11 December 2004

LiveBlogging the Met Vespri

a la Wonkette (bitch sans wit)

I Vespri Siciliani, Metropolitan Opera radio broadcast
Sondra Radvanovsky, Francisco Casanova, Leo Nucci, Samuel Ramey, c. Frederic Chaslin

[5:01pm] The Radvanovsky Vespri saga ends. The 20-year wait for the next Met Vespri begins. Margaret Juntwait will be hosting that one too.

[4:58pm] Fine dell'opera. Curtain calls. Juntwait will learn how to pause so the radio audience can experience the initial bursts of ovation for each principal. The prompter chooses not to take a curtain call.

[4:46pm] Casanova still winning his battles at this late hour. If only he had big-house power.

[4:42pm] Merce, dilette amiche ends. High E-natural clarion. Success.

[4:38pm] Merce, dilette amiche commences. Odd Chaslin tempi. Sondra sounds a bit tired (but thankfully our friend the prompter is still fresh). OK, now she regains some bounce.

[4:35pm] Act V begins. The Merce anticipation now consumes the globe.

[4:25pm] Sondra's Addio, mia patria amata melts my heart like butter on coal.

[4:15pm] Arrigo! ah parli ad un core ends. Despite the glissando freakshow, Sondra is immortalized.

[4:10pm] Arrigo! ah parli ad un core begins. This aria was made for Sondra. (But please, shut the prompter's mouth.)

[4:05pm] My favorite Vespri set of duets (hints of Traviata/Trovatore). Don't be fooled by Sondra's chest; she ain't got any. But WOW, she's on fire!

[3:58pm] Giorno di pianto. When God showered squillo from the high heavens, Casanova was nowhere to be found.

[3:53pm] Act IV begins. Here's when Sondra will shine, shine, shine.

[3:48pm] Peter Allen's voice, pure honey. He sounds 15 years younger! Bring him back. Uhm, wait, why's he talking about Rodelinda?? What the f* is he talking about?? Retire him now.

[3:37pm] The Quiz panel dreams of sex change.

[3:33pm] The Quiz continues. Queens identifying queens.

[3:27pm] Opera Quiz. Snack break.

[3:23pm] Act III ends. Juntwait sounds more even now. She sounds like the NYC subway: "42nd Street, Port Authority .... 34th Street, Penn. Station .... 14th Street, Union Square ..."

[3:20pm] Some off-pitch singing from Casanova during the ensemble; Sondra's voice is much louder than this--did I already mention how she's not transmitting fairly?

[3:13pm] Act III, Scene 2. (What, no ballet??) This is when Sondra's lower-middle betrays her in-house (can't be heard at all), but thanks to the close miking, she's heard easily by the entire planet.

[3:07pm] Casanova-Nucci duet; I'm impressed. (Not quite close to tears, but close to close.)

[3:00pm] Ovation for Il Nucci--lusty but short (the couple of times I was there, the auditorium sustained the applause for at least a minute). Odd out-of-town audience.

[2:57pm] Is there a mike over the prompter's box?

[2:49pm] Act III. Complex soprano voices don't transmit well; unadorned, straightforward baritones do. Nucci sizzles.

[2:35pm] Sondra's piano high notes: nice, but (again), in-house they're simply breathtaking.

[2:32pm] Presso alla tomba. Sondra sounds less like Callas, more like an older sister of Scotto.

[2:28pm] Verdi has lots of great ideas here (Act II trio). But don't ask me to hum any of them tomorrow.

[2:22pm] Ramey gets the first great ovation of the afternoon. (insert own comment here)

[2:17pm] Act II. O tu Palermo! It's not your antennas, folks: Ramey's wobble tours about two to three octaves. Really.

[2:10pm] Casanova's voice doesn't open up well; he sounds pinched. Nucci sounds elegant and old. This whole thing is beginning to resemble regional opera.

[2:07pm] OK it's official. My personal recording is worthless. My radio signal falters for the fourth time.

[2:06pm] Trio with Nucci, Casanova, and prompter. The prompter needs voice lessons.

[2:04pm] The transmission *skips* a second. What's going on??? There's another one. WQXR needs money too. My recording is ruined. What else is new.

[2:01pm] Note to Sondra flappers: start fund-raising for 21st century radio signal compression system.

[1:59pm] Some timing issues between singer and stage. Sondra's never been too clean about this.

[1:57pm] Trust me, Sondra sounds normal in house. Her top notes sound radio aw-aw-awful just now.

[1:56pm] In vostra man. She sounds like David Daniels at this point.

[1:55pm] In alto mare is happening. Sondra doesn't record well. She has too much going on with her voice, the FM doesn't do her justice. Should we switch to AM?

[1:54pm] Si, cantero. As freaky as Miricioiu. Good girl!

[1:52pm] Sondra enters. O mio fratel. Vibrato central this afternoon.

[1:45pm] The overture ends. So did my radio transmission. What the f* was that fade-out all about. OK, wait, there's the continued applause of the Met audience. *Whew!* Welcome back, broadcasts!

[1:42pm] The gorgeous Vespri overture. The FM signal compression (evening out the dynamic range of the orchestral sound) sucks.

[1:37pm] Debutante Juntwait falters a bit; I can sense her overloaded nerves, I can't eat my soup.

[1:35pm] Joe Volpe begs for money. We'll miss him.

[1:31pm] Welcome broadcasts!