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Thread: Cosi at the Met

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    Senior Member guythegreg's Avatar
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    Default Cosi at the Met

    Well, it was wonderful.

    I didn't really know what to expect, beforehand. This was not the A team on stage. Matthew Polenzani (Ferrando) has always been something of a weak link; a pretty good singer, not quite so good an actor, no real range in his acting, that I could see. Good power, and with subtlety, though. Maurizio Muraro (Don Alfonso): I saw his Bartolo once (Rossini), and he is no John Del Carlo. Rodion Pogossov (Guglielmo): I saw his Figaro once (again Rossini), and thought him no Barry Banks; too short to be Figaro but not quite short enough to be covered by the Council for Not Noticing Such Things. Susannah Phillips (Fiordiligi): I had never heard her before, but I was pretty sure she was not setting the world afire. Isabel Leonard (Dorabella): stunk up the stage as Rosina a year or two back. I was REALLY not looking forward to her contribution. I was in pre-wince, you might say. Even Danielle De Niese (Despina), whom I love, has of course talent to burn, looks by the gallon and more stage presence than Bette Midler (well, that's an exaggeration), but has seemed lazy in the past. Coasting on her talent, looks and stage presence, and not inclined to practice or improve her singing too much.

    And by the end of the overture, I was really in some pain. Maestro Levine evidently failed to alert his team to exactly how fast he was intending to take the turns, and once he had made his intentions plain on the spot, most of them still couldn't quite believe it. A couple of the woodwinds kept up, for which all props to 'em, but when the overture was over there were ponies from here to the horizon. It didn't look good. I imagine a lot of eyeballing was going on under the baton, from one to another.

    Then the singing began. And at once, for that one night, the team joined the best singers on the planet. I swear to God.

    Matthew Polenzani simply gave the best Ferrando - the role, I mean, not the singing - I've seen. He made him real. He had a cold, it was announced before the show, and you could hear roughness in his voice all night. But he sacrificed no sensitivity or power to his illness, and gave a truly WONDERFUL un aura amorosa. There was no comparison with the one I'd heard a few months ago in San Francisco. It was great.

    Susannah Phillips' Fiordiligi was top notch. I'm sorry I'm not the voice student that some of you are, and so I can't say what about her performance was so wonderful; but it was thrilling. I can imagine it sung better; but I can't imagine noticing the difference and still, at the same time, having so much fun. Wow.

    Isabel Leonard matched her note for note in quality and, in addition, clowned it up just enough to make her Dorabella lovable. All memory of said Rosina forgiven and forgotten. More, please.

    Danielle De Niese sang so well that I began to think she is thinking of singing Fiordiligi herself in the near future. She was CAREFUL. She enunciated and held her notes and just did everything right. Her voice did get a little rough toward the third act, but I am not feeling bad about that. She worked for it that night. And she didn't stand out the way she usually does for the whole performance. It was a team almost the whole way through.

    Now, when she had to play the doctor, I don't think she could really help herself; it all just kicked into fourth gear and she soared above the crowd on stage as she usually does. Something about the rubber nose just gets to her, I think, and she can't help it. Well, that's why we love her, right? SHE loves it so much and so simply and directly that we can't help loving her for it. Plus she doesn't have to smile constantly when she's wearing the nose, and I'm sure that helps.

    Maurizio Muraro made a grand Don Alfonso. A good, deep bass with a wonderful bite, and excellent balance in the part-singing (well, what am I saying, it's all part-singing!). Rodion Pogossov was, oddly enough, no longer so short. The chorus was together, motivated, and acting like a team. It doesn't make a difference often, in this opera, but once or twice you want it and when it happens, it's great.

    I had forgotten how beautiful the sets are, too. And not just beautiful; they mediate the music for the eye. I feel like if Mozart could see them he would say YES! THAT'S IT! mmm, in German, or whatever. lol I've always wondered who the original director for this was. It's a monumental classic, like the Met's Boheme and like their Madama Butterfly; shouldn't the director who originally thought it up get the credit? But no, all the credit goes to Lesley Koenig, who evidently stepped in at the last minute. If any of you know who the original director was, let me know, please.

    I stand out in the atrium before the show and at the intermission and watch the people. I watch for style. Some people dress so carefully it looks like every piece of clothing has been drycleaned that day; some people (like me) just schlub it up. Well, you wouldn't want to have to actually talk to a rich person, right? Gotta send signals. But while I'm standing out there, I sometimes think I can see happiness - pure happiness - distilling up out of people and streaming up through the air above them, up to the roof. If we could just install collectors, up there, and send it all to the Middle East, eh? (And down in the basement, Mercedes Bass in her evening dress and slingbacks, shoveling stacks of money into the special Met furnace that turns it all into magic up above!)

    Well, Norma next monday - wish me luck -

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    Senior Member Cavaradossi's Avatar
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    too short to be Figaro but not quite short enough to be covered by the Council for Not Noticing Such Things.

    I was in pre-wince, you might say.

    when the overture was over there were ponies from here to the horizon

    (And down in the basement, Mercedes Bass in her evening dress and slingbacks, shoveling stacks of money into the special Met furnace that turns it all into magic up above!)
    Great stuff!

    Must have been quite an inspiring performance indeed to have produced such an inspired review.
    The SO will be seeing it next week. Susanna Phillips appears here fairly often, one those always solid and occasionally remarkable performers hovering not-quite-at-star-level in terms of name recognition.

    Which Norma do you have? Not sure what to expect from either of them.

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Best review I've ever read. Immediate, inspirational, human, and funny.
    Natalie

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    Senior Member Dongiovanni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guythegreg View Post
    But while I'm standing out there, I sometimes think I can see happiness - pure happiness - distilling up out of people and streaming up through the air above them, up to the roof.
    Yes, opera can do that. I know the feeling. We have the best hobby in the world. Great review !

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    Senior Member guythegreg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavaradossi View Post
    Great stuff!

    Must have been quite an inspiring performance indeed to have produced such an inspired review.
    The SO will be seeing it next week. Susanna Phillips appears here fairly often, one those always solid and occasionally remarkable performers hovering not-quite-at-star-level in terms of name recognition.

    Which Norma do you have? Not sure what to expect from either of them.
    Thanks. I have Radvanovsky. I've heard Angela Meade a few times and I think that she rises to the occasion in tests, but on stage in real life, she just can't get it together. Of course, that may change. The people that run the Met seem to be pretty good judges of how to help people improve, and I'm sure they're working with her.

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    Senior Member guythegreg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post
    Best review I've ever read. Immediate, inspirational, human, and funny.
    Praise from Caesar, as they say! Thanks.

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    Senior Member deggial's Avatar
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    what a turn of events. If I had so many misgivings as you did I'd have stayed home and missed a great show...

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    Quote Originally Posted by guythegreg View Post
    I had forgotten how beautiful the sets are, too. And not just beautiful; they mediate the music for the eye. I feel like if Mozart could see them he would say YES! THAT'S IT! mmm, in German, or whatever. lol I've always wondered who the original director for this was. It's a monumental classic, like the Met's Boheme and like their Madama Butterfly; shouldn't the director who originally thought it up get the credit? But no, all the credit goes to Lesley Koenig, who evidently stepped in at the last minute. If any of you know who the original director was, let me know, please.
    I have been told that Jonathan Miller was originally to be the director, though I have no idea if any of his ideas were used. It might be interesting to compare the 1996 Cosi with his other productions of the same opera.

    Also from my understanding much of Koenig's direction haven't been used for a while and has been ignored by revival directors/stage managers/etc.

    The Met does still credit sets and costumes to Michael Yeargan, who has worked on a number of productions at the Met.
    Last edited by mountmccabe; Sep-27-2013 at 16:29.

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    Senior Member guythegreg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deggial View Post
    what a turn of events. If I had so many misgivings as you did I'd have stayed home and missed a great show...
    I worry too much, I know. Well, I have had reason to worry! I've been to some potato-digging performances. This was not one of those, thank goodness.

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    Senior Member guythegreg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountmccabe View Post
    I have been told that Jonathan Miller was originally to be the director, though I have no idea if any of his ideas were used. It might be interesting to compare the 1996 Cosi with his other productions of the same opera.

    Also from my understanding much of Koenig's direction haven't been used for a while and has been ignored by revival directors/stage managers/etc.

    The Met does still credit sets and costumes to Michael Yeargan, who has worked on a number of productions at the Met.
    Thanks so much! I guess the story of this production bifurcates a number of times, eh? Funny how an answer can be so much more complex than a question.

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