Saturday, September 15, 2007

Big Red Books

Here's an article about musicologist Helen Greenwald finishing up work on the critical edition of Rossini's Zelmira and embarking on Verdi's Attila.

I got a pleasant surprise checking the University of Chicago Press's site - the next opera in the Verdi series has been announced: Giovanna d'Arco. The publication date is listed as Spring 2008, but if past volumes are any indication, the date's gonna slide a bit. The latest release in the series is Roberta Marvin's edition of Inno popolare and Inno delle nazioni.

They're really filling in the lesser-known works of Verdi. Giovanna d'Arco will be joining previously issued editions of works like Alzira, Il corsaro and I masnadieri. I'm thinking that overall they must have fewer textual issues than a lot of the later operas and are thus "easier" to produce. That's not to say that some tricky cases haven't been tackled yet -- David Lawton's edition of both the 1847 and 1865 versions of Macbeth came out in 2006. I can't wait to see the edition(s) of Don Carlos -- it'll probably be four of those big red books and weigh 50 pounds.

The Verdi scores are great, but the long introductions make the most wildly impractical bedtime reading. It's like trying to read a book of carpet samples.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Bring a Halls At Least

Listened to the classic Gardelli Nabucco then started in on a Nabucco from 1960 (Schippers at the Met). Good performance, but Jesus, I think there was a typhoid or whooping cough epidemic in New York in 1960. Literally constant coughing during the quiet moments. No one's even trying to hold back. So that put in me in a foul mood. Then after Leonie Rysanek's Act II aria, vigorous applause starts just a fraction of a second too early and you can hear one Rysanek fan bellowing "BRAVA!" I hate these fanatical fans. They're nuts about one singer and hate all the others. Yeah, thanks, Mr. Discernment. Without your advocacy, I wouldn't have known that Rysanek is a good singer. So, two tips: 1. if you're coughing, go to your basement and stay there and 2. if you can't wait for the aria to be over so you can start clapping, grab your coat, leave the theater and walk in front of the nearest cab.

Getting feedback from the Krazy Kovers feature. Mostly positive and with a few useful suggestions. I've started working on the next batch and it should be up early next week. (It won't be a Pavarotti edition.)

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Greatest Classical CD Covers EVER, Part III (Pagliacci Edition)

Click here for the complete (ongoing) series...

Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci
Pavarotti looks more like a mime here. I'm sure his performance of "Vesti la giubba" while walking against the wind killed on stage, I'm sure it doesn't work on CD. And the end, when the invisible box Pavorotti's in keeps getting smaller and smaller until he expires? It's definitely an argument for the superiority of DVD over CD for opera in the home.

Pavarotti's Greatest Hits
Maybe he's supposed to be dressed up as Canio. But his face isn't painted. I'm forced to conclude that Pavorotti is wearing his street clothes in this photo. Hey man, it's the 21st century: do your own thing.

Pagliacci (Cellini)
This cover screams "clowns" to me. "Why yes, I do work with Eliot Ness. What's that? Al Capone's on the streets again? Well, we'll see about that!"

Legendary Performances of Franco Corelli
Opera stars are allowed to have personal lives, you know. And if Corelli wants to go to Star Trek conventions dressed as Spock, it's well within his rights. Who are you to call him a nerd? It looks like he's ready to reenact Spock's freakout scene from "Amok Time".

Der Bajazzo (Stein)
Covers to Pagliacci should give you an idea of the tragic story the opera tells. They aren't supposed to make you shout "oh, boo hoo hoo! Be a man, for God's sake!" at the opera set you have in your hands in the middle of the CD store and you're escorted out by security because this has happened twice already and please don't come again, sir, until you can control yourself.

Elgar - An Anniversary Portrait
I'm afraid the exorcism didn't work, Father Damian. The spectre of Elgar will forever haunt this cursed isle. Perhaps we should venture to safety on the continent. Or perhaps west. Across the sea...

Pagliacci
I didn't know Pagliacci was about hippies having indiscriminate sex with each other. This is i am curious (clowns).

Cav & Pag
Frickin' Regietheater. Cav & Pag done as if it was that Star Trek episode where the guys with the black and white faces discriminated against the guy with the white and black face. We all learned a lesson from that one - if you're all gonna paint your faces, do it together so you make sure you're coordinated.

Normally, I think imposing ideas that have nothing to do with the opera is foolish, but I gotta admit that the effect of Canio beaming on and off stage was stunning. Surely this is Trek conventioneer Corelli's favorite performance. Hopefully he got his copy autographed by William Shatner at the convention in Burbank.

Pagliacci
Jesus! Tito Wayne Gacy. Disgusting. I can't imagine the horrors when they dug up the basement of Gobbi's suburban bungalow. And he sold CDs of his singing from prison! What kind of sick person would buy those?

Click here for the complete (ongoing) series...