A little somethin-somethin from the baritone front

It’s no secret that Swedish baritone Peter Mattei has a glorious, glorious voice.  My brain teems with adjectives, but I will skip to ye olde youtube and recommend 4:25 – 5:19.  Aaaaaaah.


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Le Comte encore! (et aussi, Yo-Yo Ma et un oud)

Some wonderful soul (coloraturafan) has uploaded clips from the Met’s 2011 production of Le Comte Ory!  I got so worked up the other night over the necessity of their releasing a DVD of this production that I actually emailed two different departments using the contact us! link off the Met’s website, heh heh.  But in the meantime, enjoy the below clip(s) (and a few more on from the above YouTuber’s channel), s’il vous plaît. :)

Sacre bleu!  Mon coeur pauvre…  ici, il n’y a jamais le chose “trop de cuir”, je pense.  Per la DiDonato glorieuse, en particulier!  Mon dieu, ha ha.

And now for something slightly different!

Last night I had the great pleasure of seeing Yo-Yo Ma and members of the Silk Road Ensemble perform the last concert of their tour.  Before coming onstage they told the recital society president that they were going to “let it rip”, and did they ever!  In addition to taking in time signatures that changed like blowing sands, unfamiliar tonalities, the Persian carpets, the unusual instruments, and the lack of shoes on several of the performers, the audience also saw some of the most communicative musicianship I have ever witnessed in live performance.  One piece in particular included a significant amount of improvisation, and their combined ability impressed the pants off me. Well, not literally, obviously, but for 13 (?) musicians to seamlessly integrate each others’ spur of the moment impulses into such a complex, beautiful pattern is no mean feat.  Also, many of the instruments were like nothing I had ever seen.


An oud

The exceptionally expressive Wu Man on pipa

Kayhan Kalhor on kemancheh

The Silk Road Ensemble is part of the Silk Road Project begun by Yo-Yo Ma in 1998 and comprises of about 60 musicians, only a selection of whom I saw last night.  Their numbers include both composers and virtuoso performers, and many of them specialize in lesser-known instruments (to me, at least), and they work in styles of music from many countries around the world.  It was a spectacular evening.  Charisma + musical brilliance + energy.  They made the world sparkle.

Programme notes can be found here.

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"The only opera that ends in a ménage à trois"

After seeing the HD Met broadcast of Rossini’s Le Comte Ory today, I see what Joyce DiDonato was talking about:

Oh glory!  And what I wouldn’t give to  be in that bed handle those costumes

Diana Damrau as the Countess Adèle (I have a huge crush on this woman)

"Sister Collette" (aka Juan Diego Florez as the Comte Ory in a nun disguise) feels up the taken-aback Adèle

Add to this potent concoction of Amazing some leather and some chemistry…

Joyce DiDonato as Isolier, the Comtes page and romantic rival (gratuitous leather included)

DiDonato: "What can I say? Its chemistry." She gives Damrau a smoldering look; Damrau giggles flirtatiously. Damrau: "We love each other." DiDonato then grabs Damrau around the waist and swaggers off, both of them giggling and whispering to each other. Best HD intermission interview ever.

And you end up with some pretty incredible staging to support what Renee Fleming aptly referred to as nearly three hours of  “vocal pyrotechnics”.  The above youtube clip isn’t as vocally perfect as the performance I saw today, but it certainly exemplifies the playfulness of this production!  I desperately hope the HD broadcast is released on DVD; given that Le Comte Ory has never before been performed on the Met stage, I figure it’s got a chance.  After all, the 2010-2011 season productions of Aida and Turandot are available from Target.  (From Target!)  Anyway, do a hopeful dance that sometime soon we may all be able to see this again.  And again.  And again.

"The hills are aliiii-i-i-I-I-I-i-i-i-i-IIIIIIIIIIVE!"

Incidentally, Florez’s first child was born less than an hour before today’s performance and he was there to participate in the delivery.  I am so happy for him and his wife!  What a day.

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"You know: horns, wears a clock, illiterate and looks like a troll…?"

After a long hiatus, I’ve decided to put some effort into this whole blogging shebang- only I reread a lot of my old junk and found it to be exactly that.  Ah well.  Out with the old, and in with the new!

Anyway, a good friend of mine was recently trying to explain who Flavor Flav is to me.  Her evocative description didn’t really help, as I’d never seen or heard of him before, but it sure made me laugh.  “Flava Flav?  You know: horns, wears a clock, illiterate and looks like a troll…?”  Dur dur dur.  Ahem.

But for your viewing pleasure:

Flavor Flav

And now we know.

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Andreas Scholl and old station wagons

As a child, I associated countertenors with cars and my brother, as invariably on car rides in my mum’s old station wagon (now my old station wagon) she would pop in one of several King’s Singers tapes and my brother and I would wail the intros, add descant harmony, and/or respectfully reproach each others’ backseat manners in a time-honoured sibling fashion (fight over the armrest).  Because these were old tapes made from old records before the advent of the Internet, I had no idea what these men looked like; however I somehow had the idea that in order to sing such a high part, a guy had to have large glasses, a turtleneck, and know how to smile.  At the time I vaguely wondered if this assumption might be weird (obviously I was right.  But anyway).  In high school when my brother began entertaining notions of becoming a countertenor, I had the most absurd image of him in a turtleneck and large glasses, grinning fit to bust his face.  Even then he was a very muscular guy with big curly hair you can lose several combs in, and not exactly turtleneck and glasses material.  Where do these notions come from?

But incidentally, Andreas Scholl fits all my criteria, as you can well see.

[Note: Apologies for the inane post.  Although I’m all tuckered out from avoiding my papers and really know nothing (yet) about Andreas Scholl, I felt compelled to try to introduce this astonishingly beautiful recording.  In terms of interpretation, I find his ornamentation quite sensitive, and even gentle.   The soaring E flat at 2:50  just lifts the top off of my depression.)

[YT: Sarma230]

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