Cher Public

Barton glances

I’m giving my age away here by saying that I am unfortunate enough to remember how Rudy Giuliani would sometimes drop by the Met airwaves and claim he was a “huge” opera fan. The most mild inquiries revealed that his knowledge of opera started at La traviata and ended at La bohème. But there is a sizable portion of opera audiences who only like the bread and butter Italian operas, and the annual Richard Tucker Gala is probably the event of the year to indulge your love of verismo staples and can belto screaming.  

The 2015 Richard Tucker Gala was no different. The ostensible occasion for the gala was to celebrate the 2015 winner, mezzo soprano Jamie Barton. She is a worthy winner of this prize—her mezzo soprano is rich and luscious. It definitely stands out among the hordes of slender lyric mezzos that populate the opera scene. Barton had three selections—”Acerba voluttá,” a duet from La Gioconda,with 2001 winner Christine Goerke and “Je vais mourir” from Les Troyens.

Barton is a bit too amiable to really pull off the witchy Adriana aria—this is where Olga Borodina-style side-eye is sorely missed. But the duet with Goerke made me long for a Gioconda revival with these two ladies, and if Didon lacked the wrenching intensity of, say, Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson it showed off an artist ready for the greatest mezzo roles.

A crasser inclusion was Andrea Bocelli. His newest CD ( Cinema ) was taped to the back of each seat in David Geffen Hall, and he was also given three numbers. “M’appari” from Martha,the Lucia di Lammermoor duet with Nadine Sierra, and “O soave fancifulla” with Renée Fleming. When Bocelli sang with Sierra and Fleming you heard the difference between an operatically trained voice and a slender popera tenor.

Fleming and Sierra have soft-grained lyric voices but their voices projected and bloomed. Bocelli’s voice without the microphone had a dead, hollow sound. His phrasing was clipped and choppy. Whatever sweetness he had to his voice is now gone; he sounds like an aged comprimario. Fleming tactfully led him offstage when it was clear that his high C at the end of “O soave fanciulla” was going south.

Otherwise this gala had a good mix of singers. I’ll cover the vets first. Angela Gheorghiu showed up in a provocative, virtually backless black gown and sang “In quelle trine morbide” and “Ebben, ne andró lontana” in that sexy, whispery, bedroom-eyes style that only she can pull off. But she sang with confidence and this along with her feisty performance of Tosca at the Met is sending a strong message that she hasn’t thrown in the towel on her career.

Piotr Beczala ’ s “Nessun dorma” was stylish and displayed his incredibly well-preserved voice. I don’t know that I’d want to hear him as Calaf but as a concert rendition it was fine.The Faust duet with Renée Fleming was a little lethargic but they did end on a blazing high note. Youngsters, take note. Fleming is an old hand at these galas—“Io son l’umile ancella” (sung without the opening recitative) was graceful and her duets with Beczala and Bocelli gave us a chance to hear her in repertoire she’s likely to never sing again onstage.

Isabel Leonard and Lawrence Brownlee were relegated to one solo number each. Leonard sang “Non piu mesta” from Cenerentola. If this were a beauty pageant she’d walk away with the prize—she looked stunning in a purple gown. Alas, Rossini rondos are not her thing. Conductor Eugene Kohn made a big cut for her but Leonard’s coloratura was still bumpy and choppy, with snatched breaths all over the place. Brownlee sang “Terra amica … Cara! eh attendimi” from Zelmira with a smoothness that bordered on nonchalance.

Nadine Sierra just called in “sick” to a Lucia production in San Francisco but sounded healthy enough to these ears. She was the only performer to not get a solo aria, but her two lengthy duets ( Roméo et Juliette ’ s “Va! Je t’ai pardonéé” with Stephen Costello, Lucia with Bocelli) made these ears perk up. Not only is she gorgeous, but her voice has a real shimmery sweetness. Mental note: must see her upcoming Gildas at the Met.

Costello in addition to the duet with Sierra sang Federico’s lament (only at the Richard Tucker can there be three numbers by Cilea…) His voice still has a tendency to bleat under pressure but he looked and sounded less strained than I’ve ever heard him.

Everyone’s new favorite Elektra Christine Goerke predictably raised the roof with her barnstorming rendition of “O don fatale” and her Gioconda duet. Her voice is huge, it’s exciting, you listen to her and you want to stand up and cheer. The “O don fatale” was missing one rather important high note, but the crowd didn’t care. The list of roles I long to hear Goerke sings grows longer by the minute.

The evening ended with the Triumphal Scene from Aida. The announced cast was the decidedly oddball quintet of Goerke (Aida), Barton (Amneris), Bocelli (“Radames”, giggle snort), George Gagnidze (Amonasaro) and Paul Corona (Ramfis). Great, except Gagnidze never showed so they cut a huge chunk of the scene and quickly rushed to the finale. What should have been a thrilling end to the gala was instead a mix of awkward stares on stage and “huh? What just happened” reactions from the audience.

Earlier in the evening Barry Tucker made a speech that his best announcement was that there were “no announcements.” The audience chuckled, as the Tucker Gala in the past has been littered with last minute program changes due to cancellations. I guess Gagnidze either didn’t get that memo or Tucker was just very naive to believe that a singer would show up to a gala with only the Triumphal Scene ensemble in his program.

Anyway, congrats Jamie Barton, 2015 Richard Tucker Award Winner, and onward to what looks to be an amazing career!

  • Krunoslav

    Actually I once saw Giuliani attend L’INCORONAZIONE DI POPPEA at BAM. My mother and I stood right in front of where he was seated at intermission and I said, as loudly as I could, “How fascinating, an opera about a Fascistic political leader who abuses power right and left, even to the point of punishing the wife he wants to divorce.” I am surprised we weren’t arrested and prosecuted by the Brooklyn DA office, about as crooked as crooked got in those years.

    • Bill

      Actually I was accidentally with Giuliani at the
      dinner after Leonie Rysanek’s farewell in Pique Dame
      and we chatted for quite some time and he truly seemed
      to love opera and attended with some regularity.
      No in depth discussion but he had heard Rysanek in various roles over the years and had nothing but raves
      for her performances. All the Viennese friends I knew who were present and had flown over from Vienna for this occasion wanted to know how come I knew the “Oberburgermeister’ so well and I explained I had never
      before met Giuliani previously but that he was a politician so would be charming to all NYC voters (but I restrained from telling him that I vote in New Jersey rather than in New York City). From the discussions we had I would have to assume Giuliani had a reasonable knowledge of opera and even a passion for it and not only Italian works though I recall him saying, if I am not mistaken, that his father was named Adolfo and his grandfather, Rudolfo.

  • uwsinnyc

    The “O don fatale” was missing one rather important high note, but the crowd didn’t care.

    Which note?

    Seems like it was a fun evening! Can’t wait to catch it when it airs on PBS. Too bad about Bocelli

  • Bocelli?! WTF?

    • Congratulations to Jamie Barton, though.

    • Ilka Saro

      I think that if copies of his new CD were taped to people’s seats, then we need consider no further. What makes an opera singer? The recording industry has its own thoughts about what advertising should be able to accomplish. He’s a star, after all? Right? Don’t stars sing at big star events? Oy vey iz mir.

  • Jamie01

    Re Giuliani, I remember when he was interviewed on Stefan Zucker’s Opera Fanatic radio show, and tried to avoid taking a position on the Callas-Tebaldi debate. Zucker called him out on it and said that kind of equivocating could and perhaps should have cost him the election. http://www.nytimes.com/1994/01/24/nyregion/giuliani-eternal-diva-debate-can-true-opera-fan-admire-both-callas-tebaldi.html

  • EarlyRomantic

    Highly insulting to the general public to include the pop crooner among such luminaries. But also, shame on Nadine Sierra and Nay-Nay for accepting to partner him. But then, Nay-Nay is not one to shy away from self-inflicted debasement and embarrassment; a common thread throughout her career. The newcomer (Sierra), however, better start paying attention to these details and summon the courage to say No. Funny coincidence but when I first heard Sierra I said to myself “here is the new Fleming”. And that was not thought of pejoratively.

  • Bocelli as Radames? Why would he put himself in that situation, flanked by voices like Goerke’s and Barton’s?

    Thanks for the review, Ivy!

  • mercadante

    Saw Nadine Sierra as Gilda in Rigoletto in Atlanta in the very unflattering acoustic of the Cobb Center and she was fantastic (see my review somewhere here on Parterre) . She is definitely one to watch as she is gorgeous, musical to her fingertips, has a lovely voice with a very fine old school technique, and she’s a pretty good actress considering she’s fresh out of the fate with very little experience.

  • KennethC

    Over and above the musical highlights covered by Ms. Ivy, I must add that this was certainly one of the worst behaved audiences I have ever experienced at a classical music event in New York City (and that’s saying a lot). Well-dressed ancients clomped, staggered, and lurched up and down the aisles while the artists were performing, blocking views and otherwise causing not little disturbances. I was seated on the aisle at the back of orchestra, where clumps of latecomers stood while waiting to be ushered to their seats, all the while chattering away as if they were at a particularly tedious cocktail party. Cell phones rang, hackers hacked, and flashes flashed throughout the evening. Bocelli was awful, but the audience was worse. Barton deserved better.

    • Krunoslav

      “Well-dressed ancients clomped, staggered, and lurched up and down the aisles while the artists were performing, blocking views and otherwise causing not little disturbances. ”

      Aside from the Usual Vocal Music Suspects and some music student types, the audience might have been at an Alan King benefit performance.

  • Cicciabella

    “O soave fancifulla” sounds exactly like how Bocelli would sing it. The man is fearless: Radames, Calaf: he takes them all on. Can’t wait for his Tannhäuser.

  • With Barton getting the award, why was a soprano singing O, Don Fatale?

    • PCally

      Because said Soprano has sung the role, a role which some people don’t believe to be a mezzo role (and it sounds like Barton had a pretty good set to showcase her abilities).

    • Gualtier M

      I would characterize Princesse Eboli as a falcon role and I think that Goerke has falcon qualities in her dramatic soprano. The high notes in the “Gioconda” duet were round and vibrant but I could hear again that shifting of weight in the B flats in “O don fatale” (BTW: Goerke has done Eboli in the French version but she sang this in Italian).

      Rumor has it that Goerke wanted to sing “Dich teure halle” but the Tucker officials nixed Wagner being sung at the Tucker Gala. Shame that (btw: Goerke is one singer who could ostensibly sing both Venus and Elisabeth -- and also do either the Dresden or Paris Venus -- her range is wide).

    • antikitschychick

      After hearing Christine Goerke live as Turandot, I have to say that thse types of dramatic mezzo roles are the way to go for her. She has a great instrument and is a very sympathetic and lively performer, and at this point I’m confirming what others have said but the top of the voice, i.e. anything beyond like a G or G sharp/A flat above the staff or thereabouts does not have the power and amplitude of the rest of the voice and it was honestly underwhelming given the tessitura of Turandot in In Questa Reggia. Not that she sounded bad, but unlike a lot of sopranos, her voice just doesn’t bloom up there which is unfortunate because that is what the music calls for the voice to do. There was a noticeable rift between how she sounded when singing above the staff and how she sounded when singing on or below the staff both in terms of volume and amplitude. In other words she tended to sound somewhat constricted and chirpy when hitting the highest notes, whereas she had a very opulent and well supported, full-bodied sound when singing the lower portions.

      The middle and lower registers are ample and very thrilling though. She was great in the final 2 Acts so I definitely think roles with a lower tessitura will suit her better. Just to be clear, I’m not saying this to bash her; I don’t think her voice is deficient but rather unusual and more dramatic. The tessitura for that role is killer and In Questa Reggia is kind of a scream fest unless you have that trumpet-like Brigit Nilson sound. I personally think that you kind of have to sing on your capital rather than your interest to make that aria sound exciting and regardless of technique, some singers’ capital is more exciting than others. Plus she was definitely being catious; she wasn’t holding back but she wasn’t singing to the rafters either. That was my impression anyway. I’ll try and write up a more complete report on those two final performances soon, althogh it’s like old news by now lol.

      • Milady DeWinter

        Anti -- Goerke pretty much killed it, including the top notes, as Elektra in Carnegie and in Boston. She was pretty unstoppable.
        I think it must be a matter of tessitura with her; you’re right, Turandot is really for that rara avis, a high dramatic soprano. And Goerke is, I believe, a Zwischenfach, but leaning towards soprano rather than mezzo.
        I would LOVE to hear her in a full Gioconda!

        • antikitschychick

          Yeah I saw she got raves for those performances which is great :-). I knew she was a great Electra based on the performance she gave last season in Dresden with Thielemann for the Wagner anniversary gala. You’re probably right and I’m looking forward to hearing her in roles she is better suited for. I haven’t heard her in other Italian roles although I suspect she’d be better in German roles. Idk about Brunhilde though.

        • messa di voce

          Dare we hope for the Met to haul out the decrepit but wonderful Montressor production one more time? Would be nice to flush the sounds of Voigt and Urmana out of our brains.

          • Or… oh, this is just pie-in-the-sky stuff here, but just humor me. How about the Met should do a new production in place of one that’s nothing but a pile of molding canvas flats?

            • messa di voce

              You’re humored. A new production would be even better, but I don’t want to wait a decade for it.

            • almavivante

              Someone correct me if I’m misremembering, but wasn’t it reported on this site some time ago that the Met has junked its production of Gioconda? I’ve even commented myself that I as much as I love the opera I doubt I’ll see it again at the Met in my lifetime.

              Also, can someone post when NPR will broadcast the concert? I recall that in years past it was a week or two afterward. Mille grazie in advance to whomever…

      • Cocky Kurwenal

        I agree with your first thoughts on Goerke, Antikitschychik, I don’t think it’s the repertoire, I think it’s her voice/vocal production. I’ve heard her 3 times, in 3 different venues -- twice as Elektra (ROH, Albert Hall) and once as the Foreign Princess (Met) and on each occasion it was very noticeable how much smaller her top notes were compared to the rest of the voice. It made her really unsatisfying for me in roles where those notes are written to be thrilling and climactic.

        I don’t think she’s a high dramatic mezzo though, or any kind of mezzo. I think she should be singing Erda, Klytamnestra, Mistress Quickly, Marfa etc, in other words, contralto repertoire.

        • antikitschychick

          Yeah I wasn’t completely sure Cocky K and wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, since I only heard her in that one role so I couldn’t really make a definitive generalization, and I’m truly happy that she’s having so much success but I think your suggestions as to rep choices are sound. Her middle and lower registers are (seemingly) where it’s at for her.

  • antikitschychick

    Thanks for this detailed review Ivy. I too look forward to this year’s broadcast. (Or will it be broadcast next year?) I have to say I’m surprised that they allowed Andrea Bocelli to sing without a mic along with established and well-trained opera singers at an event that commemorates a rising opera singer. He’s always sung with amplification so why would he want to sing without one at this point and in large hall for an audience of opera enthusiasts rather than crossover fans? I know the two aren’t mutually exclusive and I may be wrong but I don’t think ppl who are legit opera fans are fans or crossover as well.

    I don’t have anything against him and I honestly feel bad for guy, because despite his fame and worldwide commercial success his visual impairment kept him from entering into the conservatory and having a legit opera career, and I mean you can argue that being blind was the best thing that happened to him and that he’s had an exceptional career regardless but if being an opera singer is what he would have wanted then he probably doesn’ feel ‘fulfilled’ and that’s unfortunate. I don’t begrudge the collabs he’s done with opera singers in the past, but it’s really troubling to hear that in presumably the later stages of his career he is now trying to kind of pass off as an opera singer. That Turandot recording was rather painful to listen to. Maybe it’s more of a ‘better cross this off the bucket list’ type deal than a lifelong dream of his? Could also just be a marketing ploy to tap into the ‘hardcore’ opera audience though I doubt that will be as effective as his appeal to the masses (who prefer crossover, which is fine). Presumably, the audience at this type of gala knows the difference between him and the other performers which is why letting him sing three numbers, just because he is a star seems excessive. Hopefully, or well, it probably will come off better on tv. We shall see.

    On another note, am so happy for Jamie Barton. What a thrilling voice she has!! Her singing gave me goosebumps several times during AB and frankly, although Sondra Rad gave a very very good performance I didn’t revel in it the way I reveled in Jamie Barton’s, not just because of the sheer volume and natural beauty of the voice and opulent tone but because of her technical security and virtuosic display of even sound, projection and dynamic variation. Bravissima! Cannot wait to hear her in more roles!

    AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST CONGRATS TO LA CIECA FOR THE SEVEN THOUSAND POST MILESTONE AND NUMBER OF SITE VISITS FOR LAST MONTH! YOU’RE KILLING IT GIRL! KUDOS AND THANKS! :lol:

    • KennethC

      … “letting him sing three numbers, just because he is a star seems excessive.” Spot on, that “excessive.” And perhaps even cruel. I actually felt terrible for Bocelli, his shortcomings made so glaringly apparent by the innate talent and artistry of most of the other performers that evening.

      • antikitschychick

        Thanks but yikes, I didn’t mean to sound cruel so apologies. Like I said I feel bad for the guy, despite his wealth, fame and success. It’s never pleasing to hear that someone sounded so compromised in comparison to the rest of their fellow performers. I just think having sing the O soave fancuilla duet with Renee and then maybe one solo number would have been fine, but a sol number, two duets and then Radames in the Act II Triumphal scene? Like…no. Again I’m sure the sound engineers will work their magic for tv but still that is really pushing it. I guess if the audience enjoyed it it doesn’s matter as much since this gala was more for entertainment but I mean there’s nothing entertaining about watching someone struggle through a song or aria. In my experience it’s just painful.

        • KennethC

          Apologies! Sloppy writing on my part. I did not mean that you were “cruel,” I meant that it was almost cruel of the producers of the gala so allow Bocelli to sing so much last evening. I, too, have nothing against him or indeed against anything or anyone that can bring classical music, even in its goopiest cross-over guise, to wider audiences. When I learned a week or so ago about who would be singing at the gala, I had assumed that Bocelli would six one number max. And I was like, “Fine, I’d love to finally hear him live, even if that ‘live’ is miked.” I can only assume that much of the programming last night was driven by Bocelli’s recording label.

          • KennethC

            “sing one number max” of course.

            • antikitschychick

              No worries, I understand what you mean and I agree with you although I don’t think he would have wanted to show up just to sing one number, so a solo number and the o soave fanciulla duet would have been fine (imho) especially since he’s sung with Renee before but the additional Lucia duet with Nadine Sierra and the Aida ensemble numbers are what I think were excessive, especially if Piotr Beczala was there. Think he should have sung those selections instead. A missed opportunity, at least in my view.

    • kennedet

      Excuse my naivete but do people really argue about the statement that “being blind is the best thing that ever happened to him”(Bocelli)??!!Oh, well, now I know why I refuse to read certain stories in the newspaper.

      • antikitschychick

        Lol well not whether it was the best thing that ever happened to him but certainly whether it impacted his career and whether people listen to him differently because of it. Just see the exchange between Amnerees and mercadante below. Personally I definitely do view him as a ‘special case’ and would admit that I do listen to him differently because he is blind. I think a huge part of his appeal is his ability to transcend his physical impairment through his voice. I won’t speculate as to whether he’d be as famous as he is if he weren’t blind because theres no point in that at this time but I definitely think it makes him unique.

      • Cicciabella

        That’s interesting AKC. I always forget Bocelli’s blind when I listen to him. I have enjoyed some of his crossover stuff, but when he sings with “real” opera singers he’s out of his depth. It’s very kind of you to feel sorry for him swimming with the sharks, but I don’t. He’s earned millions as a crossover/popera artist and has tried, and failed, to be a real opera singer in a staged opera, as Werther I believe. He knew what he was getting into at the Tucker Gala. He’s an intelligent man and savvy artist, and he obviously enjoys what he does and the adulation of his fans.

        • antikitschychick

          Ciccia, I was very young when I first heard Bocelli, and if I remeber correctly, I heard recordings of his and didn’t know he was blind, but when I saw a video of him performing for the first time it made an indelible mark on me. I was very intrigued at first as to how he was able to pull off such beautiful and refined pop/non-operatic singing without being able to see. I thought it was a miracle of sorts because again, when I watched him perform, he totally transcended his physical impairment with his beautiful singing. But the more I learned about singing the more I realized that sight doesn’t have much to do with it; it’s more about feeling the sensations in your body and using your mind to aim and mold the sound in a certain way and then support it through proper breathing. Of course, it’s still amazing how someone with presumably no or very limited frame of reference through which he can associate sounds and frame it within our visual surroundings and a particular context can do do these things, because all of the work must be done through listening. He can’t look at a score and see the notes on the page (would he even know what a note looks like?). He can’t look at a diagram and see our body’s anatomy, etc.

          I’m not trying to suggest that to me he is “the blind singer” and that I’m constantly thinking about his blindness when I hear him sing, but I just don’t think his blindness can be disassociated from his identity as a performer. It’s an indelible part of him that we are made aware of, either consciously or subconsciously through frame of reference because that’s how we perceive him. Having said that, I think it’s totally possible to be so immersed in the music that you forget everything else and just enjoy being in the moment. For me though, his singing doesn’t rise to the level of excellence or transcendence at this point to allow me to be completely swept away by it but that’s more because of my personal taste and the way I listen. I don’t dislike his singing but I don’t actively seek him out like I do other performers. But I don’t begrudge anyone that does either. We all have our preferences and biases.

          • Lohengrin

            Interesting! While reading I thought about Ray Charles (yes, a different type of music). He also was blind and was able to express so big feelings, which I miss at Bocellis`singing (I only once heard him live in an Open Air).
            The effect has nothing to do with beeing able to see or not, it depends on other abilities.

            • antikitschychick

              See (no pun intended) but Ray Charles is different because he wasn’t strictly a singer, he was also a pianist and thus a musician and as you pointed out the style of music is totally different. The key difference (I think) is that the singing is more intuitive and less technical. In contrast, operatic or ‘classically trained singing’ is, imho not very intuitive. You have to actively stop and think about what your body is doing and ‘interrupt’ some of the natural processes and habits you have in order to use your body more efficiently and produce more sound without taxing yourself. Of course, some people have the natural ability to do this better than others, or it comes more naturally to them but as we know, most trained singers have to work very hard for years, decades even to achieve the technical proficiency required to sing opera. At first you have to sort of fight with your own body and train your muscles in a certain way for them to function like you need them to because we don’t automatically lower our diaphragms when we breathe and we don’t lift our soft pallates on an intake of breath, etc. This isn’t an automatic process and alot of times voice teachers and coaches use visual aids or visual analogies to help facilitate the process. I can’t imagine having to learn how to sing with no or little visual frame of reference. It may not be impossible but I would think it’d be extremely difficult. I’m not a doctor or a scientist though so maybe someone who is better versed in the medical field can provide a more nuanced explanation or pov.

          • antikitschychick

            sorry that one long sentence is sloppy; it should read:

            “Of course, it’s still amazing how someone with a presumably non-existent or very limited frame of reference, i.e. a means through which he can associate sounds and frame it within our visual surroundings or a particular context can produce such polished sound, because all of the work must be done through listening.”

            Also, it should be *bodies, not body’s.

            I should add that we obviously have the ability to mimic sounds and our bodies are able to do a lot of things automatically, like breathing, but more refined singing does require that you actively think about and engage in what you are doing and how you are doing it. Thus, taking that into account it’s still impressive than he can sing as well as he can. I know he wasn’t born blind but he’s been blind for most of his life hasn’t he?

          • DonCarloFanatic

            I think some of the people posting here do not understand what blindness that isn’t from birth entails. Bocelli has plenty of life experience for the “frame of reference” mentioned. He knows what colors are. He knows what people look like, and more. I am surprised at how people here seem to bend over over backwards to excuse the current state of his singing just because he’s blind.

            Late in _____________’s career (insert your favorite), his voice had pretty much worn out, but there still were many people who wanted to see him sing anyway. Perhaps Bocelli has reached that stage.

            • antikitschychick

              I wasn’t bending over backwards to ‘excuse the state of his singing’ DCF and I do hope that’s not how my posts came across. I was simply trying to point out that he has a limitation which I don’t think can be put aside or disassociated from his performance abilities. As I said, I don’t think he should be singing unamplified in a large hall with opera singers, much less in a number like the triumphal scene in Aida and I certainly don’t think that being blind exempts him or his singing from criticism. AB is not someone I’d bend over backwards to excuse and rather than excuse performers I think we all tend to choose to overlook certain things or value certain qualities over others, unless an illness is involved. An illness can be a valid excuse for a bad performance. A physical impairment is something that can be taken into account, but it doesn’t have to be. I just tend to always be sympathetic to performers because it’s tough and the pressure and scrutiny is a lot and because the process of aging can be unforgiving. But as Ciccia points out, he chose to perform and put himself in this situation so criticism is fair game.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Like it or not, to millions of people the world over Bocelli is synonymous with opera. Despite his physical handicap and the fact that the sounds he produces (amplified or not)are often unpleasant, he is an accomplished flautist and pianist. His empire has donated millions of philanthropic dollars to organizations in many countries. Recently in Los Angeles, he and René Flemming raised a bundle to combat pancreatic cancer at their at a benefit and gala (also spearheaded by Barry Tucker)celebrating the life Luciano Pavarotti, who died of that disease. Bocelli thrilled millions at the recent Philadelphia concert for the Pope, who managed to stay awake for the tenor after all of Mme. Franklin’s caterwauling, but vanished after “The Lord’s Prayer.” It’s unfortunate that Bocelli’s well-intentioned appearances do not thrill sophisticated opera lovers, but that it understandable. His new complete AIDA CD is already in post-production. I wonder if the Tucker foundation had to foot the bill for the complimentary CIMENA CDs, or if they were a donation, but someone had to pay a ton of money for the private plane to bring him here.

    • Wake me up when he plays the flute or the piano then, and I’ll be sure to keep his cell number handy if I catch pancreatic cancer or if I want to attend a Pope festival.

      Is is unfair that someone who bills himself as a singer be discussed in terms of his singing, or does all this irrelevant special pleading have to be dragged into it as well?

    • Lohengrin

      Aida: will it be allowed to compare the Bocelli-CD with the Pappano-Harteros-Kaufmann-recording?

      • EarlyRomantic

        So happens that the Pappano-Harteros-Kaufmann Aida is no great shakes and pretty ho hum. So you are establishing a very low bar for the Bocelli Aida. Not that we would expect any less.

        • Lohengrin

          Is everythin ok with Your ears?

      • Satisfied

        As an aside, the Aida is now available on Spotify :-)

        • armerjacquino

          And on Google Play! Thanks so much Satisfied, that’s tomorrow’s listening sorted.

    • If he’s an accomplished flautist, he should be do both parts of this song as a party trick.

      • armerjacquino

        ‘accomplished flautist’ is beginning to sound more and more like a euphemism.

    • armerjacquino

      ‘Don’t criticise Bocelli’

      ‘the caterwauling of Mme Franklin’

  • Amnerees

    Cara LaCieca,
    Thanks for your observation. The opera world--or the Tucker Gala contingent anyway--seems to have succumbed to the Oscar Syndrome. Whoever displays or enacts the most discouraging pathology and triumphs over it gets the prize. Consider who sponsors these events. Admirable attitudes, but what does this have to do with art? (And what, you may ask, do movies have to do with art? Well, that’s another subject …)

  • mercadante

    Jumping into the fray head first, I just listened to the Turandot on YouTube, and Bocelli is actually surprisingly fine. He still seems a size too small, but not that far off in the studio, his phrasing and lower register are improved, and he even makes the stupid high C interpolation at the and of Riddle Scene sound almost musical. He still has a habit of dragging the tempo a bit, although in ensembles he’s forced to keep up and the increased energy is in his favor, and he occasionally holds a pause too long ; the one between “no, no ” and ” una e la vita” is the worst offender. But overall his pitching is better. The legato has smoothed out, the reedy quality is less and he has more colors. A Calaf for the ages? No. But not at all an embarrassment nor a mere vanity project. This is good work and must have been very difficult since he can’t see the conductor. Jennifer Wilson and Jessica Nuccio sound very good.

    I’d place the performance under Nilsson/Bjorling,Nilsson/Corelli, Sutherland Pavarotti, but above Marton/Heppner, Marton/Carreras, Slatinaru/Speiss, Casola /Larin Ricciarelli/Domingo and about on par with Caballe /Carreras or Borkh/Del Monaco. Not bad company.

  • Amnerees

    But would you tolerate this singing if he weren’t blind?

    • mercadante

      Yes. His being blind has nothing to do with listening to him on the recording. But it does make me consider his ensemble work to be pretty good considering said blindness precludes him from seeing the conductor. There for his musicality must be quite high.

      • armerjacquino

        Or he was tracked in.

        The idea his Calaf is anywhere close to Del Monaco’s, let alone better, is one I find a bit absurd I’m afraid.

  • DonCarloFanatic

    I am not sure why Bocelli’s blindness prevents him from learning how to sing opera correctly. Opera stars continue to take voice lessons long after they’ve made it big. What’s holding him back? Or do you mean it’s too late, and there is no way he can improve his voice now? And why not?

  • amg

    The participation of Bocelli reeks of ‘synergy’ with PBS, which broadcasts the proceedings and frequently runs his concerts, at least in my area. If I may channel an entertaining old humbug, The Amazing Criswell:

    “I predict that public television will broadcast the Richard Tucker Gala during pledge week. I predict that for a special donation, “if you act now,” they will send you the same Bocelli cd that was taped to the back of the seats at the live performance. I predict that all of his performances will run unedited, while real opera singers will have theirs cut for time.”

    • Satisfied

      It also gave him the opportunity to shill his new recording which was shamelessly taped to seats throughout the theater.

      I foresee PBS’s next gift with donation!!

  • M. P. Aratsa

    Never seen him in person, but he dissed Oprah, so he’s on my shit list.

  • Didn’t Giuilani marry Roberto and Angela in one of his duties when he was mayor?