Cher Public

The Iron Butterfly

Born on this day in 1903 actress and singer Jeanette MacDonald

On this day in 1821 Weber’s Der Freischutz premiered in Berlin.

Born on this day in 1850 composer Richard Heuberger.

Born on this day in 1854 librettist Maurice Ordonneau.

Born on this day in 1904 composer and conductor Manuel Rosenthal.

Born on this day in 1913 composer and lyricist Sammy Cahn.

Born on this day in 1927 tenor Robert Ilosfalvy.

Born on this day in 1942 conductor Hans Vonk.

Happy 74th birthday soprano Eva Marton.

Happy birthday parterrian and opera aficionado Rowna Sutin.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Happy Birthday Rowna! Many more.
    Could someone here please provide summary in English of what Hvorostovsky said in this recent interview?

  • Batty Masetto

    Mulling over Friday night’s frustrating Don Giovanni at SF Opera –

    To my ear the clear hero of the evening was Marc Minkowski, whose fleet tempos and deft pacing – dovetailing well with the production’s extensive comic business – put the “giocoso” back into this dramma giocoso, which so often winds up being a lugubrious temple to the God Mozart. This was a hugely entertaining reading, and the youngish audience lapped it up.

    Yet it wasn’t all about speed. There was power for the finales, and for moments of stillness like “Dalla sua pace” or “Vedrai carino” or “No non mi dir” he could summon a silken, breathless float from the band, which followed him to perfection. I’ve seldom heard them play better.

    I wish I could say the same for the soloists. All are able onstage and have fine voices, but at one time or another all of them demonstrated how incomparably difficult Mozart is to sing really well.

    Ana Maria Martinez as Elvira came off best. Her “Mi tradì” kept right on top of Minkowski’s speedy tempo, with a rich near-mezzo sound that was sometimes a little reminiscent of Janet Baker in her prime.

    Schrott was a funny, inventive, vocally secure Leporello, and also handled the quick work pretty well. He certainly had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand.

    Erin Wall as Anna had more trouble, often lagging behind the beat, seeming to tire somewhat near the end of “Or sai chi l’onore” and unable to muster the creamy legato that would have turned “No non mi dir” into a moment of supreme gorgeousness.

    Stanislas de Barbeyrac (Ottavio) is not unmusical and has an attractive instrument. But he too hadn’t the seamless legato to live up to the beautiful foundation Minkowski laid for him in his arias.

    Sarah Shafer sang prettily but her characterization of Zerlina was shallow, not helped by the direction (more of that anon). Michael Sumuel as Masetto seemed in much the same plight. Andrea Silvestrelli, not confronted with the same virtuoso challenges as the others, made the most of the Commendatore (I like his voice and he’s in much better shape than he was a year ago).

    Last, and most unfortunately, handsome Ildebrando D’Arcangelo was, alas, a vocally very unseductive Giovanni. He has a glamorous dark sound and power, but no colors and apparently no ability to sing below mezzo forte. “Deh vieni alla finestra” was painful – strangled and consistently below pitch. The Champagne Aria wound up as just a succession of shouts.

    Jacopo Spirei’s production was very strong on comic business, and thankfully the cast understood how not to belabor the gags. Yet at other moments the direction was just absurdly inept. “Il padre mio dov’è?” (where’s my daddy?) asks Donna Anna – honey chile, he’s still lying there on the ground 10 feet away, just where you left him. The relationships between Anna and Ottavio and between Zerlina and Masetto had all the erotic charge of an evening watching Star Wars on DVD (the blocking made Masetto seem unaccountably reluctant to touch Zerlina or have her touch him: “toccami qua” – “touch me here” – was staged with her standing a foot or two away; she finally offered him – her ankle???). Leporello would have been more bothered at a goal forfeited by his favorite soccer team than he was by the ghost.

    Admittedly, Spirei was stuck with somebody else’s production, which I didn’t see in its earlier incarnation. (What the hell were all those mirrors supposed to be about?) But he must have spent all his rehearsal time choreographing the giocoso. And to give him his due, he did that part well. Unfortunately, he scanted the dramma.

    A final word of praise for Philip Kuttner’s supertitles, which did a fine job of keeping the sense of the Italian while updating it for contemporary audiences. If the laughs didn’t come quite on cue with the singing, the audience was still, happily, getting the point.

  • Elsewhere1010

    Before Jeanette solidified (and in the hands of Ernst Lubitsch) she could be absolutely delicious. Check our her dialogue scenes with Maurice Chevalier in The Merry Widow of 1934. Utterly dirty and completely innocent.