[I would trade for cigarettes! – Regula Mühlemann (Isolier) in the Leiser&Caurier-for-Bartoli production of Rossini’s “Le Comte Ory”, orginially produced for Zurich, here in Vienna/Theater an der Wien 2013. – Photo Credit: Werner Kmetitsch/Theater an der Wien]
Yes, I know it’s Wednesday already (schedules continue to be crazy at the moment). Please take the
mezzo soprano in a uniform as a peace offering.
Regula Mühlemann (God, is it becoming a trend that I am writing about singers a decade my junior?!) was under contract in Luzern two seasons ago and seems to have gone to freelance in lightning speed, with appearances on the Salzburg festival roster in 2012. If she looks familiar, it’s possibly because you’ve seen the “Freischütz” movie version last year where she starred as Ännchen enxt to Juliane Banse’s Agathe.
In between Ännchen, Despina and Papagena, Mühlemann covers classic soubretta repertory – at the moment, she’s starring as Serpetta in the Neuenfels “Finta Giardiniera” in Berlin (Staatsoper). Still, White Shirt Laurels are in order, especially since it was her first trouser role (Mühlemann wrote about the experience – she was apparently a last minute replacement, joining the Vienna repirse a mere week before the opening – on her Facebook wall). Well done!
On another note, Bartoli seems to continue the trend of casting sopranos in the traditionally mezzo-cast roles when she takes on the leads – Isolier is usually a mezzo part (and we think of Joyce DiDonato in last year’s MET broadcast and thank your lucky stars for that!), Adèle was written for soprano (the famed Cinti-Damoreau).
Today, the Bartoli PR department issued a fan service email about the upcoming Norma recording on Decca with Bartoli in the lead. It’s something I am stoked about due to the ‘historically informed’ approach, the new look at reception aesthetics (I do love Callas, I do love Caballé/Horne, I swoon over Troyanos, but I always willing to make some extra space in my pantheon) and the early 19th century voices that the part of Norma was originally slated for. I did a double-take when I sae that Bartoli has picked seasoned belcanto soprano Sumi Jo (!), known for her very high tessitura, as soprano Adalgisa. That should be a very interesting timbre mix – a lower one for the seasoned Norma, two-time mother and two-timed partner, and a higher one for young Adalgisa in the middle of first love? It fits with current gender ideas that we tend to put on high vs. low female voices (not that these conventions are necessarily a good thing).
Mezzo Adèle going for soprano Isolier – in this case Bartoli and the Zurich cast of Isolier, soprano Rebeca Olvera – is illustrated quite nicely here (previously posted in the comments by Sofi Cente). Make sure to watch the last two minutes! Cold drinks will be over there at the bar.
PS. Soubretta Swagger should be the name of an operatic super heroine. She would obviously have a cape, boots, ridiculously high notes and a Marvel comic series dedicated to her. Now we just need a name for the mezzo counterpart…