Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tchaikovsky: Mazeppa – Live Concert Broadcast from Amsterdam

Tenor Vsevolod Grivnov (Andrei)
I mentioned this performance of Mazeppa the other day. Today, I actually listened to it. I don't know if the music actually gets better as it goes on, or if I was just paying more attention towards the end, but I found the tenor aria that opens Act 3, the baritone/soprano duet, the tenor/soprano duet, and the final soprano aria to be the most musically satisfying (i.e., tuneful and moving) parts of the opera. My recommendation is if you don't time for the full performance, start with Act 3 (about 58 minutes into the Act II/Act III part of the broadcast.) 

That being said, there are some other nice arias, happy peasant choruses, mighty bloodthirsty choruses, bombastic, Russian-sounding battlefield music (a nice change from the 1812 Overture—actually I think it quotes the same hymn briefly in the battle-aftermath) and other pretty bits. But overall, I'd say it's not as tuneful, at least not up till Act III, as say, Eugene Onegin. Maybe it's just that I know EO better. The singers all sound great; and the audience clearly approved of their performances.

Since I know next to nothing about this opera, I searched (in vain) for a libretto in English (I found one in Russian and Spanish, but that was little use to me.) But the Met has a handy synopsis of Mazeppa that I found quite helpful in keeping track of the (melo)drama! So go, listen; then come back and let me know if you agree that Act 3 is the best, or if you think Acts 1 and 2 are just as lovely as Act 3, and that I need to pay closer attention.

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