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From: Kenneth Bleeth <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Kenneth Bleeth <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 25 Mar 2017 23:30:15 -0400

text/plain (184 lines)

"How about Mozart's opinion? He made the revision and what he did should be
the last word, case closed."

Perhaps not.

As Julian Rushton's detailed account of the performance history of
*Idomeneo* (Cambridge Opera Handbooks, 1993) makes clear, the
circumstances of the single 1786 Vienna concert performance of the opera
are so hedged about by uncertainties and unanswered questions that it's
impossible to declare anything about this version Mozart's "last word." The
Vienna singers were amateurs, and it may be that no singer was available to
take over the castrato part that Mozart had written for Munich. (One of the
many oddities of the Vienna version involves music for the tenor Idamante
that's notated in the soprano clef.) in any case, there exists no clear,
authoritative text in which the role of Idamante as a whole is shown as a
tenor one (Rushton, p. 45).

We're in entire agreement that Jadlowker's "Fuor del mar" is hors concours.

On Sat, Mar 25, 2017 at 9:55 PM, James Camner <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Whose "opinion is it you are referring to?
> How about Mozart's opinion? He made the revision and what he did should be
> the last word, case closed. Notable tenor Idamantes have included Pavarotti
> and even better, Leopold Simoneau who remains unsurpassed in the role on
> records.
> In any case from that video posted in the New York Times review of
> Idomeneo, Polenzani was unable to manage Fuor Del Mar - how did he do
> today?. He could have possibly been a splendid Idamante as that music is
> much less demanding and lies within his strengths of solid and limpid
> legato.. But not if all the creative juice was squeezed out of him, from
> what I saw today, the singers who stepped out of the chorus to sing a few
> solo lines showed more personality than the lead singers, everyone seemed
> like an automaton. This isn't what I used to hear from Jimmy Levine, who
> has usually been regarded as a singer's conductor allowing for rich
> interpretative leeway but this performance was like a military drill. Very
> precise and smooth with all the personality polished away. But I have no
> idea if these singers are capable of standing on their own and delivering
> the theatrical goods in an opera seria.
> Fuor Del Mar exists in a simplified version (which is what Domingo sang)
> and in the original florid version for Anton Raaf, a singer who was
> incredibly, past his prime at the time Mozart wrote the opera for him.
> There is one and only one recording which does full justice to the florid
> demands of the aria:
> This is the kind of singing that works like Idomeneo require, these are
> opera serias and they were first and foremost about virtuosity in singing.
> No one on that stage today could come close to this kind of mastery of
> coloratura, or if they could, they certainly didn't show it in the parts I
> heard.
> Considering that New York Times review and the past excellence of a
> conductor whose work I have revered, I expected better than the pablum I
> heard today.
> James Camner
> On Sat, Mar 25, 2017 at 5:16 PM, Kenneth Bleeth <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
>> According to Mr. Camner, Polenzani "probably should have been cast as
>> Idamante."
>> But doing so would have meant using the 1786 Vienna version, in which the
>> castrato role of Idamante was revised for tenor, and which entailed (inter
>> alia) rewriting the ensembles. In all modern productions I'm aware of, the
>> part is sung by a mezzo.
>> Here's one intelligent opinion on the matter:
>> A tenor Idamante makes little musical sense. .If Idamante is a
>> tenor, then three principal characters are tenors, including Idomeneo and
>> Arbace. A mezzo Idamante balances the distribution of vocal coloration and
>> makes for a far better match with his beloved Ilia, a soprano.
>> On Sat, Mar 25, 2017 at 6:18 PM, James Camner <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> Well this isn't exactly a review, I can't review today's Idomeneo since
>>> we
>>> only stayed for the first act.
>>> Let me start from the beginning. Today's Idomeneo HD was our first
>>> attempt
>>> to see one of these broadcasts in Los Angeles. No problem with the
>>> theater,
>>> the Cinemark 18 & XD, just eight minutes away from our condo! We had
>>> reserved seats (a standard luxury in Los Angeles, but they did charge $5
>>> extra on Fandango for the privilege) and the sound and picture were
>>> perfect
>>> (although they did have to bring in people from the non-reserved
>>> auditorium
>>> where they were having technical issues...
>>> The crowd in LA was as depressingly old as the one we left in NJ, I doubt
>>> there were many people younger than us there.
>>> There is a show from England called "Humans" (based on a Swedish series)
>>>  who look and perform like humans but without emotions.
>>> Today it was as if the "Synths" had taken over the stage of the
>>> Metropolitan Opera What I heard in the first act was well drilled bland
>>> singing that was as if it was Pasteurized. There was no flavor or color
>>> or
>>> expression though at times Polenzani (a tenor I usually admire) almost
>>> managed to sound eloquent, but he is, IMHO, overparted, Idomeneo is NOT a
>>> lyric role and if he had to sing in this opera, he probably should have
>>> been cast as Idamante.
>>> Those drilled singers, is it that they all lack ability and imagination
>>> or
>>> was it Levine over polishing them to a fare thee well?  All I know is I
>>> have never heard such bland colorless singing in Idomeneo not ever, not
>>> even when it was badly sung (for instance by Richard Lewis) and this
>>> performance didn't come close to giving the type of vocalism that Upshaw,
>>> Von Otter, Vaness, Domingo, Pavarotti, Hunt, Graham and many more besides
>>> gave us in the not so distant past.
>>>   In that first act, I did not hear a single trill which is  MUST in this
>>> music. I didn't hear it from Sierra, nor from Coote, and nor from Van Den
>>> Heever.  Idomeneo is an Opera Seria and that means it is supposed to be a
>>> highly  florid opera and ornaments and trills, intricate coloratura is a
>>> must. But I heard none of that in that first act. Polenzani, a tenor I
>>> greatly admire, did manage to be eloquent at times, but he seemed
>>> over-parted and I fear for how the rest must have gone. I would think he
>>> would be much better suited to the role of Idamante.
>>> I have seen this production many times, but I don't remember seeing the
>>> singers pointlessly flail around in swimming gestures (Sierra was
>>> particularly egregious in this regard) quite so much as happened in the
>>> first act today.
>>> This performance got a rave review in the New York Times, has he never
>>> heard Idomeneo before? The camera panning the Met Opera auditorium seemed
>>> to show a half empty house and no wonder...
>>> James Camner
>>> **********************************************
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