Tag: Scotto

O mio babbino caro / Netrebko, Scotto

I was thinking about this aria because seeing it performed within the actual opera it’s from made me like it more than I had previously. The last time I heard it was on this recital CD of Anna Netrebko’s. This is not a CD I listen to a lot. No particular reason – I just rarely find myself thinking about it, I suppose. Also the photos in the booklet make me roll my eyes a little. They verge on parody of ‘sexy recital CD photography!’ which I do not think was the intention.

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Puccini / Il Trittico / Metropolitan Opera, 1981 (2)

(Previous section here.)

The second section of Il Trittico is Suor Angelica, which is about a nun, Angelica, who has been sent to the convent because she had an illegitimate child. She longs for news of the boy. Her aunt visits her, raising her hopes, but the aunt soon informs her that the child has died. Angelica commits suicide to be with him in heaven – but it’s only after she has taken the poison that she remembers suicide is a mortal sin and that she has consigned herself to hell. She pleads to the Virgin to save her life, and as she dies she has a vision of her son.

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Verdi – Don Carlos / Moldoveanu, Scotto, Troyanos / Metropolitan Opera 1980 (3)

(Previous section here.)

So. What ‘acting’ means in an operatic context has clearly changed over the past thirty-two years. We expect more subtlety and perhaps a little less stiff grandeur than audiences a few decades ago. As a result the emotional tone of this production seems strange, even stilted: Carlos, for example, is pitched so much as the ‘manly romantic hero’ that he comes off as a bit of a stuffed shirt.

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Verdi – Don Carlos / Moldoveanu, Scotto, Troyanos / Metropolitan Opera 1980 (2)

(Previous section here.)

Our Carlos here is Vasile Moldoveanu. And he sounds very nice. But Carlos is a little too much in control of himself. He is sometimes tormented, of course, because he’s Don Carlos. But neither his sudden and ill-advised infatuation with Elisabeth nor his sudden and ill-advised political awakening nor any of the rest of it ever ring true in terms of characterization. Moldoveanu just looks concerned and/or slightly rattled most of the time. And where you might expect Carlos to be warm or enthusiastic, it doesn’t quite happen – Posa doesn’t even rate a hug when he shows up. They sort of touch arms and back off. It looks like a version of ‘manly’ emotional control, but Carlos is not really a person who has a great deal of that, if you think about it.

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Verdi – Don Carlos / Moldoveanu, Scotto, Troyanos / Metropolitan Opera 1980 (1)

If you are looking for the opposite of Regietheater, as I was doing this weekend, a Met production from the early 1980s is a pretty safe bet. You go into it expecting a certain style of soothing literal-mindedness, and that’s pretty much what you get in this case.

So. This DVD of Don Carlos is well worth anyone’s time. I ended up liking it for what I think are the right reasons and disliking for what I am sure are the wrong ones.

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