Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mercoledi Musicale

I am always amused when I read the horrified comments that greet "crossover" performances on the opera websites and blogs.   Now granted some of those performances do deserve a "What the hell was that suppose to be?" - a rather excruciating performance of I Could Have Danced All Night by a famous soprano springs to mind - but crossover is nothing new.  The great 19th century soprano Adelina Patti would often end not only her concerts but her operatic performances by performing Henry Bishop's Home Sweet Home even if it meant having a piano wheeled out on stage so she could play the accompaniment herself.   American soprano Eileen Farrell recorded four very successful albums of popular music in the 1950s and very few African-American singers omit a selection of spirituals either from their main programmes or as encores.

My darling Anna Caterina Antonacci appears to be carrying on the tradition and though she did not offer this as an encore at the concert in Rome, it appears it has become a fairly regular encore in her current programme. 

What I find as beautiful and touching  as Anna Caterina's quiet but intense delivery is the piano work of Donald Sulzen.   Nothing really elaborate, nothing show-offy in the accompaniment just a perfect match to the mood set by the soprano.  They really do have a remarkable partnership and again I am reminded of that most lauded of accompanist Gerald Moore.

16 May - 1943: Holocaust: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising ends.
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Debra She Who Seeks said...

Yes, she does a nice job of this. Ben Heppner does a nice job of singing jazz and pop standards too, I think. The good ones know not to use operatic style when singing them.

David said...

It's best to accen-chuate the positive and praise the better crossoverists rather than lament the ones that never worked (though I can't resist a dig at Quasthoff, whom I adore in his usual rep, doing jazz).

Favourite encores might be a good way to pass the time, if only there were enough folk to contribute. I'll put in my pennyworth, anyway, for Elisabeth Soderstrom who somehow got away, with her usual charm, singing 'There are fairies at the bottom of my garden' (was it by Liza Lehmann?)

David said...

Meant to add, liked Antonacci's very stylish way with that - can forgive 'heart-maker' for the general effect - and totally agree about Sulzen.