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Tuesday
Nov112014

OperaNow! #225: Neither Seen Nor Heard

Guess what we did for Opera Week in America?...Jenny's latest Huffington Post article on opera marketing...Should some singers be heard and not heard?...Florida Grand opera calls on Miami to get some cash...Enrico Caruso love letters on auction...Montserrat Caballe avoids jail sentence for tax evasion... Christine Goerke named Vocalist of the Year by Musical America.

In the Corner, Oliver finally recognizes why he loves Electra. 

Plus Guess Who Died?

This week features Michael, The OC and Doug Dodson.

Reader Comments (8)

Er... Michael... don't you think it's a bit odd for you, as a podcast host, to tell people to stop talking....? ;-)

I love the strange programming decisions people make in an attempt to appeal to a younger audience... Hey! I know what'll get the kids in! An opera about totalitarianism from 1950!

I'm amazed that Doug has never listened to Elektra! But then, I'm constantly surprised by the fact that people who sing opera for a living don't really listen to whole sections of the repertoire... maybe I'm the weird one for being a generalist....

I think Elektra would have been shocking to people, but on the other hand, it does use a lot of (by then) traditional elements - leitmotifs, classical mythology, etc. Strauss's modernism is only skin deep, I think... or rather, it's the commercial end of the modernist spectrum. I'd be tempted to call Elektra (and even more extreme works like Erwartung which followed it) expressionism, in order to distinguish them from the art nouvea that came before.

To me the North by Northwest theme has always sounded more like the opening of the last movement of Mendelssohn's 4th symphony, but you're right about Bernard Herrmann and others like him. He also quotes Tristan extensively in the score for Vertigo, for example.

Oliver - I'm glad you did this now rather than in a couple of year's time, because it has been really interesting hearing you exploring it for the first time, and learning to love it over the past few weeks. I think last time you were talking about the leitmotifs and saying that the complexity made your "brain explode" - this is exactly what I like about Strauss. He gives you too much of everything, all the time. It's too much to take in, so you have to keep coming back again and again. If you're interested, English National Opera have a really good series of opera guides, which not only include the libretto and translation, but also have all the leitmotifs numbered alongside the text, and lots of explanatory notes. They're really helpful for unpicking all the detail!

For Christmas, I would like to hear a sequel to Jenny and Michael's "I'll wear a suit made out of your skin, I've got your head in the fridge" song.
November 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMenuet alla Zoppa
Is talking during recitals a diva thing now?

I know that Renee Fleming always does it. I was at a recital with Sondra Radvanovsky last weekend in Los Angeles and she also talked a bit. Actually, Sondra was the most genuine diva interaction with the audience I have ever witnessed because she was mostly very humble and she just gave us brief introductions. At one point she told us that she was singing a certain set of songs because they were her father's favorite and then she got emotional when she revealed he had passed away. I was sitting in the front row and I could see her tears as she sang. So as Radvanovsky talked the audience actually learned something interesting about the music and what it means to her.

Joyce DiDonato tends to ramble in a self-important kind of way and I do wish she would talk less most of the time. There is a youtube video of DiDonato falling after sining the Star Spangled Banner.

Anyway, Elektra is one of my favorite operas too. Dough should get the Solti studio recording with Nilsson.
November 12, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterzach
I have only seen photos, but I do not think Anita R looked like anything other than like a mediterranean beauty. If that's the wrong body type for Carmen, I don't know what is.
November 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJeanniebeannie
the name is easy to say if you break it down: Anita Rach-vel-ish-vil-i
November 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterzach
Really enjoyed Oliver's review of Elektra - I had the chance to see it a few years ago in Seattle - fascinating work - and yes, it made my head hurt too!

Michael - dinner next time you are in Portland - don't want you to feel left out!

Kendall
November 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKendall in Portland
Little late to the game as I often am, but...JDD is one of the very few people I've had to unfollow on Twitter. I just couldn't stand the barrage any longer. I think she's gone a bit too far with all this "Kansas City girl" thing now, and it's no longer sincere-sounding. Lovely woman and singer yes, but it's too much!
And as for Anita R. - she is a beautiful woman with a phenomenal voice. We've had her twice in Toronto - as Carmen and then just this spring as Dulcinee in Don Quichotte. She was very impressive in the latter - huge voice, great French, very strong stage presence, good acting and movement. Whoever criticized her appearance in the MET Carmen shows just how (too) far this whole "camera ready" (oh how I hate the phrase) thing has gone in the opera world. A convincing operatic portrayal is about so much more than looking like a stick fashion model - like, there's singing 'n shit like that...
Thanks for playing Deborah Voigt in her prime - too much hate about her more latter day portrayals - important to remember the better times (though I still think she has much to offer...).
November 22, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergianmarco
I just want to go on record and say I do NOT agree with Michael at all about JDD. I think she's a great ambassador and should keep doing what she's doing in all aspects.
December 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJenny
It's time for the operatic government to recall that ambassador.
December 2, 2014 | Registered CommenterMichael Rice

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