Cher Public

Man of steel

“This throwback to the golden age of opera—superhuman singing greeted with frenzied ovations—was a function of a perfect storm of excitement: a performance of Verdi’s 1853 spellbinder to rank with one’s rosiest recollections of past glories, in combination with a poignant human story that left both cast and audience dissolved in tears.” [New York Observer]

  • redbear
    • messa di voce

      An operatic Marnie! I predict Opolais as Tippy Hedren.

      • messa di voce

        And hairy-chested Yusif Eyvazov as Sean Connery.

  • Our Own JJ is Number One!

  • tiger1

    This must be one of rare occasions where Il Trovatore has been reviewed without as much as one word about the title character.

  • Our Own JJ

    Original version of the review included the line “As Manrico, the troubadour of the title, Yonghoon Lee matched her decibels if not her subtlety.” I have no control over what is cut during the editorial process.

    • uwsinnyc

      Ha- i noticed the same thing! I understand that space is at a premium but how can they cut out mention of the title character?

      But I loved loved loved your review, JJ. Spot on!

      • Our Own JJ

        To be honest, I found Lee okay, nothing special, in particular in contrast to the very exciting performances elsewhere in the cast. Honestly, anyone who omits a good deal more than half of “Di quella pira” and then sings the thing down a half step besides shouldn’t be singing Manrico.

        • uwsinnyc

          I agree- he was the weak link in the cast, but I think part of that was not because he was weak but because everyone else was so strong.

          Did he take the aria down a step? I couldn’t tell.

          • Milady DeWinter

            No, those were B naturals, so a half-step.

        • la vociaccia

          I don’t think Lee brings down the quality of anything he appears in; I wouldn’t recommend building a production around him but I’m happy for him to be apart of a group of otherwise starrier singers, as was the case last night.

          The only singer who I thought was a massive step below their colleagues was Kocan.

          • davidzalden

            I built a production of Verdi’s La Battaglia di Legnano around Younghoon Lee last season in Hamburg (we did I Lombardi and I due Foscari as well in a mini-festival celebrating Verdi’s birthday). He was specific, exciting and intense.

            • la vociaccia

              I’m happy for you.

    • tiger1

      Fair enough. I just heard a broadcast. I was quite disappointed by the cadenza in the first act aria of Ms Netrebko, the one where the soprano is supposed to his a very exposed high C -- but where it is the habit of Ms Netrebko (like many sopranos before her) to start on a Bflat and then ascend to a Dflat, arguably easier as the direct attack on the high C is tricky (but so much more impressive, IMHO, when it works -- there is a story that Ms Callas once tried, cracked and then tried again with perfect result -- I do not know if it is true). When singing her first Leonora in Berlin in 2013, Ms Netrebko did the B-Dflat perfectly well -- a short Dflat but pretty and in tune. Now it was held, not pretty and so flat as to be difficult to hear what note it was. However, she came into her own in the last act where she was very impressive and moving.
      Similarly, I was surprised how the voice of Ms Zajick had lost its bloom in the second act. But by the fourth act, she sounded very good, maybe she takes a bit longer to warm up these days.
      Mr Lee, nice sounding voice but more sounding like Alfredo than a Manrico to my ears. I find him much improved in the last act with Ms Zajick and Ms Netrebko.
      I remember Mr Hvorostovsky’s voice as more beautiful than it sounded in the Il Balen -- but by the duet with Ms Netrebko, who could complain? And great of him to do the effort.

      • MMe Zajick is 63. It make take a bit of warm up but when she gets there, she makes the most of it. Am I the only opera queen who loved the “trill like sound” she made during “Stride le Vampa?”…….

        • Porgy Amor

          I tuned into the live stream of Trovatore last night in the midst of Lee and Zajick’s first scene together, and I would have believed I was hearing a mezzo 20 years younger. When I reminded myself that it was Zajick and I started listening for evidence of her age, I could hear it (especially in the middle), but the woman obviously knows how to sing and has a lot left.

        • Camille

          That was a SHAKE!

      • uwsinnyc

        I’m not an expert by any means but I would think that the straight out C would be easier to hit than the b-flat to d-flat transition?

        May be JJ or someone more in the know and comment but I thought it’s easier to attack a high note right on than to phrase up to it?

        With respect to Dolora, yes may be she’s lost bloom in the middle- but the top and bottom had bloom aplenty. More than most singers half her age, probably!

        • Sempre liberal

          I’m in my mid-40s, and I’ve lost some bloom in my middle.
          Oh, wait, were we talking about voice?

        • tiger1

          My mother was an operasinger and she sang a run of Leonora’s. She found this the most frigthening part of the role as the note is totally exposed as the orchestra stops playing here.

          In her commercial recording, Ms Ricciarelli does something similar to Ms Netrebko. Ms Tebaldi in her recording attack the G again so as to phrase up from the G rather than attack the high C spot on. You have probably noticed how Ms Sutherland tended to end arias with a high note -- she always took a break to breath and then attacked the lower note before moving to the higher end note.

          When I sang the Aida-Amonasro duet, ironically enough with my mother, I changed the syllables and, thus, the breathing and phrasing for the last phrase, so as to avoid having to attack the high G straight on.

          So, yes, I do believe that the option chosen by Ms Netrebko is -- for most singers easier, especially if, as she did in Berlin in 2013, you do not linger on the Db.

      • oscar

        Sondra Radvanovsky takes the C in the cadenza in Tacea here at 4:36. I remember hearing it in the house and finding it quite thrilling:

  • pasavant

    Why so few Asian singers, compared to the huge number of pianists, string players etc.? The ones I have heard have usually been subpar.

    • steveac10

      Wow! Generalize much? For starters Lee might not be a singer for the ages, but certainly not subpar.On the level of Netrebko and Hvorostovsky, probably not. But still a Met worthy talent. Would you also classify Hei-Kyung Hong -- a prominent presence at the Met for 25 years, pre-Gelb (and then occasionally for a decade hence)as subpar?

      • Camille

        Lee ain’t chopped liver, indeed. Give the young guy a break.

        He has been pushing too hard……doesn’t sound like it did five years back.

      • Sempre liberal

        Hong stepped in nicely a few years ago for Dessay at a Traviata (red dress) prima- with Polenzani and Dima, if I recall correctly.

      • armerjacquino

        Subpar is hardly the word for Sumi Jo or Leyla Gencer, either.

        • tiger1

          Does Leyla Gencer qualify as Asian? She was born close to Istanbul (the European part of Turkey) and her mother was Polish.

          • Feldmarschallin

            I too was puzzled by that statement. Eames was born in Shangai I believe. Gencer certainly seemed more European in looks and attitude.

            • armerjacquino

              Surely the word ‘Asian’ can only usefully apply to matters of geography? Using it as a catchall phrase to describe the ethnicity of Turks, Iraqis, Iranians, Indians, Sri Lankans, Mongolians, Vietnamese, Bangladeshis, Chinese, Japanese, Thais, Malaysians, Koreans and countless other ethnic groups would be dodgy in the extreme.

          • armerjacquino

            She was born and brought up on the Anatolian side of the Bosphurus. If being born and raised in Asia, with a father who was also born and raised in Asia, makes you Asian, then she was.

            Which is kind of why I mentioned her- to show how absurdly sweeping the original statement was.

      • Bill

        Pasavant -- there are a fair number of Asian singers
        performing in the smaller opera houses in Germany particularly in the lyrical roles and more than a couple in Vienna as well -- many
        seem to have Korean names. At a Julliard Don
        Giovanni a couple of years ago practically the
        entire cast (with the exception the Donna Elvira)
        appeared to be of Far Eastern origin (some perhaps
        2nd Generation Americans). They and the Eastern
        Europeans seem to be filling in the gaps to keep ensembles functioning in the Central European
        Opera houses as there seem to be dearth of very talented German/Austrian singers to fill out the
        ensembles -- just as there seems to be a dearth
        of up and coming Italian singers (which may in
        part have to do with the political/financial difficulties lately plaguing the Italian Opera houses which schedule far fewer performances per season than in days of yore.

        Mr. Yonghoon Lee, perhaps previously unheard by me, after an initially terrible introduction, singing
        Manrico’s off-stage serenade off pitch and in
        shakey voice, began to emerge as an attractively
        voiced tenor as each act unfurled in the prima of
        Trovatore -- in the last act the softer passages
        were sung with considerable beauty. His voice
        is not immense and he cannot emulate the great
        Manricos we have heard (Corelli, McCracken, del Monaco, ) in thrust or volume, (Bergonzi, Domingo, Pavarotti) in dulcet tone or Bonisolli’s legendary hi C’s -- and the Met house itself is probably a bit sizeable for Lee’s instrument in this somewhat dramatic role. But after a rather unpromising start he acquited himself as a singer worthy of the Met at least in certain lyrical roles.

  • mjmacmtenor

    “”Carol Burnett sending up Bette Davis”.

  • Camille

    Who’s the cranky colleague?

    Glad you’re No. 1!

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Extraordinary images here:

  • Constantine A. Papas

    Ariunbaatr Ganbaatar is Asian, but not only he won the first prize for male voice at the 2015 Tchaikovsky competition but also the grand prize of 100K. He beat all the other gold-metal winners, males and females- singers,pianists, cellists, and violinists. The combination of singing, acting, and especially his facial expressions were stunning and rarely seen.