I am on a roll as far as not getting thrown out of concert halls is concerned. (Has anyone ever been? I have never seen a concertgoer forcibly ejected from a venue, but the venues I frequent tend to be fairly staid – perhaps if I attended more song recitals in rough areas of Jersey there might be more action. You know, like in Blues Brothers where the band is behind chicken wire because the audience yells and throws beer bottles until they hear something they like. “Heidenröslein! Heeeiiidenröööööösleeeeeiin!”)
This live recording of Die Entführung aus dem Serail conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin follows those of Così fan tutte and Don Giovanni, the latter of which I bought because Joyce DiDonato was in it, and the former because why the hell not, and also Miah Persson. Both of those proved to be mixed bags. So is this one. There is some overlap of casts, but the only singer common to all three is Rolando Villazón, which choice – well, as they say, nobody likes it, but it keeps happening.
When I first saw the title of this opera out of the corner of my eye, my brain read ‘Ercole sul Termodonte’ as ‘school on top of something that might have to do with baths.’ This did not seem like an extraordinarily winning concept for an opera. Fortunately ‘ercole’ is not the Italian word for school. It is the Italian word for Hercules. And while ‘terme’ is the Italian word for a spa or Roman-style public bath, Termodonte is something rather different. It is
a type of dinosaur prone to sticking its head into hot springs; the name means “thermal-toothed” the place where the Amazons live.
This is one of those recordings where I had more “huh, that’s interesting” moments than “wow!” moments (although there are some wows, mostly associated with Joyce DiDonato as Donna Elvira).
I took no notes during the performance, but a series of things did occur to me afterward. They are merely impressions, not analytical points in any meaningful sense, so I think I’m still in bounds on this one.
L’Elisir d’Amore is new to me. I’ve heard a few other of Donizetti’s operas, and they’ve struck me as terrific fun but not always deeply moving. Donizetti’s music at its worst can be somewhat repetitive. But when he’s on his game, you can have yourself a real good time.