Author Topic: Rufus is coming to City Opera  (Read 1173 times)

Offline Meryl

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Rufus is coming to City Opera
« on: June 30, 2011, 02:03:16 am »
Our company's in severe financial straits, so who knows if this will come to pass, but it could be cool.


June 29, 2011

Wainwright Offers Taste of Opera

By ALLAN KOZINN

With its plans for next season still a mystery as June winds to an end, New York City Opera raised its flag, briefly, on Tuesday at the Winter Garden of the World Financial Center, offering an evening of arias, ensembles and Rufus Wainwright songs. Mr. Wainwright was on hand to play his music and to explain, more or less, what the operatic excerpts were about.

City Opera musicians not involved in the performance (the singers were accompanied by Kevin Murphy, the pianist), were outside the Winter Garden handing out fliers denouncing the company’s general manager, George Steel, for his decision to withdraw from Lincoln Center. And Mr. Steel introduced the performance with a promise that he would announce the company’s plans soon, saying only what is already known: that Mr. Wainwright’s “Prima Donna” is one of the five operas the company plans to present.

But though the concert was a City Opera event, Mr. Wainwright — who wore a tuxedo jacket, shirt and bow tie, with shorts — was the clear draw. The River to River Festival, which presented the concert, described the performance on its schedule as an evening of excerpts from “Prima Donna,” as well as songs by Mr. Wainwright that were inspired by his love of opera, and some of his favorite arias.

That was more or less accurate, although listeners who expected a more extensive preview of “Prima Donna” — of the dozen pieces on the program, only two were from it — could perhaps be forgiven for feeling let down.

“Prima Donna” has already had an eventful history. It was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theater but dropped by the Met in a dispute over Mr. Wainwright’s choice of language (French rather than English). The work had its premiere in Manchester, England, in 2009 and will have a concert performance next month at Covent Garden in London.

The two excerpts Mr. Wainwright offered here — “Dans mon pays de Picardie,” a flighty, attractive soprano aria, performed by Anne-Carolyn Bird, and “Les feux d’artifice,” which Mr. Wainwright sang himself — tell you little about the full work. Both are shapely, melodic pieces in a late-19th-century style, with little to suggest that Mr. Wainwright has much interest in contemporary experimentalism. They are also more athletically tuneful than his pop songs, of which he performed three: “Damned Ladies,” “Who Are You New York?” and “Vibrate.”

Much has been made of Mr. Wainwright’s operatic expertise, but his introductions, though charmingly off the cuff, suggested a more glancing familiarity (and a disinclination to prepare). He had trouble pronouncing titles of arias and works, and of “O Don Fatale,” from Verdi’s “Don Carlo,” he said: “I think it means — I don’t know! Fatal something or other.” (It means “Oh, Fatal Gift.”)

The opera excerpts were given committed, able performances by a handful of young City Opera singers. Robert Mack, a tenor, and Matthew Burns, a bass-baritone, offered an appealing account of Bizet’s “Pearl Fishers” duet, “O fond du temple saint.” On their own, Mr. Mack gave a strikingly bright-edged account of Puccini’s “Che gelida manina,” and Mr. Burns offered a strong reading of an aria from Wagner’s “Tannhäuser.”

Ms. Bird, heard to good effect in Mr. Wainwright’s aria, also sang “Dis-moi que je suis belle” from Massenet’s “Thaïs,” and the mezzo-soprano Laura Vlasak Nolen was at her best in a sultry “Habanera” from Bizet’s “Carmen.” The full ensemble closed the performance with the Act III quartet from Verdi’s “Rigoletto.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/30/arts/music/rufus-wainwright-appears-with-city-opera.html?_r=1
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Offline southendmd

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Re: Rufus is coming to City Opera
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2011, 06:56:58 am »
Were you there, Meryl?  What did you think? 

Interesting review, but isn't the pot calling the kettle unprepared?  Bizet's duet is called "Au fond du temple saint".  

I'd love to see Rufus's opera, but where will they show it, if not Lincoln Center?  The Beacon? 

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Rufus is coming to City Opera
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2011, 09:02:43 am »
That would be very cool. And this is reaching out to a new demographic, which would provide a financial shot in the arm (sorry if my marketing jargon is grating).
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Offline Meryl

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Re: Rufus is coming to City Opera
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2011, 11:35:05 am »
Were you there, Meryl?  What did you think? 

I didn't go, but it sounds like folks liked it.

Quote
Interesting review, but isn't the pot calling the kettle unprepared?  Bizet's duet is called "Au fond du temple saint".  

Excellent catch!  8)

Quote
I'd love to see Rufus's opera, but where will they show it, if not Lincoln Center?  The Beacon? 

God only knows.  :(
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