And this is not great. In fact, it’s pretty bizarre. What a weird choice! Doing a lap around the stage before collapsing. I get where she’s going with it, but it’s campy, a bit silly and very insincere.
Disclaimer:To all the users who are about to send me anonymous insults, calling me nasty names and suggesting that I die for criticizing Renne Fleming, I need to mention that I am a worshiper in the house of Renee. I just tend to be baffled by her weird interpretive strokes occasionally.
“What is a beautiful voice? I have no use for this term. Give me a dramatic voice, a voice with character. A voice should grab one’s attention and be compelling! This is all I ask of a singer and their voice.” - Giuseppe Verdi (1813 - 1901)
As Verdi’s haunting prelude begins, a large door opens on the side of the stage to reveal Violetta. Outfitted in a red cocktail dress and looking ravaged, she stumbles towards Dottore Grenvil - whom appears to be death incarnate in this case - in a state of anguish. Grenvil sits before a giant clock representing what little time Violetta has remaining. She goes to Grenvil’s side and pleads for her life, shaking her head in defiance of what she already knows. She begs him for more time, but there is no response as he is unmoved. Refusing to acknowledge Violetta, Grenvil slowly rises and hands her a white carnation (a popular funeral flower). She accepts it in resignation, and faints into his arms. He turns her towards the clock, forcing her to confront that which she is racing against: time. Thus, we the audience must confront a universal truth: time is inescapable. We are forced to acknowledge it, despite our futile attempts to ignore it. Its omnipresence is almost spectral; a clock hovers over us at every minute of every hour. Ticking away…
“‘Love me, Alfredo, as much as I love you. Goodbye!’ … In the tense passage leading up to the outburst, the soprano adopts a breathless, fretful tone, communicating Violetta’s initially panicked response to the situation — vocal babbling, the Verdi scholar Julian Budden calls it. Then, with the trembling of the strings, she seems to flip a switch, her voice burning hugely from within. When she reaches up to the A and the B-flat, she claws at the notes, practically tears them off the page, although her tone retains a desperate beauty. Her delivery is so unnervingly vehement — here is what Björk, in her discussion of Callas, called the ‘rrrr’ — that it risks anticlimax. Where can the opera possibly go from here? When you listen again, you understand: Violetta’s spirit is broken, and from now on she will sing as if she were already dead” - Alex Ross
“As a child, I silently fought for my individuality, for who I am. At school, they told me I had no voice and it really hurt; I went to Bolshoi to prove myself. Many others had no courage, they were broken – by misunderstanding or neglect, not by brutality. My grandma taught me to take this life as it is. She said there is no good or bad way, there is only the road.” - Marina Poplavskaya
Really gross, shocking production of Verdi’s “Macbeth” at the Bavarian State Oper. In other words: exactly the kind of production that the Met needs to be staging. This is the type of bold theatricality that would truly shake up opera. I didn’t see this production, but I heard that it cut right to the core of Shakespeare’s tale when it was first staged. Also, can we take a moment to admire the amazingness that is German soprano Nadja Michael? She looks perfect as Macbeth’s crazed wife. Her “Salome” at Covent Garden remains one of the most visceral performances I’ve ever seen, and I’m super excited to see her next year at the Met as Lady Macbeth. Now if only the Met could dispose of it’s weirdly unfocused “Wizard of Oz” like staging.
This video = heaven! Hvorostovsky and Radvanovsky are two of the most charismatic, exciting singers on the scene today. Their new Verdi duets album is pure gold! I’m not even a Verdi fan, but I could listen to these two sing the phone book.