Saturday, April 3, 2010

AIDA today

I read on a priest's blog today that Holy Saturday is in a sense a day of "silence." I've always been a bit Fail on that part of the Triduum: worst of all two years ago when I spent that afternoon at the Multiplex watching the live HD transmission of TRISTAN -- and got a nice late-Lenten headache for it, thanks to the dizzy-making direction that day, with all its shifting "boxes." Enough about that.

Today I'm at home, but the AIDA broadcast is on the radio in the library (while the Holy Father's Easter Vigil Mass in on the telly in the living room).

We're at O Patria Mia right now, and I must say Hui He is quite a find and potentially quite a treasure. Where is she from, both nationally and in terms of the opera-professional ladder? The guardians of the memory of Milanov and Tebaldi who post of the great listserv Opera-L have been cautious in their praise, but look: we so often have chatter -- oops, there went the high C, and I've got to say, I've gotten better ones at the A&P -- but let me finish the thought: in general, we have so often had to chatter about what in iron age of voices we live in compared to the golden age of our youths or (in my case, I assure you) childhood, that when an Aida comes along who is at least worthy of serious comparison with the Greats, we should cheer, encourage, maybe do the "Dilbert victory jig." (As well as suggest some coaching for that high C.)

Zajick is amazing. Too bad there's only one serious Italian-style dramatic mezzo in the entire frikkn' world right now. Makes putting on AIDA kinda difficult, knamean? (D'Intino? Maybe. Borodina is past it now. Ganassi? Has she really moved successfully beyond the Berganza repertory?)

I like Licitra's voice, but it tends to flatten at the top. And by "flatten" I don't mean go flat in terms of pitch: I mean that it sounds like it's pressing against an upper limit, as if you were trying to serve jello to the neighbors upstairs directly through the ceiling. A shame, b/c he's got a lot going for him in the heart of his range. And it's nice to hear a Radames who is a tad more lyrical than a standard "can belto" -- as just now, when he pulled back to a mezza voce on "Fuggire!" Cool!

The lower-voiced guys aren't on the same level. Carlo Guelfi is effective dramatically, but the great baritone voice you can here in his recorded TABARRO didn't last long. Carlo Colombara's Ramfis does not suggest a bass who does first-string roles as well, tho' I know he does. Stefan Kocak as the King makes me feel that if I practice my scales in the shower a little longer, who knows.... "Dunque tu sei -- Sua padre" wasn't exactly like the days when Luben Vichey or Louis Sgarro would hand off to Leonard Warren or George London, was it?

Marco Armiliato shows again that he is a great Verdian. The orchestra and chorus sound great; Marco punctuates the possibly-too-familiar score with a few rubati, and the ensembles are omg grand.