I mentioned this performance ofMazeppathe
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.
Yes, yes; I am still around—just not blogging very much, because my day job has been so much more demanding lately (darned day job—always interfering with my passions). This was going to be a Gratuitous Friday post but (as often happens with blog posts) it grew into so much more!
Recently, a young friend asked me to coach her for a musical theater audition; I said yes, of course I will! (I was both flattered and fascinated!) As we were working (on an aria from the Mikado—I forgot how fun that music is), I found myself notquite channeling Joyce DiDonato (I would never presume) but sharing thoughts and advice I picked up from watching JDD's master classes. I decided to do my young friend a favor and introduce her to the magic of Joyce DiDonato. So I stopped talking and gave her links to all of JDD's master classes, so she could learn directly from the Yankee Diva.
I realize that in the past few months, I’ve spent more time listening to JDD talk that listening to her sing. So, I finally acquired what just may be the vocal album of the year. Stella indeed! What an awesome album cover! But best of all is the creamy, flexible, and expressive vocalism inside. And new operatic treasures to behold (behear?) The only downside is I downloaded it instead of buying the CD, so I am probably missing out on some good liner notes, more photos, and some translations. On the other hand, with music and singing this beautiful, who needs to be distracted by reading a CD booklet?
Anyway, here's WarnerClassics' official promo video. We get Joyce talking (yay!) and Joyce singing (SIGH!)
And here is the recording session forL’Amica ancor non torna. (I love the clarinet solos, and so does JDD, you can just tell. But I think the composer missed a great opportunity for some sexy mezzo/clarinet duetting.) Is it
my imagination or is her voice getting richer, fuller, and deeper? While you're
pondering that, go get this album. Or if you already have it, go listen to
it again! Now!