Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Monday, June 28, 2010

Video Fun - Renee Fleming

Let's start with Marietta's song (aka the Lute Song) from Die Tote Stadt by Erich Korngold (best known for his film scores such as The Adventures of Robin Hood. The opera is a bit of a rarity: I've never seen it done live. I first heard of it when this piece was used in the film Aria.

Now we have the Letter Duet from The Marriage of Figaro (subtitled in Spanish!)

Staying with Mozart but moving away from opera, we have the Laudamus Te from the C minor Mass, a wonderfully exuberant piece all round and a real showcase for a soprano's skills.

Nobody can be considered a true star until s/he has worked with the Muppets. Verdi's Caro Nome (from Rigoletto) will never be the same again.....

Finally we have what I consider the greatest operatic ensemble ever written, the trio from the last act of Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier. The only subtitles are in German I'm afraid, so by way of a quick crib:

- the woman on the right is actually playing the part of a teenaged boy, Octavian
- the woman in the middle (Renee Fleming) is his much older long-time mistress, the Marschallin
- the woman on the left is Sophie, roughly his own age, and with whom he has fallen utterly in love.

In the trio all three of them are singing very differently about love. The Marschallin is singing that she knew the time would come when she had to let Octavian go, and how she had always hoped she could love him in the right way so she could bear it when that happened: the time is here and she's finding it hard but knows she has to do the right thing. Octavian is "torn between two lovers", desperate to avoid hurting the Marschallin but knowing that he will. Sophie really hasn't a clue what's going on: she loves Octavian, she's in awe of this ultra-aristocratic older woman and can see there's some history between her and Octavian that she hasn't figured out: but the Marschallin seems to be giving them her blessing so it must be OK. All of which is set to music of a post-Wagnerian romanticism dialled up to 11 (for the horn section, dialled up to 15) which in a confined opera house is an absolutely overwhelming physical experience.