White Nightshirt Monday: Munich – Madrid
[Anja Harteros as Elisabetta in the old, old Munich "Don Carlo" reading by Jürgen Rose, Munich 2012 (scroll down for queering)]
Did anyone else enjoy the free livestream from Munich last night? I could have done without the smarmy synopsis, but am very grateful for the streaming and hope that it won’t have been the last one, either. Perhaps next time, they’ll pick something more interesting that Rose’s sturdy, but dated “Don Carlo” reading?
The event was, however, star-studded even for Munich proportions and it was the singers who made a difference in between the worn-off scenery. Mariusz Kwiecien had dropped out, replaced by Boaz Daniel. Anna Smirnova took on the Princess Eboli, which is a killer part in every sense of the word – Smirnova showed off solid, powerful acuti and overall good phrasing, but had some unfocused flaring in the higher middle register.
Jonas Kaufmann makes for a Don Carlo of rockstar proportions, and while I sometimes find his sound to much on the “knödling” side (I’m not sure that there is a suitable translation for this), I hardly noticed it last night because despite of that little quirk, damn, the man can sing. And, more so, he can build a phrase and he still has a cultivated piano at his disposal.
The two showstoppers of the evening, however, as I had predicted, were “Ella giammai m’amò” and “Tu, che la vanità” and were celebrated accordingly by the audience in the audience.
René Pape is a fantastic King Philipp. Just when you think you’re all taken bis his diction and structure of the scene, there comes a phrase with such sheer beauty of sound that it makes you swoon. I wish I could have rewound his “Ella giammai m’amò” for the remainder of the evening, but then I would have missed out of Anja Harteros’ spectacular “Tu, che la vanità”.
Apart from the fact that the dark gray dress looked gorgeous on her (then again, you could probably throw pretty much anything on her, see white nightshirt in Act IV, and she’d make it look good), her voice is just hitting the spot for Elisabetta. Sometimes, there could be a bit more italianità or power in the lower middle register, but damn, the lady can spin a line. Her legato is something you’d get up for every morning at 6 a.m. to make sure it has had its coffee. With cream. And sugar. Not that this voice would be in need of any of those two.
There are Elisabettas that are more on the dramatic side, and Elisabettas that are more on the lyrical side and Harteros’, while a tad more on the lyrical side, is a wonderful mix. I don’t think there was more applause during the entire evening that after her “Tu, deh la vanità” (and Pape was really, really good), which nicely segued into “Ma lassù ci vedremo” – the legato control in the “ma lassù” triplets alone was worth sitting through the entire evening (really, how much less sexy could the Veil Song get, staging-wise?! Talk about missed opportunities – you have two mezzos, one of them in pants, playing King-and-Queen with top/bottom revolts, and all you can come up with is tie-dye?!! And since I’m already complaining: that blue light in the Fontainebleau act? For a moment I thought I had ended up in the latest Smurfs movie.).
Apart from some great signing, why is Don Carlo a White Shirt Opera?
Well, there is a page in pants who flirts with the mezzo in skirts, but that’s not even the main point. The main point is this:
["It was your turn to take out Miss Kity Fantastico's litterbox!" - Anna Smirnova (Eboli) and Anja Harteros (Elisabetta) in
Scenes of a Lesbian Marriage Verdi's "Don Carlo", Munich 2012.]
Officially, Princess Eboli may be so jealous because of Carlos, but we all know that it’s actually because of Elisabetta (and really, who but a codependant lesbian could come up with the scheme of “I-can’t-have-you-so-I’ll-shag-your-husband-instead”? – This is “Opera L Word”, following the lines of The L Word and The Real L Word!).
When Elisabetta throws Eboli out of court and has her chose between convent and exile, what is the distraught Eboli’s first phrase? It’s not about Carlos, or titles, or money, or honor. Her first, desperate line is “I will never see the queen again.” Really, give that girl a falcon and she’ probably jump right off the roof of the Escorial.
Also, this rather tragic course of queer events saves us from scenes of a mundane lesbian relationship like the following:
["Look, I said I'm sorry for hogging the remote all night, but there was a Xena marathon on SciFi!" - Anna Smirnova (Eboli) and Anja Harteros (White Nightshirt) in "Don Carlo", Munich 2012.]