Soprano Sunday: For Reasons

[Since thadieu bemoaned the lack of Petibon on our summer schedules: Here, have some sufficiently queer Bernstein meanwhile. – Patricia Petibon with “Glitter And Be Gay” from Bernstein’s “Candide”, Royan 2015.]

While I’m not too fond of the mic/subsequent sound distortion here, it’s still a good clip to see what someone *does* with a showpiece. “Glitter And Be Gay” is kind of my litmus test for intelligence in coloratura sopranos (the French tend to beat out everyone else).

It’s a high camp piece with a sentimental core  and it begs to have *something* done with it, other than show off stratospheric coloratura skills. The queerer (in a sense of ‘strange’, for once), the better!

(I actually play this for classes when we touch interpretation issues: usually Dessay vs. a somewhat more ‘sparkly box of chocolates’ approach.  – Next time, I might have to expand to Petibon in the plus column!)

23 thoughts on “Soprano Sunday: For Reasons”

  1. Nice find! She’s such a theatrical presence, and her comedy skills are on wonderful display here.

    I think I’ve watched/listened to her “Der Hölle Rache” YT video 50 times since someone posted it in the Mitridate Paris comments, and I still really love it. She goes SO BIG with her expressions, which is a little uncomfortable in close-ups, but very effective when on stage, emoting across the distance of an audience.


    1. Oh, that’s a very good point – and something much more prevalent with the rise of videostreams: the difference in acting for a large room, or for a camera (I think Ruiten touched upon that in an interview I came across a few days ago, saying that she has to make a choice between the camera and the back rows and that it is a conflict, also vocally). Personally, I will usually choose the non-mimetic theatre register but I realize that that’s also because it’s an occupational hazard.
      One good example of recent years is the MET because they cater towards video audiences expressively – sometimes at the cost of the in-house audience. E.g. the entire whooping Lepage “Ring” production actually only made sense in emotional cueing when watching the video. Without the close-ups, it was an impressive stage machinery and a lot of feeling lost (=there was no “big” cueing).


      1. Wasn’t that an issue with the Paris “Mitridate,” too? I recall someone mentioning that the reviews had found it boring. I imagine the audience missed a lot of the microexpressions that we were fortunate enough to catch (and then obsess over for months, whoops) because of the camera.


          1. I found the blocking to be clear and think it would have transported (Petibon and Dumaux particularly), even if the small scale expressions did not – and they are the additional icing on the cake. What confused me at first was the constant presence of more people. It took me a few rewatches to warm to that, but I think what keeps drawing me back to the evening is how well-crafted it is (one critic I saw last week while looking for Brussels reviews talked of poor personenregie and I thought “what have you been watching???”), but I did not see that at first glance.



      2. The side characters confused me at first, too, but once I got a feel for how they were being used – ex. Aspasia reacting to their presence at otherwise intimate moments w/Sifare, always aware of how she had to be on guard around observers – made it a VERY compelling choice.

        It actually threw me off in the Brussels staging that the people moving props around (sometimes in the middle of poignant moments, like when Aspasia is standing in the light after Sifare walks away right before Lungi) weren’t supposed to be “seen” the way they were in Paris. It felt like a waste of potential character moments.

        But like I said before, if I hadn’t seen Paris first, I wouldn’t have even questioned it. Paris was really something special.


  2. Superb. You might also want to add Kristin Chenoweth singing this to your collection. Although she is now a musical theater star she was trained in opera.


    1. oh, thank you for the tip! I’m searching for it now and might add it to my syllabus materials next time.


    2. THAT’S the comparison I was looking for! Petibon and Chenoweth appear to come from the same school of Big Expression acting (and comedic sensibilities). I’ll have to see her version out, too.


  3. This is excellent; she’s very lively and entertaining to watch, and really commands the attention. Her “Der Hölle Rache” is really really good as well – thanks to GrammarGeek for the tip! Actually, one of the reasons I became interested in opera was because singers don’t often get the opportunity to be so expressive in other types of music (at least not in terms of the “big emotions”), so it’s great to be able to see these.


    1. we all know how that movie would end, then, if Ilsa really left with Mitrilaszlo and and broke Sifare’s heart in the process!
      (perhaps that would be an angle for a Sifare “Diary”: The Coluratura Joint, noir-style).


        1. I guess that has been decided then. Not sure how quickly I will get, but I promise you “Belcantoblanca”.
          (perhaps after “Arbate’s X Files”, and definitely after the Long-a**-Lungi post, though)


        1. …you just said a mouthful!

          (oh, and lovely Monday over at your place – very appealing white shirt!!)


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