Tag: Miah Persson

Wednesday Evening Miscellany with Bonus Unrelated Photo of Sondra Radvanovsky as Norma Banging a Gong


I stepped out of my usual rut last night, in the sense that instead of German art songs, I went to a recital of (mostly) Russian art songs by baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky. I am pleased to report that I can now reliably repeat his last name, because I took care to look at the program so as not to be caught out on such an elementary item – earlier, even having heard him once at the Met before, I would have been able to say it started with H, ended with -sky and that there was Russian in the middle, but that would have been about the limit. So. Hvorostovsky.

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Bonus Handel for Friday

After I mentioned “bella sorge la speranza” yesterday, Thadieu kindly sent me a performance of the opera it’s from, Arianna in Creta HWV 32. (It’s a radio broadcast from London in 2009, with the Academy of Ancient Music; she wrote about it here.)

The aria is part of the final scene of the opera. Here’s a short clip from that performance, with Miah Persson as Arianna and Kristina Hammarström as Teseo. They sing a duet, “mira adesso questo seno,” there’s a brief section of recitative and then Teseo has the “bella sorge” aria and then the aria is recapped as a chorus at the end.

Warning: it WILL get stuck in your head. Do not fight the Handel.

23 Minutes of Art Songs

These are the songs and the Program Notes that I sent to my mom as per earlier discussion. WordPress is being weird for some reason about displaying the player widget for the ones that are m4a and not wav files, but I think they all work. I also managed to include one very authentic Liederabend moment: before the Wolf song begins there is great hacking and wheezing from the audience.

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Un Moto di Gioia / Miah Persson

I was listening to Miah Persson’s wonderful recital from the Schwarzenberg Schubertiade the other day. The announcer introduced the first encore and explained that it was one of Susanna’s arias from Le Nozze di Figaro and because I am reasonably familiar with that opera I didn’t pay much attention to the explanation until the music started and I realized I didn’t recognize it. For a moment I wondered if I had sustained a blow to the head of which I was unaware; it also occurred to me that, say, there might be some bit of the opera that when arranged for piano sounds so completely different from the full version that it might take a minute to register what it was. But no. The aria is not “deh, vieni” or “venite inginocchiatevi” (which I somehow managed to categorize in my head as a sort of ensemble piece rather than an aria, because while it is going on there is usually so much to-ing and fro-ing with the Countess and Cherubino, even though Susanna is the only one singing) but rather a substitution Mozart wrote for the latter.

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If you haven’t already, run, don’t walk . . .

Over to Ö1 radio and listen to this recital from Miah Persson at the Schubertiade in Schwarzenberg. It’s lovely.

I listened to it this afternoon while taking apart the p-trap underneath my bathroom sink to remove some nasty gunk, and the quality of the performance (Persson’s singing peformance, not my amateur plumbing performance, though as those things go mine wasn’t bad) was such that I didn’t even mind.

Mozart – Mitridate, re di Ponto / Salzburg 2006 (2)

(Previous section here.)

So, we’ve got a lot of eyes and a lot of people who are either unsure or unaware of other people’s intentions. It’s worth noting that in this production, characters who are not required to be there by the music or the libretto often are. While any one character is having a big moment of some kind or another, there is nearly always someone else, or several people, walking past or around them or simply watching. Or in the case of Aspasia, lying on the ground curled in a ball of sadness and poofy red dress while other things are going on. Almost nothing happens unobserved by anyone else.

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Mozart – Così fan tutte / Salzburg 2009 (3)

(Previous section here.)

So, the emotions the characters are feeling are real. These people have not turned into automatons. Ferrando (Topi Lehtipuu) really means it about that dirt. And when Ferrando is about to seduce Fiordiligi in “fra gli amplessi” there is a moment where he seems furiously angry and rather threatening – this is revenge and there’s a hint it could get unpleasant.

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Mozart – Così fan tutte / Salzburg 2009 (2)

(Previous section here.)

So, we’ve got Alfonso as sometimes frustrated manipulator of others. This is standard for this opera, in some ways – but it doesn’t feel so in this version. Perhaps this is because Alfonso is not teaching these silly young things a lesson. Rather, he appears to be manipulating them out of a kind of compulsion. I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that part of the vulnerability that is being showcased here is Alfonso’s.

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Mozart – Così fan tutte / Salzburg 2009 (1)

I watched this dvd for the first time nearly a year ago now, and my initial response was a sustained feeling of irritation. I watched it again this past weekend, and while I was still feeling irritated through a large chunk of Act I, I was coming around by Act II, and by the end, although I wasn’t leaping up and down and shrieking with excitement, I did not feel as if my time had been misspent.

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Don Giovanni / ROH 2008 (2)

(Previous section here.)

The ROH put together an extremely high quality cast for this performance. Their Donna Elvira is Joyce Didonato, who in general causes me to grin like an idiot whenever she appears on stage, and this case is no exception. Donna Elvira makes a grand entrance standing on a litter and followed by an entourage; she’s wearing a ragged-looking wedding dress, has a shotgun slung over one shoulder and surveys the scene before her through a spyglass, which she snaps closed in irritation at not finding what she’s after. “A chi me dice mai” is performed in a way that is perfectly of a piece with this entrance. Big and grand and ever so slightly weird. It’s great. DiDonato conveys the bizarrely humorous aspects of this character perfectly (this is evident again in the entrance right before “non ti fidar, o misera”).

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Strauss, Der Rosenkavalier / Pieczonka, Kirchschlager, Persson et al.

This is a production from Salzburg in 2004. The action has been moved up to the early twentieth century, probably the 1920s to guess from the costumes. I’m not sure what the production designers were going for with this. I don’t mean that there’s anything wrong about the concept – just that I’m not sure what if anything specific is communicated thereby. Certainly it makes the Marschallin’s religious language in Act I (and Sophie’s in Act II) jump out far more than it would in a production staged in the eighteenth century (which is what I think Strauss and Hofmannsthal originally imagined). But again, I’m not sure whether this is deliberate, or even important.

Act I takes place, of course, in the Marschallin’s room, which in this instance is a very boudoiry boudoir. The walls, covers and upholstery are all deep red, and there are two plates of what looks like half-eaten pie on the floor and the bench at the end of the Marschallin’s bed. We can all probably figure out what the pie is doing there.

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Still more about Cosi fan tutte

“Per pieta” is one of those arias that doesn’t have an immediately recognizable melody like, say, “Dove sono” or “Martern aller Arten”. There are large stretches of it where the effectiveness really depends on how it’s phrased (and on the singer having very good intonation). With the eternal caveat that I know jack shit about singing, I have the impression that a performer is a little more exposed singing this than she would be with some other things.

Here are two versions of it. This is Malin Hartelius and this is Miah Persson from that Salzburg/Guth Cosi. In terms of quality of sound, I prefer Persson’s voice to Hartelius’s. It’s slightly more rounded and golden. (These are terrible descriptors, but it’s the best I can do.)

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In Which Claus Guth Reveals Himself to Be a 1.5 Trick Pony

[edit 5/15/12: I wrote this a long time ago. I think I may end up changing my mind about this production – it’s on my list to watch again.]

Today we are concerned with a DVD of a production of Cosi fan tutte from Salzburg in 2009. I watched the first act, and by the time I got to the end of that I pretty much had the trick of the thing, so I listened to the rest of it while I typed up my notes. So, there may have been any number of brilliant and wonderful things that happened after “una donna a quindici anni” that I missed. If so, I hope someone lets me know.

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