I was thinking about French baroque opera a little more. I don’t really have a lot of experience with it. The only such opera I have ever seen live was Rameau’s Platée at the New York City Opera (remember the NYCO?) in like 2003 or 2004. I remember it being colorful and pretty fun. The countertenor they had dressed up the frog suit as Platée was kind of a riot. I believe there is a chorus towards the end where repetitions of “bon” or “c’est bon” are made to sound like a frog croaking? I also have a bright memory of Christine Brandes as Folly nailing some fairly gnarly coloratura.
Sometimes I think it’s just me checking email when it’s late and I’m tired, and then sometimes I really do think that the students are, more and more as the semester goes on, sending me emails that balance on that subtle knife’s edge between “I have a complicated question about the Federalist papers that I find difficult to articulate and I am trying to explain it” (which is fine – that’s what I’m here for) and “I have not slept in three days and have difficulties with punctuation at the best of times and this question could be about Alexander Hamilton, or it could be about whether I am failing the class or not or it could be about both, in a cosmic kind of way – wasn’t he the one who told his father he could not cut down a cherry tree?”
The video below contains two arias. The first is Vivica Genaux performing “Quell’Usignolo” from Geminiano Giacomelli’s opera Merope. You may guess this from the music itself, but the text makes reference to a nightingale. The second is Christine Brandes performing “Sweet bird, that shun’st the noise of folly,” from Handel’s oratorio/pastoral ode L’Allegro, Il Penseroso ed Il Moderato. I really enjoy the flute part in this – it reminds me of “Se in fiorito ameno prato” from Giulio Cesare where Cesare is anticipating his hot date with “Lydia,” aka Cleopatra, and there is an extended interplay between the mezzo part and a solo violin. The flutist accompanying Brandes so pleasantly is Clara Novakova.
That’s all. It’s Friday, so I am not required to come to any conclusions.
Here are two versions of a song by Henry Purcell, “When first Amintas sued for a kiss.” I believe it is theater music, of which Purcell composed a lot, but I can’t recall right now. The first one is Emma Kirkby and the second, beginning at 1.58, is Christine Brandes.
I both enjoy and detest Emma Kirkby’s voice, but that is not the issue right now. Both she and Brandes are native English speakers (Kirkby is English and Brandes is American) and so there is none of the odd inflection or difficulties with ‘th’ or ‘wh’ that you sometimes hear when non-Anglophones perform this type of music. I bring this up because these are both singers who can be expected to work with the details of the text very easily.