The Barcelona “Ariodante” (2006) Liveblogging Thread

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Welcome to the White Shirt live comment thread for Handel’s “Ariodante” from Barcelona (2006), with the Liceu Orchestra under Harry Bicket, staged by  Achim Freyer.

Cast List:

Ariodante – Vesselina Kasarova
Ginevra – Ofelia Sala
Polinesso – Sara Mingardo
Dalinda – Elena de la Merced
Lurcanio – Steve Davislim
The King of Scotland – Denis Sedov
Odoardo – Marc Canturri

Libretto: Italian (pdf).

437 thoughts on “The Barcelona “Ariodante” (2006) Liveblogging Thread”

    1. Just a humble suggestion: How about a live chat plug-in just for your liveblog pages? (WP has many free and relatively secure ones with many options for the blog owners to have total control over the chat panel). I think, it might improve the experience for some ppl. and help them get more out of it.

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      1. The question comes up every once in a while. We haven’t found anything feasible for WP.com (not .org) yet, and we like to be able to revisit old threads and archive them. The comment mode (via reader) resulted the most comfortable for us.

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  1. i’m here i’m here! just woke up from 14 hours of sleep! (was even wondering if i had accidentally took some strange sleeping pills by mistake… but i think it’s just bread, bread = sleeping pill magic!)
    now done *5* pull-ups! read for Polinesso!

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    1. and i had a very strange dream too, getting “incorporated” into MP’s DonG in San Diego! was an amazing experience acting spontaneiously on stage… until i made some noise that caused the tenor to black out.. badly enough he had to take a pill to calm himself down.. so they kicked me off the stage after intermission 😀

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      1. Agathe would have a field day with this – you subconsciously kicking the tenor of stage! (and the baritone? Or did the female-cast idea stick?)

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        1. it’s all some confusion… and sadly they kicked me off the stage *before* MP arrived for her part… so, it went like this, i was in the audience, but we were allow to holler and scream to cheer..

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          1. and apparently one of the male role in donG, the singer was not avail.. so they just picked me (the loudest cheering) to replace him! (except i had to wear a dress!!) , and only acting, someone else was singing… but miraculously i was just able to “go with the flow” and acted upon seeing what the other singers were gesturing at me

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          2. and i was soo happy thinking: wow, i’m glad we went through watching donG together (that candyfloss version) so i’m familiar with the story… and people around were congratulating me not knowing i was just in the audience and had never acted before…

            and then 2nd Act came, and i made some big noice that cause , can’t remember bass or tenor.. , caused him to completely lost his track… he attempted several times to restarted but no success.. and next thing he was so traumatized he looked for really heavy duty pill to calm down…

            so then the manager came afterward and asked me off..

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          3. like those dreams where you pack in a hurry, don’t find anything, run after a train without knowing where it is going, and then you miss it, too.

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          1. they ate SO MANY sweets because people kept walking up and finding them cute. And they got all the flags and gimmicks and behind me, there are 7 (!) balloon hanging at the ceiling. I think they will remember Pride as “Candy/Balloon Parade”

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          1. yes ❤
            (somehow this brought me back to 7-8th grade.. back in school in Vietnam, and i'd be soooo much in admiration watching this *cool* Polinesso from the distance)

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          2. oh, overture starting now, and I would also be fascinated by that presence. (when I saw the show, back in its first Frankfurt season, it wasn’t Mingardo, but Tro Santafé)

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      1. started when Agathe arrived – and am now just into the 2nd Ginevra aria, after a very smooth move by Polinesso, which, in Ginvra’s place I would perhaps not have rejected.

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    1. (just keep watching… i can’t say i have as many issues as others is..
      oh attention, here comes the movement for my 3rd gif.

      but we grew up with little, and we do a lot of these kinds of motions, as well as living and watching each other only facing 1 way because we were always on balconies seeing neighbors who are always facing out on different floors…
      oh, here is my 4th gif.. )

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      1. when I firt saw this, it was for VK, I didn’t even remember that Polinesso is the main storyteller in this setup!

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        1. me neither 😉
          (this was the piece that put SMingardo completely on my attention radar, primary from the room she leaves for me to hear Polinesso’s music, the details.., like how Zedda opens the music in Semiramide..)

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    2. not lifeless, but in a default mode “still” – though then they do little things on an off while someone else is singing. It takes a while to get used to.
      It has two levels to get the viewer away from usual identification: stark make-up, and the distorted body dimensions. Freyer shows often have that start alienation thing (e.g. bright, geometrical costumes) and it can grate on one’s nerves, but I find this show to be one that works very well: the “puppet” gets to show emotion/reaction in a way that oddly intensified. And that you cannot just “fall into it” (much as I was annoyed by it when I first saw it!) makes the engagement with the story more active: you need more imagination.

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    3. There is also a lot told via light changes (mostly bright colors), and which puppets listen on on others.
      And I think it is an approach that works well with Kasarova’s singing, too – never just mimetic, always commenting on things, too.

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    1. (and goatie, it’s a bit too blurry to see her eyes sometimes, but she does wonderful things with them too)
      (and gloves, and mis-matching socks, and swords.. and the neck design of the outfit…)

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          1. It is the most difficult in the beginning, though (by the time they start to tell things by crossing them, you get it. – it really is the main factor in establishing the distance here, and forcing the audience to connect differently)

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      1. I don’t know if Freyer had a degree in puppeteering, but the make-up really allows for lots of expression with very little motion. Great call, especially with Mingardo.

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    1. you mean when you spontaneously get called in to star in DonG?

      — on a side note, it is such nostalgia to hear Kasarova in a big Handel again… *sigh*

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      1. Agathe is right, she does this more mannered than other Handel’s – perhaps also because in tine with the very stylized staging?

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        1. jeah, i ‘ve heard her less “dark” . i always wonder , sometimes it’s also a matter of the day of performance and how you feel?
          she was always saying (am paraphrasing): “being professional is to perform regardless how you feel on the day, and the trick is you’re never 100% when you have to perform”

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    1. perhaps? He Ruggiero was lighter afterwards, but I only heard her Ariodante in this one.

      (side note: Bicket had some faster tempi a decade ago!)

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  2. Hello ladies, may I join you ? I was in #¤&#& choir rehearsal and wasn’t sure if I could concentrate on the opera after that… but I guess I can’t resist Polinesso…

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    1. but VK is just doing fireworks with her Con l’ali… and Ginevra is dancing along, and Ariodante even does little improvised bits in speed there. And gets everyone to dance (look at Odoardo being the King’s added head!) – of course, not Polinesso.

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        1. oh, and now Mingardo arranging a date for the night. (there is something about her Italian delivery which is messing up something in my brain… guuuuuh).

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          1. yeah, the messing…. and than there is the weird puppet thing. And it makes me wonder about the meaning of bodies in this context.

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          2. …you had to go and open that box. That will take WEEKS again, starting with “Do we generally perceive opera as embodied?”, and “Does a voice project a body (and is it gendered)?”

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    1. wrapped up in his own great singing?

      (but it’s neat how much of that comes across even while the singers are very limited in their movements!)

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    1. getting out your best gree dress and auditioning for Dalinda?

      (but in a side note, I think her Handel delivery is so outstanding because she sings a lot of older things where word delivery is more important)

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        1. good thing you have a few on offer there.
          (typos happening with increased frequency over sly contralto lines)

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    1. Lurcanio really doesn’t stand a chance. (but he is really, really good – this si Davislim, right? The Idomeneo from the Star Wars production?)

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          1. (though i vehemently rationalize that my “types” is all vocal-centric.. i’m slowly recognizing some (self)patterns here.. first there’s “my beloved Roméo”, then “my Nerone”, and now “my Polinesso”…. )

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          2. (my ‘Vienna’ you mean 😉 )
            (though, i think, knowing myself, i understand why my knees went weak with SM and not with VK, and for that reason i suspect it won’t got weak in SP’s presence either.. even when MP grabbing my hands… well.. that was a bit of push and shove 😉 )

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          3. (oh, i assure you it’s Vienna, not much Paris… truly, her Alcina left such a strong imprint on me, i still remember sitting on the floor looking up the ceiling light at intermission.. and so, for that matter, i guess it’s not all about the male roles , though i can’t quite say it was “my Alcina”.. hmm, interesting point there! )

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          4. now the comparison question would be: was Harteros “Your Alcina”?

            And Paris – you’re on live shows, right? my mistake – would be Sifare, but yes, very different if not live. And we can only speculate what would have happened if we had had the chance to be in the house there (well, on my part, probably a blend of fainting (Act II) and sponteneous combustion (Act III), but we will never know)

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          5. Alcina: hard to say, because it was such a long time ago with Harteros. But i’d say on the “vulnerability” point, definitely MP’s Alcina. There is something else regarding “my”, the attachment. I mentioned it once before, and hence the potential “projection”: someone you can really identify with. whereas somehow for me Alcina is still a 3rd person. What is needed there was seeing live a couple more times, then tape the whole thing for investigation…
            And i’ve been thinking about Sifare as well because somehow it also didn’t quite map into the “my” projection.. and there i’m now beginning to wonder if the deep voice is subconsciously part of it..

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          6. and to get back just a little bit: because i was fascinated by SM’s Polinesso, but it was her Brahms Alto Rhapsody with Andris Nelsons that left me completely hooked. So it’s really not about the male roles, not even early music… I can’t figure out yet, but I remember falling under a “spell” with her voice in that one (dark context, deep orchestra, deep male chorus, deep voice…, in a dress (?)). I have been wondering for a long time, because of the various voices I go for, hers is like drug in the truest sense.
            I’d even go as far as admitting i can give up noodles but not her music (if i have to live without one..) .. and still remember that time i had a job interview where I turned on her music but the rain was so persistently heavy i felt depressed.. and thought no, if i live in a city where i can’t listen to S.Mingardo, then it’s not the right city for me :-).

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          7. GIVING UP NOODLES!
            now that is the ultimate litmus test (in Agathe’s and my case, probably ‘giving up coffee’)

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          8. jeah, them breads are alright, esp. if they give me dreams such as being in a production with MP 😉
            (milk tea might be harder.. i’d have to think.. but i think SM will prevail, must feed the soul.)

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          9. back to the contraltos it is (and to the mezzos) – I remember you saying that at times you have a hard time integrating MP’s voice, so perhaps there is an immediate distance due to the way your brain needs to consciously adapt to some of her singing?

            I’ve also been thinking about identification vs. attraction and the point where they coalesce into each other, and much of instinct reaction for me is things that later end up as more on the identification scale, and less on the attracton scale. I am puzzling when or how these things dissipate, and there is a clear difference to portrayals I notice (Prina, Barcellona) that – and I use gender stereotypes here I am not all that comfortable with – make me go, “yo, bro, well done! And also, hot.”, but not that mindless kind of “HHNNNG” of other instance that I struggle to explain a lot more, because it shuts off my brain.

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          10. instance that I struggle to explain a lot more, because it shuts off my brain

            I think this is also where the “vocal expression” kicks in, if not already earlier? that yes, there’s the “movements” and physical portrayal that goes hand-in-hand with vocal expression, but if that form is not exactly “leading” but “following”? take the sprinkling notes for “Pur ti miro” back in May for example: Here the movements were very minimal and anything but stereotypical, and then the vocal expression carries the message while the movements follow through.

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          11. So it would be the sound creating the body, or overwriting/amplifying a the singer’s socialized body?

            And then we react to that sound-created body as it follows? I’d also say it is a dialogue, it interacts with the energy and biography a singer brings a given performance.

            But even then, there are performances that hit me on a more visceral level in comparison to others, which part may tie back to type, but also a tension created by overriding types?

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          12. at least for me i think that’s how it works. For example, even if the movements are fantastics and the shirts are perfect… but if the voice doesn’t connect, then i get a complete disconnection. So the key here is the movements that are *precisely* in tune with the vocal expression. This really requires small yet purposeful action. That’s why i made that quote about VK’s “it’s all in the timing of when/where she moves relative to the phrasing” . So, one can take 2 different singers, provide similar “instructions”, and the two singers, based on their personal way of emoting it will move differently. And these different movements then make sense for one person in the audience but not others. And when they’re in tune with “how I perceive it should be”, then I identify with it deeply. Again, these are meant for very little angle change / shift in weight, etc that just emphasizes the message somehow.. And for me these movements tend to be so small that only *i* or perhaps those whose tuning is similiar to mine would notice, i.e., they’re not large gestures or steps, and not meant to “demonstrate” the intention… same goes with vocal expression i feel (as i once said for S.Mingardo, i hear these super fine details that i think only (obsessed) I notice…)

            So, for me, that’s what separates between performances that hit me on a more visceral level in comparison to others (stealing your quote).

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          13. Even though I may not notice it as much consciously, but I would agree. – the aspect that strikes me here is how well you are able to articulate this details that draw you in. I can extrapolate some of that for my own reactions, but it seems that the overall reaction of “brain blackout” that leaves me unable to name and analyze factors in a coherent manner is one of my indicators: if I cannot rationalize it, that very lack indicates an intensity in stage presence/motion/vocal expression that draws me in to a point where I struggle to define these elements.

            >

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          14. i have been giggling a bit at the fact that whenever i thought “oh, such a grand knight” , Agathe’s reaction was “a jerk” , or mine “aw, piny tender” versus Agathe’s reaction: “evil” …
            Same goes perhaps for what I/(we?) perceive with Prina’s or Barcellona’s reactive response compared to Agathe’s ?

            If we take a step back and see the big picture, it is really interesting what we each perceive based on the exact intake on the screen (not even live yet). This goes back to our projection perhaps of what we “look for” as a reaction to given a particular emotion cue, and how personalized it is. As a result, what is shutting our brain down can be a complete turn off or non-reaction for others, and vice versa. I quite like our collective (yet limited) human samples for this project, soon we might have enough data for a paper! 🙂

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          15. no worries, we have time. after all, we needed more than a year worth of liveblogging to gather the wealth, an i suspect more “evidence” will show up to give us more concrete reasonings for our various ideas / theories.

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          16. The only thing that will run out is my contract that would allow me to apply for funding to actually do such a thing…

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          17. (and while on the confession route, let me also reveal, of all the singers i’ve met, my knees went weak only once, standing next to S.Mingardo.. let me go look if i had my hand wrapped around her…)

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          18. We should conduct an experiment of having Sonia Prina walk past you (who, if we talk about pheno types, would not be my type at all, but there is this thing about presence (vocal and otherweise)).

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          19. I volunteer for that experiment! (field conditions in Halle were not so good, she was a few meters away and I was just busy not to stare at her in an embarrassing way)

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    1. at this point, I think it is nearly everyone. (actually, that would make an interesting twist – Dalinda and Lurcanio both having a thing for Polinesso…)

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      1. a little too much.
        also the final duet phrases of Ariodante/Ginevra in Act 1 – Sala’s top bordered on shrill there, perhaps because she had no time to balance?

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          1. yes, especially after just having heard the Carnegie take, where he was a lot more considerate of the singers and went to less extremes.

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        1. jeah,
          thả = release (but in this context release and catch, the way you do for kite)
          diều = kite.

          and it has a back story of when i was little, because our balcony was against the wind we could not fly the kite so all my childhood was lying on my back watching clouds and kids on opposite side flying the kites and wishing i could fly one. the sky in the non-raining season was filled with kites, all home-made from paper and bamboo sticks. we were not allowed to go outside so balcony = space to the “world” , (my sisters still tell stories now of how if 1 of us saw a tiny airplane in the sky, someone would announce “airplane!!!” and the all sibblings ran to the balcony to see 🙂 )

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          1. That’s a lovely story (and a bit sad, but you got to go out and fly kites when growing older?). I vividly remember flying a kite with my son the first time, a glorious, sunny day, plenty of kites in that public park and all kids so happy and excited, and even some passers by stopped to enjoy watching the kites.

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          2. oh i survived ok 😉 , though i think those young years lying on back looking up kites and cloud shapes spurred imagination and likely explains why my mind can work very well with minimalist approach as well as distortion and blurs, just the overall shape/angle is needed (and for that matter i am sometimes puzzled when others commented on hair, wig (blond lime!) , clothes (those DonG dresses!), etc. coz i get past them sometimes without noticing, just need a first intake and am ready to roll)

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          3. If you put it that way…yes, of course.
            Many years ago, I saw a documentary with a scene that stuck, about a Western baby being raised in an apartment with rooms that have 90 degree angles (of course) and quiet and space and distance to the outdoors, and a baby being raised in an indigenous South American culture, without brick walls, with air and a different kind of space, not beneath a painted white ceiling with 90 degree angles, but with moving leaves and immersion into flora/fauna… the point the movie tried to make was that that brains and bodies will, on a micro level, develop some different capabilities e.g. of balance and spatial view/adaptability to shapes depending on where and how they are socialized. Which is not new, it was just a comparison image that stuck with me. (though these approaches so easily turn racist – so it really needs to be stressed that it is a microlevel thing, perhaps a bit like epigenetics? Interacting with an overall frame?)

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          4. (i once made the comment that my brain has a very hard time adjusting to the even space in western chess because the Chinese chess i grew up with was on the odd grid… i agree it can be used as excuses for discrimination when not thinking in big picture about all possibilities and focus on exploration …)

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          1. Polinesso is waving at Dalinda, and Dalinda waves back — am wondering at this point whether Mingardo has any dance/commedia training? — yes, there is a tenor singing, too. Polinesso is blowing kissing at Dalinda. #WhatTenor

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  3. oh, Kasarova’s “Preparati a morire” – all that passionate Romeo indignation… *sigh* and that smooth B part … *SIGH*… and Polinesso with his mismatched sock just standing there with his hands and that smirk… someone call the medics.

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    1. and now we arrive at them tilting their bodies…
      and tempo coming to a stand-still.. (i almost wonder if he wanted to do it this this slow and had to hurry everything else up to make up time..)

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  4. okay, yes, I am distracted by Mismatched Sock taking a nap with their girlfriend, but the colors VK employs in those loooog spun lines. Dead all over again!

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        1. yes, that unconcerned smile. (the bit where he is always a bit out of the plot, and never fully in it: he knows it is all just theatre)

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  5. i should mention i saw this for like 3 years, drooling over Ariodante first, then Polinesso.. without understand the story, and never understood why Ginevra was constantly “whining”

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        1. yes, I would say the same. Like the light coloring in the violins and the the rhythmic take haven’t changed.

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        1. i think both. i think you need good singers to portray well the music but also good “acting” to get the subtle angles / body movements. Here if you overdo in angles, the message is lost. and if you don’t do enough with singing, it can get static.

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      1. I remember this one being crazy, the biggest reaction of the evening. So for a long time, it was my favoite – I got into Cieca notte much later!

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  6. and here, just like in the Aix, Ginevra is DONE with everything, and Ariodante doesn’t even get it. And Odoardo has to carry off dead Polinesso.

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    1. Yes, very cute, I’m impressed how the director managed to keep it interesting throughout the 3 hours (but Mingardo tunnel vision may have played a role). Ah, now finally with real legs!

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      1. No, i think even without the tunnel vision one can still be quite engaged.. i got into it via VK of course.. and quite soon after ..
        (oh, did you all see, VK waited, then went hands-on-shoulder with SM walking off ❤ )
        catching on to Polinesso, and love their acting and subtle movements. Even if you see it again, you see new things as well.

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        1. was really lovely sharing it with you and the crew, coz i have been by myself watching her smiling and making gestures for a very long time.. and at times wonder whether i’m looking at things a bit too close 😉
          Here, allow me to drop off another gif. i produced 4 several days ago.. well, pretty much as soon as the first act starts i saw gif left and right ;-).

          Liked by 1 person

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