Monday, December 31, 2007

A Dose of Polenzani with some Netrebko ... What the Doctor Orders for the New Year!

Tonight at 7:00PM EST/0000 GMT, the Met will be streaming over its free Real Player stream and on Sirius Satellite Radio a live performance of Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, starring Matthew Polenzani as Roméo and Anna Netrebko as Juliette. Geoffrey and I saw Polenzani's first essay of the role of Roméo at the Met last Thursday, December 27th, and a thrilling night at the opera it was!

We urge you all to tune in and hear the next new thing ... Matthew Polenzani brings to the role some of the ardor of Franco Corelli, the compusiveness of the young Neil Shicoff (in the '80s), the elegant mastery of style of Alfredo Krauss, the beauty of legato of Björling, and a mastery of nuance, shading and dynamics all his own (catch his breathtaking diminuendo at the end of "Ah! leve-toi, soleil!"...). With all his rigorous musicianship, he also brings a spontaneity to the music that is as rare as it is deeply stirring. So much of what Gounod wrote is dependent on clear projection of French and Polenzani's lovely diction helps make Roméo what Gounod probably intended for this piece, the poet of the opera.

George Bernard Shaw described one thrilling moment in Jean de Reszke's Roméo, the moment when he launched the slow lament after the "sturm und drang" of the duel between Tybalt and Roméo, as especially remarkable because however furious de Reszke's singing in the duel, "his voice suddenly sounded as if it had been wrapped in cotton wool for a week". This is precisely what Polenzani carried off -- a testament to his impeccable technique. Even in the final tomb scene, there was no sign of fatigue, his voice sounding as fresh and linear as ever.

As for Ms. Netrebko, she comes into her own in the final scenes, where the tessitura darkens. Her potion aria was the highlight of her performance: easy, refulgent, emotional tones filling the house. Juliettes generally are divided into those who are either good at portraying the girl or good at portraying the married woman, Gounod having calibrated the music to mark the maturing Juliette. Netrebko decidedly belongs to the latter group and she can pack such thrills into these later scenes that it is well worth hearing her. Every time I hear her, I think that the voice is getting bigger and darker. I yearn for the time when she moves away from the leggiero roles she currently sings and settles firmly into straight lyric roles, which are what I feel her voice was born for. She would be a terrific Tatiana or Cio-Cio San.

But enough talking about these two wonderful singers. They share a special chemistry together. Go, thee, and listen up! For a new star has arrived...

Happy listening,

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Saturday Highlights - Part 2

More highlights for this aftrnoon -

  • Radio Tre (RAI) - From Teatrro Comunale in Florence, a November 28th performance of Verdi's La Forza del Destino, with Violeta Urmana, Carlo Guelfi, Marcello Giordani, Julia Gertseva, Bruno De Simone, Roberto Scandiuzzi, Duccio Dal Monte, Antonella Trevisan, Filippo Polinelli, Carlo Bosi and Alessandro Luongo, conducted by Zubin Mehta.
  • NPR World of Opera (WDAV) - From Bavarian State Opera in Munich, Verdi's Luisa Miller, with Ramon Vargas, Krassimira Stoyanova, Elena Maximova, Carlo Colombara, Georg Zeppenfeld, Paolo Gavanelli and Anaik Morel, conducted by Andres Maspero.

Happy listening...


Saturday highlights - Part 1

The dust has more or less settled from all our feverish activity in preparation for the Metropolitan Opera broadcast season. We have added a couple of new stations this week. So we are now back on the Blog...

This week the Met broadcast, starting at 1:00PM EST (note the early start time), is Gounod's Romeo et Juliette, with Anna Netrebko and Roberto Alagna. Other highlights for this Saturday include

  • Deutschlandradio Kultur - Weill's Silbersee with Christiane Oelze, Thorsten Kerl, Hanna Schwarz, Burkard Ulrich and Stefan Rügamer; Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, conducted by Ingo Metzmacher.

  • Metropolitan Opera broadcast (on numerous stations) - Gounod's Romeo et Juliette, with Anna Netrebko, Roberto Alagna, Mark Heller, Nathan Gunn, Isabel Leonard, Jane Bunnell, Louis Otey, Tony Stevenson, David Won, Robert Lloyd, Charles Taylor and Dean Peterson, conducted by Placido Domingo.

  • NDR Kultur - From Staatsoper Hannover, Verdi's Don Carlo, with Robert Chafin, Tobias Schabel, Brigitte Hahn, Khatuna Mikaberidze, Brian Davis, and Stefan Kocan, conducted by Wolfgang Bozic.

  • NRK Allid Klassisk & NRK P2 - From last summer's Salzburg Festival, Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini, with Neil Shicoff, Laurent Naouri, Brindley Sheratt, Mikhail Petrenko, Maija Kovalevska, Vesselina Kasarova, Xavier Mas, Roberto Tagliavini, and Adam Plachetka, conducted by Valerij Gergijev.

  • Radio Oesterreich International - From Prague, an October 6th perfrromance of Smetana's Das Geheimnis ("The Kiss"), with Miloslav Podskalsky, Katerina Jalovcová, Maria Haan, Roman Janal, Tomas Cerny, Jiri Sulzenko, Jaroslav Brezina and Ivan Kusnjer, conducted by Zbynek Müller.

More to come in a few moments...