vipa

Carousel

26 posts in this topic

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.

Share this post


Link to post

Thank you so much for the report, vipa!

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

Share this post


Link to post

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.

Share this post


Link to post

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.

Share this post


Link to post

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.

Share this post


Link to post

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:

Share this post


Link to post

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.

Share this post


Link to post

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.

Share this post


Link to post

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.

Share this post


Link to post

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.

Share this post


Link to post

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?

Share this post


Link to post

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

Share this post


Link to post

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.

Share this post


Link to post

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.

Share this post


Link to post

I agree with Barbara about Kelli O'Hara, wonderful performance.

I'm not so surprised that Tyler Peck sang in the chorus. She was in the Broadway production of Music Man done in 2000. That was a long time ago, but it shows that she has musical theater in her background.

Share this post


Link to post

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.

Nice review, Barbara, thanks for posting. I'd say the characterization of "ne'er do well" is being rather kind to Billy in one sense and unfair in another. smile.png

I hadn't heard Peck was in The Music Man, vipa, that's good to know.

Share this post


Link to post

I hadn't heard Peck was in The Music Man, vipa, that's good to know.

There is an interview on Ballet Pulp done when Peck was a soloist at NYCB = http://dancepulp.com/blog/2010/07/27/tiler-peck-from-competitions-and-broadway-to-new-york-city-ballet/

She said that when she came to NY to do Music Man, Susan Stroman told her that she should study to improve, not just do the show. That's how Peck ended up at SAB.

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks, good interview. Stroman warned Peck that the repetition of doing a show would hurt her technique if she didn't also take class, a nice piece of advice to give a talented youngster.

Share this post


Link to post

... 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. ....

Dirac, so 'the vittles you et (ate) weren't good, you bet'? LOL! Yes, some of those lyrics make me shudder.

Totally loved Tiler Peck in this. She has such lovely feet/arches, that she appeared to be on pointe at times, even though she danced barefooted. Robert Fairchild was impressive in the brief pdd. I didn't see the name of the choreographer. Did Tiler and Robert create their own steps? Did they adapt some of Wheeldon's steps from Carousel - A Dance?

Share this post


Link to post

Gia Kourlas's review in the New York Times, Mar. 1, notes the choreographer's name: Warren Carlyle.

I presume the review was linked here at the time.

Share this post


Link to post

No, it was not Wheeldon's choreography. The choreographer for this production was Warren Carlyle, who has choreographed a number of Broadway shows.

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks, rg & abatt. It was impressively done, given the tiny stage-space, in front of the large symphony orchestra.

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks, rg & abatt. It was impressively done, given the tiny stage-space, in front of the large symphony orchestra.

It was well staged from that aspect. I never worried that Peck was going to pirouette into the string section.

Share this post


Link to post

I finally watched it today since I am home sick. I thought it was wonderful- one of my favorite musicals!

Share this post


Link to post