Thursday, February 28, 2008

Well that was fast. The '57 Bayreuth RING under Knappertsbusch became available at Berkshire Record Outlet about a week ago -- opera by opera, not as a unit. Then --blink twice, and all except SIEGFRIED are gone.

That year's Siegfried was Bernd Aldenhoff. Hmmm.

Most in demand, I guess, was the WALKURE -- Nilsson's last Sieglinde before her promotion to Brunnhilde. and her only one at Bayreuth. (Varnay was Kna's Brunnhilde.)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

CARMEN b'cast thoughts, 3

Nancy Fabiola Herrera is your basic central-casting Fiery Gypsy, good voice, nothing remarkable. (But how does a singing-actress bring something to Carmen that hasn't been done a bazillion times?)

Marcelo Alvarez is giving us a much more lyrical Don Jose than usual. His Flower Song had passages sung mezza voce that we're used to hearing "can belto." I thought it was lovely.

Lucio Gallo is a gifted basso buffo, but not an Escamillo. (The Met has made some strange Escamillo choices in recent years. Sergei Leiferkus?)

Two thumbs up for Krassimira Stoyanova's Micaela.
CARMEN b'cast thoughts, 2

The Quiz -- a quiz hosted by opera characters? It just might work, as a once-in-a-while gag, provided the character was impersonated by someone widely known for playing that role. The question tossed out to the public at the outset would be, who is this person "really."

EDITED TO ADD: Wait a minute. No, it would be a terrible idea. What was I thinking of?
CARMEN b'cast thoughts, 1

a. What's wrong with Borodina? This is not the first Carmen she's missed this season.

b. Good to hear this new comprimario baritone, Stephen Gaertner, singing Morales. He's scheduled for Melot later this season. I like a baritone Melot (check out Bernd Weikl in the Karajan recording!), and young Gaertner sounds like he's got just the right sound.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Happy Birthday, Rolando Villazon! (And get better, whatever keeps going with you.)

Thursday, February 21, 2008


"Welcome, opera lovers in the United States and Canada....!"

I had to start that way, because that's the way Milton Cross, and later Peter Allen, used to begin the Saturday afternoon broadcasts. Those words came right after "TEXaco presents -- the-uh-uh Metropolitan Opera!" Of course that was back when Texaco did present the Metropolitan Opera (you haven't bought gas from Texaco or Chevron since they stopped, have you?). And it was back when we had distinguished, knowledgeable, and manly announcers, instead of -- well let's not start a bitchslapfest down that alley on our very first day, shall we?

Anyway I've just been listening to Act II of SIEGFRIED in the Barenboim set. While B's prelude to Act I didn't have his trademark solemnity, his prelude to Act II did.

Other things going on in my life right now (besides federal preemption of state common-law tort actions, but that's for the other blog) is that I'm majorly ramping up my knowledge of the Janacek operas. Since Mackerras recorded the major ones with Elisabeth Soderstrom, and since Soderstrom had one of the great voices of all time, and since she was also a great friend of my mother's ("Aunt Bibeth" was what I called her), this is a pleasant undertaking. Aunt Bibeth said Emilia Marty/Elina Makropoulos was her favorite role, and I don't doubt it.