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Subject: Re: Audition Winners at the Met and other things
From: Mike Leone <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Mike Leone <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 22 Mar 2017 19:12:25 +0000

text/plain (60 lines)

Hello all--
I very much enjoyed the Met finalists program, and I came closer than I ever have to picking all of the winners.  The deck was stacked against me to an extent because the program indicated that there would be only five winners to be awarded $15,000 and four runners-up to receive $5,000, and there ended up being six winners.  I knew something was up when Mme. Fleming engaged in extended banter with Michael Fabiano after the three guests had sung their arias (agreed, Jamie Barton is really very special; I had no idea she had such glorious chest tones, and I'm looking forward to Amber Wagner's Senta after hearing her "Es gibt ein Reich").  Of the three who didn't win, I was pretty certain that Natalie Image who sang a delightful "O luce di quest'anima," my favorite of the various "silly" arias, and the Snow Maiden's aria, was going to be one of them, maybe because she didn't have a trill for the Donizetti, and I really found nothing at all special about that guy who sang "Se vuol ballare"--is that aria deceptively simple-sounding? it just doesn't seem like it would show off anybody's strengths--and Mephisto's Serenade, although he certainly had an impressive head of hair which completely covered his shoulders.  I think the countertenor each year always wins, so he was an easy choice, although the one this year was one of the best I have heard, so he might have been a shoo-in anyway.  I was really upset when the magnificent Kyle van Schoonhoven. who sang Peter Grimes' mad scene and Rienzis Gebet, wasn't among the five names read off at first.  He was number six, and I like to think that they saved him for last as a surprise for those of us who, like I, quickly became believers.  The San Francisco Opera must think he is pretty special, too; I forget his exact title, but he is affiliated with them next season in some capacity and, besides singing the Young Servant in Elektra, is also going to be covering Aegisth, Froh, Siegmund and--get this--Don Ottavio.  I think we are going to be hearing great things from Mr. van Schoonhoven.  If I remember correctly, he is 28 and the oldest of the participants.
Besides the finalists, I saw Idomeneo, Roméo, and Fidelio over the weekend, all of which I enjoyed.  As those who have followed my postings over the years probably know, I'm not usually one to complain, although my tastes don't always align with those of others here (for example, if I had to make a choice between listening to Guillaume Tell and the recent Andrea Chénier, I would have chosen the former which I think is a splendid opera; fortunately, I heard all of the Tell broadcasts besides seeing it live--I wish I had had the nerve to yell "Hi ho Silver" during the overture--and the Chenier has been available for streaming, so I didn't have to choose; then again, I think Esclarmonde is one of Massenet's best operas so what do I know).  However, I was really puzzled by the staging at the end of the Fidelio.  There was really far too much attention paid (really, any attention at that point would have been too much) on whether Marzelline was going to accept Jaquino now that her hopes for a future with Fidelio had been dashed.  Besides the "mad scene" that Mr. Bernheimer mentioned, Jaquino was holding her from behind for most of that scene while she strained to get away; at the curtain, she broke away from him and ran off.  All of this was completely unnecessary; an ending similar to that of La clemenza di Tito, where it is an open question in most productions as to whether Tito is still going to marry Vitellia--I hope not, since I suspect she would have had him killed within the first three months of their marriage--would have been more than suitable here, especially since all of the attention at that point should be on Leonore and Florestan alone.  The Marzelline/Jaquino drama really pulled focus from them; Whether that was the intention of the original director or if it was the assistant directors responsible for putting the opera back on the boards (and who are featured in an article in this month's Met program) decided to "improve" on the original with all of this claptrap, I don't know, but I found the ending totally misguided.
I'm sorry I missed the Puritani yesterday that was mentioned in another post, but I was on my way back to Houston.  I'm always up for another performance of Puritani, especially if the tenor is going to sing the F near the end.  I hope it gets rebroadcast or turns up on pirates.  I appreciate knowing that there is going to be a Gioconda broadcast from Malmö this weekend; that's also one of my favorite operas, and I'm always glad to see it come around again.
Mike Leone
[log in to unmask] il Leone!

      From: Idia Legray <[log in to unmask]>
 To: [log in to unmask] 
 Sent: Sunday, March 19, 2017 7:59 PM
 Subject: Audition Winners at the Met
Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen (countertenor)
Richard Smagur (tenor)
Samantha Hankey (mezzo-soprano)
Vanessa Vaquez (soprano)
Kirsten MacKinnon (soprano)
Kyle van Schoonhoven (tenor)

Opera Guests:
Amber Wagner
Michael Fabiano
Jamie Barton (just blows me away)

Host: Renee Fleming

I chose only 3 out of the 6.
One I actually thought was terrible with an awful French accent yet he 
won.  So who knows what one's ears hear?

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