musicmeI have a new favorite website. It’s French, it’s called “musicMe” and I’m eternally grateful to Céline for pointing me towards it.

While I have no idea how on earth to concept finances itself, musicMe is basically a site for paid downloads, (they also offer a monthly download flatrate) but other than most “30 seconds audio teaser” sites who sell music online, musicMe allows you to listen to full albums, for free. Not all of them, and not all of the time, but there is a whole lot of music to enjoy at a mouse click. And in pretty stellar quality, too.

Céline originally alerted me to Elīna Garanča’s “Bel Canto” album, which I hadn’t listened to yet. So for the past day, I’ve diligently been trying to find out why I’m not head over heels into her voice, since I should be, by all means. The album is wonderful, so is Garanča, and now I know that Bellini anticipated “Oh quante volte” for mezzo in “Adelson e Salvini” (just ignore the plot!).

Alas, I think I’m still not sure about the wonders of Garanča, so I’ll have to listen to the complete new “Capuleti e Montecchi” next. I know, it’s a curse… oh, the sacrifices we make for mezzodom!

musicMe proves to be a cornucopia for the financially challenged Ph.D. student opera dyke: 2 full albums of Vivica Genaux! 8 full albums of our favorite boy crush, Philippe Jaroussky! 9 full albums of Vesselina Kasarova! A whooping 19 (!!!) full Fassbaender albums with tons of Lieder goodness. On a side note, Spinosi’s recording of Vivaldi’s “La fida ninfa” (aka ‘the recording I couldn’t afford to get for Christmas’) is also up for entire and free listening (Jaroussky! Lemieux! Piau! Cangemi! Lehtipuu!). And, and, and… cornucopia, indeed!

At the moment, I’m listening to the entire Solti “Ariadne auf Naxos” with Tatiana Troyanos as Composer… I had forgotten how good this recording is. Added bonus: 1970s Gruberova as Zerbinetta. But really, it’s all about Troyanos.

Also, I’ve finally had the chance to listen to the “Era la notte” album by Anna Caterina Antonacci. Awesome. It’s all early monody – Monteverdi’s “Lamento della ninfa”, the dyketastic “Lagrime mie” by Barbara Strozzi, a “Lamento della pazza” by Sardello and Monteverdi’s trusted “Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda” (which is more commonly sung by tenors. I don’t think I have to point out that it sounds quite a different kind of interesting with Antonacci doing the storytelling…).

Since it’s a repertory that works via expressiveness and diction, Antonacci’s rock solid, mezzo-tinted middle register gets to shine (note to self: must finally get my hands on that ROH Carmen DVD) and her general approach of  choosing expressive truth over sheer beauty of sound makes for a truly stunning interpretation. Antonacci may not be a typical early music voice, but she definitely gets the concept of monody.

But before I replay the album once more, I need to check out whether the announced “available on 30/o3” has actually come true on one particular recording: DiDonato’s new “Alcina”.  —  See you over there?


17 thoughts on “musicMe.”

  1. Wow Celine and Anik thanks – this fills in a few gaps other similar services have! Fantastic. And glad you caught up with Era La Notte Anik; love it when I find a really interesting new take on early music, and if it’s a gorgeous woman providing the insight then so much the better!


  2. Garanca… yeah I know Anik… Go figure! I mean what’s not too like? And yet?

    Actually your post on von Otter kind of reminded me of that issue.

    I think if I was 16 I’d probably be head over heels for Garanca! VK or Coote or Ernman would scare the hell out of me. It might be an awareness / recognition / comfort zone thing… The perfection of “imperfection”, the familiarity of the “abnormal” or “unusual”, these are things that resonate with us when we are out and comfortable. I ‘get’ those voices because I live what those voices represent. But for the baby dyke barely able to face ‘what those feelings and urges all mean’ the unusual or the imperfect are just way too close to an uncomfortable ‘home truth’, a home truth that sadly will mean the ‘home’ of childhood has to be left (way) behind.

    Becoming ourselves demands that we ‘leave childish things behind’ more forcefully than is necessarily the case for the straight. Home becomes a memory of the time before the disruption of self-awareness changed everything. But for me the great joy of being queer has always been that it provides an easy passage (if your ears and eyes are open of course) to the appreciation of imperfection, the unusual, the off-the-beaten-path, the original. For all getting disinherited, abused, beaten up (though as a 6 foot dyke who never learned the stomp properly, usually for being a gay man… oh the irony of it all 🙂 ) and denied a right to presume that children would be part of my life, I have never wished I was straight. I’d much rather be in touch with the imperfect forces that drive life than lulled into serenity by perfection.

    Garancas voice *is* lovely. And sometimes that’s enough. But most times, it’s not. Give me VKs crazy register plummets, wild phrasing and passionate swallowing of notes and even runs any day. It’s why I wish she’d spend more time with the Baroque gang – they knew all about the perfection of the imperfect. No safe rationalist perfection there, just grab life by the neck and throttle the hell out of it with your embellishments. And if that doesn’t keep the audience awake, have someone sleep with their mother…


  3. Re: Garanča – I’ve been thinking about this on and off these past few days and I think part of it may be for me that her voice (at this point) is too perfectly controlled, rarely leaving its even-tempered state (but exactly that might be saving a few baby opera dykes as we speak).

    It struck me while listening to the Capuleti, which sounds even and creamy throughout (doubled by Netrebko, who of course cannot afford much individual sound, since that would make her less available as a mainstream projection icon), but afterwards, I put in my Mei/Kasarova, which is rougher, less balanced and so much more alive.

    A lot of it is also the marketing – trying to sell Garanča as the blond femme equivalent to Anna N. is, IMHO, too far-fetched. The woman on the CD covers seems to have nothing in common with the singer on stage, or the winger in interviews where she is articulate and refreshingly unpretentious. – Half the time, I do a double take if I see her somewhere on stage in short dark hair and a pair of pants (which she carries very well)

    Of course, I we take into account the utterly rigid Latvian church position on gender roles (this is a country where apparently instead of Pride Parade, there is “Happy Young Christian Families Parade” in the summer), I guess DGG is taking their femme campaign hints from there…

    Marketing a lyric who does a lot of trouser roles as decidedly femme as DGG markets Garanča is an odd move – and it seems to confuse people. Yesterday, I read the listener reviews on for the Capuleti and one reviewer stated flat out that Garanča should stick to shorts since she wouldn’t sound like a credible man. Very interesting statement. Geschwitz’s Lorgnette might have to revisit that one.


  4. @planetd: Kuzcotopia, oh yeah! 😀
    Of course, there is also non-classical music. New Diana Krall (Quiet Nights) is out, and a lot of Casandra Wilson…


  5. Thanks Anik for passing on the link from Céline…. it might make the whole mezzo-following a little less hurtful on the purse…

    Hmm… really interesting about the Elīna Garanča analysis… having come to opera only recently I immediately gravitated towards the more dramatic performers like Alice Coote and Vesselina Kasarova… so whilst I admire Elīna Garanča’s craft and skill she just doesn’t ring the right notes for me… so I am glad that you all can perhaps put into words just exactly what I ‘don’t get’…

    Having just seen the I Capuleti production with Garanča and Netrebko this was highlighted even more…. Netrebko gave a more gutsy performance than Garanča really. Garanča is just too perfect.

    And as to Garanča sticking to shorts!!! Definately worth a visit by Geschwitz’s Lorgnette.


  6. Thanks for writing about this. When I tried to use this site a message came up that (I think .. I don’t speak French, so can’t be sure) said one has to be in France to use it. I don’t think you can use it from the US, where I am. I was hoping to hear a bit of Didonato in Alcina also, and luckily someone has posted all of Alcina’s music on youtube.


  7. @mj: thanks for pointing this out. Has anyone else among the US readers experienced similar problems?

    I’m sorry that the site is apparently blocked for some regions. So far, I haven’t heard about problems in the EU and GB, so at least it seems to work partly also beyond French borders.

    As for the Curtis “Alcina”, all of DiDonato’s arias and most of the other female arias (notably, Beaumont’s and Prina’s) can indeed be found at Crindoro’s channel.
    Thanks for the hint, mj!


  8. If you are having problems getting MusicMe or Spotify I did stumble over this… seems to work if you are in US but not sure…

    I guess the problem is the business model for all these things is evolving, so I have noticed for example that some stuff that was on Spotify has now disappeared. Course what would be better altogether would be if the classical music publishers wised up and realised they could halt their ‘sales in free fall’ problems but just cutting the ridiculous CD prices…

    PS The DiDonato Alcina is on Last FM…


  9. BTW Anik noticed today that even OperaChic is blanching a little at the DG femme-inisation of Garanca for the Capuleti CD. As several commentators on her post note, it’s clearly aimed at the het male market, and as one noted it sits rather oddly on EG who ‘in real life’ (ie on stage!) cuts a pretty damn fine figure of a man…


  10. The way Garanča is marketed really gives me pause. Geschwitz’s Lorgnette entry in the works… – will include the documentary.

    I read OperaChic’s entry and couldn’t agree more with her assessment that the “two pearls from one oyster” phrasing is kind of gross. Really, what het market are they aiming at? Do they try to mainstream Garanča the way they did (most successfully!) with Netrebko? I don’t see that working out…

    PS. Purity: “real life = on stage” *LOL* there goes the next fridge magnet…


  11. Ah the Lorgnette, how I have missed the Countess and her sharp eye (wear)… Looking forward to it 🙂

    Hmm, Vita most interesting point re. Netrebko… I did contemplate going but in the end preferred to direct the cash towards the Zurich Agrippina trip. Funnily enough when I have watched the 2 of them together she always seems more at ease than EG. On the upside EG does seem to be making an effort to look after her voice and it may be that she really comes in to her own when she is older. I remember suddenly ‘taking’ to Barbara Bonney’s voice as she got older, likewise Mijanovic just seems to get better and better every year (but then an alto voice really does need a little ‘weight of life experience’ behind it). Hmm, speaking of which, time for a little ‘Alma Mia’ before bed, and then of course it would be rude to ignore Ms DiDonato. What the hell, lets have the whole album.


  12. @Purity: Floridante for a nightcap, an excellent idea! – Actually, that is one other recording cover I could never quite accept. Is it aimed at gay male Baroque lovers and they tried to cover the fact that David Daniels was unavailable? – It would have been a chance for a Mijanovic/DiDonato cover. *sigh* Opportunity missed, big time!


  13. Now that I would have bought on CD, and the actual cover is why I just downloaded instead… I like your version a lot more 😉 But then anything to keep the thought of the Farrah flick they inflicted on Ms DiDonato recently! God good I wish they would stop letting refugees from the wardrobe dept. of The Golden Girls dress mezzos. About time they hired someone who knew what the hell to do with a lady with a deep voice and a slightly broader shoulder. Guys please, get a dyke to do a dyke’s job.

    Oh no. And I only just managed to stop myself playing Fantasy Music Festivals, now I am playing Fantasy CD Covers. “Ms Ernman if you could just lean a little further in to Ms Coote, thank you. Yes you are right, that white vest does help accentuate your deltoids. Ms Coote, could you just look into Ms Ernman’s eyes. Ms Coote? Ms Coote! I think you will find her eyes are a little higher up…”


  14. Awesome find (as usual), Anik! I hadn’t known about MusicMe before. And now I have one more excuse to go surfing around the net rather than keeping my head down and doing some serious writing. Thanks! 😉

    And wonderfully thoughtfully put (as always) comment on Frau Garanca’s singing, too, Purity. I’d love to be crazy about her, but she is just too perfect and aloof for me at the moment (though I do find some of her youtube clips surprisingly engaging… there is one with her singing Rosina’s aria that’s positively playful. Maybe she’ll relax a bit when she gets older, ay? I’ll keep listening for that ;)).

    Btw, I hope the recording labels aren’t turning the singers off so much with their marketing ploys. 😦 I think VK has said in a few recent interviews that she doesn’t enjoy not being able to recognize herself on her CD covers much and that she’s distancing herself from recording a bit (that last one made me moan. I won’t get to see her live much so CDs are my life line!).


  15. @Smorg: what if we suggest to VK that all future cover photos of hopefully many more albums will spring from your vast collection of very recognizable images?
    Also, there might be some shirt photos in stock in Santiago, depending on the temperatures. 😉

    Garanča on stage is a completely different thing than Garanča on a CD cover – with the press they are heaping on her she must be under an enormous pressure, not really an easy situation to let go a little! But there are glimpses (note to self: go watch that Rosina video), and I’m looking forward to her voice and attitude in five or ten years (that should put her safely out of the girly marketing zone!)


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