Catching up

A couple of things that I wrote about recently:

  • went to the Opera Atelier and actually found myself enjoying their Figaro. The dance is used in the usual OA fashion (corps de ballet with men in tights and women in hoop skirts show up, do what they do in every production), but there was not a lot of it, and I decided not to comment on it in the review. The stock gestures would appear in the odd solo aria, and it wasn’t too in-yer-face. All in all, Figaro as commedia dell’arte rather worked for me.
  • A q & a with Barbara Hannigan, which we did over email. I sent her over a few questions, she sent back the replies, so it’s not the most dynamic of conversations, but it’s still very revealing of some of her attitudes, I thought. What and who is being praised, what and who are deemed not good enough, or ‘more accessible’. Including Alma Mahler in the recital program, then explaining that she is not as good as the men on the program, and that she’s included essentially because she was a lover to some of the male geniuses is… interesting. Also, between you (a handful of my faithful readers) and I, not sure if I’ll be going to this recital at all. I listened to all the songs while writing this piece, some in multiple versions, and I can’t imagine them ever being the most exciting of programs, sung one after another, by the same voice. Though Hannigan insists the Schoenberg and the Webern sets are inherently dramatic, she just needs to embed and do justice, rather than interpret, as an audience member I must disagree. Everything depends on the singer. For instance, I’ve listened to two or three versions of Berg’s Sieben frühe Lieder while researching, and none compares with a von Otter recording of the cycle. A singer needs to give life to these things, otherwise – zzzzz. Here by the way is the program with Reinbert de Leeuw, an eminence grise of the Dutch new music circles.
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2 thoughts on “Catching up

  1. I felt that Hannigan did make a point that Alma Mahler’s potential was cut short, which is the dominant reading in general, as I understand it. and hence it follows that her songs might not be as good, in Hannigan’s opinion (not mine!)

    1. I know, I know… It could have been phrased much better. With anger at historical injustice, y’know? But that’s not her beat. My impression is, BH is very careful not to upset the powerful men of new music. Remember when the Guardian asked her to write about her experience of getting into conducting? And they gave her personal essay the title: How I Broke into Conducting Brotherhood? She was very upset, demanded from her FB page that they change the title–I guess she wasn’t aware that editors decide titles, not authors?–anyway, it was the whole hoopla, “I’d never have phrased it so antagonistically” was the gist of her objection. It was… telling.

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