Tag Archive: Bel Canto at Caramoor

From Summer Opera…an Answer to the Opera Houses’ Predicament?

Euryanthe From left, Peter Volpe, Ryan Kuster, William Burden and Ellie Dehn, at Bard SummerScape . Photo Cory Weaver.

Permit me to indulge in a one-sided argument…or a rant, as I believe it’s called in the blogging world—which is not ours at New York Arts and The Berkshire Review!

Opera in the United States is particularly unsettled at the moment, if not in trouble. Both audiences and sources of funding are on a downward curve, although the better-managed companies seem to be coping. The biggest beast of all, The Metropolitan Opera, compromised by the bad judgement of its General Director, Peter Gelb, is the most worrisome of all.

Summer Retrospective: Donizetti and Verdi at Caramoor 2014 (with a look back to 2013)

Georgia Jarman and Stephen Powell in Rigoletto

The lattest upheavals in San Diego and New York have, as you might expect, stirred up another raft of “death of opera” articles in the press. Clichéd automatic reactions to what may be symptoms of something larger or may not were common enough before the digital age, but, since all it takes is to get a reader to click on a headline to accomplish something positive (as it seems) the constant repetition of dire news has become a reality of a decidedly Pavlovian sort, since the Net is interactive, is it not?

Rossini’s Ciro in Babilonia at Caramoor, with Ewa Podleś, Jessica Pratt, and Michael Spyres; Will Crutchfield conducting

Ciro in Babilonia by Rossini in front of digital projections at Bel Canto at Caramoor

Ciro in Babilonia
Gioachino Rossini. music
Francesco Aventi, libretto

The concert (or “semi-staged,” if you prefer) performances at Caramoor are a treasure, as one of the few venues in America where one can hear bel canto opera correctly sung in a context which attempts to recreate the text and performance of bel canto opera in a practical balance of scholarship and showmanship. Bel Canto at Caramoor is a delight for audiences and singers alike, because, as Vivica Genaux, who has sung there several times, said, “at Caramoor it’s all about the music.” It’s not some eccentricity of a more than usually serious singer that the music comes first. I’d venture to say that the music tells us almost everything we need to know about opera, especially in Rossini, who first developed his technique by working with singers. What we discover through research into performance practice cannot literally enable us to recreate the exact sound of the original performance, much less its effect on its audience. However, the music of a particular, bygone period makes no sense at all, unless certain basics of the original performance practices are followed. What you hear at Caramoor today shows progress from the early efforts of Callas, Sutherland, and Sills and the musicians who worked with them. What Will Crutchfield has achieved gives us, as the audience, a viable grounding in the technique and style of Bel Canto. Above all, this music has to be sung with the whole voice.

Semi-Staged is the New Staged – HMS Pinafore at Caramoor Bel Canto Festival

Tynan Davis, Jason Plourde, Robert McPherson, Georgia Jarman, Jorell Williams, Vanessa Cariddi, and Scott Bearden in HMS Pinafore. Photo Gabe Palacio.

HMS Pinafore by William S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan Georgia Jarman, Soprano (Josephine) Vanessa Cariddi, Mezzo-Soprano (Little Buttercup) Tynan Davis, Mezzo-Soprano (Cousin Hebe) Robert Mcpherson, Tenor (Ralph Rackstraw) Jorell Williams, Baritone (Captain Corcoran) Scott Bearden, Baritone (Dick Deadeye) Jason…
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