Monday, January 29, 2007

"Ars longa, vita brevis, occasio praeceps, experimentum periculosum, iudicium difficile."
Life is short, [the] art long, opportunity fleeting, experiment treacherous, judgment difficult.

Mrs. Bonzo tries to keep Mr. Bonzo from ranting about BigU on the theory that if the Bonzos ignore it long enough, it will go away. So she tries to distract Mr. Bonzo now and then by sending him artsy stuff. Here from the LA Times is a little music review:

MUSIC REVIEW By Mark Swed, Times Staff Writer

For Deborah Voigt, less indeed is more
The slimmed-down soprano now has a compliant physique at the command of her flexible voice.

Like a character in a Mozart or Strauss opera, Deborah Voigt has undergone a transformation. She's lost weight and added glamour. At her Los Angeles Opera recital Sunday evening in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, she was a walking, talking, flirting, singing advertisement for gastric bypass surgery.

[Ouch, that hurt!]

What was immediately apparent at this recital — which worked its way through lesser-known Mozart, Verdi, Strauss and Respighi until reaching American music — is that Voigt is no fluke of nature. She is a technical singer, superbly trained. Her voice is not impressive for its bigness (although it is not small) as it is for its focus. The thrill of her high notes is that of a considerable athletic feat.

But my sense of the evening was of a singer whose real potential is untapped. Her accompanist, Brian Zeger, was just that, an accompanist. She needed someone to play off, not who plays for her, however well. She actually blew Zeger away when she sat down with him at the piano bench for an encore and rocked at the keyboard.

She also needs musical substance. Strauss and Wagner might be her meal ticket, but her soul is in American music and music of our time. Yet she is, instead, turning to trash. Now that she has the looks, she says she wants to sing "Adriana Lecouvreur," "Andrea Chenier" and other cheap Italian operas. The time has come for her to make Strauss, Wagner and Verdi relevant and to inspire new opera. She could do it.

Now this was “just” a recital. There is quite a nice picture of Ms. Voight in the review and she looks smashing in a black formal low-cut gown, but certainly she is not the extremely thin Callas who the reviewer thinks may have lost her edge by too strict a diet. The Bonzos were honored to hear Ms. Voigt sing in Chicago this last Fall where she did her performance in considerably less clothing as Salome in the Strauss opera. She also did a very convincing and credible Dance of the Seven Veils. [Bravo and two thumbs up from the Bonzos]. Some reviews:

Universally admired for her lustrous voice, charismatic stage presence and wicked sense of humor, Deborah Voigt arrives in LA fresh from her recent success as Salome with Lyric Opera of Chicago:

"A personal and artistic triumph. Ms. Voigt, who looked great, exuded confidence and won a tumultuous ovation. What matters, though, is that she sang thrillingly…I have never heard her sing with such fearless intensity." The New York Times

"Her singing was gleaming and voluptuous, its power and warm, womanly vocal quality undiminished…Voigt poured out the grueling final scene in mad exultation of opulent, radiant tone." Chicago Tribune

Now what all the fuss is about is that only a few years ago, Ms. Voigt was unceremoniously dumped by Covent Garden for being too large to fit in a little black dress.

The good news is:

Covent Garden Finally (Re-)Engages Deborah Voigt to Sing Ariadne

Not so long ago, the Royal Opera House in London caused a worldwide uproar when it released soprano Deborah Voigt from her contract to sing the title role in Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos. But news broke over the weekend that the company has changed its mind - now that Voigt has changed her figure.

The Times of London, BBC News and Scotland on Sunday reported yesterday that the ROH has engaged the now-slimmer Voigt to sing Ariadne in the 2007-08 season.

— Read more at PlaybillArts

Now the loss of weight (100+ pounds) was due to gastric bypass surgery. Mr. Bonzo is a little concerned about this. However, he knows at least one other person who has benefitted immeasurably from such surgery (marriage, family...) so who’s to say nay.

Right on, Deborah!

Aside: Mr. Bonzo heard the Met travelling version in ColdState about thirty-five years ago. The Met used to come out to the provinces and people would come in from OutState and from TheDakotas to GemCities by the busload to hear the opera. Usually the stars would cancel out at the last minute, but not always. As a student Mr. Bonzo could only afford the cheap seats and sat with his back literally to the wall in a huge auditorium. He heard Martina Arroyo sing in Madame Butterfly. He was amazed to learn - when he used his binoculars - that Ms. Arroyo looked like a perfectly round little butterball. [Please God, let Ms. Arroyo never see this if she is still with us...] But she sang like the proverbial angel and could be heard perfectly well in the cheap seats of a huge auditorium. Mr. Bonzo loved it. In a way it is too bad that opera singers must also look like movie stars, nowadays. In the old days it seemed perfectly acceptable to just stand up there and belt and no one cared terribly much what you looked like. Thank you, Mrs. Bonzo, for bringing back pleasant memories of ars longa.

No comments: