12 January 2011

Critically short

Scary for other reasons was Sondra Radvanovsky’s first Met Tosca, sung flat and evoking all the tragic grandeur of a Real Housewife of New Jersey.
Funny! (But only one line devoted to the headliner?)

Radvanovsky did seem a bit suburban in her demeanor, but interpretation of interpretations is almost always about personal taste more than reality. What may be gauged a bit more objectively is flatness, and after reviewing one in-house recording from first note to last, I could not sense any consistent flatness in her rendition. (I should be fair to Alagna as well: his top notes weren't terribly flat either; but the way his face tensed up launching up to them was just a tad painful to watch in person.) Alternatively, I may need to take my ears in for a tune-up. (Get it??)

But what has not been mentioned in any review that I've seen thus far is the rare kind of ovation that greeted Radvanovsky, for her exquisite Vissi d'arte and during her ecstatic curtain calls. After many years and hundreds of evenings at the Met, I could sense different degrees of ovations, and believe me, there was something special going on. The evening was buttressed with the kind of sustained energetic applause and bravas from all parts of the house (not just from one or two freaks) that the likes of Deborah Voigt may never get at the Met again. (Heck, even Renee Fleming hasn't gotten it recently.) The only other active soprano that garners the same feverish adulation is Anna Netrebko, but we know that Netrebko's is as much about the back story as the evening's performance. With no-name Radvanovsky, it seemed more a visceral response to what was actually occurring on stage. If this is a "work in progress", then we got ourselves the next major New York supernova.