Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Three hundred years of St. Petersburg

I bought this, Gala Concert 300 Years of St. Petersburg with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, because it had Anna Netrebko and Dmitri Hvorostovsky together on the same program. The singing is gorgeous, but the film also makes me sad. Dmitri receives armloads of flowers, more than he can carry, and Anna gets none. I can hardly watch this. She gets more response from the musicians, who can be seen tapping their bows on the music stands. That will have to be enough.

She is wearing a rather conservative looking black dress that is open down to her navel and Japanese sticks in her long black hair. Her “Regnava nel silenzio” from Lucia di Lammermoor is ravishing, and her wonderful Musetta’s Waltz is also available on her video album. I saw her do Musetta in San Francisco and simply cannot get enough of that dark voice.

Dmitri performed this same aria, Death of Rodrigo from Don Carlo, at the Volpe Gala. It shows off the beauty of his voice very well, and his is the most beautiful baritone voice singing today. His Jeletsky’s aria from Pique Dame is very intense.

The best thing is the duet from Pagliacci. This is filmed with the camera on Anna’s face, challenging her to deliver the goods, to give us a love duet to remember. When she turns to him and sings “t’amo,” we may well feel that it is meant for ourselves.

This film is good for observing the Russian technique of both these singers. The tone of the voice comes in large part from the resonating chambers, the same resonating chambers possessed by all of us, which consist of a tube extending from the vocal folds to the lips, divided in the center by the constricting tongue. This tube can be lengthened at the bottom by lowering the larynx and at the top by extending and rounding the lips. !!! Perhaps this is the bit others are missing. Both Dmitri and Anna never forget to round their lips.

Anna Netrebko's technique includes a firmly held lowered larynx. A trill requires a somewhat higher and certainly more loosely held larynx. Please don't misunderstand. I am explaining why she does not have a trill. I am not suggesting she should change anything. How badly do we need trilling anyway?

The rest of the music is also quite nice, including the stylish performance of the Polonaise from Eugene Onegin . Ravel's Concerto for the Left Hand, played by Elisso Virsaladze, is noteworthy.

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