Sunday, December 04, 2005

Roberto Devereux

Since this is a blog and not a real job, I get to follow my inclinations wherever they go. After watching her biography, my inclinations are taking me to Montserrat Caballe. I was never a fan of Caballe, and now I have to wonder why. Ignorance, probably. After seeing the bio, I bought two videos from the Bel Canto Society--Semiramide and Norma--and one from House of Opera--a 1977 performance of Roberto Devereux by Donizetti from Aix-en-Provence with a very young and very robust sounding Jose Carreras. Like any of HofO's material, it is not up to commercial standards. This DVD is worth the price just for Carreras alone. I notice that the bel canto society also offers this. They apparently have access to the original tapings and don't have to rely on broadcasts.

The picture on the cover of Caballe's bio Beyond Music is from this production, where she is simply amazing. Why Caballe? The size, color, beauty and flexibility of her voice would be hard to top in bel canto repertoire. She can do it all. Nothing ever happens that is even remotely too much for her. Everything in this really very heavy opera is completely within her power and control--every note, every phrase, every emotion. How often can you say that?

I think I personally prefer a balance between heaviness and fioratura that is more toward the Rossini balance. Rossini never forgets it's about singing, but Donizetti is trying for heavier drama. My heart didn't stop for this as it did for Semiramide.

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