Through Geschwitz’s Lorgnette: More Mezzo Masculinity

[Handel, Giulio Cesare. Act II, Aria Cesare “Se in fiorito”. Sarah Connolly, Glyndebourne 2005. YT clip with thanks to OedipusColoneus]

Christmas may be a little early this year, at least when comes to joy and gifts (child-bearing will have to wait): we have to hand out another Barbara Stanwyck “40 Guns” Award for Butch Portrayal in an opera production. And what’s it with British mezzos that they constantly top this list? First Alice Coote, now Sarah Connolly. – Perhaps it’s something about the climate…

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Mezzo Alert of sorts: Mild und leise.

You need a break among all the gift-wrapping and something to disconnect from traumatizing encounters on the Christmas markets (drunk people with blinking antlers on their heads howling carols while pouring spice wine over your overcoat, for example)?

Fine, so Waltraud Meier sings more soprano than mezzo repertory these days with all those Isoldes, but it’s the roots that count, at least for the sake of this post. Other than that, Meier pretty much transcends categories. She also has one of the best dictions, if not the best, around today and her interviews and audience discussions are regularly lessons in witty repartee. She’s one of the best singer-actresses, period.

As my friend the dramaturg says, “when she comes on stages, the curtains burn up.” (the ‘burning curtains’ list is short. There’s Karita Mattila, there’s Catherine Naglestad and there’s Waltraud Meier. – Yes, I know that that makes at least two sopranos out of three, but I don’t care.)

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Marina/Esther – against the withdrawals VIII

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Esther: “So, no changes yet. The fans are busy with Christmas preparations, the Vatican refuses to sign the UN charta for decriminalizing homosexuality (because, you know, not discriminating them endangers heterosexual marriages. Said the cardinal. And well, those cardinals have to know it, with their ample experiences regarding romantic relationships and being gay…) and RaiDue won’t air the Christmas Special where we finally went to your ski cabin in the Dolomites…”

Marina: “Hmm. Well, it’s not like we did a lot of skiing, anyway…”

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From Anik’s Kitchen: Savoy Casserole

This recipe almost didn’t make the blog cut since, as Ngf lovingly pointed out “It looks horrible. – I think that is a German problem. You open a German cook book and you don’t see anything that you would like to eat, no matter how good it may taste if you actually get to it.”

Luckily, Ngf has moved past aesthetic issues towards an appreciation of the old savoy cabbage casserole family recipe, so I get to cook it all winter long, no matter how it may look.

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Holy Cows and Elephants: The Leipzig Aida, II

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[Natascha Petrinsky (Amneris) and Sylvie Valayre (Aida) – Photo Credit: Andreas Birkigt, Oper Leipzig. Full photo (HR) and gallery here]

So I went back to the Leipzig Aida last night (follow these links for production info, photos and a video (German only)). Once more, Natascha Petrinsky’s Amneris was the highlight of the evening, delivering a fantastic character portrayal within the lucid and intense Konwitschny production that cuts out the decor and the extras in favor of shining a light on the inner conflicts of the protagonists.

The directing makes so much sense that I was baffled when last night, after the 2nd Act Ballet (which here consists of a pantomime carried by the Pharaoh, Ramfis and Amneris), an elderly woman in the row before me yelled “Nonsense!” into the silence at the end. It seems that Aida and her elephants are still a Holy Cow when it comes to staging.

I was tempted to call back, “If this staging is too demanding for you, why don’t you travel to Verona instead?”, but, other than that lady, I’ve been raised not to raise my voice during performances (unless I am on the cast list).

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