Archive for the ‘jonas kaufmann’ Tag
It’s time for my third annual Top 10 round-up. These don’t attempt to be comprehensive reviews…but rather an Amuse-bouche of the most stellar performances I witnessed by the Bay, in ’11. How in the world can I compare a Pop Star to a Handel opera, you ask? Well…I warm up the jcm-ulator, and out come the tabulated results. It doesn’t lie. I seem to be trending towards opera, with musicals taking a back seat. Why? They sing louder, higher and without mics?
1) RING Cycle, SF Opera details
With the carefully crafted characterizations of a stage play, this Cycle was a well-deserved hit and had the city abuzz with Wagner. Nina Stemme’s Brünnhilde was an utter triumph, equal parts true Wagnerian and singing actress. Stunning SFO leading role debuts were offered by Heidi Melton as Sieglinde, and Daveda Karanas as Waltraute. There wasn’t a weak link in the cast. Francesca Zambello’s concept was fortunately not too heavy-handed, largely staying out of the way of the story and score…more often informing it, and only periodically misstepping. I found the Industrial Revolution concepts throughout Das Rheingold to be the most iconic and potent. However, the mythic Die Walküre was the emotional highpoint, featuring the burnished, virile tenor of Brandon Jovanovich’s Siegmund. Siegfried was also surprisingly engaging. I had the good fortune of serving as Super Captain and Supernumerary in Walküre and Götterdämmerung.
2) Stacey Kent, Venetian Room, Fairmont Hotel details
I fell in love with her voice three years ago. After stalking her tour schedule for a Bay Area performance, I got to experience her art live at last. She’s a real pixie…a gentle spirit, with a frail flutter to her vibrato. She completely transported me and her audience, casting a convincing spell. Her palpable, loving connection to her band leader, sax player and husband Jim Tomlinson added to the glow. She embodied “less is more,” drawing us in, rather than overworking her numbers in a too extroverted manner. Her set included lots of brazilian and french songs unfamiliar to me, some off her just released album. Come back soon Stacey!
Wow, the pleasing aftershocks of #OperaPlot have proven to be just as fun as the contest itself. Here’s my latest happy news!
Short Lists & Nods
Her name was Violet, she was a call girl. With camélias in her hair & consumption in the air. At the AH-PRAH! Don’t fall in love!
My head says Turandon’t! But my heart says Turando! [Turandot]
Then, musicvstheater posted “How to write an #operaplot,” on his blog Music vs. Theater. It’s a fascinating “semi-scholarly taxonomy” of entry trends and categories. My above “Copacabana” Traviata entry was included under “The Lyrics.” I jokingly told him that I’m really a dramatic coloratura trapped in a lyric’s body.
Premature Booty & Glory
It only gets better!
I’m too sexy for amor—too sexy for Seville. I’m a charmer—I shake my lil tush on the piazza. I’m too sexy for this opera. *burns*
Finally, I fell off my chair when Decca sprang a surprise on the eager proceedings, and offered 5 early, unexpected prizes. My “Copacabana” entry landed “Best Pop Culture Reference,” and a copy of Jonas Kaufmann’s latest CD (Thanks Decca and Miss Mussel)! Just a CD, you ask? Well, it’s more about the glory and pleasure of winning than the prize itself. Boy, I’m going to owe a lot to Barry Manilow for this!
Or, perhaps being chauffeur for 3 different Violetta’s, including Anna Netrebko in SF Opera’s Traviata last season rubbed off on me? What a wonderful way to start my 40th birthday festivities! The fun of it all was alone worth the participation, but I’m no closet competitor, so this has me positively giddy. It looks like pop references might just be my calling card.
[UPDATE: Jonas has spoken! His picks have been announced. Congrats to all the winners! No more glory for me...but I'm not complainin'. Til next time!]
Today, The Omniscient Mussel launches her second annual “OperaPlot” contest. The goal? To synopsize any opera in 140 characters (including the hashtag #operaplot), and post up to 25 on twitter.com, before midnight EST, friday, April 30th. Anyone can enter, so hit her with your best shots!
T.O.M. scored a major coup, landing the biggest hunken-tenor on the intl. scene Jonas Kaufmann as arbiter! It was tempting to tailor my entries to his repertoire (ie: Werther, Tosca, Die Walküre, etc.), but I maintained my integrity! My entries milk song lyric adaptations, current mainstream celebrity fixations, whimsical text icons, and my love for the melodramatic side of the art form.
My First 12 Entries
I’m too sexy for amor—too sexy for Seville. I’m a charmer—I shake my lil tush on the piazza. I’m too sexy for this opera. *burns* [Don Giovanni]
Her name was Violet, she was a call girl. With camélias in her hair & consumption in the air. At the AH-PRAH! Don’t fall in love! [La Traviata]
Irish ♀ + Breton ♂ x ♪ leitmotifs in ♠s = ♥ death [Tristan und Isolde]
(Inappropriate for Children) “Je-rry! Je-rry!” A chick with a *BLEEP*. Commercial break. Satan/Jesus fued *BLEEP*! Final Thought. [Jerry Springer: The Opera]
All that stands between Turandot and her man: a millennia-old feminist grudge, “Hope, Blood, Turandot,” slave girl and frigidity. [Turandot]
The primacy of words or music? Inseparable! A poet or composer’s heart, and whose operatic ending? Hmm…what’s a Countess to do? [Capriccio]
Shadow chasing ensues, proving Her Heart Belongs (nicht) To Daddy, but to hubby. Next up: “Empress & Kaiser Plus 8″ or Octomom? [Die Frau ohne Schatten]
3 protagonists enter. 3 cries of “Turandot.” 3 gongs. 3 riddles. 3 correct answers. 3 ministers lament. 3 “Vinceròs!” 3 Acts end. [Turandot]
1) Death by strangulation on a barge on the Seine in Paris, 2) by poison in a convent near Siena, 3) and by old age in Florence. [Il Trittico]
The Don’s Hectic Calendar: Seduce. Rape. Duel. Kill. Flirt. Lure. Flee. Regroup. Accuse. Swap. Fool. Invite. Revel. Refuse. BURN! [Don Giovanni]
The Empress needs what the mortal woman has, decides she doesn’t want it badly enough, but gets it anyway. Typical daddy’s girl! [Die Frau ohne Schatten]
“Questo è il fin di chi fa mal!” So, don’t seduce, rape, accuse, fool, desert, lure, beat, or kill, lest you be dragged to hell! [Don Giovanni]
Perhaps I’ll be inspired to generate a second phase of entries! This is VERY addictive, and I wanna win!
Telemarketing Sales Calls…Oh My!
As I continue to field a slew of these sorts of calls from all the big gun Bay Area performing arts companies (ie: San Francisco Opera, SF Ballet, and more), I am reminded how much my own entertainment purchasing habits have changed (not to mention that of the entire market), and how little interest I have in committing to a subscription for any of their seasons. No kidding (I swear on my own grave), I just got a call from the SFO about a subscription for the upcoming season, as I edited this post. Could I be any more topical!?
Being a graphic designer, and even myself having worked and working on some past and future SFO campaigns, I feel for the telemarketers…but in the heat of the moment it doesn’t make the disruption much easier to swallow.
I still laugh when I remember the technique my feisty grandmother touted for dealing with such calls. She said she would ask them to hold while she got the person they asked for (sometimes herself)…then she would set down the phone for a good long while, until they gave up.
Thanks for the Memories
Back in the mid-90s I enjoyed my one-and-only complete 12-part subscription to the SFO. This was back in the hey-day, when their seasons were really jam packed (unlike the current 9-part season). I also purchased a 6-part series one season shortly after. The year of my 12-part series, I enjoyed sharing in theme nights with operagoing friends, attending a french restaurant before Massenet, German before Strauss, and so on. But, that was sort of a one-season thrill, and lost momentum after 4 or 5 operas…perhaps a bit too tedious after a while.
I do remember feeling rather enslaved by the demands of the subscription schedule, having to go nearly every weekend in Nov./Dec., and wishing I also had time for other pleasures on-the-town (movies, dance, clubbin’). I’m an opera fanatic, but even in my experiencing of opera I like variety…sometimes cheaply from standing room or even a lucky student rush ticket, sometimes (rather expensively) from my favored Dress Circle section, sometimes from the stage (as a “Super”), and so on. I even enjoy attending the opera with different friends, to experiencing their varying perspectives and knowledge bases…some offering me new insight, some enjoying mine.
I am certain that subscriptions are the life-blood of performing arts orgs, and so part of me has felt guilty for not being a more faithful patron, as I’ve begun reveling in single ticket livin’. But, now that I freelance from home, and have my own design business, that guilt is washing away…clearly a sign ‘o the times.
I realize that companies are having to reinvent the way they engage their audiences too (ie: with complete design your own series, etc., which didn’t exist on this scale 5+ years ago). Extensive marketing surveys have become so common, it seems one hits about every six months. It is clear that these companies are trying to get a pulse on their changing audiences in a fast evolving and tight time. I actually enjoy giving my two-cents, and always hope it makes some sort of ripple, however small.
One of these surveys was conducted shortly before David Gockley signed on as General Director of SFO. One of the questions was, which operas would you most like to see. Thankfully, two of the operas on that list have been presented since: Porgy & Bess, and Die Todt Stadt (at the end of Pamela Rosenberg’s tenure).
What motivates my interests? I most want to see the oft ignored chestnuts that haven’t been mounted here in eons (or ever), and that I have yet to see LIVE in any venue. I also, of course, will try not to miss a production if the singers are first-rate (and deserved) “stars”, or if the production has been critically acclaimed or promises to be provoking and well suited to the work itself.
My Updated Wish-Lists
My submitted wish-list remains largely intact. Unless noted, I have not seen these works, and eagerly await my first encounter with them.:
Die Frau ohne Schatten (seen twice)
Così fan tutte (seen once)
Maria Stuarda / Lucrezia Borgia / Roberto Devereux
Dialogues des Carmélites
I Capuleti e I Montechi
Prodaná nevěsta (The Bartered Bride)
Die Schweigsame Frau
Another question in the Gockley survey was which singers we’d most like to see. (Sadly, Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson was on that list.) Here is my newly crafted list.:
• Heidi Melton
• Anne Schwanewilms
• Mlada Khudoley
• Alexandrina Pendatchanska
• Andreas Scholl
• Bernarda Fink
• Waltraud Meier
• Olga Borodina
• Jonas Kaufmann (Gockley has publicly stated his admiration of this singer, so hopefully it won’t be long!)
• Peter Seiffert
• Lawrence Brownlee (fortunately I’m seeing him in Semiramide at Caramoor)
• Réne Pape
• Vitaly Kowaljow
• Bryn Terfel
Thankfully, other likely wish-listees Nina Stemme, Ewa Podles, Stephanie Blythe, Juan Diego Florez, and Paolo Gavanelli are all appearing next season.