White Shirt Monday: Fence Me In

iervolino juditha.png

[Sticking with trouser roles and swords: not really a literal White Shirt – and it took me more than a handful of clips to realize that this is not, in fact, Juditha, but Holofernes, but I am not complaining about the wardrobe choices -, but if you thought Latin Baroque oratorio couldn’t sizzle, add  a contralto and think again. Teresa Iervolino as Holofernes in Vivaldi’s “Juditha Triumphans” as staged by Elena Barbalich, Venice/La Fenice 2015.]

More contraltos on the scene is always a reason for rejoicing – not that Iervolino is that new a name, exactly, but she hasn’t been as present yet as Mingardo or Prina or Galou or the once-upon-a-time-in-Zurich-I-fell-in-love-with-a-certain-Ottone Mijanovic.

This Venetian “Juditha Triumphans” is showcasing Iervolino’s voice nicely (there are various clips on YT, and Mezzo has the whole production on demand). Also, her swagger (and you’ve got to give points to a singer who maintains an FB album of her trouser roles):

Still, what really made me sit up and listen was her Rosmira in Ricardo Minasi’s recent studio recording of Handel’s “Partenope” (featuring Karina Gauvin and Philippe Jaroussky in the leads).
With the Juditha staging, my first thought was “Skirts!” because I thought “Betulia liberata” and contralto and Juditha,  because I am not that that familiar with the Vivaldi version. With the “Partenope”, my first thought was “Pants!” because damn if Iervolino doesn’t sound dark and smokey and seductive and powerful and virile there. But to be fair, Rosmira *does* spend most of the opera in pants, so I wasn’t that far off.

And I definitely need to sit down at length with Vivaldi’s “Juditha Triumphans” (and oh, what a lovely coincidence that I already have my ticket for Malena Ernman in early 2017 at Theater an der Wien), which sports not one, but three trouser roles (I remember thadieu being rather taken with Paola Gardina’s Vagaus and her “is that pants, oh, who cares?” outfit in this very Fenice production), and was premiered at an all-girls boarding school starring three contraltos and two sopranos to boot. Clearly, this demands closer White Shirt scrutiny at large.

49 thoughts on “White Shirt Monday: Fence Me In”

  1. we could make our Friday ‘s outing this one! (i’m fighting quite a bit with myself.. on the one hand i really like to see ACA’s Donna Elvira — she actually has a 2nd take at TADW which i just got my hands on the mkv file😉 — because i always enjoy her interpretation [currently listening to her Iphigénie while working] and curious how you both think since i’m clueless about these male-dominated operas.. , but on the other hand i really miss some whiteshirt goodness…)

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    1. We could always do ACA’s Elvira this week and the Juditha necxt week…?

      (Oh and the Keith Warner for TADW? Intriguing! Who is the Anna? Is the mkv public?)

      >

      Liked by 1 person

      1. no, mkv is not public, but i can dropbox for anyone interested? and we can choose Abbado’s or Muti’s version for this friday? i think i posted the cast somewhere.. hang on.. oh, i’ll love this:
        Don Giovanni – Carlos Álvarez
        Il Commendatore – Franz-Josef Selig
        Donna Anna – Adrianne Pieczonka
        Don Ottavio – Michael Schade
        Donna Elvira – Anna Caterina Antonacci
        Leporello – Ildebrando d’Arcangelo
        Zerlina – Angelika Kirchschlager
        Masetto – Lorenzo Ragazzo

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          1. oh twist my arm. yes, I suppose I would make it through a Pieczonka Anna.😉 (actually, I don’ think I’ve heard her with Mozart before)

            I’d be fine with either Abbado or Muti; what’s your pick?

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          2. currently doing my diligent homework (while working), Pieczonka is *very* good! and i feel for Elvira in this take too.. not very vicious but rather very vulnerable.. our future Tito is quite moving with phrasing.. finally D’Arcagnelo is such a young stud with good humor (and fantastic voice). it was a good decision i worked hard to keep the english subtitle in addition to italian (could have kept more if there’s demand) as am now following the translation to understand the story ahead of our outing.. otherwise i always feel behind and not able to comment on fine psychological points / staging.
            (still only 1/3 of way through but am motivated now to revisit the many-bed staging before the weekend…)

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          3. the “many beds” (Wieler/Morabito) made some really good points about voyeurism, I thought – making the viewer aware of their perspective. Giovanni as some disillusioned free-love hippie avatar was an interesting take, too (re: Letter Scene: I think think it’s A and O writing each other Dear John/Jane letters, perhaps?) – much about people trying to get closer to life through sexuality/sensuality, and being stopped by their own conventions and repressions.
            The TADW is waiting here on the harddrive for when I finish my current paper. Very much looking forward to it!

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          4. (ps- and Zerlina will be waiting for you too, A.Kirchschlager is so good! i can’t believe they manage to get this cast! but i guess they were all very young? what a collection of singers!)
            (the story is annoying.. reminds me everytime why i don’t pay attention to the translation… such conflicting feeling.. now i can see why a staging that can somehow get out of the generic treatment would be quite welcome and rewarding… not this one. this is just really reallly good phrasings by amazing singers = 3 ladies + d’Arcangelo + M.Schade)
            (ACA is bring me to tears with “ah.. non lasciarmi!” )

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          5. try to get hold of her Munich “Ariadne” – HEAVEN!
            also, if I can eventually dig up a bootleg of her Munich Kaiserin (Frau ohne Schatten) somewhere (It was part of the livestream series that season – incomprehensible how everyone would put all the Jonas K. online, but not THIS!), I will die a happy woman.

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          6. wait, Ariande as in Strauss where she’s the primadonna? coz i heard her *live* in that in Toronto! (but i was still very new to opera and the story bugged the hell out of me so i didn’t really know what to say…)

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          7. Sigh, and young A. Kirchschlager, and Schade? Maybe we should do this production after all on Saturday? Although the staging looks boring at first sight, but I suppose the other one is not much better in that regard?

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          8. apropos Kirchschlager and Pieczonka: Is it too soon to bring back this?

            (clip with thanks to Annio who also blessed us with the BCN Capuleti)
            – the stagings are both traditional, from what I’ve read (the Warner/TADW is 2006, I think, so it’s not junior Kirchschlager) – I had initially opted for the Abbado because it is on YT, in case anyone else wnats to join the liveblog, but we can also deal around the Muti and do that one and whoever wants to join can send us a PM for a copy. I think thadieu is happy as long as there is ACA.😉

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          9. yeah, perhaps Agathe is right and we need to this one😉 … though I will need sunglasses to protect myself from that dress (I will never criticize San Diego again for the Don coat and the wig! Although we have already established that there were ample redeeming instances involved).
            With Pieczonka, she’s got such effortless depth that it is as if her voice does not have rough edges: the sound starts so seamlessly, like one of those days where the sky blends into the sea and you cannot really tell them apart, though not as in “frayed” but as in “unlimited”.

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          10. argh.. finally done w/ slides.. ok, Agathe, i *must* go to bed now as there’s a meeting in 5hrs, ack.. but when up i’ll reload the production for our saturday event! very much looking forward!
            (ps- Anik, you’ll be albe to overlook all dresses😉 , the singing is that good)

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          11. the good night to you, and I’ll put up a post for the TADW/Warner/Muti event on Saturday.
            will advertise champagne to go with the frills.

            (PS. don’t quote me on that, but on the heels of that “Non mir dir”: my first impulse at hearing Pieczonka again after a while of not listening to her is usually to eat whipped cream right out of the can)

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          12. I think this was the first big signature production when the TADW reopened? They probably put all the (wo)manpower they had into it (sadly, not in direction…). Kirchschlager was probably the most accessible, since she is based in Vienna and has been tied to TADW for years, absolute audience favorite. A good Zerlina can make *such* a difference for a Dion Giovanni overall.

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          13. wow, very interesting ending, so as you might have suggested here, Don Giovanni was some sort of fantasy imagination by the characters? Something they worry/desire deep down? As they seem to “wake up” the next day and merrily carrying on with their “daily lives”.. and with Leporello taping the audience as well..
            Very interesting staging, i really like it. gives one many things to think about. And for the record, even if i’m not following MP, i’d become a fan after her “non di mir”, very very moving! Ah, and the fact she figuratively delivered the letter to Don Giovanni there also suggests he’s an imaginative figure?
            I’ll have to think more about how the character Donna Elvira fits into all this..
            And lastly, this being Amsterdam, the orchestra was filled with female musicians! You will see the contrast to that Vienna version of our viewing this evening…

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          14. my goodness, i just got around to re-watching this.. 1/3 way through.. soo many layers. If you really want to see a staging that is non generic and makes one think, this is a very good one i’d say! already out of the gate the voyeurism was evident with Leporello taking sexual pleasure in watching Giovanni inside Donna Anna’s room.. and by the look of it she seems abused by her father her whole life.. onto Donna Elvira sitting and watching tapes of all of Giovanni’s conquests… it does have the look also of these apartment complexes where people are looking over each other’s windows.. that doll all the men around Donna Anna is holding also is quite disturbing, showing how men viewing Anna as a sexualized object.. though i’m having to again adjusting to MP’s singing (general soprani issues and my ears) she’s making Donna Anna a very complex yet with inner strength (how she stood over Ottavio + kicking the boxes).. very intriguing.. i think this staging is really right for my “generation” of newbies who finds the generic story simply difficult to swallow as it’s address many issues. And I like the way they do it here without just pretending like in the Aix’s Così.

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          15. Yes, that is an aspect I really enjoy about many-beds (loving the shorthand!) – that there are the voyeuristic images, but they are immediately put into a frame of being conscious of it through the figure of Leporello. They are not just presented, they are being questioned and discussed.

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          16. (ps- and the hint of Don Ottavio worrying about D.Anna sleeping w/ Don Giovanni instead of paying attention the plight she was describing was about to burst my tolerance… yes, fine points of the characters.. ok, done making side notes)

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          17. if this were 21st century, he would probably ask her what she was wearing, and whether she had been drinking.

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          18. Iervolino is also Cornelia in that strange Toulon Cesare and sounds good in duet with Bacelli’s Sesto, so one more argument to put that Cesare on our list, although the video quality is not so good.
            After some party-planning revision it seems I will be late on Friday after all, but you can just start and I’ll hopefully join you later.

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          19. Then we don’t we try to find another date? I can free up most any night until early Sept, and you really should be part of it. We could do Saturday, or see whether thadieu figures out what her Thursday meetings will be, or sit down tomorrow?
            Oh, come to think of it, perhaps we should stick with the Abbado since it is publicly available, in case anyone else wants to join in.

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          20. If you can still change you plans that would be great, sorry for the confusion about Friday. I can do tomorrow or Saturday or Sunday as well (I usually can’t do Wednesdays but otherwise most nights). The Abbado version is fine with me, young Bryn Terfel and D’Arcagnelo will also be interesting to hear.

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          21. ok, Abbado it is (or rather, ACA it is?) – thadieu, you’re the one with the most conferences at the moment: which day works best for you between Tue, Sat and Sun?

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  2. oh, let me go on the record to say i was very impressed with Iervolino right out of the gate, in fact i had a post waaay back with her to start my weekend or something, with her entrance aria! and then i was hovering on tube forever to check as people were posting clips, then got taken off.. until the recent stable versions (as of now) of all her clips.. and i was equally impressed with Gardina’s take in her loooovely Xpants. Dehggi who is more in tune with the fashion world informed me both Vagaus’ and Holefernes’ “trousers” were very nicely done (and i would like to add they accentuate the lines very well).

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    1. clearly [pants of Othered Male] is an important factor in calculating a successful “Juditha”?

      Yes, the new line of clips seems stable, and Iervolino herself/her PR dept. has been linking to some (they *are* good publicity!).

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  3. Yes, let’s do the Fenice Juditha for our events soon, as thadieu suggested, I forgot about it and now started on it again (thanks again, thadieu) and, Oh my, this Holofernes…

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      1. The only question thus being whether we have now all watched this so much indvidually that a liveblog is pointless, or whether this should be celebrated in a shared event in addition😉

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