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Subject: Live telecasts vs. taped (Was Re: ROH WALKUERE last night)
From: Don Turner <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Tue, 29 Mar 2005 17:06:40 EST
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First Regarding the ROH Walkure and the BBC:
I appreciate the feeling of outrage from BBC license payers for the
foolishness of their network in this and other matters.  We  here have neither the
sense of ownership nor the power to criticize our networks in the US with the same
dudgeon, which is why even "viewer supported public broadcasting" responds
more to corporate sponsors and advertisers and all but ignores viewers of opera,
which has a limited audience in an unpopular demographic. They have chosen to
ignore opera; I ignore them and won't give them a penny but it doesn't solve
the problem, alas. Nor do we have access to the satellite stations of Europe,
as Mr. Richter mentioned.  Maybe in a few years we'll have streaming opera
video on demand?

But back to a larger issue for the forum - what are the merits of "live"
telecast vs."live on tape" telecasts. It's not as clear as studio vs. live
performances, I feel but am curious about other opinions.  If this ROH Walkuere
telecast had been taped and in the can and broadcast at a later date, then there
would  have been no need for such an awkward situation and it would be in a DVD
ready condition.

 We in the US have grown used to the format from the Met telecasts, which
stopped going out "live" in the mid 80's, I believe.  Instead, one performance
was taped and used almost completely as a whole, with certain small edits and
corrections from previous performances. I never specifically noticed the edits
but gossip mongers argued that certain high notes had been edited.  Whatever, I
said. It's not ALWAYS about high notes.

I enjoyed telecasts as a representation of a performance I wanted to remember
or was unable to attend, and they almost always seemed sufficiently "live "
for me. What is lost in a taped and edited event is some of the spontaneity of
the live event - no real time, no intermission feature (some would argue that
is reason enough for taped broadcasts!), no disaster or stage mishap caught at
the moment. Yes, ballet fans would not have seen Kevin McKenizie perform the
entire finale of ABT's Romeo and Juliet with Makarova still wearing his sweat
pants, the finale of Ballad of Baby Doe from NYCO would not have been ruined
by a huge drift of fake snow suddenly plunging on Faith Esham's head, and I
wouldn't have spent most of Luisa Miller wondering what that rude man had been
yelling at Scotto just before her first aria.  But those moments were made up
for by catching Stratas's Nedda with Pavarotti (their only performances
together, by the way)  rather than the undirected Ljubov Kasarnovskaya (where did she
go?), who sang the second, presumably final taping Pagliacci performance which
I saw at the Met, and Heppner in good voice versus Heppner in bad voice for
Meistersinger, and Behrens jumping into the fire rather than being clobbered by
scenery. I also suspect that the safety of a correction in case of vocal
crisis offered some relief to singers who could not quite give their best due to
ill health, like Jerusalem who was so ill during a Siegfried taping that I
attended.  On the negatives of live performances,  I will forever regret Stratas's
Lulu was indisposed the night of her "live" telecast in 1980 thus leaving the
Met with a Julia Migenes Lulu telecast (no disrespect to Ms. Migenes
intended.) No one will convince me that losing Stratas was worth the excitement of her
replacement.

I know many on the list will argue that these telecasts lose more than a
little in being "produced' but for me a telecast is a still a shadow of the live
experience, not a substitute for it, and I would prefer that that substitute be
the best representation it can be, much as a recording should aim to be truer
to a piece and the best of all possible takes.

So I hope that Mr. Terfel's performance is shown and enjoyed (and comes out
on DVD, whoever the company!).  I hope those who prefer Mr. Hale will go find
his Munich performances (telecast and CD) enough for their collections, and I
will go home and listen to Mr. Hotter and Mr. Frantz and Mr. Morris and Mr.
Stewart and Mr. McIntyre, among others.

One other quick point which was mentioned before that I want to pick at - I
do not see how Lisa Gasteen has become the preeminent Brunnhilde of our day
based on anything I have heard from her (Met Aida and ROH Elektra) or read about
her.  There are many talented singers out there who sing the role and she is
one of them, but I suggest Jane Eaglen, singing in Chicago (most nights) and
Seattle Ring's this season among those others would lay a stronger claim to such
a title.   Not that I'm picking on Gasteen or preaching Eaglen - just that
such a huge overstatement shouldn't be accepted so readily.

Leb wohl for now,

Don Turner

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