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Rogo boy

Berliners anxious about casting of the Staatsoper’s new staging of Il trovatore since Aleksandrs Antonenko canceled can breathe a sigh of relief, since tenor Gaston Rivero (pictured) will jump in as Manrico. The production, which opens November 29, also stars Anna Netrebko and Placido Domingo.

54 comments

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    Are you kidding? He makes Grigolo sound like a helden soubrette! Hopefully he’s improved a lot from this:

    • pobrediablo says:

      Goes well with Domingo’s Conte.

    • Rowna says:

      It is impossible to tell the size of voice from a recording -- be it in the studio or stage. His voice sounded fine to me as does Grigolo’s. I have no idea if either can fill what size hall, but how can you have an opinion of size unless you have heard someone live in the house?

      • kashania says:

        I respectfully disagree. While it’s true that one can’t fully judge the size of a voice from recording, I think it is still possible get a sense of a voice’s size and thrust even on recording, especially if it’s a live recording. Studio recordings can manipulate voices in a way that can be misleading. Having said that, even on a studio recording, Grigolo sounds like a tenorino to me (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

        Rivero’s voice does sound a bit light though nowhere as light as Grigolo’s (I think QPF was exaggerating for effect). Putting aside the size of the voice, it is rather unremarkable and unattractive in colour. Hopefully, he’ll have a chance to take off his shirt and give the audience something beside his bland voice..

        • la vociaccia says:

          I don’t think the voice itself is very bland or unattractive, but it isn’t flattered by being pressed the way it is in this aria. If he were singing, say, Macduff, it would probably make a very different impression. He sounds much less swallowed in the Di Quella Pira video than the Romeo air posted below from seven years ago.

        • oedipe says:

          Kashania,

          I have heard Grigolo live in the Bastille barn and his voice is by no means small (his problems lie elsewhere). And Grigolo with his shirt off beats just about everybody, BTW.

        • kashania says:

          I’ll give both tenors another listen. I only heard Rivero’s “Di quella pira” so I’ll try the Romeo aria.

          I heard parts of Grigolo’s CD on the radio. It’s a nice voice but there was a Verdi one clip that required some heroic singing (with chorus). And even in the studio conditions, he sounded overparted and his voice was threadbare.

        • Rowna says:

          I respectfully disagree kashania, although we will never have a difinitive answer as to judging a singer’s size voice from recordings. I can only report on what I have personally experienced. After loving Dimi H, I finally heard him live. I was actually shocked that his voice sounded smaller than I thought. Before he became a superstar JKaufmann was vilified all over the net for having a small voice -- and then I heard him live. That is NOT a small voice. Just my worthless 2 cents.

          • kashania says:

            Rown:a I tried in my post to express that hearing a person live is the ultimate test, no doubt. But I think that one still glean something from recordings. It’s not an all-or-nothing situation as I see it.

            I think Hvor is a very interesting choice because it has such a dark colour and a “throbbing” quality (especially with his vibrato) that it gives the impression of being a bigger voice that it is when heard on recording. And to be fair to him, it’s not a tiny voice by any means, just not terribly big either.

            I think one can hear from recordings that Kaufmann has good size and thrust to his voice. And while I never heard Sutherland live, I can tell from recordings that it was a big voice (especially when she opens up on top).

          • scifisci says:

            Rowna: I heard Kaufmann in traviata twice during his debut run and he barely registered with me at all. I just remember it being a small-medium constricted voice. Then when he returned to the Met a “star” a few years later, the voice had grown in color and size. This happened with Netrebko too between the time of her early Met performances and 2006-2007 when the voice took on larger dimensions.

            Kashania: Grigolo has a big, bright, pushed voice. I’ve never heard any of his albums, so I have no idea how he comes across there.

            Hvorostovsky is an interesting one. He can puff up his voice to sound pretty big, but then it loses its dark, silky quality that makes him unique. I think if he wants to sing the big roles, he should just do what gheorghiu does….depend on the distinctive quality of the voice in order to project rather than decibels.

            • kashania says:

              scifisci: I also heard Kaufmann’s debut Alfredo and the voice didn’t make a big impression. But then again, I was in the last row of the Orchestra — acoustically, the worst possible seats the Met (never again!). But a friend of mine who really knows his voices (and trained as a tenor himself) said that he also heard Kaufmann’s Alfredo and could still hear the potential size of the voice even then.

              So true about Hvor losing the silky quality of his voice when he puffs. I remember tuning into a broadcast of Trovatore and wondering who the Di Luna. I couldn’t even recognise his voice at first and he has one of the most distinctive voices.

              Thanks for your thoughts on Grigolo.

      • marshiemarkII says:

        Kashie, oedipe is completely right, I heard Grigolo last year in Rigoletto and he was quite a bit larger than my beloved and adored Piotr, and Piotr is by no means small, not remotely, but the other boy is much larger. Now while Piotr is pure honey, Grigolo is sandpaper, Italianate but in the wrong way, he phrases nicely but the actual sound is not terribly ingratiating. So there, I think it is kind of hard to really judge a voice from recordings only. Now once you have heard someone live, you can then extrapolate and imagine what it must have been like in the theater as you have some frame of reference.

        • la vociaccia says:

          Marshie, I think this is the first time you written about Grigolo with mentioning le bubble :)

        • marshiemarkII says:

          can you believe it?!?!??!? and carisssima I was going to, but I was trying to get a couple of posts in a hurry when I saw CammiB back because I was late for the gym, where I saw a couple of really nice bubbles. But The Grigolo Bubble is really special, one of the nicest anywhere really :-) :-) :-)

        • marshiemarkII says:

          Voci do you think that le bubble might want to give a test drive to Venere Splende’s grotto?

      • Bevi A Tequila says:

        I directed Gaston in TRAVIATA seven years ago, so his voice has had a lot of time to change. That being said, I wouldn’t have guessed that he would be singing TROVATORE in an international house with these singers and this conductor. He possessed an acceptably-sized lyric voice for a young tenor, but there were no spinto aspects to his singing at the time. But that was then…

        • Rowna says:

          Bevi, thanks for writing. Your perspective is unique on this thread. I would imagine. You know more than most about voice types but there are many examples of surprising developments. Flagstad started out in light opera & operettas. I always held out hope for myself that I would turn into something other than a light lyric. Right now there is a lot of buzz about Ms Goerke. She started out without much hint of today’s voice.

          • Bevi A Tequila says:

            Thanks, Rowna -- I think we are in complete agreement. I’m hoping that the passage of time has allowed the vocal growth for him to be successful in this rep, and hopefully the more moderately-sized European theatre will contribute to a positive reception, too.

            • Rowna says:

              People forget that the size of the theater has so much to do with how a voice can be delivered. While the Met seats about 4k, the acoustics are very good. Still, it is a big space to fill. I live in Pittsburgh where opera is presented in a gorgeous re-done movie theater, seating maybe 2k. However, I think our house is harder to sound good in! The stage is configured in such a manner that unless the singer is out on the apron, chances are they sound muffled. Re singers developing, Charels Castronovo sang Faust here a long time ago and had a pretty tough time and neither the critics or audience cared for him. His voice is still small, but has become a beautiful instrument and either mic’d or in a small house he can deliver a fine performance.

            • Cocky Kurwenal says:

              I don’t agree that Castronovo’s voice is small. It’s a perfectly respectable size for a lyric tenor in his repertoire, whatever the house. Microphones don’t come into it.

    • sharky says:

      I’ve heard Rivera a number of times, the first being as Romeo (our house seats 2,000 -- not Met-sized but decent). Of that event I wrote:

      Uruguayan tenor Gaston Rivera is new to me and I had no idea quite what to expect. What we got was the finest performance of the night. What stunning
      tone of voice, elegant phrasing, perfect sounding French, a virile, athleticism on display as he climbed scaled walls, hangs from Juliette’s balcony, jumped into the fray with Tybalt, and proudly went all Porky Pig (slang for “shirt on, naked from waist down”). Rivera made a meal of the little recit efore “Ah! lève-toi, soleil!” – which in no way prepared me for a truly beautiful reading of the aria itself. Rivera made an absolutely stunning – breathtaking actually – effect singing mezzo di voce in the reprise with an entirely different color, steadiness
      of tone and perhaps as close to a voix mixte ending high note that we are likely to hear in the role today, earning him the first big ovation the night and one entirely deserved.

      Rivera would not disappoint all night and his acting had an earnestness that was touching, and full of subtleties: e.g., when first spying Juliette, he is
      hidden, barely seen in the shadows beneath a balustrade -- his hands rose almost birdlike until they fell onto his heart and the way he breathed, looked as though he would ascend into a cloud. It was one of those magical effects I thought I alone noticed, but during intermission I heard dozens of people praising. It was THAT kind of a performance.”

      • oedipe says:

        What stunning tone of voice, elegant phrasing, perfect sounding French

        How do you know? As compared to whom, what are your criteria?

        • armerjacquino says:

          Some non-French people speak French. Some of us even have degrees in it.

        • sharky says:

          I know because I know what I like and look for. You may not agree, but, Jesus, man, so what? I tend rarely to compare singers (a fruitless activity in my opinion) but look at each individually and what they bring to the table. For the record, my favorite Romeo is Alain Vanzo and it doesn’t get much “Frenchier” than that. Others? Alagna, Jobin . . .

      • oedipe says:

        When some Parterrians discussed the other day the current Met Frau, they referred to a tradition illustrated by historic recordings and by great singers who are interpretive models for their respective roles. What Camille and others implied in their posts -and rightly so- is that some of their interlocutors couldn’t tell the difference, because of lack of knowledge of this tradition. I saw the Met Frau twice, but although I have an opinion about those performances, I refrained from expressing it, because of my limited familiarity with the subject.

        When the subject on Parterre is Mozart singers, or Verdian singers, or Wagner singers, there is generally on this site a great depth of knowledge and familiarity with the respective great interpretive traditions, as illustrated by recordings that serve as permanent references.

        But when it comes to Gounod, or French grand opera in general, exactly WHAT interpretive traditions are people basing their judgements on? What are the idiomatic historic recordings used as terms of comparison? Do such things even MATTER to anyone, or is it the case that the less the interpretations have anything to do with French traditions, the better they look to people here?

        • sharky says:

          It’s nice and fun to get all “into” the traditions (I’ve been known to do it myself), but what ultimately matters most to me is this: “did I enjoy this performance?” That is what it all boils down to for me. When a work is new, it may come to us from a particular school, but there is as yet no “tradition” for THAT particular work. Music is, by its very nature ephemeral -- ever changing -- and yet those fleeting qualities are precisely what also makes it eternal, what allows for a hundred different interpretations -- and as many recordings -- of a single work.

          Styles change -- and do so quicker than we might imagine -- just listen to recordings made from 50 years ago and we can hear countless differences in style, interpretation, dynamics, portamento, embellishments -- everything’s subject to change. Everything.

          Many opera-lovers seem incapable of enjoying anything less than what they see as a sort of “standard,” while others (though still armed with the knowledge of traditions that came before) are delighted to sit back and appreciate what the composer has given us “as is.” I believe most composers would be tickled pink if, able to look into the future discover that 150 years from now ANYONE was still interested in performing and listening to their music. That’s just me though.

          • oedipe says:

            You are entitled to your personal preferences as long as you don’t present them, without arguments, as objective truths.

            As for traditions, ALL composers come from specific cultures and specific traditions. Not only are composers permeated by traditions, but their mission is to represent and develop these traditions; without their heritage, composers -and artists in general- would be nothing. What singers bring to life in opera performances are operatic traditions.

    • oedipe says:

      What an atrocious Roméo! Here is yet another singer who seems to think that in French opera the language, the phrasing, the intonation, the nuances are for the (French) birds, and that all it takes to please international audiences are the pp’s on high notes.

      • Rowna says:

        This was for a competition. I think you should give singers a break while they are trying out different repertoire and refining their language skills. No one comes out of the box a finished product.

        • manou says:

          No one comes out of the Parterre box an unscathed product.

        • oedipe says:

          His problems in this go beyond his language skills. But you are right about one thing: there are many “finished products” out there who sound just as bad in this rep.

    • kashania says:

      OK, he sounds much better here. Though I agree that there’s nothing French about his “Ah, leve toi soleil”.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

      The honorable cantor Rowna is far too kind.

  • MontyNostry says:

    I saw Rivero in Operalia back in 2006 and thought he had potential. His sound was a bit ‘ingolato’, but he was a proper Latin tenor and had an engaging personality. I am glad to see his has done OK for himself. I think he has been ‘fest’ at one of the German houses.
    Does anyone know what is the matter with Antonenko? It sounded like he had some shaky moments in the recent Met Norma. I hope it’s nothing serious, because that is a voice!

  • tannengrin says:

    I went to the Staatsoper website to see if that was a shot from the production (nope -- it’s not that kind of regie) but also noticed that the entire run is sold out. That’s impressive, non?

    • Walther von Holzhaufen says:

      Tannengrin, the Staatsoper currently performs in the Schiller Theater, which has only 990 seats. When big names like Netrebko are singing, the Staatsoper sells out very quickly after tickets go on sale.

      • Henry Holland says:

        It seems that Staatsoper unter den Linden building is set to reopen in 2015. I went to performances of Der Ferne Klang and Parsifal there, I loved the sound and how close to the stage I was (I was downstairs, near the back for both). Wasn’t so impressed with the Schiller the one time I went there a few years later, for La Traviata.

      • tannengrin says:

        merci monsieur -- I had forgotten about that. Here I was, thinking that opera had undergone some sort of miraculous resurgence in the public German eye.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    Vilar is back in jail and stinky Py is still on working

    • oedipe says:

      I am curious: what do you find objectionable in this excerpt, QPF?

      • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

        PY !

      • pobrediablo says:

        Everything from start to finish is objectionable. Not to mention that insipid mezzo who looks more like Mme. Larina than Amneris.

        • oedipe says:

          Why? It doesn’t respect the composer’s wishes?

        • Porgy Amor says:

          Is that Luciana D’Intino? (No cast info on the upload.) I have heard her give good performances in the past as Preziosilla, Eboli, and Laura, and in the Verdi Requiem. Of course she is an Italian mezzo, and in everything she sings, I will have my past favorites echoing in my ears. She must now be well into her 50s, so perhaps this is not the best singing she has done, but one could do worse.

          The wig and costuming do remind me a bit of a Pikovaya Dama Countess on the younger and more glamorous end of the scale. Maybe the one in the Lev Dodin production.

          • oedipe says:

            Yes, that’s D’Intino on a bad day. She was a very good Laura last season at the ONP. The blond wig is unflattering, but not any worse than the hairdo poor Zajick had to wear for the role at the Met.