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#1 vipa

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 04:07 PM

I just saw the NY Philharmonic production of Carousel - WOW. A great performance. What a joy to hear the overture played by that orchestra. All of the singers were amazing. I had never seen Kelli O'Hara perform before - beautiful voice, compelling & believable actress with the gift of really listening to those onstage with her. Stephanie Blythe, from the Met Opera, can really do musical theater without the kind of "over singing," that some opera singers do. When she sang "You'll Never Walk Alone," it was so in character, simple and clear toned that I felt like I had never heard the song before.

I could go on and on. I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat several times. Of course this musical is made to do that, but it only really works this well with great performances.

I just want to add the that Tyler Peck was a great Louise. Her dancing was dramatically true as well as being technically accomplished - multiple turns, fast footwork - gorgeous port de bras - but the main thing was, it was all in character. Her non-dancing, acting and speaking parts were also well done.

Robert Fairchild looked great, but his is not big a roll in the play.

I wish everyone could see this - It is a highlight of my theater going.

#2 Helene

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 04:37 PM

Thank you so much for the report, vipa!

Blythe was deep into musical theater from at least high school, before she got into opera.

#3 dirac

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 04:42 PM

Opera singers often have some background in musicals, but it's still rare for them to retain a true feeling for pop style after the rigors of classical training, as veteran listeners of crossover recordings know.

Great review, vipa, thanks for sharing it with us. Fairchild and Peck, especially the latter, seems to be getting great notices in all departments.

#4 Helene

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 06:20 PM

Pop style is very different from Broadway musical style, unless the musical is pop style, like Rent. My favorite rendition of the tune Andrew Lloyd Webber stole from "La Fanciulla del West" "Music of the Night" is by Thomas Hampson.

It also depends on how invested the singers are in the style; Blythe is one who is. The Three Tenors singing "Waltzing Mathilde": not so much.

#5 dirac

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 09:48 PM

Show tunes are still pop (sometimes pop opera). No shame in that, either. Tastes in pop music have changed, although even today chart-topping songs from musical theater aren't entirely unheard of.( "Rent" was another kind of pop music - faux-rock, vaguely reminiscent of Blue Oyster Cult to this ear.) There is overlap. Certainly Rodgers & Hammerstein had opera in mind when composing "Carousel." Broadway songs like "You'll Never Walk Alone" were certainly popular songs, in every sense. (And in other pop styles. "You'll Never Walk Alone" was a hit for Gerry and the Pacemakers; The Beatles in very early days once did a cover of "Till There Was You" from The Music Man.

I expect that most if not all opera singers who do crossover albums are genuinely committed to performing the songs with correct style and some certainly have more experience than others, but success is variable, at
least for this listener.

#6 sidwich

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 11:47 PM

Show tunes are still pop (sometimes pop opera). No shame in that, either. Tastes in pop music have changed, although even today chart-topping songs from musical theater aren't entirely unheard of.( "Rent" was another kind of pop music - faux-rock, vaguely reminiscent of Blue Oyster Cult to this ear.) There is overlap. Certainly Rodgers & Hammerstein had opera in mind when composing "Carousel." Broadway songs like "You'll Never Walk Alone" were certainly popular songs, in every sense. (And in other pop styles. "You'll Never Walk Alone" was a hit for Gerry and the Pacemakers; The Beatles in very early days once did a cover of "Till There Was You" from The Music Man.

I expect that most if not all opera singers who do crossover albums are genuinely committed to performing the songs with correct style and some certainly have more experience than others, but success is variable, at
least for this listener.


Up until the late 1940s to early 1950s, there was very strong crossover between pop and musical theatre. Many popular songs at the time originated in musical theatre, and many songwriters interchanged between pop, film and theatre like Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer and Burton Lane, and singers crossed over as well. The paths really started diverging with the advent of rock and roll.

As much as opera singers try, the phrasing style and enunciation really needed for musical theatre songs usually isn't there resulting in a lovely but unintelligible vowel soup. In my opinion, Frederica von Stade was probably the most successful at it that I've seen on a consistent basis, followed by Dawn Upshaw. (Although Paulo Szot was a wonderful de Becque in Lincoln Center's recent South Pacific indeed.) Leontyne Price had some disastrous attempts as musical theatre music as well as some surprisingly good ones. The Kiri Te Kanawa and Jose Carreras musical theatre CDs are just ... strange to me.

Interestingly, when the recent City Center Encores! concert of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Pipe Dream was casting the part of the Fauna originally written for and very unsuccessfully played by Helen Traubel in 1955, they went in a completely different direction with Leslie Uggams. The universal consensus seemed to be that it was a much more successful choice.

Getting back to the Carousel concert, I did hear that it was fabulous with the only slight quibble being Nathan Gunn's performance as Billy. In particular, I heard that Jessie Mueller's Carrie and the ballet performances (if not choreography) were outstanding. In case anyone else was unable to see it live, I believe it's scheduled to be on PBS in April.

And just for chuckles, someone clipped together some music that may have influenced Andrew Lloyd Webber:

#7 Helene

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 01:29 AM

According to the "Oxford Music Dictionary" under "pop"

Abbreviation for ‘popular’. Earlier meaning meant concerts appealing to a wide audience. The London Popular Concerts were founded by Benedict in 1858 and continued until 1898. Since the late 1950s, however, pop has had the special meaning of non-classical mus., usually in the form of songs, perf. by such artists as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Abba, etc. Thus ‘pop groups’ (performers of pop, usually singer(s), guitars, drums, sometimes sophisticated elec. effects), and ‘pop festivals’.


I was using the more recent meaning of pop, into which category classic musicals, like "Carousel" and American Songbook composers don't fall. There were a number of musicals that were cast around opera singers, including Ezio "Sam and Janet Evening" Pinza, Lawrence Tibbett, and Georg Ots in Estonia, and Marilyn Horne sang for Dorothy Dandridge in "Carmen Jones." As musicals have gotten more "poppy" in musical style, most opera singers who record them sound stilted, but I find a closer affinity between opera singers and classic musicals, although opera singers are, by no means, universally successful in them.

#8 sandik

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 12:24 PM

Opera singers often have some background in musicals, but it's still rare for them to retain a true feeling for pop style after the rigors of classical training, as veteran listeners of crossover recordings know.


West Side Story with Te Kanawa and Carreras, anyone? I was fascinated with what they did, but it wasn't the musical I knew.

#9 dirac

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 12:28 PM

It's certainly true that American Songbook songwriters are today regarded as a sort of light classical, but nevertheless they were/are popular songs sung with a style different from operatic singing (and still is, per some of those less-than-successful crossover albums).

There were a number of musicals that were cast around opera singers, including Ezio "Sam and Janet Evening" Pinza, Lawrence Tibbett, and Georg Ots in Estonia, and Marilyn Horne sang for Dorothy Dandridge in "Carmen Jones."


Yup. And it would be an unpardonable omission to fail to mention Eileen Farrell in this context. And much Broadway music had roots in operetta. Obviously it's untrue that no opera singers have ever essayed popular music forms successfully, only that, in my opinion, it sometimes doesn't work that well.

#10 dirac

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 12:44 PM

West Side Story with Te Kanawa and Carreras, anyone? I was fascinated with what they did, but it wasn't the musical I knew.


That's one of the recordings I was thinking of. :) I like the McGlinn "Show Boat," which features von Stade, Teresa Stratas, and the late Jerry Hadley greatly, but the Kern/Hammerstein score is something of a special case.

In case anyone else was unable to see it live, I believe it's scheduled to be on PBS in April.


Thanks for the heads up (and for chiming in), sidwich. Carousel is not a big favorite of mine but with such a cast it'll be worth watching.

#11 dirac

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 04:48 AM

I tuned in for Blythe singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" and for the last part, figuring that would be around the time Peck and Fairchild showed up. I sat patiently through "This Was a Real Nice Clambake," the kind of homey-folksy linsey-woolsey Rodgers & Hammerstein number that makes me want to toss my clams, cleanly if unidiomatically sung. Peck was as wonderful to watch as she was at the Kennedy Center tribute to Makarova, tossing off the tricky stuff as if rolling over in bed, and vividly suggesting an unruly spirit. The choreography was nothing to write home about, and there was a time when choreographers could suggest sexual congress without having the guy roll over on top of the girl. Fairchild looked great but as vipa notes above he had little to do.

Anyone else see it?

#12 California

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 04:55 AM

The complete show is now available on-line, for free!

http://video.pbs.org/video/23649751

Thank you, PBS. Doesn't it make you wish there were more American performances shown like this?

#13 dirac

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 05:21 AM

Thanks, California. Did anything in particular stand out for you regarding the performance?

#14 California

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 06:09 AM

Thanks, California. Did anything in particular stand out for you regarding the performance?


Tiler Peck continues to amaze. She is technically so sharp - precise, fast, awe-inspiring. But her expressive skills are also superb. She seemed to join in a little toward the end in the singing, which was interesting -- she might have another career after her NYCB days are over (which won't be for a long time, I hope). The final song was a disappointment -- too much talk-singing to enjoy its familiar strains.

#15 Barbara

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 08:11 AM

I recorded it and just got around to viewing last night. In my book Kelli O'Hara can do no wrong. She is totally invested in everything she does and makes it all believable. I loved Nathan Gunn as Lancelot in Camelot but he has such a sweet face that I didn't really buy him here as a ne'er do well. But I could listen to him sing all day long. I thought the real charisma was between Jason Danieley and Jessie Mueller as Mr. & Mrs. Snow. All the supporting players were superb like the always reliable John Cullum and Kate Burton. I'd never heard Stephanie Blythe before, what power! I was transfixed by Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild, beautiful movement and commitment. I noticed she was singing too but then it might have been odd if she was the only one on stage not doing so. But I wouldn't doubt that she has a lovely voice to match her dancing. Oh yeah, tears in my eyes at the end. This is a keeper.


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