25 January 2006

Midweek blogdrool

1. No big ideas this week; time for one of those ADD posts once again. My next scheduled event is not till this weekend: I'm saving up some psychic energy to be able to withstand the quintuple assault of Bartok, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Silja, Levine. (Enough Mozart already!) The great Anja Silja is about 200 years old, by the way, but can still scream the curd out of the sour milk. Last time I was witness to her art was in Brooklyn (BAM) in the spring of 2001, via the Glyndebourne troupe: Silja was Emilia Marty; is.

2. Is this why, even with the large sum of $46, I'd still be sitting closer to the Upper West Side than the Carnegie Hall stage? Has anyone heard of $46 cheap seats in their classical music lives? (Please, Anja Silja may be ancient, but she ain't being raised from the dead. Is she?) BUT SIX FIGURES FOR MOVING CHAIRS? I don't even get one figure doing this friggin' blog, and Ghena knows I've blown a few veins on my forehead (and other parts) trying to find charming ways to insert "Netrebko" in every post.

3. As usual, Sieglinde speaks too soon. How about $275 cheap seats? The life-altering Viola/Sellars Tristan und Isolde comes to Gotham in the spring of 2007, and they're asking each one of us to maybe give up health insurance for a month, or that anti-wrinkle face cream for an entire year, or else any hope of eating anything beyond the McD dollar menu for the foreseeable future. (The union stagehands have to have their yachts and Caribbean villas, after all.) Christine Brewer better be the best goddamn Isolde since the Exodus, is all Sieglinde's gotta say about this ... before she stares at her bank statement one more time.

4. My dear sister has taken up the $275-cheap-seat-Tristan cause: "I'm ashamed and embarrassed that Lincoln Center would even feel that they could get away with this or that they thought it was okay to charge $275 for the cheap seats! But I will be more ashamed and embarrassed if nobody but me makes a big fuss about this." Indeed, Lincoln Center has to be held accountable; I join the NYCOF in making the necessary fuss. FUSS!

5. Apparently, Sieglinde's not alone in saying "hey guys, enough Mozart already." Diva Renee Fleming is back home in New York, after being sacked unceremoniously by the International Mozarteum Foundation for refusing to sing the jewel concert aria "Ch'io mi scordi di te" (K.505) for Salzburg's gigantic intergalactic Mozart Birthday Bash on the 27th. Read Khaleem's careful dissection of the brouhaha here. First question: what's wrong with Renee's low-to-mid register to precipitate such a cataclysmic realignment of stars?

6. Second question: who the f* cares if the Salzburg audience doesn't hear a single chest note from Renee? This event will be beamed to millions of consumers, via microphones that will pick up the slightest ruffling of taffeta gowns, if desired. Renee has a master's degree thesis on the topic of microphone (both in the studio and the Met broadcasts), so it's inconceivable that she believes she can't produce enough luscious chest even for the transmission alone. (Clip the f* mic to your bra, lady. Remember, millions and millions of consumers.) There's gotta be another story.

7. Third question: so what if the aria sits low on the voice? A quick survey of "Ch'io mi scordi di te"s that I own (and I have about half a dozen accounted for, so far) suggests that, indeed, major parts of the aria like to dive chestward, via lots of laps through the passaggio, but isn't this so typical of a Mozart soprano aria? On records, the aria that Cecilia Bartoli sings sounds different from that of Leontyne Price: Cecilia evens out the aria with a meaty middle thrust and does it fabulously, while Leontyne milks whatever high notes she's given to run away and soar to her customary Olympian heights. Leontyne has faked her low notes since birth, and so the microphone's become her best friend in such cases; can't Renee trust her instrument enough to glide through those hollow patches and concentrate the sparkle on those notes she can gush with gusto? Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, probably Renee's closest spiritual vocal ancestor, quietly succeeds in her rendition: not the best track on her Mozart CD (with Maestro Jeffrey Tate), but there's no real indication a contralto is necessary to pull it off. I'm confused.

8. SIEGLINDE IS A FOODIE TOO. The photograph above is a record of the best paella my partner and I have had in our lives. It's a paella of rabbit and snails (and real saffron), laid out almost one-rice thick on a traditional pan. Every bite was a sublime excursion. The small, charming restaurant, Ventorrillo Murciano, is located in Madrid's gritty East Villagey section: few tourists ever find their way there. But we did. (C. Tres Peces, 20, Madrid 28012; tfno: 91528 83 09)