Tag: Radvanovsky

Donizetti – Roberto Devereux / Metropolitan Opera 4-16-16

When you are faced with a production of Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux, it is good to keep in mind that yes, it is ridiculous. It is ridiculous on the grand scale – it has the distinction of being (I’m pretty sure) the only story based on the life of the Earl of Essex that includes his execution but does its best to avoid talking much about the abortive rebellion he led in early 1601 that according to most non-Donizetti’s-librettist schools of historical scholarship was the primary reason he was executed. Also it leaves out the part where he tried to shift part of the blame for the rising to his sister Penelope (I am not making this up), which I suspect gives you a sense of why Donizetti’s librettist decided to leave this and many other things out of the libretto.

It is also ridiculous on the small scale – the ending has Elizabeth basically drop dead after she realizes she was wrong to execute Essex. Given that in this version, she has him executed basically because she’s mad at him for loving another woman, I suppose maybe she was embarrassed. You know how sometimes you’ve momentarily wanted to drop dead, when you’ve done something really stupid and everyone in the room knows? Well it may be that if you’re an anointed monarch, you can actually do this. But of course, you can only do it the once.

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Mystery Recital

I have spent more time than I ought to this week playing an extended game of What the Fuck Is That Song. This is because I got a bootleg recording of a recital by Sondra Radvanvosky, recorded back in 2004. There’s no indication of what’s on it, so I have 19 mystery tracks to identify. Some of them are easier than others – e.g. if it’s about fourteen minutes long and begins with “Ah, perfido!” it’s probably Beethoven’s aria of the same name because there are only so many things in the world that are fourteen minutes long and begin with “Ah, perfido!”

But in non “Ah, perfido!”-type situations, one is reduced to trying to catch the first line, googling the first line, and then either checking an aria or song database to match the text or finding clips of whatever it might be on YouTube and listening to see if they are the same. I have had more success with some tracks than others: it’s amazing how much more intelligible sung Italian is when you know the words already.

So I have developed a pincer strategy. One side of the pincer is the abovedescribed listening and googling; the other is finding reviews of Radvanovsky’s recitals that list the things that she commonly sings, and then seeing if those are the things that I am hearing on this particular recital. Maybe by the time I have made myself thoroughly sick of the recording, I will know what is on it.

In which we obtain a bootleg copy of Bellini’s Norma under extremely suspicious circumstances

Well, don’t I feel dumb. A while back I ordered an “unofficial” recoding of Don Carlos from one of the usual places, because Sondra Radvanovsky was singing Elisabetta and I wanted to hear it. When I got it, I was disappointed when the first disc began with the San Yuste scene (“Carlo il somno imperatore”). I thought Act I was missing, because although I knew there were various longer and shorter versions of this opera with different sections added, removed or revised, I had never yet heard one that began at that point of the story. So, I wrote a polite email and they sent me another copy of the recording. This one was identical to the first. So I wrote another polite email and they offered to send me something else instead. I figured their recording was just missing a piece and that was that, so I accepted a bootleg of Norma also involving Sondra Radanovsky in its place. Because of the sort of operation this is, I didn’t have to return either iteration of Don Carlos.

Then, this morning, I had one of those “hm, I wonder” moments and I discovered that there is in fact a version of Don Carlos that omits Act I and begins with the San Yuste scene, and it was this truncated version that the San Diego opera elected to perform back in 2003. It’s a rarity in some sense, I guess, because I have never before either on CD or in an opera house encountered the opera in this particular form. After all, as these things go, Act I is a pretty good act. I rather like the Carlos/ Elisabetta duet – in fact, I was particularly looking forward to hearing Radvanovsky letting fly Elisabetta’s excited high notes toward the end.

So, I suppose we can say that I have learned something. We could also say, however, that I have probably convinced the customer service email person at PremiereOpera that I’m either an idiot or wicked sneaky – but fortunately, that is all in the past now and I can go and listen to my new recording of Norma. Ita sul colle, Druidi, etc. etc.

Donizetti – Anna Bolena / Metropolitan Opera 9-26-15

David McVicar’s production of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena resembles his Maria Stuarda: there is a lot of gray and dull brown and white, with splashes of bright red. The red is hard to miss. Anna is wearing it for a while, and then at the beginning of Act II the red has moved to the bed in the room where Anna and Giovanna have their conversation, and by the time Giovanna is pleading with Henry (for consistency’s sake, I suppose I should refer to him as Enrico, but I can type Henry more times in a row without mistakes, so Henry he is) for Anna’s life she (Giovanna) is wearing a red dress, and the last time we see Anna she is wearing white – if red means you are the focus of Henry’s attention, for good or bad, Anna has escaped. The royal buck has been passed.

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Opera with My Dog Part II: Sondra Radvanovsky

I keep having these moments where I am superlatively late to a really good party. In this case, the Sondra Radvanovsky party. I used to feel bad about coming late to things in this way, but the thing is, with opera, you get there when you get there.

So I got here. I was listening to her Verdi CD this morning, and thinking how much I liked it, and that I had liked it before but – well, you know how it is with these things, often it takes a few listens, or a few years, before something really hits you.

Later that day, while I was playing fetch with Finn, I had this video of “casta diva” from Norma on repeat (Bellini with bouncing toy continuo plus interjections of “good dog, Finn!” and happy puppy pants: not to be missed) and then when he settled down and we had gone outside so he could pee, I heard the video still playing inside, and I developed a sonic appreciation for what opera in my house sounds like from the outside (short version: louder than I thought) and when we went in I located and watched this video below at least three times:

I am not normally a huge Puccini fan, but – well. In this case, I admit defeat. I am still listening to it.