Friday, September 21, 2007

it's a teeny world

I just returned from the dress rehearsal of Washington Concert Opera's performance of I puritani. On paper, it looked pretty promising:

Arturo: Larry Brownlee
Elvira: Sarah Coburn
some other people
Giorgio: David Pittsinger

I had heard from my previous voice teacher that Larry Brownlee was something special. And he was! I mean, aside from the awards that he's got, it's definitely a beautiful, round voice that's centered quite high. (In the dress, he went for the high F and got it, though it wasn't without its dangers.) It did get lost among the orchestra's thickness, though and one misses a bit of point and ping in the sound, but I think the larger issue was a lack of orchestral transparency, which I gather is unusual under Maestro Antony Walker, but whatever. We call it like we hears it.

Sarah Coburn is an interesting voice. I think she's overparted as Elvira. It's so relentlessly high. And while she can have beautifully emitted high notes (from say, A to E-flat), unless she can prepare for them, they come out screechy. She has to resort to blowsy open-throated attacks to carry through the orchestra and generally seemed to be riding the "I'm gonna blow out my vocal chords" wave pretty hard. When you have to breathe every measure and a half, something's going on (or not, as the case may be).

It was certainly interesting to hear the opera and see a dress rehearsal, which I hadn't really done before, even though it's not quite like a dress rehearsal for a staged performance, I would think. I also realized that Puritani is a snoozer from the mad scene on. ZZZZ. Also, it reinforced the point that just because you *can* sing something doesn't mean you should. It felt like a lot of why this performance even happened was about ability and the music itself was just left to founder a bit. It's also not fun for the audience! You spend the entire time having sympathetic throat convulsions watching the singers struggle!

Yes, not for me. Eek. Back to humming exercises though :)

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