04 November 2005

Futral: WTF is she on?

Donizetti LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, Met 3.11.2005; Müller; Futral, Filianoti, Taylor, Relyea.

How can I put it in simple terms .... OK, if this blog post could sing, it'd sound like Elizabeth Futral. However, there's not enough insanity here to even imagine the mad Mad Scene that ensued tonight. In a word, it was totallyfuckedupIcan'tbelievethisshit. Futral's version of the cadenza is insane with a capital U: U for "I'm not even leaving the u off the fuck". (Allow Sieglinde just this one time.) People who've been reared on Sills, Sutherland, Callas, Scotto, even Swenson-- don't even try to sing along. Futral's grand plan was to embellish the cadenza with bits of Donizetti's written aria and ... generous pieces of Lulu, Wozzeck, and the Yellow Submarine. Is there a minor-minor key, because that's where she was, and maybe even a tone or two away (give or take) from the line she and the flutist agreed upon backstage. The flutist may have been half-deaf, or just too bewildered to attempt an adjustment to the altered key (key of Xanax), so he/she simply barrelled on with imagined earplugs and with the flute that said in bright neon "whatthefuckthisissofuckedup." And if you even try to figure it out at the moment by aligning the raw sound with the Donizetti-approved template in your mind, the result you'd get is Pure Dementia. Three independent melodic lines (you, flutist, Futral): like Schoenberg took over your mind's ear for 2 full minutes. A TAPE OF TONIGHT'S INFRIGGINSANITY HAS GOT TO EXIST. (Move over Anna Moffo, we have a new entry into the pantheon of Sick.)

This is what happens when each one at the Met with any hint of artistic integrity is involved elsewhere, in sublime Mozarts (Cosìs and Figaros) and new productions (Roméo and American Tragedy). To begin, we have Edoardo Müller at the pit, who despite his name is an Italian conductor, and a La Scala fixture (for Verdi, Puccini, and Rossini, according to the program). Surprisingly, however, his conducting is closer to the Müller than to the Edoardo: Sieglinde smells no palpable Italian accent, no hint of olive trees and rolling Italian hills, no fresh aroma of tomato. The music of bel canto (indeed, of Italian romantic operas in general) is written to dance: there is a dance that undulates with the heart and is skindeep. Müller sounds like an old straight German man and would have none of that sensitive, graceful reading crap. I'm not indicting him straightaway, for I suspect (a) they weren't given enough rehearsal time for these Lucias (but then tonight was the third evening, so things ought to have been ironed out, right?), and (b) they put interns in the pit instead of real musicians. For starters, supergod concertmaster David Chan (who, I've noticed, is present in every major event at the Met) took the night off, so who knows how many other regulars did. (On the plus side, the glass harmonica mama was there, but oh oh so faintly.) Put it another way, if James Levine were conducting these Lucias: (a) the orchestra would be the Stradivarius we all know and love, (b) every nuance would have nuance, (c) Futral would not have been allowed to spread aural bird-flu at Lincoln Center like this.

Don't read Sieglinde wrong. Sieglinde now adores Elizabeth Futral like good porn. On a scale of dementia to dementia, she is a Guleghina. She fights for notes above the staff; she thinks she's Brünnhilde; she is spontaneity like Fleming is her CDs; she moves on stage as if she's channeling an opera queen channeling Joan Sutherland; she is Angela Gheorghiu if Angela Gheorghiu lost her dusk-lustre and gained sheer decibel; she illustrates the fine lines defining every kind of vulgarity; she will burn her voice away (soon) and blast right into the House of Sass and Negri; she will be the reason why some good friends will never speak again.

Tomorrow, I'll describe other aspects of her performance (if I have any energy left) as well as Giuseppe Filianoti's golden age aura. In the meantime, let's ask the age-old question: what did these guys hear, and why am I the only one laughing???

TONY TOMMASINI: "Let no one underestimate Ms. Futral's achievement in singing the role with such command, vigor and accuracy. In a bright, focused and sizable voice, she spins out streams of florid coloratura roulades and makes embellishments seem natural elaborations of long melodic lines. Though high floating pianissimos do not come easily to her, her midrange soft singing was melting."

SIEGLINDE: Command? (of the Schoenberg.) Vigor? (Viagra on Levitra.) Accuracy? (Like Bush on WMD.) Focused? (Like a gay firetruck.) Florid coloratura roulades? (Maybe, but with wilted flowers.) Embellishments that seem like natural elaborations? (Sieglinde has got to locate a pirate of tonight's hilarious masterpiece...) Midrange soft singing? (With a battleship bullhorn.)

And then, there's OPERA-L. I wonder if this gentleman was in the audience tonight, and whether he would say the same thing about the third performance as the first and second, both evenings he so loved.

BEDTIME. More later.

(PS. For the weblingo-challenged, WTF is *what the fuck*)