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Subject: Finley’s Scarpia, Vienna Jubileum FroSch
From: Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 25 Jan 2018 11:59:57 -0800
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Tucking two topics into one post.

I notice that Gerald Finley has apparently flown from one role debut, Athanael at the Met, to another, Scarpia at London’s Royal Opera, with hardly a breather.

Given that Finley (in my opinion) not only has an exceptionally beautiful baritone voice, but that he’s also an unusually intelligent singing actor with frequent gleams of originality in his interpretations, I’d expect this Scarpia to be unusually interesting. Even in concert, I found his Iago under Colin Davis a fascinating portrayal.

Does one approaching the role for the first time in the era of #metoo let that color the interpretation?

Any reports yet? 

Other topic: I notice that the Vienna State Opera is planning a 2019 “Jubileum” production of “Frau ohne Schatten” in homage to the work’s October 1919 world premiere there. The few casting details I’ve heard are intriguing: role debuts for Nina Stemme as the Färberin and Jonas Kaufmann as the Kaiser.

Stemme is an artist who has consistently mesmerized me with her interpretations as well as her singing live in everything I’ve seen her do (most recently Turandot in SF) but her art very strangely eludes any form of recording or transmission. The sound heard even in a good sounding live transmission sounds totally different and in a negative way. The clear, powerful, marble-like sound I hear live somehow crosses the microphone as unsteady and not particularly attractive and even the compelling personae she creates are for the live audience and not the camera.

Kaufmann also usually looks for interpretive depths to sink his teeth into. I haven’t really seen anyone turn up such yet in the role of the Kaiser. From the outset, gorgeous blue-eyed blonde Norwegian tenor Karl Aagard Østvig, who sang the world premiere, set a particular tone for the role as a handsome stud who pours out sound but little real nuance and variety of character beyond his delusion and confusion in his Act 2 monologue (“Falke, mein Falke”). It will be interesting to see and hear what Kaufmann digs up.

Max Paley

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