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Subject:

review of Gruberova in Paris, 12-17-09

From:

Niel Rishoi <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Niel Rishoi <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 14 Jan 2010 05:20:45 -0500

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Listers:

My fellow yahoo coloratura group member Geoff Whitlock gave me permission to post his review of Edita Gruberova's Paris aria recital of this past December. Rumors of her alleged decline are greatly exaggerated.

Niel -review below:

Dear Group

I travelled from London to Paris especially to see the Gruberova concert. I
hadn't heard her live since 1991 in Vienna in Lucio Silla, having heard her
many times before as Rosina, Adele, Zerbinetta, Queen of Night, Lucia and in
Capuleti - all in London and Vienna.

I was never an enormous fan, the mannerisms and the weak lower register were
personal hurdles for me, but her Zerbinetta just had to be seen and heard to
be believed - it was truly a tour de force - and she remains a marvel to
this day in that - since she did her last ones just recently (at 63!!!) in
Vienna. This surely has to be some kind of record.

The Paris concert was a real eye opener - and I felt I had really missed out
on a lot in those intervening years.

There was that special sense of anticipation before she came out after the
opening overture, when one feels something very special is about to happen.
We were not disappointed.

The opening 'Martern aller Arten' was a truly SUPERB performance. All the
coloratura runs perfectly in place, and some fabulous use of pianissimo
dynamics. This was a piece of textbook singing and in many ways the most
amazing of the evening. The detail in her Lucia mad Scene was also quite
exceptional, and again the range of dynamics from the very soft, and
effortless pianissimo to a thrilling fortissimo E-flat at the end, and
allied to her phenomenal breath control, also shown in the Seraglio aria,
just went to show what a clever singer she is, apart from her effortless
coloratura mastery.

The second half of the concert was very different. These were far more
dramamtic bel canto scenes. The Pirata scene was a little variable. The
cavatina was beautifully and sensitively vocalised, and the opening
recitative highly dramatically delivered, but the cabaletta just lies a tad
too low for her to resonate fully. It does need a fuller voice in the lower
middle register, and as a result lacked the ultimate 'spinto' excitement.
That said it was a committed performance.

The Roberto Devereux scene was very dramatic. One might dare to call it
controversial in some of her almost 'unsupported' parts of her introspective
singing in the early parts of the aria. This added a great deal to the
dramatic tension - not for the real 'bel canto' purists perhaps - but it was
a real emotional and dramatic journey, and it was gripping theatrically.
Naturally crowned by a superb High D. This brought the audience to its feet.
It was a genuine standing ovation. Floral tributes rained from everywhere
and she seemed genuinely surprised at the warmth of the ovation. Some walked
forward to present their bouquets to her which she accepted and shook
people's hands. The audience was quite frenetic and very vocal in their
appreciation. A few ardent fans in the front row presented her with a
specially made Parisian street sign saying 'Avenue Edita Gruberova' which
she held up to the audience and she posed for impromptu photos for the
presenters of that trophy. All to the delight of the packed house, which had
a real atmosphere which I can only compare to a Sutherland or Schwarzkopf
concert, where people seemed to lose all control.

We had to work hard for the encores, but she gave them. I don't recall her
auctioning the arias for encore but the French audience did scream out for
what they wanted, and when the demand came for Zerbinetta, she did raise her
hands as if to say 'do you want blood', and said gently 'Zerbinetta demain'.
The first encore of 'Spiel ich die Unschuld vom Lande' was very well sung
and hilariously characterised (taking me back to my first hearing of her in
Vienna in September 1981!!!) and again brought down the house, and
eventually we were granted 'O luce di quest'anima' from 'Linda di Chamonix'
which was exciting, although one audience member shouted for a French aria,
and after all this just how such a free and easy top D come out in the
cadenza was astounding. The audience was in raptures. Finally, with
obviously no other material prepared for the orchestra, Friedrich Haider,
who conducted his wonderful orchestra from Oviedo (which boasted a very good
flautist for the Lucia cadenza), asked the audiences permission to perform
the Fledermaus aria again, the audience responded to his 'D'accord' with a
unanimous 'Oui' and she sang the aria even better the second time. The
applause continued, and the audience could have stayed all night listening..

It was a very special night, and an impressive one both vocally and
artistically. I would not have missed for anything - and in fact coming back
to London I spent 13 hours on the Eurostar.and it was well worth it!!!!

Regards to the group

Geoff

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