Archive for January, 2007

When I have read that an indisposed Renée Fleming had been replaced by René Pape in the tribute to Toscanini organized by Lorin Maazel in the Avery Fisher Hall, I have to confess I had to repress a certain disappointment. You all may be rightly surprised – I have consistently praised René Pape and often discussed René Fleming’s achievements. But the fact is – when you have a singer requested for three arias, it is easier to a soprano to make an impression in 15 minutes and then go home. I am not saying it is impossible for a bass to present a stunning recital. One of the most amazing recitals I have ever seen happened to be Samuel Ramey’s in São Paulo – after a theatrical Prologue to Boito’s Mefistofele, we had such an impressive Rossini display that everybody would feel more than satisfied to go home after that (but, no, we were still treated to Verdi, Kern and Cole Porter!). But René Pape – I know, invited in short notice out of his vacation – chose Banquo’s aria from Macbeth, Ella giammai m’amò from Don Carlo and Leporello’s catalogue aria and sung them scrumptuously. However, I am afraid these items are not Pape’s Dresden-made noble bass’s strongest suit. I wonder how exciting it would have been to see Pape sing something like a a Wunderhorn song or, if we had to keep in the realms of opera, a bit of Hans Sachs (that would be a nice opportunity for him to try that). And then maybe the Don Carlo aria. In any case, the whole concert had some puzzling items. The proceedings began with R. Strauss’s Don Juan played by the New York Philharmonic. I am no Toscanini specialist, but I didn’t know this was a representative piece in HIS repertoire. Then we had an orchestra called Symphonica Toscanini to play Respighi’s Pini di Roma. I am unable to say something knowledgeable about that since I dislike Respighi, but I must confess my amazement with the techical display of this apparently pick-up orchestra. This flashing impression would eventually be tamed by their dubious results in Leporello’s aria. Finally, both orchestras teamed for one of the most thunderous accounts of Tchaikovsky’s Francesa da Rimini (not a favourite of mine either). The truth is I wasn’t in the right mood for this concert – and left the theatre still in the same mood.


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