I am still reeling from the realization that Semele was done up as Jackie vs Marilyn. Are we really ready for this? I apologize for the amount of factual corrections required for this review. Information trickles to the surface of my brain only gradually.
I am very much enjoying the book Divas and Scholars. The author specializes in the operas of Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi, and this has made me wonder if possibly a little specialization might be nice. Since this is a blog and not a career, I could specialize for a while and then switch. Two specialties would be good: bel canto and modern, I think.
I will try to summarize in a future blog what he says about the significance of Marilyn Horne in the revival of the works of Rossini. Many of her most significant performances are available on House of Opera DVD.
I was pretty hard on the two divas in Semele, who were really quite marvelous in a very American way. Merola in San Francisco has been successful with turning out good American opera singers, but generally it is difficult to get the right sort of training for opera in America. Conductors and coaches take the written page much too seriously, preferring a literal interpretation that comes out sounding very square. The proper style for an opera singer is not the same as the proper style for the third stand violin player.
Each composer, even four as close in genre as Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi, has his own style, his own appropriate way of phrasing that the singer must discover.