Speedy preservation advised.
oh my God what a treat thank you so much! Dreamy!
08 October 2013 at 11:53 AM
Well preserved. Thanks.
William Lau |
08 October 2013 at 01:30 PM
Thanks. It's on the way.
08 October 2013 at 03:43 PM
"Preserving" program? Anyone? Please....?
Intermezzo replies - Just google 'free download software' for loads of options.
If you don't trust unknown providers, in Firefox you can use Video DownloadHelper https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/video-downloadhelper/.
08 October 2013 at 03:54 PM
Thanks for this. It was fantastic. I'm now sold on Fanciulla.
I would gladly have paid the rights holder for a video stream aimed at the U.S. There's no point saying "Wait for a DVD," because part of the energy of a contemporary performance is lost when it's a significantly delayed product. Not to mention fiddled with in the studio.
I thought having German subtitles to Italian singing was a hoot, since I can barely understand either. Reminds me of the old days, before titles, when I'd read the libretto prior to each act and hope I could figure out what was happening. Mostly, I couldn't.
Also note, Kaufmann's voice did not sound "covered" in this, a technique that has been very noticeable in other rep.
Intermezzo replies - I think Kaufmann's breathing may have changed. I noticed the lack of the usual covered tone in the Salzburg Don Carlo (which I have yet to write about, mea culpa) too.
08 October 2013 at 05:20 PM
Thanks a lot for the help, preserved ;)
08 October 2013 at 05:41 PM
it's called "starting to sing more Verdi" :-)he's only done Italian repertoire for a while now and you can hear it
08 October 2013 at 05:48 PM
Hariclea, you made my day! I watched the first part doing my usual workout (much more fun than reading on-line greek, french and spanish newspapers while exercising) and the second over evening coffee, which means I missed siesta, and this IS a huge sacrifice for a mediterranean girl. A very touching performance, even if Puccini is never my first choice.
08 October 2013 at 06:05 PM
Thank you soooooo much! Was anxiously waiting for this. All the gods and goddesses of music bless you.
08 October 2013 at 06:43 PM
Sheila, Hariclea and Intermezzo, please do elaborate on the "covering"? Covering vowels in the passagio you mean? I would really be interssted in discussing JK's technique... Can't decide on his placement..
And Hariclea, singing more Verdi affects this? But I thought he always divided his time between French, Italian and German rep, no?
Intermezzo, awaiting your Salzburg review.
09 October 2013 at 12:14 AM
I'm not the one who dreamed up the term, and I have zero useful musical training. So others must give the technical answer. But if you listen to him from recent years, you hear that the sound does not appear to come straight out; it seems to be held in, sending it lower in effect, and perhaps making it stronger or just more controlled. It's a weird sound, very baritonal, yet supposedly hitting all the correct tenor notes.
Sorry. Best I can do.
09 October 2013 at 01:38 AM
Nina Stemme always seems as if she isn't going to reach those highest notes, and yet -- time and time again -- she does, and they are centred and glorious.
09 October 2013 at 04:57 AM
@Shiela, thank you. It's interesting what you say. It is indeed a unique sound that he makes and I am sure that some people can't stand it (however hard to believe that is) because it might sound unnatural to them. To my understanding (and I am not vocally trained at all) when the placement is low, the result is a manipulated sound, which is probably the reason why some people don't like the sound he produces.
However, while low placement is not ideal for long term vocal health, he is sounding increasingly more confident and able to do whatever he wants vocally, and is so much freer artistically. So he must be doing something right, for him.
When the placement is in the mask, the sound is more focused and natural and as a result projects very well. I have heard Kaufmann not project very well over a thick orchestration at the Royal Opera House and at the Met. Theoretically speaking, this could be indeed because he holds his sound in and as result, it's placed lower and doesn't project well. On the other hand, his soft singing floats beautifully in the hall and sounds glorious (as does his Lieder singing, which I absolutely adore), which makes me think that perhaps this is when he just lets the sound out with no manipulation. But again, I am not vocally trained so...
Hariclea...? Anything to say? Or anyone else?
09 October 2013 at 09:22 AM
Loads to say but little time ;-)
Yes there is variety of repertoire in general and variety in planning, but as planning goes in this musical world variety was more in concerts and song recitals. As to opera the last French new role is already back in 2010, Werther, with a single performance last year added to that same role. And in general I wouldn't really call ( looking at recent years) a whole load of Toscas and a few Carlos and a Maurizio which is 2 years back now a lot of Italian repertoire, nobody would actually I think :-) In effect on the opera front the last few years have been dominated by Siegmunds, Parsifals, Lohengrins and Florestans, which are still a different kettle of fish.
The core of what has happened in the last few years has been around Wagners and Florestans, with quite a few Toscas and Carmens to break them up and also Carlos (and thankfully by many many song recitals and a few concerts). There is currently a lot of catching up to do on the French front actually and a whole shedload on the Italian one. Our of curiosity I looked up when Domingo did his first Otello, it was with 35! And I have seen Ballos from when he was barely 30. There is no standard and we shouldn't compare in too much detail, as every voice and every artist is different. But JK is over 40 now and he’s only sang a Rigoletto (some 6 years back at least), a few Bohemes, many Alfredos, now also quite a few years back and no belcanto operas , and no other Verdis but Carlo since. Whereas for any spinto tenor Verdi would be for example a huge chunk of what they do. And Verdi and belcanto just ‘flex’ totally different singing areas, flexibility above all things :-)
I don’t believe there is or ever was anything to the covering story, it’s his tone of voice, the colour of it which was always there. The technique, which I don’t pretend to know much about :-p is based on a lower larynx as can easily be seen and from his own explanations that means better airflow, more support and more control. The darkness is in his chords so to speak, was always there, he is simply born with it :-) The covering is something baritones or basses tend to do to sound darker ( to me it sounds like the Jack Rance in the Wien Fanciulla is doing plenty of that ;-) whereas with Jonas things never sound covered but completely open actually.
I’d say with the demands of the Trovatore and those fiendish cabalettas and the way the high notes are written and the way the lines get to the top notes in Verdi his passagio has had a good workout and the voice generally has been flexed a bit more than usual and it sound as a result much more limber. But let's not’get either too technical, which I wouldn't know enough about anyways and let’s not overanalyse. He’s had his technique for many years now and like anyone who constantly works at it to better himself he’s gotten better and better at controlling and mastering his voice so it is only natural for him to sound even better and sing even better. Besides he’s never changed what he sings like according to repertoire, it is the repertoire that challenges different parts of the voice (and likely the part that gets used more in Verdi has been underused before and has now come out to shine :-)
But little about the repertoire in his case has been very usual :-) He’s gone from Mozart and Alfredos to Tosca , Carmens and Florestans and quickly to Lohengrins and Siegmunds. There haven’t been the usual more lyrical inbetweeners ( your Nemorinos- tho there were some even further back, Edgardos and a bunch of lighter Verdis, some Romeos, more Faust, more Grieux,etc). Why? Because people are filled with prejudice and initially the only Italian role people gave him was Alfredo :-) Let’s not forget that it was the ROH who gave him Rondine, who then gave him 2 of his staple roles, Tosca and Carmen when nobody else would have even thought to. And it was still the ROH who offered more Italian roles, before he built a close relationship with his home town opera. It has always been Pappano who has been the strongest believer in his Italian side and for good reason :-) But that Italian side of Jonas is just now really coming into bloom :-)
Some may say back to front a bit, but this is how planning works , especially when some in the classical world still look at your passport more often then they use their ears :-)
I for one would still kill to see his Duca live as I believe it would be both fascinating to watch on stage and I’d pay shedloads to hear him sing Parmi veder le lagrime and Bella figlia live :-) Just as I’d still love to hear him sing Boheme, as on the surprise occasions he’s stepped in to do it in the last years he’s been very good at it. I believe it’s not of his own choosing he hasn't done more of this stuff, it’s because people think in boxes. Oh, I’ll have x others to do this, but few others can sing that-> so he only gets offered the heavier/more extreme end of things, but by no means is that the only thing he could do, if only people would cast more adventurously. (eg for example the ROH could ask him to sing one of these run of the mill revivals while he rehearses a new production which takes longer weeks :-). I’d like to hear some of this run of the mill stuff really well and originally sung :-)
09 October 2013 at 01:19 PM
you know, i downloaded that video helper on firefox. well, it does record excellently but curiously it plays the video i recorded (on firefox) on another browser (opera). not a real big deal but i just wonder why everything isn't done on firefox. by the way, the you tube video i recorded was the complete recent nyc met eugene onegin. from what i read, i was anticipating dissapointment - instead, i found the production really splendid.
Intermezzo replies - That goes to show that we all have different opinions and you shouldn't trust what anyone else says.
Having said that, do bear in mind that most reviewers commented on the first night performance, whereas you saw a later one. Shows can vary drastically from one night to the next.
09 October 2013 at 04:33 PM
Very interesting post and I agree for the most part. Both fans and opera houses do try and pigeon-hole singers into a 'fach' - heaven help the German who ventures into Italian or French rep and vice versa. I for one am just grateful to be able to see and hear him in Italian roles at ROH - thank goodness Pappanno at least can hear the potential. Probably a pipe dream but I'd love it if his first Otello were at ROH too. Unlikely I know.
I thought that the Fancuilla was extremely good with the potential to get even better - and be one of his best Italian roles next to Cavaradossi.
09 October 2013 at 07:22 PM
Thank you, Intermezzo, for the videos. And thank you everyone for an interesting discussion.
09 October 2013 at 09:35 PM
Can we go back to talking about Jonas please? I’m late on this one - because I keep watching it! It’s like being given a beautiful romantic novel, chocolates, champagne and flowers all at once. I had no idea, and am also ‘sold’ on Fanciulla now. I once saw a pic of Domingo in a cowboy suit and thought it just all looked a bit silly. The Remarkable One in leather jeans is of course another matter .......... And in such fabulous voice. Isn’t this simply his Puccini voice? Go back to Recondita Harmonia, or even Che Gelida Manina from his disc of 2007 - his voice is little different as far as I can tell. Open and soaring. He does seem to have found even more stretch in the jaw, perhaps giving him more vocal freedom to open up - the chest seems more mobile. ( But I am not a trained musician either, just trying to learn more about singing.) Also, with Puccini there’s not a lot of thinking required - it’s all heart and emotion and instinct - no symbolism, spirituality or ambiguity - just flow.
Puccini is just brilliant at the erotically charged intimacy-in-a-garret scenes - so human and real, and ordinary.
Dick, of course, will leave Minnie with kids to care for in a year or so - he’s the lethally attractive straw in the wind, lost with nowhere in particular to go, damaged, hooked on the love and excitement which he totally believes in at the time. Minnie will keep taking him back until ..... well, until. After all, he did tell her not to listen to him - but then it snowed...........
Everyone was great, I thought - Nina Stemme enchanting (but does her naivete have to be indicated by a toddler’s romper suit?). Loved her rich, feisty voice. And Tomasz Konieczny a terrific baddie, a very expressive actor.
Love the realistic but simple staging, and the male chorus, with such individual and affecting cameo roles. All beautifully judged.
Has Jonas been having dance lessons? Because he’s moving more like a dancer, an elegant legato line in the body as well as the voice. And he has reclaimed his waist.
One last thing - (I really hope all this isn’t too boring) : hearing the pentatonic scale repeatedly was strange at first, I kept expecting either the chorus to break into the humming song, or for Ping,Pang and Pong to appear. I now appreciate more how it relates to world-wide folk song, and that of course we hear it all the time in American popular song.
La Forza to look forward to next - o gioia!
10 October 2013 at 04:14 PM
"It’s like being given a beautiful romantic novel, chocolates, champagne and flowers all at once." my thoughts exactly ;)
"And Tomasz Konieczny a terrific baddie, a very expressive actor." Konieczny is a good actor while before he became an opera singer, we finished the most famous acting school in his country - Film, TV and Theatre Academy in Lodz, he was also an theater director, and he even acted in movies. So he defiantly know how to portray the role he’s singing.
Frau ohne Schatten |
10 October 2013 at 11:45 PM
Great responses, everyone and thank you HARICLEA for your detailed reply! Here is a comprehensive history of Jonas' performances since the early '90 from Marion Tung's amazing website dedicated to Jonas:
I would have loved to hear his Almaviva from year 2000. and looks like the main bel canto he did was Mozart up to as late as 2007 and in his recording of scenes from The Magic Flute in 2009. I have to say I miss him in Mozart as he was great in it but now it's not suitable anymore.
Well, whatever his technique is, Jonas seems to be able to sing, sing and sing some more. It does look like his high notes and loud singing come out with a lot of physical --- effort? pressure? (his neck muscles buldge) but they sound mostly great anyway. However, as I've said before, his projection over a large orchestra at Covent Garden wasn't that amazing nor was he that audible in "Amfortas! Die Wunde" in Parsifal at the Met which I found quite strange. It did make me wonder whether he uses mask resonance.
In any case his hubris, if he is guilty of that, is kept in check since he will only venture Otello when he's about 46 and did stay clear from that when he was 34, unlike Domingo. Actually Jonas seems really down to earth and confident in a healthy way that is based on manifestations of his success in real life. He doesn't make himself to be more than he is.
The Verdi Album was recorded in March 2013, and actually after that he was ill and cancelled two of his three Parsifals in Vienna in early April. Then came the London Don Carlos that I think he wasn't at his best at but that might have been due to being overworked perhaps, who knows, or just missing Anja Harteros after she cancelled ;-) I wasn't much sure about him as Manrico. He sang wonderfully and did some really musical things, I just think his sense of drama and musicality seemed almost fussy in this role. But I loved it still, despite not hearing him much in the "all'armi".
Considering the way he sounds in Fanciulla now it is indeed possible that all this Verdi "gave his passagio a good workout and flexed his muscles more than ususal" Hariclea :-) and it's all having a positive affect on his singing because he indeed sounds wonderful in that. I agree with you VILLAGEDIVA that it is indeed his Puccini voice.. There is something about Puccini that suits him PERFECTLY!!! (Villagediva, loved your take on the role of Johnson.) There is something about his qualities that shine in this music. He might sound a little odd in Verdi but somehow his voice suits more complex harmonic language I think. This is not to say that I am not waiting for his Alvaro and Otello with bated breath.
Regarding his looks, yes, Domingo in a cowboy suit is funny and Jonas looks irresistably handsome in his leather outfit as Johnson. But forgive me Domingo fans, I think Jonas is better than him. I find him to be a more interesting musician and Domingo never quite disappears into his roles as much as Jonas does.
Whenever I start to worry about his vocal health or to think that he doesn't sound QUITE as amazing as the golden oldies, I think, oh what the hell. He's around now, and he's bloody amazing, and we are lucky to experience such a great, sincere and enthusiastic artist who is active NOW!! :-)
11 October 2013 at 09:54 PM
edit: Sorry I meant to write "he finished the most famous acting school" not "we finished the most famous" I had nothing to do with that school :)
Frau ohne Schatten |
11 October 2013 at 11:36 PM
La Fanciulla Del West Vienna 14 October 2013
This is a very strongly directed (and cast, of course) production of what many regard as Puccini's most satisfying opera. It does have its ho-hum aspects, though. More on that later.
A slight squawk on a top note aside, Nina Stemme is an ideal Minnie. Tomas Konieczny has the snarl and the volume if not the absolute smoothness of a Sherrill Milnes as Rance, and Jonas Kaufmann has the looks and vocal colour you might expect - although not the volume you might hope for. Never mind, you might say; by far the biggest audience for this will be on the inevitable recording.
Marco Arturo Marelli's production does its best to reinvent the California Gold Rush setting in what is described in the programme as the present day, but actually looks far more like the early fifties. The bar is a mini-trailer, Minnie's cabin is a mobile home, and Act 3 is set in a railroad goods yard. Jake Wallace's tearful Scene 1 tune appears minus Jake - it's broadcast to the miners from barman Nick's radio. Fine. But why? Apart from the fact that Jonathan Miller did this to far greater effect in his seventies Rigoletto production at English National Opera, what does it achieve dramatically? That gripe aside, though, the production certainly has its moments even if the time-shift adds little or nothing to our perception of the opera's basic truths and message. The big clangers, though, come in the climax, as Minnie and Dick leave for pastures new, accompanied by some of the most tender, moving and redemptive music Puccini ever wrote ... in a hot-air balloon basket suspended from a Wizard Of Oz-esque rainbow.
I'll repeat that, shall I?
No, I don't think I will. As this happened, a spellbound Staadtsoper audience clapped its hands to its collective mouth as one to stifle a groan of despair. What is the director thinking of? What happened to the production team's judgment? Crikey, this isn't The Barber Of Seville. As Kaufmann and Stemme ascend to the rafters, you can practically see them squirming with embarrassment.
Oh. And Rance puts his gun to his head as the curtains close. Judge that one for yourself.
But it's that balloon. That's why this Fanciulla isn't the historic document it could be with this cast. In an attempt to put his stamp on it, Marelli has simply made a couple of bad creative decisions which cancel out all the good ones. Twit.
So when the inevitable recording does emerge, I'd suggest you close your eyes for the final bars, and simply bathe in that glorious melody.
Albert Cat |
15 October 2013 at 10:27 AM
I was in the theatre on Oct, 5th and I can attest that almost everybody was laughing rather loudly around me (right balcony) but in the end this little(huge) misshap couldn't cancell everything that was good in this production.
Now my only hope is that Botha never sings Dick Johnson at the Wiener Staatsoper ;)
16 October 2013 at 11:40 AM
FloriaT, haha! Yes, with Bohta they would have to devise sonething else...
How well did you hear the singers (volume, projection?) , with special emphasis on Jonas?
Does anyone know if this production is travelling anywhere and with what cast?
16 October 2013 at 01:35 PM
There was no indication on the (glossy, new-style) Staatsoper programme that it's a co-production, but the removal of online videos could suggest there might at least be a DVD one day. (I did discreetly capture the hilarious balloon at the curtain call last week, to prove that I wasn't hallucinating.) The 'dream cast' seemed to be enjoying themselves (even whilst autographing photos and posters for a huuuge queue in Arcadia after the show), so it's reasonable to assume that Kaufmann and Stemme will be repeating their roles, hopefully together.
21 October 2013 at 04:43 PM
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daddy I want a harpsichord