30 September 2007

Therefore, ignore everything I say

Unavoidable to wander away from the music and get sucked back into thinking about work, or to consuming lists of daily life. Happens to me at the Met, during awesome scenes, and more than I care to admit. I nearly had to slap my face back to the opera on Thursday, for the obligatory second helping of Lucia di Lammermoor, right at the vortex of the mad scene. Walking off into the clear fall night of New York, I could say how meticulous and thoughtful every placed note, every action was; how well the text was served, how professional the phrases were churned, and with undeniable passion; how world-class the grand musical performance just witnessed. But in the end, it comes down to an elementary question, of how much I really dug the underlying Natalie Dessay sound, and I can't say I really do. Lawd knows I'm trying.

But plug a favorite singer into a similar scenario, and a comparatively thoughtful and professional performance would yield an opposite reaction. Which is to say that all (my) criticism collapses from the arbitrary scaffolds built around ad hoc criteria. One's deep resonance (or dissonance) with a voice may be rationalized with creative words and witty metaphors, but at its heart it is really elusive to logic or explanation. This is my simple experience: this is how I adore Renee Fleming, how I can now fathom the possibility of liking (gulp!) Netrebko, etc.. For if a formula can be mapped out that can justify the level of ecstasy, then all magic that attends that ecstasy is, by definition, drained. I see that every other thing around the voice may help or diminish the way it touches me, but the prime thing is that it touches me. And in unnameable ways, so screwed up that the words in this blog cannot even point to the vicinity of that love.