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Subject: Re: Cyrano anyone?
From: "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:G. Paul Padillo
Date:Sat, 6 May 2017 13:48:19 -0400

text/plain (62 lines)

I've often wonder why so many critics have dismissed Alfano as a composer, while fanciers 
of his music, myself included, listen and hearing enormous beauty in language that speaks 
to our hearts.

I listened to the premiere of "Cyrano" on Sirius (and now as the final offering of the Met 
broadcast season), with the same fondness for this opera I've had for decades and an ever 
deepening appreciation of the work.

Whenever it's score is dusted off "Cyrano de Bergerac" has been a fruit ripe for the picking 
by critics who often, more than music itself, love showing off with witticisms describing how 
much they loathe a thing.  The NY Times opened its review with "You can blame or thank 
Placido Domingo" for bringing the work to the Met, and describing Alfano's score as "an 
unappealing mix of syrupy textures and tart harmonies . . .  [unable[ to capture that 
bittersweet tension . . . hard-edged and heavy, . . . verismo pomposity."  

In his review, Martin Bernheimer complained of enduring three hours of "Eine kleine junk-
musik."  Bernheimer did, however, something critics rarely do, (particularly with works they 
have no fondness for); in mentioning how the audience cheered the performance to the 
rafters.  And how can I, even if in complete disagreement with his statement, not smile at 
his referring to Alfano as "a lightweight ensnared in a repetitive heavyweight challenge. 
Some revivals, no matter how well intentioned, would seem to emerge better never than 
late."  Touché

A request:  if one wishes to refer to oneself as a critic, please however difficult a strain it 
may present to your gifts, refuse to succumbing the tired cliche of complaining about operas 
lacking "tunes you can whistle" upon exiting the performance.  Gah.  

As to "Cyrano" I heard, as ever, a vivid, sparkling and beautiful score that touches Debussy 
more frequently than it courts Italian verismo.  I also hear hints of Bartok's "Bluebeard's 
Castle" which premiered 18 years (nearly to the date) earlier than Alfano's take on 
Rostand's classic.  I've grown to adore this underestimated gem which clearly is worthy of 
revival, particularly when given by those passionately committed to putting it across with 
love, belief, and embracing everything Alfano invested into it. Bravo a tutti!

Ms. Rowley has a lovely, rich substantial sound, her voice blooming seemingly effortlessly 
on top and was able, on voice alone, to convince me she was Roxanne.

Alagna, while no longer possessing quite that youthful luster that many of his fans 
(including me) were seized by several decades ago, nonetheless still knows how to put a 
role like this across better than anyone, and so, he did.  

Marco Armiliato and the Met forces fully captured every moment of rich-sonority (and 
occasional bombast) layered with an intoxicating throughout, ending with an aural 
equivalent of autumnal beauty that breaks my heart every time.  

I only wish Cyrano had been able to make it into the HD schedule for those of us unable to 
travel to New York for its limited run.  


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