more monteverdi snippet

ok, so i’ve just found out that more people are now taping “live” S.Mingardo’s performances, yay. Wish this thing below is in full.. but snippet is what we’ll settle for now. There’s also this other full thing which I’ve already posted in some comment section, but it never hurts to share again the goodie, and along with it a lovely write up (based on translation).

(Note the video below: the volume is by default mute, you just have to switch it on. also on mobile the vid doesn’t show up, so it’s now linked to the picture above.)


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tube vault

more music from the tube vault. yesh, still with Sara Mingardo. She sang a lot of roles in the past, and it’s really just a matter of luck to find the right ones it seems. Am still sooooooo hopeful to find one of her Rinaldo or Cesare, especially when we realize that her voice back in the 90s has quite a ping! it’s quite intense/compact compared to the super warm version now it seems. At first i wonder if it’s an artifact of VHS quality.. but i think we can hear the baroque violins here ok. (Oh, and i found this by search for her name and “Cavalli”).


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I might have to download the whole thing at some point to re-sync the sound.. There’s a whole playlist here. One can also spot a super young Andrea Marcon, Laura Polverelli, and Ivano Zanenghi (theorbo, one of the founders of the Venice Baroque Orchestra if i’m correct…)

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Edit: Success! took a while to merge the thing.. here it is, much less disruption.

il ritorno d’Ulisse, round 2

It has been well documented chez thadieu that often the 2nd round is better than the first, especially with singers who are in their elements. Prior to tonight’s performance it was brought to my attention that a certain critic writing for some big name newspaper in Hamburg only spent the last paragraph of a long review with first mentions of Sara Mingardo on way to writing she was not heard well*. Granted that three of us were at the theater on the opening night and complaining about the loud harpsichord.. yet all heard her very well, I was quite puzzled to hear this report (so was Dehggi). Especially because we were distributed in the hall enough to avoid potential bias due to preferential seatings. Why do I start a report on such a negative note? Because, by the end of this evening’s performance, I’m pretty sure whoever the critic was likely is in need of an ear- and reality-check**.

This report, I’m afraid, might turn into a big Sara Mingardo’s post. The opera of course started out with the fragile human being tormented by the gods and goddesses. Christophe Dumaux had some very delicate phrasings. Soon though, the evening took a quiet and somber turn as drums sprinkled, theorbos lightly strummed, to Penelope staged at center in dark dress, dark glasses, dark veil. Besides the timeless sweeping by Ericlea, all movements ceased. Then a dark voice rose. Personally, I find this entrance significantly more effective when it is done in a more quiet and evolving manner than full-on lament. And that’s what we had tonight. sprinkles of theorbos, and Sara Mingardo phrasing (pining) Monteverdi. Time truly stopped. It was a true marvel hearing how the mood evolves with her, as if she’s doing it on the fly, based on how she/Penelope felt at each evolving moment. Only occasionally i realized “oh, she’s approached the chair here, like last time”, or “oh, she’s throwing the chair there” . Even the simple moment of throwing the chair was spontaneous: Penelope grabbing on, twisting fingers as she built up the tension in the phrasing, then snapped, with the bouncing echo on the floor. The running away from the center, approaching the edge, hand gestures, leaning onto Ericlea, sitting down rocking sadly and melancholically, with a soft painful smile, to

Torna il tranquillo al mare,
torna il zeffiro al prato,
l’aurora mentre al sol fa dolce invito
a un ritorno del dì che è pria partito.
.

😥 .

And the soft pianissimo we were hoping to hear last Sunday? In full display; trailing and ascending ever so slightly as Penelope drifted into the background to the dancing. sniff. It was that kind of an evening. Yours truly was a bit shaken. But the opera does not end with Penelope’s lament. One should not miss it. But if somehow one accidentally did, it’s still completely worth the effort simply to hear the rest of her phrasing. I have it worked out that this is what she does, and if this works for you, it will never go wrong 🙂 . To the critic who apparently couldn’t hear her, i can rebuff today, from row 8, she was heard extremely well. And judging by the loud screams she received during curtain call, the rest of the theater also heard her well.
Interestingly she was exceptionally well heard when standing on the take singing down to us. As far as beam-story goes, that might have been it! I had all her music mentally marked down in head through the evening, every movements now registered, as if to create a long-lasting memory when i replay the radio broadcast.

A final note on Penelope then, before I might proceed to talk about other singers (or not.. it’s getting late and i have to get up at 4am…) The final collapse. My heart did fully dropped, let out an audible gasp with simultaneous jolt. Even when knowing a collapse was coming i was taken by complete surprise when she did. Something about the so precise moment and yet unpredictable. And with it the cascading spill of emotion, to the soft and yet still slightly pained smile

Gli augelletti, cantando,
i rivi mormorando or si rallegrino!


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I regret not having another chance to hear her in this production. it’s currently pouring rain outside and i hope she is not catching a cold from it! because if you’re in town and want to hear one of the world’s best contraltos breathing Monteverdi, you should go hear her live. I have already discussed the orchestra sparingly elsewhere and just wanted to add today, either they had reduced volume greatly during her singing, or perhaps sitting in the floor section blocked out the harpsichord, but i think it (the harpsichord) has toned down significantly.. not sure if this is a welcome trend or that it might pick up again during the weekend.. Also I’m still working my way through Vaclav Luks’s conducting. Personally I prefer a little bit more “rhythm” / pace change to help things flow a tiny bit more musically. Yes yes i know this is Monteverdi, but the continuous similarities can even make this semi hard-core Monteverdi fan flagged at time.. Also, there’s still something about their “thick” accompany that I’m still trying to wrap my head around.. and a tiny note that i prefer Ian Bostridge’s way of phrasing significantly more than Kurt Streit’s.

Edit: curtain call:

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-ps anotehr curtain call coming at some point…
* i can’t voucher yet since it was translatedly summarized to me, and translation can also be rather subjective as it can also highlight the person’s personal intake..
** or rather, as Dehggi and Agathe put it, get the ears trained on contraltos.

il ritorno d’Ulisse in Hamburg

©Monika Rittershaus

warming greetings from Hamburg! The WS vehicle, which Purity envisioned 8 years ago to follow mezzos (and contraltos) around Europe finally materialized as Agathe, thadieu, and Dehggi all piled into to a small 4-wheel device heading for Sara Mingardo.

the Mingardo soundtrack for the WS road


The anticipation was very high, given that the Hamburger Staatsoper withheld any rehearsal photos the entire week prior and we all arrived with heart-thumping worries of an announcement of a replacement. Even the conductor walking out was giving Agathe a heart-dropping moment, same worrying about more last minute announcement :-). But all was well, Sara Mingardo was listed, onstage right from the first scene. Not sure if Agathe recognized her in the ensemble, but of course I did, and so should Dehggi one floor higher up on our opposite side.

Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria

Hamburg 29/Oct/2017
Sara Mingardo: Penelope

Kurt Streit: Ulisse
Katja Pieweck: Ericlea
Dorottya Láng: Minerva
Dovlet Nurgeldiyev: Telemaco
Christophe Dumaux: L’umana fragilità / Anfinomo
Denis Velev: Tempo / Antinoo
Luigi De Donato: Nettuno
Rainer Trost: Eumete
Marion Tassou: Melanto
Oleksiy Palchykov: Eurimaco
Alexander Kravets: Giove
Gabriele Rossmanith: Fortuna/Giunone
Peter Galliard: Iro
Viktor Rud: Pisandro

Vaclav Luks: musical director
Orchestra: Collegium 1704

I like this staging a lot! and have already seen it back in May/2015 when she had her month-long Zürich’s debut, though it’s true back then i had *no* clue about the composer/music/Penelope. Essentially the stage is a simple very large white sloping dish, on which Penelope was either being centered and isolated through her sorrow, or twirled around/cornered by the suiters / party-ers. The fragile human (Christophe Dumaux) was stripped to his boxer and tortured, with strings pulled in every which way by the gods and goddesses. Female characters were in generic dresses with heels** while male characters in suit and ties. The exceptions being Ulisse often being shirtless and the suiters with the “<3 Penelope” T-Shirts that ALL OF US (Dehggi, thadieu, Agathe) ALL WANT WANT WANT ❤ . We’ve discussed going to the Hamburg Opera’s shop to order/request.

© Monika Rittershaus

So, the verdict, actually, i’ll let Agathe say something about her impression in the comment section. As for self, ❤ <3. We sat on the right (in all senses) side with Sara Mingardo often ended up in our corner with Ericlea by her side while being chased. Postures! did I mention Mingardo’s postures before? in holding the bow, throwing the dresses.. jumping(!!) on and off tables (i can’t believe she’s doing all these, with helps of course, but on those heels!) . and vocally: ❤ . Actually Penelope has so much sad music to sing through, it was quite enjoyable the rare moments she has defiant music to push back (posture). Strangely enough, through her lamentation and almost the entire evening, the harpsichord (to the left of the conductor) was TOOO LOUD! we wondered if it was our seatings, but Dehggi reported the same thing from quite a different location in the haus. To our astonishment, the harpsichord went kaput in the final scene. And ALLLL ears were perked up to hear SMingardo’s phrasings during the final bit, starting with such a heart-felt collapse (snif). I’m quite prone to heartfelt/devastated collapses for some reasons, when they’re done just at the right moment and you feel the whole weight on Penelope (or Donna Anna in Paris) , snif..

We debated why we heard ALL of her range of emotion & tones & voice & expression so well in the finale, and wondered outloud if we had gotten used finally to the sound in the haus.. but NO, the harpsichord STOPPED! that was it. PLease, for the rest of the run, please turn down the harpsichord when she sings! She doesn’t need it at all, not at that volume that just trampled over her at times.

Ok, am finishing this off now to go hang out some more, so, mainly just starting this as a space for us to return later to discuss, about how much we enjoyed Minerva, both in blazer and in dress, and that we’d like to hear from more her (mezzo Dorottya Láng) . Above is the trailer, and below is the curtain call. It was quite nice seeing the warm reception the cast and orchestra received on the opening night. And oh yes, I’ll try to form some lines of thoughts about the orchestra. I quite like it! but somehow kept thinking how different they are in their phrasings (mainly Vaclav Luks’s way of phrasing) than Alessandrini and Anrea Marcon. Altogether, we’re still talking about it here through our various hopping between cities.. but will return soon to fill the space (i hope) with discussion, as well as enjoying Dehggi’s take whenever it comes.

signing off until the next excursion. please excuse the grammar/spelling errors.. i’m proceeding now to my fresh breakfast bread!

outside the box

ok, i was looking for a long opera with Sara Mingardo to start the working evening.. and First ran into this (with Dick Tracy & Superman (see pix on left from the program note) & TinTin & Snoopy & the Duponts and… and S.Mingardo singing Jessica Rabbit… all in English!).. and was going to attempt to “settle” with that for music.. and then off the corner of eye was this other suggestion… she does sing!! (not sure in which language.., i think the opera is in English.) , starting around minute 4.. , but first some acting.. one of those other female characters is apparently sung/danced by Barbara Hanningen …

Here, amusement for the late evening / very early morning of a new week:

Juditha Triumphans at Carnegie Hall, 7/Feb/2017

Silke Gäng, Francesca Ascioti, Delphine Galou, Mary Ellen Nesi, Ann Hallenberg

Yeah i know, this is 7 months late.. and memory is fading, and I didn’t take any notes, so this is all from memory, likely in bullet point format. But I wanted to write about it to perhaps self analyze what exactly one hears. And a warning: this will likly turn into an Ann Hallenberg swooning post. In fact, so much swooning that we (Stray and I) spontaneously made friend with (a very surely White SHirt) friend who was sandwiched between our seats and had to hear our opinions hurling back and forth, and proceeded to discuss with said friend and her other friend for more than 1 hour after the concert.. and it wasn’t until near midnight that I realized I *forgot* my laptop at Carnegie Hall coat check stall, with a flight out at 5am the next morning… That was an interesting experience trying to break into the hall*. But let’s get to the concert.

Tuesday 7/Feb/2017, Carnegie Hall
Venice Baroque Orchestra
Andrea Marcon, Music Director and Conductor
Delphine Galou, Contralto (Juditha)
Mary-Ellen Nesi, Mezzo-Soprano (Holofernes)
Ann Hallenberg, Mezzo-Soprano (Vagaus)
Francesca Ascioti, Contralto (Ozias)
Silke Gäng, Mezzo-Soprano (Abra)
TENET (female chorus)

Edit: This is part of a series, with Dehggi’s take at the Barbican here, and Anik’s take at theater an der Wien here.

Am not sure why they scheduled it on a Tuesday evening, which made trips from out of town very difficult to arrange without possibly losing nearly 2 days of work. But yes, Tuesday evening. Which means yours truly already arrived to the concert hall after some crazy-early-hour flight and fighting through NY metro signs to navigate into Manhattan. The absolute best thing for these kinds of hectic planning is to meet up with fellow equally (or even more?) enthusiastic fan/friend (Stray), who can immediately chill you down and talk real business (singers swooning, for their voices of course.. ). We booked a little bit late way back last year and got tickets on the extreme right side *behind* the singers. The only thing i could say was great was we got a superb view of Ann Hallenberg boots, and wonderful manteau, and swagger. Also on our side was Mary-Ellen Nesi’s swaggering Holofernes. Oh, and a nice view of the Theorbo ensemble!

First up, the Venice Baroque Orchestra (and Andrea Marcon). You know this immense feeling you sometimes have when things are just so *right* your inner cells are dancing with joys and your (missing) apple are coming up in your throat? That’s the feeling I got hearing the VBO playing Juditha. Those who have read my blog in the past might recall my first traumatic Juditha experience. Enough for me to sit there in Carnegie Hall thinking: “jeah, this, they know what they’re doing! They “feel” the flow, it’s in their beings. They Jive with it, they live it, they toss each other little phrases, challenge each other with an extra dose of energy and strumming, jeah, take that, you return something better! wink. .” And they smile widely while being challenged and together bring forth the music. I think there’s a huge difference between having “baroque” in your blood (drink?) versus “following” instruction on what one is supposed to do… And Andrea Marcon conducting Juditha? it’s like water flowing: no matter the course, water will “naturally” meander and flow downhill after trickling in every little extra corner to explore if such space has a path forward. And the contrast between this and having the feeling “why is this conductor forcing the water to go up this uniform ramp, across these strange steps? why are these steps chosen? was it because the conductor thought: hmm, not sure where this is going, let me draw up some steps, and tell my troupe to follow me”.. Enough dig, but yeah. SWOONING. (But a small note, as you can see by our seats, we were *behind* the orchestra. The sound was not good. Carnegie Hall is huge, and likely the stage too I think. Such that a small band like the VBO fitted tightly at the center and seats to the side will not get the warm baroque/focus sound. After intermission i climbed my way 5 seats in and that was what needed to catch Ann Hallenberg at her best.)

Onto the singers. Juditha the role I think is quite a difficult one. If you have a voice with enough colors perhaps you can shade her various (altogether rather somber) moods well? This was the first time I heard D. Galou live, and she has the disadvantage of being on the very far side at almost a 15-20 deg angle to my seat, with her voice projecting out at 90deg angle.

I might have mentioned D.Galou’s narrow-beam focus (to my ears) elsewhere. And admittedly at this extremely unfavorably angle, I’d also say somehow her color is quite uniform. Enough such that at times I did scratch my head thinking “hmm.. Juditha music is long”. I think for this type of music, this particular role, you really need someone who can shape things in 3-D (Please wait patiently, i might have more hand-drawn pix for Ann Hallenberg vocal shaping.). M.-E. Nesi was closer to us. Also, I think her voice is “warmer” and is a bit more in volume than Galou’s. But still a little bit on the similar-in-color-throughout family. Hearing both of them, I kept thinking of the voice tone being trapped inside a circular steel pipe that could not go beyond that narrow solid boundary to add more dynamics, colors, and texture (More precisely: that my ears need that wall to be more like cloth/bamboo, not steel). In any case, beyond all that.. what was suuuuuuuuuuuper enjoyable was how D.Galou joiceously (i made that word up) scaled up and down Juditha’s music without *any* hinderance. AAHHHHHH the beauty of having a contralto singing this role ❤ . She and M.-L. Nesi’s Holofernes also had a nice exchange with the champagne glasses. Too cute.

Apology for not many words about Silke Gäng’s Abras.. she did not leave me with much impression.. But Francesca Ascioti!!! JEAH!! She has the “authority” in the tone. First, a mention about the role itself (let’s listen to R.Basso while we check out the fuss about heft and the role as I type):

Feel the scowling? the growling? and in the marching sound in the music? jeah! I don’t care about technique at this point (not that I know any), but what I absolutely loved was Ascioti’s authority in tone and the feeling “she means what she’s singing”. I did wonder about having her as Juditha, whether the role might be too low for her? but I responded much better to her dynamics than to both the two prior mentioned singers. Altogether though, sorry to sound like i’m whining, because it’s nonsense. It was a GREAT evening in the presence of this level of deep female voice. ❤ ❤ ❤ .

Then Ann Hallenberg stepped up. I’ve only heard her in recording on youtube before.. I am telling you, there is NO preparation for hearing her live in this Vagaus role. Actually I’m very convinced I’d greatly enjoyed her in the role of Juditha too, or Holofernes. Let me resort to my hand-drawn pix again, for an attempt to demonstrate how her vocal expression blossomed / exploded / flourished in my brain. No, actually, let’s go with this image I found on the net:

Ann Hallenberg’s sound wave and dynamics, as registered in thadieu’s brain. © unknown

Or here’s another screen cap of my search on the internet. Because it seems that’s what my brain was responding to her incoming sound. Post concert, Stray and I sat there asking out-loud: how did she do it? HOW?? Let me attempt with some hand-waving words.. First, the dynamical range, and the speed at which she can do it: Range: ppp to fff. speed: ranging from an explosion to a steady ramping up, and same in reverse. I think there are few occasions in music where you need to have this “tool” to express. I know i talk about ACA a lot, but it is also this tool, a burst/pull of it, *just* at the right time, to convey the *exact* milisecond of a reaction. Also: color. I think a voice with a “ping” as an asset can be very effective for this kind of “explosion”. Like that which should be used in Ostinati (e tal sarà) in Romeo’s entrance aria. Let it rip as I think of it. It should be used very rarely, but have it at one’s disposal. This is different than when such tools are not accessible to one’s voice, and the singer might then utilize a different approach to the phrasing for that moment, for a different effect in the listener’s brain. And then, the rest: just the technique (now you hear comparison to how i heard M.Papatanasiu in Alcina, the things that she did, which I always thought you just do it, like how VK had done it for decades.. but it was explained to me it’s technique. And know when to use it.) Ann Hallenberg’s voice is not the most powerful. I mean as far as categories go, I suspect she fits in the “thinner” side as we might box? But that is the basis. What is available at her disposal was this tremendous bag of assets. Just listening to her recit alone was an experience. Actually, one can compare a little bit hers to the recent brain-opening experience I had listening to Alice Coote’s Vitellia phrasing. If anything, besides all that have been described, I’d say for me Alice Coote has more “heft” in her toolbox and because of that she can pull more shades if/when needed. Something a more thinner voice wouldn’t be able to pull through because there’s not enough heft to begin with to scale back.

Anyway, her Umbrae Carae was a hypnotizing display at expert level. I thought of attempting to do something about the sound intake but selfishly opted for just letting the jaw dropped and experienced that live moment. Sadly there wasn’t enough of her fans in the hall to capture the piece, sigh. So you’ll just have to take my words for it. and Here’s the rest of the photos, and a tiny curtain call video:

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boots!

more boots!

Galou’s smile

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* if you forget things at Carnegie hall in the middle of the night and desperately need to gain access, don’t try to climb on the gate, go behind the hall, next to the dumpster, there is a security door. It’s locked, but knock on it, there is someone sitting there 24hr/7days to help you out. Many thanks to Stray who was accommodating me on my trek back and strange attempts at midnight to gain access.. I was also secretly hoping to catch Ann Hallenberg coming out at that hour 🙂 .

background ramblings

It’s been an unsettling time.. One of those moods where one feels realizes (again) being able to go into hiding implies you do have the luxury to do so, while others are being actively oppressed/hurt. On a closer to heart front (i feel a rant coming..), have the patience to see Antonacci portraying this mad woman will you? (time-tag 7m58s). Do you think Antonacci is this woman? is Antonacci mad? Is it that difficult to see an artist’s “realistic” and effective portrayal is a reflection of their craft but not an announcement this is who they are? Isn’t it clear their moving “performance” is not an invitation to freely project and suddenly “identify” with them and think they’re the answer to your life? I find it troublesome some people cannot seem to distinguish between a performance/writing/painting and the artist’s private personal space/life. Actually it must be quite frightening for an artist who has to perform in public, if that is something they suddenly have to worry about, instead of just focussing on their well beings and effective methods to communicate their arts. I think both V.Kasarova and S.Mingardo had in separate interviews (yay, i found S.Mingardo’s insightful Polish interview!!) talking about the needs to “unplug” from the stage, to define the clear line between “online” versus offline. Whatever people “project” on them based on their portrayals… well, it’s fantasy, that is all. there. random rant is over….

Sorry, i’ve been in a mood, blame it on the upcoming (or past already?!) eclipse, and current sad news. The purpose of this post is, actually, to retreat into a little safe place to enjoy this wonderful interview with Nathalie Stutzmann. I think being a female conductor she has through the years, as with E.Haïm, being asked a lot about it… What I like about this one is that it’s much more about her back story. I was hoping it was longer! quite fun to hear about her “incognito” audition for a conductor job 😀 😀 . And she discovered Mozart Mass in C from a cassette tape. Hey, i discovered Beethoven 9th Choral (and my entrance into classical music) from a cassette tape too! 🙂

That was also the time i accidentally found myself in Bergen!! and dragged a whole team to hear the concert :-). There is also this super short interview. What I liked from that was, according to my ears, she puts the “rock” into Bach. Quite fun. At first I wondered if I should check out this interview or not.. and 1 bar into the music, i was hooked! Think i have this whole concert (radio) saved somewhere as well… perhaps it’s time to dig it up while remain a little bit more in hiding away from the real world (as she said). Just a tiny bit more, to recharge.