Vivica Genaux in LA

an unintentional super-extended trip in LA + last minute planning scored me 9th-row ticket to hear Vivica Genaux and Europa Galante with Fabio Biondi in an all-Vivaldi recital. (First, let me just shout out how beautiful she is!!) OK, now we can discuss music.

This is my 2nd time hearing her live, and first ever with any singer that up close (even scooted down to row 3 after intermission!). The program included 4 Vivaldi orchestral work (each with 3 movements) and 6 arias. At first i thought it was Quell’usignolo by Giacomelli but a last minute youtube check before heading out drew my attention to the version by Vivaldi. Both very nice, but what’s truly amazing is her voice. Not sure how to describe it, it’s got this special tone that somehow i always associate with elasticity. Not sure if it’s the right word here, just absolutely pleasant to listen to live. She does with her voice what Roger Federer does with his tennis racket. There had been tons of fusses about her jaw movements. Last year, I intentionally booked tix a bit further back due to fear of getting distracted. Now that I’ve seen her 2m away, no clue what all the fussing was about. Jaw or no jaw, the sound that comes out is just a magnet to the ears. love those trills (thanks Eyes!)

The second aria, i love. It’s the featured one for her latest cd promo.

Personally, i love the slow pieces much more than the fast ones. My favorite was the aria right after intermission: loads and loads of soft exchanges amongst the strings and between them and her voice (though i think anyone sitting in back rows of orchestra section or balcony of Disney Hall wouldn’t have heard much, was very soft, much more than this recording here)

Anyhow, a move from row 9 to row 3 made a huge difference in hearing the dynamic “communication” in the strings, as well as the intimate feeling listening to the instruments talking directly to you. Am very convinced with a small baroque orchestra, unless you sit close, all subtleties will be lost (which explains why i haven’t heard Handel and Haydn Society at Symphony Hall in Boston yet.)

After the last piece, repeated applause contributed to Vivica’s announcement of Sposa son disprezzata as an encore, which prompted yours truly to break out into instant excited clapping (was the only one :-D). She did respond (to the audience) with a smile upon hearing clap, and I in turn explained to couple sitting adjacent that “it’s very nice!” Finally, Qual guerriero in campo armato rounded out the night and sent the audience into wild cheers. (I still love her slow pieces the most).

So, cd signing!! I have none since all my cds are in boston. Nevertheless, I did finally thank her for introducing me into opera “via Youtube” which prompted her response “ahhh!” and “we got another one (fan)” to Fabio Biondi.

Fabio Biondi and Vivica Genaux at Disney Hall in LA

A short conversation about her next concerts followed: in Vegas, to which i said impossible to make; in Boston, to which i complained she won’t sing though Fabio Biondi will be playing and she responded that she can’t do 10 concerts in such a short time; and finally in New York, to which i remain uncommitted due to work schedule… But we both shook hands, i sent my thanks for her wonderful music, she sent her thanks for me coming, and I concluded the pleasant evening with “I look forward to seeing you again”. So there you have it, a wonderful wonderful evening with an amazingly talented singer and beautiful music.

td chitchatting with vivica

ps- note the lack of discussion about the content of the arias she sang. I always purposely skip the translation and just listen to the music to get the feeling. Normally i start paying attention to translation only if it’s within an opera context… which probably explains why I haven’t crossed the Lied hurdle…


About thả diều
writing-challenged opera-addict

15 Responses to Vivica Genaux in LA

  1. This is fantastic, finally the Viv recital and you get to meet her after! She was friendly and pleasant, by the look of it? Who took this lovely photo of the two of you?

    I’m so glad you got to meet her! I first learned of her thanks to your blog.

  2. Eyesometric says:

    I spent some time looking up the Disney Hall – remarkable looking venue but the site did not let me access the tour video. From such a good seat you would also get a view of Biondi’s Guarneri violin?
    Lovely pix!

  3. yvette says:

    What a vivid post, makes me feel I was there! Nice to see you becoming a true fan of hers! lovely smiles of you two! Thanks a lot for sharing so much happiness through music!

  4. I think Biondi’s a great violinist (he and Europa Galante are in general pretty awesome). Genaux I’m less familiar with, but what you’ve said about her here plus audio samples has convinced me that I need to get that CD for more than one reason! (And lucky you to get to meet her . . . )

  5. thả diều says:

    @DtO: ja, she was very friendly and pleasant. quite playful with europa galante’s gangs as well on stage. it’s quite interesting, a bit hypnotizing to hear her voice live. Her voice is not as expressive as VK’s in term of color usage, yet it left you in amazement with its fluidity and flexibility. the tone is the most unforgettable aspect. but i’ve got the right word to describe it: a roll of clear tape in your hand, that’s the feeling. for comparison, VK’s is a water balloon, and most CT’s a piece of steel :-).

    A couple of white-shirt friends came with me. I introduced vivica to them 2 years ago and one is now ready to follow her (voice) around the world, sort of like me with VK. I didn’t realize her partner was snapping pix until i was shown the photo. many many thanks to her (though she also gave me a sore throat via shared dinner, grrr).

    @Eyes & DtO: what coup? did i miss something?
    @Eyes: oh, i didn’t know Disney Hall has a video tour. They prohibit all photos inside the hall. I’ve been to that hall 3 times: the first on upper balcony and i didn’t hear the singers in Mozart’s Requiem; the 2nd sitting behind the chorus for Bach Matthews Passion and the sound was superb; and the 3rd last night. After the encore, i pulled out my camera and stupidly forgot to turn off the flash while snapping an illegal pix. a whole gathering of ushers were pointing fingers in my direction during her 2nd encore, so as soon as she finished i grabbed my jacket and ran in the opposite direction out as fast as i could. i also removed the memory card from the camera in case they confisticate my camera 😀 . Later my friends said they arrived at my spot looking for me and gave them a lecture on flash camera in the hall!

    I think Fabio Biondi would have a heart attack hearing me saying that his violin looks just like any others :D. but then again you should also know i only know if an animal is a bird or a fish, but not exactly which bird or which fish…

    @Yvette: thanks :-). i would do it more often in NY if i know her schedule. She is one of those that will leave you in awe upon hearing her live.

    @Charlotte: ja, i first discovered Biondi and Europa Galante through their combined project Bajazet, a cd set i’d highly recommend. Her first solo disc arias for Farinelli is also something i highly recommend. It was her documentary recording that solo cd with the amazing Rene Jacobs that got me hooked to operas 2.5 years ago!

    altogether, looking already great for 2012, now if i can just go home soon…

  6. Eyesometric says:

    FB would not have a heart attack because his violin could not be distinguished by looks, sometimes by sound but certainly by insurance premium 🙂

    ” A bird may love a fish, but where would they build a home together?” – Fiddler on the Roof.

    Wonderful mental image – Dr. T hotly pursued by security guards whilst secreting camera inside jacket and waving goodbye to Vivica.

  7. yvette says:

    Now I know you ( photos) I can imagine your athletic flight ! I’m killing myself laughing.. and it is great!
    Is this Hall as bad as you experienced it? They shoud have sound engineers summoned straight away. (or refunded you when you heard nothing! )

  8. stray says:

    Spent a lot of time last winter on the Mass Pike listening to her Juno in Semele. It’s a great road opera, but Genaux makes it really easy to speed:

    Fortunately I figured that out just before I had to try explaining it to a state cop.

    • thả diều says:

      hi there Stray! yes, i liked a lot her Semele’s performance. I got (somewhere) a full version of the live recording (minus a very disruptive cut at the end, grrr). mass pike! local! did you give that state cop a sample of Semele? I’ve just read her most recent series of interviews from NY where she mentions tackling Carmen for the first time this autumn! that’d be interesting… Now i regretted not asking her about her schedule singing in NY every summer, coz it’s always out AFTER she performs, grrr.

      • stray says:

        Semi-local — about one full performance of Semele away, actually. But no, didn’t donate Handel to the state cops. And not sure I’d give them Semele, it’s a little too intense in the wrong way, and you know, state cops can be kind of excitable. Maybe Alcina…

        Looking forward to Genaux’s Carmen, that should be fun! Thanks for the article link.

  9. Jacinta Gabriella says:

    Hmmm I took those photos of you with Vivica (your Ty is noted) and FYI -I am NOT a white shirt. And i was NOT ill I have a multitude of allergies and that is why i brought cough drops to the performance.–so if you became ill it was not from me!!! grrrr.!

    • Jacinta Gabriella says:

      I am heading to France to see her in June–her performance@ DisneyHall was fabulous. I must admit I was too busy enjoying it to be so technical —music for me is an emotional experence –it either speaks to my soul or it does not. I was so lucky to grow up with parents who loved opera Callas(La Diva) Caruso(old riusty recordings)
      I always thought it was in my DNA–my mother swears all she listened to was Vivaldi when she was pg w/me.

    • thả diều says:

      I see.

      and we never quite define what “white shirt” really means, but my apology for assuming you’re one; your clarification is noted.
      i hope you have a great time listening to her in Paris.
      thank you again for the photo.

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