Cher Public

Babes in arms

Chances are you’ve been wallowing in Wagner all week, and I head up den Grünen Hügel tomorrow for eight days, so it’s time for some attractive and very young singers, coloratura with embellishments, and high notes galore: La fille du regiment from Wiener Staatsoper with Julie Fuchs and John Tessier. 

If Fuchs’ name sounds familiar she was the Zerlina in the Don Giovanni broadcast from Aix earlier this month.  The petite French soprano is at the dawn of a most promising career: coming up are Nanette at the Bastille, La Comtesse in Le Comte Ory at the Opéra Comique, Morgana in Alcina at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Pamina in Hamburg, and Monteverdi’s Poppea in a Calixto Bieto production in Zürich.

Canadian tenor Tessier already has 10 Tonios under his belt at Wiener Staatsoper, so he’s popped out at least 90 Donizetti high Cs to go along with those in Il barbiere di Siviglia and I Puritani.  A master of the Mozart tenor roles, he’s sung them at New York City Opera and Opera Company of Philadelphia, as well as Pasquale in Haydn’s Orlando Paladino and Acis and Galatea at Glimmerglass Opera.

Werther has been his most recent triumph, prompting an Edmonton critic to write, “There is something very special about his tenor voice: there is a colour, a kind of tiny musical accent, to his sound that is entirely his.  Jon Vickers and Jussi Björling had something similar, with the result that their voices are instantly recognizable.”

It’s hard for me to think of Carlos Álvarez as a “veteran,” but the Wiener Staatsoper Kammersänger made his company debut in 1995 as Rossini’s Figaro, and at the Met the following season as Germont père.  He returns to Wien in the coming season as the High Priest in a new Samson et Dalila with Elina Garanca and Roberto Alagna, Mozart’s Figaro, Escamillo, and more performances as Sulpice, a role he’s sung in every performance here of Laurent Pelly’s well-traveled production since its 2007 premiere with Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Flórez.

While Wien counts Montserrat Caballé and Kiri Te Kanawa among its interpreters of La Duchesse de Crakentorp, another veteran and Kammersängerin, company mainstay Ildikó Raimondi, who debuted as Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier in 1991, vamps up the cameo role with a Gershwin tune.  (Gee, I wish Ljuba Welitsch had done the same in her Met performances!)

Post scriptum:  For those of you who can’t get enough, here’s the Bayreuth Meistersinger which opened last Tuesday, which I’ll be attending a week from today.  And here’s Thursday’s Parsifal, too, which I’ll be seeing on Saturday.