because it is prettified and
> lacks the passion of
> Stratas and Vickers. Who can forget her running around the
> stage in a rage in
> her dirty, bare feet? It was a scene from an Italian Neo-Realist film.
> I never saw her Met work and that's a great regret for me but
> luckily much of
> it was recorded. I was again amazed by the Unknown Weill that
> she recorded
> after a recital with Richard Woitach. I was again floored by this new
> perspective on a composer I hadn't much cared for till then.
> Following her
> Lulu performances, she saw the relationship, historical and
> emotional,
> between Berg and Weill that to my knowledge no other artist
> has recognized.
> It was a continuation of Berg's decadence.
> Weill seemed closer to Berg and the Modern/German Romantic
> movement after
> hearing that recording. Her range of emotional color
> convinced me of the
> talent and art of Weill. Whereas previously I heard the
> popular, cabaret
> connection, Stratas brought these songs to a level of great
> art song (more
> songs more than others).
> I can forget her cancellations, her stubbornness, her (valid)
> illnesses but I
> cannot forget her great intensity and piercing dramatic
> talents that for me
> are everlasting art. She has made my life richer and full as
> only a few
> artists have. Happy belated birthday!
> Jonathan Dorsch
> San Francisco, CA
> [log in to unmask]

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