patched up Tito

i’ve been debating about writing this up… This was a concert performance of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito by Emmanuel Music with “local” soloists. “Local” just because I’ve seen some of these singers more than once this last year in the Boston area. As with the Freisinger’s performance, i came in without any high/low expectation, just simply to enjoy hearing for the first time ever live Tito.
Well, i guess “no expectation” can result in surprises. Or _shock_ in this case: my eyes nearly popped out when the _narrator_ stepped to the high podium (where the priest usually stands to preach) and began narrating in English after the overture!! My first thought: They are telling the story NOW??? Didn’t they have a 1-HOUR pre-concert talk to get all that in? Don’t tell me… aaah, sh*t, my dear, they’re really gonna do this the ENTIRE evening…” That really took a LONG time for the brain to adjust, especially when you know i just posted a clip of the first 10min of this opera 1 week ago and babbled about my love for the recit and its transition into “come ti piace imponi”… Anyhow, the whole thing became somewhat of a chopped up version without any sort of flow…


Similar to my recent experience, the evening can be broken into 2 halves. Only brief mentioning of the first half here: I quite upset for being so stupid and allowing others** to put me in the back of the church, especially when my ticket allowed much higher seats on the wing where I moved to after intermission. So the first half was really all about adjusting brain to narration on speakers, shuffling back and forth to try to get a glimpse of the orchestra and singers, and trying to figure out why the heck people would show up here to take their nap! But, what about the voices and orchestra?? Again, from the back of the church, i’d prefer an entirely different Sesto (more later). In fact I’d be very happy if the mezzo who sang Sesto did the Annio’s part, and i’d like to order an entirely new Sesto :-). Both sopranos’ voices were very pleasant and warm and made it to the back beautifully. Unfortunately, “Ah perdona al primo affetto” at times reduced to a shouting match (not to the soprano’s fault).

So, after intermission, things improved greatly thanks to much closer seat, and brain had then adjusted to English poetic narration. Annio’s “Torna di Tito a lato” was nicely sung, and i finally figured out: at closer range, you can really enjoy the texture of her voice well, except when going high, the voice automatically increased to fortissimo, which resulted in that shouting match in earlier duet. Even at close range, I’m not a fan of Sesto’s voice, simply a matter of taste here. She sang “Deh, per questo istante solo” very movingly, but for my taste, got too much vibrato which makes the voice sounds even thinner than thin. Servilla’s voice is quite “creamy”, very soothing. Tito was very well sung, though thanks to narration it’s hard to make any concrete story out of what he was singing/acting (he was the only one waving hands; I’ve heard him before in Rossini Petite Mass, his voice is bright, clear, expressive, i like). And the bass’ voice i thought was also on the thin side. Finally, there’s Vitellia! really really like Deborah van Renterghem‘s voice! Originally i was just a bit worried about her low notes because she appeared to skim through them during “Deh se piacer mi vuoi”, but boy she proved me wrong, going fully in the lower register for a loooong stretch in “Non più di fiori”, holly smoke, i didn’t know that stretch was so long. And then the launch into the high range, that aria is quite something! all that, and she sang it very movingly as well! One would think anyone capable of singing this aria well has got to be a very good singer? Alas, i couldn’t find any of her info except a link to her day job in some firm!! but yeah, that was niiiice, i happy 🙂 (hearing her singing that aria of course, not about finding her day job).

A last word about the orchestra, it really reminds me of this or this. Nothing about those orchestras from the links, it’s just that I was hoping for more texture + contrast, but the whole time it sounded like a slo-mo version that oozes out of a low-pass filter (pix above).  A particular example is during

where instead of hearing in the music the panic of the setting and the torment within Sesto, one heard more of a swinging of the hammock (I grew up on such thing, very VERY soothing!!). In the end, Tito gave his blessing and all came out happy, and yours truly a happy cat humming “Non più di fiori” all the way to home (in contrast to “Deh per questo” on the way to church.) So, there you have it. until the next Orfeo with the CT…

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About thả diều
writing-challenged opera-addict

8 Responses to patched up Tito

  1. jcmwee says:

    “If you can sing one of Vitellia’s arias….you have something special.”

    http://www.operanews.com/Opera_News_Magazine/2011/12/Features/You_Came_Here_to_Win,_Didn%E2%80%99t_You_.html

    It’s the weirdest thing that makes all of it so hard to sing – Vitellia’s ‘Non piu di fiori’ is written with a drop into the mezzo’s range in mind, while Sesto’s ‘Parto parto’ is writtten with a raid into the sop’s range in mind.

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  2. Eyesometric says:

    Access denied to swinging hammock! Watch out for that holly smoke!! 🙂

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  3. operasmorg says:

    Late to the party as usual! 😀 Sorry to hear this didn’t go better for you, Dr. T! I’d love it if someone does La clemenza here in San Diego (I hope, anyhow!).

    Good to hear you had a good Vitellia, at least! That’s one schizophrenic role… perhaps because it may have been composed for 2 different voices (Maria Marchetti-Fantozzi premiered the role, but ‘Non piu di fiori’ seems to have been composed earlier for Josepha Duschek, who had a deeper voice than the former). Perhaps Mozart was too busy to transpose the rondo up a bit to better suit Marchetti-Fantozzi? Or perhaps he liked the way it’d strain her a bit (after all, that’s one stressful scene for the opera’s leading lady)? Dunno, but I rather like the way it turns out even though it makes that part really hard to cast. 🙂

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    • thả diều says:

      hiho Smorgi! thanks for the notes on Vitellia’s last aria, that might explain it, coz i was really amazed how low it was hearing the thing live (and wondering how the soprano didn’t pass out running it a full 20 seconds!) :-D.
      Actually it was a good performance, as soon as i got it out of my head the total distraction of “english narration”; it’s one of those things one has to be mentally prepared for or something… Also i was a bit miffed that Americans seem to care so much for their “personal space” that a bench could only seat 4 to 5 people while easily 7 or 8 (or 10 vietnamese for sure) could have piled in. It’s ashamed that such great music is not fully appreciated up close only because of ridiculous “personal space” reasons… (nobody really enforced it, but that was how i ended up being “assigned” a seat way at back of the church.) If it were up to me organizing the concert, i’d take the microphone before the first note and encourage everyone to pile in closer to enjoy a personal experience with Mozart, instead of spreading out their wings for naps… 😀

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