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Subject: Re: Kaufman in Otello… NY Times:
From: Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 26 Jun 2017 23:42:44 -0500

text/plain (88 lines)

I have to validate Mr. Camner's comments as they relate to MY feelings.   There have been many great interpreters of operatic and orchestral music who are lovingly remembered, but VERY few ever had the component of controversy in their careers.  It's precisely THOSE artists who became (in James Cagney's words from the great film "White Heat" 'TOP OF THE WORLD, MA!"   Well, for better or worse, Jonas Kaufmann is the personification of being an opera star "at the top of the world".  He's got a highly unique and (to me) a great voice that is able to encompass just about anything short of bel canto; he's surely the physically attractive tenor since Franco Corelli; he's acquired the reputation for cancellations which cause his fans great anguish; he's become so elusive that any appearance of his becomes an automatic sell-out.   Arturo Toscanini generated controversy by the nature of his conducting, his private life, his much publicized political loyalties to the U.S. and it's allies during World War II, and his well known temper.  Maria Callas not only generated controversy - she stood at the storm center of controversy and became an A list celebrity.   Anna Netrebko also generates controversy, loved by some, despised by others - but she is a star, as Kaufmann is and Callas was.  Enrico Caruso was known by everyone in the United States during his lifetime by nature of his voice, of course, but by his personality, his occasional contretemps that made the papers, etc.

Callas and Netrebko were/are REAL divas and total "prima donnas" in every sense of the word.   Mr. Kaufmann is also not without his detractors, and like Callas and Netrebko, the controversy that accompanies the brick bats thrown by detractors only makes them bigger and bigger.  It's what makes the difference between a great singer and a superstar icon.   There are very few such people in this world who stand where they stand.   If they have their detractors, it's fine.  Great artists have been known to create controversy.  Let's think of people like Toscanini, Callas, Caruso, Orson Welles,  Tennessee Williams, Eugene O'Neill, Salvatore Dali, Pablo Picasso, Bruno Walter, Kirsten Flagstad, Lauritz Melchior, Pablo Casals, etc.  Those are names not likely to be forgotten fifty or a hundred years from now.  All had their detractors, some generated disdain ---------------- and it made no difference.  They were WHO they were.

      These are only my feelings, but I think Mr. Camner has a point ------- world-beater artists are very rare.

>     On June 26, 2017 at 10:10 PM James Camner <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>     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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