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Subject: Re: Parsifal: Met Saturday Matinee
From: David Kubiak <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:David Kubiak <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 18 Feb 2018 15:17:53 -0500

text/plain (47 lines)

Mr. Magnuson's comments on Vogt' Parsifal bring up a very interesting issue
with singing today.  It has been remarked on before that those of us of a
certain age remember in an almost uncanny way the writing of the operatic
critic Conrad Osborne, which we read as teenagers.  I was reminded in this
case of something he said apropos the great technical difficulties of
Florestan's aria in 'Fidelio'.  His point was that by means of a highly
cultivated vocal art a singer is to impersonate someone kept in chains in a
dungeon for a year -- he is not actually supposed to sound like such a
person would sound.  That is exactly the way we are heading, I think.  Mr.
Vogt is the "Pure Fool" in that he sounds barely pubescent and certainly not
old enough to have studied singing.  And I saw a truly bizarre YouTube clip
recently -- which I don't think was intended as comedy -- of a soprano
"singing" the Mad Scene from "Hamlet".  What she was doing was acting and
sounding exactly like a person who had to be committed for mental illness. 
This is not opera, but a new kind of theatrical genre that will at some
point, I suppose, require a new name.  There remain, of course, singers like
Pape and Rad. and some few others, but in terms of who gets engaged by the
major theaters, I have sometimes thought that the contestants on the old
Miss America shows who sang "Caro nome" in the talent competition had more
technique than we hear today in the opera house, because certain things were
taken for granted when you studied singing that are no longer.

David Kubiak


>Vogt's interpretation was highly unusual to these ears, as a young
sounding, unheroic Parsifal.  It worked for me as far as the "pure fool" was
concerned, but the lack of vocal characterization with the development of
the character became problematic.  Everything that he sang sounded "pretty".
 The same approach, the same dynamics, the same phrasing produced a
monotonous result for me. 

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