Mezzo. Soprano. Smirking.

nousivresses[this is how you smirk when you’re about to launch into perhaps the most effortlessly sensouos Barcarolle renditions (and your duet partner is Ann Hallenberg, re: smirking, too) of recent years. This is not the treacle of “best-of” programs with the overy voluptuous sound, this is a fragrant, mild Venetian night with a perfect curated glass of vocal champagne. – Ann Hallenberg (out of focus) and Sabine Devieilhe (definitely smirking) in the Marc Minkowski-conducted Offenbach concert at Philharmonie Cologne, Cologne, 2013.]

Need a pick-me-up for your Tuesday work afternoon? Get yourself a café au lait and fast forward to minute 23 (clips thanks to Die Verwandlung, and originally digitized by the incopmarable Oedipus).

There is no reason not to watch the whole thing, though. Hallenberg opens the evening with a flirtatious Belle Hélène, and the final trio from “Contes d’Hoffmann” with Hallenberg as Antonia’s mother had me think not for the first time about the spiritual authority that Hallenberg can project with her voice. Although i would probably also by any insurance she were trying to sell me in mere speaking voice.

(also, yes, the fly duett from Orphée aux Enfers, but what’s with the groping (disclosure: the groping involves a bass-baritone, so don’t get your hopes up)?!)

4 thoughts on “Mezzo. Soprano. Smirking.”

  1. What a wonderful treat! I love this opera because it makes me want to smile even when I know my eyes and ears are drinking in heroic does of darkness and decadence. Hallenberg is intoxicating. I think she could sing the alphabet song and make it sound rich and emotion-filled.
    Thank you for finding this gem and posting it. If this is champagne let’s drink the whole magnum!

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    1. I’m in, here’s my glass!
      Usually, I am very, VERY wary of ascribing anything to a singer beyond their public persona because that is none of my business, but once in a while there is a singer who tone works precisely because they project an authenticity that goes beyond that – think of Hunt-Lieberson, e.g. Hallenberg, to me, falls into that same category.

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  2. i recognize the intro music to this duet any time now! those cello lines + picolo! truly goosebumps inducing when it transitions into the 2nd half of “Belle nuit, ô, nuit d’amour” , the deep voice line is incredible! (or we can say it’s the mezzo who’s also incredible! 🙂 , and i stumbled here coz i thought that soprano looks a bit familiar..)
    ps- the buzzing of the baritone was fun too! and he does have a very nice voice too! (his name sounds so familiar i can’t figure out where i’ve heard him… HA! found it, he was Lorenzo in the Munich capuleti!)

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    1. …”6 degrees of operatic separation”? But probably six degrees is a little far-fetched, it would likely take ony 2 or 3!

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