Joyce DiDonato, photo © Ken Howard.
I do apologize for the blog’s downtime: it seems there was a nasty server crash. Well, phew! I am grateful to the computer deities for the (apparently) full restoration.
(By the way, I am working on a new blog so that I need no longer try your patience with off-topic posts here. Details to follow.)
The Enchanted Island at the Metropolitan Opera: I reviewed it for The Classical Review. I found the writing difficult, what with a world premiere, a cast of thousands (on stage and in the production team), a pastiche, an original libretto that mucks about with its sources, etc.
In any event, I did compare Joyce DiDonato to Maria Callas in terms of overall musical and dramatic excellence. I think that this may be a first for me: I have raised Callas’s name in the past in connection with specific aspects of an artist’s performance, but never in a sweeping way.
This time I did make a sweeping comparison, and I made it advisedly. This is what I actually wrote. (My editor rightly edited it—again, I found this assignment very challenging.)
A comparison to Maria Callas is not to be made lightly—not least because poor Callas has been invoked so often to praise sloppy, unmusical singers—but the unsparing ferocity with which DiDonato digs into her music and probes beauties both ravishing and terrible deserves no less illustrious a parallel.
Now, that said, I am not at all inclined to see The Enchanted Island a second time. I saw Rodelinda twice and would have gone a third time if my agenda had allowed (ditto for Hansel and Gretel), but the cheap and silly bits of The Enchanted Island spoiled the show for me.
(The great Martin Bernheimer relayed Peter Gelb’s statement that he “wanted to play the Baroque card, but with a faster dramatic rhythm tailored to modern attention spans.” Dear Mr. Gelb: you and your team would have done well to respect your material and, most of all, the intelligence of your audience. Then The Enchanted Island might have been a show for the ages.)
As for you, dear readers, you should make a special effort to see and hear DiDonato. You can catch The Enchanted Island Live in HD on 21 January or in the house until 30 January.