Last night, the Grand Ariodante Tour of The English Concert started the European leg of their tour at TADW Vienna.
Short version: It was wonderful. Alice Coote’s sound bottled would make the best Scotch ever, Sonia Prina is actually Joan Jett, Christiane Karg should be cast if Todd Haynes ever directs a 1950s opera, I want to know where David Portillo buys his shoes, and the English Concert were British in the very best sense: precise, dedicated and witty with an incredibly rich vocabulary.
Of course, there is a long version.
(Consider yourself warned: review contains florid voice descriptions, fashion reports, relevant muscle groups, and open-air fangirling. And likely typos because I slept less than 5 hours and am actually grading student papers right now)
The strange sensation of seeing people live in front of you whom you’ve just seen on TV the other week: Oh, they’re real. Also, they really play that well. – The English Concert under Harry Bicket, with a slender, poignant, driven sound. Special mention: the theorbo (or archlute? – Played by William Carter, I believe), for some magical mood-painting moments. I could see his hands fairly well, also the different ways he played to achieve varying degrees of density and dynamics, and he drew my gaze to his playing more than once.
Curtain Call: Bradley Smith (Odoardo), Matthew Brook (King), Mary Bevan (Dalinda), David Portillo (Lurcanio), Harry Bicket, Sonia Prina (Polinesso), Christiane Karg (Ginevra), Alice Coote (Ariodante).
Since I saw the Carnegie Hall take (with the same cast, except Coote and Smith) and we liveblogged that, I will not rehash things discussed in length over there. The sound carried altogether differently in the smaller venue and without the amplification of broadcast micros. The English Concert retains the same drive, but gets more structure to their play, like a properly tailored and worn tweed jacket.
They play with a relatively small cast, laying out a structure that is more vertical than plush color clouds, leaving at all times lots of air and space for the voices – it is like stepping into an small, pre-Baroque church with high ceilings, where the only decoration is the light falling through well-placed windows. If they were a painting, they’d be a pencil sketch or an etching: all motion captured in precise, few lines.
Christiane Karg opened the evening once more with a flawless rendition of “Vezzi, lusinghe”, which also pretty much describes herself. She seemed, also in the smaller hall, warmer and more layered in sound, and more engaged in character portrayal. This Ginevra is one of perfect poise, a lady out of a 1950s Todd Haynes movie with Cinderella slippers (the adjacent Prince Charming included), and Karg’s work is one of subtle nuances. In between the TADW size and a seat close to the stage, I have come out of last night with a whole new level of appreciation for her work – not just the level of technical skill (that has been clear for a while), but the way she builds character from an outline of perfect poise, and arrives at something that moves past that poise even while she never compromises it. It is an intersection where Ginevra proves a perfect fit for her, both vocally and idiomatically.
From New York to Vienna, Karg and Bevan seem to have drawn straws to call dibs on wearing red, and Karg has won. I am usually underwhelmed by couture, but that dress – well, Karg in that dress – was a vision. An elegant blend of gathered and billowing, worn with a grace that made sure that even a bright red never came across as too bright. Karg could have walked out of there and taken over as Queen of Monaco.
The dress was also shoulder free and Karg won “Delts of the Night” in addition. Oh my. It also set the mood on this particular outing being a trapezius triad night because between Karg, Coote and Prina, there was a lot of exposed upper backs to admire.
The second best thing about the Ginevra opening scene, however, were Sonia Prina and Mary Bevan on their taken seats, giving everyone and Perfect Lady Ginevra the eye and commenting on the situation just by their posture. It was hilarious.
Prina, who, I am convinced, is actually Joan Jett in Baroque terms, wore those same lace over boy brief pants as in Carnegie Hall, with a pair of spiky killer heels that I have dubbed “I skinned The Queen Of The Night For These” and rocked a half-sleeve tube top with volants (if you can rock volants and you are not Carmen, you can rock anything) and a low back that also put her tattoo(s) on display. Additionally, she outdid Jack Sparrow in the eyeliner/bling/earring department, and Cencic in the sharp undercut sides/razor line back/tophawk hair department, and that was before she had even sung a note.
Bevan, in a long, 1970s vibe, sparkly, psychedelic hippie sheath of floor length and open, curly hair, matched the vibe perfectly. Ginevra was singing, and Prina and Bevan were sitting there with their eyebrow game on like Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry of “Oliver Twist”. Or Sweeney Todd and Ms. Lovett. Or like Gomez and Morticia Addams – him being the drama queen with the pomade and pinstripes, to her flower-pruning goth girl.
Bevan has a sizeable, almost mezzo-ish tone, uncommon for a Dalinda. She also has the required agility, but comes across as spunkier than your average coloratura soprano. She will likely build up more color repertory with growing experience, but as a still fairly young singer next to more seasoned colleagues like Prina, Coote and Karg, she held her own.
Prina, again, simply took over, long before she even had to sing. She prowls and pounces, swaggers and slinks in a way that is mesmerizing. One never gets the impression of any gesture being put on or posed: this is an artist with an enviable flow right from her own comfort zone.
She might kiss or choke Dalinda (spoiler alert: both), try to cop a feel of Ginevra who is flustered as Grace Kelly faced with the advances of
Ava Gardner Clark Gable in “Mogambo”, or get up to a brass balls duel with Ariodante in the garden: Prina’s Polinesso, here, is an outcast who embraces the label and in return challenges the society that has labeled him a freak for its own comfort. (S)he retains an edge of likability here that puts the audience in Dalinda’s shoes: we know we’re not supposed to hang out with the bad boy smoking pot under the bleachers, but it’s that he’s just got something about him. Nothing exemplifies this better than the group of older white, well-suited men in the audience ahead of me who began to shift in their seats with unease when Polinesso moved on Dalinda in “Apri le luci” (which was, in Bevan’s delivery, less “this is my first ball!” and more “I’ve seen enough already to realize that you’re not a good idea, and also, here’s my number.”) and then took the scene for “Coperta la frode”. Because what happens, on stage, was effortlessly cutting through any essentialist notions of masculinity.
Now one could argue that with her rocker vibe, Prina is already at a level beyond conventional gender notions, but it still remains a fact that she was a female singer on stage, and between her heels and her top, she was clearly recognizable as a female body at all times. Yet as soon as she moved in character, what the audience saw was not a woman: this Polinesso, in motion and voice, was a guy.
Gender is a relational performance. The End. PS. I love Baroque opera.
Prina owns the stage. She also unapologetically owns her material, which does have its idiosyncracies – the forte top notes come with a stronger taste of metal now, and the rapid open-throat runs have perhaps gained a bit more air, but she integrates it into her performance. I wrote in more detail on her voice in my “Silla” review, but I return to her recit work here because if there is one point – perhaps also aided by the fact that at TADW, which is likely not even half the size of Carnegie Hall, she barely had to apply any pressure throughout – where Prina’s technical and stylistic finesse stand out starkly, it is here, in the effortlessly delivered small rubati, in the smooth phrase-end ornamentations that happen so casually that you don’t even know how your shirt ended up on the floor. And there is the differentiated work she does in small-scale dynamics, between mezzopiano and piano, shading colors down to a whisper and then opening them up again with a flourish.
In my impression, what Prina is looking for in her work is not a flawless sound (she could strive for that, technically, but it does not seem to be her foremost interest), but the exact mood of an exact moment. She does not seem to see this as a solitary quest, either – she is very generous with her stage partners in offering cues and opening up spaces, leaving the reaction level up to them.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a singer who is so much in the now, and so much in easy sync with herself.
Now if you think this was all of the fangirling report, hold your horses: Qui d’amor nel suo linguaggio.
When it was announced a few weeks ago that DiDonato wouldn’t sing, but Coote would, I was sad, but I was also not sad.
Alice Coote has been part of my emotional soundscape for nearly 20 years, when she blazed onto stage in the legendary Stuttgart “Alcina” in righteous indignation and amorous stupor and I don’t think I’ve ever fully recovered. And despite that, I had never heard her live (which is inexcusable). So there was a definite moment of “Oh God, it actually is Alice Coote!” last night.
She started out softly, so very softly, and before the first phrase was over, I was already smiling without noticing it. Her timbre is incredibly rich and beautiful, though it is never just about beauty. Her voice is a Mahler’d ray of sunshine, bronzen and burnished and deep, joyful in a way of won through anguish. There is that rhapsodic slant that always, and more than in any other singer, reminds me of Fassbaender, not only in tone, but in how she approaches tone as a narration. Last night, more than fifteen or twenty years ago, her voice struck me as the serene and the lamenting in perfect balance. She still has that edge of bold recklessness in there, but also so much more gentle nuance. There is something keening in there, too, a darker note at the very core that grounds everything, something that calls out and connects with the humanness and the loss it entails, as a starting point of beauty. And then there is colors upon colors like autumn fields and you cannot help but smile, even as you know that summer will be over soon, but if it were forever, you wouldn’t love it as fiercely.
God, I am sorry. But this is Alice Coote. Surely you don’t expect me to hold my metaphors in check on this occasion?
There are the stylistic bits that make Coote immediately recognizable: the establishing of a more three-dimensional, physical sound by putting a bit of added breath into the consonants that then carries over into the vowels like a slight sfumato effect: it gives her that edge of staggering stupor and overwhelmed joy, but also of gut-level anger and indignation. Vocal knight territory for sure.
Coote has kept up singing Handel even as her repertory on the other side has always moved towards Mahler. It sounds like a gap hard to bridge (though Coote and Connolly both excel at it), but it works without turning Handel into Mahler, or Mahler into Handel. For someone who is not exclusively an early music singer, Coote fits herself to Bicket’s sound and to her colleagues very well. During “Con l’ali” (something I just heard Haller blaze through with all the devil-may-care confidence of youth), I thought that her coloratura doesn’t come as effortless any more, though after then hearing her “Dopo notte” and her “Bramo aver mille core”, I have to modify that thought. It is true that she has to work more for some of the leaps in the (admittedly mean) “Con l’ali” A part (the B part, taken a bit slower, was immediately a better fit), but Coote has always been a singer working from her body and not trying to hide that work she does. She doesn’t fudge over things: she does them, period.
As in the Carnegie take, I had again the impression that “Con l’ali” had been abbreviated (or the von Otter/Minkowski that I have seared into my brain is extra long?), but “Con l’ali”, despite being the most virtuosic in leaps and register changes, turned out to be the least interesting Ariodante aria of the evening. Coote sounding like a overwhelmed joy in a recit phrase as simple as “Mia dolce sposa” was far more interesting in color. And then there was Coote inhabiting her character scenically, but for that, I need to make a detour to the fashion report.
Coote, dressed in all-black, walked in in tuxedo pants (it was most definitely a night of trouser roles in well-fitting trousers. Oh my.) and a top with an asymmetrical armor allusion that was a cross between Alfred Kirchner designing the Todesverkündigung from “Die Walküre”, the von Otter “Ariodante” cover (#HeroicCleavage) and some Victorian-Goth Blossom-Leaf Amazon get-up with a low-cut back. And she wore open-toe heels that gave Ariodante an unexpected vulnerability. It’s not armor if your Achilles heels are on display. (also, with how her knees seemed to have spent decades on the battlefield, I wanted to say, “Put on some flats!” but it seems there is an unwritten dresscode against comfortable shoes on the concert stage, unless you’re von Otter?)
Just like with Prina, Coote – blond hair out and to her shoulders – was at all times recognizable as a female singer, a female body. Yet, just like with Prina, this body (cleavage and nice trouser cut and bare upper back notwithstanding) housed the portrayal of a man, or at least of someone not of feminine gender. The way Coote moved, the way she established both masculine-coded anger and chivalry for Ariodante on and through her female body was not female at all. It wasn’t put-on butch, either, it just moved past conventional femininity without even questioning it.
(Gender is still a relational set of performances. I still love Baroque opera.)
This Ariodante was more seasoned warrior than DiDonato’s, more innately powerful, more chivalrous in a studly manner. And it happened in very small things: The way Coote had her Ariodante smile at Ginevra in a way that spoke of being an underdog and that seemed to light up the entire hall in bliss. The way she was quick to block Polinesso’s space when he insinuates Ginevra might cheat. The way this Ariodante hurried to the rescue of Dalinda: saving damsel in distress first, blaming her for hurting Ginevra later.
There was one moment that stuck with me, in the first Ariodante/Ginevra duet (“Prendi, prendi, da questa man”) where also Karg did the trademark Bonney thing of turning a stage partner into a Prince Charming by the way she smiles at them (Karg seemed more at ease scenically here than in New York), and then Ariodante reached out to put his hand on Ginevra’s waist, and it’s this gathered red dress, and a small waist, and he never more than grazes it, but – and I say this not as a man, but as someone who has done this exact thing addressing a woman – it’s a detail that rang very, very true: the angle, the effortless knowledge of height, the courteousness learned.
Among the other singers, I had the chance to hear Matthew Brook for the third time in as many weeks as the King, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a King who was so into his part (also, nice touch on the tie and the differing pochette). This show, in the smaller space of the TADW, was his most cultivated take yet, with beautiful, often quiet, line work, but also maintaining the emotionality that had a few people move with unease (which is precisely why we need portrayals of men in tears under duress). The way Brook worked up, against his disbelief and helplessness and despair, the ire of condemning Ginevra in a single phrase was great work. Also the moment at the end of “Invida sorte amara” when Ginevra walks in and he realizes he has to tell her that Ariodante is dead.
And there was David Portillo, but for that, there is the wider context of Polinesso’s “Spero per voi, sí, sí” (aka “Notches In My Bedposts”) that is a mixture of threat and seduction, and there is one moment, on one of the last repetitions of “pupille vaghe” that Prina delivers in a buttersmooth piano, and then the theorbo sets in for the next phrase with a a little flourish, catching the exact mood, and I looked at the theorbo player – an older white man – and he was grinning with joy at what Prina just had pulled off, and he chimed in in style.
And after that, Lurcanio walks in. Portillo has the complete “the groom who today will turn into your perfect-son-in-law” look pat down. Well tailored gray-blue 3-piece suit, shirt with cufflinks, white tie and folded pochette (not bunched), and the most perfect tan shoes (Oxfords, I think), polished to a spit. God, the only way he could have looked better would be if he were a woman.
And he sang beautifully. Even across his range, with enough core on one side and enough creaminess on the other, with impressive dynamic scope with seamless shifts, never turning into bellowing or shrillness, unstrained and flexible throughout. #IfIHadToPickALyricTenor
…but then Polinesso rolled his eyes at Lurcanio and that was the end of this particular tenor attempt. #YouTried #She’sMine
With the small-cast band it was possible beyond the theorbo to make out single instruments – like accents in the two celli – which added another layer to this evening, and was perhaps also telltale of the pencil sketch way The English Concert played – never a thick frosting, at all times leaving space and air for the singers. Likewise, Bicket, if he did lift his hands from the harpsichord keys at all, only needed the smallest motion of barely more than his fingertips to indicate the sound he wanted and getting it back. Wonderful.
After the first intermission, the band turned it up a notch with the introduction to Act II. From the quietest place, the impression of a balmy summer night falling welled up, with the bass line like black ink slowly seeping more solidly into the sky (you keep your “Tristan” Act II, I will take this one, thank you).
And then there’s Prina’s Polinesso with an impish smile, tossing out a deceptively light “amorosi contenti”, and Coote’s Mahler Knight Ariodante is seething immediately. It is a pity that Ariodante and Polinesso don’t get more scenes together, their dynamic is so interesting, and DiDonato/Prina was completely different from this “get the horses and choose your weapon” vibe between Prina/Coote.
“Tu, preparati a morire” was taken light in the coloratura, in the bits of anger with some of the notes pushed at the end to denote anger, with lots of core, and there is the B part that already sounded like a foreshadowing to “Scherza, infida”.
I need a Scotch, my notes read. No wait, I think Alcie Coote *is* vocal Scotch.
Polinesso threw mocking glances, making Ariodante react in a way that reminded me of “Sta nell’Ircana”, 1999. Furious Coote is magnificent Coote. Put me some ice in that Scotch, please.
Then more of Portillo and his beautiful sound (and his beautiful shoes), but my notes say, Who put a tenor aria in there? I was much more focused on Coote’s heartbroken faces, and when it came to “Scherza, infida”, all it took was the opening line of the recit, that incredulous “E vivo ancora?” to do me in completely. And by the end of the recit, on “affanni miei” on a suffocated whisper, with the last “i” fading out into the hall, no one was breathing. And then the bassoon. And the pizzicati in the celli and the double bass. And I will kill the person who cleared their throat in the reprise. This, I thought (and I hadn’t heard “Cieca notte” then yet, which seems to be the perfect piece for The Seasoned Ariodante, along with “Numi, lasciarmi vivere”), is Coote’s piece. And she does not park on legato lines – even though she could – she does grieving ardor. This Ariodante doesn’t sit in the corner crying, this Ariodante is convulsing on the floor because the situation chokes him. Already the first “infida”, Coote takes relatively large, with some pressure, destilling Ariodante’s anguish – the word seems ripped from her throat, unwieldy, as if he cannot bear fitting it to Ginevra. And that is just the first phrase. Coote does not make pretty music here, even though there is beautiful sound. She has Ariodante take out his broken heart and watch it rip apart.
And apropos watching, there is one small detail in this scene that bespeaks the care that went into the scenic aspect of this production; during the aria, Odoardo walks in briefly, a witness to this heartbreak which will later make him tell the King that Ariodante has died (with how Cotte sings this, he is not the only one believing it). And props to Bradley Smith for this moment. Odoardo is a relatively thankless recit part, but Smith was present at all times when on scene, yet never overdid it. How he managed to step into and out of “Scherza, infida” without being a bother was really good work. He also managed some nice accents throughout – pausing when leading the dying Polinesso offstage to be told the plot to unravel in the end, making disbelieving faces at Polinesso when he wants to step in to defend Ginevra, and, after a beat, putting a hand on the broken King’s back after “Invida sorte amara”. it may not be a part to make a big difference, but I really liked the work he did with his lines and on the scene beyond.
But I am not yet through with “Scherza, infida”: the trembling string beats that push “ombra mesta” forward. The segue back into the A part, with the final “tornerò” fading out into a pianissimo and even my pen on paper, even a breath, would have felt to loud in the house then. the ornamention on the final “Io, tradito”.
Notes afterwards: I have been slayed.
There was a “Brava” (too soon, into this precious quiet), and at least a minute of hollering and applause.
Bevan had to deliver “Se tanto piace al cor” afterwards, and she gave it some weight of “I know this is a bad idea, but I cannot help myself”, especially in a nice low “vezzi”, that again sounded more mezzo-ish in color. And there is a chilling moment to the side, where Prina sits and you can see on this Polinesso’s face when he ponders that, yes, he will have her killed, but there is also still a bit of ‘damn, that was good’.
Karg’s “Mi palpita il cor” was nicely forboding in atmosphere, but also technically flawless because of course it was (and she could have organized the Easter Egg Roll on the side, in addition). At this point I also dubbed her “Princess of the Scots and the Delts”. For obvious reasons.
Portillo storms in with Lurcanio’s accusations and he gets an absolutely roaring accent in the theorbo for “chiedo giustizia, e non conforto”. And then he sings perfectly. Again. With great coloratura. Really, if he were a mezzo (and a woman), he’d be perfect.
The larger scene of Ginevra and then “Il mio crudel martoro” plus the ballet music (there was scene applause before the ballet music could segue in, Karg had truly reeled the audience in at that point) was a long stretch of time to gain a better understanding of how she works, which is from a parting point of perfect poise that then inwardly unravels, but without damaging the tone, just via color and breath. Karg gets some nice orchestra support (the driven beats for “dalle reggio di Dite”!), and there is the theorbo, again, but she carries that whole scene on her own, emoting through the entire ballet sequence with all its changing moods. I would gladly have looked at her for another ten minutes. This scene, towards the end of “Il mio crudel martoro”, was also the first time I saw her use her knees to anchor a tone: a small indicator for the scale on which her dismantling worked. Outstanding vocally, and – at least at the close distance – also very compelling scenically.
In the Act II intermission, Dehggi and I had been reduced to stupid smiles and sighs and “Ah, Handel.”, and “Ah, mezzos/contraltos”, and “I never realized how compelling Karg can be in stage terms.” And more stupid smiles and sighs.
For Act III, Coote walks in with a hefty “Numi, lasciarmi vivere”. It’s so much color. It’s kind of “Siegmund, sieh auf mich”, but better. It’s “Is this what Scrooge McDuck feels when he jumps into his money pool: an embarrassment of riches, and why doesn’t he listen to opera instead?”
Oh no, the sea wouldn’t have spit out this Ariodante. It would have pulled them under and crowned them queen. But instead, Mahler Knight Ariodante jumps in even in heartbreak to save Dalinda, and then, when he finally gets what happens, it is again something that Coote channels through her entire physique, having it push out of Ariodante beside himself – “dunque… colei…” And there is so much remorse and shame in those two words that one would be all too inclined to pardon him despite having such abysmal partnership communication skills.
And then it is “Cieca notte” (who needs “Dopo notte” if there is “Cieca notte”? – But after then hearing “Dopo notte”, I was glad that there are both) – Coote uses her entire dynamic range, again and again directing the “Voi tradiste” at Dalinda, and uttering the “una gran fe” in half a shout. Each single “Cieca notte” (God, Coote sure has great chest range, too) seemed designed to make me finally pass out. Notes: If I could take one piece from this evening with me, I would want it to be this one. Down the the vehemence of the pushed-out final note.
Dalinda’s “Neghittosi” offered more spunk and also a solid dose of ire (Ms. Lovett clearly picked up a thing or two from Sweeney Todd), and to no one’s surprise, Prina also rocked “Dover, giustizia”. It is contrasted by an otherworldly “Io ti bacio” – which is an exposed, high-range, almost a cappella number. Of course Karg was flawless (again) and also brought, I thought, more emotional weight to it than at Carnegie Hall.
The theorbo gets more points for the work during “Ti stringo al seno e parto” where, in his best moments, Brook reminded me of Laszlo Polgar singing “Vieni, o cara” in the 2009 Zurich “Agrippina” (#BassTouchstone). I correct my earlier words: actually, it was after this one, and the mood was somewhat spellbound, that Odoardo put a hand on the grieving King’s shoulder.
Karg’s “Giusto ciel” has just one note: GUUUUH.
The battle between Polinesso and Lurcanio is still only an aggressive stab-hug of half a second. Which, meh, but then Ariodante walks back in and I stop caring about the battle. Coote once more aces this scene, giving Ariodante – between large steps and awkwardly wringing his hands, and not really daring to look at Ginevra, but with such overwhelmed joy that he can, indeed look at her again – enough remorse to temper the supposed bright happiness of the scene.
Joy, then, is a gradual process built throughout the most poignant “Dopo notte” I have heard yet, starting out not jubilantly, but battered and with shame. The aria is not a celebration, but the work towards it: Ariodante tries to convince himself that there is hope beyond the heartbreak (also the one he caused). And when he succeeds in the end, after a row of perfect paladar-directed piani (so smooth!), it is happiness earned. The coloratura works perfectly here, with the aria being a better fit for Coote, I thought, than “Con l’ali”. Bickets turns the pit down to a simmer here, and by the end of the aria, Coote is smiling, and Smith and Bevan in the background are also smiling broadly, and large parts of the audience are smiling, too.
The final Dalinda/Lurcanio duet is beautifully sung. Portillo is still close to perfect, but he is still no mezzo or contralto, and Dalinda’s gaze seems to say pretty much the same. Both Bevan and Portillo play the scene nuances, not all bright and happy – on the first impulsive “un traditor!” Bevan tosses her Lurcanio a look that seems to say, “Tone it done a notch, will you?”, and he does. Nice work. Also, the English Concert is, again, so very good, particularly because they work with such a small cast where individual colors make up the entire sketch work.
Apropos colors, I would like Alice Coote’s phrasing of “Mia dolce sposa” bottled, please. And an ice bucket.
With how this Ariodante sings the final duet, I’d take him back, too, if I were Ginevra, particularly the “ma in questa che ti dono”. Swoon. For a few seconds, I wondered whether these two have ever sung Rosenkavalier together? They did push their music stands together again. The mood was quieter, more solemn that the giddier, more youthful joy in the Carnegie Hall take (perhaps Karg’s reserve fits in this aspect better with Coote’s older, wearier Ariodante?) – but then Karg, suddenly, finally smiled and it shifted the entire mood. And in return: Alice Coote leveling goofy, joyful smiles at her stage sopranos while acing endless coloratura runs is an infectious thing of timeless beauty. There was so much joy, both in her voice, and in her and everyone’s performance, and it also echoed through the house.
Lots of applause and palpable happiness in the hall – and even the perpetually nagging Viennese audience seemed completely taken. All I heard in walking out was “Wonderful” and “So gorgeous”. Dehggi and I said pretty much the same, another dozen of times, as we stood in the street in front of the entrance, still smiling.
And then Sonia Prina walked past us and we seriously swooned on our feet. And we agreed that it was somewhat embarrassing. And then we swooned some more. (and then Dehggi stopped Prina – who was very kind and a good sport even after a 4 hour show – for a brief chat. But that story, I am sure Dehggi will tell far better and in more detail once she gets to it.)
Curtail Call, II: Bradley Smith, Matthew Brook, Mary Bevan, David Portillo, Harry Bicket, Sonia Prina, Christiane Karg, Alice Coote.
Pre-Show mehlspeising at Café Drechsler with Dehggi. We were so happy about a ladies’ trouser night that I barely tasted the Topfenstrudel, but I think it was very good. Though the opera, then, was even better. – From my seat, I could see Dehggi nearly fall over the railing of her box and when we met up in the intermissions, we had no snark left, we were just grinning goofily.
(I still covet David Portillo’s shoes.)