40 comments on “Friendly advice ….

  1. thanks for the “advice”, Eyes!

    Today, I’ll play the numbers 20 – 33 – 1’18. ;-)

    (this may warrant another WSMonday, what do you say?)

      • my only complaint is the wig/hairstyle. Staging doesn’t look too inspired, but I’m not about to complain. :-)

        • I never understand the need to use wigs when most singers have a perfectly adaptable head of hair. They must be hideous to perform in, extremely hot and play havoc with sound perception. And some look just plain daft. What’s the worst one you remember?

          • this one looks pretty ghastly!
            Though I also remember Romelia Lichtenstein in a screaming-yellow-fake-bald head Rodelinda in Halle among the less refined hairxperiences of my opera travels.

              • o yes, that one.
                I’ll have nightmares again tonight for sure! ;-)
                (one should hope that tonight’s Halle premiere of Alcina with Lichtenstein in the lead (broadcast on Deutschlandradio Kultur) will not repeat this coiffurestrophe!)

          • Beats the one they used for her Annio in “the” Tito. Spent the entire opera hoping it wouldn’t slip off!

                • Caught. *blush* OK I may have had one or two other things on my mind ;)

                  And while we are at it, well that final scene of Romeo’s wasn’t the only thing that had my emotions in a stir the other week in Munich. Goodness me has VK got restless masculine energy down pat!

                  There, I feel cleansed. Thank you Mother Augen…

                • time for me to come clean too… i *still* recovering… everytime i watch this duet again….

                  then i convince myself to proceed with the music… to the tomb… she breaks me heart every single time, mio “romeo”…

                  so then i had to go back to the duet…

                  while we’re at it, may i also confess spending hours staring at romeo’s back lines…

                  • I missed this thread entirely and for sure you are (my dear WS friends participating here) more image sensitive than I am. For me, it is the music which contains all of it of course (like you here Dc T)the gestures are important but not that much, I am pretty sure VK has intuitive gestures and I am convinced she was more at ease with EK because her singing was genuine and really what it should be, as AN was too much mature in every sense(looks, voice,) and I did not think much of her acting when I discovered the totally different approach this younger singer had. The musicality of VK and EK was marvellous. I need to listen to them both in the last scene urgently and if I managed I’ll share before I leave!

  2. I confess to spending an inordinate amount of time comparing the various versions. For instance – what happened to the waistcoat this year (not complaining. Just asking) and the overcoat? Thank goodness for better hairstyling this time around and what was that round VK wrist? Oh, and I agree about the back – it somehow speaks volumes. Was the Act 2 choreography with EN the same as the promo video or he same as with Netrebko?

    • the thing around VK’s wrist: i think it’s a Bulgarian thing to welcome Spring (or something of that nature). Last year we had a Bulgarian student distributing it and I was wearing for over a month, it looks really charming actually, and then somehow it fell off… too bad he didn’t give me one this year, else I could have showed off during the handshake session :-)

      By Act 2, did you mean Act 1 scene 2 duet? or you mean Act 2 scene 3 in the tomb? Anyhow, the choreography with EN is almost exactly as in the promo video. As i mentioned in passing on my 4th post, with the shortage of time, i think Eri just had enough to deal with vocal excellence and repeated down to the minute details her acting from last year. This is where one sees a big contrast between Neb and EN: Neb is much more intuitive in acting based on feeling, whereas EN is doing more what she’s told to act. Over all that, we have VK being observant as ever and always waited a moment for EN to do what she needed, then dynamically adjusted accordingly. The scene during the duet with VK kneeling and sliding slowly toward a shrinking EN in the corner was beeeeautiful to watch, ahhh….. I must have said it somewhere, she can handel any Giulietta…

      I can only imagine all the extra clothing hindering VK’s movements and taking away her time to pay attention to the music, so I’m happy to see that fine white shirt at all time :-). In addition, it really made for a compelling peace negotiating scene with Romeo standing tall and bright in a sea of darkness…

    • ps- i really thought she was wearing something else on the other wrist but now i’m not sure… but that thing whatever it was always specularly reflected back at me on the 5th floor balcony multiple times in the first 2 or 3 performances.

    • Ah how wonderful, just like the hours spent speculating on shirt sleeve rolling over at Anik’s place. There’s only so long I can go without talking about the thing beyond the music that gives me the most pleasure in “our” opera, particularly as i know very very little about music but quite a lot about la vie queer ;)

      Yes hair styling I’ll admit the ponytail works better for me, though I know my other half would beg to differ…. but I guess I just can’t resist a nice soft butch! And Dr T is exactly right that “rear view” silhouette was spectacularly male.

      I think for me the bit in the streamed performance I loved most was the tender thumb stroking of ANs hand… and the enthusiastic giggling when VK clawed her on to AN. Huge contrast here with EN…. whose frightened little frame pressing away from Romeo into the floor was equally but very differently affecting…

      AN’s Guiletta was never going to be do well as the nervous young virgin! I know I’m in a minority but it’s why I think ultimately I prefer the reading with AN – this couple seem like the passionate young lovers I always imagined in the story, not the slightly awkward and repressed pair so often presented, It makes both their choices so much more understandable – these are young people consumed with raw no holds barred madness inducing sexual passion and not just romantic love. And that feeling is one that one cam well imagine might push one to momentous choices,

      (OK deeper confession, I might just have preferred AN cos I like the sight of two women of a certain maturity getting it on :) )

      Oh Mother what have you started!!

        • You can take the white shirts to Garanca but you can’t make them focus with Vessi in the vicinity ?

          • PS You’re keeping me sane, been on a *long* day (started at 8am and just finished) of non stop rather intense Skype meetings across multiple time zones and going slowly insane but for this thread :)

      • You know VK spent all her time in 5 performances caressing either AN’s arm, thumb stroking AN’s hands, kissing, gently parting EN’s hair… during that pause in the duet.
        I must admit, Cat, that i’m with you regarding VK & AN’s relationship. My minor quibble is that AN didn’t quite bring it vocally every night; it was only for the taping that she was most complete vocally. With EN we have the opposite problem: she brought it every night vocally but the acting can be just that, “acting”. Yet VK did her best to make it all work.

        In the end you have such a different dynamic, VK & AN fitting much better the young passionate lovers whereas VK & EN a more an image Romeo coming to rescue Giulietta from her oppressive situation.

        Now that we’re there, what i also really love about AN’s acting is that she’s very spontaneous: when on the ground in the corner and VK reaching out, AN turned with a yearning look toward VK as they searched out for each other’s eyes and hands. This is in such huge contrast to VK kneeling reaching out and EN shrinking further away facing into the wall (which resulted in VK singing suuuch passionate phrases while sliding beautifully closer and closer to finally reached and encompassed EN). Another bit was In the tomb, AN woke up and ran to grab VK’s hands on her way to “let’s go” vs. EN running directly for the door skipping even looking at VK. These subtle adjustments were the reasons i declared the staging “almost made complete sense” to me on premiere night :-) ; without AN (and especially VK) i don’t think we’d fully see the story.

        And let’s admit it, i’ve now re-watched that duet XXXX times, that is truly belcanto at its highest quality in every sense, never mind the tomb where i can’t bare to look at the pain on VK’s face… they better release the DVD!!

  3. Calling Dr T …. we are on a mission to keep Cat sane. Let’s talk trousers. I don’t understand the ones she wears from the beginning which seem to have dangly bits at the back. What’s that all about ?

    • ah, didn’t realize you were calling for me!! whatever that was hanging, i decisively like that pair of pants much better than the one in Act II ! it fits the shirt very very nicely and extends beautifully the line from her shoulder down to waist and beyond. Of course everything won’t fit together without that niiice pair of boots!!
      and back to that shirt! I think LaCroix should get some credit here, surely _she_ has one of the best back line _ever_ and he highlighted it well with the shirt design + tuck, taking a phrase from him: “i want VK to wear the shirt, not the shirt wearing VK”.
      The line extension of the shirt sleeves looks so nice in picture, but we don’t have much stage time to see it in action :-).

  4. @Yvette. Believe me, the music means just as much to all of us. It’s just that, on occasions, we like to swap impressions about the other aspects of a performance that we find appealing!

    PS I was hoping that “someone more articulate than I” would come along to explain properly … and she did. Thank you Cat!

    • @Yvette – the thing I love about it opera is that its pleasures operate at many levels – something for everyone and a little sprinkle of stardust on top for us all :) I am not sure I can separate the intellectual, spiritual, emotional, visceral, sexual (yes sometimes!) and aural delights of being at the opera. To me they are all part of the whole delight.

      Eyes / Dr T – ah day 2 of my calling nightmare, and thank god some distraction for the moments in between. White shirts, I salute you… with a glove, not a sword ;)

      I think the thing about the costumes is that they really were designed for the stage not the “close up”. The impression they gave on stage was much, much, better than in the video. And there’s the thing I guess about those videos (and audio recordings for that matter). Opera really is a stage art – meant to be absorbed at a distance but in the same space and time as the performers, opera only became an obsession for me after the first time I actually went. The lines, the shapes, the illusion of masculinity that her costumes, especially that first one, created was outstanding, And no easy task, VK is hardly a butch looking woman in real life! It’s a testament to her acting and his design skill that there were many times I had to remind myself this was really not a man in front of me. I think all point to the genuine insight that Lacroix has into designing for opera. I’m not usually much impressed my “designers”. I’m Scottish, the idea of paying over £50 for *any* item of clothing seems ludicrous to me (I own one designer item and though it’s lovely I still experience a frisson of guilt every time I think of how much it cost!) Having seen these costumes three times now I have to say they are truly fantastic. The scene where the women crowd on the steps was just stunning, like sipping nectar on a cloud!

      The way that trousers in the first part crafted the line, complemented the boots, built the line with the shirt, was all just genius. And I think the physical feel of the outfit gave VK a hand in the characterisation – she was noticeably more male in presence/energy in that part. As to the boots – well actually I think I could be persuaded to part with more than £50 for them… just :)

      • I find what you say about the close up view as against the audience view very interesting. I do not have so much experience as an audience member but generally see the costumes from a distorted “very close up and from below” angle. Consequently I’m very aware of shoes/boots/feet/hemlines. Unless of course I’m stuck in the wings or 20 feet up some scaffolding in which case I don’t get to see much at all except at the costume call.

        • I’ve often thought theatre folks would benefit from some ethnography of the audience experience :) My retirement dream is to write the definitive ethnographic account of the opera audience experience of opera!

          I am not sure if I am just being a grumpy old woman but I have thought for some time now that the influence of TV and film on theatre set / costume / lighting design has not always been good. I am sure when I was younger such matters were better handled for the theatre audience point of view… now a lot seems to presume a physical closeness, a camera’s eye view, of events on stage. Again I was struck by how much better Lacroix’s costumes were when viewed from the audience than in the video (I had one “good” seat and one of my usual in the gods seats in in both they worked equally well!).

    • wow, all the discussion while i was sleeping, east coast is quite behind in time :-) (and of course west coast is now just waking up…)

      @Yvette, surely you have seen the extent of discussion about the music on my blog. But ja, there’s a reason why I fly into Munich to see VK, the only VK, performing it 5x: It’s her unique ability of delivering the character via music. That she’s also as capable of delivering it visually, all from intuition and subtlety, enhanced my experience much further.

      So here we are, having some fun discussion on subtleties in a little garanca’s corner :-).

      Eyes, for a moment yesterday (or the day before), i was surprised to hear that you spent much time comparing outfits. Now i finally made the connection after what Cat said. In the back of my mind, i knew I don’t want to sit anywhere close enough to see the singer spitting. Rather, I always sit all the way at the top, get a wonderful overview of the staging and action, and receive the best music. To me, closeups are for selling a product based on looks rather than on the real quality of the (in this case incredible) singers. During the 4th performance, i thought this one should really be recorded! Sadly, it is AN that sells, not EN, even though she’s more suited vocally. Anywho, as Cat said, from the top, the view of the staging is very wonderful for the Eyes, esp. that scene of the ladies which I’m sure costs 1/3 of the total budget :-). My first impression seeing the stream was: how sad the audience didn’t get to see what I absorbed with my eyes.

      For me, because I had the luxury of seeing the sets multiple times live, the streamed version offers complementary details to fill in the blank (so it is indeed that thing she wore on her wrist that’s reflecting, i saw a couple of times in streamed version yesterday). Sadly, for the rest of the worldwide audience, such closeups can result in rubbish discussion about “facial distortions” and such. Luckily, all the impressions I read on opera blog were unanimous on the quality of the singing.

      ps- so, a colleague at work said he can read her book along with me and translate :-). yesterday he was just flipping the page and read to me: “singing involves the whole body”, which immediately took me back to this zoom-in image with VK facing the wall and singing the phrase with all her facial muscles + body. really love.

    • and now another round of capuleti as i start my working day :-).
      Eyes, i hope i didn’t make you feel odd re. my above comment about comparing trousers and shirts, it was a comment in passing, that i was genuinely surprised (and i quickly thought: hmm, Eyes, she pays attention to fine details, like me and romeo’s hair.)
      Anyhow, i think it’s also appropriate here to discuss ornamentation, I shall start with Romeo’s lovely lovely sprinkled extra notes to really convey the emotion, starting exactly here where she inserted a little… whatever you call it, i have the word in vietnamese but it won’t help here, between “preghi miei“. I have listened to many recordings and this (year) is the first time i heard it here, what poignant insertion. She scattered enough of that throughout (what i described in my blog as paying close attention to fine details) the night you can’t help but identify closely with romeo’s feelings.
      Sometimes, i hear from singers ornamentations which breaks the emotional flow for some reason, as simply a way to decorate and featuring their voices (I will now admit Ann Hallenberg gave me this feeling sometimes). It does take a confident and knowledgeable singer to bypass the temptation to showcase and to pay attention to what is really at hand: the characterization through the use of the voice.

      • Odd … moi? :). No, yours was an accurate observation. Not having experienced the production as a complete entity, being restricted by what the cameraman wants me to see, I guess it’s quite easy to become fixed on visual detail whereas I am acustomed to absorbing a complete palette of sound and music without too much thought.
        I love the examples you have given but must wait until tomorrow to explore them as I am stuck on the iPod with no access to THE videos. And yes, thank goodness for a performer who puts the text, drama and characterisation above all and uses her considerable stagecraft, experience and spontaneity to make us truly believe. Just one ( of the squillions ) of the reasons we love her.

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