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Subject: Re: Kaufman in Otello… NY Times:
From: James Camner <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:James Camner <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 26 Jun 2017 23:10:01 -0400
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I was so glad to read the post by Albert, nobody does it better and it was great to 
read him rake over Zachary Woolfe.

There were lots of tar babies in there (like the Toscanini gibe) but I'm not going to 
take a wack at them - I don't think I need to defend Toscanini, nor do I need to 
defend Kaufmann or Netrebko whose positions are unassailable. Not only are they 
the ONLY ACTIVE OPERA STARS under the age of 70, but the fact that Albert went 
after them (after all these years) just reinforces to me that there isn't anyone else 
people care about enough to make an argument about them. Its been a default on 
the OperaL almost since I first joined it, Anna Netrebko - she drives people wild, 
mostly positive, but her detractors go into frenzies. At this point its kind of stale 
and boring - if people don't get the only Prima Donna left standing so be it.  
Naturally Kaufmann, as the only male superstar under the age of 70  since the 
retirement of Hvorostovsky, is a target and why not? Who else is left? But that's 
kind of stale too. There is always a backlash against longstanding stars. There was 
one against Pavarotti, there was one against Caruso and there has been one 
against the incredible Domingo for quite some time now. It's inevitable. What is 
different is that those two singers - JK and AN are probably the last ones who will 
generate a backlash or a reaction of any kind.

That's not to say there aren't really good singers, even great ones, like DiDonato 
and Oropesa, and the brilliant young Jamie Barton, but I don't think they move 
operatic mountains and I doubt anyone is going to fly across the ocean to see 
them. Recently at a brilliant concert at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, we heard 
Sasha Cooke sing Mahler songs so gorgeously and with such profound eloquence 
that she reminded me of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (the highest praise I could 
bestow) but none of these singers, not even DiDonato can consistently sell out a 
large opera house as far as I know (though with the collapse in New York of the box 
office, I'm not sure anyone can do it there, not even AN or JK). Things are pretty 
dire.

I don't have much interest in the Kaufmann Otello under discussion, not that I 
wouldn't love to see him sing it in the right circumstances, but I don't regard 
Antonio Pappano as being, IMHO, much more than a hack - anyone who can make 
Andrea Chenier a drag and bore is pretty poor in my books. I don't like his records 
and I can't imagine sitting through such a mighty opera that I have seen live and in 
person conducted by Karajan, Kleiber, Muti, and Levine, and on records by the likes 
of Toscanini, Panizza, Davis, and Barbirolli,  led by him. Otello is above all a 
conductor's opera. I note and respect the enthusiasm about Pappano by people who 
have seen this performance and all the more power to them. But I wouldn't cross 
the street, much less an ocean, to see him conduct it even if he had Zenatello or 
Martinelli at his disposal.

James Camner 

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