amanda forsythe at sanders theater

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This was billed as a duet show with soprano Amanda Forsythe and counter-tenor (CT) David Hansen, accompanied by a small group of superb baroque violin + gamba (4), theorbos + variations (2), and harpsichord players, as part of the Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF) concert series leading up to their full summer festival this June. With that in mind, as Stray explained to me from the pre-concert talk, most of what presented tonight was pre-cursor to what we will see, specifically one of Monterverdi’s 3 operas L’incoronazione di Poppea . The first half included 4 main duets between Poppea and Nerone with the last one’s intro music remarkably resembling the opening phrase of “Un momento di contento” in Händel’s Alcina. After intermission we got two very nice Händel’s arias sung by Amanda Forsythe and two by David Hansen.
program
Orchestra: I very much like the strings! Here the theorbo + other plucking instruments were not really featured but rather only accompanying. Thanks to Händel’s re-cycling habit one gets to hear some very nice “excerpts” from his operas in one of the Sonatas, specifically this “Menuet” which of course brought my mind _directly_ back to Wien (if you own the dvd and can’t remember where this ends and what follows *immediately* after, go check now 😉 ). It sounded equally gorgeous with 1 primary violin playing the main tune and 2 violas + plucking instruments + harpsichord setting the stage.

That said, for “Dopo notte” the beginning was a bit too “flow-y”, too “romantic-y” rather than joyful. Perhaps this simply is a result of my listening the last 3 nights to Ariodante from Barcelona.. But to be not so single-minded, let’s have a listen to Franco Fagioli’s version? Actually it does sound flowy here (I’m talking only of the opening with strings, more on singing and why this particular clip below)

Ok, with all caveats regarding my subjective ears for CT, as the evening progressed I felt this was an Amanda Forsythe’s show. What she wants, she can express, both with the “ease” in voice and effort, as well as shades and colors. The contrast between what I view as a natural voice (hers) versus a “restricted high voice” (his) couldn’t be clearer to me when they sing in duet. Her tone has warmth, character, and expression. His, I “felt” was more restricted to a narrow range which already “appears” uncomfortably high, and when going lower you can hardly hear and when higher quite harsh, borderline screaming/shrieking at times (to my ears). Even within the middle, when looked away so as not to be distracted by visual effect, i couldn’t quite feel the shaping.
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So, as the show went on, one could sense she was in her element doing it with her flexible voice, and he with his look and “acting” more than vocal expression. Stray remarked that if he could tone down a bit the “acting” perhaps the focus might be more on vocal expression. Anyhow, I had several options for Dopo Notte sample (note my resistance 😉 ), but have decided to put Franco Fagioli’s here because, as I explained to Stray there’s a CT thing and then there’s this CT thing, namely you can hear FF’s range + expressiveness quite well, and FF actually used his chest notes in “nottÈ**” and “terrÀ” and has quite a strong base and more “pleasant” (for the ears) high in contrast to DH. My point is not to compare one CT to another, but rather a discussion on a range which is 1-sided, similar to sopranos singing *only* within her head-voice range and how flexible + less strained + expressive she can be in there.
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To wrap up, many many thanks again to Stray’s cousin :-), whose ticket i inherited (very niiiice seat), and to Stray for the lovely company. Of course I’m not educated in music and perhaps have no clue what I “hear” when it comes to musicality *and* CT, but I sat there debating further if I want to attend BEMF’s L’incoronazione di Poppea this June given this is exactly what I’ll hear (identical casting as we saw today for the 2 main characters, and how much they dominate the entire opera; not to mention 2 more CT’s in other various roles, grrr). Essentially the question boils down to whether I should come to hear Amanda Forsythe sing Poppea, and yes, i should! There was some talk last year from bloggers in London ( 🙂 ) as to who should “fit” to sing this character and we have one here no doubt.

Oh, note I didn’t discuss a lot the Monteverdi’s singing part.. This is mainly because, though i had thought am familiar with this piece, it turned out i exclusively have been listening to the version with a tenor-Nerone and mostly fast-forwarded to Ottone’s parts :D, so was totally clueless on the bits sung during the concert. Here, Stray, in case you stop by, this is the only one i have listened to, not from 1950’s, rather 2006!
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** the accent thing on È and À is a vietnamese thing, when placed there, you go deep DOWN :-).

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About thả diều
writing-challenged opera-addict

67 Responses to amanda forsythe at sanders theater

  1. stray says:

    Great shots! This computer is missing some plugins, so I’ll check out the sound samples when I get home, and meanwhile try to get my remarks on unHIP Ulisse into something resembling articulate speech 🙂 Thanks for coming along, and thanks again for dinner!

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    • thả diều says:

      photos from “back of the room” as you said 😉 (row 7 in case others were curious) . I kept forgetting the orchestra is also a great reason to attend the summer Monteverdi festival as you mentioned, at least was the case for me 2 summers ago w/ Almira as well as in zürich with Orchestra La Scintilla. And you’re right, it was a tenor singing Ulisse in zürich, i was very new to Monteverdi at the time to tell the difference 😀 . Coincidentally i also heard Julie Fuchs there, really nice soprano voice. (and then of course S.Mingardo ;-), how can one get bemf to invite her? 🙂 )
      ps- are you staying in town to enjoy the weather? i finally up! still totally in (good) pain 😀

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      • stray says:

        Nah, I had it wrong, that’s how Ulisse is cast, so I was either misremembering the ’71 Harnoncourt recording or the production they did at BAM back in…uh…whenever that was… 😛

        lol Good pain is good…I guess. Maybe skip the next game and work your way back into it. Isn’t that what Spring Training is for? I’m missing the nice Boston weather, unfortunately, I had to get back on the early side today. Now baking squash to warm up the apt, it’s cold over here!

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        • thả diều says:

          but that’s what you said no? that normally it’s done with a tenor and for some reason 1 of the recordings was with a baritone? anyhow, i’ve politely declined my hausmate’s offer for capuleti w/ the tenor 🙂
          ps- no no, no skipping, 2 in-water games coming mon-tue, fingers crossed the muscles come back in shape by then 😀
          ps2- oh we also lost the advertised weather, brrr 4degC now.. how did baking go? squash, that got me now craving for vietnamese squash soup.. also, this is what we attempted to have, 1 and 2, photos from my best friend's kitchen, every xmas i visit her and she makes, yum, it's called bánh xèo, and instruction (in vietnamese :-), please look at photos for now, secret weapon is beer in the batter to make it crunchy, then a bit of coconut milk..)

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          • stray says:

            Ah, I see what you mean about the crêpe, that’s way thinner. We’ll have to try this again 🙂

            Baking went well — 45 minutes at 375 heats the apt nicely. The squash needs some work, though. Must buy more cinnamon today.

            Good luck with the games 🙂

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          • dehggial says:

            capuleti w/ the tenor
            fÈh, are they still doing thÀt?

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          • thả diều says:

            nó wày! this was pavarotti’s time! i handed her véssèlínà’s cd set instead 😉 . she’s warm to her, as she’s been subjected to several sit-down + let’s-watch from me 😉 . Although i’m still surprised by both hers and a very very good friend of mine’s comment, that the first thing they see is how the singer looks, and what kind of clothes they wear. i press some more clip totally meant for “focus on voice”, then comment i get back: this photo i cuter, she looks cuter here than there, she should wear better clothes, or something like that!! absolutely surprised me.. perhaps i make crazy comments like this about other things am not aware of (like CT… 😀 )

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          • dehggial says:

            Góód! that’s one of those nightmares, you go and they tell you “we’re sorry but [genuine lyric mezzo] won’t be able to sing the role of Romeo tonight due to intestinal gas. [Shouty tenor] has kindly agreed to do us this huge favour on short notice.”

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          • thả diều says:

            *and* since we don’t have time to transpose the music, he’s going to sing in his heád voice! 😀

            Liked by 1 person

          • dehggial says:

            last minute notice: he hurt himself overdoing the head voice so he will be replaced by CT David Hansen who will overact and flex his knees all night!

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          • thả diều says:

            :-), well i don’t know, would be nice to have more “expertise” ears listening to him, coz u know i can be quite subjective… no idea which way Stray swayed when it comes to head voice.. but she did say he has a very nice voice (if he slowed down on “acting” )
            (am watching Ailyn Perez now live on munich, a friend just mentioned they’re broadcasting live “l’exire d’amore”, another new opera for me…

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          • dehggial says:

            Elisir is fun, don’t know about AP, never heard her. DH isn’t my kind of CT but I was chuckling at this video I saw of him where he was indeed flexing his knees in a weird way.

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          • thả diều says:

            he does, as well as flexing his neck muscle and singing “downward”.. just gave me the impression the range was too high for him to begin with….
            (i heard AP in il postino in LA w/ Domingo, here i think she’s taking the character a bit too “serious”…, but then this is the first time i see this opera…)

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          • dehggial says:

            downward?

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          • thả diều says:

            he bends his neck so his head looks down like / , so sound projection goes down.. not sure how well people upstair can hear…

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          • dehggial says:

            but speaking of accents, how do we pronounce tha dieu? I have no clué, those are wiggles.

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          • thả diều says:

            ah, this requires personal tutorial 😉
            we have 6 tones:
            a á à ả ã ạ
            and 3 of them go DOWN but at various “gradient”, à is a “gentle” one, you glide down, ạ is an abrupt but polite one, sort of like when you get kicked in stomach and go “urgh”, that kind of down, and THEN, there’s this thing that is the upper part of the question mark ? , for this you REALLLY DROP, think falling abruptly down a thick muddy marsh while walking…
            For any of you who have heard me saying “phở” (the famous vietnamese noodle soup), it’s the same drop…
            so now perhaps i should record my own voice and play here for proper pronounciation 😉 (and i did explain somewhere before:
            thả = release
            diều = kite
            together means “flying the kite”, something i spent all childhood dreaming of doing as the sky was filled with kites during summer and we were not allowed to do anything (no education, no training of any kind) except to lie on our back on balcony watching neighbor kids flying the kites 🙂 )

            Liked by 1 person

          • dehggial says:

            many thanks for the vivid accent lesson!

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          • thả diều says:

            have a movie now 😉
            here you go, and for anyone interested in a short tutorial on vietnamese pronunciation 🙂 (please ignore the misspelling of consonant..) . also i realized i didn’t cover ã in detail, this is a great fun tone 😀

            Liked by 1 person

          • dehggial says:

            Very cool! One syllable languages ftw 🙂

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          • thả diều says:

            1-syllable: this is why we vietnamese find german a “frightening” language :D, (more intimidating) simply because of the word length + super complicated combo of shwchthg in front + behind…
            what’s ftw? i always thought it’s wtf backward 😀
            are there more 1-syllable languages? b/c it’s 1, we speak very slow and with very abrupt melody so you can always spot a vietnamese speaking english in a crowd

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          • dehggial says:

            I find the back to the front thing in German quite funny. I can’t think of any other 1 syllable language that I know of, just giving a heads up. FTW = for the win, it’s silly internet expression but could be WTF in German 😉

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          • stray says:

            lol I’ve been attempting proper pronunciation of bánh all weekend.

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          • stray says:

            PS that tutorial is awesome and I like that youtube loads a Sara Mingardo video right after it 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • thả diều says:

            how natural 😉
            and i could have added bánh to the tutorial, it’s easy with a bit of practice, though a hint: to get it right, when finished pronouncing, your jaw should be shut tight, upper+lower rows of teeth fully close touching each other and ALL front teeth should be showing, as well as sounding with your head-voice, UP 😉

            Liked by 1 person

          • dehggial says:

            I tried this at work and I chipped a tooth! kidding, I chipped it whilst scarfing down an omelette ;-p

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          • thả diều says:

            wow, vhat did you put in omelette! more believable with trying “bánh” 😉

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          • dehggial says:

            rock omelette 😉 btw, do you know this tune?

            Like

          • thả diều says:

            in train cant hear a thing except bùm bùm bùm but i like the sun bhind the island :-D, will have another crak once arive in ofice.. “tha” in vietnamese means forgiveness 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • thả diều says:

            in office, indeed bùm bùm bùm mixing in with some nice rhythm, reminds me a lot of this band i used to listen to (there was a gap between BoneyM+ModernTalking phase and ClassicalMusic phase where i was introduced to a band just like this and Neil Young!) , quite like it! cheerful tune, i in need of some today after not so nice news from grant agency…

            “rock omelette”: actually i have the immediately image in head of cracked teeth, happened to us a lot in vietnam b/c rice was always mixed in with rocks, and our daily task was to separate them with occasional slippage as discovered w/ cracked teeth! 😀

            Edit: also looking for song.. probably titled “one in one” ? “one by one” ? “one on one” ? starts just like this tune but with a female voice singing over in slow rhythmic tune..
            Edit2: oh, haha, not quite but it’s got bùm bùm bùm, wow cheesy voice, and i used to love, actually cool tune and mix 😀

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          • dehggial says:

            is this the tune you’re thinking of?

            Neil Young, how random. Good songwriter.

            Like

          • thả diều says:

            wow, 4.4 mil, very epic (also nice bùm bùm + voice over 😉 ). no, i found mine (also linked in prev edited comment), rather cheesy voice + lyric, but mix is cool.

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          • dehggial says:

            ok, that was cheesy 😀 but why were there rocks in the rice? did it grow in the street?

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          • thả diều says:

            hahaha, actually i heard this when i was still learning english, didn’t know the lyrics until NOW :D, hahaha

            ja, rice sold in vn in “mountains” normally poured on the ground or floor of xe ba gác so you picked up all sorts of dirts + stones (sorry, hit return by mistake, now should be fixed)

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          • dehggial says:

            the link is broken…

            Like

          • thả diều says:

            fixed now.. someone came asking a fortran question so i must have accidentally gave link a fortran touch ;-). and generally you made an appointment with the lady and she came with her “driver” of xe ba gác (translation: 3-floor “car” 😀 ), then measured using this can and her index finger (to level the rice in can) , probably bought 10000 cans at one time (50kg, 100kg??), took all day to measure. then we the children (6 of us, super tiny) were tasked with carry this 50kg bag upstair (lots of flooding in vn, best to not have rice on ground level), carriage-routine took another 1/2 day up various steps 😀 . then out of this bag, each day we were tasked with separating rice + stones + dirt.

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          • dehggial says:

            !!! couldn’t the lady measure using a larger can?

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          • thả diều says:

            no, because:
            1. this is post-war super poor vn where we didn’t have a lot of cans except 2: this for condense milk, and a quite taller can (called loong li go, not sure but am guessing it’s from some french word.. can’t find image).
            2. condense milk cans were available everywhere
            3. it was an acceptable “measuring” unit for rice, otherwise if everyone used different cans you can’t compare and get better deals 🙂 .
            The only non-standardized thing is the index finger’s curvature: whether she’s fair and level the rice properly or if she curved it a bit inward we lost a bit of rice per can 🙂 )
            And she did this for a living so was quite mesmerizing observing (we kids really didn’t have much entertainments)

            Liked by 1 person

          • dehggial says:

            (we kids really didn’t have much entertainments)

            you don’t say! between this and You’re My Heart, You’re My Soul 😉

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          • thả diều says:

            haha, that was 1988 when modern talking invaded vn 😉
            starting in 1987 i think, the russian began streaming to us their TV (all in russians, we were rather efficient at distangling that alphabet…) , then the invasion of modern talking *and* sandra ANNNND c.c catch!!! 😀

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          • dehggial says:

            what I like from the comments is that Russians still listen to this stuff 😉 did the hairstyles catch on in VN?

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          • thả diều says:

            “did the hairstyles catch on in VN?”
            100% 😉
            i still have cassette tapes of cc-catch!
            interesting of course is that we didn’t understand the lyrics at all 😉 , yet even my mom can be heard humming “cheri cheri lady”

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          • dehggial says:

            😀 do have a tape deck to listen to the tapes?

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          • thả diều says:

            you mean you do? coz i can bring over 😀
            btw, did these bands make it to the west? they were soo popular in the eastern block (i think we essentially absorbed everything the russians did)

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          • dehggial says:

            They were popular in Germany. I have to disappoint you, my last boombox died somewhere around 2004-2005 in NYC. But youtube seems to be well stocked with cheesy music (god, is Sandra’s voice annoying or what? Did you guys get Enigma too?).

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          • thả diều says:

            haha, my older bro trekked up the mountains hunting for her recordings 😀
            enigma? vhat’s dat? no, these bands made to vietnam: boneyM, abba, modern talking, sandra, cc catch, joy (there’s 1 more i forgot name, also very popular.., oh found it: bad boy blue, you must like his voice if you adore sandra’s ;-)) . i never heard of michael jackson, the beattles, etc,. until waaaay later in the US

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          • dehggial says:

            Enigma was Sandra and hubby’s “cooler” project from the early ’90s, such as this. But their earliest hit as Enigma was this one, the tune that made both Gregorian Chant and the Marquis de Sade cool with teens ;-).

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          • thả diều says:

            oy, anything with a bit more sophistication like this can’t make it past popular cheesy culture 🙂 (oh, and 2nd link is blocked here in US it says..)
            but i think also 90’s, i left vn in 1990 so an immediate cut-off (though still spent 4 yrs in US hunting down cc catch + modern talking.. b4 transition by accident to carpenters + neil young, then for good dive into classical..)
            many thanks for the fun discussion, got me completely out of mood from shitty news earlier 🙂 . off to attempt throwing balls again in pool now… but now in high spirit so probably will work overnight in office :-). have a pleasant (very late?) evening!

            Liked by 1 person

          • stray says:

            fwiw, from review on Parterre:

            “Although Forsythe and Hansen interacted beautifully together enjoying a palpable rapport, their voices didn’t blend together as perfectly as have other couples but at least they intertwined at the correct pitches. Just when one believed the bad-old days of tenors like Jon Vickers roaring heroically through Nerone’s transposed music were past, one notes with incredulity…that as recently as last summer the Paris Opéra presented Robert Wilson’s new production of Poppea featuring a tenor—Jeremy Ovenden—as the emperor.”

            Mandarin and Cantonese are monosyllabic, are they not? German is basically monosyllabic as well, it’s just the morphemes have a habit of compounding into potentially very long strings. But that’s actually what makes it easy, there’s very little abstraction.

            Liked by 1 person

          • thả diều says:

            back from drinking pool water 🙂
            i was actually listening to the entire 1+2 acts of s.mingardo’s video w/ tenor nerone yesterday… and was thinking.. actually if given the choice b/t a CT and a tenor i’d choose… 🙂
            you might be right about mandarin + cantonese, i know very little of languages, just that ours (vietnamese) is a 1-syllable, and the fact that we can use our language to write ANY english word (such as gút nài = good night 🙂 ), but it’s true my german friends told me vietnamese is easy for them because it’s written exactly the way it sounds, *just* like German they said! (and it’s true, once i calm down and dissect the german words it’s manageable, just that at first glance *very* intimidating.. simply b/c we’re not used to their combo of consonants and various vowel combinations (i just learned what these are from a friend!! monophthong, diphthong, triphthong, how cool!! :-))

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          • thả diều says:

            so i finally got around to reading that review on parterre, indeed Nerone’s range is quite high! that explains why, coz i was wondering if that’s the “normal” range then he *is* really having a hard time with singing 🙂 . actually it was spot on as well with my impression.

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  2. Eyesometric says:

    VÈssÈlinÀ KÀsÀrovÀ

    Liked by 1 person

  3. stray says:

    Exhibit C: On Sirius they were just playing Va, tacito sung by Samuel Ramey (?). Now they are playing Faure sung by David Daniels (?).

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    • thả diều says:

      va tacito.. that simply belongs to Sarah Connolly! 🙂
      actually in sanders i was thinking DH’s tone is quite like DD’s , don’t you think?

      Like

      • stray says:

        I suppose, on the grand sliding scale of CT voice subtypes. But I tend to measure CTs by DD circa 1999, which is probably unfair to all CTs everywhere, DH included.

        And no argument abt SC, one certainly wouldn’t say it belonged to SR, although he was a fine Don Giovanni back in the day 🙂

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        • thả diều says:

          now you got me humming va tacito on way back from the pool 🙂
          what do you think of Andreas Scholl’s voice? i quite like his, more than DD’s actually.. though i only saw both in different stagings of Cesare, and sorry, but SC will swaggered them out of the water into space 🙂 (speaking of water, assessment’s from teammate today: “you’re improving! i think, right? it seems you can swim longer now without… dying!” 😀 )

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          • stray says:

            I like Scholl for Bach more than Handel, but he’s an ex-choirboy, so that sort of figures. DD I liked better as Sesto. I’m with you re SC.

            Like

          • thả diều says:

            welcome to another overnight :-). true, i really like his Matthews Passion cd. i wonder why you don’t hear a lot from him the way you see all these other flashy CT’s are being casted, but perhaps for that same reason, that he sings more sacred music in recital.. that other dude Anthony Roth Costanzo i also quite like (his voice), have you heard him? i think he sang once at the MET . anyhow, i just saw again, there’ll be a mezzo Ottone, hurrah, and she’ll get the girl, melikes! (they better now swap on the the day for a CT or i WALK OUT :D)

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          • stray says:

            PS – swimming without dying is what we aim for 🙂 Keep up the good work!

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          • stray says:

            I have heard Anthony Roth Costanzo, he was in Dido & Aeneas at Glimmerglass a few years ago, and then he did the Pergolesi Stabat Mater there I think the year after. He’s done a few things at the Met since then — the 2nd CT part in The Enchanted Island and he was Orlovsky in the recent Fledermaus. The Met’s a good house for him because he’s got volume to spare. Whether they’ll give him much work in future is another question.

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          • stray says:

            (I should say only because they don’t seem to be rushing headlong into baroque opera, and there being only so many non-baroque things you can reasonably jack a CT into.)

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          • stray says:

            And speaking of Agrippina, did they ever get the live video streaming up and running? It says they’re going to run it on 4/25. I was going to say I didn’t remember cameras at the St John, but now I think about it I’m pretty sure they were there.

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          • thả diều says:

            oh wow, how fancy! i would have *reeeeally* loved to hear their Beethoven9th, may be i send them an email asking 🙂

            Re. constanzo: i’d have preferred him over “the much sought after” DH 🙂 . what did you think of his voice? must admit i was actually *very* new to CT at the time, then BOOOOOOOM 3 of them at once, shiver, the hausmate was rather speechless 😀

            ps- in deep writing, cooking up a (nice) story (for money), not even a note of music since last night! i tried S.Mingardo but even have to shut her down completely 🙂

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          • stray says:

            I like him but his voice has a certain metallic edge that I find wearing after awhile. Not sure who I wld have picked in DH’s place, there are so many now and all so different.

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  4. Tove S says:

    You mean you haven’t seen/heard THE L’incoronazione with Sarah Connolly and Miah Persson? You must – I’m pretty sure the whole thing is on YT! THere’s also an older production with von Otter as Nerone and Charlotte Hellekant as Ottone – I like Hellekant best in that one.
    Btw, my sister recently spent a month in Vietnam on some kind of job exchange. She enjoyed it a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thả diều says:

      oh how cool! perhaps i could get some sneak peek of photos of your sister’s visit to get a glimpse of the country? 🙂
      yes, i was aware of that Poppea just recently, on the to-watch list, hopefully this weekend once deadline is past!

      Like

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