No programs for last night’s Fanciulla, just someone had worked overtime on the copier to give us a cast list and plot summary. If no delivery for the glossy, fully 3k people there, just slight slip and slide on the Plaza enough to keep me gripping the alpenstock. (A weapon of Individual Destruction, permitted by the Met, if not airlines outside of Chehnya.)
I had been to the first iteration of this run, perspectives somewhat dulled by the aftereffects of a heavy date with a surgeon, AND by the muddled staging that made it ever so diff. to see who was singing from the FC even with glasses (praise for Rance’s J. Peterman white dust coat). However, since almost all the action of the first two acts is stage right my seats are on audience left. Ha! One up. But why have Debbie stuck behind a bar beneath an overhang even further stage right??—but this has been treated eloquently and well in this space. (Yes, the Volpe era, but I am sure there would be wigs on the green after all the hammering we heard before the last act as the scaffold, audibly if not visually, was being prepared.)
Back to all those men in dark suits in act 1. We awaited the desperado/Carl Tanner (debut) whose name La Cieca had alerted us to in connection with the incumbent’s sciatica attack. Most desperadoes don’t wear long black coats—at least in my imagination—but Carl entered in a long one amplifying a moderately full figure, maybe like a Neapolitan carriage driver in our first gilded Age—but Giancarlo’s fault, not Carl’s. (Happy the storm prevented the appearance of Monday’s NYT where the term “teddy bear” was used—and at an interview in Upper West Side diner at that.)
Not prepossessing he seemed, and a bit tentative vocally at first, but only then. Then, dear friends, a strong, reliable, tenor with a heroic ring/ping to it, even up and down, musical (not just the high notes). The cabin scene was terrific. Debbie threw herself into it, agile, tempted but careful with her guest, longing but maybe should not, and finally heroic. “Johnson’s” outburst of longing and hurt before going out the door into the snowfall (yes, and smoke from the wood fire in the chimney, and Rance with his rifle in his Peterman coat amid the spruce) was splendid.
It evoked and honored what must have been 100 years ago on the 39th street stage. Ditto the piece before the scaffold which Puccini—not another Cavaradossi here—refused to make an aria but made into a dramatic outburst that showed what he was picking up from north of the Alps. It was thrilling. So was the show, for the darkness and clutter of set and direction, glorious in the pit under Luisotti, everyone on sage and off had a fine time. The 3k gave Carl Tanner the ovation he deserved.
Carl who? The sturdy woman who unseen leaves the newspaper of record outside my door each morning couldn’t make it in the blizzard and left Monday’s with today’s, and, lo, there was Tanner, photo, “teddy bear” like at the diner, one time truck driver, bounty hunter. And, oh yes, the Canio in that fine Pagliacci in the halcyon pre-Mortier-initiative NYCO. Hope you are her for longer, Carl Tanner!