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body size in opera


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#61 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 23 May 2014 - 04:43 AM

 God knows how some of these writers would react to Marilyn Horne in a suit of armor vowing eternal love to Joan Sutherland.

 

 

 

Well, here's one way to deal with the "more curves than height" issue: 

 

mariln10.jpg

 

That's Marilyn Horne as Handel's Rinaldo, ready to vanquish the sorceress Armida and save lovely Almirena.



#62 Mashinka

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Posted 23 May 2014 - 05:52 AM

Today Rinaldo is a counter tenor of course.  With regard to the comment about current productions, perhaps you might like to look at what lovely Almirena looks like in this year's Glyndebourne production.  http://glyndebourne....M7BaPXUAl3w_wcB



#63 volcanohunter

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Posted 23 May 2014 - 06:25 AM

Yes, that does illustrate Birdsall's point exactly.

#64 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 23 May 2014 - 07:40 AM

Today Rinaldo is a counter tenor of course.  With regard to the comment about current productions, perhaps you might like to look at what lovely Almirena looks like in this year's Glyndebourne production.  http://glyndebourne....M7BaPXUAl3w_wcB

 

Not always! 

 

Here's Sonia Prina as Rinaldo from that same Glyndebourne production:

 

rinaldo_1937085c.jpg

 

Rinaldo apparently gets tied up a lot in this production:

 

rinaldo01.jpg

 

Here's Vivica Genaux 

 

fists.jpg

 

And Caitlin Mathes (perhaps all the countertenors auditioning for the role took one look at the costume and bailed, despite that fact that a gig is a gig ...)

 

rinaldo_2170.jpg?1363376224

 

And Phyllis Pancella

 

20090703_111855_ae05rinaldo_200.jpg

 

I've seen both David Daniels and Sarah Connolly in Handel's heroic opera seria roles, and I can tell you that Daniels was not the most convincingly heroic of the two, but that's a topic for a different thread.



#65 Helene

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Posted 23 May 2014 - 09:06 AM

Alice Coote weighs in:

http://slippedisc.co...-of-tough-love/

 

I doubt critics would be commenting on Octavian's "dumpiness" if Octavian were sung by a tenor.

 

I'm with you, Kathleen:  I'll take Connolly over Daniels any day of the week.



#66 sandik

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Posted 23 May 2014 - 10:42 AM

Which production is the photo of Caitlin Mathes from?  That is a seriously over-the-top mustache -- do the rest of the characters match the flamboyance?



#67 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 23 May 2014 - 11:55 AM

Which production is the photo of Caitlin Mathes from?  That is a seriously over-the-top mustache -- do the rest of the characters match the flamboyance?

 

Portland Opera. Yes. Over-the-top. And then over then next top. I have no idea what's up with the sink. 

 

00003481194959.jpg



#68 sandik

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Posted 23 May 2014 - 12:15 PM

Portland -- that's just down the road from me.  How did I miss this?!



#69 dirac

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Posted 23 May 2014 - 01:11 PM

One of the critics defends his stance:

 

http://www.theguardi...urne-fat-ladies

 

He does not exaggerate the response to the reviews; as I was going out the door the other morning I heard the announcer say they were about to open the phone lines on the subject - unheard of on the philistine LBC radio station.  Opera has managed to become a hot news story even in a week when the news is dominated by the local and EU elections.

 

Thank you for providing this link. Let's look at the defense:
I

In the case of Glyndebourne's new staging, the director Richard Jones sought to make Octavian look more a gauche teenager than a self-assured aristocrat. Tara Erraught, the mezzo-soprano cast in the role, was given a Little Lord Fauntleroy-style, curly wig, a suit too tight in several places, and "bum-fluff" stubble on her chin. Her Octavian runs against what we assume to be true about the character, and in so doing disrupts our understanding of why, in each case, the three other characters want so desperately to get into her, sorry I mean his, trousers.

 

I'm not here to defend the choice of words some of my colleagues used, but no one seeing the performance could reasonably fail to comment on Octavian's appearance. Indeed, any reviewer not asking questions about this precise point would be failing in their duty to hold the production and its performance to account. None of the reviewers involved dispensed gratuitous misogyny. But this is what, in numerous newspaper articles and columns, radio programmes, and in thousands of tweets and Facebook posts, they stand accused of. Which is ridiculous.

 

Well, Guy, or guys, let's try this for starters:

 

"Tara Erraught, the fine singer cast as Octavian, was gravely hampered not only by a misguided re-conception of Octavian as a gauche teenager, but equally misguided and unflattering costume choices, which made Octavian's alleged irresistibility very much a matter of willing suspension of disbelief."

 

And that's just off the top of my head. I'm sure actual professional critics could come up with better. Or maybe not.

 

I guess it's also a good thing these writers weren't let loose on Melchior and Flagstad in "Tristan und Isolde."  ("The sight of these elephantine singers lumbering about the stage made it quite impossible to accept them as Wagner's great lovers. Who could be attracted to this fat cow?  A wasted evening for this critic.")



#70 Helene

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 12:51 PM


Well, Guy, or guys, let's try this for starters:

 

"Tara Erraught, the fine singer cast as Octavian, was gravely hampered not only by a misguided re-conception of Octavian as a gauche teenager, but equally misguided and unflattering costume choices, which made Octavian's alleged irresistibility very much a matter of willing suspension of disbelief."

 

This.

 

Too many things to choose for quotes from this piece by Deborah Orr, but this is mine (as is the emphasis):

 

Octavian is a male character written for a mezzo soprano voice. So he is always played by a woman. Narratively, this makes sense as an indication that the women love Octavian because he speaks their language, because they are kindred spirits. The whole point, surely, is that he's an unusual man, not a typical one. It's amazing, really. These chaps aren't only experts on the kind of women that all men should consider attractive, they're experts on the kind of men all women should find attractive, too. What's more, this imagined expertise seems to have damaged their real expertise, which is, of course, in opera.

 



#71 Birdsall

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Posted 25 May 2014 - 04:41 AM

 

Which production is the photo of Caitlin Mathes from?  That is a seriously over-the-top mustache -- do the rest of the characters match the flamboyance?

 

Portland Opera. Yes. Over-the-top. And then over then next top. I have no idea what's up with the sink. 

 

 

 

 

This is so common concerning the sink. Half the time in opera you have no clue what anything means even if you know the libretto and have seen the opera many times. Directors are apparently in competition with each other on who can be more outrageous. And these pics actually look more conservative than some productions. 

 

With that said I have seen some postmodern productions that worked for me. I am not totally against craziness IF it opens up more meaning for me that I didn't see before (like how a feminist perspective can make you realize that Brunnhilde is the hero Wotan has been looking for but he was so focused on a male son that he could not see her as the hero who will save mankind), but most of the time it feels like a director is just making fun of the opera and trying to make a name for himself/herself. 

 

And when you look at old videos or listen to old recordings of people like Joan Sutherland, not only was there no strain in the voice (the tone is completely rounded at all times and no "screaming") but there were also no funny faces and strain in the faces. They were trained to make opera sound and look like the easiest thing in the world. In my opinion, if you are watching a singer on stage and it looks difficult and sounds difficult, it is wrong. It should look easy as pie! An audience member should not be impressed how hard that was what she just sang. He or she should say, "Wow! That sounds easy! Maybe I'll try it at home in the shower!" and then you try it in the shower and fail miserably and say, "Wow! She was great!" 

 

But I find most singers sound like they are "getting through it" and the crazy productions, crazy costumes, and singers doing cartwheels or other physical nonsense attempts to hide the vocal deficiencies on today's stages. I truly believe opera is doomed. Most of the singers today are not going to anyone into the opera fold. 



#72 Birdsall

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Posted 25 May 2014 - 04:43 AM

If my point was lost (and probably not), my main message was:  down with Hollywood type singers. Let's bring any shape and size that can actually sing back on stage!!! 



#73 volcanohunter

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Posted 09 June 2014 - 03:44 PM

The Glyndebourne Rosenkavalier, with Tara Erraught as Octavian, is available for viewing online.

 

http://concert.arte....de-glyndebourne

 

A subtitled version with the long breaks left intact is also available.

 

http://glyndebourne....2014-in-cinemas



#74 Birdsall

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 02:41 PM

Although I just listened to a little bit I think the critic should be more alarmed by the voice than the body size. I didn't hear any singers as I was skipping around and stopping to listen to a few minutes here and there that made me want to stop and watch the whole thing. I have no problem with someone as big as Montserrat Caballe as long as they sound great! From the snippets I watched this looks like a very mediocre evening at the opera. 



#75 Helene

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 09:18 PM

I haven't watched the "Rosenkavalier," but I disagree that modern productions are obscuring voices and that there is no one worth hearing.  Balanchine famously said, if you don't like the dance, shut you eyes and listen to a concert.  I heard the generation now looked at as golden, but dismissed by people who had heard the generation or two before them, and I'd rather hear Michael Fabiano live than Franco Corelli on a recording.  (I heard Corelli live on a bad night.) 

 

I'm not a big fan of lists restricted lists -- I think lists should expand as new artists emerge -- although I was happy to see Fred Plotkin break his own rule and add John Osborn (age 41) to part 1 of his "40 Under 40" list:

http://www.wqxr.org/...-opera-singers/

 

Aside from the bigger names like Pisaroni, Costello, Camarena, and probably by now Fabiano (who has established quite a career in Europe), I was thrilled to see Andrew Garland -- he sang Schaunard to Fabiano's Rodolfo in Seattle last season, and his recital tracks are superb (plus I swoon for redheads) --  Quinn Kelsey -- to die for in San Francisco Opera's "Atilla," also with Furlanetto -- and Bryan Hymel -- a great save for the Met in a beautifully sung "Les Troyens" (and a reputed sweet guy) -- among the first 13 Plotkin lists.

 

I'm looking forward to reading about the other 27 in part 2.




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