Thursday, January 21, 2010

L'anima ho milionaria!

It's true that I have the very great fortune to live in a metropolis which boasts one of the world's great opera houses. For an opera-obsessed little girl in a big city, there may be no better place of refuge than the Met, with its sleek opulence, its friendly staff, and reliably glorious music (not to mention tickets for $20 and under at any non-gala performance.) However, when one is obsessed with opera, there are always more worlds to conquer. Right now, all over the world, opera is happening. While I cheerfully embrace the lofty-goals, low-income existence of a graduate student, there are times when I wish I could fly to Milan for Rigoletto, or budget a week at Bayreuth.

Such possibilities are far off, if not entirely chimerical. However, my dreams of seeing international opera have just come one step closer, thanks to Arte (Association Relative à la Télévision Européenne). After reading rhapsodic reviews in Le Monde (sadly no longer available without a subscription to their website, but one may be found here), I was eating my heart out over the impossibility of seeing the aesthetically intelligent, soulfully sung Werther currently being mounted at the Opera Bastille. I despair no more! It is being broadcast on 26th January, and Arte has a streaming function that works on this side of the Atlantic. Quelle joie!

Edit: I have searched and I have found more Werther reviews, here and here. To my incredulous delight, they are invariably rhapsodic, hymning the conductor, the sets, and the singers; for Jonas Kaufmann, the production's Werther, the praise becomes adoration. One review compares him to a demigod. My favorite, after praising his "absolute mastery of breath control, carrying of the legato phrases, clarity of articulation and declamatory art," declares ecstatically that "most importantly, Werther is there in front of us, in flesh and blood, the young romantic hero: handsome, dark, suicidal, devastated, entirely composed of repressed impulses and forbidden dreams, yet [expressed] with great economy in acting and concentration in singing." Even assuming euphuistic tendencies among Francophone music critics, this is exciting.

And if you murmur that even the Met is closed to you... deh, cessate! In addition to absorbing the radio broadcasts so dear to my heart, you can watch live HD transmissions from your local cinema or symphony hall. (La Scala has a similar service, albeit in fewer locations). You could also subscribe to the MetPlayer (not free, but for a low price per opera) to get access to hundreds of past performances. (I'm assuming you already have your local library system's CD and DVD holdings memorized.)

Naja, das war's: no philosophical reflections, just joy in accessible opera. For some more operatic joy, try Luisa Tetrazzini singing Oscar's "Saper Vorreste." Tra la la la la!

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