Mozart, a Verdian avant la lettre.
You know all about Verdi and Mozart, right? How Verdi claimed to have an indigestione
of Don Giovanni
, thanks to his teacher Lavigna’s zealous love for the score? How Verdi knew Teresa Saporiti, the first Donna Anna, who lived to the great age (bless her!) of 105 or 106? How Verdi reportedly met Karl (a.k.a. Carlo) Mozart and played through Don Giovanni
for him? And how Don Giovanni
is all over Rigoletto
, and Falstaff
Well, if you don’t know these things, I plan to tell you about them in the not-too-distant future.
For now, I just wanted to let you know that I reviewed Don Giovanni, that honorary appendage to the Verdi canon, for The Classical Review.
Ramón Vargas, the Metropolitan Opera’s Don Ottavio, gave a truly stunning performance of “Dalla sua pace.” It was slow and soft and rapturous, much like Anselmi in the second verse of “Quando le sere al placido.” And it was thrilling, because it was the merest wisp of breath away from disaster.
I think that Mr. Vargas could well come to grief some other time (though I certainly hope he does not), because that possibility cannot be excluded when you walk the tightrope without a safety net.
The performance won a long and loud ovation, though it did not please everyone. The response of a very knowledgeable friend of mine was, “What’s with all the unsupported singing?” I did not hear it that way. For me, it was some of the most courageous, beautiful, and heartfelt singing that I have heard in more than thirty years of opera going, all the more remarkable because no one ever expects Don Ottavio to steal the show in Don Giovanni.
Why don’t more people sing like that? Easy: withering of pallonarum. It’s a widespread infirmity, certainly not limited to operatic tenors: ask yourself why we have no Machiavelli, Napoléon, or Franklin Delano Roosevelt today. The answer: atrophy of pallonarum.
Bon week-end à tous !