I’ve given up trying to figure out why divas gravitate to certain roles and not others. Years ago, Shirley Verrett told me with an entirely serious expression that her true role in Don Carlo was Elisabetta, “not the one with the eye patch.” For years, Anna Netrebko seemed destined to become the great Desdemona, Manon Lescaut and Madama Butterfly of her generation. But no: the roles do not “speak” to her and Netrebko has bypassed what seems like obvious repertoire in favor of some real head-turning operas, including Norma and Macbeth. Her new CD of Verdi arias seems to be a bold, defiant, “in your face” statement about the direction she is taking with her career. Read more »
As someone who enjoys Massenet immensely, I was delighted to receive for review his rarely-performed 1907 opera, Thérèse. It is a compact work consisting of two short acts and clocks in just under seventy minutes. The drama, set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, is somewhat contrived and rushed. It feels like a work that is missing an act or two that would fill out the roles and give the drama more depth.
The plot is a love triangle (strains of Werther) consisting of the titular character, her husband André, and her former love Armand, who is a member of the French aristocracy and childhood friend of André. Needless to say, there is a guillotine involved and things do not end happily, with Thérèse forced to choose between her passion and her duty—fleeing with Armand or dying with her husband. Massenet is of course the master of writing for emotional, conflicted heroines and Thérèse is no exception. Read more »
Riding in a car down the strip on my first and, so far at least, only visit to Las Vegas a few years ago, I noticed what to me was a most unexpected sight and startled my companions by pointing out the window and shouting “Auber! AUBER??!! OMG, that’s a bust of AUBER! What is a bust of Auber doing on the Las Vegas strip?” Determined to solve this mystery, I could not rest until I found out that there is a hotel/casino on the strip in Las Vegas called “Paris” which incorporates a copy of part of the facade of the Palais Garnier and therefore yes, a bust of Auber presides, most incongruously it somehow seemed to me, over part of the strip in Las Vegas. Read more »
The behavioral phenomenon of limerence has been described as “an involuntary potentially inspiring state of adoration and attachment to a limerent object involving intrusive and obsessive thoughts, feelings and behaviors from euphoria to despair, contingent on perceived emotional reciprocation.”
Between Fidelio and Der Freischutz there was “Romantische Oper,” a type of musical drama descended from medieval mystery plays in which ghosts, gnomes and other “invisibles” get entangled in the lives of unsuspecting people.
Could Marek Janowski do for Wagner what the early music movement did for the Baroque and Classical repertory?