Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lucia di Lammermoor at Washington National Opera

In the examination of my traffic statistics for my blog, I notice that my most popular post lately is one that describes a small portion of Sarah Coburn's career. If the events of the world of opera have any bearing upon the amount of visitors that are brought to my individual posts, it might well be stated that the present production of Gaetano Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor at the Washington National Opera. Soprano Sarah Coburn is Donizetti's mad heroine, and the remainder of the cast includes Michael Chioldi, and Saimir Pirgu.  I have heard many praises of this production on Twitter from many sources, and it appears that Coburn is making quite an impression on the audiences who attend.

Philip Kennicot gives us a review of the production. Since I have not seen the production, I must rely on the written narration of another to clarify the production's idiosyncrasies and nuances that are exclusive to it. He mentions the shortcomings of the set design, which reveals itself probably most prominently in the fact that there are no doors within the walls of the flats, and this impedes the action onstage, for the chorus is rumored to find it necessary to climb through the windows. Obviously, there is some dramatic effect that is sought to be obtained in this direction and design, but Kennicot finds it more distracting than thought provoking, which seems only natural to me. While there may be some missed interpretation to be considered in that particular scene change, it is completely wasted on one who cannot focus on the important actions of the principals that inhabit the stage while they fear for safety of chorus members who might suddenly tumble through a window or who is unsuccessful in blocking the exiguous noise from the vital music that is being heard. Though the production has its flaws, this critic still appropriates acceptable marks to it for the effectiveness of its lighting and the difference of interpretation that it may inspire in opposition or dissidence to another production that a viewer may have previously witnessed. This mounting of Lucia di Lammermoor puts Lucia in a far more innocent state of being than we usually encounter in the operatic world, and it is becoming far more popular for the heroines of new productions to be envisioned as teen-aged adolescents. I have some qualms with this approach, one of which is that I think it leads to a sweeping generalization of the diverse characters that are present in opera, but this seems to create a more validated and acceptable transition for an audience into Lucia's insanity that she eventually acquires.

As for the cast's abilities, Kennicot calls the cast he saw, which featured Sarah Coburn, "compelling." He further elucidates regarding her that her voice has genuine character and all of the clarity and speed for which one could hope. I am most elated to hear such praise for this soprano, for she used to attend my university, and she was the first opera singer that I have ever seen perform. The tenor Saimir Pirgu received words of praise from our critic, as well, and he was reported to complement Coburn quite well. It would appear that there is no flaw in the vocal aspect of this piece. One piece of information that was not conveyed, which I should have been very glad to know, was whether or not the original glass harmonica orchestration was employed for the mad scene. One of the opera companies whom I follow on Twitter mentioned that they were running the production with the original orchestration, but I cannot recall if it was the Washington National Opera or otherwise. I much prefer the glass harmonica to be included by the orchestra, for it adds a new dimension to the haunting, eerie quality of the madness that we discover in Lucia.

I express my immense ingratiation to all of you for continuing to peruse my posts, and I hope that all of you are extraordinarily blessed in life. I wish everyone an Happy Thanksgiving despite your nationality, for a day of feasting in honor of giving thanks for God's providence is a commendable course no matter what nation claims your heritage.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An Exciting New Release

Deutsche Grammophon announced via Twitter this evening that soprano Patricia Petibon's new album of Spanish songs and arias, which is entitled Melancolia: Spanish Arias and Songs, is to be released in the United States on November 21, 2011. I have high hopes for this album after becoming enthralled by Petibon's previous release of Rosso: Italian Baroque Arias. Though this recording is not quite so specialized as Rosso was, I expect all of the flavor that Spanish music would immediately conjure in the minds of anyone who is remotely familiar with music would hope to find. Indeed, that was one of the main reasons for my infatuation with Rosso, for her performances were breathed with fresh, vivacious life, and they did not sound like a plain reading of text in the least amount. Every track from that album was imbued with a passion that I have rarely found matched in other performances of Baroque music, in which many artists are concerned with what is thought to be the most strict of styles. Her renditions almost left caution to the wind, and the effect was rapturous for my ears. Without any question Baroque music should be performed to that degree of expression every time it is proffered in a program.

The track list for this new disc is as follows.

           Enrique Granados

  1. La maja dolorosa II: Ay majo de mi vida
    Tornadillas No.2
  2. Cancion de Cuna
    Cinco canciones negras No. 4
  3. Canto negro
    Cinco Canciones negras No. 5

    Joaquin Nin y Castellanos
  4. El vito
    Veinte cantos populares espanoles II No. 8

    Heitor Villa-Lobos
  5. Aria (Cantilena)
    Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5

    Joaquin Turina
  6. Cantares
    Poema en forma de canciones No. 3

    Geronimo Gimenez
  7. La tarantula e un bicho mu malo (Zapateado)
    from La tempranica

    Rafael Calleja Gomez/ Tomas Barrera Saavedra
  8. Adios, Granada
    from Emigrantes

    Manuel de Falla
  9. Vivan los que rien!
    from La Vida breve, Act 1

    Federico Moreno Torroba
  10. Petenera
    from La Marchenera

    Enrique Granados
  11. El mirar de la mija
    Tornadillas No. 7

    Jose Serrano Simeon
  12. Marinela, Marinela
    from La cancion del olvido
  13. Ogunde uarere

    Nicolas Bacri

    Melodias de la melancolia, Op. 119
    for Patricia Petibon, World Premiere Recording
  14. 1. A la mar
  15. 2. Silencio mi nino
  16. 3. Hay quien dice
  17. 4. Solo
As my readers can easily gather from this diverse choice of material, this promises to be replete with life and fervor for the music. Most of these compositions are plucked from the Romantic era of music, which lasts approximately between 1850 to 1900, which indicates lush orchestrations and greater emphasis on the music over the voice, but I am anxious to discover how Petibon shall make these selections entirely her own.

For those who are unfamiliar with Patricia Petibon, she is best known as a skilled interpreter of the baroque repertoire, but last season brought a bold departure from that music with her run of performances as Berg's Lulu in Salzburg over the summer. Opera News also had a review of this new territory for Petibon, and she was the cover subject for the August 2010 issue.

On this newest release under Deutsche Grammophon label, the soprano is joined in collaboration by the Orquestra Nacional de Espana under the baton of Josep Pons, and, if Petibon's previous artistry is to be of any indication to our minds is hope for this recording, we can safely dare to hope for superlative results from this latest offering. I look forward to hearing this recording with excellent anticipation of exquisite musicology and interpretation.

Please accept my ingratiation for reading my continued blog posts, and I hope that all of my readers are immensely blessed of late. I pray God's continued providence upon all of you.