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Subject: Re: tickets for sale tonight's Met Opera Aida
From: David H Spence <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:David H Spence <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 13 Oct 2018 12:38:24 -0400

text/plain (140 lines)

Thank you, Francis, for your comments.  From the few excerpts of this I've listened to, it 
seems, partly out of necessity, that Luisotti has learned to streamline his manner of 
conducting Verdi's Aida.  Rachvelishvili sounded good, off an extended excerpt from 
probably opening night, but the voice is essentially a lyric.  As an aside, Garanca sounds 
pushed up, and dramatically out of her element in the Saint-Saens, whether from Vienna or 
the Met.  A constant pushing up to sing Amneris and in a barn like the Metropolitan Opera 
has to eventually take its toll.  

My thoughts about Netrebko from watching Act Two, Scene 1 is that for the moment - again 
on opening night - she was still able to sing it, sort of.  It is hard however to get around 
there being an incipient wobble and a need to be careful about what she is doing.  Think 
Tamara Milashkina (who'd have a really major career today), Stefka Evstatieva, late career 
Tomowa-Sintow or late career Vishnevskya.  How much more 'butter and eggs ...... ?'  Most 
of all, there is the consideration that she may only be able to do so many performances of a 
part like this, especially in a house like the Met, before doing lasting damage to her voice.  

I do not get the hype over Quinn Kelsey, whose Schaunard in 2008 I admit i found 
impressive in what was otherwise a really dreary cast for La Boheme (the April moviecast, 
broadcast that year).   There is a certain fawning over himself, over what voice he has, how 
he is able to make it carry.  Almost all other considerations as to interpretation, what 
character he should be putting across can just be put aside, just that we can have an 
Amonasro, di Luna or Germont who can project well.  

Getting excited over an Aida over the presence of just one or two singers in the cast who 
can sing and interpret their parts too much resembles for me a dumbing down  to Wortham 
Center or Houston Grand Opera standards.  And even, as Francis very well indicates, the 
one (Rachvelishvili) or two who might be worth the ticket price is or are not even reliable.   

In 1999, HGO had Larissa Diadkova and Stephen O'Mara in their respective roles with Oren 
Gradus as the King, in 2007 a slightly aging Dolora Zajick and Tigran Martirossyan (Ramfis) 
and otherwise one has to take 'whatever', more or less.  Even a frequently wonderful singer 
like Anja Harteros can find the title role of Aida too much.  In such an instance, this work 
becomes a waste, a really unnecessary waste of vocal capital, and I must ask, just for 
what?  Jonas Kaufmann, probably by comparison with Antonenko the past two weeks, 
probably would sound good now, but is otherwise terribly mediocre as is Semenchuk.

All the neglected Rossini, even some early Verdi that should be heard considerably more 
often (Lombardi, Battaglia di Legnano), it is a real crying shame that a clearly second-tier 
work like Aida should still show up so often in our opera houses, and with the Met and 
Convent Garden casts not being really able to hack it anymore.  I recall a really dreadful 
Royal Opera Aida horribly conducted by Luisotti on BBC, that a merely unexciting Marcelo 
Alvarez, I think, attempted to save, but could not.

There was still however once a day even Verdi's Aida was not too much of a challenge to 
sing at the Metropolitan Opera.  With a cast like I read on paper for the past two weeks, I 
was incapable of working up any enthusiasm for listening online on opening night, much 
less for running to a local cinema last Saturday for something like this.

David H Spence

On Sat, 13 Oct 2018 03:05:57 -0400, Francis Immler <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>I understand your disagreement, Idia.  But you weren't there last night,
>Something was all wrong in the first act. Anita was dull, Anna was faceless
>( Imagine! ). They may have been simply discouraged by having to do this
>again with the absolutely appallingly bad Antonenko, and who would blame
>them? But this is what Andrew and I both heard and watched. I stopped short
>of suggesting we cut our losses and leave at intermission, because Andrew
>said maybe they are all having a hard time warming up. (Also, we had driven
>from Princeton in torrential rain, and I wasn't looking forward to more of
>the same.) But THAT'S how we both felt about the first act.
>By Act 3, both Anita and Anna were FAR more themselves. O Patria Mia was
>well done, but no more than that - at least she wasn't squally as she had
>been in the first act. And Anita did her best with Amneris's big scene (I
>thought to myself, as I always do in this opera, why is it called Aida, not
>Amneris? She is the far more interesting character). But it wasn't enough,
>because of Antonenko. And the last act was absolutely ruined because of him.
>Honestly, we bolted - not waiting for curtain calls, as we almost always do
>- because we simply didn't want to endure this any more.
>Sorry to be a contrarian on this, and I'm glad your experience with
>Netrebko's Aida was better than ours. But for us, based on last night, this
>just may not be her role. Maybe if her Radames had been her husband, who
>was FIRST-RATE in Fanciulla Monday night, we might think differently ...?
>On Fri, Oct 12, 2018 at 9:22 AM Idia Legray <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> I must disagree about thewomen.  They were and ARE spectacular.
>> Where, since Price, have you ever heard an "O Patria Mia" as glorious as
>> that one?  Just simply gorgeous and worth the price of admission.  And
>> Rashvelishvilli was stupendous as Amneris.  Quinn Kelsey too was
>> marvelous.  The chink inthe armor was Antonenko and he and the entire
>> cast knew it. There's no excuse for Gelb to be keeping him on through the
>> entire run.  None whatsoever.
>>  Did you ever think that sometimes a partner who is struggling could
>>  factor in another's approach to staying the course?  Nebs was holding him
>>  up half the time.  That takes energy and courage.
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