Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Philippe Jaroussky, I still love you. But....

I have always loved countertenors. I don't know why (and I don't especially want to hear anyone else's theories on the matter), but there it is. I love the repertoire, I love the sound, I love the technique. Surely it is not unrelated to my being a hard-core Anglophile.

A few years ago I was sent a CD by the amazing Jakub Józef Orliński to review. My life was in turmoil at the time, so it never happened, although I do recall that listening to this recording gave me great joy. For some reason, I now find lots and lots of this gorgeous young man's YouTube videos recommended to me by the Almighty Google Algorithm. I don't mind. Just listen to this!

Could there be anything better?

I have since found many amazing recordings, and I must say the fact that he's so easy on the eyes does not hurt his case. Observe:

But you know what's even better? He's young and dynamic is and is drawing more young people into the concert hall and opera house. Even if his singing sucked, which it certainly doesn't, I would say Bravo! for that kind of success.

I probably no longer have the CD I was sent several years ago, but I can say this: I have never heard a recording of this man's singing that did not leave me with delight at both the sound and the artistry. I can only recommend that you seek his recordings and videos and witness for yourselves. 

Thursday, March 3, 2022

A brief consideration of opera costumes and updating

I posted the following as a comment to a YouTube video about historical costume accuracy in movies, television, and theatre:

From Maria Stuarda at the Met
The costumes were highly praised,
but the confrontation scene only
happened in the novel. 

This was fascinating. You make me think of all the inaccurate opera productions--at every budget level--I have seen. A very low-budget organization can be forgiven for using what they have in their costume shop rather than going to the expense of making or renting a more accurate costume.  But really? Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni, late 18th century) dressed like Lady Bracknell (The Importance of Being Earnest, 1900)?  

Another questionable practice in the opera world is updating the historical era of the story, when in so many cases the relationships in the story only work in the original time period of the story. OK, Parsifal in a post-apocalyptic world can work because the story is sort of timeless. The Marriage of Figaro in Trump Tower--the infamous Peter Sellars production from the 1980s--or Elixir of Love that looks like the movie Baghdad Cafe? Although I have seen it work, more often than not the incorrect detail of the less remote historical period they have chosen (no, not every opera works with Jackie  O. fashions!) over the historical period in the original story is more distracting than clarifying. True, the original libretti and/or the literary works they were based on are often very inaccurate in portrayals of historical period or events, but this just adds insult to injury.

Your thoughts?