Let me start with the apologies – it is not the I am overbusy, but I am actually doing 100 things at the same time right now. That could be my excuse not to answer some e-mails I have received – but they are high on my “to do [too]” list!
Now the eulogies, which are actually related to the things I am actually doing right now. Because I am: a) preparing a course on History of Opera (it is amazing how fast we get rusty when we stay away of this “teaching” thing); b) reworking the discography of Bellini’s Sonnambula for re:opera; c) recording some CDs I owe lots of people (and, of course, I still have my “official” job), I have been listening to many different things.
I have to confess that preparing a CD for a friend who doesn’t like tenors (and wants to be convinced maybe she is wrong to feel that way about the poor guys who have to sing up there) has proved to be a very difficult task. I am trying to select examples of tenors who have more to show than stamina and fervour and would rather go for tone-colouring, legato and dynamic variety. I acknowledge that coping with high tessitura and those requirements is not easy. As I have decided to be strict and avoid glottal attacks, lachrimosity, carelessness in low register and other disfiguring effects, I was surprised to find myself entirely “dispossessed of” Italian repertoire. I must explain myself – my idea is giving pride of place to purity of line and user-friendlier tonal quality over temper or dramatic vividness.
As it is, so far the fully satisfying entries (in the sense of both technical and expressive perfection) are Nicolai Gedda singing Je crois entendre encore (from Bizet’s Les Pecheurs de Perles) live in Munich, Rainer Trost singing Un’aura amorosa (in Gardiner’s Cosi) and I have decided to try my luck with Rolando Villazón’s intense Monteverdi (from Emmanuelle Haïm’s CD). I haven’t found the right example of Fritz Wunderlich yet, but it is a matter of honour to find it. In any case, I am pleased to check how great Francisco Araiza was in his pre-Wagnerian days. His Mozart concert arias (with Hager) and Schubert Lieder(both in studio and live in Hohenems) are the most lovely pieces of singing in my “choice” of arias so far – the warm radiance of his singing back then sounds as if Lucia Popp had been reborn a tenor. Nobody speaks of Araiza anymore – and this is really unfair! So here it is – the whole point in this post was to say that.
My other praise goes AGAIN for Joyce DiDonato. I have read what she wrote about Handel’s Alcina and cannot help saying she really got the point. I believe that the role of Alcina was a token of gratitude from the composer to the soprano Anna Maria Strada del Pò, who faifthfully followed him to the Covent Garden after the incidents who made him leave the King’s Theatre. Of course I have no proof of what I am saying, but one can felt that in the music.
Also, my admiration for DiDonato has known a new dimention now: she could count me as a fan both of her singing and blogging, but now I have also discovered her photos.