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Anna Netrebko

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


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June 19

For a few dolors more

parterre boxBrooklyn’s edgy, innovative LoftOpera began in 2013 with two of the three Mozart-da Ponte operas. Since then other than an excursion into (relative) modernity with Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia and rounding off the trio with Così fan Tutte, the company has settled into 19th century repertoire. However for its summer 2017 show LoftOpera has ventured into the early 18th century with the accurately but unpromisingly named Pergolesi & Vivaldi, a potentially compelling project that stumbled rather than soared. Perhaps because of the liturgically-based music the ambiance prior to the performance had less of the usual raucous party atmosphere at The Muse, an erstwhile circus school in a mostly deserted area of Bushwick, and I didn’t hear a single beer bottle fall over during the music. As always, stepsiblings Brianna Maury, managing director, and Daniel Ellis-Ferris, co-founder and executive director, stepped up to give a rousing welcome to the crowd But Ellis-Ferris erred in declaring that “P&V” would be the organization’s first non-operatic presentation. Actually, two years ago my first LoftOpera experience was a wonderfully provocative mash-up of Les nuits d’été and Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen, and I was often reminded Friday of that Berlioz-Mahler mélange particularly when I discovered that both evenings were directed by John de los Santos. For that earlier show, he created sensitive, involving scenarios that reconceived two concert works for the “operatic” stage. This time he attempted much the same thing connecting several short instrumental pieces and two arias by Vivaldi to Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, a passionate meditation on Mary’s suffering at the death of Christ. The Vivaldi works morphed into a prologue in which a married couple lounged in bedtime attire on the central playing area while four young women dancers posed decoratively on side platforms. Soprano Heather Buck sang the lilting larghetto opening piece from one of the composer’s motets “Nulla in mundo pax sincera” which claims that the purest, truest thing in this imperfect world is Christ. Randall Scotting then countered with “Sovvente il sole,” a ravishing aria from Andromeda Liberata, a recently unearthed pasticcio in which the hero Perseo declares that the sun and sea are at their most radiant only after an incursion of clouds and storms. //www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvJF4VjQEpo During these longish vocal pieces video screens at the back of the performing space showed each principal staring out in wonder then grimacing in angst. Eventually the soprano on stage grabbed her belly wincing in pain, then both exited during a final Vivaldi movement while the dancers set the stage with a table bearing a soup tureen, wine carafe, dishes and glasses. The Pergolesi then began with the pair re-entering now garbed in elegant evening clothes (by Christian Joy), she in a smashing off-the-shoulder black gown adorned with gold star-bursts and red accents, he in a fitted black suit and black shirt accented with a florid red tie. The piercing opening movement of the Stabat Mater showed the now-alienated couple at a meal trying to cope with the loss of child while singing of Mary’s similar anguish. Unfortunately this intriguing premise rapidly became diluted by the confusing busy-ness of the stage action. Through each of the other eleven alternating solo and duet sections, the pair distractedly moved from platform to platform often accompanied by their four gyrating back-up dancers (in raccoon-eye make-up). Both performers impressed with their fierce commitment and concentration but Pergolesi’s music is challenging enough without having to repeatedly climb up and down steps barefoot as, of course, being barefoot is now de rigeur. While one understood de los Santos’s impulse to fill the enormous space with action, one actually wanted instead intimacy and insight into the struggling couple. It was difficult to discern the arc of the characters’s psychological journeys particularly when the wife inexplicably and aggressively stripped her husband to the waist (although given Scotting’s impressive pecs, who could blame her?). For the final tableau during the concluding “Amen”s, the soprano climbed up the scaffolding at the back to assume a crucified pose under one of the three pairs of feathered angel-wings hanging above. While one might appreciate the evening’s dramatic ambition its enactment proved musically problematic. A singer previously unknown to me, Buck brought a rich and expressive soprano to her music but not one that ably handled its technical challenges—trills and melismatic passages were either rushed or smoothed over. Countertenor Scotting, whom I had recently enjoyed in Cavalli and Handel , was understandably more adept at the baroque music’s stylistic needs but he sometimes sounded rough and not at his vocal best. Of the many many settings of the Stabat Mater Pergolesi’s might be the most popular except perhaps for Rossini’s grander and longer version, although I prefer Haydn’s extraordinary but rarely performed choral work to Rossini’s. Back in the day, Pergolesi was always done by two women including such curious combinations as Gundula Janowitz/Maureen Forrester or Gabriela Benackova/Lucia Valentini-Terrani, while two recent recordings feature Anna Netrebko and Sonya Yoncheva , both future Toscas. as their soprano soloist. Gradually the emergence of scads of accomplished countertenors made female-male collaborations more popular as in this Loft production. Recently there have even been male-male renditions although René Jacobs did record the piece with a boy soprano decades ago. I just could never bring myself to give it a listen. This Easter season the Romanian countertenor Valer Sabudus took the soprano part during an extensive European tour with Christophe Dumaux while Sabadus’s recording with Terry Wey which features unusually extensive vocal ornamentation is well worth seeking out . Loft’s singers did add a bit of ornamentation here and there which was nice while both brought more vibrato than one is used to these days. The odd acoustic at The Muse didn’t aid either performer; when they were near me both voices rang out with much more focus than when there were even a bit farther away. However, they blended well in the numerous duets, something which doesn’t always happen—the last time I attended a Pergolesi Stabat Mater Carolyn Sampson’s soaring soprano stubbornly refused to mesh with the pickle-voiced countertenor of Robin Blaze. The biggest musical challenge of the evening was the precarious tuning of the enthusiastic but unidiomatic small string band conducted from the organ by Brian Gilling. But happily, concertmistress Ravenna Lipchik’s lovely playing of the difficult obbligato to “Sovvente il sole” was a joy. Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo had been originally announced for its summer attraction but that enormously demanding enterprise was dropped for “P&V.” While it didn’t end up being particularly satisfying, one hopes that de los Santos and LoftOpera will continue to tackle transforming concert works into stage-worthy creatures. Photo: Allison Stock

parterre box

June 19

Scostatevi, profani!

Not only is Anna Netrebko great, I am beginning to think there was never anyone greater. ????????????? ??????????? ???? ???????? @anna_netrebko_yusi_tiago! ??? ???? ???????????! ??? ??????? ? ???????? ?? ?????? ????????? ? ????? ? ???????? ??????! 3 ???? ?????? ?? ????? ???????. ??????? ??? ??????? ?? ????? ????????????? ?????! ????? ????????????????????????????!!!! ?? ???????????! ?? ???????? ????? ??????? ????????.18/06/2017 ?. #mariinsky #opera #adrianalekuvrer #annanetrebko #sanktpeterburg A post shared by St.-Petersburg (@aa_lazareva) on Jun 18, 2017 at 4:04pm PDT ??? ????? ?? ????? ?????? ? ??? ?????????? ????????! ???? ???????? @anna_netrebko_yusi_tiago ? ???? ??????? @yusif_eyvazov_private – ????????????? ???? ? ???????? ??????????? ?????? "??????? ????????"! ????????????? ??????? ? ??????????! ?????, ?????? ? ????!!! ?? ??????????? ??????? ??????? ???????. A post shared by ????? ?????? (@vadim_vernik) on Jun 18, 2017 at 11:52am PDT ? ???? ??????????…. A post shared by @anna_netrebko_yusi_tiago on Jun 18, 2017 at 5:48pm PDT




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May 23

Serenade

The Broad Stage presented Joseph Calleja in their Celebrity Opera Series May 10 with a concert called A Tribute to Mario Lanza. The Maltese tenor cites the famous matinee idol as an early inspiration from the time he saw The Great Caruso when he was 14 years old. It’s a testament not only to Lanza’s onscreen presence but the natural beauty of his voice that 50 years after his death he’s still leading young men to dream of careers in opera. Also since in his relatively short career he recorded nearly every popular song and operatic standard there’s plenty of repertoire to choose from. In fact Mr. Calleja already paid tribute with his 2012 CD release on Decca of the selfsame name. Maestro Jader Bignamini, still enjoying our Southern California weather since the Netrebko/Eyvazov concert at the Music Center last week, led the highly skilled pickup orchestra the Broad gathered for the evening. They opened with the overture to Nabucco and gave it a stirring performance. Verdi’s martial timpani and horns following in step with the famous fantasies on phrases from “Va, pensiero.” The strings sounded especially vivid in the pizzicato echos back and forth from the cellos to the violins and violas. Our tenor joined us and offered us Macduff’s famous plea for his lost Scotland, “Ah, la paterna mano” from the composer’s Macbeth. Mr. Calleja is well known in this role and did an exemplary job polishing Verdi’s long lines. He’s a singer who displays excellent training and moves straight through phrases with a real forward momentum that’s exciting. His diction is also superb in spite of the fact that he displays a generally light touch with consonants. Next was the famous “Lamento di Federico” from Cilea’s L’arlesiana and he gave us a full throated rendition that was unfussy and lacking the usual tenor milking of audience sympathies. He even eschewed the optional Bb in the final phrase, keeping the mood solemn. “E lucevan le stelle” from the last act of Puccini’s Tosca followed and here Mr. Calleja displayed the breath control of a master, holding the top A in the first big phrase for an impossibly long time and at a quivering mezzo-piano at that. After a suitably emotional finale our tenor retired from the stage to the bravo’s of the audience and Maestro Bignamini gave us a bright reading of the Act IV prelude to Bizet’s Carmen. Our tenor returned refreshed and offered a solid performance of ‘”Questa e quella” from RIgoletto that made up for in blazing energy what it lacked perhaps in nuance. Then he ended the first half of the program with Don Jose’s impassioned romance, which seems tailor made for his gifts. His French is excellent I’m happy to report and although he may have misjudged the piano B-flat at the piece’s end his ardent phrasing and delicate close on the last phrase put the audience in the palm of his hand. The second half concentrated on art songs and the more popular fare that formed the cornerstone of Lanza’s popularity. Two Tostis, the first of which was the bittersweet “A Vucchella”, found our tenor back on form with a stunning pianissimo as he compared his love’s little mouth to a withered rose and begged for a kiss. “Ideale’ revealed an even more poignant and intense reading. Stefano Sonaudy’s famous “Vaghissima Sembianza” came next, with all its elegiac splendors made only more potent by a very tender and sensitive accompaniment from the string section. Mr. Calleja was pouring forth at this point in lavish voice with a sincere passion. Then he welcomed a blazing dawn with Leoncavallo’s “Mattinata” and down shifted right into full blown 1950’s cinemascope glory with “Be My Love.” The crowd, as they say, went wild. Mr. Calleja was far more at ease during the later part of the evening and he offered up five encores, each of which was rewarded with a new floral tribute passed up to the stage. The gifted singer presented himself beautifully, in the traditional fashion, in an immaculately tailored set of tails with white tie and waistcoat. One felt the ghost of the immortal Mario was with us as Calleja introduced four members of the Lanza family in the audience.

My Classical Notes

May 16

Manon Lescaut with Anna Netrebko

Soprano Anna Netrebko is one of my favorite singers, because of her fine voice, her great stage presence, and her sense of humor. Now… have a look at a fine recording in which she stars: Puccini: Manon Lescaut With the following singers: Anna Netrebko (Manon Lescaut), Yusif Eyvazov (Des Grieux), Armando Piña (Lescaut), Carlos Chausson (Geronte), Benjamin Bernheim (Edmondo), and the Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor, Marco Armiliato conducting. This outstanding concert performance of Manon Lescaut with Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov was the absolute highlight of the 2016 Salzburg Festival – a moment of operatic glory, captured live for this unique release. Anna Netrebko excelled with the perfection of her exceptional voice, her unrivaled interpretation and her devotion to this very part – she is the Manon Lescaut of our time. While Verismo already features the aria “In quelle trine morbide” and the fourth act of Manon Lescaut in a breathtaking studio-version, documenting her great passion to this work, the complete recording of Manon Lescaut will be a great addition to Anna’s fans and opera lovers alike. It has also been a matter of personal importance and dedication for Anna Netrebko to document this work in its entirety. BBC Music Magazine wrote the following: “Netrebko’s Manon soars over the rest of the cast, framed attentively, eloquently and imaginatively by Marco Armiliato and the Munich Radio Orchestra. It’s a riveting, sometimes wayward performance that fails to sound remotely girlish in Act I but captures perfectly the greed, impetuousness, self-destructiveness and lust for life in Acts II and III, with a full-throated, full-hearted account of ‘Sola, perduta, abbandonata’” Here is Anna Netrebko in a brief scene from Manon Lescaut:



Anna Netrebko

Anna Netrebko (18 September 1971) is an operatic soprano. She now holds dual Russian and Austrian citizenship and currently resides in Vienna. She has been nicknamed "La Bellissima" by fans.



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