Saturday, January 28, 2012

What's that, girl? Angelotti's in the well?

The story goes that there was once a production of The Diary of Anne Frank so wretchedly performed that, when the Gestapo arrived, a member of the audience shouted, "They're in the attic!" I experienced a similar let's-get-this-over-with impulse during this afternoon's Met broadcast of Tosca. There is no reason to stage Puccini's "shabby little shocker" (Joseph Kerman's estimate) except as a vehicle for balls-to-the-wall verismo singing. There was none. Instead, we had a visit from house soprano Patricia Racette, or Lucine Amara 2.0. Her vinegary yet somehow colorless voice has wrecked many a performance for me; in the circumstances, it caused no particular harm to this one. Marcelo Alvarez, the Cavaradossi, once had quite a lovely lyric tenor, but the sheen is gone except in soft passages like the run-up to "E lucevan le stelle." Straining for a bigger sound sent him painfully sharp on the second "Vittoria!" James Morris was the finest Wotan of his generation, so it's surprising to encounter him as Scarpia; he sounded worn and was flat almost continuously. To think we once took for granted Scotto and Pavarotti in this opera (or Bumbry and Domingo, or Tebaldi and Tucker), and groused that they weren't as good as Callas and DeStefano. What I would give to have them back, with even an elderly Tito Gobbi.

The audience, perhaps sensing that they had paid Met Opera prices for Amato Opera voices, reserved their warmest applause for Paul Plishka, making a farewell appearance as the Sacristan. There was a nice little ceremony after Act I, although everyone had to hang around until the end for the now obligatory theatre-style curtain calls. If James Levine was listening, I hope his rehab was not adversely affected. The orchestra sounded fine.



Blogger Quacko said...

I am sorry to hear about Alvarez's voice diminishing. I have two of his albums and still enjoy them-- sorry it was an insipid performance for you... sigh.

10:30 PM  

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