music to start the weekend

my headset broke again last week.. so i picked up this cool thing which arrived last night ready for some testing + new music:

So, I’ve sat through 6+ hours of Cecilia Bartoli and have come to a conclusion: she can do _anything_ she wants with her voice! and she does EVERYTHING she wants with a purpose! the phrasing is absolutely intuitive! (from the listening point-of-view, haven’t watched any of these clips in details). Actually it sort of started when i sat through 3 of her albums 2 weeks ago. Think i’ve figured out, for her singing i really want a non-stop run instead of piece by piece to hear the entire range of emotions she can cover. Last night the new headset got the first test-drive with this piece** actually, which i and dehggial had a short conversation a bit back regarding “over the top” vs “not doing enough“. There’s always something in a clip that makes me wanting less or more, think it’s toward the end of this one.. which prompted me to search everything she sung in “Juditha Triumphans” (not much!!! WHY NOT???) and promptly listening to the ENTIRE recital in Paris <—- ABSOLUTELY GREAT, very much like!! afterward was “live in Italy” with “Mozart” (above) lurking in corner of eye, and here we are. VERY MUCH like her mozart here. 40-minute is too SHORT! Have some serious fighting with “eddies” and “tides” this weekend, superb conditions for long hours of listening on gorgeous headset (very clear + crisp sound) with lots to catch up.

(ps- oh Stray, many thanks for clip from last saturday! i sat through Act 1 too, GReAT singing!!)

** to aide interpretation of “over-the-top” vs “not enough”, here’s the context of the aria:

The mood switches to renewed militancy as the Bethulians are called to renewed vigilance in Vagaus’s aria “Armatae face et anguibus,” a “rage” piece summoning images of snakes, “dread companions”, and violent death.

What did she do differently than Roberta Invernizzi? i can’t really tell except somehow it just *felt* right and that it works! 🙂 (how’s that for subjective + vague explanations, i once had a math prof who wrote an equation on the board and a solution! 1/2 of the 100-student class, myself included, raised our hands asking “how do you get that solution”?? he looked completely perplexed: “i just know it! if you don’t know… you’re not an engineer!”)

Edit: felt like this poor guy everytime this piece ends 😀 (was flying in my apartment night before, then some vicious wrestling from the cat overnight and outcome, poor thing)


About thả diều
writing-challenged opera-addict

28 Responses to music to start the weekend

  1. stray says:

    That’s a useful link for headphones, so bookmarked. Nice to have my unskooled opinion on Beats confirmed and that it isn’t just my failing ears 🙂

    • thả diều says:

      and in case you (or anyone) deciding to get the same headset i got, do check on YT for a review primarily on instruction on how to wear it “up-side-down”, totally a make-or-break for these kinds of things where interference from the cable can completely ruin your listening experience :-).

  2. thả diều says:

    it’s Bach’s birthday!! there was some realllly beautiful music playing in the subway station (at harvard), and am told they’re playing in all stations around the world today. could have stayed more there but back to office for more fighting. So i’ve been listening round the clock to this same Mozart clip above + Vivaldi recital.. and here’s an extract finally: (ignore the click click sound, typical when original audio is being messed up by YT rendering..)

  3. thả diều says:

    now onto the fun!! gorgeous music!! i still have to find out the story…, but way charming 😀
    “myself i shall ador.r.r.r.r.r.r.e”, “amaaaaaa.a.a.a.a.a.a.zinG”

    oops, i looked away and suddenly somber music and Semele is dead! but in super gorgeous dress!
    the orchestra is simply breath taking. In fact i was raving about them nonstop last summer too, when heard them in “l ritorno d’Ulisse in patria” . The conducting is superb. highly recommend. Only time i’ve heard this was via audio of that broadcast with Vivica Genaux.. though must admit it wasn’t as memorable as this, orchestra makes huge difference for me, along with la Ceci standing out making one noticing.. am not head over heels over her coloratura style.. but in some cases it’s very effective. oh, gorgeous chorus too!! fantastic ending (musically!) . that’s the way to take curtain bow, with champagne glasses! very much like the whole show. (and obviously am too late again.. coz clearly if she’s singing händel next time in Zürich i will be there!)

    • stray says:

      The thumbnail synoposis is: Semele (a mortal) is having a fling with Zeus…Jupiter…Jove…whatever his name is in this one, and needless to say, Juno (the Wife) is not pleased and arranges a setup.

  4. thả diều says:

    to continue the night.. i was debating between alcina last year in zürich vs “the art of castrati” off the corner of eyes.. and went for the latter, now currently enjoying! there’s time and place for everything…
    1: the orchestra is AMAZING, so is the singing of course, a few years ago i would not know how to enjoy these kinds of singing interestingly enough…
    2: but will also admit i enjoy her slow singing MUCH more than the coloratura thing.. in fact am never a big fan of these super fast gymnastic typed.. and find them either being attacked too hard (ott) by some singers, la Ceci included, or downright boring. Guess i searching for the meaning of having these runs in term of emotion***
    3: YES! just what thadieu was asking for :-), lovely caressing of the phrases, this was what ears were catching on during that album-run 2 weeks ago… (though i can’t remember which albums i listened to.. just hit play and it went on nearly overnight..)
    4: another fast one…
    5: SLOW, LIKE!
    6: oh, a very famous piece, “son qual nav..” i must have heard it in the that movie “farinelli”, very fast, but i quite like! might be due to familiarity. OH, THE OUTFIT she’s wearing!! actually the coloratura works quite well here in conveying the mood and emotion. this aria is strikingly similar to that super fast one Vivica Genaux sings from Bajazet, some musical phrases sound like being taken directly from there..
    7: yet another famous piece “ombra mai fu”, still need to read up what it’s about 😀
    oh, that’s the end already! may be time to dig up “norma” somewhere …

    *** i’ve always been searching for the meaning of these runs, and occasionally some singing might just shed light on with the exact emphasis / breathing that suddenly something makes sense (to my imaginative brain)! for example i posted a few posts ago the dual clips of S.Mingardo and V.Kasarova interpreting that aria in “Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno” and pointed out an exact time where there was a run. Was so puzzled in its placing within the piece when VK made the run, and normally when she made these runs i could work it into context, but particular this part it didn’t make sense at all! so after scratching head for a long time i caught the same aria as part of the whole performance by S.Mingardo, and her breathing across it suddenly offered some very intriguing clue! but then i still don’t know what that aria is about :D, simply it makes sense as part of the whole… may be after reading up the context i can clear up this whole ramble :-).

    • dehggial says:

      I thought that Alcina from Zurich (2014) was rather boring. I still have it but never finished it. Son qual nave is a favourite of CTs but Ann Hallenberg does a very good one too.

      did you figure out Ombra mai fu is zany Serse singing a love song to his “pet” tree?

      • thả diều says:

        i also have it stashed somewhere.. had a listen and quit after a short time and haven’t gone back… i must confess to having a hard time simply because my brain automatically tuned in to the version in wien! only way to really “cure” this is to attend another *live* version, only in live that i can get over the hurdle for some reason (same w/ accidental capuleti in munich in 2011…)
        didn’t we have a discussion somewhere there’s no mezzo-trouser in Serse? and that’s why i still don’t know what that one is about? also the aria is a bit cheesy.. so no i didn’t go digging, BUT did start w/ Stray’s thumbnail version and read up on synopsis and went back to reading your Semele post, things making more sense now 😀

        unrelated.. but we should discuss verdi prati at some point, i never understand where it fits!

        • dehggial says:

          Sure there is plenty trouser stuff in Serse 😉 Serse is often sung by mezzos. Also Amastre (Serse’s forgotten fiancee) is pretending to be a man and saving her own “rival” so she’s a Bradamante, not quite trouser role but mostly 😉

          yes, seeing it live is the best cure! You just need a proper Ruggiero and a proper Romeo. Good luck with a good Romeo these days…

          well, Verdi prati is Ruggiero realising he can’t go back to Alcina but thinking “man, she was fun, I really liked her/the illusion, too bad it wasn’t real!” I find it heartbreaking. There’s a lot that can be explored in a production as to why exactly this relationship didn’t work out in the end. Yea, we should talk more about this 😉

          • thả diều says:

            oh, indeed more talking in may then! coz i couldn’t work it into how VK and K.Harmmarström flipping over each other on the floor 😀 ..
            oh, then there must be a reason i didn’t know Serse: VK never sang it!! 😀 (hey at least i’m expanding…)

          • dehggial says:

            Actually I forgot Serse’s brother Arsamene is also often sung by mezzos, so you can get three mezzos if you’re lucky! I need to rewatch that Alcina, I forgot there was flipping on the floor!

          • thả diều says:

            i spent endless hours trying to fit it in since first seen in Nov/2010 😉

          • dehggial says:

            hm, is the flipping happening during Verdi prati?

          • thả diều says:

            yes, not just “happening during” but they’re really singing to the scene, hence i very confused from the first day. at least from your explanation of the “meaning” of the aria i can see how in Wien they made the intermission right before it, sort of “turning the page”. but, combined w/ scene, i confused since 😀

          • dehggial says:

            now I am confused as well… I can’t watch it for lack of TV 😦 I should’ve just bought a damn DVD instead of bluray.

          • thả diều says:

            check your email 😉

          • dehggial says:

            btw, I checked yesterday as well and cheers! I’ll get back to you with the rest.

          • dehggial says:

            ok, I watched it – I don’t get it either 😀 I supposed Bradamante is making sure Ruggiero doesn’t get too nostalgic about Alcina 😉

          • thả diều says:

            just spent last 5 hrs w/ super enjoyable radio broadcast of that alcina from wien. 5-year is nothing, my memory is still *very* vivid of everything happening on stage as music moving along in ears.. (5-hr coz i hit rewind several times..) . As for verdi prati, i now wonder if your explanation is really the meaning of the aria? (i don’t know, am asking, where did you get that “meaning” ? coz i saw only the libreto and the flipping, and… 😀 ) . But i now have 2 hypotheses: (1) Ruggiero is actually remembering the past lovely time w/ Bradamante waaay back in their countryside (à la hobbit) as (s)he’s now free from illusions (<– fits very well w/ flipping 😉 ), (2) Ruggiero is going thru a "cleansing" ritual of saying good-bye in mind to Alcina (your explanation of meaning) while reconnecting in reality w/ Bradamante (flipping), à la separation-of-body-and-mind.

          • dehggial says:

            Ha, I listened to that Bartoli Paris concert you linked – very nice indeed.

            I am very sure Verdi prati is about illusion vs reality. Here are the words:

            Verdi prati, selve amene,
            perderete la beltà.
            Vaghi fior, correnti rivi,
            la vaghezza, la bellezza
            presto in voi si cangerà.

            Verdi prati, selve amene,
            perderete la beltà.
            E cangiato il vago oggetto
            all’orror del primo aspetto
            tutto in voi ritornerà.

            So basically: green meadows, pleasant woods, you will lose your beauty. Flowers and rivers, your joy and beauty will soon fade. Everything will return to how it was before the spell (ugly, old).

            No way in hell is he talking about his time with Bradamante – unless he really hated it ;-D in which case he should be throwing himself at Alcina’s feet (sequel!), so it has to be (2).

          • thả diều says:

            oh, i back to that concert too! i quite like it. it’s too bad she never recorded any full Vivaldi opera for some strange reason.. i kept thinking of her as a “mezzo” but she takes on most of the “soprano” roles (in baroque pitch) with these arias, couldn’t have been conflicting at all w/ S.Mingardo, they could have really teamed up !
            ah ok, well, i read the libreto (in italian which i don’t understand) :D, so (2) indeed! (but we could *reallly* take (1) in wien staging!! i like that idea very much, esp. how it seemed to end in wien.. think i talked about it somewhere that (s)he was reallly into Alcina to the end 😀 )

          • thả diều says:

            on that same line of thought, i know now why it (the aria) is also very confusing: it’s rather “neutral” in mood (to my ears) without any hint of sarcasm or duplicity (or it’s veeery subtle and i missed), and with a title “green meadow”, green meadow + neutral music! one is at quiet peace!! the 2 of them contently lying on meadow.. now you see where (1) came from 😉

  5. thả diều says:

    ok, see y’all over at spotify, i camping for 2 hours of Norma, with La Scintilla too!!!!

    i back to recap. Actually i’ve listened to this twice before, back when it was first released and was made available online somewhere.. and for the same reasons as before am not too hot about this recording.. but first, orchestra is superb, looove the lower pitch too. as for singing, Casta diva was SUPERB. duet very niiiice. the rest, especially during recitative, i felt then and now it’s way too pushed for CB, and surprisingly too “clean” for Sumi.Jo . But am not a big fan in general of studio recordings actually, as you might have noticed the amount of live performances that i’ve posted here. As the opera unfolded it felt quite disconnected somehow the story, everyone was in their own way very focused on trying to sing “seriously” but didn’t quite fit together as a whole. So, that’s enough CB for 1 day, will resume at some point.. think i might go back to something familiar like Barcelona’s Ariodante for the rest of the night 🙂

  6. Eyesometric says:

    How can you do all this *and* work?

    • thả diều says:

      i just listen :-), often no idea about the music + content + staging… some people might be upset if they hear this is what i do to their favorite music / singers 😀 , but this is how to get 1st impression of music.. and then if the singer is *very* convincing i can “hear” her and start “investigating” in more detail 😀

  7. Eyesometric says:

    Ah. So background listening in preparation for further study. I often find work suffers as I get caught up in the music or drift in concentration.

    • thả diều says:

      generally this is what i do when wanting to explore a new piece / singer.. and not from 1 single clip because you get no impression whatsoever, so bring on the *entire* opera with everyone else in tow, sometimes you discover other singers that way :-). in this sense, händel fits very naturally because the music is tum ta ra, tum ta ra, cheerful + light, not disrupting my line of thoughts if it’s truly background, but can also be completely time-stopping if gorgeous + moving.. i often stopped so many time i hit a clip of VK due to this effect 😀 . Verdi on the other hand is too busy for me hence i have such a hard time getting into his music from the “background” point of view 😀 . (oh, add mozart to the gorgeous + background-pleasing list 🙂 )

    • thả diều says:

      i always relate to my experience with tchaikovsky’s violin concerto: first time listening = everything is jumbled together, lots of instruments, lots of high frequency (small tunes) mixed in with low (larger-picture-tune), but i didn’t hear *anything* in particular :-), but there was _something_ that made me want to hear it again, so that’s it, i just let it play over the course of 3 nights non-stop, and voilà, everything fell in place.
      So, i often show up at opera haus not knowing the storyline at all but have already heard the music hundreds of time, it’s *very* exciting this way because *now* i get to put the story in with the music and see how it fits 🙂 . if it’s the other way around i guessing i’d be very lost at the theater.

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