La Cieca just returned from the HD of The Audition, a documentary about the 2007 Met National Council Auditions.Â The film puts her in an optimistic mood about the future of opera performance, or at any rate opera performers.Â Focus is on three young tenors who (spoiler) all end up winning the competition.
The very cute light tenor Alek Shrader gambles on “Ah mes amis”Â (a piece he hadn’t planned on bringing to the table) and certainly nails as many of the high C’s as we get to hear. The underdog of the contest is Ryan Smith, who starts out unsteady but then pulls it all together for a happy ending. (Temporarily, at least: Smith died of lymphoma last November.)
But the most interesting character among the group is Michael Fabiano, who is cast as the Brandoesque “angry loner” role by the film’s editing: everyone else is just so nice and so polite, and Fabiano tends to shoot his mouth off.Â The cuddleability factor aside, this is a dynamic young artist who (as one of the judges for the competition says during deliberations) is in a few years either “going to be a superstar or else dead.”Â It’s hard to tell vocal size from the sound engineering in this film (everyone is so reverbed that the lightest voices sound like Corelli at least) but Fabiano seems to have a quality instrument and (maybe rarer than that) projects the electric temperament that makes opera exciting.
After the film proper, there’s some yakking among RenÃ©e Fleming, Susan Graham and Thomas Hampson about making it in the business and such. The highlight of this segment is a glimpse of photographs of the two divas at the 1988 finals, in matching royal blue padded-shoulder bridesmaid dresses and brunette upsweeps a la Joan Collins.
These singers’ visual evolution over the past quarter century offers some hope for the standout women singers of this competition, Amber L. Wagner, Jamie Barton and Angela Meade. They’re all impressive artists with a strong vocal message, but also with full figures that are not so easy to swathe in evening gowns. La Cieca is not saying they need to achieve the sleekly angular silhouette The Opera Milf currently has on display, but their long-range planning should probably include some work on weight management.
Your doyenne is sorry she didn’t preview this documentary for you, but she definitely recommends you seek out a reprise.