Q: What's the only way to please all opera fans?
A: Give them something to bitch about.
I've never been a big Renee fancier, and, admittedly, having only heard the
2nd Act of Pirata yesterday may have missed some things, but I believe I got
most of the picture and seriously doubt Act 1 came off much differently, but
some of the rage against this soprano, I can't quite believe.
To take potshots at the Met is easy and there are many valid ones to take.
But in a season when they've committed to putting on something rarely heard
anywhere anymore, instead of selfishly handing out more measly Boheme
breadcrumbs; when they're offering a new production of Troyens, the NY
Premiere of a relatively new opera, a thrilling duo (Mattila & Polaski) in
pulse-pounding productions of "Jenufa" and "Elektra"; to take a pot shot
that they have no business with a Pirata sounds like whining to me.
Who today is getting Pirata, and other works before a larger, less bel-canto
informed public? Renee could've asked for anything she wanted this season
and she wanted Pirata. Good for her! I applaud her choice and the efforts
this mostly bel canto free zone "The Met" put into that choice. The Met -
especially the current Met - has never been a Bel Canto house. Was anyone
remotely knowledgable about Bellini, expecting a stylistically informed
performance? Really? Did they believe the forces at hand capable of giving
such a performance? Seriously?
I've been of the opinion (and I'm not alone) that too many worthy old works
are being forgotten, styles of singing falling by the wayside. This ain't
the first time. There were reasons Callas, Gencer, Sutherland, Sills, etc.
(notice, all sopranos) were considered revelatory in dusting off the bel
canto composers. Some laugh when listening to Sills Cleopatra, but, it's in
part because of efforts of "that style" that we have . It's gotta start
somewhere. If Renee wants to sing this bel canto stuff til her voice in
shreds, but she inspires some younger singers towards it, who's business is
it. We cry because nobody's singing the bel canto rep anymore (other than
the warhorses/chestnuts) and when we get a chance to hear it, like
salivating dogs, waiting for a pinched note, a smudged passage, a note. To
say Fleming shouldn't be singing this stuff because she's not a true
"drammatico d'agilta" makes me howl! Who is? Again, where else are we
hearing Imogene these days? The same comment could be made towards (again)
Sills, her far smaller voice and her Deveraux Elizabetta. I, wouldn't want
to be without it.
You can't please all of the people all of the time, so might as well please
yourselves. No matter what certaint singers do, there will be someone there
to disagree. That's a fact and that's fine. However, if you don't like
something - and you know you ain't gonna like it, why continue to waste your
time. If it's only to bitch, that's a sad, sad commentary. Maybe there are
other reasons, but I can't think of one.
Jesus, when I read remarks like ours is an age of "absolute vocal darkness,"
etc., I have to wonder why some folk don't just throw a veil over the
tiffany to dim the room, crank some Tettrazini or Caruso on the Victrola,
put the dead, stuffed Persian kitty on their lap and rock away in that
chair. That, or find another hobby because passion cannot - or at least
should not - be only about dead things, people.
I don't know that I'll ever be a huge fan of Ms. Fleming's, though
yesterday, her exciting performance made it's best yet case. The voice is
certainly a beautiful one, and even if her intentions were off the mark, at
least there was blood and life in her music!
As to the quiz: Who the hell cares? Go out and make a sandwich, or crack
open a beer. Better yet, call a friend to discuss the previous act with.
The quiz has become cloying, annoying, inane and rarely little more than
mere fodder for us to bitch and write about.