why i love kasarova

A mezzo blasting through an entire male chorus with power and passion: i worship thee.

By now, i’m sure you have heard from the < various > < news > reports, Frau Kasarova has officially cancelled her performances for Mar 27/30 and Apr 3/6 due to pneumonia 😦 . I sincerely wish her a full recovery. am also holding on a tiny hope of catching her on my last night in Munich. So, while a bit not feeling so hot, i thought it’s not a bad time to reflect on my recent passion for opera and why “I” love Vesselina Kasarova.

I discovered her by chance on youtube. When i first knew about opera, between Aug-Nov 2009, there were countless times youtube suggested that I should look at clips of hers. I glanced at a couple very briefly (5sec) and thought her deep voice was too grotesque and her manner/facial expression was too exaggerating. In other words, she’s nothing of the “smooth and beautiful” sort I’ve been hearing so far. In addition, she “looks” too feminine to play a convincing trouser-role I thought.

Then one november morning, can’t remember the exact reason, must have been after countless unsuccessful attempt to find Vivica Genaux’ videos, I chanced on this:

That was it. 1 single clip, no video, purely voice, she has made a devout follower out of me. A mezzo blasting through an entire male chorus with power and passion: i worship thee. (I can not thank Smorgy enough for putting in the subtitles though.) Without knowing the gist of what she’s singing, one would find excuses in labeling her singing not smooth, not beautiful, blah blah blah. Within context, I have a hard time listening to others.  By discovering her through a live audio recording, I also understand her ability to express the emotion through the use of her voice intensity. A subtle drop in the intensity at the precise moment invokes/reflects the exact emotion and intention in the heart. This comes from within the person. If you think what a person should do, you imitate. However, if you feel what a person is, you naturally act. This instinct appears to be quite rare, and to have it and be able to express it, that’s what draws me to VK and gives me the urge to trek across the globe to share my life experience with her. And look, she even got me into Handel! (along with Purity…)

I should make use of this space to also confess during my “Alcina” excursion last year, there were times I thought she was a bit hard to watch. But at the end of the day, she is the Ruggiero I will always fly in to hear. In her performances, you will always have a factor of surprise. Every performance is different. Her spontaneity, colors, and dynamic range bring the character to life.  One soon discovers the difference between a singer singing a character’s emotion and a character expressing emotions.

On a side note, everyone who knows me surely have heard of Kasarova thanks to my insistence that they should sample <em>several</em> clips of hers ;-). As for this particular bel canto tour de force “I capuleti e i montecchi”,  can you tell i was stuck on it for a while? (still stuck on it, just not posting on facebook anymore…)

Lastly, in her TV portrait, she said herself that Romeo should be sung by a young mezzo soprano voice. Given that my ears are so used to THE recording of “I Capuleti”, i’d have to remind myself to always come in to a performance with an open ear to receive new ideas/interpretations. Only through live performances you realize the danger of getting very used to one way of life and hence criticizing all others that don’t fit in to your rigid “perfection”.

So, if I have to summarize it in one sentence, I love Vesselina Kasarova because she’s an incredibly talented and capable artist with a vision. Singers can have good visions but not the capability to execute or very good techniques and capacity but not the authenticity. Her visions might not be right, but they are hers and unique, and they make life exciting of all of us, especially here at the white shirt institute.

About thả diều
writing-challenged opera-addict

13 Responses to why i love kasarova

  1. puritymccall says:

    Brava.Thanks Dr T, once again the Institute keeps it real 🙂

    Yeah, it’s a little too easy to categorise the VK thing as all dyke fangirl nonsense. And hey she does have a certain something something it can’t be denied. But I know lots of straight women, and gay boys, and straight guys, who get ‘it’ for all the same reasons (hmm, well maybe quite a few of those ‘straight’ folks are not quite one-hundred percent straight…;)).

    Sure there are the ups and downs, some performances get me more than others, and it is obvious she has the kind of voice that polarises opinion.

    But the first time I heard her sing (Mozart)l I was absolutely hooked. And the first time I heard her sing Handel I was sunk!

    I’ve mused and mused and I can’t put my finger on it other than to say – she’s authentic. Not perfect. Not always ‘right’ for my ears (or eyes sometimes too yeah). But always, always, true. She doesn’t give a role, she is a role. She doesn’t sing an aria, she lives an aria. When she sings those slow Handel arias, my heart stops. Self-conscious thought disappears. Awe and wonder and such an intense feeling of ‘being’ replaces it. The chatter is stilled. I feel the way I did the first time I saw the night sky in the southern hemisphere – everything strange, my senses delighted and a little overwhelmed to take in this irregular beauty. I’m not religious, but VK singing Handel is about as close to transcendental as I can get. When she sings Handel she sings what I feel in the music. When she sings, Handel is alive.

    And so while I truly, truly hope she sings on the 9th and 12th, I truly, truly hope she doesn’t if she is not fully recovered. Because I really want to hear that sound many more times in the future!

  2. Anik LaChev says:

    beautiful tribute!

    All dyke fandyking aside (that would be the equivalent to fangirling… or not?), I agree with Purity in that VK transcends that. It’s more about unique takes on things you think you’ve heard in all ways possible already – and then you think you have never heard this aria before, it’s always, always gripping. To me, much of the allure is not about embodiment (which is anther valid point), but about the space between voice and embodiment and the capacity to play with(in) that space.

    Then of course, there is my personal affection for any singer who redeems the often sneered-at realm of mannerism. As if artistic polyvalence would diminish so-called authenticity! (also, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf is SO sneering back at the mannerism-critics for me, only that she can do it with nothing but a subtly lifted eyebrow)

  3. Eyesometric says:

    I want to say something but I don’t know what or how. Sigh.

  4. Slavic women for the win!

    I would post something sensible, but can’t get off my mind this acreage of skin here: https://thadieu.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/agrippina_7712.jpg

  5. idlehouse says:

    the captions definitely make a difference to me, since I have listened the same excerpt (how many times?) in your car without much pause until today when i got a chance to see the context word for word.

  6. Smorg says:

    Hear! Hear! Beautiful tribute, An! 😀 As the always wise PM says, I hope she is back to full health again soon, and doesn’t worry too much about getting back to singing before she has really recovered.

    I’m appalled that she caught pneumonia… European winter really doesn’t seem to get along with her (maybe she should scoot over here to LA or San Diego during the winter months where only the inside of the refrigerator can get close to or below freezing point. 😉 Wink… Wink…. Nod…. Nod).

  7. Romy says:

    I found my way back to you as I’ve been googling around trying to find out how Nishimoto Tomomi san is doing, what with all the horrendous stuff going on in Japan. Thank you so much for posting these videos, I’m so glad to know about this wonderful singer and I’ll think about her and hope she recovers fast. Pneumonia can be so serious, what a terrible thing for an opera singer to get!

    I recently went all the way to the Netherlands to see an excellent soprano named Simone Kermes, and I wonder if you know of her too. If you don’t, I think you might like her, being that you’re a Sumi Jo fan. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pRCDrSDhrc&feature=related
    It was worth going the distance to see her in person. I’ve never before done anything so extravagant.


    • purity says:

      Ah Simone Kermes, … absolutely crazy, absolutely hilarious, absolutely fabulous! She sang with Kasarova in Athens a few years back. Dear Suzette reports she sang a wonderful concert in Munich a few weeks ago. Def. one I think Dr T would enjoy!

    • thả diều says:

      hallo Romy, thanks sooo much for the Simone Kermes clip! wow, i finally got around to it today, can’t get enough of her! love love her voice! A tad on the creamy side of Patrizia Ciofi also.

      What did you see her in? Did you attend serveral times (which i found is the proper way to truly absorb all the details)? Did you write a “report” somewhere we could track down and read? 🙂

      Smorgy, is there more clip from that rehearsal? or “official” clip on TV of the duet? i want want want! 🙂

      Let me also add her to my traveling-radar…

  8. purity says:

    Indeed, her reputation here in UK is high (def. one to watch out for) and I was surprised to hear that folks in Munich were complaining that she was chosen to replace Trebs again…

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