28 January 2006

Another closeted Fleming flapper?

In a review sure to make Renee's Saturday brunch absolutely festive (pop the champagne, bitches!), James Oestreich of the New York Times calls ("understudy") Cecilia Bartoli's soprano imitation a pungent "so-so", adding: "Hitting the high notes was no problem for Ms. Bartoli, who has an enormous range. Hitting the right tone was a problem. By definition, this is exultant, jubilant music, but it is not comic opera, and Ms. Bartoli's mugging, vocal as well as facial, falsified its exalted spirit." Dagger not sharp enough today, James?

Meanwhile, Oestreich didn't write one word about how Cecilia actually fared in the aria of contention, "Ch'io mi scordi di te." Huh? [I'm sorry I missed the radio broadcast entirely: they don't transmit such things on the radio down here in the south; equipped with subpar computer speakers, I'm not (yet) a fan of internet radio; and oh, it was 72°F and an intense sky-blue sky. So I, accused of being a closeted Fleming flapper myself, am really more than curious.]

Meanwhile, I just learned how to connect my radio to the DVD recorder, so I'm ready to immortalize today's Met broadcast of Cosí fan tutte. Note: for an example of James Levine's relentless brilliance in this music, pay attention to his architecture of Ferrando's melting aria "Un'aura amorosa del nostro tesoro," which occurs close to the end of the first act. Indeed, the piece is Mozart's true breath of love, and Levine paces the aria so delicately and close to the chest, that we become accidental witnesses to a young lover's virgin heart. The pauses Levine installs toward the end of the aria are just long enough to contain our quiet sighs, and to hear the beating of our own hearts. Matthew Polenzani has the exact boyish joy and vulnerability, and Mozart will be very pleased.

UPDATE: No Matthew Polenzani; it's Paul Groves today.