Monday, May 3, 2010

À vos jeux, mes amis

Although Carmen is still under my skin, I had a pleasant musical interlude on Saturday: the graduate recital of one my oldest friends, no less! A soprano, she chose madness as the theme of her recital, and it was tremendous fun, as well as, for me, a surprising experience to sit and hear someone whom I know quite well open their mouth, strike an attitude, and create a vivid characterization through difficult repertoire. (I have talented friends... so thrilling!) A standout was, unsurprisingly, the mad scene of Ambroise Thomas' Ophelie; you can find Mady Mesplé singing it here.

This recital was also the occasion of a discovery for me: Richard Strauss' Ophelia-Lieder which (Really Shameful Confession) I did not know at all, despite my love for Strauss, Shakespeare, and Lieder. Shocking. Searching for them to hear again via YouTube, I found surprisingly little, but I did find a gripping rendition of all three ("Wie erkenn' ich mein Treulieb," "Guten Morgen, 's ist Sanktvalentinstag," "Sie trugen ihn auf der Bahre bloß") by Camilla Tilling. Which brought me to the question, who is Camilla Tilling? IMG Artists tells me that she is a Swedish soprano in a still young career, a "versatile concert artist and committed recitalist." Poaching on White Shirt territory, here she is in "Si io non moro a questi accenti" with Joyce DiDonato, and here she is singing "Saper vorreste," in what strikes me as a pleasingly stylized production by Gilbert Deflo for the Opera National de Paris:

I still remember listening to Ballo for the first time, absolutely cold, and thinking: Oscar, no, don't taunt him; you're going to die!!! I do believe that Ballo was the opera which started me on the path to Verdi-love, first through the recording above, and then through Callas, Di Stefano, and Bastianini live at La Scala. A few clicks of research reveal that this production only seems to be available on DVD under less-than-completely-official circumstances. It also appears to be on YouTube, having been broadcast on French television. All very mysterious.

Strauss discoveries and Verdi productions are all I have for now, except for a very warm welcome to readers who have found their way here from the Carmen review at Likely Impossibilities (recommended generally for a more musically savvy and hilariously irreverent take on all things operatic than my own.) I hope you stick around (and say hello, if you feel like it.) If you have found your way to this post while searching for reviews of Jonas Kaufmann's recent performances at the Met, here are my Tosca and Carmen reviews; Carmen now has audio, thanks to YouTube user Macbett0. Wenn deutsche Zusammenfassungen oder Übersetzungen von diesen (oder sogar anderen!) Rezensionen wunschenswert wären, bitte sagen Sie es in den "Comments"! A closing tidbit: at the reception on Saturday, I was asked by a friendly acquaintance (with whom I was animatedly discussing Jon Vickers), "Warum bist du keine Musikerin? Du strahlst ja!" Why am I not a musician, when opera (apparently) makes me glow? Well, the answer to that question is possibly that, when I was supposed to be practicing the piano, there was always a book I wanted to be reading. So I turned into an opera-going medievalist.

Update: just as I was going back from the world of opera news to the world of medieval monasticism, what should I find (via Intermezzo) but THIS:

...I'm still not sure whether I'm excited or afraid, but I think I'm excited. And I like the costumes.


  1. I'm counting on you to write about the Ring next season!

    Ich dachte auch daran, eine Fassung von mein Carmen-Kritik auf deutsch zu machen, aber ich bin faul und mein schriftliches Deutsch ist ganz schlecht.

    p.s. thanks for the links, I linked to your Carmen review too, I hope I can send you a few new readers.

  2. Fear not: Ring-reportage will occur, probably with Walküre-related Schwärmerei! I, meanwhile, will bask in vicarious Viennese delights... ganz schön praktisch!

    Also, gern geschehen; likewise!


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