Laura Pudwell as Cavalli’s Giasone, and other things I will miss

Laura Pudwell as Cavalli’s Giasone, and other things I will miss

A mezzo with a gorgeous contralto timbre, Laura Pudwell, is scheduled to sing the title role in the concert version of Cavalli’s Giasone with Toronto Consort, April 4-5-6, TSP. I can’t overemphasize how rare it is for a mezzo/alto to get this role, be it here in Canada/USA (where the counter-tenors are steadily taking over the trouser roles from the mezzos) or in Europe (where they aren’t just yet).

Kevin Skelton will sing Aegeus, and Michelle DeBoer  Medea. The bad news is, I will not be in Toronto at that time. I hope many see this and write about it.

It’s not easy finding the mezzo version of Giasone on YouTube, so here’s a clip with Christoph Dumaux. John G of Opera Ramblings reviewed the DVD of the Mariame Clement production here.

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Another thing that I will sadly miss; a day-long discussion on various aspects of Handel’s Hercules and the COC/Chicago Lyric Peter Sellars production of it, involving musicologists (Susan McClary!), a former war correspondent, a scholar of the eighteenth century theatre, and Sellars himself. This is happening on April 4, and here is the complete description.

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Same day, a bit later at 7:30PM and further east, at Ernest Balmer Studio, Tapestry is performing excerpts from a work in progress, Movable Beast. Described as “an experimental transformation of the standard recital form”, Movable Beast looks a whole lot of intriguing. Take a peek at this project synopsis. Bits of it will be performed on April 4, but fingers crossed I’ll be around when the proper opening happens.

Featuring: Neema Bickersteth, Andrea Ludwig, Adrian Kramer, and Andrew Love. Music direction by Gregory Oh, choreography by Marie-Josée Chartier, and direction by Michael Mori.

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4 thoughts on “Laura Pudwell as Cavalli’s Giasone, and other things I will miss

  1. You miss Susan McClary? What a shame. I’m a lifelong admirer of her work, which I first encountered as a graduate student. I’ve even read her PhD (“The Transition from Modal to Tonal Organization in the Works of Monteverdi” – I was convinced that something similar was discernable in the music of Schütz). It would be very interesting to hear what she has to say on this opera.

    But agreed RE the takeover of trouser roles: two incidences struck me of this in the last year. Firstly was use of a countertenor for the role of Count Orlovsky at the Met. Firstly, I will say that from what I heard from chatting to other patrons at the Met during the Guilio Cesare run last year, the same countertenor was Daniels cover for the Cesare role – and he was very highly regarded. But he was AWFUL as Orlovsky – the role was literally gutted and unfunny. Compare and contrast with Jennifer Holloway’s hilarious Orlovsky in the ENO production in London in September (which originated in Toronto) – there was simply no comparison. It made me realise just how much humour is present in drag per se, and how much is lost if played literally. The second was a “reimagining” of Gluck’s Orfeo in Cork, this time replacing the lead with a baritone. Only for the fact that the entire score was reorchestrated anyway, it would have gutted the production, but the big arias lost considerable emotion as the terristura just isn’t the same.

    Anyway, enjoy whatever else you are doing on the day!

    1. The Orlofsky thing was a total travesty. A smaller company here did the same two years ago for an in-concert version of the operetta, and it made as much sense as a fish on a bicycle.

      It’s already a rarity here to find a mezzo-sung Orfeo. Nerone is now cast about seventy percent countertenor and the rest the laydeez. What equally pains me is the countertenors singing the alto solos in sacred music of Bach and Handel. It’s mind boggling why they do it there. Want a lighter voice? Cast a lighter, more transparent mezzo if you must.

      1. Indeed, and to add insult to injury I notice an almost total disappearance of the “contralto” voice. Where there is a 4-part quartet in a mass or oratorio, its now taken by a mezzo. And as I was just discussing with a friend still in the business last week, an increasingly number of “mezzos” are no longer “contraltos looking for more work” but sopranos without a reliable top end. I think aside from Podles and Bardon there are no longer any real contraltos left in the professional business, and none I can think of in north America.

        1. There are a few… but too few. Marie-Nicole Lemieux is one, and there’s also Delphine Galou, Nathalie Stutzmann in France, Sara Mingardo, Romina Basso in Italy, there are a few. I think Marijana Mijanovic is retired, but she used to be one as well.

          My favourite contralto is now Bernadette Manca Di Nissa, but of course she is retired as well..

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