I was attempting to concentrate on a Scholarly Endeavor yesterday (it’s a manuscript, not a cocktail, although I’d much rather have the latter) and in a desperate bid to corral my attention I decided to try to write and listen to Le Nozze di Figaro at the same time. The plan was not what you would call a roaring success. It was the Harnoncourt version from Salzburg, and I had never heard it without the visuals before and man, that thing is weird. The overture has this odd, lurching, things leaping out when you least expect it sort of feel – you think you know where you are and which way is up and then you get ambushed by woodwinds. I got through most of Act I and had to turn it off because I wasn’t getting any work done.
I have also been having this bizarre desire to listen to Renée Fleming this week. Not so strange a thing in the abstract, of course, but it’s never happened to me before. I think she has a Schubert songs CD out there somewhere. Possibly I will have to get my hands on that. (I already checked: the library does not have it. I am beginning to suspect that they purchased that Germano-Italian hybrid Mary Stuart DVD primarily so that they could tell the German department that they had the Schiller play and the music department that they had the Donizetti opera, and if no one found out they would have saved about $12.)
And via the HuffPo, it seems that Natalie Dessay may be retiring! This is sad news, although the reasons she gives are quite straightforward.
Her opinions on Bellini’s I Puritani are also quite straightforward:
“The music is wonderful, but I just don’t see myself playing [Elvira],” she said. “She becomes crazy in exactly 30 seconds, then she’s not crazy anymore, then she’s crazy again.
“I mean, the libretto is really too stupid,” she said, wrinkling her nose.