Gentle (and long-suffering) Readers, I am actually capable of writing a post that is not the length of a smallish novella. Herewith some operatic miscellany from the time I've spent in Tosca-recovery.
Firstly, I spent a thoroughly enjoyable and very instructive hour on Saturday afternoon sitting in on the voice lesson of a new acquaintance. When in the line for rush tickets for Traviata, I overheard the man two places behind me saying that he was going to be singing Florestan in the city next year... being the Fidelio fangirl I am, I of course ditched propriety and customary timidity in favor of breathless enthusiasm and the only slightly mendacious claim that I "couldn't help overhearing." This led into a three-hour conversation (ah, opera line bonding!) So, yesterday, I had a bit of an aural education as I sat and listened to him make a sound... and then his voice instructor would say "Yes, that is good; now do this," or "More air!" or "Drunken, drunken, he is drunken with love here!" and he would do it again, and I would think, aha! Fascinating.
Furthermore, I encountered Christof Loy via Joyce DiDonato's most recent blog entry, and felt not only illuminated about the behind-the-scenes mechanics of acting-in-opera (or lack thereof,) but inspired to research Mr. Loy, whose name I keep hearing without gaining more than a vague impression of "adventurous opera director?" I soon figured out that one of the reasons his name is so familiar is that he is the patron saint of the Handel-worshiping Purity McCall... and finding his website, I found out that he was responsible for "my" 2007 Simon Boccanegra in Frankfurt. Very exciting!!! This production had long been my token anecdote wielded in argument with opera-listeners whose sensibilities incline towards the exclusively literalistic in set design. The set furnishings for this, as I remember, consisted of an iron staircase and a velvet curtain (sometimes with view of the sea). Characters were dressed in black or white (with a red robe for the Doge.) And I thought this worked brilliantly for the convoluted plot, and I had an absolutely marvelous time. While some stills from Loy productions cause me confusion, a surprisingly exhaustive list of his opinions (convictions might be more apt) on drama and its staging, also on his website, I find quite stimulating.
For easing myself back into full-opera listening, the 1954 Bayreuth Parsifal, difficult, but not impossible, to find for sale, courtesy of the NYPL. The sound quality is not great, but it's still exciting: majestic, though muffled. And the more I listen to it, the more I like Parsifal as a dense, unhurried (ha!) whole, rather than listening with a sense of holding out for my own personally-labeled exciting bits.
In opera news, James Valenti (a.k.a. Alfredo!) won the Richard Tucker Award! Hopefully this accelerating career of his brings him back to NYC before too long. Apropos of NYC opera, I have heard a rumor that height and fitness requirements have been set for the auditioning Valkyries of next year's Robert Lepage Walküre... because they will have to fly. My inner child is excited, and this suggestion is given plausibility by the intriguing remark (in a lamentably fatuous Time Out New York interview with Jonas Kaufmann, who offers up thoughtful remarks on Parsifal, and amusing ones on Tosca) that the production "promises to be literally off-the-walls." Intriguing! So far the only pictures (in Met programs) have been of a set shrouded in fog, and of a shiny, but not clearly pictured Tarnhelm. Mystery, mystery.
Lastly, Ezio Pinza makes me smile:
I love his hat. And it makes me happy that, in this photo (as well as, of course, in this role,) he seems about as avuncular as I would hope of a man to whose memory the gold-and-marble water fountains of the Met are dedicated.