Cher Public

Fresh princes

Imagine two tenors releasing French opera aria collections at the same time without duplicating a single track! And wasn’t I relieved that I wasn’t going to have to sit through an ad hoc francophile singing competition:  anything you can sing I can sing sweeter or higher or louder.

These two discs actually serve as almost perfect complements to each other since they show their performers in a flattering light, with both tenors offering skillful and distinctive interpretations of the arias included.

Piotr Beczala (The French Collection on Deutsche Grammophon) and Bryan Hymel (Héroique on Warner Classics) rose to prominence within just a few years of each other even though Mr. Hymel is 15 years younger than his more veteran colleague.

Beczala, a student of none other than the great Sena Jurinac. served his galley years in Linz beginning in 1992 but didn’t leap to a truly international career until 2004. He’s racked up an impressive number of performances at the Met starting from 2008 where his full lyric tenor has been enjoyed in many of the standard repertory showpieces like Lucia, Boheme, Rigoletto, a very lyric Prince in Dvorak’s Rusalka and a particularly heartfelt Lenski in Eugene Onegin.

Hymel, who’s matriculated through the better schools and young artists programs, has been showered with awards, began singing small roles with his hometown New Orleans Opera in 1998 and started the career international in 2007 making his Covent Garden debut as Don José in 2010. In 2012 he came to the rescue of, not one but, two major productions of Berlioz’s epic Les Troyens, first replacing Jonas Kaufmann at Covent Garden, who had been felled by infection, and then taking over at the Met after Marcello Giordani decided that the role of Eneé was no longer in his command. Covent Garden has continued to woo Mr. Hymel by mounting productions of Meyerbeer’s Robert le Diable and Verdi’s original Les Vêpres Siciliennes to showcase his formidable gifts.

Héroique is aptly titled, with concise liner notes invoking the names of every great tenor to ascend the French lyric stage starting with Adolphe Nourrit through Gilbert Duprez, Jean de Reszke, George Thill and finally Nicolai Gedda in the modern era. Hymel doesn’t suffer at all by the comparison, for his is surely the type of instrument great French 19th century composers would have appreciated. His youthful, lightly burnished tone and clarion top, wedded to old-school expansive phrasing, make every track on his recording a delight.

If you enjoy your tenors with extra high-notes, you’ve come to the right place, my friends. Hymel starts his recital off with a literal bang by capping his very fine interpretation of Rossini’s lung busting  “Asile héréditaire” from Guillaume Tell with a C above the staff that clocks in at exactly 10 seconds long. So spectacular is this note that it might have seemed mere vulgar display dad it not been preceded by his eloquent interpretation of the aria proper.  All is justly heroic in the context of the aria and certainly in the character of the vengeful Arnold.

He goes from strength to strength on the remaining tracks. An elegiac “Nature immense”  from the Berlioz Damnation de Faust is followed by arias from Verdi’s Jérusalem and Vêpres—  both a la francaise—revealing Mr. Hymel’s skills in the come-hither melismas of the first and the arching phrases of the second, both garnished with high C’s, naturally.

Gounod’s Le Reine de Saba and Massenet’s Herodiade also get a welcome dust off here with generous interpretations that once again found me, on the high notes, reaching for the stopwatch.  Along about “O Paradis” from Meyerbeer’s L’Africaine (given with a cabaletta you may not have known existed) Mr. Hymel actually eases off the accelerator a bit at the start of each new phrase and gives us a soupcon of tenderness that might perhaps have been lacking from the aforementioned selections.

The centerpiece of the recording is, of course, his performance of Enée’s great Act V scene from Les Troyens. If it doesn’t quite capture the frisson of either of his extraordinary live performances, he is certainly not to be faulted for that. In the recording studio he’s much more meticulous about dynamics and rhythmic whereas in the videos from Covent Garden and the Met, his voice takes a well-deserved victory lap.

Arias from Reyer’s Sigurd, Bruneau’s L’Attaque de moulin, and Rabaud’s Roland et le mauvais garcon complete the program. All three, surprisingly lovely, were obviously lying dormant awaiting the proper interpreter. The impassioned performances they receive here more than warrant their exhumation.

Emmanuel Villaume guides with a sure hand and sustains the excellent support of the PKF-Prague Philharmonia, whose playing is truly exciting at times. Thankfully, Warner Classics realized that performances of this caliber deserved to be placed in proper musical context and therefore employed the Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno to provide stirring backup.

If Beczala’s playlist errs on the side of traditional choices he more than makes up for them with the sensitivity and beauty of his performances. Liner notes once again invoking Jean de Reszke (Mr. Beczala’s Polish compatriot) and Bjorling and Gedda as modern stylistic examples.

They also talk frankly about the trouble he has had with the top of his voice, a hint of may be heard here. You can tell that he’s had to work for what he has more so than some whose gifts come easier to them. That said, there’s a wide range of technical skill evidenced in these performances. In fact we find a very welcome bit of voix mixte on display here, first in his Berlioz Damnation selection and then at the exquisitely unrushed climax to his Carmen Flower Song.  True, the bellows the top C in the Faust aria, but you can’t have everything.

Two Massenet selections launch the disc,Werther’s “Pourquoi me réveiller” and an ‘Ô Souverain’ from Le Cid of such imposing quality it left me farklempt. A second Berlioz selection, from Béatrice et Bénédict, finds him both conversational and playful.

The long lines of the Fontainbleau scene from Don Carlos seemingly test Beczala’s lyric limits but he does offer a very lovely trill in its closing cadenza. An extended scene from Boieldieu’s Le Dame blanche boasts some lovely downward cascades followed by graceful leaps above the staff. The exquisite piano reprise at the final coda tempt you to press the rewind button more than once.

Donizetti’s French work is represented by an unhurried, ardent “Ange si pur” from La Favorite and the “Ange céleste” from Dom Sébastien which finds him in the most robust voice of the entire recital.

The selections lack choral support,  though there’s  a star cameo appearance in the final track from Diana Damrau. They tear into the Manon “Toi! Vous!” to sensual and amorous effect.

Alain Altinoglu and the Ochestre de L’Opera National de Lyon who certainly know their way about these pieces and boast very supple playing with excellent transparency in the string sections.

The study of contrasts here is fascinating. I have to give Beczala the edge for his clean French diction—especially his é and â vowels, which find Mr. Hymel only “correct.”  It’s also interesting to hear Hymel striving for a masculine, mature sound throughout while Bezcala endeavors to preserve the youthful beauty in his tone. The cover art too is, frankly, an amusing study in contrasts: Beczala beaming with charm before the tricouleur while Hymel glowers in sepia gloom.

No fan of either of these great singers would possibly be disappointed with these performances and since they offer absolutely no overlap in their tracks you shouldn’t hesitate to add both to your collection.

  • Thanks for the great review. I don’t often buy arias albums but I think I’m going to buy the Hymel CD.

    • armerjacquino

      If you’ve not yet had the 30 day Google Play trial, it’s a great way to audition new albums. Both the Hymel and the Beczala albums are on there.

      • Thanks. I’ve never tried Google Play and will look into it.

    • BaronScarpia

      Bryan Hymel and Emmanuel Villoaume will be in Dallas this Spring, although not together: Brian Hymel sings Rodolfo in Boheme in March, and Villaume conducts Iolanta in April. Best time of year to be in North Texas.

  • Camille

    I am hoping there will be a revival of either La Damnation de Faust and/or Benvenuto Cellini with Hymel, sometime in the near future.

    Love Mr. Beczala. A beautiful sound, through and through. Can not wait to hear him sing the Riccardo/Gustavo in the spring!

    Thanks a lot PattyMack!

    • decotodd

      Camille,

      Are you hoping for revivals at the Met or elsewhere because I believe Hymel is alternating with Kaufmann in DAMNATION at Paris next fall.

      • Camille

        Why, thank you for the information.

        At the Met, because it is only a MetroCard away, whereas Paris is quite another thing. Since I did not attend La Damnation here, (due to some infelicitius casting), and because it has long been an unloved pup upon which I have lavished my affection, was kinda hoping for a revival of that thing they did a few years ago here in NYC. I wonder what else is going on in Paris at that time. Hmmmmmmm…thank you!

        • Damnation is at the same time, at the Paris Opera, as the Barbe-Bleue / Voix Humaine double bill. The other schedules aren’t out yet.

          • This is at Christmas-shopping time.

          • Camille

            Barbe-Bleue belongs to whom?
            Offenbach? Bartok? Dukas?
            S’il vous plaît…..

            • fletcher
            • Camille

              Merci.

              A better choice, La Void Humaine, perhaps, as companion piece to the Bartókian Guide to Marital Dysfunction.

            • manou

              Nature abhors a void.

            • Camille

              And there is many an abhorrent voix to make up for that void!

            • manou

              You have a way with voids.

            • A Void abhors Nature (and Parterre and, alas, m. croche).

            • manou

              Avoid!

            • Camille

              [VOID]

    • Camille

      O my heavens—just now listened to th Hymel Heroïque trailer above.
      Can not WAIT to hear him in GUILLAUME TELL at the MET. I can’t even believe he exists, this day in age. Bravo Bryan!!! Forza!

      • Camille

        compare “aux armes” in TELL to “all’armi” in TROVATORE.

        Yes, I know he cheats a little to set up the final C, but I don’t frankly give a damn. Anytime he sings Maneico I will be there.

        As far as him singing Puccini—why bother? There’s Fabiano to do that up right. Hymel is all about the higher part of the voice and his career should be devoted to roles that show that off in spades. Puccini veristic style is a completely different idiom, even if there is the occasional do acuto.

        As soon as I heard his first performance in Troyens, immediately went to second performance and then another, where he delivered and then DELIVERED the role in full and woke up a pretty otherwise soporific performance. Of course, he doesn’t have a big fat middle voice! The payoff is in his big, fat High Notes!! It is a little reedy sounding in the middle but nowhere near disagreeable to me, as that’s the price paid for that galvanizing top.

        If they brought back Les Huguenots from the airless tomb it exists in (axem, La Cieca), it should be for him. Snowball’s chance in hell, but I hope so.

        • Camille

          His Hymel’s Énée from the MET — “Inutiles regrets”, for illustration of topic of discussion:

          I wonder how it compares to the London production in which he substituted for Der Jonas?

  • alejandro

    I just heard the Hymel while I was working out and I think I nearly hurt myself on the deltoid machine after the first Vespres aria because I nearly collapsed from sheer joy. BRAVO!

  • zinka

    We are so lucky today to have so many wonderful tenors….BUT we need a Radames, an Otello, a Manrico…..

    • tiger1

      Jonas Kaufmann sang a good Manrico in Munich -- and will be, I think, very good as both Radames and Otello. With respect to Brian Hymel, I see no reason why he should not sing Manrico.

      • la vociaccia

        I see no reason why he should not sing Manrico

        He sounded very over-parted as Rodolfo, for one.

        • LT

          I agree and am always baffled by suggestions that he should sing big dramatic roles. I suspect he’s one of those voices that record much bigger than they are in reality.

          • One thing that’s not apparent in recordings or over the radio is that Hymel’s middle voice is rather small and colorless. He only has power and squillo above the staff. That’s wonderful if you need to sing the 16 high C’s or Arnold but not so much in 99% of the standard tenor repertoire.

        • armerjacquino

          I’ve never heard Hymel but he must be a truly baffling singer if he can have a huge success as Enee and be overparted as Rodolfo.

          • la vociaccia

            He was legitimately baffling. On recordings he sounded huge and baritonal, live the middle had little body or color. That was the real shock for me- everyone was going on about how heroic he sounded.

            As far as his successes as Enee; the higher tessitura favored him (I didn’t hear him live though). He had all of the high notes for Rodolfo but the middle writing just didn’t carry; I said it before but Hei-Kyung Hong (never regarded as a particularly big voice) completely covered him in duets.

            Some people have suggested that he belongs in high lying repertoire such as bel canto.

            • SilvestriWoman

              I heard him live a couple of months ago -- Percy in Lyric Opera’s Anna Bolena -- and he was glorious. Yes, it’s a freak voice. When he gets into the upper part of his voice, it’s truly his sweet spot. In fact, my only quibble was when he had to come down from a top note, it sometimes sounded like he had make an adjustment before coming down. Overall, though, it was wonderful. He looks good on stage and moves well. Most of all, he’s wonderfully musical. In fact, my favorite moments weren’t the high notes, but his limpid legato turns. The man understands nuanced phrasing. He and Radvanovsky were wonderfully matched.

      • tiger1

        OK, maybe I should rather say: I see no reason why Brian Hymel should not record Le Trouvère -- in the studio, naturellement…

  • Lucky Pierre

    Speaking of tenors, last night Alagna sounded pretty constricted and nasal, unpleasant even. He was not announced as being sick, so I’m assuming that’s how he sounds these days. It was not a particularly good evening. Ailyn Perez was lovely but she tended to oversing sometimes. Gabor Bretz needs a lot more French coaching.

    On the other hand, the Frasquita and Mercedes were pretty good (Talamantes and Costa-Jackson).

    • DeepSouthSenior

      “Speaking of tenors, last night Alagna sounded pretty constricted and nasal, unpleasant even.” Alagna was just saving himself for tomorrow night, when we will be there. (Ha!)

      • Lucky Pierre

        Have a good trip, DSS, and if you’re still looking for a suggestion for a meal, I suggest Won Dee Siam II, if you like Thai food. It’s a bit of a walk or short cab ride, on 9th Avenue around 52nd Street. Good food and reasonable prices.

    • armerjacquino

      Wait, something positive about Costa-Jackson? TAKE COVER EVERYBODY

      • Krunoslav

        No need. Mercedes exactly suits her level, like Lola. She was fine; though the Frasquita showed a better, leading role quality voice.

        Pierre, I am no kind of Alagna partisan, but he was indeed very impressive the night I heard him in this run he was a very solidly impressive Jose. i am sure it varies, but…

        I HAFF SPOKEN.

        • Lucky Pierre

          Kruno, see GM’s post below.

        • Camille

          Krunoslav SPRACH TREU!

          Exactly as I heard it as well, an unusually good and lively sounding Frasquita. I always love the pair of those Nasty Girls, for hey have all the fun and don’t die at the end!

          “Ah! Je suis veuve, et j’hérite!!!” is one of my favourite lines in the opera and this Frasquita grabbed her moment and did it up right.
          Brava la comprimaria.

          • armerjacquino

            have all the fun and don’t die at the end!

            Also, since the cards tell Carmen the truth, we can assume that Mercedes gets her young officer and Frasquita her fortune…

            • Camille

              Well, that reminds me of another thing: Don José stood and listened to and witnessed Carmen’s Card Song — that is something I do not recall having seen staged before in that manner, and as if he had been hypnotized or ensorcelé by the thought —right then and there conceiving the idea which bore the evil fruit of her slaughter. It was very interesting in that he somewhat overshadowed her in this scene, what with his intense absorption of what she was recounting.

              A lot of interesting touches. I wish I knew more of what the director’s concept was—-this is all very much after the fact as this production is now rather routine a d practised.

    • Orion

      Lucky Lucky Lucky … Are you kidding? I don’t know what you are trying to do when posting here such an unrealistic comment about Alagna’s performance, but your report is sooooo disconnected with what is heard and reported from the beginning of this Carmen’s run, and even since the beginning of Roberto Alagna’s season, that in fact I am quite concerned about your discernment. Maybe you had “not a particularly good evening” for personal reasons, I can admit, I don’t know, but with all my respect certainly not because of Alagna’s perf. I totally disagree with your appreciation and it’s easy to corroborate. Because last night, the performance was live broadcasted, I have listened to the streaming online and factually Roberto Alagna’s performance was just outstanding. Not at all nasal nor constricted of course.

      Everyone can fully replay it following this link :

      Have also a look to the reactions on TWITTER during the performance (and I precise, it is not a favourable “picking”):

      @TedLBlack: Well @roberto_alagna’s knocking it out of the park tonight. Fabulous.
      @ariadnesisland: Alagna, baby! Still got that b-flat! Nice!
      @Aspasia_1: They are sounding fiery and brilliant! ?#?Carmen?
      @thibopera: @roberto_alagna singing the flower song in #Carmen is the most beautiful thing I’ve seen this season at the @MetOpera. Go experience it NY!
      @MsMartha_writer: Always thought Bizet’s opera should be called DON JOSÉ -- he’s the one with all the drama. @roberto_alagna love Act 3 + 4 @METOrchestra
      @OperaChaser: It’s when Don José flagrantly fights for Carmen’s love that Alagna’s rendition truly ignites despite consistent, solid vocal form
      @natalydibartolo: Great @roberto_alagna , never Carmen listened before “Je t’aime! in that way!
      @DeborahJokinen: Enjoying a wonderful Carmen -- incredible “La Fleur” …@roberto_alagna
      @YannOllivier: @roberto_alagna : que ce soit à NY, Londres, Berlin ou Vienne, son Don José est toujours aussi époustouflant #carmen
      @ellenchristine: @roberto_alagna ?#?Fleur? was the best I’ve ever heard you sing it! ?#?Carmen5? @MetOpera
      @jazz2midnight: Fabulous!! “@MetOpera
      @Aspasia_1: Full passionate performances beginning 2 end! #Carmen
      @tennismeister28: @roberto_alagna smoking hot!
      @mariachikivzla: #Carmen en el @MetOpera con @elinagaranca y @roberto_alagna YAA!!! =DDDDDD
      @PamTikilin: Bravo! Superb Carmen
      @hugh_ What a great cast…
      @jacquelinecatha: Extraordinaire

      To people who are reading Lucky’s appreciation, please also have a look on these homemade videos below and you could judge by yourself.

      Do you really think that a tenor who would not be in high vocal form and which voice would sound constricted, could sing the end of Act II like that, performing two long and forceful high C on “la liberté” ? (go directly to 8’33 in the first video)

      End of Act II:

      Act I Duet with Micaëla :

      Act II “La fleur que tu m’avais jetée”:

      Act III

      Act IV Final:

      Sorry for my long post about Roberto Alagna in a section dedicated to an other tenor but I am a bit surprised of the unfair report…

      And “speaking about tenors”, my opinion is precisely that Roberto Alagna is currently among the very best, most regular and complete performer in his category. In the studio he is also proposing very interesting things with his recently released new album, “my life is an opera”, maybe Parterre Box will also review it, one day. And congrats to Piotr Beczala and Brian Hymel for their very good records (y).

      • la vociaccia

        or….he’s stating his opinion, and you’re upset because it hurt your feelings

        • Orion

          Really Vocia I have no problem wih the fact that Lucky’s gives his feelings, or even his tastes, but yes I admit I am suprised because some appreciation such as constricted and nasal voice, bad evening at the met last night, can be factually observed. It’s not a question of feeling. Sorry I clearly didn’t want to be polemic, probably Lucky had an unpleasant evening but I simply wrote it’s far from what we heard and read and I would like to propose the streaming and excepts available online, for people who would like to make their own judgment.

      • OOOH, someone worked your last good nerve.

      • marshiemarkII

        Yes Orion, the night that I saw Carmen, Alagna was astonishing in almost every way, the sound sturdy and strong and fabulously projected, the tone beautiful, and the phrasing and French style impeccable!!! it was a night for the ages, and with glorious Garanca and a wonderful Perez, an unforgettable evening for this old curmudgeon that hardly anything pleases these days.

        • Milady DeWinter

          I thought that Alagna was in good form as well -- at least that’s what I hear over Sirius. The voice seemed to be placed quite high (perhaps the source of the nasal plaint) and the mass has gotten a smidge more shallow, but he’s always makes interesting musical choices, and of course, is an expert in French style and has no lack or passion or demented. Garanca impressed me more during and after the Card Song, finishing very strongly -- but that’s where most Carmens start to really show their stuff. Amazing how hard it is to really pull off an outstanding Habenara or Seguidilla. Her mocking Act II “Ta-ra-ta-ta” bugle imitations, like Neil Patrick Harris’s “Oscar predictions lockbox” gag, went on too long. Mr. Bretz had no more or less luck with Escamillo than most, but I agree -- the French was weird. Costa Jackson and Talamantes were indeed very good coevals. Ms. Perez has an interesting, lovely timbre but pushes too much and needs work on floating a pianissimo.

          Oh, btw, Mr. Alagna’s crazy Act II closer high C (La liberte!) was a demerit -- not taking the note itself, which wasn’t a bad note per se, but it was about 8 measures too early.

          • Orion

            Nice to read your appreciation Milady. Regarding the High C, perhaps you have this feeling because you are not used to hear this variation with F# C C, with a High C on “ber” instead of a G, but Roberto Alagna is not taking the note too early. 8 measures it is not possible, “liber” is contained in one single measure, and “té” in the following, look at the original score (the High Cs are not written by Bizet but traditionally sung by some tenors as Alagna):

            httpv://postimg.org/image/5ac0mfp0r/

            • Orion

            • Milady DeWinter

              Yes, I was exaggerating, Orion; I know 8 measures is not possible. Still, I wish he would have taken the C on “te” -- it sort of threw the musical shape of the ensemble out of whack. Believe me, I am a big fan of high notes, interpolated or as options, or just ’cause.
              And btw, I also give points to Ms. Garanca for throwing that B-flat into the middle of the Seguidilla- not many mezzos (or sopranos) do that variant -- well done.

            • Orion

              ok for the joke :) You mean you would have preferred him to sing G on “Ber” and High C on “Té”, so it’s not a question of tempo. Given that Bizet has not written any High C for the tenor in this passage, both are options. G / C or C / C. You are not fan of this one, fine. I find it’s nice, and not specially out of whack, rather well expressing the great exaltation of Don José at this moment when he decides to put his life off track. A climax for an “upside-down” call of freedom.

              Thanks for highlighting Elina Garanca’s variant, interesting.

            • The “G-C” approach I think is more musical since doesn’t introduce the tonic note C until the downbeat of the coda, that is, after the resolution. It also seems an easier approach. (Essentially he takes the Frasquita/Mercedes line.)

              That high C is very impressive, though I will say it is more so if the tenor doesn’t jump the gun.

          • Orion

            Sorry it doesn’t work the picture … The adress is here : http://postimg.org/image/5ac0mfp0r/

            heberger image

            • Milady DeWinter

              Oui, c’est la ou l’on met le ut- au moins, a mon avis.
              Nevertheless, Alagna is a real etoile no matter where he puts the C.

            • Camille

              BobbyBaby’s big bisou of a C,

              [Which I meant to post on Valentine’s Day and was too busy to do so—so, better late than niemals:]

            • Cicciabella

              That must be a Picasso portrait of Angela.

            • Camille

              Neck isn’t long enough to be a Modigliani, so, you win!

              I am just addicted to this song now—-

              C’est magnifique!!! ooh lalala!
              {smooch, smooch}

            • DellaCasaFan

              Here’s more light-hearted and charming Roberto Alagna. “La luna mezzo mari” and some excellent spaghetti cooking:

          • Lucky Pierre

            My comment about Talamantes and Costa-Jackson was because I’m used to hear over-the-hill, shrill mezzos cast in those roles, and I was surprised at Talamantes’ bright, silvery, high soprano (a Pamina-type voice) in this role. I have liked Costa-Jackson in the small parts I have heard her so far (in the Moise et Pharaon concert, and I think, as Lola).

            • tiger1

              Lucky, I wonder where you go to the opera if you normally hear “shrill mezzos” cast as Frasquita. I have only ever heard Frasquita sung by sopranos -- and more often than not fairly young ones.

            • Lucky Pierre

              My memory from a previous performance was that both of Carmen’s friends were mezzos, but I don’t know the score.

            • tiger1

              Frasquita is a soprano -- quite high in the ensembles, including quite a beautiful line in different beat the the other four singers in the quintet, and several Cs. Sometimes (but seldom these days) Frasquita sings the (lower) lines about the romantic lover in the card trio and Mercedes the (higher) lines about the old rich guy, giving Mercedes (in that case) a sustained high A (which can then be squally….).

            • Arianna a Nasso

              Frasquita and Mercedes are both written as sopranos, and they appear above Carmen’s vocal line in the score. It’s common to cast Mercedes as a mezzo, and when that happens, several of the lines are flipped so Mercedes has the majority of the lower ones, rather than alternate those lower lines between the two characters.

            • Quanto Painy Fakor

              The problem originated in Bizet’s manuscript for the opera. In general, he wrote Mercedes’ part ABOVE the staff he assigned for Frasquità and later those assignments were switched. The original version is quite clear in the manuscript. See for yourself:
              http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b74001340

        • mia apulia

          after having read so much negative comment about Garanca in this role I am quite happy to hear and see it here--does it play differently in the house? or is she getting more into the role than she was earlier on in the run?

        • Camille

          …” the night that I saw Carmen, Alagna was astonishing in almost every way, the sound sturdy and strong and fabulously projected, the tone beautiful, and the phrasing and French style impeccable!!! “

          I hope you do not mind me quoting you, MMII, as I feel you have expressed it rather perfectly in so far as how I felt about last night’s performance of Carmen. Since first hearing Alagna, over fifteen years ago, I have never, ever heard him sing this well and I suspect the ‘nasality’ of his singing which Lucky Pierre complains of is merely the proper placement of the sound à la française, which one SELDOM hears anymore, especially at the MET. It was a remarkable performance by any standard and even more so considering him as a man of age 51, I think, approximately the same age as Marcello Giordani, who is clearly in an unfortunate decline.

          All I can say about BobbyBaby is that what Monsieur œdipe has always maintained about his ligne de chant and style in French opera is absolutely correct and harkens back to the greats, e.g., Vanzo and all those before him. Had I the time and Euros, I would pick up my tent and report to the Paris Opera to hear him in the upcoming Le Cide and Roi Arthus, which I am hoping there will be a considerable amount of reportage on coming out from Paris.

          There was no diminuendo on “La fleur que tu m’avais jetée” is about the only thing I could quibble about but there was a dolce pianissimo in a voix de tote at the end of the duet with Michaela, which was heaven.

          Ms Pérez is best summed up in one word: adorable. Many kudos to her and hopes for her continued success and presence at the MET. The role I would just love to see her in and for which there is fat chance, would be that of Suzel, in L’Amico Fritz. Her quality of voice is a little unusual as there is a sort of wine-coloured hue to it, which I find quite interesting and different from the usual bright coloured generic lyric.

          Ms Garan?a, the raison-d’être for my attendance, is a most splendid and capable singer, which is universally recognized, and as seen in this physically demanding production, a formidable performer. As Monsieur Camille noted, however, “She looks like the captain of the Latvian ladies lacrosse team!”. She never suggested the character of Carmen, as described in the novella or anywhere else on planet earth, for one moment to me. I kept looking at the stage and seeing her as an imperious Dalila, which is thankfully coming up in a few seasons. Or her wonderful Giovanna Seymour, my reason for purchasing the Wiener Anna Bolena. Or as Charlotte, which I think is perfect for her, and which DVD I certainly should purchase now I know of it, and of course, her Oktavian, which Unser Bill has reported to be just nigh unto perfekt. She was so wonderful as Sesto and I had looked forward to finally hearing her in the house, so it was a rather mixed platter for me. Yes, I got to ‘hear’ her, and as a totally radical “Konzept” style Carmen, well okay then, but all I could do is imagine the Dalila, or Eboli to come. Or my impossible dream, Léonor de Guzman with Bryan Hymel as Fernande in La Favorite, a whole new production, done up in Grand Style.

          Once again to reiterate about Roberto Alagna~~~~all I can say is that the sounds Alagna makes singing in French opera were the first time I had heard French opera sung en français in ages, and so, am therefore extremely grateful for having had the experience.

          Forza Monsieur œdipe!

          • Camille

            sorry, Mme manou, voix de tête!

            Autocorrect is an EVIL DING!

          • marshiemarkII

            Well my darling CammiB, of course I honored that you chose to quote me, but I stand by every word I said and I am so glad that you agree. He is probably the best tenor around today, and I don’t mean that as a backhanded complement either, he is all but perfect and as Don Jose he is seared in my memory for many years to come. To think I only had seen Coca C before, first opera ever with Resnik when he was probably already 30 but now would claim 24 :-) and then the 8 performances with La Yelena La O in 1978, so I can say I have finally heard the AUTHENTIC article, at this late age :-)
            Everything you say I am in agreement with, he also didn’t take the diminuendo, on my night, at the end of La Fleur, but he was also ravishing in the first act duet! indeed, ravishing!!!!!!!!! your word but now also mine. And the projection to every corner of the huge auditorium. The voice is of course not Vickers-sized, yet it feels so immediate and in your ear, as it were, completely satisfying in every way. I just read some who claimed, on Feb 9th, he sounded “tired”. Are they nuts?!?!?!?!?!!? that’s the night I saw, and both were MAGNIFICENT!

            I also want to commend Orion, he is so knowledgeable, reminds me of carisssimo Cocky K (Wo bist du liebster?!), in that I learned a thing or two about Carmen, and I consider that parterre at its best! why the hostility from some posters? just because he really loves his boy? I think there should be more of him, he could be MarshieMarkIII :lol:

            • marshiemarkII

              Oh CammiB, I assume last night he also took the much discussed C at the end of Act II? how was it? I must say, when I saw it was so disconcerting I almost didn’t quite pay attention as I was wondering if she would do it La Yelena La O-style, and instead I hear the other two girls go up, and nothing from Carmencita, and suddenly this huge thing from him, it was quite the coup de theatre for me, as it was so unexpected, and the sound so firm and well produced. Amazing, but of course I loved more than anything for that divine duet in the first act and the devastating last act. He is the real thing, and a treasure to have amongst us!

            • Camille

              Gracias, and I am glad you didn’t mind as I usually don’t like picking out someone’s phrases but it summed up things better than I could.

              The word “amazing” has been ruined forever for me “amaze balls” “Awesome” with its “awesome sauce”, so astonishing did very well.

              Now, mind you, my experience of hearing Alagna live are few and heretofore nothing as good as this one. Even heard him in that so-called “Gala” of 2009, sing the final scene from Carmen with die Waltraud, and, perhaps it was not a moment when he could really bring it, in that truncated fashion, but I got very little of what was given last night.

              Also, a big Bravi! to both Alagna and Garan?a for the amount of falling down and tussling they did in the final duet! How they managed all that AND to sing as well as they did is just mind boggling and a real tour de force. It certainly did pay off in making its point about love-hate-love and how hard it is to kill the thing you love. The final turn of the set with the arena and the matador triumphant with his slain animal — sort of stagey and gimmicky effective, but was it necessary? Carmen was a wilde beast that had to be slain; we all knew that.

              Ciao MMII!!!! Good luck to your girl in her upcoming performances!

            • Camille

              Oh yes, he did take an utterly indeterminate pitch on the “ber-“, and a short, quick C on the “té!”, but cut it off right away, thank g-d! To tell the truth, it was the first I had ever heard this done and am now wondering if it is some type of tradition in the French opera-comique tradition or just a wild hair up his —?

              The duet with Micaëla, a childhood favorite of mine and one of my very oldest opera friends, was so beautiful it made me blink. I simply could not believe I was hearing anything like it in the theatre and it was so touching, his rapport with Micaela, that it made his betrayal of her, home y madrecita that much more tragic.

              I don’t know, Marshie, as I have been chewing on this one all day long as it has been a long, long time since I experienced in the theatre such a comparable aural satisfaction. I get slapped in the side of the head so much of the time and it gave me such a feeling of comfort and happiness to know that the ideal of singing for which I persist in my attendance, can sometimes still be encountered.
              Once more, I must reiterate that Our Own Monsieur œdipe has been correct in all his pronouncements regarding Alagna.

              Muy buenos días a Vd.!!

          • marshiemarkII

            CammiB you took some words, I took “ravishing” and now I have to use somewhere, “the beast that had to be slain” uuuuuhhhhh that is some phrase, brilliant!!!!
            yes thought the same thing, was the bull necessary, but all that RED was divine, it is my favorite color after all
            [Having a terrible time with the red salon, had to fix some imperfections, and now the new color doesn’t match the old color, ugggggh I am seeing REDDDDDDDDDDDD :lol:]

            By the way, our boy Nimrod Pfeffer, whom you met, is playing the Beethoven No 4 (along with the Pastorale Symphony) at the Lutheran Park Avenue Church, amazing acoustics!!!!

            • marshiemarkII

              CammiB, two birds of a feather, my first opera ever was Carmen with Resnik and Coca Cola. I was 11 years old and already a fierce opera queen! imagine, and when I heard that Parlez moi de ma mere, I started sobbing, and every time I hear it it reaches to the deepest corners, it is really divine music, isn’t it?!?!?! that and the card scene are my favorites parts of Carmen, then everything else!

              By the way, last night on CAS they played Gladys Swarthout’s Gypsy Song, and I remembered she is much talked about around here. She was unbelievable!!!! the chest register is so gorgeous, and so integrated with the rest of the beautiful voice, amazing!!! I must get to know more of her! Simply fabulous singing!

            • Camille

              Oh yes, my parents got to hear Swarthout in their college days and invariably referred to her as “Happy Bottom”! I can never think of her otherwise.

              For some persnickety reason she wasn’t their cuppa tea but I think she is fine, in the few bits I’ve heard her in.

      • aulus agerius

        Wow! That last scene is incredible -- after jerking me around it actually even drew a tear from me (when he put the ring back on). Probably the best I’ve ever seen, certainly beating JK all over the place.

        It’s a wonder to me such a video exists made surreptitiously from somewhere in the house -- the balcony? What a world we live in; it seems only a short while ago that the Saturday broadcasts were eagerly awaited each week as basically the only thing we had.

        • LT

          Alagna has an army of fans armed with camera phones. If your fave happens to sing with him, you know there will be a full video uploaded soon thereafter.

      • Lucky Pierre

        Wow. There’s some obsessive, insane Alagna queen here to keep company to the insane Giordani queens. Since I was there the other night and you weren’t, maybe your discernment is the issue here. Exhibit A: your whole obsessive post above.

        I’m not an Alagna expert, I don’t follow him around. All I know is, from what I heard of him before, he certainly doesn’t sound as good as he did when he was younger (understandably). What I heard this week was some wear and tear in the basic tone, a lack of ductility, and what seemed like lots of phlegm/mucus in his pipes. Certainly the top was quite free but I’m not a squillo queen. High notes alone don’t make for a satisfying evening. And maybe I just don’t like the excessive vinegary tone of his. But don’t tell me what a great performance he gave centuries ago, because that’s not what we are discussing here.

        • Gualtier M

          Poison Ivy saw the opening night on February 6th and was blown away by both Garanca and Alagna. I had a very experience older friend who went on Monday night and felt that both Elina and Bobby sounded tired and old. Both had the notes (including some added and unmusical high C’s from the tenor) but the sound wasn’t fresh or sweet. So shall we say that their performances have been variable over the run and leave it there?

        • Pierre, you’re right on the edge of personal attack, and a quick review of your comment history shows it’s hardly the first time.

          Keep it civil, please.

          • Lucky Pierre

            Excuse me, but I think i’m keeping it very restrained… Besides, I have not been here for many years. I have seen much worse comments here that didn’t even merit any admonishment. For example, Poison’s nasty attacks on me because I dared disagree with her. Why is she allowed to be a total bitch?

      • tiger1

        My god, that first high C is unmusical -- and holding the second one long after everyone else has stopped, also EXTREMELY unmusical and in bad taste. But maybe the audience liked it. Would not think, though, that a singer as successful as Mr Alagna would need to stoop to such trip “bonisolli-like” tricks.

      • ducadiposa

        I had intended to listen to this at it was part of the MET’s free online transmissions…and then promptly forgot. I was especially interested as the MET’s schedule listed Hei Kyung Hong as the Michaela and I was curious to hear how she’d do. According to these videos, Perez sang the role on Monday. Anyone know what happened as to why Hong didn’t sing?

    • Orion

      Insane Alagna queen ? Obsessive post ? I don’t believe I have been impolite in my answer Lucky. Once again, I was surprised, right, but it was not my intention to attack you personally. I even admitted it’s possible you had personally a bad experience last night, but I maintain it’s unfair to report that it was a poor performance, whereas there is so many concrete feedback and recordings showing obviously it was a great one. Mr. Alagna is not your cup of tea, well, but I believe it’s not obsessive insanity to post the videos and recording of the performance, and also the audience’s reactions posted in live via Twitter.

      Secondly, where did I tell you about his performances centuries ago please? You are talking about his voice “these days”. That’s why I added “even since the beginning of his season”, that’s all. And otherwise, I am talking about this current run of Carmen of course. No need to tell about years ago really :)

      You attended the perf last night, I listened to the streaming online, watched the videos on youtube. And I also attended the perf live at the MET on 9th. Is it enough to report also? Where do you hear a lack of ductibility or “lots of mucus in his pipes?” The streaming is online. Tell us, at which moments?

      Anyway let’s argue, it’s more interesting.
      About the High Cs: I agree, high notes alone don’t make for a satisfying evening. It was not my point. I mentioned it only to argue against your first comment: a tenor whose voice is constricted can’t sing top notes like that, that’s a fact. As regards the whole performance, if you think my opinion doesn’t matter because I am an insane Alagna queen, read the comments of some other participants here. Or on social networks. Or reviewers’ papers, for instance ‘The Observer’ reporting on last Monday’s performance (9th) : “To be sure, anyone would have trouble rivaling the intensity of Roberto Alagna as Carmen’s jealous lover Don José. Now into his 50s, the tenor has developed into a truly outstanding singing actor, and, what’s more, his vocalism is sounding more secure and easy than it has for years. The voice is bright and tangy, solidly in tune and confident in a broad range of dynamics from floated pianissimo head tones to a clarion high C that brought down the second-act curtain.”

      Talking about Mr. Alagna, some of you are saying that adding unwritten top notes is a “trick”. But in the CDs reviewed above, do you really believe that there are not added top notes compared to the scores? There are plenty of added top notes, and these variants are brilliant. In a live show it’s even more true. Some of them are now fully part of the tradition and tenors are even badly criticized if they don’t perform it. Roberto Alagna has ALWAYS sung a High C at the end of Act II in Carmen … The discussion turns around the double High C, and the fact that he kept it a long time. Ok let’s discuss (please be sure there is not any personal attack in my words).

      Bizet didn’t write any High C on “la liberté”, so we all agree that reaching a Top C here is an option, quite impressive for the audience, and expressing the exaltation of Don José at this climax moment of the work. This option is free, so I don’t think we can say “the right place to take the Ut is on the last syllable”. It’s a choice, and La Cieca is right, not the easiest, as it’s easier for the tenor to follow the line of Fraquista and Mercedes G-C. I don’t think neither it is unmusical. At the contrary!

      Look why: at the end of Escamillo’s aria, you can find exactly the same musical structure in the final sentence “l’amour t’attend”. And Bizet has written here a double top notes for the baritone: F-F. Look at the previous measures. It’s just the same musical structure in the both sentences “l’amour t’attend” and “la liberté”. Thus when the tenor sings C-C he is for sure in line with Bizet’s style. Maybe you find it unmusical only because you are not used to hear this variant here. But I have some difficulty to understand why when the baritone sings it at the end of his aria, it’s musical, and when the tenor sings it, it would be “extremely unmusical”. It’s exactly the same interval transposed in the tenor’s tessitura.

      Hear Mr. Hvorotowski e.g. (here in a concert)

      And moreover you can find the same variant in other works, not unmusical at all. For instance:

      Il Trovatore, the famous “Allarmi” in “Di quella pira”. We find the same interval G-C-C.

      And a third example: Romeo et Juliette by Gounod, in “O jour de deuil”, the final sentence “je mourrai mais je veux la re-voir”, some tenors are adding the same variant G-C-C, it’s exactly the same and I don’t think it’s unmusical.

      Hear at 3’10 in this recording of Agusterello Affré:

      Or also sung by Alain Vanzo at 1h28’45:

      Finally, I read that one of you had one experienced old friend who found Mr. Alagna and Ms. Garanca “tired and old” on 9th February. I disagree also and I was there. There are also videos on youtube, you can check the freshness and vitality of both singers:

      • bluecabochon

        If Lucky Pierre is on the edge of a personal attack, please tell me what Orion is on the edge of?

        For Orion to suggest upthread that LP was having a bad evening for personal reasons as the reason for his not rupturing himself with praise for what he heard LIVE is presumptuous, to say the least. I listened last evening on the internet and while I am a huge fan of Roberto’s noted some pitch issues as well as the regrettable High C. That doesn’t mean that I admire him any less or that (shock) my opinion has no merit. He has always been a wonderfully engaging performer, even when he came ill-prepared for that OONY concert a few years ago and got lost in the middle of it.

        • Orion

          Sorry bluecabochon, you are diverting my comment. It was at the contrary respectful for me not to deny that LP could have a bad experience last night. Sometimes when you are not in a good mood, or for personal concerns, you don’t enjoy a performance, however pleasant or successful it could be for most of the audience. It is not a personal attack. I am serious when I say I was very surprised to read “constricted and nasal voice”, and LP suggesting Mr. Alagna could be ill and badly perform, and that it is his current poor form. No question to rupture with praise. Other contributors here are discussing more constructively! I attended one of the performance LIVE also, and I am referring to the streaming of last night like you, and added the full videos taped during the performance. What’s wrong with that? Often I have the feeling that when we appreciate Mr. Alagna’s job, we only have to shut up … Is there only place for critics here?

          About the High C please read my comments above. My opinion is that it is not regrettable or bad taste at all.

          And finally I am not allowed to mention the “great performances he had centuries ago” but you, you are refering to an presumed “ill-prepared concert a few years ago where he got list in the middle” ?? I suggest you to check a little more precisely what really happened. You could be surprised.

          Mr Alagna was right to stop the orchestra as THE CONDUCTOR WAS LOST, conducting without a score. There was no way to recover after 5 bars without sync. Fortunately we have the proof with this video posted by a musician:

          • Camille

            This is quite interesting to review.

            Yes, Alagna was absolutely not only correct to stop the maestro at that point but, in doing so, probably prevented him from creating an absolute catastrophe in certain of the upcoming climactic passages in the Improvviso.
            And, he did so in a most decorous and respectful manner as well.

            Bravo, BobbyBaby!

            • Quanto Painy Fakor

              Well, if that was the actual performance it is most unfortunate, but I disagree with the author of the Youtube captions. The orchestra is plain sloppy. Their indivudual parts have the textual cues to help follow in passages like this and sometimes experienced players adjust accordingly, even if the conductor has shot himself in the foot. Veronesi was a real Klutz here and I felt badly for him. In his defense, he has conducted much more complicated scores. A well-rehearsed group of players could have compensated for this blooper, but they didn’t. Worse things have happened. The real pity is that Veronesi put a lot of his own funding, or funding he personally generated behind this. An extra rehearsal would have been helpful, assuming that the same players would even show up for the performance.

              The next chapter will be to see if the planned Rudel Gala goes off without a hitch. (Stay tuned, news with verbs at 11.)

            • Camille

              Ciao Maestro QPF—I remembered that uou had something to say about this contretemps back when it happened and went looking for it, so without further ado, here it is as it was:

              Quanto Painy Fakor says:
              No! It could have been fixed on the fly without the embarassing and unprofessional train wreck. Rehearsal number 33 was the logical place to begin again (as they did). The measure of “ciel” marks the start of a transposition that was not taken and I think this was not properly explained to the orchestra because there’s still something wrong with the chord on beat 3 under the syllable ‘tar” — which should have been cleaned up in the parts in rehearsal. Very awkward indeed. But I’ve heard much worse.

              on January 9, 2013 at 11:48 AM
              Quanto Painy Fakor says:
              Watched it again and the video description of what happened is correct except for the spealling of “beat” not “bit”. It’s all very bandista from the podium. Alagna even tried to fix it, but it was dead on arrival.

              on January 9, 2013 at 11:53 AM
              oedipe says:
              It’s interesting that everybody assumed right away that it must have been Bobby’s fault, without a doubt. Had the same situation happened to Kaufmann, everybody would have instantly blamed the conductor…

              on January 9, 2013 at 12:49 PM
              Quanto Painy Fakor says:
              but the conductor never should have let it happen in the first place!

              Guest appearance by Monsieur œdipe.

        • If bluecabochon wants to serve as moderator of an opera blog, please tell her she should start her own.

          • bluecabochon

            I am am glad that this video seems to clear things up. At the end of the evening Alagna apologized to the audience, which made it seem as if he was at fault, not Veronese. And he had his eyes glued to the score all night, unlike the other singers. Easy to surmise from the house that he was not as assured as he might have been.

            Orion, thank you for proving my other point so beautifully. There is nothing I need to add at all, ever again!

            Way to go, LaCieca. Don’t explain, why should you? Lucky Pierre was quite restrained, unlike Mr/Ms Orion/Team Alagna.

            • Gualtier M

              Wasn’t there also a problem with the keys? Didn’t Alagna come in at the wrong pitch? Also, Alagna was musically a disaster all night -- I was there at that “Chenier” and he even forgot that he had to sing over the ensemble in Act II and never made it onstage to sing his part.

              He fell completely apart in the final duet. He got a very golf clap ovation at the end which hurt him but which he entirely deserved. The OONY audience is very informed and cognoscenti and they knew what they were getting from him. They didn’t care that he was a star -- he wasn’t booed which he would have been in Italy. He simply didn’t know the role.

              Also, from what I know about Veronesi -- his father is a doctor and pharmaceutical multi-millionaire who has funded several of his son’s projects. Supposedly, OONY was banking on Veronesi Sr. to provide huge amounts of funding but Daddy Drugbucks was tired of forking out millions to his son’s career. So the necessary denaro never came OONY’s way. Their fundraising is nonexistent. It seems that Veronesi is out of the picture and this season will consist only of a concert on May 17th at 7:30 p.m. at the Rose Theater at Columbus Circle. It will be conducted by the octagenarian Mo. Queler and will be a retrospective of her career.

              When Queler eventually stops, I think the organization will fold especially since Veronesi was supposed to be the one who was to take it forward into the future.

            • Orion

              “Unlike Mr/Ms Orion/Team Alagna” you’re funny :)Thus, according to you Bluecabochon, providing detailed comments/answers on this forum means to be disrespectful or “not restrained” … It’s an odd view. I am sorry but the one who is repeatedly personally attacked here, I fear it’s me :) I also answer to Mr. Gualtier in one single comment.

              Starting with explaining why Carmen was far to be a bad performance on 23rd Feb, demonstrating that Mr. Alagna’s current vocal form is rather highly appreciated these days, bringing also the recordings of the performance dated 9th Feb to let everyone judge if (as someone reported to someone else who reports it here…) Elina and Roberto really sound “tired and old” , arguing why the variant on the double High C that Mr. Alagna has chosen to perform in Act II could be not only nice and impressive, but even very relevant in Bizet’s style and so on, … we are now obliged to go back no less than 2 years ago, when, one night, during a concert, Mr. Alagna was allegedly lost, whereas it’s obvious that the conductor was … I am not sure to understand the link with the core of our discussion above (quality of his voice, alleged mucus in the pipe, high Cs and so on), but ok let’s go …

              You know, I hope some of you are not only showing their deep desire to depreciate Mr. Alagna by all means… But apparently it’s not so easy, … I must say that Oedipe’s comment is certainly true, unfortunately.

              Anyway, may I friendly add some comments?

              Fisrt, it was not possible to compensate the desynchronization the conductor provoked at this moment. Camille reported a discussion posted at that time, interesting to read. QFF double checked: “Watched it again and the video description of what happened is correct except for the spealling of “beat” not “bit”. It’s all very bandista from the podium. Alagna even tried to fix it, but it was dead on arrival.”

              Secondly, Mr. Alagna’s attitude (the presumed “apologizes” you are pointing as a proof of his fault, and not Veronese), only proves he is a passionate artist, always very involved in his performance, respectful with the works, the audience, his partners and the maestro, and perhaps … a little more noble and gallant? Look at the video below Bluecabochon, you will understand Mr. Alagna didn’t give apologizes to the audience for the disruption.

              Thirdly, Roberto Alagna read his score like his colleagues, as it is traditionally done in a concert version (all the more for a role debut). It is a common practice, and in fact, in my opinion, it’s even a mark of professionalism and consideration for the audience. Fortunately, for this concert, he had the score to remind the conductor (maybe very self-assured but … completely wrong) what he had to do! The maestro was happy to have a look on it to understand he started two bars too early.

              Now regarding Mr. Gualtier question: no, there wasn’t “also any problem with the keys” and Alagna didn’t “come in at the wrong pitch”. You can download the score, listen to the recording, check with a diapason …

              You say you attended the performance, but it’s strange, according to you “He got a very golf clap ovation at the end which hurt him but which he entirely deserved. The OONY audience is very informed and cognoscenti and they knew what they were getting from him. They didn’t care that he was a star — he wasn’t booed which he would have been in Italy”.

              This is not a personal attack, but I really wonder why exactly you are reporting false information about Roberto Alagna on this forum? Is it the same thing with your old friend saying Roberto and Elina sound tired, unfresh and so on? Despite all the buzz created afterwards by the gossip news wrongly rushing on Alagna’s alleged fault in the disruption, he had a great triumph that night and got a standing ovation! He was warmly cheered by the OONY audience, which is indeed made up connoisseurs. The video of the curtain call is on Youtube, everyone can hear he was applauded long and loud. We can hear the “bravi”, see the people happy, standing up. Is it really “a golf (?) clap ovation which hurt him but which he entirely deserved”? “He wasn’t booed as he would have been in Italy?” I fear you are discrediting yourself.

              Perhaps it’s time to stop the agressive sensationalism with “the star” as you call him, and go back to music. You are also writing Alagna was “a musical disaster”. Once again I disagree and I let readers check that the great moments of the work have even not been affected by his fatigue (Mr. Alagna was ill that night).

              Please hear here:

              Or here:

              The recordings show these passages were sung with an easy voice and without any special hesitation.

              To conclude, if we can return to Carmen at the Met now, I just see a fresh review was released on Opera-Online.com, about the 23rd Feb performance. I paste here an extract (translated into English for your convenience)to share with you this additional appreciation:

              “In terms of “projection”, Alagna is one of the most powerful voices nowadays. But if his vocal intensity is impressive, it is the constant clearness of his diction and the infailing precision of his fortissimo which raise his art to a level of extreme rarity. Most notable is that he manages to make you completely forget his vocal technique. What we perceive is not Alagna’s singing, nor even the music: it’s simply Don José, who speaks directly to you through the invisible screen of a lyric tenor. His interpretation of the character was absolutely stupendous. His performance in “La fleur que tu m’avais jetée” was overhelming, as his first duet with Ailyn Perez (Micaëla) “Ma mère, je la vois” […] Both artists [Elina Garanca and Roberto Alagna] gave generously their absolute best that night. We left the show with a feeling of happiness and the impression we experienced a moment of perfection as rare as ephemeral.” (Thibaut Courtois 26/02/2015)

            • manou

              Pas la peine de vous faire du mouron, Orion. Vos efforts ne seront pas nécessairement appréciés, malgré tout le mal que vous vous donnez.

              Votre loyauté vous fait honneur.

            • oedipe

              Orion,

              A piece of advice: Laissez tomber!

              You can only convince people of things they already believe.

              Mr.Gualtier is allergic to Alagna; and Lucky “Matos-best-singer-in-the-world” Pierre made a rare guest appearance on Parterre just to say that Alagna is in bad vocal shape. (The performance videos are a good thing, BTW.)

              People have agendas (just wait for next week’s performances of Carmen). The haters will hate. What do you expect to achieve? You are preaching in the desert! You are wasting your time and energy!

              And now I am outa here!

            • Oedipe: Stay a while!

            • manou

              Il Ritorno di Œdipe In Patria.

      • tiger1

        Dear Orion,

        Your comparisons do not make any sense. Musically the end of Di Quelle Pira is structured totally different from La liberte. Also the end of the Toredor Area is different. Your argument, that because Bizet uses two high notes to end one aria, it is always in the style to do that, is a bis strange -- would you also find it musical if a singer added a phrase similar to the one with the two high Fs from QotN in any other Mozart aria because “since Mozart uses this in one aria, it is obvious in his style and can always, in the best taste possible, be interpolated”?

        And what about holding the high C long, long, long after the other singers have left the note? And don’t say that some Escamillos and Manricos do the same, because DQP is Manrico’s cabaletta and Votre Toast is Escamillo’s -- the end of act two is NOT an aria for Jose but an ensemble.

        I maintain that (i) the first high C and (ii) holding the second so long were examples of extremely poor taste and lack of musicality.

        I have just heard La vie est un Opera, quite interesting and wish it would be reviewed by some of parterre’s knowledgeable and amusing reviewers. I find some numbers quite musical and beautiful, like Magische Töne. I found it quite strange to add what I think is the end of the whole opera to Ridi pagliacci. Orion no doubtedly has this recording and will be able to write about how this is a wonderful and musical thing to do, that Leoncavallo himself made that ending of the aria for a concert of his favourite tenor etc…

  • DeepSouthSenior

    Reviews of the two French aria CD’s in this week’s “Presto News” from Presto Classical:

    “Two recital-discs of nineteenth-century French opera arias from two leading young tenors this week – and no repertoire overlap whatsoever between them! Both singers have graced some of the world’s most prestigious stages in roles like Alfredo in La traviata and Rodolfo in La bohème, but their new discs plough very different furrows -- I’ve had a grand old time this month getting to know some real rarities with one, and revisiting old favourites with the other.

    Bryan Hymel
    First up is a disc due out next week from Warner’s new signing Bryan Hymel, the phenomenal young American who shot to international prominence recently when both Covent Garden and the Metropolitan Opera called upon him to jump in at short notice for one of the most difficult-to-cast roles in the entire repertoire, Aeneas in Berlioz’s five-hour epic Les Troyens.
    If Hymel didn’t exist, as the old adage goes, it would be necessary to invent him – at least if you were a major opera-house wanting to stage anything by Berlioz, Meyerbeer or one of the lesser-spotted nineteenth-century French composers who echoed Lord Byron’s famous desire for a hero. This beautifully curated and unusual programme explores the development of this desire over the course of a hundred years or so, from the high-flying virtuosity of Rossini to the almost Expressionist sound-world of Ernest Reyer’s Sigurd (a pre-Wagner treatment of the Siegfried myth) and the ripe late-Romanticism of Henri Rabaud’s Rolande et le mauvais garçon (no, me neither until last week – but here’s hoping that Hymel’s tremendous advocacy might bring some of these curiosities to the stage one day soon!).
    What makes Hymel stand out is that he’s endowed with an almost freakish combination of vocal qualities which hardly ever come together in one singer. As I mentioned in my review of that Troyens DVD from Covent Garden, it’s a rare man who can substitute for both the world’s reigning bel canto tenor Juan Diego Flórez and superstar heavyweight Jonas Kaufmann in the space of a couple of seasons -- but Hymel pulled off both with aplomb, thanks to his sheer horse-power and absolute ease in the highest register (he can pop out top Cs ‘til the cows come home, and in fact there are 19 of them on this disc!). He opens with an extended scene from Guillaume Tell, which lies murderously high even by Rossini standards; the handful of tenors who sing it at all tend to be light bel canto specialists, but the visceral thrill of hearing a voice with Hymel’s full-bodied heroic ‘ring’ scaling the heights is really quite something (watch the last two minutes or so of the video-trailer and I’m sure you’ll be as open-mouthed as I was!)

    Piotr Beczala
    Piotr Beczala’s gloriously sung French Connection generally offers more familiar fare, and, for the most part, less heroic heroes – whereas Hymel showcases a gallery of noble swashbucklers, Beczala brings white-hot intensity to conflicted characters like Massenet’s Chevalier des Grieux (Manon) and Werther, and in particular Don José (try the beautifully judged diminuendo at the end of the famous ‘Flower song’, where many tenors simply power on through, and see if the hairs on your neck don’t prickle!). I’ve always thought of him as more of a standard lyric voice than the unclassifiable Mr Hymel, but a delightful aria from Boieldieu’s La dame blanche shows him to be no slouch in florid high-wire territory himself, whilst he also has plenty left in the tank for the heftier roles such as Faust and Don Carlo.
    I really can’t decide which of these two discs would accompany me to my hypothetical desert-island; perhaps I’d just have to find room for both!”

  • antikitschychick

    Wonderful review and what a fabulous trailer, for Bryan Hymel’s album that is!! The Tell aria sounds absolutely thrilling and what a treat to hear so many rare arias; also his bb is asorable!! Mr. Villaume did an exceptional job of describing the concept of the album as well; looking forward to hearing BMel at the Met in the near future…I am liking Piotr more and more…agree that his French is really quite elegant; the Werther aria sounds fabulous. Am not loving the cover art for either album…but musically they both sound very on point so that doesn’t matter all that much.

    Looking forward to hearing more excerpts from both albums when I find the time…also need to give Michael Spyres’ album a listen.

  • zinka

    Kanye West,the bum, was so GELOSO of these French albums, he made one called “Foque youse all.”