White Shirt Monday: Time To Update The Manual


[Sometimes putting on a shirt is even more appealing than taking it off: an addition to White Shirt 101. – Myrtò Papatanasiu (Sifare) in Mozart’s “Mitridate”, Paris 2016.]

Dear reader, if you are doubting whether you are a queer lady, just watch the following three clips. If you are still calmly sipping your tea by the end of it and admire the interior design, you’re off the hook. If you find yourself on the floor, however, with fried brain cells and in need of medical assistance: welcome home.

[We really need to update the White Shirt Manual to include this aria (as well as the following two): “Soffre il mio con pace” (even as all of us may be in risk of cardiac arrest). An Introduction to the Art of White Shirt Donning, Singing an Acting as offered by Myrtò Papatanasiu (Sifare) in Mozart’s “Mitridate”, Paris 2016.- Clip with thanks to thadieu – of course, if you have three hours spare (and even if you don’t), watch the entire thing on the Magic Channel (if you don’t have a link to that, we’ll send you one off-blog)]

[This, too, needs to be added to the White Shirt 101 Manual because sometimes, the White Shirt energy hinges on a soprano in a skirt.  As thadieu put it: We may need to give Petibon an award for her impeccable grasp of things. Case in question: “Al destin, che la minaccia”, courtesy of Patricia Petibon (Aspasia) in Mozart’s “Mitridate”, Paris 2016.- Clip with thanks to thadieu]

[And a third addition for the Eternal Hall of White Shirt Fame: “Lungi da te” – sung by Myrtò Papatanasiu (Sifare), very much acted by both her and Patricia Petibon (Aspasia), in Mozart’s “Mitridate”, Paris 2016.- Clip with thanks to thadieu]

For today’s White Shirt Monday, I thought about talking about another production again (I will, eventually), but my heart’s not in it, not yet.

When new White Shirt aficionadas stumble across the threshold into our little corner of the world, we usually give them the following list of mandatory viewing experiences:

Kasarova’s Sesto for Salzburg
Kasarova’s Orphée for Munich
Connolly’s Cesare for Glyndebourne,
Rosenkavalier from Jurinac to Fassbaender to von Otter.

I am adding now adding the Paris Mitridate to that list, and Papatanasiu’s Sifare to the pantheon, even though she is not a mezzo.

In the last few days, I have done a lot of talking and thinking regarding this production – some of it in this blog’s comments – in regards to (physical) detail work and how that echoes through the performance and its reception, and how it influences our connecting to this staging.

One aspect that stands out more to me in rewatching is the use of multiple people on stage at all times. It’s a standard that often annoys me in postmodern theatre because it is meant to kill intimacy, to purposefully keep audiences from connecting, a late capitalist ironization of everything that devalues deeper engagement  as unflexible, immobile and, ultimately, uneconomic.

That is not the case here. When done well, the absence of characters alone on a stage prevents the 4th-wall larmoyance of a character reminiscing towards an audience. Instead, it results in all words, even those spoken as asides, being directed at someone, in reaction to someone: the characters are always being seen, being heard in a very practical framing that renders them into situations of communication (within diegesis).

Does it takes away from the intimacy? At times, but not necessarily, particularly not within this staging: while no one is ever ‘alone’, having more people as more perspectives onstage also creates chances of connection, and in that, intimacy. Upon rewatching (copiously), I find it to be tied-in here, and not self-serving as “look how edgy we are, pah, commitment to emotion is for losers”.

Instead, it can validate affect, and emotion, too: Just take the “Lungi da te” as a sample and see what Petibon’s presence does as a frame to the aria.

Petibon, who apparently has been in every “Mitridate” under the sun in the past decade (even in a take by Bösch who just tanked “Alcina” in Geneva), is, to me, at her most convincing here because she does so much through looking.

Aspasia sends Sifare away, but she listens. Her presence validates his pain, and even after she leaves, bound by duty, even after he thinks himself alone, she listens from the shadows.

Then she disappears for the viewer, too, who can catch onto Sifare’s despair, in trying to find her once more, just for another exchange of looks, and finding himself alone.

And then there is the final moment, when he walks away heartbroken and in the last seconds, we (not Sifare) see Aspasia, equally heartbroken, emerge from the shadows once more, to watch him walk away. It results in a framing that says: I have heard you. I have listened to you.

It is another tiny moment with a big impact for me.

I know that this production was not designed for a queer gaze, but it resonates with many queer-specific experiences. Wanting to be listened to and the importance of having one’s voice heard and appreciated is not an exclusively queer thing; it is important for everyone.

Yet there is a stronger chord resounding here from my queer perspective: how often are we – especially as queer women – mislabeled, ignored and made invisible through assumptions? So much that “being listened to” gains another kind of urgency?

If you think me overly dramatic here, remember the last time someone mistook a partner of yours for a sister (or a mother), the last time someone called your asking for representation “demanding special treatment”, the last time someone told you in puzzled surprise they’d never have pegged you for queer (usually after they ask you to bring your boyfriend to the office party and you have had to correct them an bear with their discomfort), the last time someone classified your interest in a woman as the trademark “just being gal pals”.

Being listened to, being validated, is a framing that – especially when it comes to relating desire and heartbreak – queer viewers will strongly respond to, and I am grateful to have gotten a chance to be reminded of it through this “Mitridate”.

63 thoughts on “White Shirt Monday: Time To Update The Manual”

  1. So so happy I saw the mandatory viewing of Kasarova’s Orphée in Munich live – and that was the day I completely fell in love with opera 🙂


  2. may i contribute one final cap to wrap up the journey (it has been an interesting one, i was quite unprepared to be so distracted by it like this..). As we have discussed previously and with your recent reply re. “how Sifare has trouble to distance himself from his father” as well as the way this staging ended.. I’d like to hold on to this look as a way to see how Sifare is reciprocating Aspasia’s prior to everyone packing their bags and going home.


    1. these (Mozart) opera seria young men always have trouble separating themselves from their father figures but amusingly enough, the audience has no such issue.


  3. Thanks for „the manual“ and the recommendations, I will certainly catch up on Kasarova’s Sesto and Orpheo, soon!

    „Multiple people on stage at all times“. This also puzzled me at first, but I agree that it does not take away the intimacy here and sometimes adds credibility i.e. in Ismenes’s first aria, when she pours out her heart to her friend/servant. Also, it helps to maintain the connection to the frame story of the spontaneous theatre performance throughout the evening.

    „I know that this production was not designed for a queer gaze…“
    Maybe not explicitly, but I think that the director is conscious of the queer component here and uses it deliberately because he assumes a considerable proportion of his audience to respond to this. My impression is that queer characters have become very common in TV and movies, suggesting that this goes down well, even with mainstream audiences.
    Now, this seems to be in line with recently published, controversial studies (you probably know these already), showing that a considerable amount of straight-identified women is attracted by both men and women, as measured by pupil dilation, while, interestingly, lesbian-identified women were on average more clearly attracted to their preferred sex.
    Now, these studies certainly have weak points and leave much room for discussion but methodologically they seem to be relatively sound, as far as I can see.
    I may be speaking from my own perspective of someone placing herself somewhere in the middle of the Kinsey scale, but I wouldn’t be surprised if, in case of the Paris Mitridate, a considerable proportion of a presumably mostly straight-identified audience would feel attracted to the way Sifare’s and Aspasia’s love story is staged here.


    1. Thanks, Agathe – yet more food for thought. Sorry it took a while to show. If there is more than one link in a comment, it is held for moderation and I only get to login now (after making it through my presentation).
      In my teaching experience, but also my personal experience, I see a shift towards more flexible patterns of identification. Visible representation is, I think, both cause and effect here. Theatre is a different medium because it has a less illusionist approach (that would be my takedown it), and there is an established history of cross-gender casting, so the chance at an evening like this one may be bigger than in film, but I still find it exceptional, and I think it shows in our lasting engagement with this production.


      1. i didn’t know until you mentioned 😉 . guess what’s on repeat? i noticed salt and pepper! hope you slide prep + presentation went very well.. here it’s still in the work..


  4. the screen cap for this post is great, gets me grinning everytime, truly bringing the fun into music. i kept having to frantically kill the whole browser everytime i have a meeting since there’re 5 or so tabs on with various very large (and lovely) caps occupying the whole screen (no, i’m still not changing music yet.. tried several times..)


    1. I always have fun imagining you surrounded by second monitor clips and screencaps while preparing your slides. Actually why change the music already? This evening I will have some time and plan to watch the whole thing from beginning to end again. Oh, and I also digged out the Aix Alcina in the meantime and have to say Petibon is also very good here, while the production…, well it certainly won’t win the subtlety award.


      1. nicely put.
        In a way, I continue to be mad because the idea – intimacy as an addiction, and trying to find connection via a physical level – does make sense, more so for an “Alcina”, but I found the evening fell short if its own concept.
        (I am typing this at the office, while GUESS WHAT is running in the next window. Non so resistere!)


      1. may i try to see if this works.. this is how the day starts in my head… (actually it starts with S.Mingardo’s “Voglio di vita uscir” to get the mindset on the right track, then onto business…)
        (please feel free to delete 🙂 . if it doesn’t work i might start posting gif on my blog for the first time ever…)


        1. WordPress has some limits when it comes to embedding things – perhaps that’s it? All I managed was to make the link visible, but not the gif.
          I would hang this next to my pull-up bar, if I could! 😉


          1. i have been getting up and running by putting it on my site, has been quite entertaining on this side of the Atlantic..
            (right, the pull up bar! am gonna try to assemble one together per this instruction and hang that shirt to remove wrinkles (as you might have suggested?) ;-))


            1. Some shirts are meant to proudly bear their wrinkles (and I swear I wrote most of that chapter *before* having ever seen this “Mitridate”)! 😉

              I’m working on a longer reply to your wonderful essay and am thinking that I might have to turn some of our discussions into posts because there is so much interesting discussion going on that most readers will miss (apropos, I’ve had unusual hits from France and Greece this past week. Perhaps the mainstream fanbases of the “Mitridate” leads have taken note of our recent focus? – Peace, everyone!). Screw my seminar prep, I need to think some more about this.

              (also, that pull-up bar is not kidding around. …Thousands? =:-O ??)


            2. oh how cool! i can’t wait! and will be reading them on your side of Atlantic next week! (i agree, i got lost a little bit in some of our wonderful discussions because the info were all scattered… and then i got totally distracted by the caps.. yay to the mainstream fans! even my former hausmate greatly enjoying it and was sharing that shirt aria! while her husband is now a follower of E.Haïm–he also became a fan of N.Stuzmann after my many posts!)
              (ps- thousands? you mean $$ ? or pull-ups? i can do 1.5 , but need to practice more to be able to carry a shirt with such style 😉 )
              (ps2- agree, the wrinkles are there to stay! didn’t Eyes once write a post about the journey of a white shirt? in all cases it can use a bit of hanging high and proud 😉 )


      2. ps- i don’t think it works.. so i put it up now on mine 😀 . but would like to come back here to write more re. how much this production has now finally gotten to me.. i guess due to that conference i was 1 week behind in absorbing compared to you and after all the initial WS effects I have been spending more thinking time (while working..) pondering why it works “out of the box” for me. (sorry, this might turn out to be a full essay length, hope you don’t mind Anik, i could have put it up on my blog but thought it belongs here.)

        I would say I’m not really thinking too deep generally while working and casually glancing and listening. The last time i was very much invested emotionally was VK’s Romeo in Munich. It’s difficult to explain but i don’t think anyone could feel from that capuleti broadcast what I felt in the theater. As for this production, now that I’ve pretty much memorized the whole piece, i thought it was the right time to investigate other productions. In a way i think it’s important to see how others are done as it helps sometimes to explain why certain things work and others don’t for oneself. I was very open minded to check out the Salzburg 2006 again, and this time, i got angry. That didn’t take too long to figure out why, and i can elaborate further if needed. What works immediately for me was that production from London with Luba Orgosanova and A.Murray! And for that I think i figured out why this Paris 2006 worked right out of the box for me: vocal acting! The Paris production is superior to London’s in the staging, and that definitely drew me in right from the start (though i really love Aspasia + Sifare subtle acting in London too, regardless of their clothings). But staging/acting (or lacktherof) alone often don’t get me far regardless of how great / WS-related-great it is (I can explain on another day why i lost interest in the Liceu’s L’incoronazione di Poppea..) . In other words if the singing is not descriptive enough to carry me along / across it can get quite tiresome (esp. when pouting starts to take place like that CT in the London production).

        The fact that I knew *nothing* about this opera, and that there wasn’t any compelling reasons at the start (no particular singers am obsessive with 😉 ) besides E.Haïm and her orchestra for me to explore, to go from there to re-watching 3 consecutive times in the same evening (while thinking you need to watch it too!) and to be able to follow and identify strongly with Sifare’s emotion.. and feeling compelled to explore more.. So, to sort things out in my brain then, it’s Papatanasiu’s ability to vocally and theatrically act, P.Petibon’s strong presence and acting skills and interaction with Papatanasiu, and E.Haïm’s descriptive music making, in combination, were/are the difference between staying/leaving. And finally credit to the stage director for creating deep characters whose feelings we get to see progressing (via superb looks of P.Petibon or body movement of Sifare and others, the “psychological” control Mitridate has over Sifare and Farnace, etc.). This is in contrast with the Salzburg’s where I thought it was too gimmick/cliche (bratty brother, female victims, opressive male character, 1-d Sifare, and alarmingly lack of vocal acting according to my brain..). Of course it’s simple to name all of these but to have them all happening “spontaneously”, as you have elaborated in your previous discussion, requires huge levels of preparations, training, improvisation skills, and on top of all that, amazing ability to do vocal acting. I did finally watch that clip Agathe posted of the rehearsal with the stage director, and now have even a better idea how much of a contrast between how they schematically drew things out vs the improvisation by both Papatanasiu and Petibon onstage. (what I mean by improvisation is like with VK, i think if we have seen this production 3x, i anticipate we would still be able to identify with the characters because they’re responding to each other dynamically instead of identically.)

        So, to wrap it up then :-), perhaps I take it for granted how much I should be able to identify with the WS quality that i don’t emphasize so much this aspect compared to your lovely more detailed posts. But perhaps I take it as a basis to even get started (hence my lack of interest for Verdi??) .. i can not tell if i simply checked out of last year Alcina because of the CT but to some degrees i would like to say i don’t think so, simply because i’m always listening first.. anyhow, sorry for the super long winded comment 🙂 . i now resume the shirt aria while trying to add 2 more slides.. (btw, this long comment is here because i’m a bit pissed that i must travel again soon and will be interupted again.. but for more WS experience i hope!!)


        1. Thank you for your essay! This is wonderful, and this is why we are here in the first place, aren’t we? 🙂
          Safe travels and successful conferencing to you, and back to more WS-ing soon! (I am not yet through with Mitridate. Not by a long shot. I keep discovering new details every time.)

          I just wrote a lengthy comment in reply to inkbrain over here where I thought about how our approaches influence our viewing experiences, and I am struck again by it here. We both are deeply moved by this “Mitridate”, yet you arrived at this point through the “vocal acting”, on a primarily emotional level, while I keep trying to justify my very emotional reaction as meditated by my production side experiences and my academic approach. And then we both end up looking at that shirt and our brains take a collective vacation. I love it.

          Sometimes, I wish I could go back to falling into new operas like I did before I had to analyze them, or before I started working in opera: unmeditated. I don’t get that any longer, but it is so powerful, and I get to see that every time you describe your paths and I thank you for letting me experience it again, in a way, through it.

          The Salzburg 2006 is a good point because I saw it at the time, and I enjoyed it. I can still look at the – more distanced, more ironic – staging and see it as valid. There is beautiful singing (Persson probably sings more flawlessly in looking at sheer sound, but Papatanasiu’s portrayal (“vocal acting”, to use your term) is so much stronger and involved, which may partly also be stage experience, and experience with this role), but if I put it next to the Paris production, it does not hold a candle to it.
          I do not want to devalue the 2006 one. It has its merits, and it has committed performances, and a good concept. I do not want to talk it down. (That is the analyst approach. I want to respect the work that went into it.)
          But if I look at how I connect with these productions? It reminds me of being attracted to a male classmate at age 12 and thinking “aha, this is nice.” (he did awfully look like a girl, come to think of it). That would be Salzburg 2006. And then I recall falling for a woman (who happened to be a singer, ironically) at age 17 or 18, at first sight, as if struck by lightning – it was Dante and Beatrice and incipit vita nuova – and thinking “OH. I had no idea. I had NO IDEA that THIS could exist. I am flying!” That would be Paris 2016.
          To stay with my memory analogy: does that singer at age 17 make the poor classmate from way back then at age 12 any less valid? No. I am not judging objective value. I am measuring my personal, emotional (also intellectual – if I compare Salzburg to Paris, I am most struck with how layered Paris is, which you also pointed out, and how it dares to take everyone seriously, which is a rare treat in seria staging overall) reaction. Some of Paris is, objectively speaking, better and more complex craftswork. But that is still on another plane than my gut-level reaction to it.
          And here we arrive, from different perspectives, at very similar points that strike us: “vocal acting” – the embodiment of a set of rhetorics that manages to resonate with us, incredibly strongly – and, because you just coined a perfect analytical phrase there, in singers reacting dynamically instead of identically within the energy of a single performance (that “turning a set of learned techniques into instinct-level responses”).

          I am at the point in my rewatches where I purposefully look away from the featured people (insofar as camera perspective allows it), or the singers who are having an aria at that moment, and the background action is SO rewarding. E.g. after The Shirt Aria, you have the slightly wired Sifare dancing on the table and jumping off and being all giddy and wanting to head back to Aspasia and Arbate has to drag him off – but they are not offstage, they sit down on the chairs and keep arguing. Papatanasiu gets a drink of water, I think, but then the next bit is Farnace threatining Aspasia, and the senior lady (I cannot sort the names of the extra acting staff, sorry) immediately hurries to Sifare – as if she knows that he will help Aspasia. Perhaps she is Aspasia’s lady-in-waiting, anyway, come to think of it? – to likely say something along the lines of “Aspasia needs help”. Look how Sifare gets up and rushes in, how he shoves his – disabled – brother away and is ready to start a boxing match (although for God’s sake, Sifare, mind your *cover* there!). And then look at their actions throughout Arbate’s aria: Arbate announces Mitridate’s return, and Aspasia and her maid (if she is that) dash to the side in despair. Aspasia and Sifare exchange a long look, then he is brooding, but look at how Aspasia keeps looking at him: she cannot say anything, but – and especially while he does not look – she gazes at him as if he as hung the moon. And we’re back to the “I’m listening to you/I’m seeing you”, that we later see again during “Lungi da te”. There’s so much important character-building detail work going on during the arias of other people! At this point, I’d likely watch anything Hervieu-Léger directs to see whether he has a consistent record of such details or whether it was this specific set of singers and this specific conductor bringing it out to this extent.
          I continue to be floored by Haïm’s graps of phrasing arcs – and, yes, to dramatic effect, but not as dramatic effect per se: it is always tied back to *telling* something. I was drawn to that in her Handel “Trionfo”, but I could not really articulate it back then.


      3. I’m on a self-imposed resistance to write any more comment so as to finish the darn slides today.. but rest assured i have more to write, because as you mentioned, there are simply more things to notice at every re-watch! (yes, i brought my full-on Sifare (and Aspasia) obsession to this side of the Atlantic.. and woke up today having the duet playing in head–as it has been the last 2 days.. so finally put it up on tube too as i was simply too distracted with the mind-boggling amazing acting/hand coordinations+phrasing+support from E.Haïm!)


        1. …oh, I know what I will link for Extra White Shirt Monday! 🙂

          (you’re not passing through here by chance, are you? We have to coordinate travels for next seaon (E.H. & PP were here in autumn, I hope they returns…)!)

          Liked by 1 person

          1. no, i’m heading to a Nordic country instead.. but i’m keeping in mind now 27/apr pending proposal deadlines.. (they keep popping up because, as you know, we keep having to write more and more grants..) but otherwise i’d like very much to check out mozart (now that i get a good hang of it 🙂 ), and would be really looking forward to benefit more from our potential new discussions given how much i’ve learned these past couple of weeks!
            (ps- yes, the more i listen the more am convinced i need to listen to PP more! esp. if she’s flanked by EM and her orchestra! i’m very keen to (man, must be the british influence, the vocab..) re-listen again to her Ginevra from 2 summers ago in Aix.


  5. Oh, more interesting reading here and your posts made me wonder on my own approach to opera which is, I think a quite intuitive one, similarly to yours, thadieu. „Vocal acting“ is a nice term here. It may be banal, but crucial for me to really connect to a performance is to actually be able to see the singers’ expressions which is often not the case when you are on the cheaper seats of a life performance. I clearly remember the revelation of discovering ROH’s cheap day tickets, providing a view very much from the side, but incredibly close to the stage.
    Anyway, while my approach may be an emotional one, I all the more profit from the expert blogs and comments on this site, often articulating what I have felt myself with regard to an production (and particularly this one) but couldn’t quite put my finger on.
    That said, having been through another re-watch yesterday and sensing you haven’t lost interest in this production yet as well, I would be very interested in your views on the couple Ismene/Farnace. Both characters are very well cast, I think, and have their share in the overall success of the evening. It really struck me yesterday what a cool character Ismene actually is, how she deals with her misfortune with her head held high and I remember you, Anik, describing her as ‘refusing to be victimized’ a while ago. Look, how in ‘So quanto a te dispiace’ (her aria after the break), she easily controls both Mitridate and Farnace and how cool to see Farnace, who is used to torment others is boling over with anger at her triumph here. Nevertheless, I also sense a strong chemistry between these two in this moment, bringing us back to the other discussion on „toxic masculinity“. Maybe this is part of the attraction for Ismene?


    1. Being able to see the singers’ micro-expressions (distorted as they may be as times through their singing) in these “opera in HD” formats is changing the perception of opera. I am not sure it is all good (do we lose connection to the music as the prime transmitter of emotion that way, or does it simply intensify or open a new channel and make the situation more polyvalent?), but I think it marks a shift. I heard a paper a while ago on the Lepage MET Ring cycle stating that it was not directed for the cinema audience, calculting with close-ups, and not for the theatre audience who were lost in the sets.

      I jsut wrote a loooong reply to inkbrain and cited your post – about approach to oepra being emotional, and referring to “expert blogs” – and I want to reiterate that I really reject a hierarchy of viewing experiences when it comes to opera. I don’t think you necessarily implied that there is one, but it made me think about it. Viewing experienes are always valid, one’s emotional connection is always valid, no matter how ‘learned’ thinks can be.
      I know that I throw around a lot of theory, simply because this is often linked to what I do professionally, but I never, ever mean to imply that my opinion is worth more because I may, by occupational hazard, be more aware of some of the historical contexts. I myself keep learning, and I keep learning a lot from all of your descriptions and comments. Please keep them coming.

      And Ismene/Farnace: Thank you for pointing that out – just yesterday I stopped and rewound the moment where Ismene first appears and had to think about how she is not intimidated by Farnace. Shocked and saddened: yes. But she clealry is used to calling the shots and refuses to think of herself in any other way. Devieilhe is also very good at that “defiant stance” when it comes to physical detail. He threatens her, and Dumaux plays it nicely aware of past attraction mingling with present rage, as if they are sides of one and the same medal, and she leans back, but she does not cower.
      She loves him, but that does not mean she will let him push her around: Her first aria is about exploring ehr own emotional landscape, much more internal (and an intimate dialog with her stage companion), it is not hapless flailing about being upended by a bad bay. It’s “I’m looking at it and dealing with it, and it hurts, but I am still standing”.
      although that first bit – where she walks in and he walks in and she searches his gaze and he looks away, annoyed – and she cannot fathom why he would not look at her, and there is a moment where she touches her own face, as if to reassure herself, incredulously, that, yes, this is still her face, that same face he loved, so why does he not look back at her? It is so open, so willing to be vulnerable, and yet it is “Love is strength” vs “love is weakness”, and she clearly is on the strength side of things (also, I just want to give her a hug in that moment).
      Perhaps Farnace – Dumaux makes him very complex, I think, lots of gray aras, dealing with abuse in negotioating abuse strategies – would be toxic, but Ismene is nicely diffusing him at all stops?


  6. …and I want to add I am aware that my last sentence may be regarded highly problematic, but I have the feeling that she would be strong enough to just forget him if she wanted to, and at the same time she is strong enough to play his game without being victimized, so they may be equal partners here.


    1. Point taken, and I think you describe it very well here: This Ismene would leave if she wanted to, and she does not see herself at an imbalance. And self-perception is so important when it comes to relationship balance! (but you you would know far more about that, professionally).


      1. Oh, don’t expect too much of my professional opinion, I am not a psychoanalyst (behavioural therapy usually works better with children) and have the feeling, you and some of the other bloggers here know much more about depth psychology than I do, so I may also regard my frequent visits to this site as further training 🙂


  7. reporting that i’ve just gotten my hand on the radio broadcast of that “take by Bösch” with A.Bonitatibus as Sifare + PP as Sifare in Munich.. currently listening.. i can put up when done saving.. and i read a review over at opera-cake that it was a brilliant production. The biggest difference i hear is the orchestra..


    1. Of course I would love to compare the broadcast!

      Bösch has done several productions for Munich (he will be back next year for Meistersinger, I think), and from what I have seen (and he is a young, white guy with a lot of prestigious jobs under his belt – Frankfurt as a regie place is interesting, Munich and partcularly the Burg are big players), he usually delivers more engaging work than the recent Geneva “Alcina”.
      Munich, when it comes to Baroque opera, has been schooled by a lot of Alden in the late 1990s/early 20002: smart concepts in garish colors, relying heavily on the character/metaphor double take. In some ways, Bösch is, to my eyes, related to such an aesthetic: a trademark angry and stark bleakness, which at times (I imagine this might work well for “Mitridate”) cuts to the heart of the matter, but runs out of steam when there is no outward drama to be head, no chance to vent and rally. I don’t know how his Munich “Orfeo” turned out – at times, directors (and I said it about Konwitschny before) have approaches that work well with certain periods, but not with others, e.g. I don’t find Konwitschny’s work with pre-1800 operas as brilliant as those stemming from a later contexts. Then again, Bösch is primarily educated as a theatre, not as an opera director and he shows influences of the German-speaking staging traditions of the past decade or two.
      Personally, I find his overall approach none too subtle, and as I grow older, I find that in general, I appreciate bold ideas more when they are spoken with quiet confidence instead of being declared with a missionary impulse. I am hesitant to apply that to Bösch’s work overall, I would like to see more of it, first. But I know that this is the case for the “Alcina” (which, again, does not seem to be the most representative of his statings).


      1. more reporting that i’ll never be able to hear “Al destin, che la minaccia” the same.. but a quick note on the two takes: in Paris it’s an “explosion” of sound (spring blooming at fast speed, blossoming of sound) followed by even a “cheerful” Aspasia so the tone of the aria is soo different than in Munich where you can sense somberness in Aspasia’s mood. Even the intro orchestral music to “Soffre il mio cor con pace” is different: Paris is like a drumroll ( 🙂 ) whereas in Munich is “very determined” (and i can *never* hear this aria the same way either!! table, dancing, tucking, (un)buttoning…). In a way I think the Paris’s mood is not simply because they ‘re getting into the characters. Even the “reading the libretto side-by-side” event, one can really view it as that’s how Sifare and Aspasia have been “hanging out” since her arrival.


        1. yes, the Munich take is much bleaker (fits with the starker staging), there is no genuine happiness next to the suffering, it is always already thwarted. In Paris, you get the overboarding energy of young love and and the confidence that comes with being able to feel that, and an impression of actual happiness before it is then subdued by circumstance.
          Al destin is a coloratura warhorse, it is exposed, it is a showpiece – so what do you do with it, within the narrative? And I find the Paris take very elegant: use it as a lead-in, but also as a joyous celebration what this music can do, what these voices can do, and at the same, let it grow into a display of being confidently in love, with the music, with someone…


          1. jeah, i really love the uplifting mood in the first 2 arias in Paris. As you said, why not given that they didn’t know Mitridate would come back and there’s love filling the air . What i also love is the bit of “Aspasia is a very difficult role to sing” never really a part, but PP made it (on sooo many levels 🙂 ) such that a newbie like me was drawn in right from the start (actually it’s also E.Haïm, i remembered my first listen, as soon as that orchestra blossomed on the opening music line (of the aria), i turned right around all ears open!)


    1. at least the channel is still up!

      Perhaos they removed it out of caution or got alerted? If there is so much watchdog attention around it at the moment, might it mean that there is a DVD upcoming?

      You are right, of course, that clips MUST be available to the public, but a channel like yours that does not hold full vid livestreams might fly more under the radar?


      1. Our beloved Maneb has a new channel I saw, M8an6eb and he/she seems to be busy adding most of the stuff from the old channel here.
        On youtubing today I also found a really nice playlist of L’incoronazione di Poppea from Enescu Festival 2015 (Conolly & equally wonderful young soprano Louise Alder). Very likely you know it already but it’s not very old, so just in case you don’t:


        1. I didn’t – thank you, Agathe! (and thank you for the new channel name – it is wonderful to see them still going strong and not worn down by the deletions). Isn’t Alder part of the Frankfurt ensemble? Wasn’t she in the Rosenkavalier this season? (I am downloading as I type this)


          1. A pity that the sound quality is so bad in the beginning but it improves in later titles and their ‘Pur ti mio’ is really touching I think (also acting-wise, keyword ‘soprano flirtation’). I will try to go down to Frankfurt next season anyway and may have the opportunity to hear Alder but they haven’t released their program yet.
            ‘L’incoronazione’ is one of the early music operas I have never seen staged, so also thanks very much for announcing the Liceu Playlist in one of your earlier blogs, that one is also very good (no, I haven’t read all of your blogs, although I’d like to, just searched for L’incoronazione).


            1. Frankfurt, if I remember, is announcing next week – could be the 27th?

              The Liceu Incoronazione, is, I believe also up in a single file (Or it used to be – with how YT deletes these days, you never know!)

              Fingers crossed on Alder!


      2. camping in here to get my day started before launching into proposal writing. ahhh, such good memories. you could even update the Lungi link? we want to make sure our manual is up-to-date for newbies ;-).


          1. have a good night of rest! still distracted by screen caps here to the questions (of proposal): what do we want to do? why is it important? 😉
            (ja, i’m fine with it. it was up for a while already… even on MP’s official site 🙂 )
            (and while you’re at it tomorrow morning, perhaps hide the magic channel’s link?)


            1. Fair point about “Lungi”…
              The Magic Channel’s reiteration named above has already be closed down – there is only one current one named in the comments – but you’re right, I’ll go over it and edit a bit.


  8. going down this list here.. i think S.Connolly’s Cesare needs to be on our schedule for a joint drooling party! and i have *not* seen any of DerR you cited here! perhaps we can work that in? after the one from recent MET?


      1. Both would be good! For a short session in between we could watch the playlist I have made from Jovi’s Poppea clips, (ACA and SP in fencing suit :-)), it’s about 50 min or so.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I love how she loves her white shirt in the first clip. So affirming. 🙂

    (also, i’m glad this popped into our consciousness, thanks tha dieu to your miracle reader white shirt plug-in! I needed this little pick-me-up today. 🙂 )

    Liked by 2 people

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