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*+-The Mark Morris Dance Group was back in Boston with the East Coast premiere of a major new work, Handel’s ravishing pastoral opera Acis and Galatea, under the aegis of the Celebrity Series of Boston, one of the co-commissioners. I loved it. Or to put it more accurately, I’m in love with it, and saw three of its four performances at the Shubert Theatre. Morris has now staged several complete operas and one Handel oratorio. At least two of these are generally regarded as his masterpieces: Purcell’s one-act opera, Dido and Aeneas (1989), in which all the singers are offstage and the dancers play the main characters; and Handel’s L’Allegro,il Penseroso ed il Moderato (1988), in which the singers are also offstage, and there are no characters. But in Rameau’s delectable Platée (1997) and in Morris’s productions of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice (Handel and Haydn Society, 1996; the Metropolitan Opera, 2007), singers played the leading roles and appeared on stage along with the dancers.
*+-Here in San Francisco we are fortunate to experience in fairly rapid succession the world’s great violinists, especially the young ones rising. (And sometimes the older ones falling: Pinchas Zukerman’s recent rough and scrapie visit with the Royal Philharmonic was disappointing—a soaring career tumbling for the nets). But it has generally been a feast: James Ehnes, Simone Lamsma, and now Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang, just to name a few. Given the level of excellence these days, it is sometimes hard to pick a winner and know what winning means. All are remarkably good. But I’ll go out on a limb here.
*+-Vivica Genaux has recently appeared in a George London Foundation recital at the Morgan Library, and Vivaldi’s opera Ercole has recently been released in a superb recording by EMI with Europa Galante led by Fabio Biondi, in which she sings the part of Antiope. This is the third and final part of an interview held on December 13, 2011.
MM I remember when I heard you in Paris in L’Italiana in Algeri—and I have to apologise that I never got a review out for that performance, which was great—but you were having some trouble at the time (At least it was announced in the house.), and all one noticed in the performance was that you were a little quiet for part of an act, and then you were right back into it.
*+-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.
*+-MM: Harnoncourt will have the Concertgebouw…and I think maybe he started with the Vienna Philharmonic having them use gut strings…
VG: Good for him.
MM: And approaching a period style. I should think that would be a great—how do you say?—experience for orchestral musicians, to have them rethink their playing a bit and so forth. There’s not much interest in that in the U.S.
VG: But I think it’s also…It depends on who does the approaching, I mean Harnoncourt, you can’t argue with him; he’s such an institution in Austria, and then also you were saying, that in Europe in general he’s just…he’s untouchable. He’s brilliant and…
*+-[Read Part II] [Read Part III] Vivica Genaux will tour the U. S. with Fabio Biondi and Europe Galante in February with a spectacular program based on their best-selling recording Vivaldi Pyrotechnics. I was fortunate to catch her in New York last month while she was on her way to Pittsburgh for her annual sessions with […]
*+-William Tell by Gioachino Rossini Bel Canto at Caramoor Saturday, July 9 at 7:30pm ~ Venetian Theater Friday, July 15 at 7:30pm (repeat performance) ~ Venetian Theater Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Will Crutchfield, conductor Cast: William Tell – Daniel Mobbs, bass-baritone Matilde – Julianna Di Giacomo, soprano Arnold – Michael Spyres, tenor Jemmy – Talise […]
*+-William Tell by Gioachino Rossini Bel Canto at Caramoor To read our review of the performance, click here. Saturday, July 9 at 7:30pm ~ Venetian Theater Friday, July 15 at 7:30pm (repeat performance) ~ Venetian Theater William Tell – Daniel Mobbs, bass-baritone Matilde – Julianna Di Giacomo, soprano Arnold – Michael Spyres, tenor Jemmy […]