In my case, watching Joyce DiDonato’s recent Carnegie Hall recital on medici.tv. I really like this live broadcast/archive thing that Carnegie Hall has started doing – it’s free to watch, for one thing (yay!) and it’s a bit of concert stress insurance: if they do this for the concerts I really reallycare about, I know that if something weird happens and I don’t make it to New York, I can still hear them.
There was a mild technical problem with the audio/video synch when I was watching this. The video was a few seconds ahead for most of the second half. Not a big deal, but mildly irritating (I was watching it on my iPad, which may or may not have made a difference).
No subtitles either, though the website has a list of the pieces and may or may not have the texts – I didn’t check, because I found I was interested enough in the music that I didn’t need to worry about the words I didn’t catch. Some of this material I had heard many times before, like the willow song from Rossini’s version of Othello, and several of the pieces are on a CD I have of a live recording of DiDonato giving a similar recital in London a few years ago. I will also agree with the New York times critic who notes that DiDonato’s singing is far more interesting than what she says when she pauses to talk about the music.
And what is it about Fauré songs? The past two or three reviews I have read of mezzos and sopranos who are not French singing Fauré have noted that the singer’s French diction is iffy. Is French really so much more difficult than English or German or Italian to get right? Perhaps the French have tricked us into thinking so. Certainly I never hear anyone say “his German is very . . . French” the way people say “her French is very . . . English.” Or maybe the “his/her French diction is bad” is a criticism that one can always make because no one is going to go out on a limb and defend the French of a non-French speaker. Or perhaps it is really the case that all of my favorite singers (except Natalie Dessay and Patricia Petibon for obvious reasons) are bad at French. Fair enough, I suppose. I can live with that.