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Subject: Sticking Up for the Met (was Opera Newzzzzzz)
From: "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:G. Paul Padillo
Date:Tue, 13 Feb 2018 14:40:55 -0500

text/plain (84 lines)

Bella writes (in part):

“Good Opera.”  That isn’t what we get any longer.  It is “good looking 
singers” who can get through an evening or afternoon…..not getting the 
best  to present.  Now we go through a season without much to glorify.  At 
the end of the season, there is a quiet sigh of relief.  ANOTHER SEASON, 
OVER AND DONE WITH.  What will they louse up next year.”

I understand that things are not what they once were, dear Bella, but I 
don’t think the picture is anywhere as bleak as you may think it is.  Many 
of us don’t give a sigh of relief, but “mourn” (in a way) the end of each 
season.  To say there is little to nothing to glorify I feel is just night right. 
I’m going to nitpick here.

Last season we had stunning performances (and some lovely productions) 
including Damrau and Grigolo in Romeo et Juliette which elicited mostly 
positive (in the extreme) reactions from those who SAW it (both live and in 
HD).  When I heard (not saw) the prima I was a mite underwhelmed by 
Ms. Damrau’s contribution (some rough going in coloratura passages and 
more than a few screech-worthy high notes), which, in turn, made me 
notice the less than Gaelic quality of Mr. Grigolo’s Romeo.  When I SAW it, 
however, Damrau was in considerably better voice, Grigolo’s Italianized 
Romeo suited me just fine and the two of them were on fire dramatically 
connecting and it was sigh (the good kind) inducing.

We also had Tristan with Stemme, Skelton, and Pape under Rattle; 
Guillaume Tell with Finley, Rebeka and Hymel; a marvelous Jenufa with a 
Matilla, a once praised Jenufa taking on the Kostelnicka; Manon Lescaut 
with Netrebko; like her or not, Racette committed to Salome and brought 
down the house every night; the Met premiere of Saariaho’s L’Amour de 
Loin; Pretty Yende and Javier Camarena in an exciting revival of Puritani; 
Polenzani and Alice Coote in Idomeneo; Kwiecien and Anna Netrebko in 
Onegin; Garanca and Fleming in Rosenkavelier; Michael Volle and Amber 
Wagner in a Dutchman that was one of the most highly lauded productions 
of the season; a beautiful run of Cyrano with Alagna and Jennifer Rowley.  
I loved each of these (and I’m not even a very big fan of Ms. Netrebko).

The previous season found Christine Goerke blowing the roof off the house 
as Turandot (when she wasn’t doing Cher imitations backstage); Trovatore 
with Yonghoon Lee, Netrebko, Zajick, and Hvorostovsky; Donizetti’s 3 
Tudor Queens with Radvanovsky; William Kentridge’s mindbending 
production of Lulu with Marlis Petersen and Susan Graham; DiDonato and 
Brownlee in a thrillingly sung (if oddly static production) of the rarely done 
La Dona del Lago; Penny Woolcock’s “controversial” Pearl Fishers 
beautifully sung by Damrau, Polenzani and Kwiecien; Patrice Chéreau’s 
brilliant Elektra production with Stemme and Esa-Pekka Salonen practically s
setting the pit on fire.  

I’m not going to keep going back and resurrecting casts, from prior 
seasons, but WILL say if none of the above appeal to an opera lover today, 
then the fault dear Brutus may not be in the stars.  

We continually hear about sinking standards, and while this is not untrue, 
there is also some music being sung as good or better than it has in 
previous generations.  No we don’t have Zinka’s floating Bb’s or 
Sutherland’s trills, Corelli’s trumpet or Bergozni’s sweetness, but we DO 
have singers who love their craft, who work hard at it and do their best to 
keep the art form we love alive as best they can.  That they may fall short 
of their goals and expectation is to be expected – even the great “golden 
age” singers disappointed on more than a night or two during their 
illustrious careers.  

While I keep reading reports from Debbie Downers giving up, I refuse to.  I 
will keep doing whatever I can in my humble way to keep my end of the bargain and enjoy the riches that are still out there 
bargain and enjoy the riches that are still out there - as well as those of the 
past (which are, blessedly, still out there, too).  If we so choose to, each of 
us can reap rich rewards every season, and we should remember how 
lucky we are in that in some ways (i.e., radio) and it costs us nothing.  Not 
a bad deal in my opinion.  


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