Operatic Royalty Coming to NYC

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Operatic Royalty Coming to NYC

Post by lennygoran » Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:10 am

The article has clips of them singing. Regards, Len

Coming Next Week, on Back-to-Back Nights: Operatic Royalty


Over the next few days, a reminder is coming for New York music lovers, both of why they live here and what they lack.

On Tuesday — and twice more after that, through Feb. 27 — the German soprano Evelyn Herlitzius will continue her acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut run as the guilt-ridden Kundry in “Parsifal.” Also on Tuesday — and, thankfully, now on Wednesday, too, because of demand for tickets — the Italian soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci will make a rare recital appearance here, at Zankel Hall.

New Yorkers willing and able to undergo a total of six hours or so of music, in other words, could feasibly experience two of Europe’s greatest singing actresses on back-to-back evenings. Go for it, if you care about authenticity and intensity, about subtlety and idiosyncrasy and maturity.
Parsifal: Evelyn Herlitzius Video by Metropolitan Opera

And go for it, because the confluence may well not come again. There are reasons neither of these women’s careers has flourished in America, why even combined they’ve been in New York just a handful of times. For all the vividness of her presence, Ms. Herlitzius, 54, has a lean, sinewy voice that can come off as too raw for a country that likes its opera plush and easily digestible; Ms. Antonacci, 56, has pursued corners of the repertory that rarely get done here.

But when these two arrive, they’re like shots in the arm. Ms. Antonacci’s recitals — she’s never sung a staged opera performance in the city — are models of searching programming and sensitive, communicative singing. (This upcoming one eschews standards for uncommon choices by Debussy, Nadia Boulanger, Respighi, Britten and Poulenc.)

And Ms. Herlitzius has offered a memorably forlorn and wary Kundry, her voice stark and focused, her eyes desperate. Reviewing “Parsifal” earlier this month in The New York Times, Anthony Tommasini noted the edge in Ms. Herlitzius’s tone but said there was “earthy intensity, even a kind of beautiful fragility, to her singing. And dramatically she drew out every elusive nuance of this confounding character.”

Originally intending to be a modern dancer, Ms. Herlitzius, once she turned her attention to opera, rose through the ranks of provincial German theaters in Wagner and Strauss roles, honing an intuitive sensibility for drama.

“There was a director who encouraged me and trusted me and gave me some support,” she said in a recent conversation of her earliest professional performance, in tiny Flensburg. “And then he let me go.”

Wild yet controlled, with her wide-open eyes and fearless voice, her biting articulation of the text, she’s made a powerful impact in the last two decades. Yet “she was somewhat under the Met’s radar,” Peter Gelb, the company’s general manager, said in an interview.

Then came the director Patrice Chéreau’s searing “Elektra” at the Aix Festival in France in 2013, with Ms. Herlitzius at its center, persuasively both wounded and wounding.

“It was one of the greatest performances I’d heard in my life,” Mr. Gelb said. “It’s what you dream about in terms of a tour de force of acting and singing. She was both terrifying and totally sympathetic.”

The production was scheduled to come to the Met a few years later, but with Nina Stemme in the title role rather than Ms. Herlitzius. Other singers, better known to New York audiences, have been cast here as Brünnhilde, another Herlitzius trademark, which she will sing in June at San Francisco Opera. The Met doesn’t do nearly as much Wagner and Strauss as German houses, so there are far fewer Isoldes and Ortruds to go around.

So, Mr. Gelb said, “I put her into the first thing we could think of”: “Parsifal.” He added that Ms. Herlitzius will return to the company as the Nurse in a planned revival of Strauss’s “Die Frau ohne Schatten” in the 2020-21 season.

Her goal, she said, is to draw the audience “into the scenery and onto the stage, to focus their energy and attention.” That is Ms. Antonacci’s gift, too — a presence that holds your eyes and ears, whether the mood is rage or quiet calm. Lincoln Center has hosted her a couple of times in recent years, but the recitals next week are being presented by New York City Opera. (She has had discussions with that company about staged productions, she said over coffee at her hotel, but there are no definitive plans, yet.)
Anna Caterina Antonacci - "Nebbie" (Lyon, 2009) Video by DieVogelQDU

Ms. Antonacci has never been content to do what’s expected of singers. A smattering of “Carmen” and Cassandre in “Les Troyens” have been among her few forays into the standard repertory, and her plans these days are dominated by delicious rarities like Hindemith’s “Sancta Susanna,” Britten’s “Gloriana” and Charpentier’s “Médée.”

Preparing for “Gloriana” was one of her aims in the program she will be performing at Zankel Hall with her longtime collaborator, the pianist Donald Sulzen, so she chose Britten’s cycle “On This Island.” She has made a calling card of Poulenc’s “La Voix Humaine,” including in New York, and next week adds his “Le Travail du Peintre” and “La Dame de Monte-Carlo.” And she has long admired the elegant music of Boulanger, better known as one of the 20th century’s great piano and composition teachers.

We are, in a way, lucky to still have Ms. Antonacci. In an interview six years ago, she claimed to be planning to retire six or seven years hence — but here she is, still learning new roles and songs.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/16/arts ... collection

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