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Subject: Patricia Racette: ON's Cover Girl for Annual Diva Issue
From: "Padillo, G. Paul" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Padillo, G. Paul
Date:Mon, 14 Sep 2009 16:38:49 -0400

text/plain (76 lines)

I was, of course, thrilled that the Annual Diva Issue of Opera News (the most fun issue of the year, btw) featured MY favorite diva of today, Patricia Racette on the cover.   The issue also features a loving tribute to Anna Moffo by Ira Siff (with a slew of terrific photos); and thoughtful (if too brief) articles on Marquita Lister; Denise Duval; why sopranos love Strauss . . . and more . . . including a page and a half positive review on the CD release of bad boy Tommy Ades' opera "The Tempest" (pace, Tony!)


There is a thoughtful, short "Farewell to a Legend" by ON Editor, F. Paul Driscoll, to the much beloved Hildegard Behrens, in which he mentions that a full obituary/tribute will appear in the November issue of the magazine.  I look forward to seeing that and hope the time it's taking produces a thoughtful appreciation to this most unique singer - one of my all time favorites.


* * * * *


Now to another of my favorites - my favorite today:  Patricia Racette.  Not for anyone would I get up at 5:30 on a Sunday morning to listen to the Italian "version" of Don Carlos ("Don Carlo," they call it)  - but remembering how terrific she was as Elisabetta, well, there was no choice but to rise 'n shine to Verdi (there are, of course, worse things to wake up for, or to).  And of course, while not of the same gloriously excessive length of Caballé's final note in the opera,  I don't think any soprano at the Met has held onto that final note at the Met  as gloriously as did Racette during the 96 run of Carlo's.  


I fell in love with this girl that summer night back in the mid 90's on the telecast from Santa Fe of this young, unknown soprano in the title role of the world premiere performance of Tobias Picker's "Emmeline."  It remains one of my favorite performances of hers, and I KNEW right then and there - there's something very special about this gal.  


I found it interesting that she doesn't feel slighted by the recording companies and has no intention of spending her time in a studio because she does her work "for the stage."   (I also love that she refers to her inner child as "a six year old boy," - this 'splains much!)


And the stage is not limited to opera houses.  I was intrigued by the mention of Racette's participation in a staged reading of the new Barry Singer/Vernon Duke musical "Misia" based on the controversial muse/lover/friend/etc., of such historical artistic firebrands as Diaghilev, Proust, Lautrec, Renoir and Coco Chanel, Misia Sert, with Racette taking on the title role, (apparently the only opera singer in the cast).   This, even as she prepares for two HUGE runs of all three of Puccini's heroines in Il Trittico.  It's this kind of stuff - an ambition and hunger to explore all manner of what's out there - that keeps me forever loving this girl.  


While American sopranos "crossing over" has never been new - Racette is an odd one - coming originally from the world of jazz and popular music and then crossing over into opera offers a far different approach than most stars who jump into waters that too frequently don't sound familiar - or all that comfortable.   Mr. Barnes, in his article, states:


"Arguably, Racette is the most convincing female opera star performing in the pop vernacular since Eileen Farrell."  


The news of her participation in the world of popular musical theatre is an exciting prospect for me, though not necessarily a new one for this singer who received high marks for her successful run as Fosca in Sondheim's "Passion."  (Which I still vainly look for pirates of).  


For years now I have stated that "no one sings in English like Patricia Racette" - and now she's being known for that.  Her timbre and attention to diction - without ever sounding arch or phony - reminds me, in a huge way, of the way Sills sang English.  (Racette's timbre also, often reminds me of Sills - it's that "shimmery" thing).  I really have enjoyed hearing this artist in a number of English language operas, including Jonathan Dove's wonderful opera film, "Man on the Moon" about astronaut Buzz Aldrin and his wife Joan (which still has yet to be released in the States but available from . . . well, y'know . . . )


I'm thrilled to learn of Racette's future roles in Tosca, Manon Lescaut, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, the Makropulos Case and the possibility of two more new roles for her by Tobias Picker!  I'm always impressed considering the wide range of characters - and composers - she has tackled; Verdi, Puccini, Janacek, Zemlinsky, Britten, Dove,  Korngold, Picker, Sondheim, Bizet and Rossini, each uniquely stamped.  In yet another recent interview she mentioned how she would love to do more verismo . . . well, I'd love to hear more - lots more!  (I do find it just slightly oddly fascinating that several of her major successes are all as teenage women finding themselves "in the family way" (as they used to say in another generation/lifetime ago).  


I am fully aware that Racette remains a somewhat controversial singer - one not to everyone's liking - and I'm okay with everyone not loving "my girl."  I have several (very) close friends who simply do not "get" her though, God bless 'em, they've tried more than once.  Still, there seem to be more and more of us who do "get" her and love the choices she makes in both selecting her roles, and what she does with them.  Racette remains for me one of the most exciting and theatrically compelling stage creatures in opera today, and what a treat to see her as this month's Cover Girl!   


Brava, Pat!  



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