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  • Bill: Feldmarschallin – Vienna used to have closed performances as well several in a season. Or once... 12:12 AM
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Schrödinger’s cat fancy

“So is opera as vibrant as ever, or is it hanging on by a thread? How to write the history of an art form that hovers, Schrödinger’s catlike, simultaneously alive and dead?” As we awaken from our holiday nap, what better reading to curl up with than a review by Zachary Woolfe (not pictured) of the new study A History of Opera?

79 comments

  • kraneled says:

    The BARBIERE is worth to hear because of the three basses
    beautiful voices ( a little bit sloppy in allegro passages) and good actors.
    especially basilio as a queen with hot desire for bartolo. IN RUSSIA!!!

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    Opera History 101

  • brooklynpunk says:

    The review of this (more than DREARY -sounding) book probably is a hell of a lot more informative/enlightening/ and most important--AMUSING- than the actual book, itself…!

  • aeijtzsche says:

    Well, I’ve read the book twice, and though it has its faults, most of which are nicely outlined in that review, it’s actually a rather delightful read.

    Forget that there’s any kind of thesis to it, and forget the non-analysis of any post-Strauss composers, and you are left with a very fine history of opera from its origins through, well, Capriccio, I suppose.

    The book does an especially fine job of securing a chronology--rather than treating a composer once and then moving on, it tends to go back and forth. What this does for me is creates a real sense of, if not competition, certainly interaction. It’s all too easy for me to start to think of the composers and their works in a timeless void, and this book does a nice job of grounding the composers and operas in history.

    The treatment of Handel was a little strange to me. Like many, they seem to not trust him as a dramatist, and they seem to have a vague notion that Handel should not be performed today because we no longer have castrati. They are deeply suspicious of Countertenors, apparently. There was a very simple mistake that also made me question the depth of the scholarship on Handel. They note that the score for Augellette, Che Cantate calls for organ and piccolo, when in fact the score calls for three recorders. It’s a small detail, but it was worrying.

    The chapters on Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini are as good as the book gets, I think. Really excellent stuff.

    I would say this is a great introductory book for somebody just getting into opera. As mentioned elsewhere, there are no musical excerpts in the text, not too much jargon, just pretty solid history. I found much value in it, despite the throw-away treatment of the 20th and 21st centuries, and the weak, unresolved thesis.

    So please do have a look at the thing before you write it off.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    Konzept: “Everthing is happy in the 1940′s”

  • Clita del Toro says:

    Maria Stuarda rehearsal: Leonora da Pin-Yenta was at the rehearsal, which she said was more like a real performance- no interruptions.

    She said that it was one of the best things she has ever seen at the Met: loved the production, and said that Joyce was beyond belief --fabulous. If Joyce isn’t already a star, this performance will make her a big star. Leonora is so excited about this production that she will try to buy a seat for the 31st.
    Let’s hope that Leonora is right.

    • Krunoslav says:

      I too have heard FANTASTIC, GLOWING reports from the dress as to JDD’s performance.

      • armerjacquino says:

        It all looked very promising in the rehearsal footage featured during the HD of BALLO- DiDonato sounded great and (for those of us who think these things make a difference) there was palpable and obvious chemistry between her and McVicar. I certainly think she’d be more amenable to his way of working than- oh, to pick a name randomly from the air- Netrebko.

    • kashania says:

      How did she like Elsa van den Heever — the Elisabetta? She sang the TROV Leonora in Toronto this fall. It’s a big, beautiful voice and I’m interested hear how she sounds in music requiring more bite than her beautifully-sung Leonora.

      • Clita del Toro says:

        Kashie: She wasn’t as impressed with van den Heever. She thought her middle and lower voices weren’t that big, but big tops??. That surprised me because my bf saw her here at LOC and said that her voice was huge and he loved her (forget in which opera) . So maybe Elsa was holding back a bit at the rehearsal--as it is her Met debut.

        • kashania says:

          I get the sense that Elsa uses her chest voice sparingly. I think she did the same at the Trov dress rehearsal. No doubt that the best part of the voice is the top, which is truly refulgent and big.

          • Bianca Castafiore says:

            Does Elza sing Rossini? It’s always exciting when a big voice comes along that can sing Donizetti and Wagner… I have not found in her bio that she does sing Rossini yet.

          • Bianca Castafiore says:

            But maybe there’s a Norma in her future… and Salome?

          • MontyNostry says:

            I saw Elza as the Komponist and it was very exciting -- and good to hear a full soprano in the role.

          • armerjacquino says:

            Salome I would say is a definite possibility- as you say, her bio hints that she is looking more at the spinto rep, plus Strauss and Wagner, than anything more belcantoish.

            Norma’s harder to predict, I guess. So many singers that ought to sing it don’t, and so many do that oughtn’t to.

          • kashania says:

            I think a Norma is almost there. She still needs to iron out a couple of technical matters — a better integrated chest voice (especially when singing fioratura) and more secure piano singing (I found her a bit inconsistent). The potential is there and IIRC, she is still quite early in her career.

      • Clita del Toro says:

        I guess her name is spelled ELZA.

        • Andie Musique says:

          Wonderful in Rinaldo at LOC

          • Clita del Toro says:

            Andie, that’s it.

          • davidzalden says:

            I worked with Elza earlier this season (she sang Alcina in Bordeaux) and I was overwhelmed by her talent and potential, so I am very biased! An incredible voice and a strong, adventurous lady. If everything goes right I imagine she will eventually be a great Fidelio, then Isolde, then Brunnhilde. But for the next years she is concentrating on a variety of repertoire centred around Verdi and bel canto — she has a big voice with some wonderful dark shades but it is flexible and capable of brilliant coloratura and she has a powerful top. She has sung already Bolena (in concert), Handel’s Armida in Rinaldo, Trovatore, Donna Anna, Desdemona and more. I know she has her eye on Norma. I am lucky — I am working with her twice next season — Giselda in I Lombardi (a wild killer dramatic coloratura role) in Hamburg and Ellen Orford in Grimes at ENO (I can’t wait for her to tear into this role and make it her own). NYC get ready for Elza!

    • steveac10 says:

      The Met has the last few minutes of the Act One finale on line. Based on that, a trip to NYC may be in order.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says: