White Shirt Monday: Vintage Farnace


[Well, that’s one scenario where Farnace is likely to get the girl, plot be damned: sorry, Sifare (Christina Oelze). Farnace: Vesselina Kasarova, in Mozart’s “Mitridate”, Salzburg 1997.- Photo Credit: András Batta/Sigrid Neef: OPERA. Cologne 2000, p. 344]

Digging around my print archives: Tying together the mentions of Christiane Oelze’s unconventional “Lungi da te” (the Salzburg take was conducted by Roger Norrington) and the question of “Did Kasarova actually ever sing Farnace on stage…?”

Yes, she did. (And I would suspect that there are bootleg recordings somewhere, but none of them is in my possession.)

25 thoughts on “White Shirt Monday: Vintage Farnace”

  1. But the Norrington one was staged no? Apparently I have it! (audio) . it was burried for a looooong time in my opera closet… And that C.Oelze’s Lungi da te is quite a unique one ey!


    1. yes, I think that’s the one – the one from the Mozartwochen? The photo is from the staging. Unearthed with special regards to you, to go with the audio!
      (unique “Lungi”, unique Farnace…!!)

      Liked by 1 person

    2. just listening to Oelze again – very light-toned (she was so young back then!). In that speed, she can actually go very easy on the scales, plus there is no hint at larmoyance with the tempo choice. It also gains a certain restlessness. I expected to find it jarring after reading your time marks, but I just find it peculiar. I don’t know how the staging was in that locker room set, but perhaps this was one very young, nervous Sifare 😉
      (also, darn, that poor horn player must have been sweating profusely!!)


      1. i’ve decided to sit through this for my working-night music, and wanted to drop off 50sec of Farnace’s entrance recit… Sifare won’t get the girl, not with this Farnace’s snigger! oh how i wish to see VK’s Farnace!!! (i could share if you’d like the whole thing).


          1. I second that. Also the “wicked”. In the best possible sense.
            Yes, in that case, with apologies to Sifarubino, I think we have a clear winner in the swagger category here… (now if we inserted VK into, say Paris, the only possible solution might be French as in “Jules et Jim”)

            Liked by 1 person

      2. speaking of “opening up world” (borrowing Towanda’s word from “Lungi da te” post’s comment), I think there’s early-Mozart world pre- and post- E.Haïm+P.Petibon for me… Listening to this live performance, it made me realize why I never quite managed to get into this “early Mozart” music for such a long time: the “smoothness”. This, the Salzburg 2006, and the Gruberova+Auger were the 3 I tried prior to EH.. I *really* need E.Haïm’s dramatic drive in the orchestra, that is the most important factor. Second: the going for *absolute* broke singing by P.Petibon (vocally, even skipping the acting.. when acting is included: reaching worshiping level). And 3rd: the “rough edge” to Sifare’s vocal lines (MP) to give distinction from all the light voices (when skipping acting that is… when acting is included: well.. there’s this syndrome…) . Listening through this, in addition to London 1993 + Brussels, also made me realized how much I appreciated S. Devieilhe’s singing: there’s something quite fiery in her delivery that is also lost (to my ears) in all other Ismenes.

        Aside from this general observation, more to Farnace: I realized the first 2 arias (with the first criminally cut short!!) must be lying in her passaggio (?) as it seems she was a bit tentative (or even too “smooth”)? I don’t hear the typical VK’s drive until Farnace’s 3rd aria “Va, l’error mio palesa”. (Farnace’s last aria, i’ve already linked it to my opera-dream list with the combo VK + Paris which you also suggested here Anik.)

        I’ve now made it to the duet, I’d say this is the most exemplified sample of my home-made terminology “smoothness”. There is just nothing spontaneous. I’d go as far as saying i have no clue why this duet is sung this way. Some more home-made words would be: “rehearsed”, “careful”, and i guess “beautiful” in the typical sense of beautiful tone…


        1. just into the ouverture over here and I’ve heard Norrington in cocnert before (it was symphonic) and was very appreciative of his idea of building thigs, and of his precision, but my first reaction here is: I want my Marlon Brando in a tank top. The sheer physicality and energy of Haïm’s take is hard to forget for me here.
          Does that make a proletarian who has forgotten how to appreiate the nuanced elegance of high Baroque poise? (…and do I care?)
          (oh, just getting to the C part: interesting symphonic take here. Very much fanned out. The dynamic diversity is there, even drive, but it is not dancing.
          This is something where I appreciate lines and architecture and have a tea while still being able to string out coherent sentences. With Haïm, at times I just cannot sit still. And then my responses are not exactly coherent (how coherent is “hhnnnng”?).

          PS. First recit – yay, back to a soprano Arbate. Ah, home sweet home.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. please keep going with live commentary 🙂 , am lurking and reading… because by the first 2 arias I was already lost…
            I should point out probably it will be hard to get Paris out of my head… but the point was Paris got into head in the first place after multiple previous tries.. and i think for me i am desperate for the orchestra to lead the way *and* for the singers to give me some sort of contrasts/characters… because otherwise all the light voices sound the same (both in the swinging beautiful mood and color) and after 3 of those coming consecutively i typically get lost… Also, upon re-listening to Sifare’s “Lungi da te” as a stand-alone last night (without the other 9 samples) I could see how that might work… but then by the time I hear Sifare’s first aria I’m lost again… and kept asking: is this the typical approach to singing early mozart? Also, is it typical to deliver the recit so fast?

            (this also points to the fact that you can hear things, e.g., Lucio Silla at TADW, but I simply can’t if the orchestra is not helping me and/or singers not offering enough contrast (to my ears) + doing more what i call vocal acting.)


            1. Curiously enough, I find the recits more interesting than the arias in the Salzburg 1997 (also, GOD, how amazing is Petibon’s “Al destin” from Paris!!).

              Just got to “Venga pur” – yes, it might not sit that comfortably for her, and I can see that the purist probably got their knickers in a twist here, but just look at that sheer array of colors VK has on offer here. The beginning may be a bit much all over the place, but I am enjoying it immensely.

              I would still say that current Mozart singing (especially the seria works) – to think more rhetorics than line – is influenced by historically informed performance practice that has found its way into the mainstream, at least in the German-speaking countries. So a recording that is 19 years old is probably showing that difference, too? I would agree that the singing is less engaging overall (but shows in the recits and with VK that it is not a thing the singers couldn’t do differently), but part of it really might be the passage of time.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. yes, I tremendously enjoy (and now in retrospect sadly miss) VK’s colors. I think it’s what you said: the beginning was a bit all over so I wasn’t quite sure where her voice would settle… Yes, the recit, i enjoyed sending clip of that to entice you both instead of any aria 🙂 .

              But in general recit is too fast for me, in the sense that if you understand Italian it’s not an issue, but if you don’t, it’s just ” i have a plane to catch, bye” sort of rushed singing.


            3. you’re right and I think it is an important point people who spend so much time inside this space often miss: that if you don’t understand the language, it’ll kind of rush by (although I think you will end up understanding Italian simply by sheer quanity of exposure to it!).

              And of coruse when I say “oh, it’s fun how Sifare sounds so sly when he offhandedly tells Aspasia oh, btw, I kind of want you too, just so you know”, that’s only fun when you’ve got the meanings of the words and your immediate disposal. I probably have to equate this with listening to Russian, or trying to read Greek: some of it perhaps makes some sense (eventually, you figure out how Lyub* relates to “love”)but it’s mostly wild guesses and requires a libretto. Really, hat off to your for being so dedicated despite the language barrier. I far too often take this for granted.


            4. My Italian skills are also quite ‘passive’, being able to translate with the help of google and knowing how to pronounce of course but I think I couldn’t build a single sentence beyond ordering food, planning to improve but no time…, it’s always good to have subtitles… and maybe you could sometimes add translations for quotes?


            5. Sure, I can do that! You may have to remind me at times… But whenever you’d like some bit, just let me know. (Some bits like the the caption quotes in the previous posts are just fun references like that Cherubino bit where the content does not matter)


            6. on that recit bit: it’s

              “Ma chi t’adora, se chiami delinquente,
              Sappi ch’io son di lui meno innocente”

              which is already in the libretto kind of nonchalant. I’ll try to put the exact translinear position below:

              Ma chi t’ adora, se chiami delinquente,
              but who you adores, if you call criminal
              Sappi ch’ io son di lui meno innocente
              You should know that I am than him less innocent.

              In Brussels (which i *may* have open again in another window) you’ve got a ot more of “sincere confession”, whereas this Salzburg take is kind of slyly playful. Just can kind of see Oelze’s Sifare buffing his nails and taking a page from Big Bro here.

              Also, speaking of light colors and legato and brains shutting down (well, my brain): DAMn that “risolvere dovrò di non vederti?” in that very recit. I know it is largely composed that way to sound a little shy and sweet, but that delivery is also “to change one’s aggregate state”. (translinear translation: “to resolve – I will have to – to – not – seeing you”)


            7. I haven’t replied to this “risolvere dovrò di non vederti?” in one of your previous post/comment somewhere else either.. because I still don’t know where it is :-).. but i just remember thinking how interesting it was the vastly different translation of the libretto between Paris and Brussels

              Thanks for the live commentary! I’d like to also hear your impression on part 2 once you get to it… bedtime here, have a wonderful listen!


            8. Briefly – it’s in the very first recit (cut in Paris) –
              right after Sifare’s “uh, actually Farnace is not the only one who has fallen for you”
              and Aspasia’s “Oh, what?!” (in Brussels easy to identify by the little smirk and aside)

              Non ti sdegnar: diverso dall’amor del germano
              Di Sifare è l’amor.
              No, mia conquista, se da lui ti difendo, non diverrai.
              Ma quando t’avrò resa a te stessa,
              Abborrirai quanto il nemico il difensore?
              Ed io, per premio di mia fè, per compiacerti,
              Risolvere dovrò di non vederti?


            9. ps- given my 1-5% understanding rate of Italian in general… this rushed version i literally heard 0%, which I think pretty much explained a large part of my “lost” comment.. as well as having an impression it’s Salzburg and they had to get out of this performing hall by XX hr hence the sprint…


            10. I agree that all soprano voices sound quite similar here, but Oelze’s really stands out to me in terms of timbre and interpretation and VK is a cool contrast with her bold approach so fitting to the character (who says someone has to get the girl?)


    1. I thought along the same lines, Agathe, finding the light color to add a lot of youthfulness and ingenuity to it. It sounds hopeful and elegiac to me.


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