Cher Public

Chat: L’Amour de Loin

loinWhether near or far, cher public, you can enjoy the Met premiere of L’Amour de Loin in the company of other denizens of La Casa della Cieca.

Photo: Ken Howard

  • ER

    Looking forward to it.

    Have to say, after hearing Manon Lescaut live last night, Netrebko is now unquestionably my favorite singer of today. The voice and artistry are at their peak, and every note, from beginning to end, from bottom to top, was rich and intense. I found her less convincing in Act 1, but starting with the big duet in Act 2, she was mesmerizing.

    Which raises the point we often hear from singers that you have to sing on the interest, not the capital. Yet it seemed to me she was giving 300% at all times, never holding back. Can she continue to sing with this intensity and have a career that lasts another 10-15 years?

    • I had a similar thought about Yonghoon Lee singing Turiddu last night at the Bastille: very generous, but is it wise?

    • steveac10

      Do we really need everyone to last until they’re 60 and beyond? By Netrebko’s age Ponselle was retired, Callas was occasionally trotting out a shell of a voice and Tebaldi was very carefully husbanding her declining resources. Most of the modern era singers with 30+ year international careers were not Known or being careful with their resources: Nilsson, Rysanek, Domingo, Jones, Silja, Stratas, Malfitano, hell -- even Pavarotti and Bergonzi…. all of them gave their all and/or sang roles that many claimed would end their careers and outlasted most of their peers.
      .

  • So, did you all, or any, listen to (or attend) the premiere last night?

    My brief reaction to the performance as experienced via Sirius/XM:

    I think the whole experience could be improved by taking a hallucinogenic, but besides that, I found it pleasant and intriguing. Saariaho’s tonal vocabulary, faux modalism, parallel fifths, etc., striking use of solo wind instruments, offbeat writing for the string section, and those brief big climaxes of sound were easy on the ears. As is her vocal writing, which, unlike many “modern” works, is written well within the medium range of the singers, with some vaults to some higher (or lower) extremes here and there, but it basically made for listenable vocal writing of the speech-song variety (specifically in Mumford’s music, well executed by Mumford, but then it got sort of tiresome) with little (and I mean little) flourishes of more conventional melody.

    I can hear this working with a cast like Dessay and Tezier much more persuasively.

    Mumford was fine, sort of a Huguette Tourangeau sound to my ears. Lots of trills and she/he had the widest tessitura. Some people don’t like the voice.

    Owens was very good several seasons ago as Alberich, but I can’t say I enjoy any of his other work. The voice is poorly produced and his diction was mostly indecipherable.

    Phillips, because of the medium range of the role of Clemence, sounded better than usual and was more intelligible. However, when Clemence’s vocal line rose to something of a “statement” (I’m thinking the close of Act III and Act V) and some top range was required, I heard the same problems and parched tone I hear from her in more altitudinous repertoire. Can’t say anything about the conducting per se since I am not familiar with the score or the Saariaho idiom, but the orchestra sounded wonderful. And all those percussion special effects were very entertaining.

    It seemed like the audience enjoyed it -- at least all the pretty glittery pastel paper set designs and LED lights. It’s the holiday season after all, so who doesn’t like a nice light show?

    • grimoaldo2

      I listened to the first part,up to the intermission and I agree with you that “pleasant” is a good word to describe it. There are some nice choral and instrumental effects in a “drifty, atmospheric” way as someone in the chat described it but the lack of variety, especially as to tempo, it just drifted along at the same pace most of the time,made it less than gripping to me.

    • Portia Minty

      I was in the house last night, and quite enjoyed the shifting textures and sonorities of Ms. Saariaho’s score. I thought its subtlety and intricately worked out relationships were rewardingly expressive of the wonderful libretto with its constantly evolving ideas of the dualities of love: yearning and fear; projection and internalization; passion and death; beseeching and railing at a higher power, etc. What a wonderfully poetic work Mr. Maalouf created! The performances seemed to me to be well-sung (particularly Ms. Mumford’s; I’m one of those who likes her voice), and they were affecting and dimensional, so there were no dull spots for me. Mr. Lepage’s sea of light was static, though, and way too bright in the first half of the opera, so it tended to visually upstage everything else. After the intermission it was more effective; there was a wonderful rolling-ocean effect, and the sea was much more often dark enough so we no longer wished we’d brought sunglasses. (The poor chorus, however, with their heads sticking up between lines of LED lights, reminded me of ducks in a carnival shooting range; I wished they’d been given a skiff of their own rather than forced to stay mostly submerged, though I’m sure it saved on costumes.) That sea of light was rather like the Machine in LePage’s Ring – the concept that is sometimes brilliant but overall tends to upstage, rather than stage, the opera.