Sunday, December 10, 2006

i guess i could proto-blog...

That's the trouble with starting things ahead of time. Or at least, if you're me. You get this insane urge just to start them, even if it would be premature, just like the urge to pick a scab. You keep justifying why you should go ahead and do what it is that you really want to do, and honestly, I think I'm just going to.

Of course, I can't start blogging according to my original conception of this whole thing (a repository of thoughts as I took my first steps as a conservatory student [which can't very well happen until I'm accepted to a conservatory, the factualness of which is unknowable at this point] with more of a bent towards technical details, since it would not only be useful for me [in serving as a pseudo journal] but may satisfy a niche in the blogosphere that I have yet to encounter).

However, since I can't seem to stop myself (omg, links! pretty pictures!), I might as well start writing little informal ditties and perhaps in my ramblings discover topics I hadn't really considered before. But first, a pretty picture. mmmmm

Anyhow. This Saturday was interesting. After filling out (mostly) the final domestic conservatory app, I decided to take in a movie I had planned on seeing a lot earlier, Copying Beethoven. I had gotten the feeling that the introduction of the fictitious Anna Holtz bothered some people, and to be honest, my knee-jerk reaction to musical biopics tends to be skepticism, buuuut I had read that the movers and shakers behind the movie were pretty firm in restricting the soundtrack to music actually written by Beethoven during the timeframe the move takes place (final year[s]), at least where a Beethoven piece is to be used.

So that meant, no Eroica, no 5th Symphony, no to a lot of things, and I was impressed that something that would seem like a fairly mundane, academic decision was held to. Melted some of the skepticism. Have to say that I rolled my eyeballs during the opening sequence (the movie plays out of order like Zeffirelli's Traviata movie: spoilers: Beethoven dies!) as it seemed kind of needlessly affected, but I became so caught up in the movie at certain points that the opening sequence makes sense at the end of the movie. Well-played gambit, I think. I actually surprised myself a little bit at how strongly I reacted -- tears, gulpy throat, flaring nostrils -- all of it. It's not without its flaws, and in retrospect, it seems kind of insubstantial. But while I was watching it, it was pretty great stuff.

Then I went home and prompty fell asleep watching a VHS transfer of a Manon at NYCO from 1977 (Rudel/Sills, Henry Price -- hadn't heard of him before, but apparently went to American Opera Centre at Juuuuuuilliard and now teaches at Pepperdine, some other people, and Sam Ramey [!!!]). This is actually my first Manon, and I'm digesting it slowly -- I've just got the final act to go. I'm having the same sort of reaction to Sills (at least at this point in her career where the voice seems to harden a lot) as Maury D'annato seems to have with Anna Netrebko (the biggest difference is that I'm not experiencing Sills in house). The thing is, I really *liked* the voice before it calcified -- check out this youtube of Traviata (with Bastianini!)

In 1977, her stage presence is still remarkable. She's much more moving in Manon's introspection/regret than in the bubbly bubbly that characterizes much of Acts 1 and 2 (though, the seduction of [cute!] Price at Saint-Suplice is intensely lustful, which adds a lot more dimension to Manon than playing it for love would be, I think), though still wonderful to watch throughout. Henry Price has a very pleasing voice, with an elegant weave of sound. His French (particularly his vowels..."eh" [reaches for IPA symbols..] becomes more "ah", so lui-même becomes lui-ma'am. Maybe it's because I studied French and more attuned to its sounds, but even beyond comprehensibility of the text, I find that there's just so much more to enjoy in the sheer sound of the vowels and phonemes of a language. I suspect that virtually all composers of opera would have such a sensitivity to the simple aural pleasure of language (Louise's delicieusement), so it's always a shame to lose it, I think. Mmmm, the pleasure piggie hedonism of rubbing vowels together in your mouth between consonants... But other than a lack of heft for vocal ensembles or big orchestral moments, Price was beautifully ardent, and I'm sure his cherub's curls and handsome face don't hurt him in my sympathies.

But OMG, Sam Ramey. I thought a little uninflected, even if he is just singing Comte des Grieux, but it's kind of hard to resist cello-like timbre of his voice when he lets it out so naturally. Mmmmmmmm.

Alright, I think I've scrubbed enough for another ("first") post. Maybe I'll finish Manon tonight...though looking at the time, perhaps not.

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