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Subject: Re: Sticking Up for the Met (was Opera Newzzzzzz)
From: Trish Callis <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Trish Callis <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 14 Feb 2018 21:48:23 +0000
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When I was in my 20s and living in Chicago, spouse and I used to listen to Claudia Cassidy’s commentaries on WFMT, and marveled how nothing ever came up to her “days of yore” standards.  Now that I’ve turned 70, I remember how much we enjoyed the small-company performances of opera in English that Ms. Cassidy wouldn’t have crossed the street to hear, and I wonder if sometimes we forget how much bringing “fresh ears” to a performance enhances our appreciation.

Patricia L. Callis (Trish)

________________________________
From: Discussion of opera and related issues <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of G. Paul Padillo <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 2:40:55 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Sticking Up for the Met (was Opera Newzzzzzz)

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.

p.

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