As the title of this post relates, Sunday, April 19, 2009, was my first experience with the Met's Live in HD series when I watched the documentary The Audition. Other than feeling sick during much of the film, I liked the movie. Alek Shrader, who is featured in the May issue of Opera News, totally astonished me with his rendition of Ah, mes amis. To think that he almost did not sing it for his audition scares me. It puts more fear into me that he is that good a singer and that young. The late Ryan Smith impressed and motivated me with his audition because he had little formal training before then; it was almost as if I could see myself in his place immediately. Iwas pleasantly surprised at Marco Armiliato's attitude with all of these young professionals. I was expecting a conductor to be rather harsh, but he was there entirely for the singer as if they were the grandest diva or star in the world. If I ever become an opera singer, I would really like to work with him as much as I could. I would not be surprised if he did prove instrumental in securing Michael Fabiano's debut at La Scala. I learned something about this "cut-throat" world of opera, also. I was amazed at how cordial every member of the staff was to each of the contestants; they actually wanted them to succeed. The panel discussion with Renee Fleming, Susan Graham, and Thomas Hampson dispelled some further myths about auditioning. The greatest one is probably that pesky nagging that you cannot make a mistake, and that the judges are predisposed to dislike you. They, especially Thomas Hampson, advise us to go into an audition showing the judges what we have to offer. We should go in there to sing what we know we can sing and to do it as well as we can, and if they do not accept us, we must go on and try again; we must not try to fit ourselves into a box we think is what the jurors wish to see and hear; rather, we should simply show them what we have to offer as if we were street merchants selling our wares. If the judges like someone else's items better, they will choose them instead of us. It is that simple. All we must do is remember that.
If anyone is palnning a trip to Europe this summer, the festival line-up looks appealing in many places. Salzburg, as is customary for them, offers an impressive mix of singers for its recitals this year with Rolando Villazon, Anna Netrebko, Patricia Pettibon, Magdalena Kozena, Thomas Quasthoff, Matthias Goerne, Jonas Kaufmann, and Juan Diego Florez. Their operatic offerings are Handel's Theodora, Haydn's Armida, and Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte and Le Nozze di Figaro. Another of Austria's festivals, the Schubertiade, promises to be an excellent recital venue as well with the notable mentions of Andreas Scholl, Kate Royal, Quasthoff, Ian Bostridge, Anne Sofie von Otter, and an ensemble recital with Bostridge, Quasthoff, Dorothea Roschmann, and Angelika Kirchschlager on September 5th. Austria would definitely be on my travel list for Europe this summer, but there are music festivals in many countries of Europe if not in every one, and most of the others about which I know offer excellent performances, also.
The region explored in this year's edition of Opera News' annual travel issue is Scandanavia. I had no idea that this region of the world had given us so many of the legendary singers or that it had such a rich operatic tradition and heritage. I usually associate Vikings with this almost arctic locale, and it is difficult for me to relate Vikings and opera to each other.
Oh, yes! Am I the only one disappointed with the new online Met Opera Shop? The old one had so many more items to offer! The new one is a branch of the Met's website, and it features only a few CD's, DVD's, and some products that are inspired by the Met. While I am on the topic, I might as well say that I also despair that the Met does not release more of their Live in HD presentations onto DVD. I especially want to see their Opening Night Gala put on disc!
Finally, I heard Irene Theorin in Wagner's Seigfried on Saturday and I left the broadcast thinking of how I wished I could have heard her throughout the cycle instead of for the limited time one does in the third part of Wagner's epic Ring cycle. Wagner's music did take me to that fairy-tale world that is created with the Norse mythology, but it did not accomplish this so well as Dvorak's Rusalka did for me earlier this season. From what I heard, we have nothing to worry about Theorin's voice deteriorating; she is excellent.
Thank you all for reading.