The Tangled Coloratura Web(er) We Weave

S-Dev_RNDO216

[A timely reminder that tomorrow, ARTE airs the 44 minute cut of the Mozart/Weber Sisters program of Sabine Devieilhe with Ensemble Pygmalion and Raphaël Pichon. – Photo Credit: Molina Visuals/Warner, via Rondo]

There’s just five vocal pieces on the list, but among them is “Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio”, which is my favorite guilty pleasure concert aria. It means I will set up the napolitana for a double espresso, put up my feet and lean back in bliss while the music provides the cream and the sugar.

Also on the list: “Ah, se il crudo periglio” from Lucio Silla and I am really curious how Devieilhe’s approach on that one is – it’s a huge dramatic showpiece, but also narratively challenging.

There will be bedazzle aplenty, but what will she do with it in addition?

Looking forward to finding out tomorrow night.

64 thoughts on “The Tangled Coloratura Web(er) We Weave”

  1. It is geoblocked, arghhhh! So I missed the live performance even when that person flew across thousands of thousands of miles and was standing infront of me, no, sitting next to me cause she couldn’t sing, and now, I am to miss the online stream too? How unfair…😦
    Would there be a kind, kind soul that is able to save and dropbox it I hope?

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    1. I am sorry, Lang! Got it saved and will figure out a way to send it to you – White Shirts to the rescue😉

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  2. fitzfulke, thanks for the tip. My wishes must have been heard or something, today I CAN access it, thank heavens.🙂
    But yes please, all mighty White Shirts, please do rescue, and bestow on me the file to keep.

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  3. This really was a wonderful concert, especially ‘Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio’, but I also loved ‘Schon lacht der holde Frühling’. She is brilliant, both technically and with transport of emotions and she’s only 30!
    In this concert, the only part I didn’t quite buy was her Queen of the night, but that may only be because it directly followed her more lyrical pieces which suit her so well. Also it may be a bit unfair to compare with Damrau and Petibon’s versions. I thought at first it was only included because of its relation to the Weber sisters but saw that she is going to sing this role next season in Opéra National de Paris, that’s going to be interesting.

    This performance also reminded me again how much I enjoyed her Ismene in Paris. From the aspect of role characterization in Paris, she was extremely well cast and perfectly fitted the director’s approach to the character. She has this combination of emotional depth mixed with a certain spark that made her so convincing as woman who refuses to be pushed around. In Paris Ismene is an important character of her own, someone to feel and identify with, while in Brussels she really only plays a minor role of someone involved in the main story from the background. A pity I think, because musically I also enjoyed Šaturová’s performance in Brussels, despite her voice being so different from Devieilhe’s.

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    1. oh, I will have to look at the end of the Second Act and at the Third more closely then, because I arrived today at the opposite idea – that Ismene, with the clue given about Merkel, is the master player in the background: she wants Pontus at the mercy of the Union, so she maneuvers Mitridate, supports the contract with Greece and tries to nix the defiance against the contract (but she does not care about the romance, so perhaps that’s why she is asking Mitrifate for mercy? And also to look nice and understanding and sovereign herself?)… I think I have to look more closely at the end. Not sure where that leaves the love affair with Farnace – he is kind of torn, she might be likewise caught between calculating and actually liking him. To make her a power player fits the more mature voice (and I, too, truly enjoyed this interpretation).

      The Devieilhe concert! Yes, there is a lot of expression for being 30 (give me another fifteen years and I might rave about her .—- if my favorite ant colony has retired by them). I didn’t mind the Queen of the Night, but yes, the spring aria was an eye opener!! I liked it even more than the Silla I had looked forward to (which was good, of course, and with impeccable fioritura in the end), though in the Queen of the Night, I went “Daaaamn?!” when she managed the dynamic shading at the very top and drew the second time into piano. Wow.

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      1. Agreed, that piano was very impressive and she brought her very own strenghts into this piece here! Otherwise, I found the topmost notes a bit hurried but nearly everyone does that, well except Petibon and of course this was a life performance. But I meant more that I didn’t find her so convincing in that character (yet), maybe this is really just an age issue (hard to play a rancorous mother of a grown-up daughter at 30).
        I will also pay attention to the Brussels Ismene again, her being the master player does make sense, but still, Mozart had something different in mind with the music he wrote for her, no room for ‘calculation’ there in my opinion (unlike e.g. with Zerlina) but I’ll also have to hear and look more closely again. It’s just a very different focus (and I liked Ismene’s ‘love story ‘ with Farnace in Paris).

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        1. Yes, the puppet mistress plot for Ismene should be at odds with the music, unless the music is an act, too (and the belief that it is not is at the core of contemporary Mozart reception, I think) – or unless she is meant to be shown as conflicted between private emotion and political calculating? It would be interesting to hear Šaturová’s take on this. Paris was more easily readable (since the private and the political collapsed into one another on very Baroque fashion, as Fitz pointed out a while ago)… With Brussels, I feel like I am still missing a piece.

          (No, of course no musical/technical critique on the Queen of the Night – the other pieces simply seemed more suited to her. I’ve still got the Frühling one stuck in my head!

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          1. Well, I’m sure there will be more discussions on the second part following your planned posts and with several people now blogging about it we may still gain new insights🙂

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  4. Agree with you Agathe, I too enjoyed watching/listening to this concert very much, and my heart goes to “Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio”, her redetion is beautiful, and her piano, its beyond language, it feels like watching pure white snow melt in from of your in the morning sun. She’s got this amazing crystal clear voice that goes high and keeps silvery quality. Like yous, I am less than keen about her Queen of Night, to me it sounds a bit rushed and it leaves an impression it’s not perfectly sustained that’s why she’s rushing it, maybe it has to do with the weight of her voice? People are more used to sopranos with bigger/heavier voice to be that furious women…Yes I go for Sabine Devieilhe singing more lyrical roles and numbers, although she had done Queen of Night already, twice.

    In Hong Kong, since Sabine was not able to sing, they gave us the aria of ‘Schon lacht der holde Frühling’ in clarinet, which turned out to be a nice improvisation.

    On Paris Ismene, put it this way, I have listened to quite a few Mitridates and most Ismenes just worked as supporting, less significant role whereas this Paris Ismene, sung by Sabine, really made an impression, she made this role stand out.

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    1. beautiful review, Lang! And what an interesting idea to do the aria with clarinet instead!

      (PS. I will have to clean up Dropbox space tomorrow. Did you get my message?)

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    2. since we’re talking about “Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio”, just wanted to drop off something slightly related, PP’s take, and the fact that i’ve been listening to it for… the last 2.5 hrs i think, very therapeutic (should it be?) while trying to remain calm and patient debugging code…

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        1. yes, what i love is it’s not just singing “soft” or beautiful, which she can definitely do, but the moments she goes soft, loud, slow, fast, strong with energy, etc, all have their meanings in communicating, got me finally went looking up the translation of the aria🙂 . i also really like the orchestra, i think it’s the same one for her queen of the night aria?

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          1. Oh yes, it’s Daniel Harding, I might have to get the whole album after all. He seems to be extraordinary with his Mozart interpretations, I was so impressed with his Idomeneo at La Scala (well, that certainly also had to do with Bacelli/Tilling, but still). I love the way he seems to communicate with his singers, not just ‘leading’ but rather ‘creating something together’.

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          2. yes, that Idomeneo is amazing! — Although if I open that clip now, my conference paper will never be finished.

            (and PS @thadieu: hey, didn’t *someone* state in Paris that she wants to sing Elettra? I’d be curious to hear how that would work with Harding!)

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          3. oh? Elettra? from Idomeneo? is there an interview i missed? I think the only thing i know about that is Harteros with chopsticks coming out of her hair… I tried to watch the version (i think) with R.Jacobs (?) and Gaëlle Arquez where they seemed to be walking through some mine fields with shoes.. but didn’t quite get far.. and still clueless about the plot.. need a certain soprano😉

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          4. No, it’s the French one from this winter – will send you the link later with the mail, just to be sure.

            Idomeneo: Greek mezzo prince in love with Trojan princess. Greek princess also in love with the mezzo prince throws jealous fits. Matters complicated by prince’s father who promised to sacrifice him to the Gods. Tough tenor arias, swoontastic lyrical dueting, big-scale madness exit by Princess#2, happy end. That’s about it.

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          5. thanks! i got *quite* confused for a moment!! and realized why: last night i watched the first 2 acts of Les Troyens from Chatelet with ACA.. and the was the Trojan, the horse, some ref to Greece.. and brain just now criss-crossing which opera you’re talking about😀 .
            (ps- oh, French! you mean on paper? not spoken on radio or tube video? first thing entering my head was “Elektra” by Strauss.. too many operas with similar characters + names!)

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          6. Try the La Scala version instead! It has subtitles, and the story is not difficult to follow (although, well, ähm, very seria-like). Anik wrote a very funny post about it (liked the Star wars screencaps).
            However, I could imagine that Bacelli’s voice does not really fit your ‘preference-scheme’ but both Soprano roles are also brilliantly interpreted by C. Tilling (Ilia) and E. Bell (Electra).

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          7. oh thanks for the link, i’ll give it a try as my music for tonight! i do like M.Bacelli’s voice a lot!! (i couldn’t handel her characterization of Ruggiero in that terrrrrible Geneva’s Alcina.. but it’s not her fault, she was committed and that was a problem with that staging🙂 ). Ok, so i’ll have to backtrack… you know prior to this February i only knew La Clemenza di Tito in the seria series… , now attempting Lucio Silla + Idomeneo.. but at least Mitridate has been installed in brain free of virus..

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          8. Oh right, then you’ll surely enjoy it (and speculating about someone’s preferences is a stupid thing to do anyway, sorry for that). Have fun and I’ll be happily available for any discussions (meanwhile, I’ll continue with Capuletti).

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          9. now you both got me very curious… even though eyes are zipping close while still fighting code… may be after 1 more bug fixed i’ll sneak peek…

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          10. ok, i quit the bug… and got to 1.29… and saw *nothing* so i proceeded to 2.29, that’s about right😉 (and that must be Davislim! i remember him well from that Ariodante w/ VK in puppet show.. , and i really like the conducting!! ok, passing out now so will pick this up in 8 hrs..)

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          11. Steve Davislim? No, no, it’s 1:29, just wait a few secs and you should see ‘princess#1’ (Ilia) writing a love letter to her prince (Idamante), singing a glorious aria meanwhile; still their union has so far been prevented by Ilia having scruples concerning family honour (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?). When Idamante suddenly turns up, Ilia gets very confused (gosh, I love that part), the rest I think you’ll figure out while watching🙂 Actually I’m not sure if that scene works so well without knowing the prior storyline, but you got Anik’s summary…

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          12. Agathe’s description is much better. The letter aria is just about the best in swooning in the entire score, plus the duet afterwards (which is also the gayest thing, with the exception of the first Idamante aria, in which place we have likely all been at some point)

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      1. Just stumbled upon this (PP in 1994) (hope the syntax works) and couldn’t resist posting it. Also very fitting to our theme on the passing of time… Isn’t this just super cute, couldn’t stop grinning while watching this.

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        1. oh Go, that is absolutely adorable. Thank you, Agathe. (grinning, as well!)

          And clearly, even in her early/mid twenties, someone with absolute grasp on not just technique, but also on transmitting something beyond that.

          An it is comforting to know that nobody escaped the 90s poof dresses when put on a podium… (hey, thadieu, weren’t we talking about poofy ballgowns earlier today?)

          The first “early recordings” that were eye-openers for me were Dame Kiri’s, who was first trained as a mezzo (at the heyday of her fame, Decca isued a double album of early tracks), and it kind of brings us back to our recent discussion on what is the “right” voice, and when color can be seen as put on.

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        2. sooo cute!! and already with those eyes expressions! it’s a pity she’s not singing more Händel (or i’m too late to catch up..) . Just last night i dug out again that 2007 Ariodante with JDD , i think that’ll be my music for tonight.. With all the listening to sopranos lately I think i’ve found a good medium to avoid the potential headaches🙂

          (ps- on the subject on being expressive as already seen very early on, i hope you don’t mind me putting another clip here, this time of ACA. i stumbled on it also last night, she must also be probably in her twenties back in the 80s, and it seems at a competition. Again, i’m no voice expert, and judging by the comments they all appeared aghast how she can have a career.. and i on the complete opposite side i was more floored by the amount of details, it felt like someone went up and described to me the exact scene, phrase by phrase, in exceptional details that i don’t think i have seen at that level when one was still competing / auditioning, a story teller rather than a singer.. and for all the “perfect” vocal renditions in the world i’d immediately take someone like that🙂 ).

          (uhm, it was so obscured i have just spent the last 20! min trying to search and can’t find it.. and don’t remember how i got there in the first place, can’t remember composer’s name, year, poster.. when/if i stumble on it again will put here…)

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          1. actually, she’s touring right now (4 festival dates) with a Händel program – Ariodante, Alcina & Giulio Cesare. Just not it in our necks of the woods.

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          1. Thank you!!
            And of it’s ok with you, I’ll turn this – PP, ACA and also the MP – into a Smart Soprano post for tomorrow, it shouldn’t be lost way down here. It’s got me thinking all morning how all awkwardnesses aside, about all these examples there is an absolute earnestness and conviction very early on (in addition to talent) that is all the more audible/visible in contrast to a still less polished performance.

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          2. These early approaches are really quite touching Also, after I was finally starting to get depressed with the Marschallin, it is so nice to see, how these singers develop over time and how you can already feel very clearly the essence of their talents that will still grow and be formed over the years.
            Te Kanawa’s Mezzo takes would really be interesting, especially regarding colour but I couldn’t find it so far.

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          3. Oh, those are stunning in their difference – relates to our discussion “made” color. I’m not sure whether any of it is on YT, but I own the double album (I wasn’t kidding about my teenage fan level). I’m not sure whether I’ve got it at my place or in storage (with all the academic nomadism, I have to store some of my collection), but I’ll gladly get some samples to you next chance I have.

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  5. Really nice! A lot of stage presence and expression for a “youngster.” And that piano repition in the Queen of the Night was really something. One to watch!

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    1. Yes, imagine where she will be expressively in a decade! (And she is really good already!) Also, regarding Devieilhe, you’re in for a treat with the Paris “Mitridate”.

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    1. how cool, a bit unrelated to S.Deveilhe, but they played the 3 Mozart dances! Waaaay back in the days when phones were the size of our heads with big pushed button and I had just moved far away from home and had to purchase a long-distance phone plan and got an answering machine.. and this was also the time just after I discovered classical music and was sampling pretty much anything Mozart.. and fell in love with this dance sequence, esp. the first one, “Deutsche Tänze Kv 509 n°1/2/3”! I played it into the machine’s message over the “hi, you’ve called… please leave a msg”, and when people called i just let it go to the machine so i could hear it again. good memory!

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      1. oh, that is a beautiful story – thank you for sharing!

        (I’m trying to remember when I first consciously heard classical music, which was part of the household, but consciously —
        My parents used to play the Amadeus soundtrack in the car, on long car rides. My first snippets of “Figaro” and “Giovanni”!
        And I remember visiting acquaintances of my parents, a single man with his mother, who – since I was bored with the adult talk – put on the “Magic Flute” record from his opera collection for me. I remember lying on the floor of his apartment in the afternoon sunlight, lost to the world, surrounded by record sleeves and – I must have had barely started school – trying to read along the libretto that had that ungainly record-sleeve format and was half my own size.)

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          1. turns out she was right, then😉
            (I keep returning to that Staatsoper interview you posted, she is by far too smart for the entire circuit! So rewarding to listen to even when she does not even sing.)

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          2. It was also the magic flute for me, and I remember being so impressed with the Queen of the night and getting quite annoyed in realizing she was the ‘bad one’. I wanted to become a coloratura soprano after that (I think the principle for me was, ‘the higher, the cooler’) and always tried to sing ‘Der Hölle Rache’, must have sounded quite funny with my squeaky girls voice.

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          3. oh, that is adorable! I’m sure you were convincing through sheer enthusiasm.🙂

            And it really seems that Petibon is on to something with choosing the Magic Flute for children! (when I was about 8 or 9, I was allowed to watch a children’s version of the Magic Flute at a local theatre, and I also remember the Queen of the Night. Since I had read the libretto, I was disappointed when at the end, the Queen didn’t dramatically sink into the underworld, but got invited along to a big family happy ending. I remember cmplaining “But they cheated, that’s not how it happens!” – That was before someone explained regietheater to me…)

            Since the singers who first grabbed my attention were lyric sopranos (recently, it seems I have still not fully superated that😉 ), I of course wanted to be a lyric soprano! And it was was High Drama for teenage me when it turned out that I was a mezzo, if at all. And when I was put into the Alto section in my choirs, oh, the indignation! I thought that was the end of the world! (teenagers really are insufferable.)

            (I would probably have warmed to the idea sooner if Galou and Mijanovic and Mingardo had been around then already!)

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          4. past my bedtime here but i couldn’t help but chime in that you get major brownie credit for having a vision to go against the mainstream Disney approach at such a young age!

            (and really fun to hear from you both re. experience growing up with music and how it can influence! also, i’ve reached a point where Petibon is right in whatever she says😉 )

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          5. Beethoven for me, but i started at 21.. right after was, in parallel, Tchaikovsky and Mozart, with Mozart primarily from the Amadeus soundtrack. In fact i think that is the best cd set for a beginner because it includes excerpts from such a wide variety of his work, including of course the queen of the night aria🙂 . it was from there that i explored every single piece in detail.. and again wasn’t until 12 years later discovering operas and found out the queen of the night is not so nice

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          6. that is so interesting – also that the Amadeus soundtrack had such an impact in popularizing Mozart
            I mean we all know that, in an abstract sense, but to hear our individual stories, it is really stunning how much one movie can do.

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    2. I’ll Dropbox it for you in the afternoon from the Office (need to clear up space first – lots of Mitridate caps…)

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  6. I’m trying to remember what the first classical music in my memory is. My parents were (are) classical musicians so it was around us always, symphonies and opera especially. There is a picture of me as a baby sitting in my daddy’s lap, conducting Brahms 1st symphony from the score. He’s holding my hand with the baton in it. It’s my favorite picture.

    Early music memories would be…Amahl and the Night Visitors; my parents rehearsing two-piano duets in our house in the room next to mine, especially Brahms’s St. Anthony Variations (the hymn setting was their wedding processional); lots of organ and choral music (my folks were also church musicians); and I have a distinct memory of seeing Beverly Sills in Daughter of the Regiment on TV.

    By the time Amadeus came out (which we watched as a family multiple times and had the soundtrack I was already steeped in it.

    I have more early music memories here.
    http://towandasnewwindow.blogspot.com/2010/03/immersion-therapy-part-i.html

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