Rescued from Obscurity, Part Deux

Friday, March 25, 2011 - 01:35 PM

Last night, I had the extreme pleasure of seeing Gioachino Rossini’s opera Le Comte Ory. Hard to believe that it premiered in 1828, and this is the first time it’s being done at the Met.  Granted, there’s almost no plot, and what there is seems hopelessly politically incorrect. But then so are lots of opera plots, so how much does it matter when there's such delightful music involved?

If it the Met was waiting for just the right cast, then it was worth it. Juan Diego Florez, Diana Damrau, and Joyce DiDonato all excelled at the vocal fireworks and comic sensibilities required for the three major roles, and the secondary roles were just as brilliantly executed by Stéphane Degout, Michele Pertusi and debutante Susanne Resmark.

Of course, they all had high-flying coloratura arias to sing. But I was particularly enchanted with the ensembles, including numbers for both men's and women's chorus, plus an extended a cappella section for combined soloists and chorus, with no orchestra for several minutes! And Gaetano Donizetti must surely have had the Act I finale of Le Comte Ory running through his head when he wrote the trio "Tous les trois réunis” for his opera The Daughter of the Regiment.

With such lovely music, so beautifully sung, and costumes that look like Brueghel (if Brueghel had painted rich people), plus a delightfully inebriated male retinue all dressed like Sister Bertrille... all I can say is, get thee to this nunnery.


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Comments [7]

oncetta nardone from Elmont, NY

Mr. Meltzer commented that Fidelio was in English and that it was silly. This might be true. When I read the libretto that was included with my cd set, there is a translation into French as well as English. The French translation I have is so beautiful and I usually read the French rather than the English.

Apr. 19 2011 10:04 AM
concetta nardone from Elmont, NY

Opera can be a strange idiom. An opera with great music such as Gioconda really is good to listen to but not watch. Too campy. The Girl of the Golden West was one I did not think much of until I saw a telecast of it. Great theatre even though no one is humming the tunes. Now Il Trovatore is very campy but the music is so glorious that we forget how campy it is. Of course, this all depends on the quality of the singing. I had the good fortune to grow up listening to Jussi and Zinka in this opera.

Apr. 07 2011 10:00 AM
John R. Gonzalez from Laconia, New Hampshire 03246

Left a comment about 10 days ago mentioning that I had been listening to WQXR since the 1930, and used to correspond on occasion with Lloyd Moss. They were marvelous years especilly since in the 1960's I used to concertize in Stamford, Conn. to support the poor Puereto Ricans of the area. However, since my stroke (I'll be 80 in 2 weeks) I don't play much any more except to entertain the elder at the retirement home wherre I live. Yu have all been wonderful over the years and I don't understand why anyone would be critical. Peace be with you all and a Blessed Easter to one and all..John

Apr. 01 2011 01:49 PM
Michael Meltzer

Actually, this is a debate older than the Republic, we won't settle it here. However, the use of the expression invites the reference and the comparison. Hamlet clearly did not mean, "Come and get it!"

Mar. 26 2011 12:10 PM
derf from da bronx

MM wrote: "nunnery" was slang for a house of ill repute

It is not clear that WS meant a brothel in Hamlet or was even using a double entendre. Even then, the more common usage was a house for nuns.

Mar. 26 2011 11:45 AM
Mi;chael Meltzer

Ms. Lewin:
In Shakespeare's day, and in Hamlet's admonition to Ophelia, "nunnery" was slang for a house of ill repute.

Mar. 25 2011 07:57 PM
Michael Meltzer

My opera listening usually depends on reasons other than love of the idiom.
As a Beethoven lover from get-go, I was really excited in my student years to learn that there would be a televised production of "Fidelio."
I had such mixed emotions, today it would be called bi-polar. The music was magnificent, but the lyrics were in English, and I never heard such a dumb script in my life, not even in a sixth-grade school play.
What does the plot matter as long as they continue to sing beautiful music in languages we don't understand anyway? Just get rid of the supertitles.

Mar. 25 2011 05:18 PM

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